Genshin Impact is currently on the receiving end of a blistering social media backlash in response to its poor representation, most notably the way the game’s Hilichurl enemies are portrayed.
From Chinese developer Mihoyo, the free-to-play anime action adventure game was released last year and has continued to grow hugely popular ever since. And that’s despite its controversial Gacha system that randomises items and characters players receive by paying with real money.
Yet the representation in the game has been questioned by fans, with #boycottgenshin trending on Twitter.
The main point of concern is the game’s Hilichurl enemies. The goblin-like creatures are always shown wearing tribal masks and have dances inspired by indigenous people, which players are calling out as racist.
The enemies are represented as savages in the wilderness. According to the game’s Archive system they are “primitive wandering inhabitants of Teyvat’s wildernesses. They look very similar to humanity but seem to have lost both their intellect and spirituality”.
“Their presence on the continent has been recorded for over a thousand years, and yet they have neither history nor civilisation.”
A video tour of the studio also shows an artist designing the characters with a video of tribesmen dancing used as a reference.
Others have lamented the overall lack of dark-skinned characters in a game with 30 playable characters available through the randomised Gacha system. Xinyan in particular is described as having a “fierce appearance making her look like some incorrigible villain”.
Players have also criticised one particular relationship that appears to be paedophilic. The character Ulfra aims to profess his love to Flora with a boat made of dandelions; Flora, however, is just a child.
Many fans are furious with Mihoyo and calling for a boycott of the game.
The backlash now has its own backlash, with fans of the game either interpreting backstories differently and disagreeing about certain points, or pointing out the game’s fantasy setting – suggesting that excuses the poor representation.
Mihoyo themselves are yet to comment.