China Just Launched the Most Frightening Game Ever — and Soon It Will Be Mandatory


By Claire Bernish at


Oceania, China — As if further proof were needed Orwell’s dystopia is now upon us, China has now gamified obedience to the State. Though that is every bit as creepily terrifying as it sounds, citizens may still choose whether or not they wish to opt-in — that is, until the program becomes compulsory in 2020. “Going under the innocuous name of ‘Sesame Credit,’ China has created a score for how good a citizen you are,” explains Extra Credits’ video about the program. “The owners of China’s largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score — but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line.

In the works for years, China’s ‘social credit system’ aims to create a docile, compliant citizenry who are fiscally and morally responsible by employing a game-like format to create self-imposed, group social control. In other words, China gamified peer pressure to control its citizenry; and, though the scheme hasn’t been fully implemented yet, it’s already working — insidiously well.

Zheping Huang, a reporter for Quartz, chronicled his own experience with the social control tool in October, saying that “in the past few weeks I began to notice a mysterious new trend. Numbers were popping up on my social media feeds as my friends and strangers on Weibo [the Chinese equivalent to Twitter] and WeChat began to share their ‘Sesame Credit scores.’ The score is created by Ant Financial, an Alibaba-affiliated company that also runs Alipay, China’s popular third-party payment app with over 350 million users. Ant Financial claims that it evaluates one’s purchasing and spending habits in order to derive a figure that shows how creditworthy someone is.”

However, according to a translation of the “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System,” posted online by Oxford University’s China expert, Rogier Creemers, it’s nightmarishly clear the program is far more than just a credit-tracking method. As he described it,“The government wants to build a platform that leverages things like big data, mobile internet, and cloud computing to measure and evaluate different levels of people’s lives in order to create a gamified nudging for people to behave better.”

While Sesame Credit’s roll-out in January has been downplayed by many, the American Civil Liberties Union, among others, urges caution, saying:

“The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people’s social ties and activities and what they say. In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance. Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them.” And, in what appears likely the goal of the entire program, added, “Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create.”

Social pressure, of course, can be highly effective given the right circumstances. China seems to have found exactly that in the intricate linking of people’s scores to their contacts, which can be seen publicly by anyone — and then upping the ante through score-based incentives and rewards. Rick Falkvinge pointed out a startling comparison:

The KGB and the Stasi’s method of preventing dissent from taking hold was to plant so-called agents provocateurs in the general population, people who tried to make people agree with dissent, but who actually were arresting them as soon as they agreed with such dissent. As a result, nobody would dare agree that the government did anything bad, and this was very effective in preventing any large-scale resistance from taking hold. The Chinese way here is much more subtle, but probably more effective still.”

As Creemers described to Dutch news outlet, de Volkskrant, “With the help of the latest internet technologies, the government wants to exercise individual surveillance. The Chinese aim […] is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen.”

Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Johan Lagerkvist, said the system is“very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It’s Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist.”

James Corbett has been tracking the implementation of Sesame Credit for some time. Introducing the ubiquitous tracking system for a recent episode of the Corbett Report, he mused:

“Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don’t act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?”

Indeed, because mandatory enrollment in Sesame Credit is still a few years away, its true effectiveness won’t be measurable for some time. But even a reporter’s usual wariness appears knocked off-kilter, as Zheping Huang summarized his personal experience: “Even if my crappy credit score doesn’t mean much now, it’s in my best interest I suppose to make sure it doesn’t go too low.”

And that, of course, is precisely why gamifying State obedience is so terrifying.

This article (China Just Launched the Most Frightening Game Ever — and Soon It Will Be Mandatory) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email[email protected].


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    • No scarier than joining Facebook or various other online Western ‘social pages’. The intent is to socially engineer the sheep into absolute compliance, where peer pressure makes the ‘sheeple’ tow-the-party-line by way of your friends dissuading you, denouncing you, or just outright turning you in, if you don’t do as the ‘social engineers of America’ demand you be like. No meat, no cigarettes, no activists (unless it is for a known party line’s ideology). There are no true representatives to protect the sheep – all the ‘shepherds’ are wolves in business suits with ‘lobbyist membership cards’ in their pockets and government id’s right beside them. Don’t you realize, they’ll turn you in for rebelling. If not, your family will.

      • You can’t compare Facebook to that shit pal, are you serious? Even antifa has a Facebook there are no chance that a similar group on China will have even a page on weibo!

    • I ask the same question as Mr. Mortveit. Yes, what makes us think it is only China? If it is only China now, it won’t be for long. The minds that have devised this “game” are the result of diseased souls, and the evil that it represents will spread throughout the world like a cancer.

    • it’s already been going on for years. Even before the book 1984 was even written. Makes me giggle nowadays to see how many people have already been trained through belief systems and law 🙂

  1. I strongly feel that Orwell predicted the regime of North Korea, most of what he describes fits perfectly with what we see there today. He also connects to the industrial-military power of the US. Scary to see China adopting Orwellian methods. I agree with Sverre Mortveit: What makes us believe it is only China? The US has developed and uses an enormously powerful surveillance system, and when the right wing Christian fundamentalists win the next election, there you have a perfect Orwellian society.

  2. Before There’s Light, There Must Be Darkness: Remember That All Manifestations Move In Cycles Like a Pendulum. It’s Gonna Get Really, Really Ugly For Humans Until it Gets Better… Hang In There!

  3. another new world order test or so? idk. this sounds horrible tho. and very sary. you get good rating for beeing a puppet. if not you get degraded and will suffer form it. i really hope chinese people will be smarter then this. but i guess it will gain a lot of support also. if your poor your life sucks you just say my goverment is the best and kiss its ass you get few small perks and life gets better… i shouldent have watched this. it made my mind go upside down >.<

  4. And there is the option of every human being reach the human zoos from the robots armageddon and they will force you to use the digital glasses of the 22nd century but early bird releases and you will watch TV your whole life, many channels at the same time forcing your brain to process with the help of submersive augmented reality, and if you misbehave you will go to the channels of your fears and if you behave you will go to the channels of the paradise. Robots will teach you a lesson to humans. Do not threaten robots or they will beat the shit out of you. Imagine that the robots will extract from the brains of humanity the gift of being a super astral god like being hidden in the human brain and they will then backup all your existence to a diskette of 1.4MB and they will put yourselves of Trash or Bin in their virtual brain OS. And then they will have thirst for human brain processing fluid.

  5. This social control already exists in western countries.. try living a life that you want, and not someone else.. and you’ll find that it’s quite impossible. You will experience Stasi-like methods when you don’t do what the general public finds acceptable.

    Forget about China, satan’s socialist system is in place all over the world, and it’s successfully being used to steer the populace in any direction THEY want.. and no, you are not part of THEM, because THEY were doing this when you were still in diapers.

    I used to have a friend, who turned out to be my handler, assigned to me by sickciety to change me into a more docile slave. Well, I’d rather kill myself than live in this sick world to be honest. You are all fools for trying. You don’t know what’s coming.. not even the established anonymous. I’m not speaking about this again. I gave you plenty of chances to believe me, but you are programmed to ignore people like me, people who know.

  6. No! The big difference is that Americans are not fucking pussies as the Chinese citizens are, and I’m talking just watching how much anti something protest are in the USA and it’s not tje case in China except for Hong Kong but they are other kind of Chinese, so I doubt ameticans will accept a shit like this so easily! For the record I’m not a fucking Yankee!

  7. im traveling to china for a long time due to german abuse in usa to indians germans in america are evil for killing millions a day particular portland seattle


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