Interview: Mike Ren Yi

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Mike Ren Yi has developed a reputation as a controversial game designer. As a diasporic Chinese American living in Shanghai, Mike creates personal games that explore the intersections of race, state control, and environmental degradation, all while working in an industry overseen by state censors. But while his games challenge the status quo, they also contain heartfelt expressions of daily life. His game Yellowface (2019), based loosely off of David Henry Hwang’s play of the same name, captures the microaggressions of being an Asian American man in the United States, while his game Hazy Days (2016) follows a young girl living in the pollution-saturated airways of contemporary China. Mike Ren Yi’s latest game, Novel Containment (2020), attempts to capture the atmosphere of state control and censorship during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it may be his most risky venture yet. Continue Reading