Alongside some gameplay adjustments, the latest Guilty Gear Strive update included stealth changes to the in-game glossary that have raised some concerns over the concessions they seem to make to the oppressive Chinese government.
Guilty Gear, owing to its debut all the way back in 1998, has an extensive universe. The overarching story imagines an alternate, more complicated version of our world, mixing magic and occult technology into the histories and motivations of actual countries like the United States and Japan. As such, Strive includes a fairly far-reaching glossary for folks just now jumping into the series.
One entry in that glossary recently garnered negative attention when the developers were purported to have removed references to regions like Taiwan, Tibet, Uighur, Korea, Singapore, Mongolia, and Siberia in certain versions of Guilty Gear Strive. As far as we can tell, the information made the rounds in certain reactionary circles for at least a week before arriving on the popular ResetEra video game forum a few days ago.
A patch released earlier this week appeared to silently codify the truncated language across all versions of the game. When contacted by Kotaku for more information, Guilty Gear developer Arc System Works declined to comment on the situation.
It’s hard to make heads or tails of these adjustments. While the removal of controversial China-adjacent nations like Taiwan and Tibet from the text in question is definitely eyebrow-raising, Uighur—the largely Muslim people of which China is currently imprisoning in re-education camps—is still referenced elsewhere in the glossary. This also doesn’t account for references to places like Korea and Singapore disappearing either.
Still, it’s hard to argue with people who see this as just the latest example of a video game developer trying to appease the autocratic Chinese government. The industry has a history of walking on eggshells around the country, which has resulted in things like chat censorship in Genshin Impact and publishers completely backing away from Taiwanese horror game Devotion after jokes about Chinese president Xi Jinping were discovered in its assets. Whether out of fear of angering Chinese players or running afoul of the government’s attempts to crack down on anything that “threatens national unity,” developers largely avoid getting on China’s bad side.
Arc System Works, while popular in the competitive fighting game community, is still pretty small-time in the grand scheme of things, and I’m not surprised that higher-ups decided to preemptively capitulate rather than rock the boat and risk taking a financial hit the company can’t afford. But even after you wade through a lot of racist, anti-Communist bullshit from right-wing detractors, China’s influence appears to be a growing concern among reasonable video game fans, and it’s something developers of all sizes will definitely have to contend with moving forward.
Clarification (07/01/2021, 10:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article was worded in a way that could be read as sympathy for the lore change, which was not the intent. We apologize for the confusion.
Update (07/07/2021, 2:25 p.m. ET): A fan mod has been released that restores this cut content on PC.