It's hard for me to explain why stories are so important to me. Why I create over and over. How I find such comfort in fictional things. I have been engrossed in fiction and fantasy since I was old enough to read, and every single time there's always one. Always //(cycling-link:"one.","Applejack","Loki","Sam Winchester","Terezi Pyrope","Jasper","Maya the Siren","Fiona the Con Artist","Jesse McCree","Aleksandra Zaryanova","Garrus Vakarian","Indoril Nerevar","Anders","Nick Valentine","Zhongli")//
Always a character that reminds me of myself somehow. Always a reason to come back, over and over. Always a reason to log back in every day. To complete tasks. To keep [[doing.->free labour]]//Gachapon// machines. Little vending machines that dispense a random toy in a little plastic ball: you've seen them in arcades and sometimes old movie theaters. The name comes from onomatopoeia: //gacha// as you crank the lever, and //pon// as the ball hits the bottom of the machine (Paez, par. 7). Some toys are rare, some are common - - but the point is that you don't know what you're going to get.
Recently, the same concept has made its way into games, and into //Genshin Impact's// monetisation system. Press a button to colloquially "pull" your loot out of the pool, and you have a chance to get anything from a standard weapon to the rarest character available. But "pulling" by itself doesn't tell you that the odds of getting those rare, desirable characters are less than 1% (0.06/100) at their highest.
[[go back->Genshin Impact]]But more and more, that's what games rely on. Multiplayer experiences - //online// experiences - rely on hundreds of people populating an online world in their leisure time. They rely on "ongoing iterations of a game" (17), as Van Dreunen describes; they create "a global marketplace free from constraints like physical boundaries" (17). Long-term roadmaps that stretch years and years incorporate global networks of players into extensive, changing experiences, and free games bring players into another kind of shop within the platform. Monetisation here exists in a more fluid state: spending isn't //necessary.// But if you want to (cycling-link:"collect them all","express yourself","unlock a character","win a match","check a box","assert your presence", "support the developer"), you will.
And isn't that the [[ultimate product?->capitalism & games]] One initial sale (or even no sale at all), and you can continue to make money for as long as your players continue to be engaged. For as long as [[they keep doing work for you.->free labour, 2]](text-style:"italic","blur","fidget")[ii: 钟离]
//Genshin Impact's// nature as a gacha game lends well to collecting characters, each playable gacha toy wildly different in colour, appearance, and skillset. These characters are designed to be appealing; money made through gacha is produced through currency for the in-game character lottery.
But not each character is written and designed the same. Two in-game regions - with five more to come - inspired by different cultures dictate wildly seperate styling, cultural contexts, and character archetypes. And //Genshin Impact// is a Chinese game - its approach to sensitive topics like [[queer identity->queerness]], marginalised groups, and [[race->xinyan and kaeya]] are different to that of a Western project.
Still, it's Liyue that [[draws me in->Liyue fieldnotes]].//Paternity// is a difficult topic for me to grasp.
I love my father. I am very much like him, and each time I look in the mirror I see bits of his face. But there have been times in my life that I have been desperately frightened of him, of what he might do to me. Where I have been too scared to leave my childhood room. Where I have cried in his presence at my own anxiety bubbling over. Cowered at his rage. Flinched at quick movement.
(t8n:"dissolve")+(link-reveal:"Thinking about my father for too long still brings me to uncontrollable, fearful tears.")[ ~~It is happening right now.~~]
Perhaps that fear, that ever-nascent hurt, is why I want so badly to explore these bruises. I know that my mother has hurt me just as terribly, but those scars are not yet as picked-over. I am starting to recover from the patched wounds I faced from my father, and because of that healing, [[fatherly figures are beginning to bring me comfort.->history with fatherhood]]I learned I was asexual from my writing. I learned I was comfortable with lesbianism from seeing myself explore the idea in another's skin.
//And (my partner and I) often react to each other’s writing in a jokey, personal way, talking about the events we’ve just written as if they were scenes in a TV show or a film. These events are often queer in nature, an avenue for both of us to explore stories and perspectives of characters written in a way we can relate to them or “claim” them as part of our communities - - and often, we do this particularly with characters or pairings we resonate with story-wise.
An example of this is the extensive writing we’ve done with original characters [[Ariana Telvayn->ariana]] and Minthe, both of which are queer women exploring their places in a fantasy-themed world. Ariana, a dark elf and archetypical “prophesised heroine”, is worn-down, depressive, and tired; I wrote her primarily at a time in my life where I was also suffering from major depressive disorder, and her blunted affect & resignation to her duty as the story’s hero and to the world around her really shows her off as a kind of coping mechanism character or “vent” where I used my writing to explore my feelings with asexuality, lesbianism, and mental illness. //Characters that I write begin to fall into patterns.
There's Maru, the alien journalist and de-facto surrogate father to a motley crew of stowaways. There's Nerevar, the ancient spirit of a war patron and paternal mentor to his reincarnated soul. There's Assa, the grumpy, aloof pterodactyl rider with a heart of gold who eventually adopts his love interest's two kids - as well as aiding his partner in moving on from the death of her spouse. There's Crius, the temporally displaced warrior king taking in a young woman to mentor (and mourning his dead husband).
There are more. But now there is Zhongli too. He is added to an ever-growing list of //fathers,// of //safe.// I have learned in the past that [[it is safer to explore vulnerability through the veneer of fiction->venting]], and Zhongli settles neatly in among the other ways for me to express [[my identity as shaped by my trauma->3: identity]].
