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

You’ve Got Wang

Asian Representation in Video Games from Shadow Warrior to Shadow Warrior

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Modern video games owe a lot to the Asian continent, from the revitalization of the industry after the crash of 1983 to the oft-used gimmick of “eastern mysticism,” the idea that being from an Asian country connects a person to a spiritual and/or magical force that conveniently moves a plot along. But despite the large output of video games from Japan, China, and Korea from the 1980s into the 2000s, actual representation of Asian cultures has been fairly minute in games that have either been developed in the west or localized for a western audience. The number of influential games with Asian protagonists is even more limited, especially when considering that a fair number of Asian-developed games don’t see a release in western territories. This is not always true, of course, but the presence of stereotypical portrayals of whole cultures is undeniable. These eastern-developed games focus on generalized concepts of life in the east that appeal to a western market. That is to say that, on face, they feature the same sorts of protagonists and settings the west has already become comfortable with through exposure to years of other media, like movies. Continue Reading