Cultural Impact…for better or worse?
Warning: This is a bit rantish and raw.
Wow. It has already been two years since Genshin Impact was released. Time flies, but life hasn’t been really fun. Luckily, Genshin has been.
I’m just going to take this time to talk about a couple of things in my experiences of Genshin Impact.
Point 1: The Mobile Game
Genshin Impact changed my view of the mobile game. I think I became looser about how I feel about games that eat time and demand. I’m still, like, super upset that things like dailies and stuff vie for my time, but underneath all that junk is a really good game. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that a lot of mobile games are like that. The okay junk, like dailies, show up in other games too. I guess that doesn’t make it that much better. And the advanced junk like gacha mechanics are still just that: junk.
But good mobile games are out there, and the artists and programmers really just want it to be good. I can definitely say that with Genshin Impact. The music is phenomenal. The gameplay is great fun. I love the lore! This is just something that I feel like really…impacted my view.
Point 2: Representation
I’m not talking about the representation of the people in the game and how each region in the world of Teyvat kind of represents a place on Earth. I mean just the representation of Chinese video game development. It has been up and down. It’s been up because people can see that Chinese developers can make something original. Down, because there is still a lot of ignorance in some of the ways they represent some peoples. I don’t just mean stereotypes. I mean like how in the new region coming out today, Sumeru, the people…really should have darker skin.
Nontraditional story arcs or character developments are also something that you see. A lot of Chinese stories end unfairly and things don’t have a happy ending. A bit of a spoiler, but some arcs don’t end in a resolution. They always say “to be continued”, so eventually I’m sure they’ll do something, but to have an entire series of quests just end, that’s normal. Tragic endings that feel like they’re unnecessary are rooted in real life problems. Sometimes people make bad choices when there are obviously good ones. Sometimes time takes its toll on people and there won’t be a good ending. Even the way certain jokes present themselves feels more familiar to me. Several times these came up as negative points for my United States acquaintances. (I’m not going to say friends.) This kind of brings me to my last point.
Point 3: Racism
Uh oh. Yeah, I bring this up a lot, for obvious reasons. Perhaps I’m putting myself at risk for this, but…I have to say something. I really thought that having Chinese names in the game would help people be a little more understanding. And while this has brought a lot of people more willing to be more respectful to things like names and stuff, it also has revealed how some of the people who are my…”acquaintances” just don’t really care about their approach to my, or maybe any, culture. Ah, scratch that. In this anime context, it’s mine specifically.
There is a subcategory of racism as a Chinese person that you realize growing up in a place that isn’t Chinese. If you’re not one of the “popular” or even unfortunately, “fetishized” categories of Asian, then you’re not “as good”. If you’re not Korean or Japanese. I can’t tell you how awkward it is to have people be disappointed because they found out I wasn’t either of the two. And yet, somehow we’re praised on very specific things about our culture: things like martial arts, being studious, and our cuisine. It just makes us feel very exoticized. The moment it encroaches on things like anime, suddenly we have to be separated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to anime fans about Chinese anime, and they absolutely must point out that it’s not anime, it’s donghua. Or how they just need to play Genshin or watch anime in Japanese because they can’t bear the Chinese. According to them, they’re not racist or anything. Sure. Keep in mind these are not people that understand Japanese. They just need Japanese over Chinese.
I’ve experienced a lot of mispronunciation of names in my lifetime, and seeing it happen in Genshin is kind of a bummer. I was with a group of Genshin players chatting around and they would use some nickname or joke name for the Liyue characters, but when someone pronounced one of the Inazuma character’s name wrong, they were corrected and taught how to say it correctly. Why the double standard? It always reminds me of that kids book, That’s Not My Name!, I see on Instagram by Anoosha Syed. Now, maybe people think, well we don’t even say Chinese names often, that’s why! Well, if you never try in the first place, how are you ever going to get to the point of often?
Do you want to know what the saddest part is? Even the Hoyoverse, the developers, know all this Chinese-Japanese stuff. They always state the Japanese voice actors/actresses for the English audience. They know that feeling like a Japanese game is part of its selling point. You could say it’s “just marketing”, but that’s also saying “that’s the current reality and I don’t want to deal with it.” That’s just the hard truth. And unfortunately I don’t have the choice of not dealing with it.
Sorry. Well, I really shouldn’t have to say sorry at all actually. After all these years of playing video games I was just hoping that for once something would go right for Chinese-based things without exoticisms, colonialism, or that kind of stuff. Maybe I expected too much of the community, which is a really sad thing to say.
But. The few individuals that I meet that have changed because of this… maybe it makes it all worth it? I’ve left all the Genshin groups that I was a part of, and I have once again become a hermit after trying to join a community. Burn all the bridges. This happens all the time. So I’m pretty certain to some extent, it’s just me. A lot of the negative is probably just me, right? But when I walk out of the virtual door and into the community I think, it can’t just be me.
Genshin Impact. You’re a really great game. But for this person who lives under a rock, I guess it is too much to wish for a community I didn’t feel like I have to walk away from for the most unfortunate of reasons. Once again, I’ll be playing solo.
Sorry. I had to say something. These next two or three weeks will have work getting intense, so forgive me if I don’t pop in as I usually do. And thanks for enduring all that. Keep in mind that I do have severe anxiety and depression, so perhaps this is just a side effect of my mind against the community, but writing it off because of that doesn’t really seem like the healthy or right thing to do either.
If I haven’t run you off, thanks for staying. I’ll see you again soon.