Those of you who have the sense to stay away from Twitter may not be aware of this, but the hugely popular Genshin Impact once again found itself trending yesterday... and not in a good way.
The hashtag #boycottgenshinimpact blew up yesterday, with tens of thousands of tweets calling for players to abstain from the free-to-play RPG. This hashtag was accompanied by a few others, including #dobettermihoyo and #boycottgenshin. It all started, as far as we can tell, because of the way Genshin Impact appears to rely on several racial stereotypes. As with all things on Twitter, however, any legitimate arguments were soon drowned out by nonsense.
One of the main issues around the hashtag - that of racial stereotypes - arose when Twitter user venluvr shared part of a video created by Genshin Impact developer MiHoYo late last year that gives fans a tour of its Shanghai office. In the video, we can see an artist working on a Genshin Impact enemy called a Hilichurl. We can also see the artist using what looks like footage of indigenous Americans dancing as reference material. Take a look below.
The clip swiftly ignited debate over the way in which Genshin Impact makes use of other cultures to portray enemies that are evil, unintelligent, or without agency. This is not the first time this issue has been raised, with many video games and movies coming under criticism for similar depictions. Just take a look at this excellent piece on the way Orcs are represented in Dungeons & Dragons, for example.
"Our culture is not something for you to just take and use MiHoYo ," one user wrote on Twitter. "It is not okay, it's not funny, and I'm really disappointed. A lot of us are."
The Hilichurls were just the beginning, however. As the hashtag started to grow, more and more players entered the discussion to share their feelings on the way Genshin Impact handles race. The characters of Xinuan and Kaeya, in particular, were called out as evidence that the game features racially insensitive depictions.
Fans argued that Xinyan, a character with darker skin than most of the cast of Genshin Impact, stars in a storyline that hammers home how other characters find her scary. Whether consciously or not, players believe that MiHoYo is perpetuating the stereotype that Black people are intimidating. Meanwhile, Kaeya is repeatedly referred to as "exotic". While some point out this is likely just a reference to the fact Kaeya is from a place called Khaenri'ah, outside of the nation where the game takes place, others have argued that "exotic" is a loaded term designed to dehumanise.
There was also a fair bit of chatter around an NPc called Ulfr, who seems to be in love with a child called Flora. While some players furiously called out the idea of a pedophile NPC in Genshin Impact, others pointed out that the character of Flora was actually a grown woman in the beta. It's unclear why MiHoYo made the change to her character, however.
Predictably #boycottgenshinimpact was quickly dominated by memes, insults, and arguments that seemed to completely miss many of the original points being raised. At the time of writing, very little trace of the original argument remains, leaving nothing but fans defending the game and calling out any criticisms relating to racial depictions as "performative".
In short, it's entirely unlikely that Genshin Impact fans are ever going to be able to have a real conversation about this on social media without it descending into chaos.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read