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Taiwanese horror game boycotted, removed from China market, company apologizes (taiwannews.com.tw)
81 points by ilamont 26 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

> The new horror video game called “Devotion” created an uproar among Chinese netizens when a poster in the game was discovered to mock Chinese leader Xi Jinping, by referring to him as “Winnie the Pooh.”

What? That's it? Damn. That's nothing. Maybe free speech being rampant breeds thick skins, maybe free speech is a good thing.

My friends from the mainland call these people 愤青, which means "young jingoistic men". Any sleight against China and they’ll come in droves: screeching, gibbering, and proclaiming the eternal glory of the lunar kingdom (and its subsidiaries).

These trolls just want to feel big. Bullying other countries make them feel big. Especially when the smaller country in question the one they dream of conquering.

Your entire post also perfectly describes most Americans I encounter on social media.

I think it's just young uneducated idiots, taking credit for the accomplishments of their nation that they personally had no part in to try to convince people they argue with online that they aren't as insecure as they obviously are.

It's an inferiority complex.

There's a quote I can't find that echoed this, from a former ultra-nationalist, who said she, despite being unemployed, in a rut, etc., was still a citizen of her country, and so she clung to vocal nationalism for a sense of desperately-needed purpose.

Not sure who you are referring to, but there is a great Schopenhauer quote along the same lines:

The cheapest sort of pride is national pride; for if a man is proud of his own nation, it argues that he has no qualities of his own of which he can be proud; otherwise he would not have recourse to those which he shares with so many millions of his fellow men. The man who is endowed with important personal qualities will be only too ready to see clearly in what respects his own nation falls short since their failings will be constantly before his eyes. But every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud adopts, as a last resource, pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and glad to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.

– Arthur Schopenhauer

Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life

I believe Jinping made it illegal to compare him to Winnie the Pooh and at one point you could barely talk about Winnie on Weibo because it was censored.

That's not it, but it'd be pretty effective to paint the other side as ridiculous with an incomplete picture. Check who wrote this piece.

My best guess is Winnie the Pooh was a hint that prompted people to look for more political innuendos, which they found plenty, mostly consisting of ethnic slurs at the mainlanders that mapped exactly to IRL Taiwanese slurs against the Chinese. This game was praised with a passion in China for its quality but people felt betrayed when they found out they are being played.

Taiwanese here, I can tell you it's mostly just that - they make fun of Xi's appearance. But since the joke and the term "Winnie the Pooh" is entirely blocked in China, which is totally absurd, it becomes a meta joke about China's twisted policy, implicitly.

Nope it could be just that. There’s a lot of weirdness in China about Winnie the Pooh because the dictator in charge there is sensitive about his physical resemblance to the character. You can google it and find lots of articles about it.

So is that other content you're talking about actually in there?

I found this link from r/Games to be more informative https://www.spieltimes.com/news/xi-jinping-winnie-the-pooh-m...

Again, much cultural context is lost in presenting this issue as merely censoring Winnie the Pooh. Remember, the Winnie the Pooh meme was invented by Chinese netizens to mock Xi. They continue to do so, but things stop being fun and games when the meme is used to mock themselves.

It's not about referring Xi Jinping as Winnie the Pooh, it's about puting Xi Jinping's name on 'a poster with an ancient style Taoist seal' to curse him.

I do not believe this is related to free speech because the font used in seal are rarely use today, most people can not recognize them.

or you know, just a marketing campaign cause Westerners just eat up the big bad china narrative

I can see that assumption if you shield your whole country with a great firewall.

Is China good now?


> American students from any leftist area facing nearly any conservative points of view on any issue

Lol, I love how you single out the left here, as if the American right is any different, haha

They are different.

The academy, K-12 educational establishment, news and entertainment media are all overwhelmingly ruled by exclusionary leftists. A right-winger cannot avoid massive exposure to their ideas and thus develops coping strategies. Left-wingers, on the other hand, can easily reach adulthood without ever having to actually think about and grapple with an argument against e.g. abortion or mass immigration.

It's always a little disturbing to see speech like calling a political leader “Winnie the Pooh” get such a response.

Look up what kind of speech got projects removed from GitHub (nothing to do with China or any political leader) if you really want to be disturbed. At least in this case there's a nation state involved, with a well known highly tuned propaganda machine.

Can you give an example?

Someone got memed by WeChat's censorship policy.

The reality of the situation is that most of the company's sales comes from the Chinese market, which is the reason why there are so many negative reviews. You need ownership of the game to post a Steam review. This situation could be alleviated if other people buy the game because it has English translations.

The reason for anger I've heard from Chinese gamers is that they turned this issue political whereas in the past games didn't involve politics and they're pissed that their apolitical space has been invaded. As well, streaming the game has gotten Chinese game-streamers in trouble or having to take down their streams/videos.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1006510/Devotion/ you can read the Chinese comments yourselves, they're well-written in English

> The reality of the situation is that most of the company's sales comes from the Chinese market, which is the reason why there are so many negative reviews. You need ownership of the game to post a Steam review.

