What’s up with the Boycott Genshin Impact trend on Twitter?
#BoycottGenshin and #miHoYodobetter trended a few days ago on Twitter. The open-world fantasy game became the subject of much fan outrage because of various accusations. But this trend really started from accusations of racism and representation thrown towards miHoYo, the game’s developers. We dive into what sparked this trend, and what the facts are, as we talk about what Boycott Genshin Impact is all about.
#BOYCOTTGENSHIN BECAUSE HILICHURLS ARE RACIST
i want to talk about the #BOYCOTTGENSHIN tag. as an a indigenous person, i just want to say that the hilichurls being inspired by indigenous people is absolutely not okay. people used to laugh at their dance and just people (including me) now finding out about this is really +
— ًsage zZz (@EM0GOJO) April 6, 2021
An old Genshin Impact behind-the-scenes video that resurfaced on the web gave the spark for #BoycottGenshin to trend on Twitter. A segment of the video discussed their character design workflow, which includes the design for Hilichurls. In Genshin Impact, Hilichurls are a goblin-like species and serve as one of the game’s most common enemies. The controversy comes from split-second footage of a Hilichurl model in the works. The footage, which we spot briefly at the 1:31 mark of the video, shows the designer referencing what looks like an indigenous people dancing.
Fans, called miHoYo with the #mihoyodobetter hashtag for this alleged racism and misrepresentation. Critics claim that miHoYo basing the Hilichurls, who people claim to be stupid and savage, on actual indigenous people is culturally insensitive. “I just want to say that the hilichurls being inspired by indigenous people is absolutely not okay,” one Twitter user writes. “People used to laugh at their dance and… finding out about this… makes us feel like we’re being mocked for something that means so much to us.”
While not the originator of the trend, this thread resonated with many people. Many of the replies echoed the fan’s sentiments, and shared their own thoughts as to why miHoYo did this in bad taste. Amplifying the calls for #mihoyotodobetter, this hashtag along with the much bigger #BoycottGenshin and its other variations reached over a hundred thousand tweets by different users.
THE TWO CAMPS ON THE HILICHURL DEPICTION ARGUMENT IN THE GENSHIN IMPACT COMMUNITY
In spite of what critics say, Hilichurls are actually depicted with more nuance in the game’s lore. The game’s texts describe the goblin-like humanoids as somewhat cultured. They have a language, have their dances and rituals, and can organize into groups and make encampments.
There are two camps on how to read this depiction in light of the #BoycottGenshin trend. The critics point this out as evidence of Hilichurls supposedly being a stand-in for uncivilized human races. The fact that they have a foreign language and have dance and rituals similar to indigenous peoples exemplifies this.
However, on the other side, fans defend miHoYO stating that the developers simply created generic enemy mobs inspired by monsters from other games, such as the ones found in Breath of the Wild. They also defend the usage of the indigenous peoples dancing as mere inspiration for animating how a primitive individual would dance. Even yet, there are others who believe that miHoYo were simply ignorant of the implications of their designs, and had no ill intent in their actions.
ACCUSATIONS OF PEDOPHILIA, RACIST UNDERTONES AMPLIFY #BOYCOTTGENSHIN
Meanwhile, many fans used the growing movement to boycott Genshin Impact to air other concerns. This includes accusations of pedophilia. In the game, there are two characters pointed to by fans to support the claim that miHoYo overtly promotes pedophilia through Genshin Impact. One of these is Albert, a “super fan” of Barbara. He hangs around outside the Mondstadt Cathedral, waiting for Barbara to appear. In the Daily Quest “Stop Albert, Stop!”, one of the nuns asks the player to shoo away Albert, because his presence outside the cathedral for extended periods of time bothers the nuns.
People point out that Albert’s behavior towards Barbara, aged between 16 to 18, constitutes pedophilia. Meanwhile, detractors of this claim point out that Albert’s script doesn’t indicate any form of romantic interest towards Barbara. He’s just a super fan, same as how others might be a super fan of groups like TWICE.
The other character referenced by players is Ulfr who says in his dialogue that he loves Flora. Flora appears in the game as a little girl who sells flowers. This causes people to refer to Ulfr as a pedophile for his supposed love for a young girl. However, many other players have also pointed out that miHoYo intended Flroa to be an adult in earlier builds of the game. Changing her into a little girl later on in development led to this unintentional interaction.
Finally, some players also called out miHoYo’s depictions of Kaeya and Xinyan to both reinforce negative racial stereotypes. However, these two accusations don’t hold water. A mistranslation referred to Kaeya as “exotic” instead of “foreign”. Meanwhile, Xinyan scares off little kids because of her angry expression, not her skin color.
SHOULD YOU CANCEL YOUR WELKIN SUBSCRIPTION?
That depends on you. As an informed individual, you have the right to form your own opinions. However, bear in mind that people see things differently. Most especially for people of color and indigenous people, they have every right to feel offended by depictions of their culture. Ask yourself why you are feeling offended on behalf of another culture. Make sure that your motives don’t root from any condescending notions you may have on others.
To truly #BoycottGenshin means completely abstaining from playing the game, so fans who continue to do so are being hypocritical. Boycotting something is a personal choice anyone is entitled to make. However, advocating #BoycottGenshin while still playing the game is dishonest.
Let’s all be honest with what we feel, but also be informed people. Basing our opinions on others is not only irresponsible, it’s a disservice to yourself as a person capable of forming your own opinions. Finally, let’s not join trends just to make us feel like we belong to a larger, righteous crowd. Do boycott things that you feel negative about, but don’t join a movement just because you see a lot of people doing the same. Again, boycotting is a personal choice. Make it about how it affects you and what you want the company to do.