Genshin Impact: 2 Years

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.

Elise

Advanced Boredom

Forest of the Mind

I’ve been writing articles, and I will write the whole thing thinking it was great.  I do the proofreading and realize…this article is not great.  I’ve done that a couple times now, and I guess I’m just not feeling it.  All the articles I’ve written were not cutting it.

But I also want to post more, so I will probably be posting more personal, normal stuff like this.  And don’t worry, they’re still mostly related to video games.  And maybe some other media.  The more I think about it, the more I realize how much design works with all media.  The same choice and consequence in designing a film or video game works in other places as well.  So I may be writing a little more on that as well.


So, Advanced Boredom is a state I’m in where I’m so bored that I can’t even choose to do the thing I want to do for fun.  I will switch shows, games, or books that I’m consuming every ten minutes.  It’s the worst.  It may be related to guilt or it may be related to …guilt except from lack of productivity.  Actually, it’s probably related to guilt.  It is not ADD or ADHD, because that seems to have been ruled out by the psychiatrist.  I do have attention problems, but, curiously enough, it is neither of those.  

In the state of Advanced Boredom, I do not feel productive with my time, especially in the consumption of entertainment, and I seek this out by traveling through the different layers of games to try and fulfill that.  Not fulfilling that means continuing the cycle.  And I finally found one of the ways to break that.  It is not always successful, and that usually means that the current boredom or stillness I’m in is not from guilt.

Oh, which brings to mind a point: Advanced Boredom is more like stillness.  I do not mean peace.  I mean stillness.  Like…an empty indoor pool.  Maybe you can hear muffled cars honking outside, and also the dripping of some water from somewhere.  The dull lights humming just enough that you can notice it.  This isn’t a fancy pool.  There is cement everywhere and very little glass.  No jacuzzi.

What do I do to get myself out of advanced boredom?  I have to consume or study something that is new.  I have to play a game I haven’t played or read a book I haven’t read.  I can’t play that MMO that I have a thousand hours in.  I can’t play the game I want to play for the 24th time.  I need to play something new.  I think part of it is bringing myself to focus on something that isn’t myself.  Not that I am thinking about myself all the time, but because the guilt is associated with myself.  It is getting into that flow of something I don’t know.

And that’s difficult.  It is so easy to pop back into an old game.  It is so easy to let the guilt consume me as I play Hearthstone even though I know I don’t want to be doing that.  It is a dangerous spiral.  I think this is a remnant from the productivity thing.  I still feel guilt over things like that.  I still don’t feel like I’ve succeeded in life to demand any sort of relief.  I feel guilty for being allowed to do the things that I want.  

Ultimately, I feel that perhaps this isn’t as healthy as I think.  I am still satisfying that guilt.  And while I really do feel great for doing something new, I need myself to come to terms with the fact that I should not be consuming any media out of guilt.  I should not be doing things because of guilt.  Guilt can be used as a way to motivate myself, but I feel like it’s doing harm in the realm of how “productive” my fun time can be.  Maybe if I’m at work, but not here.  I don’t think it’s healthy if it’s here in my entertainment space.

The mind is a forest that is extremely difficult to understand.  We can map it out, but becoming a navigator is much more difficult.  I never thought that playing games would be so complicated and mentally exhausting, but this is reality.  I want to grow as a person, as a video gamer, and I will need to manage these things if I am to do so.  Although I long for the simpler times of just playing games because I love games, I also enjoy this exploration of the self that helps me be a healthier me. 

Thanks for listening to my ramblings, and I hope that you can find healthy ways to navigate the forest of the mind.   

If all goes as planned, I will see you again later this week!

Elise

Intentional Playing

Playing to work?  Or playing to play?

I’ve written about this in the past, but I feel like bringing it up again. I have an issue I’ve been working on the past year or two.  I am so caught up in being productive.  I have a job and my art production on the side.  While those occupy a lot of my time, the thing that really occupies my time is my interest in just about everything.  I know I have a limited amount of time here on Earth, but I’ve set all my productivity for eternity.  So my ideal is to act as if I would last forever. 

I love video games.  This site was originally not going to be called Game Praisers, but something more general.  I’ve spent so much time researching and learning things unrelated to games.  I have a good foundation of  biology, chemistry, and physics.  I’ve had my foray into business, programming, accounting, and a few other unrelated things.  Just because I’m very interested in all that.

However, being a jack of all trades is time consuming, and I’ve felt that the pressure to be productive as I try to continue this hugely lateral growth is seeping into everything I do.  And that includes video games.  I think it’s very probable that anyone who has a job or is trying to get a new skill can have that same issue start to pop up in their lives.  It doesn’t help that, contextually, we are in a covid-19 world where we spent a lot of time indoors.  I know that didn’t affect me too much, because I am not a social person, but I saw other people struggle with feeling productive being indoors all the time.

That need for productivity is now in a place where I feel like it shouldn’t belong.  Video games are meant to be fun.  I’m not very good at relaxing.  I’m always having to do something.  I hate naps.  I need to be doing something “productive”, which in this case has also come to mean that I must consume media at a desired rate as well.  That Assassin’s Creed year last year probably didn’t help either.  