Except that Steam offers full refund without removing your review. This is a well-known strategy for review spammers ;)

"Red Candle Games"'s first game was Detention. Also a "horror" adventure (wasn't that horrific thought), that was a reference and a criticism to Taiwan's so called "white terror" period:

"The term "White Terror" in its broadest meaning refers to the entire period from 1947 to 1987.[4] Around 140,000 Taiwanese were imprisoned during this period, of which from about 3,000 to 4,000 were executed for their real or perceived opposition to the Kuomintang (KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party) government led by Chiang Kai-shek." (wikipedia)

So those guys evidently don't hold in high esteem domestic or foreign oppression.

But somehow Detention was a great game for the mainland chinese and a historic remark for taiwan's atrocities to its own people (a true statement) but now they have become angry because of a pixel poster with a reference to a meme about their little dictator? I think they should change the poster with the tank man and be done with it. Too bad they can brute force their way through capitalistic ways of buying power and reviews.

It's not the PRC government, if I read it right, the take down was a result of a backlash from the gamers. There's a huge amount of "glass heart" nationalism going on online. Any slight criticism of China or Taiwan from either country invites a strong nationalist backlash against the other.

It seems these days I can't watch a Chinese video without some political fight breaking out in the comments over small perceived slights. I guess if during the height of the Cold War, the Russians made a game that made fun of the US, there may have been a similar response, but it's hard to imagine these days if a game company put an Orange Donkey Kong and called it Trump that anyone but a few Trump fans would get upset.

Of course, because their people have to comply otherwise they'll lose their social credit and their ability to travel and their organs.

As an aside, the website mentioned in the article, "Spiel Times", seems to be an Indian and not a German one. No idea how that came to be, considering their website and Twitter account show it rather clearly.

The weibo account of the person who called for a boycott of Devotion, was promptly deleted. "If repeat its words, you help to spread it, you also have responsibility". https://twitter.com/palastinalied11/status/10992952479877611...

Had not even heard of the game till now.

Streisand effect in the making?

I don't think so.

People know Taiwan != China. The censorship is a projection of power, not hiding a secret.

Nobody calling the king fat because he cuts off heads doesn't change the fact that everybody can see he is indeed overweight.

There are many (mobile) games those are released base on regional, so if it's locked for CN (or Asia in general) you'll need to sideload the games into your phones but it's risky to do it.

>We are deeply sorry for hurting everybody,”

Damn. While I get the position of the Taiwanese, I sometimes wish they'd send more middle fingers at the mainland. "yeah, xi jinping is a dumpling, fuckm, we apologise for nothing."

As if Taiwan is an existential threat to prc by hurling insults as dramatic as "Winnie the Pooh" across the strait. Just seems like more bullying to me.

I am Taiwanese who is currently studying in US college. I would like to say to hacker news: please stop supporting the Chinese government. Please try not to buy products from China. It is a bit harder, but it's possible. Last week I went to Fry's for a new pair of headphones, and it only took me a few tries before finding one made in Indonesia and another made in Thailand. If more of us do this, we can force more manufacturers to move out of China faster. Thank you.

They all use many parts made in China, so what's the point?

There is no way you can get a product which doesn't use Chinese parts as many rare metals are minned in large quantities (hences lower cost) in China only.

I guess I'd "enjoy" seeing it, but the folks who made the game have to live with the consequences. I'm not going to ask them to take that hit to amuse me.

In reality China is the one bulying Taiwan through the one China policy, open threats, reminders to reunification (through force), military bases on shoals in the South China Sea etc.

Yep. The best bit was a mainland military leader stating that anyone opposing the death of Taiwanese democracy is committing a war crime, hence deserving the death penalty. Xi is no Winnie the Pooh, and his lackeys are not happy piggies.

It's definitely bullying but it's also definitely a predictable response from the PRC given the current political climate.

Looks like PRC leadership just played perfectly into the hands of these ROC devs.

Not only did they get free publicity, but they've gotten the communist party to publicly (and internationally) telegraph not just how petty they are, but also how much the communist government fears a threat to their power from within mainland China.


Sure, I hear you, and I appreciate your appeal to fairness, because I was going to bring it up too - why is it acceptable for China to demand airlines not even recognize the sovereignty of the nation of Taiwan, but it's not acceptable for Taiwanese citizens to call the man leading the country bullying them "Winnie the Pooh?"

> why is it acceptable for China to demand airlines not even recognize the sovereignty of the nation of Taiwan

Who accept that?

I as one growing up from mainland does not think that's fair. It's just the country showing its power and influence.

Your question should be framed on the thread, not extending beyond what's currently being discussed.

>Who accept that?

Tons of PRC citizens. Why haven't they "review bombed" their own government? Why did they flock to the internet to yell at GAP when it released a sweater with the proper map of PRC on it, with no Taiwan displayed?

As for context, no discussion happens without it. We're not doing logarithms here, we're talking about geopolitics. I reject the notion that I should keep my discussion "framed."

Both Chinese and Taiwanese are the same race, so how is this racism?

