Earlier this month Mihoyo introduced a number of new outfits for select characters in Genshin Impact. Jean, Amber, Mona, and Rosaria have all received revised outfits that cover up skin, reduce cleavage, and seek to depict the women from a more modest perspective. This free-to-play JRPG has always been a little horny, resulting in an avalanche of fanart whenever a new hero is revealed, so it’s no surprise that this sudden reveal has been met with a mixture of applause and uproar. Simmer down, gamers...
You’re probably confused as to why, but it makes much more sense once I break down the context. These outfits are mandatory in China, replacing the default outfits so the characters fit new regulations put in place by the Chinese government. It requires characters to be less sexualised, while ensuring they aren’t a negative influence on the youth or promoting values that might cause them to catch the gay. Venti, a feminine male character was pointed out as a specific example, but his outfit remains unchanged because it isn’t filthy in slightest. Twinks ruin everything and now we’re all paying the price I suppose.
They can’t be switched off right now, so many fans have been quick to cry out censorship as Mihoyo bows to the communist powers that be. The thing is, the studio is merely operating within the strict parameters it sadly has no control over. If these changes weren’t made, it’s likely the consequences would have been far more dire and the game could have been changed in much larger ways. Yet it is already on the market, and these changes could be made without having a huge impact on its sizable international audience.
The new outfits are being added as a bonus in other countries, with the default looks remaining so it simply feels like a piece of free downloadable content more than anything else, a way of not rocking the boat for those who aren’t tuned in enough with China’s current attitude towards the industry. It’s a sticky situation, with game submissions in China currently being frozen or operating at a glacial pace due to a number of studios big and small unable to push their projects through the pipeline due to the government. It sucks, and I feel sorry for the passionate developers having their work hamstrung by something out of its control.
Despite the political reality underpinning Genshin Impact’s existence, I have to admit that the new outfits are awfully fabulous. Mihoyo could have thrown a sheet over these lecherous harlots and called it a day, but instead it decided to craft new skins that not only fit the personality of each character, but offer them an added level of aesthetic depth that I almost prefer. I’m a giant gay, so I’ve nothing against cute girls kicking ass, but Genshin Impact often leaned into awkward anime archetypes with characters who both looked underaged and were clearly sexualised to appeal to a certain audience. Sorry weebs, it’s a bit dodgy.
Jean’s chest is now lacking skin completely, replaced with a blouse that makes her feel like a professional businesswoman who also happens to wield a sword that murders goblins. Her gloves are also more pronounced, taking attention away from a figure which has received some minor adjustments. Mona and Amber have received similar adjustments, with changes being made across their entire appearance to reduce cleavage and avoid drawing attention to parts of the body that gamers might view as a point of sexualisation. It feels a bit excessive to me, but it’s been executed in a way that feels both stylish and practical.
The essence of these characters isn’t lost. Well, for the most part. Rosaria has easily received the most significant transformation, with the majority of her body now being covered by a flowing black outfit that covers her chest, shoulders, and thighs that were once defined by fishnets. She worked in a church, so there was definitely something fetishy going on there. Mihoyo seems savvy enough to know that these characters mean a lot to people, especially given how they’re rolled out in a gacha system that players will spend hundreds on merely trying to roll them. The aesthetic is half the appeal, so nuking it months after the fact is bound to piss a few people off. Yet this works, and part of me believes that these adjustments will be slowly rolled out for other characters if China doesn’t change.
I’m not sure what the future holds for all of the games coming out of China and the studios working within its system of government, but changes like this in Genshin Impact are a positive compromise that could have been so much worse. I hope the submissions system becomes more relaxed in the months to come, but for now - at least we have some cute outfits to entertain ourselves with. It is censorship, regardless of how relaxed it might seem, and there’s a conversation worth having about how far this might stretch before creators are forced to give up their creative integrity in order to appease requirements that are far from reasonable.
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No matter what games women play, we get told to play something else