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

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Genshin Impact 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.

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 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.

As Genshin Impact developer miHoYo is based out of China, many see this as part of the country’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 also presumably 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.

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

Comments

  • Today I Learned: the game has somewhere you can type things.
    It’s so hard to believe that people would willingly seek out ways to ruin a perfectly amazing single-player RPG experience, but there you have it.

    • (This from the same guy whose pipe-dream wishlists include 2-player co-op for Skyrim and Fallout. IT’S NOT HYPOCRISY, I ONLY WANT TO PLAY WITH MY PARTNER.)

  • There is a moral choice when we support companies who comply with such laws. Whilst I feel for the developers of GI, the reality is money earned by GI is paid in tax back to the PRC, which supports the regime, and ergo said law.

    Thus RIP me continuing to play GI, its a pretty good game overall.

    • I’d say it definitely sucks, but these devs are people too, trying to earn a living. China will always be putting restraints on their citizens like this

      • This all comes down to personal calls, and with this sort of thing, while I totally understand and respect people drawing the line here, I can’t get too mad at it. Because, yeah, this is just a development team sticking to (objectionable) government restrictions. Nothing about Genshin Impact actually pushes objectionable rhetoric on this front as far as I know, it’s just a game doing its own thing that happens to be required to adhere to terrible regulations in ways that don’t affect the thing they’re trying to make.

      • Mind posting next week’s tatts numbers while checking what China will always be doing with that time machine of yours? Somebody is always doing something, until they’re not.

  • Hey look… Actual facism… By actual facists… People could learn a thing or two if they looked into China’s workings over the last near century…

    Oh wait… They aren’t right wing.. so they can’t be facists.

    *Grabs popcorn*

    • I thought the definition of fascism in 2020 was ‘People that either disagree with, or think differently to, me.’ At least thats how it seems to be when perusing social media and various online sites.

    • Oh, I can assure you, if you can’t find left-wing criticism of the Chinese government, you aren’t looking hard enough.

      Including actual arguments that they aren’t in fact socialist. You read their definition of that in relation to their globalist and capitalist policies, and they’re doing enough gymnastics to qualify for their own Olympics team. It’s just that most left wing movements tend to have more close-to-home issues to rally against, so it’s not exactly their number one priority.

  • I suspected this might be the case when I downloaded it on the weekend, when I started it showed me the T&C’s which indicated something along the lines that the governing law for the agreement was Hong Kong, which is now basically the same as China. No thanks, deleted.

  • OMG! A Chinese game that complies with Chinese law? The Horror.

    People have a choice. Play a really good free mobile RPG, or not.

    My perspective? If you play it you’re supporting a Chinese company, who’ve complied with local law because the alternative isn’t great. You’re not condoning the Chinese Government or any of their policies.

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