No, if peoples feelings are hurt over political speech, it's fine to totally ignore their feelings.

It not only has nothing to do with race, it has nothing to do with national boundary, political association, or anything else. It's just a thing that we (westerners) take as a fundamental right.

It's irrelevant, but I also doubt that a substantial percentage of mainlanders actually have their feelings hurt by comparing the ruler to Winnie the Pooh...

> No, if peoples feelings are hurt over political speech, it's fine to totally ignore their feelings.

How is that possible. If you are educated to love someone as your dearest, how would you not taking ill if someone else is mocking that person.

It's a separate issue that if that education is good or bad. But you got to set your context right: no feeling is automatically born, it's from experience.

> but I also doubt that a substantial percentage of mainlanders actually have their feelings hurt by comparing the ruler to Winnie the Pooh...

Well, if you are not from China, then do not doubt how I would quantify the impact.

Let me tell you, a random tier-3 dota player from a SEA pro team, "kuku", said some racial slang on a pub game. And then he was threatened to death, and so many people voiced their angry that the Dota2 maker, Valve, has to officially ban that player so that he wont enter the country and causes unnecessary issues for the company (well, you know any company bend to profits).

Do not paraphrase what you know to other nations, especially one that has their culture and history inherited since 2k+ years ago.

>especially one that has their culture and history inherited since 2k+ years ago.

Can you expand on the relevance of this? It seems you're implying that your regional history and culture is somehow older/better than anyone else's. That would be silly - European culture extends so far back their early governments were eloping with Egyptian Pharos.

It's also silly because you and I have nothing at all to do with our country's history - it happened before we were born, and we didn't get a choice of nationhood.

I said different, long history implies a long different paths.

PS: I cannot help hn visitors are getting more and more narrow minded. The discussion is becoming more and more laborious as more and more good intended contexts have to be explicitly called out to avoid meaningless emotional damage repair.

> long different paths.

Sure, but you were implying the OP knew less than you, simply because you are (I assume) Chinese. This is a remarkable claim to make on the internet - the OP could be a Chinese historian steeped in far more history than yourself. It's just a strange thing to say so I wanted to call it out.

>Narrow minded

Who here has been narrow minded and in what way? When I asked why it's acceptable for Chinese netizens to downvote a game to oblivion because the game has an easter egg calling Xi Jinping "Winnie the Pooh," but not acceptable for GAP to release a proper map of the PRC on their sweaters (that doesn't include Taiwan), you answered that I was "talking out of context." I would argue in this thread you have been narrow-minded, literally "unwilling to see the other side of the argument."

Well, the op said something that is clearly misrepresentation of Chinese ethos.

> How is that possible.

Because we view the right of free political speech as vastly more important that peoples feelings.

I'm not saying people don't get their feelings hurt over political speech, they do. I'm saying that it doesn't matter and the speaker doesn't have to change what they are saying as a result. Per typical western values anyways, you are of course free to disagree. That doesn't make people racist, it has nothing to do with race (or nationality/political association/anything else).

> Well, if you are not from China, then do not doubt how I would quantify the impact.

No. This is wrong in a few ways

- Accepting a random internet persona's statements as truth without evidence is obviously ridiculous - particularly when there are known to be paid actors influencing the discussion.

- Lack of first hand experience does not mean you can't make reasonable inferences about the situation.

- One persons on the ground experience does not generalize to a billion people.

That said, I don't really particularly care to debate whether or not a substantial number of peoples feelings were hurt. I don't think it's important and I don't think it's a discussion that is likely to result in any useful progress in anyone's understanding of the situation.

Yeah, Trump is regularly compared to a lot worse.

When I buy a game, or any consumable for that matter, I'm not expecting angry rogue staff to hide political Easter eggs. There's a place for activism/satire, but perhaps not on the salary of a presumably neutral employer.

Easter eggs and the like are a very long and old tradition. Heck, there is even stuff one of my past employers shipped, including in production networking code. The customers that found it laughed quite hard and asked for the details.

I suggest that you refrain from buying anything.

This is going to sound like a killjoy, but it's all fun and games until an Easter egg unintentionally introduces a weak point. Microsoft made a point of banning them entirely, and high profile easter eggs these days are well designed and tested, not inserted by one person for kicks :)

The Easter Egg I was referring to had autotest coverage. We are professionals. :)

Well, banning "pooh the winnie" is more like what "rogue" stands for.

What makes you so sure it was “rogue” staff that put the imagery in?

That's what the article said, unless the developer made it up for damage control. I'm not defending the abhorrent overreacting that led to the company self-censoring. It's just, if the game makers scripted this and designed it intentionally it would be great and a whole different story. Otherwise it's kind of like buying a comic to find an artist hid animal rights messages in it. It doesn't mean I'm against animal rights, but it just feels unintentional, kind of like a bug.

I believe the company put out a statement to that effect - they're casting blame on a single employee.

Could just be damage control while they snigger behind their hands for all I know.

Deliberate by the company to get their game name out. I've never heard of this game, but I'm sure it's doing the rounds now.

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