An AI game simulating New Year's greetings with virtual relatives has captivated China, drawing over a million players within a week, Redstar News reported.
Clash of New Year's Greetings lets players engage in text-based conversations with virtual aunts, uncles, and parents who pose questions about marriage, work, and other sensitive topics. Players' responses influence the virtual relatives' emotions, and navigating these conversations successfully is key to winning.
Unlike traditional games with fixed options, players input their responses freely, mimicking an online chat. Shi Hongjie, the game's lead planner, credits its success to "promoting dialogues" through their team's expertise in AI technology.
Developed by a Hangzhou startup mainly composed of college students, the game went viral after launching on Jan 28. Shi attributes its popularity to its coincidental release timing before Spring Festival, a major family reunion holiday, and its relatable theme.
On social media, players share how the game helps them prepare for real-life family interactions. Many express frustration with relatives' "interrogations" and lack of opportunity to express themselves.
This phenomenon sparks online discussions about "New Year anxiety," where netizens fear intrusive questions about income, relationships, and marriage pressure, making them dread returning home.
Professor Liang Yong'an of Fudan University links this anxiety to China's rapid urbanization, which weakens family dependence and creates value clashes between generations.
Applied psychologist Liao Chunling suggests empathy towards family members, acknowledging their questions stem from love. She also advises self-affirmation, ensuring personal confidence even if choices differ from family expectations.