Genshin Impact fans are upset with ‘pampered’ Sumeru leaks

Cyno holds a long spear.

screenshot: HoYoverse / YouTube / Kotaku

Genshin Impact Fans have been eagerly awaiting the new region of Sumeru since it was first mentioned in a launch trailer way back in 2020. But since the new Sumeru sign leaked online yesterdayFans have expressed concerns that the developers have been wash white the characters.

The community largely agrees that Sumeru is primarily based on the cultures of Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA). The launch trailer’s Sumeru character had an Egyptian jackal head, and many of the NPCs from the region have one Arabic or Sanskrit names. Before the new characters hit the internet, genshin Fans were nervous about how the Shanghai-based studio would handle having SWANA characters in the game. genshinThe cast of is notably light-skinned, with just two exceptions, and all of the Sumeru NPCs in the game are similarly light-colored. While the leaks aren’t necessarily the final designs, fans aren’t optimistic about the chances of getting dark-skinned characters who do would help make the character roster feel more representative of Southwest Asia and North Africa.

This isn’t the first time the studio has been criticized for representation. The last great instance took place in April last yearwhen fans spotted a video of genshin Developers refer to indigenous dances for the animalistic hilichurl enemies. Fans were also upset that the playable knight character, Kaeya, was described as “exotic,” a term many people of color find dehumanizing (that was later removed from English localization). What the recent leaks have upset people for is this genshin will receive a full year of content based on HoYover’s interpretation of the SWANA people. If the developers don’t take into account the critical feedback, then a whole year genshin Content may be affected by the misstep, an uncomfortable prospect for players with SWANA heritage.

As a result of these leaks, fans who want dark-skinned characters are already beginning to alienate themselves from the fandom. Some have been subjected racist commentsand others had to justify why a character named “Kusanali” shouldn’t do it look like a fairy from Mondstadt. It’s an ugly situation that will likely continue as Sumeru receives live updates in the next major patch series. That genshin community can be racist towards even accurate Chinese representation. Any significant flaws in the portrayal of SWANA characters are compounded by racial sentiment already present in the fandom.

However, some fans wanted a representation from the SWANA region had concerns about how Sumeru blended multiple cultural influences into a composite city-state. This creative choice was particularly disconcerting since previous regions were based on individual countries: Germany, China, and Japan.

Community enthusiasts have speculated that Sumeru is not based on a modern nation, but may be ancient Zoroastrian Civilizations of First Persian Empire, which included the territories of several present-day countries. And it’s likely that Sumeru itself is named after the Mesopotamian civilization sumer. So it’s entirely possible that Sumeru is well researched and respectful when it comes to its lore. But fans are still alienated by HoYoverse’s apparent reluctance to include black people as playable characters. Especially if the company benefits financially from gacha pulls on SWANA characters.

Genshin Impact is a work of fiction, but it has taken considerable effort to blend the fictional world of Teyvat with real history and culture. If HoYoverse cared about Sumeru’s historical accuracy just as much as was clearly the case for Inazuma, then it should unlock playable characters that are darker than white or beige. And like some gacha fans have pointed outthe recently released action RPG Dislyte has more black characters in its cast, although it’s also produced by a Chinese company.

And frankly, I’m not moved by the argument that Chinese developers don’t know anything about racism or that they don’t understand the importance of accurate and respectful portrayal. The developers clearly knew their global audience might react badly to Yun Jin’s revelation If you made a defense video their traditional Chinese opera design. I had a nice, affirming experience playing Yun Jin’s Quest. I just want my SWANA friends to be able to experience the same as me.