Genshin Impact fans have been looking forward to the new Sumeru region since it was first mentioned in launch trailer as early as 2020. But since the new one Sumerian heroes expired online yesterdayfans are concerned that the developers have been whitewashing the characters.
The Community as a whole agrees that Sumeru is based mainly on the cultures of South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA). The Sumeru character from the launch trailer had a head like an Egyptian jackal, and many of the NPCs in the region have Arabic or Sanskrit names. Before the new characters hit the internet, Genshin fans were nervous about how the Shanghai-based studio would handle SWANA’s characters in the game. GenshinThe cast is particularly bright, with only two exceptions, and all of Sumeru’s NPCs in the game are just as light. So while the leaks aren’t necessarily the final designs, fans aren’t optimistic about the chances of getting darker characters that would help the character on the list feel more representative of Southwest Asia and North Africa.
This is not the first time the studio has faced performance criticism. The last important case happened in April last yearwhen fans found a video of Genshin developers referring to local dances for the animalistic enemies of Hillicherl. Fans were also upset that the playing knight Kaeya was described as “exotic” – a term that many people of color find dehumanizing (this was later excluded from the English localization). What makes the recent leaks upsetting to people is this Genshin will receive year-round content based on HoYoverse’s interpretation of SWANA people. If developers do not comply with critical feedback, then it costs a whole year Genshin the content will potentially be overshadowed by the wrong move, an unpleasant prospect for players from SWANA’s legacy.
As a result of these leaks, fans who want darker-skinned characters are already beginning to become estranged from the fandom. Some have been subjected to racist commentsand others had to justify why a hero named Kusanali shouldn’t I look like a fairy from Mondstadt. This is an ugly situation that is likely to continue as Sumeru receives live updates in the next big series of patches. IN Genshin community can be a racist to even accurate Chinese presentation. Any significant mistakes in the way SWANA characters are portrayed will be reinforced by the racist sentiments that already exist in the fandom.
Some fans wanted a representation from the SWANA region, but had concerns about how Sumeru blended multiple cultural influences into one composite city-state. This creative decision was particularly alienating because the previous regions were based on individual countries: Germany, China and Japan.
Community enthusiasts speculate that Sumeru is not based on any modern nation, but potentially on the ancient Zoroastrian civilizations from First Persian Empire, which really covers the territories of many modern countries. And it is likely that Sumer himself was named after the Mesopotamian civilization Sumer. So it is quite possible that Sumeru was well researched and respected for his knowledge. But fans are still estranged from HoYoverse’s apparent reluctance to include darker-skinned people as game characters. Especially when the company will make money from the gach pulls on SWANA characters.
Genshin Impact is a fictional work, but has made significant efforts to connect Teywat’s fictional world with real history and culture. If HoYoverse was so interested in Sumeru’s historical accuracy as he obviously did for Inazuma, then you have to release game characters that are darker than white or beige. And like some gach fans have indicatedthe recently released action-RPG Dislyte there are more darker-skinned characters in the cast, although it is also produced by a Chinese company.
And frankly, I’m not moved by the argument that Chinese developers don’t know about racism or that they don’t understand the importance of accurate and respectful presentation. The developers clearly knew their global audience may react poorly to Yun Jin’s revelation when they make a video in defense its traditional Chinese opera design. I had a beautiful, affirming experience as I played Yun Jin’s quest. I just want my SWANA friends to be able to experience the same thing I did.