Genshin Impact’s Latest Event Reminds Us It’s Always Been Very Gay

Genshin Impact’s Latest Event Reminds Us It’s Always Been Very Gay
Illustration: miHoYo

Queer Genshin Impact players have been eating well this month. During the gacha game’s anniversary web event, playable character Chongyun blushed as he stood with another playable character, Xingqiu. Later during the Moonchase Festival main quest, Xingqiu offered to read a romance novel to him (despite being a novelist of martial arts stories).

These moments haven’t come out of nowhere. The Genshin developer miHoYo has a history of embedding queerness into both events and seasonal content.

Since free-to-play Genshin Impact launched a year ago, it’s seen massive global success. Its characters bring in millions of dollars upon release, which makes their characterization even more important. That includes making it clear when playable characters are queer.

The earliest example I remember is bringing women’s perfume for Liyue’s god Zhongli’s funeral.

The fairy companion Paimon eventually asks, “Does that mean that [the god] is actually an older lady?”

When confronted by this hypothesis, Zhongli only replied, “[The god] has taken on countless forms. Perhaps that really was one of them.”

Later, I collected a novel called Rex Incognito, which further explored the legend of the god’s female form. These aren’t just one-off jokes. While never shown visually, the god’s non-commitment to a single gender was integrated as a core part of his legend.

During the spring event “Invitation to Windblume,” I had to help free Bennett and Razor from a cell they were trapped in. This would have been utterly unremarkable in itself, except Bennett had written a love poem to Razor while they were trapped together. There’s no heterosexual explanation for the line “You and the Mare Jivari, so close and yet so far. One at the edge of the world, the other in the centre of my heart. Wolfhook and dandelion, my windblume offering to you.”

While it’s possible to call these queer moments an appeal to fanservice, not even NPCs are safe from Genshin Impact’s inclusion of gay characters. Ningguang has female secretaries who openly crush on their boss. A generic side character named Ellin pays very flattering compliments to the playable knight Jean and asks for advice on delivering a bouquet of flowers to her. While exploring the Inazuma region, I had to fight an emotionally repressed samurai before he would allow his old friend to confess his true feelings to him. While this example was less blatant, all of the emotional beats felt like they were taken from a romantic drama.

Once I reached Watatsumi Island, however, all subtlety was thrown out the window. The NPCs Kumi and Anisa flirt with each other at the end of their quest, and the player character admonishes their fairy companion for not realising that a situation had become romantic. These intense moments between plain-looking NPCs don’t contribute to fanservice, but they’re integral to building a world where same-gender relationships are a normal part of everyday life — something that Fire Emblem: Three Houses failed to do, despite having gay romance options.

I get it, gay readers. Some people are going to be disappointed that nobody gets married outright and that every relationship could be misconstrued as friendship. But frankly, I’m ok with that in a game that’s also ambiguous about the romance between straight characters (I’m still convinced that Zhongli was only very good friends with the dust goddess). And if we’re constantly trying to prove that gay content isn’t real unless a kiss was involved, then we deny ourselves the joy of seeing a larger spectrum of queer experiences.

Comments

  • It’s made by a Chinese developer. There’s no way they’re going through with any gay romance with the CCP haveingscreaming tantrums over feminine men, let alone actual gay people. What’s more disappointing is people like this article writer repeatedly ignoring that the country it’s developed in is run by a tyrannical dictatorship that murders gay people and sells their organs to the highest bidder. You can’t write these articles and ignore that major detail as if the developers themselves don’t risk ending up in a camp somewhere for including gay people.

    • So all articles, regardless of subject, must be viewed through a political lens, gotcha.

      …..actually looking back, are you sure about that? It’s just that I could swear your often very critical of that in almost every other context that it appears, even when it’s the actual subject of that article.
      (I could be thinking of somebody else, cbf going back to look so my apologies if I’m off there)

      Personally I wouldn’t read Kotaku at all if there wasn’t at least some separation, especially when the subjects your referring are already well represented.
      Could you imagine if every story about Australian games/devs/people could only be viewed through criticisms of our government?

      • I think you need to reread the part that says “the country it’s developed in run by a tyrannical dictatorship that murders gay people and sells their organs to the highest bidder”. That includes the people who support LGBT people, since you don’t seem to have read an international newspaper for the last two decades. What the article author is suggesting to be the case would get people disappeared in that country due to the CCP’s ban on LGBT content and it’s delusional to pretend otherwise. I know you don’t actually care about the difficulties developers in China face, but I’d rather not have “miHoYo executives disappear” in a headline down the track regardless of their crappy business practices.

        China is a totalitarian dictatorship that makes all activities within its borders political and threatens its citizens for going against the party line. So yeah, maybe you should take up your disingenuous bullshit and false equivalence with someone who cares.

  • Yeah this wont be in the game much longer. New rules from the CCP have basically banned any LGBTQ representation or themes in video games released there. Which is terrible. Even more terrible is that this has gotten NO coverage at all in Western games media, The same media that is supposedly very pro LGBTQ.

    Very telling.

    • If Kotaku wants to write 1000000 articles on this happening in China, I’m down to read and comment on all of them.

    • I’m with you but a simple search shows that very subject has been covered quite a bit over September with outlets investigating/exploring the impacts on LBGT representation on the back of the anti effeminate rules and increasingly over the last few days since the leak dropped.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!