Genshin Impact and the Censorship of Taiwan, Hong Kong and More
It's always going to be a strange one when talking about Genshin Impact and what we expect from games and the developers. For those unaware, developers MiHoYo is from and based in China. The expectations we place on companies can't completely apply here for the simple fact that any company in China, despite any claims to the contrary, can find itself at the whim of the government. In some situations, there's no such thing as 'choice'.
The news is fairly simple. Genshin Impact, worldwide, has a block on the words "Taiwan" and "Hong Kong", with "Hong" and "Kong" also blocked separately. This was pointed out online by Twitter user Kazuma Hashimoto and subsequently verified by ourselves and many others.
Due to Genshin Impact censoring the words Taiwan and Hong Kong in the in-game chat I will no longer be posting about the game.
— Kazuma Hashimoto (@JusticeKazzy_) October 6, 2020
I want to make it clear that I don't actually have any personal problem with MiHoYo and Genshin Impact over this. As explained by Daniel Ahmad, this is passed down by the Chinese government.
All games released in China have to go through the same approvals process and can be slapped down for any reason, before or after release. Infractions can include an easter-egg reference to Winnie the Pooh. It's led to companies making, then reverting changes to something as simple as set dressing in the environment. That's why you find so many games that have a version for China and an international version. But what regulation results in these regulations?
While I have no qualms with MiHoYo censoring the words and abiding by the regulations set down, as much as the regulations are nonsense, I wish that they would have gone further. As mentioned, many titles have both a Chinese version and then an international version, I wish this was the case with Genshin Impact.
One thing I want to return to is what I said at the very start of this piece. Applying the same expectations to MiHoYo as you would Blizzard, for example, doesn't quite work. Blizzard, with their banning and continued punishment of Blitzchung, the two stream casters and J. Allen Brack's nonpology (it was not a "tough Heathstone esports moment") is much worse.
Simply put, don't be too angry at MiHoYo. They are in a difficult position. Ask them to allow for different versions with the removal of censorship outside of China. Don't stop playing the game, it's a great game and shows the fantastic work that can come out of China. Also, never forget that a much bigger company like Activision-Blizzard will not apologise, despite claiming they are. They'll also state they respect people's right to express themselves while censoring people who do.