Genshin Impact Is Censoring Words Like ‘Taiwan’ And ‘Hong Kong’

Illustration for article titled iGenshin Impact/i Is Censoring Words Like ‘Taiwan’ And ‘Hong Kong’
Image: miHoYo

The chat feature in Breath of the Wild-style gacha game Genshin Impact has been found to censor a variety of words, including references to places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet.

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These details first gained prominence thanks to a video uploaded to Twitter by independent journalist Kazuma Hashimoto. The video, which Kotaku has reuploaded to YouTube with Hashimoto’s permission after he locked down his Twitter account, shows chat messages replacing the terms “Taiwan” and “Hong Kong” with censored characters.

The official Genshin Impact subreddit has also seen sporadic complaints about the game’s censorship. One poster in a thread created earlier today said a “bug” was causing “Tibet” to be censored, while others have noted that more innocuous-seeming words like “words” and “enemies” are also getting the asterisk treatment.

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As Genshin Impact developer miHoYo is based out of China, many see this as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to prevent discussion about topics it considers harmful politically. According to a report shared by game industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, Chinese regulatory practices prohibit anything that “threatens China’s national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.”

China’s influence has resulted in projects like Devotion, a Taiwanese horror game that included assets mocking Chinese president Xi Jinping, being removed from online storefronts, but its reach was presumably also the basis for changes made to a recent re-release of Neo Geo classic Baseball Stars 2, which removed longstanding references to Taiwan and its capital city Taipei as baseball team locations.

It’s a complicated situation. While it’s clear that the Chinese government is authoritarian to its core, these policies have also given rise to a growing movement in the gaming community that uses such incidents as cover for racism and Sinophobia. Genshin Impact may just be a victim of an overaggressive chat filter, but as we’ve learned time and time again, China is more than happy to restrict free speech wherever it deems necessary.

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Kotaku reached out to miHoYo for comment but did not hear back before publication.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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DISCUSSION

This was already known since launch but few media outlets picked it up. You also missed the part where two popular Hololive VTuber’s names were censored in the game as well just because they had the audacity to mention Taiwan as a country when discussing their Youtube viewership stats. They were even suspended by Hololive for some weeks over it... And they’re not even from China.

Genshin is a cool game, that is no doubt. But people really need to ask themselves about where their values are, what you actually stand up for. Are we already just forgetting about the Uyghurs? About the forceful takeover of Hong Kong? About the numerous human rights abuses in general going on with the CCP? If we haven’t forgotten, then why are we choosing to support yet another Chinese company and thus by proxy the Chinese government, just for the sake of some cheap (well depends how manipulated you are by gacha) entertainment? Every time we put up with this censorship and support their industry we implicitly approve of their government’s behavior.