Lyu Peng (center), a jubensha player, changes outfits for the game at a shop in Changchun, Jilin province, on Aug 3. (ZHANG YAO / CHINA NEWS SERVICE)
With the role-playing murder mystery game jubensha growing in popularity, Chinese students studying overseas are coming back to their homeland to start up their own jubensha businesses.
Ling Tiange, a young computer science graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in the United States－together with Zhou Qihan, a psychology graduated from Tufts University, Chen Zhongyi, a history graduate from College of the Holy Cross and Wang Chenyu, a math graduate from Carnegie Mellon University－took notice of the business opportunities.
"Before graduation, I had made up my mind to come back to China and start up a business with my friends. I think the domestic business environment is friendly, where I can do what I really like," Ling said.
Zhou said: "In the recent years, China's business environment is improving. As a member of Generation Z, I hope to use my critical thinking and innovative abilities to realize self-worth and contribute to the development of China."
This ambition brought Ling, Zhou, Chen, Wang and five other young overseas Chinese students together. The nine young graduates started an online jubensha company called Gerzz.
"We started the business before graduation. We are from different universities. However, we are all crazy about jubensha. As we were located in different cities, it was hard for us to gather together offline to play. That was when we decided to develop a jubensha app, where people can play it online," Ling said.
"As we don't have relevant experience, I found a project team who is experienced in games, and invited them to join us. We communicated our ideas and exchanged thoughts, and gradually developed the jubensha app," Ling added.
Ling said that during the process of starting up the business, they have received a lot of help. For example, Agora, a Shanghai-based real-time engagement firm with platform services, sent a technical support team to their company to solve technical problems.
HiAR, a Shanghai-based augmented reality company, contacted the company to explore the possibility of combining jubensha with AR.
"A lot of script publishers came to us to cooperate. Hearing that we plan to launch the jubensha app overseas and bring good scripts with traditional Chinese culture overseas, they are willing to offer scripts to us and discuss how to revise the scripts so that they can better fit the online app," Ling said.
"Meanwhile, the China Culture & Entertainment Industry Association has included us into its members, giving us a bigger voice in the industry," he added.
As the company's jubensha app is the first of its kind to have an online dungeon master, or host, it worked with the Shanghai Theatre Academy to launch DM trainings.
Pan Xianjun, a professor of the School of International Education of Chinese language at Beijing International Studies University, said: "More and more post-00s overseas students are coming back to China to start up businesses. One of the main reasons is that the domestic environment is favorable, attracting them to start a company."
Ling said: "During my experience of starting up a business, I have received a lot of support, including from the government and private organizations. The jubensha industry is a sunrise industry, where an increasing number of consumers are taking part. I feel deeply that the domestic business environment makes it easier for young people to start up a business, and I am confident about the domestic consumption market," Ling said.
Wu Daiqi, CEO of Shenzhen, Guangdong province-based Keythink Culture Communication Co Ltd, said that in recent years, China has been developing rapidly. The rapidly changing environment means more opportunities and vitality, making it easy for young people to start up a business.
"China is one of the most important markets in the world. It contains a large population base, favorable business environment and huge market potential. The market is attractive to entrepreneurs," Wu said.
Chen from Gerzz said that the company plans to first launch the jubensha app overseas, so that they can export Chinese culture to the world. "It is hoped that through the app, more and more people can learn about Chinese culture."
According to the company, on Sept 3, it launched a jubensha app-Halo jubensha－in the App Store of North America. They also plan to launch English version scripts for foreigners to play.
"We think entertainment is universal. We want to attract players with different cultural backgrounds and spread traditional Chinese culture," Ling said.
For overseas students that start up businesses in China, Wu suggested that they pay attention to the conditions of the host country, and think of suitable business modes.
"For overseas students who have studied Western management knowledge, they should also learn about Chinese management knowledge to better suit the business environment," she added.