Last night Genshin Impact started following trends on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. Which ones, exactly? Well, that’s the problem: no one can really agree on what lies at the heart of the erupting volcano that sprouted next to the cash cow of the developer miHoYo. Currently the Hashtag #BoycottGenshin is made up of legitimate complaints about stereotypes, others that don’t require a small number of asterisks, and lots of discussion about which is which.
While it is difficult to trace the exact origin of the hashtag, it seems to have really picked up speed following a discussion of the Hilichurls – one of Genshin’s most common enemy types – and a developer video briefly describing an indigenous dance serve as a point of reference for them. But others have suggested that the conversation start due to rumors that upcoming game content has been delayed. Since the beginning of the hashtag, it has evolved several times under different names and picked up extra bones to pick up, including charges of racism and colourism involving two playable characters, Xinyan and Kaeya, and underage NPCs coveting other characters who are children.
Fan arguments range from declaring the legitimacy of every grievance to the standard culture wars tactic of denouncing SJWs and insisting that games – especially based on reality and capable of influencing reality, in particular when popular across the continent –are completely separate from reality. As you can imagine, he got pretty ugly on Twitter, as well as in other places like Genshin Impact subreddit.
Each argument is a minefield in itself, within the larger #BoycottGenshin minefield. The Hilichurl discussion is the clearest cut, which says something, because it’s not entirely clear yet. What’s really true is that miHoYo showed a video of a native dance being used as a reference for its animal humanoid enemy species in a studio tour video, and it’s not great.
“I just want to say that the Hilichurls taking their inspiration from indigenous peoples absolutely disagree,” a player who identifies as indigenous written on twitter. “People used to laugh at their dancing and just people (including me) who find out is really hurtful. It makes us feel like we’re being made fun of something that matters so much to us. Our culture is not something to be taken and used, miHoYo. It’s not good, it’s not funny and I am really disappointed. Many of us are. “
Even some in the anti- #BoycottGenshin crowd agreed that miHoYo dropped the ball here. Others, however, have pointed out that the Hilichurls are not purely wicked (they being manipulated by another group of bad guys) and also that they resemble quite strongly the Bokoblins of one of Genshin Impact’s biggest influences, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The first point misunderstands why stereotypes are harmful (they are suddenly not OK just because characters who might not be villains embody them) while the second tackles a much broader topic in which the hashtag #BoycottGenshin begins to appear. hardly to dive: the presence of “Primitive” humanoid enemies in many action-adventure and RPG games.
In short, the Bokoblins, with their animations, their skull necklaces and other scraps of iconography that more subtly evoke indigenous stereotypes (not to mention other stereotypes, such as those surrounding Haitian voodoo), are part of a lineage of ‘video game enemies who draw inspiration from perceived “tribal stereotypes to communicate a lack of civilization or intelligence. Orcs are their own separate conversation, but the words author NK Jemisin wrote about the not-quite-human fantasy races while discussing orcs continue to ring true.
“Orcs are human beings who can be slaughtered without conscience or excuses”, Jemisin wrote in a blog post in 2013. “Creatures that look like people, but aren’t really. People of sorts, who don’t deserve even the most basic moral considerations, like the right to exist. The only way to deal with them is to control them completely like slavery, or eliminate them all. “
It’s not strictly a Genshin impact issue, in other words. Whether it’s Hilichurls, Bokoblins, or some other fantastic race that acts like an endless throwaway villain, it always comes down to that same ugly calculation. In this regard, Genshin Impact is neither released from liability nor exceptional. This is the last permutation of a trope that represents a larger systemic issue in games. In a medium capable of imagining infinite worlds, perhaps it is time to move on from the idea of subhuman races. Maybe it was time.
The other arguments of # BoycottGenshin – not all of which are supported by those who support the hashtag (s) – are more thorny. On the one hand, the text of the game describes a character with darker skin, Xinyan, as having a “fierce appearance” which draws comparisons to “one of those hooligans hanging out in the market,” which inspires “fear” in those who see her and makes children cry. On the other hand, it seems to be attributed more to her outfit – which is made up of spikes and punk rock gear – than her skin color. Another character with darker skin, Kaeya, is described as “exotic”. However, this could be a reference to the fact that he comes from a place called Khaenri’ah, rather than the nation where the game takes place, Teyvat.
Again, the players underlined that both characters are only dark skinned compared to the rest of the game’s cast and that he it may not be a coincidence this one is considered scary, attracting accusations of colourism, but also further fuel discussions about specific parts of Asia Genshin Impact draws inspiration from its current (and future) locations. It is also thorny. Some use the Asian roots of the game as a reason to close the idea of representation in the game. Many who are for and against additional forms of representation do not seem to have direct experience of the cultures and places they discuss.
The conversation about pedophilia is just as curvy. Two characters who seem minor, Barbara and Flora, have older underage NPCs coveting them. In the case of the former, he’s a misguided superfan, as Barbara is basically a popstar. In several quests, the game portrays this as embarrassing on the verge of quite bad. In Flora’s case, things are less straightforward, with an otherwise unnecessary NPC saying that he will “one day confess my love to Flora on board a dandelion boat,” which would be very reprehensible if not for the fact that the line was added in an earlier version of the game, back when Flora’s character model was that of an adult female – not a child. However, miHoYo has had months to remove the line, and it still doesn’t, although fans have already taken note. Then there is the game trust in the trope small female characters with loud voices with childish appearances and tendencies – who also has thorny implications (although less discussed).
Some on Twitter have started to characterize #BoycottGenshin as a sudden surge of outrage over a delay in the DLC, making it inherently dishonest. Obviously, however, many of these doubts (and others around issues like security and the game’s business model) have been building up in Genshin Impact’s fanbase for some time. It remains to be seen whether the hashtag will bring about any tangible change or whether the modern, engaging structure of the internet will condemn it to drown in toxicity like so many other well-meaning movements.
Article source https://kotaku.com/boycottgenshin-is-tearing-the-genshin-impact-community-1846630403