So now, while I’m still trying to move around and get into all these games, I want to be more intentional with playing games . Playing games with the intention to have fun and the intention to relax.  I was advised to intentionally relax.  To have time set aside.  To do things knowing that the purpose is for me to relax or to enjoy my time.  This is why movies are a very good way for me to intentionally relax.  I get focused and that’s all I can think of.  The whole purpose of it is, well, it.  But with games, especially because we have to make efforts to do things, I kind of get the feeling of having to be productive again. 

I have to level this many times, I have to get this many resources, or I have to get this far into a level.  But all that really kills the joy of gaming.  Even if I’m playing with the intention of concentration like in cataclysm mode for Vermintide II, I have to really be focused on getting to that point to really get that flow and enjoyment.  

And now, just now, when I’m already at a veteran-ish age in the world of gaming, I need to re-learn how to sit down and play for the intention of playing. This sounds dumb.  I’m kind of repeating myself, but this is something that I think is important and something that I feel like might be unaware to some people.  I think it’s a mental health kind of thing as well.  I want people to recognize that our mental health will affect how we enjoy games.  It’s an important part of our bodies to take care of, and I want us to enjoy games to the fullest.

The internet was really bad this last week, and I couldn’t even turn the computer on due to network issues.  So I grabbed the Nintendo Switch and I booted up the random game I bought like, a year ago, and started playing.  It was Final Fantasy Adventure  in the Collection of Mana.  I remember stopping several times because of the archaic systems of direction in it, but I had nothing else to do.  I mean, I had other things to do.  I have plenty of backlog research I could do.  But I really just wanted to play a game, and this was one of my only options.

So I sat there and struggled, but then I decided to try and figure out this oldschool game.  I found myself getting really sucked into it.  Time flew by just like it did in my younger days.  I played because I intended to really just play a video game.  I sometimes lament this feeling of not having time to play games and then only playing thirty minutes to try and squeeze whatever I can before I have to get back into the grind of work, and I don’t enjoy it.

Sometimes circumstances make it really difficult, but I’m going to keep working on this idea of just playing purely for the game again.  Even if it’s just the thirty minutes I have left of the day, I’m just gonna let it happen.

I did that last night on Deep Rock Galactic.  Typing this now I just realized that.  I had thirty minutes left, and I just went all in.  I planned for one game, but I committed fully to just getting into it.  I suppose I’ve come pretty far in this long journey of enjoying games again.

One last thing, for some of you, gaming might even have to take a backseat.  It might be another activity that is more relaxing.   Regardless, be intentional with your time to relax.  It’s hard and, no matter how dumb it sounds, you might have to work at being able to relax.  Keep at it though.  Ultimately, our physical and mental health is pretty important. 

So take care of yourself, stay safe, and let’s enjoy video games again.  See you next time.

  • Elise

Why I Love: Alan Wake

Two Sides

I love Alan Wake, for the same reason a lot of people found it mediocre.  Alan Wake is a third-person action (shooter?) game.  Alan Wake, a writer of a thriller series, goes on vacation to a lake house, only to be haunted by shadowed entities that remind him of his own works.  He can expose and destroy these entities by shining a flashlight at them.  That’s mostly all you need to know about it for what I want to talk about today.  

It is a good game.  It is very crisp, and it feels like playing an episode of The Twilight Zone.  Were it not for good game design it probably wouldn’t be on the ULTRA.  But what I really like about this game is that it is truly a simple game about fighting the darkness, both outside and within.  

I don’t feel like Alan Wake is that psychological, but it’s what defeating darkness within sometimes feels like.  It feels helpless and frustrating (not game design-wise, just for Mr. Wake).  It feels like we’re in an episode of a TV show we can’t get out of.  Ultimately, it’s a fight of light and darkness.  We can also mean that literally because of his flashlight.

I remember when my brother and I were so excited for Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, and we were watching the trailer.  In the trailer Raynor says, “Because the one thing I know; some things are just worth fighting for.”  And I remember my brother saying something about how that is so, so cheesy.  I love cheesy things, and over time I’ve learned why I love cheesy things like that line or the fight between light and darkness.  I love cheesy things because they’re the most real, and Alan Wake emphasizes that in an age where we’re supposed to be so unique in themes.

The struggle against ourselves and knowing what is light in our lives is real.  That’s a real thing.  Knowing what you fight for?  That’s real.  “I’m doing this because I love you”?  I need that.  I wonder if the reason we don’t like cheesy things sometimes is because they remind us of what is real.  This is why I love Alan Wake.  We’re just some random person fighting to find their way out of the darkness. 

Isn’t that what most of us want to do?  We want to be a light to those around us.  We want to truly find light and what is good in all the travails of life and use it to banish the darkness.  When it comes to those that we love, isn’t that what we want to do for them?  It’s cheesy, but it’s true, and Alan Wake embraces it.  That is one of the big reasons why I love the game.

Alan Wake is #116 on the ULTRA.  I hope that we can all endeavor to be a light in the darkness especially during these strange times.  Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next time.
– Elise