Is Hoyoverse Colorist?

Dehya, the darker-skinned character on the right, is one of the few examples of representation in Genshin Impact. Source:

By Nahomy Vega, Staff Writer

The game company Hoyoverse is known for their well-known game, “Genshin Impact,” which gained the hearts of many players upon its release due to the characters, lore, and soundtrack. However, in the past few months since the release of the new nation of wisdom Sumeru inside “Genshin Impact”, fans have pointed out many flaws in the characters and their representation. 

   As of now, the game has confirmed a cast of over 50 playable characters, even more on the way. They come from different nations which are based on real places, such as Liyue (Lee-weh) taking inspiration from China, and Inazuma taking inspiration from Edo-period Japan. The most recent nation is named Sumeru, and is based on South Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African culture. Its architecture in nature and buildings is beautiful and dreamlike. This seems like a great opportunity to introduce a very diverse selection of characters.  

   Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. More than half of the Sumerian characters are very pale, even including the god that represents the nation. This has caused a huge uproar in the Genshin community and has even made players quit because of the lack of effort in design diversity. A certain character that was the target of these comments and remarks is Dori, a merchant from Sumeru. After her release, many people have claimed she is a harmful stereotype to the Middle Eastern people. This is because of her greed, obsession with money, and her design overall. The character wields a spirit-holding lamp and a djinn/jinni, which has made it more obvious to fans that she was built off stereotypes. This stands out a lot to me and makes me believe so.  

   The few dark-skinned characters are just as good as the others; however, they tend to be treated unfairly in game by other characters. For instance, rock and roll musician, Xinyan (seen-yan), has said in-game, “Some folks say I’ve got eyes like knives, that I don’t wear my clothes right, that I don’t speak right. They give me a pretty wide berth, too.” This demonstrates the discrimination she must endure.  

However, other characters apart from Xinyan have faced similar treatment. Another example is how she simply looks at children, and they begin crying. Xinyan is sometimes even seen as a threat to others. This is very similar to what really occurs in the real world. For example, people of color, such as Asians and Black people, have to endure the looks and negative comments from others for simply being themselves. 

   Because of the rising dislike of Genshin’s characters, people have investigated another one of Hoyoverse’s games, “Honkai Impact”. Being a game that is not as popular as Genshin, it was only recently that an issue came to light with a character named Carole Pepper, a presumably dark-skinned character. In one of the game’s cut scenes, she claims to be “dark as dark can be,” and, “…Can’t get more sun.” Carole is only tan-skinned but sees herself as much darker. Players believed this was a colorist moment in the game and blamed Hoyoverse for even being racist. In my view, “colorist” has been thrown around with no significant meaning, but the game company has shown several examples of possibly being colorist. 

   However, the company has listened to the many complaints by fans. In response, they have added non-playable characters (NPC’s) and opponents with darker skin tones. Many people decided to accept this as a small amount of representation, but the complaints keep coming. 

   Apart from all of this, the game still has its charming elements that leave players hooked. This game has so much potential ahead of it, and so many other nations on the way and even more characters. It’s not too late for this great money-making company to add more inclusive characters to this huge cast.  

The cultures out there that inspire the nations in this game have made people all over the world open up about their issues on the lack of representation. So why not do the world a favor and make everyone feel included? Simply darkening the skin tones of the characters, specifically the Sumerians, can change so much. Having this representation can gain the hearts of even more people.

Several Tweets of fans complaining about the lack of good representation in “Genshin Impact” 

  • “Very disappointed that Genshin has officially chosen to uphold and profit from colorist standards, even when taking inspiration from the real life Kandakes from Kush…” – User 0x1lovemaze 
  • “After I get Scaramouche, I’m dropping Genshin. I hate this colorist game and I hope it dies out.” –User dorqy 
  • “The overwhelming desire to grab the Genshin community and violently shake them… So they can listen and understand why people are upset about the new character designs.” -User crispglassomilk