Angry fans get #BoycottGenshin trending in response to hit game’s ‘racist’ Hilichurls portrayal
Genshin Impact is currently on the receiving end of a blistering social media backlash in response to its poor representation, most notably the way the game’s Hilichurl enemies are portrayed.
From Chinese developer Mihoyo, the free-to-play anime action adventure game was released last year and has continued to grow hugely popular ever since. And that’s despite its controversial Gacha system that randomises items and characters players receive by paying with real money.
Yet the representation in the game has been questioned by fans, with #boycottgenshin trending on Twitter.
The main point of concern is the game’s Hilichurl enemies. The goblin-like creatures are always shown wearing tribal masks and have dances inspired by indigenous people, which players are calling out as racist.
The enemies are represented as savages in the wilderness. According to the game’s Archive system they are “primitive wandering inhabitants of Teyvat’s wildernesses. They look very similar to humanity but seem to have lost both their intellect and spirituality”.
“Their presence on the continent has been recorded for over a thousand years, and yet they have neither history nor civilisation.”
A video tour of the studio also shows an artist designing the characters with a video of tribesmen dancing used as a reference.
Others have lamented the overall lack of dark-skinned characters in a game with 30 playable characters available through the randomised Gacha system. Xinyan in particular is described as having a “fierce appearance making her look like some incorrigible villain”.
— ًklo ! (@tartaglified) April 6, 2021
Players have also criticised one particular relationship that appears to be paedophilic. The character Ulfra aims to profess his love to Flora with a boat made of dandelions; Flora, however, is just a child.
— gummy (@gummyphos) April 6, 2021
Many fans are furious with Mihoyo and calling for a boycott of the game.
#boycottgenshin i dont wanna hear ppl complaining abt bringing “politics” and shit into the game when mihoyo chose to base off regions within teyvat on real countries and then totally obliterate the representation and not expect ppl to get mad
— lemon (@DEVILM4NZ) April 6, 2021
#boycottgenshin how the fuck is sumeru supposed to be a "mix" of indian and middle eastern culture ?? theyre both very different cultures. mihoyo mixing them together is just rly weird
— halo 🧊 (@oikawater) April 6, 2021
#boycottgenshin this is how your "darkskin" characters should look. not 2 shades below pale. not fluctuating tones. they should have darkskin. also we're not exotic and scary u can write darkskin characters without using colorism and racism as a big plotpoint 🙂 @GenshinImpact pic.twitter.com/MZ2pi1udqC
— 辛焱 🎸 (@xinyanluvsu) April 6, 2021
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 | ia (@EM0GOJO) April 6, 2021
its nice that yall are talkin abt this but dont turn this into a "mihoyo's so greedy!! not givin us primos or new content" cuz while that is its own problem the treatment of darker skinned characters and literally villainizing indigenous ppl is much more important #boycottgenshin
— AJA⚡ (@BElGUANG) April 6, 2021
The backlash now has its own backlash, with fans of the game either interpreting backstories differently and disagreeing about certain points, or pointing out the game’s fantasy setting – suggesting that excuses the poor representation.
— Shichiro (@SNCHGA) April 6, 2021
#boycottgenshin This is the truth a lot of you need to hear. Stop trying to justify your own narcissistic narrative, and actually do your research before trying to jump on the cancel wagon. It’s unsightly watching so many sheep trying to be something they’re not. pic.twitter.com/usDMvmZm36
— Unknown (@Unkn0wn__Gh0st) April 6, 2021
Mihoyo themselves are yet to comment.