Genshin Impact Fans have been looking forward to the new Sumeru region ever since it was first mentioned in launch trailer back in 2020. But ever since new twilight characters leaked online yesterdayfans expressed concern that the developers whitewash characters.
The community generally agrees that Sumeru is primarily based on the cultures of Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA). The character Sumeru from the launch trailer had an Egyptian-like jackal head and many NPCs from the region Arab or Sanskrit names. Before the new characters leaked onto the internet, Genshin Fans were nervous about how the Shanghai-based studio would handle the introduction of SWANA characters into the game. Genshinthe cast is noticeably fair-skinned, with two exceptions, and all of Sumeru’s non-player characters in the game are similarly fair-skinned. So even though the leaks aren’t necessarily the final design, fans aren’t optimistic about the chances of getting darker-skinned characters, which would help the character roster feel more representative of Southwest Asia and North Africa.
This isn’t the first time the studio has been criticized for being representative. The last large copy happened last Aprilwhen fans discovered the video Genshin the developers refer to the dances of the indigenous peoples as animal enemies of the Hilichurl. Fans were also upset that Kaei’s playable knight was described as “exotic”, a term many people of color consider inhuman (this was later fixed english localization). What makes the recent leaks frustrating for people is that Genshin will receive year-long content based on HoYoverse’s interpretation of the SWANA people. If the developers do not take into account critical feedback, then a whole year Genshin the content could be marred by a bug, which is a nasty prospect for SWANA legacy players.
As a result of these leaks, fans who want black characters are already beginning to alienate themselves from the fandom. Some have been racist commentswhile others had to make excuses why a character named Kusanali should not looks like a fairy from Mondstadt. This is an unfortunate situation that will likely continue as Sumeru receives real-time updates in the next series of major patches. Genshin community might be racist to even exact Chinese representation. Any significant misrepresentation of SWANA characters will be exacerbated by the racist sentiment that already exists within the fandom.
Some fans wanted to be represented by the SWANA region, but there were concerns about how Sumeru combined several cultural influences into one composite city-state. This creative decision was especially alienating because previous regions were based on individual countries: Germany, China, and Japan.
Public knowledge enthusiasts speculate that Sumeru is not based on any modern nation, but potentially on an ancient one. Zoroastrian civilizations belonging First Persian Empire, which really covered the territories of several modern countries. And it is likely that Sumeru itself is named after the Mesopotamian civilization. Sumer. So it is possible that Sumeru can be well studied and respectful in terms of his knowledge. But fans are still expressing alienation due to HoYoverse’s apparent reluctance to include black people as playable characters. Especially when the company is making money from gacha pulling SWANA characters.
Genshin Impact is a fictional work, but significant efforts have been made to connect the fictional world of Teyvat with real history and culture. If only HoYoverse cared so much about Sumeru’s historical accuracy same for inazuma, then it must produce playable characters darker than white or beige. And like some gacha fans indicatednewly released role playing game Dislit It features more black characters despite being produced by a Chinese company.
And frankly, I’m not moved by the argument that developers in China are unaware of racism, or that they don’t understand the importance of accurate and respectful representation. The developers clearly knew that their global audience Might react badly to Yoon Jin’s revelation when they filmed a defense video her traditional Chinese opera design. I had a wonderful, validating experience when I played Yoon Jin’s Quest. I just want my SWANA friends to experience the same experience as me.
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