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return to part ii.->2: zhongli]]I have never been quietly gay.
(I have never been quietly anything.)
It is often that the characters that I find solace in are the ones that are like me - they might look like me, or act like me, or - perhaps, they might be queer. I fall in love with those I see myself in, desperate to see more, to connect and to sympathise with those whose struggles I understand.
To be //represented// is powerful. But in the incessant need for capitalism to drive product as marketable to all, [[representation comes secondary to bottom line. ->zhongchi]]//And maybe it’s, at best, [[queerbaiting->baiting]]; after all, Noelle doesn’t present you the rose with explicitly romantic intent. The same way Zhongli’s gift to Tartaglia of dragon-and-phoenix chopsticks – figures traditionally associated with love, marriage, and unity in China, the region which the province of Liyue is modelled off (and the location of Genshin’s development studio) – is hidden away in a promo reel and not once mentioned in the game or marketing itself. ////First Out Gay Character In Disney History Reportedly In 'Cruella'//
How many times has it been? I'm starting to get tired.
//Pixar's 'Onward' Introduces Disney's First Openly Gay Animated Character//
It's always barely a few seconds every time.
//'Avengers: Endgame' has the MCU's first canonically gay character//
Just enough to please the crowds,
//'Beauty and the Beast': Josh Gad plays Disney's first-ever gay character//
but not enough for it to make an impact when it's censored.
//Disney Channel makes history with first character to say "I'm gay" on screen//
[[I'm so tired.->baiting 2]](text-style:"italic","blur","fidget")[iii: identity]
My identity has, then, long been explored by the presence of these fictional vessels. I choose, overwhelmingly, the characters in //Genshin's// lineup that reflect facets of myself: a hinted queer identity, comfort in a fatherly manner. It is strengthened by the methods in which I perform and explore this newfound identity - - the [[works of art I create->art]], or the [[creative writing I do->writing]] with friends.
The identity I find in Zhongli isn't new. It isn't radically different to what I already know about myself, or what I explore in other characters and mediums. Instead, Zhongli "allowed me to find [[new ways of being who I already believe myself to be"->shared connection]] (Jordan, 11). I have been drawing since I was five years old. It's always been a method for me to explore and tell stories with, and my emotional attachment in characters I love is reflected in those which I choose to draw. [[Those I //study// in order to get right. ->art 2]][[Ariana Telvayn->venting]] was a character I wrote primarily with my best friend, "Penelope". I continue to write with Penelope today, some of which does entail writing Zhongli and his hinted partner, foreign diplomat Childe.
For me, writing Zhongli is as much an explorative process as drawing him - here, though, while art is a dedicated process that requires time set aside to achieve perfection, [[writing is a more informal way to interact with Zhongli's brand of therapeutic comfort on a daily basis->writing 2]].
Me and Penelope both use these characters to explore who we believe ourselves to be, strengthening our friendship and [[connecting with each other in the process.->shared connection]]It's important to note, though, that while we share connections on the bonds that these characters forge and the relationships they inhabit, Penelope's interests are fundamentally different to mine. Her trauma sits in a different place. She favours another character, burdened warrior [[Xiao->Penelope]].
Xiao views Zhongli in a fatherly, mentor-like light, and this leaks often into our writing. Here, both Penelope and I find that our exploration of trauma works best together; Penelope's internal challenging of work, exhaustion, and overachieving link to my own desire to explore positive, nurturing guidance figures.
//Like, I think we could both process things in writing individually, but we're more efficient at it when we write together :-)//
Within the game, however, these story artifacts are almost entirely sidelined; me and Penelope's connection over these character's stories is manufactured in private chatlogs. [[Playing //Genshin Impact// is an entirely seperate, far more exploitative experience.->gameplay]]//''(Penelope)'' 31/05/2021
I think I picked him because his design and colour scheme drew me in initially, and then when I learned about his story, he seemed like he needed a break
For some reason using a high-strung character to do very relaxing things like farm was appealing bc we'd both be resting
But I also know objectively he was a strong DPS and I definitely needed someone to carry my team
Making tofu in this is. I guess. Like learning how to make a friend's favourite food
You felt like the character itself would be a good fit for farming because he needed a break, or [[you wanted to see yourself resting through him->penelope 2]]?
BOTH////The comparison mostly amounts to comparing our investment; Penelope went out of her way to make Almond Tofu, which is described in Xiao’s lore as the only human food he will eat because “it has the same texture as dreams”, which he ate during servitude in one part of his story.
Penelope attempted Almond Tofu three times, each time trying for more and more of the right materials rather than supplementary or replacement items, and by the third attempt she’d mastered it. In addition, to make sure she could scrounge up the Primogems// (currency needed to play //Genshin's// gacha) //to pull for Xiao without paying at all, she spent nearly a week hunting down almost every single chest in the game in order to take the 5 Primogems given with each one – by comparison, one pull costs 160 Primogems.//
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return.->shared connection]](text-style:"italic","blur","fidget")[iii: gameplay]
//Genshin Impact// is based on a core [["gameplay loop"->gameplay loops]] of actions intended to feed into one another as one progresses through the game. It relies on constantly improving the characters you obtain through the gacha system, trying them out in different combinations with one another to excel further in combat and exploration.
To entice you to play continually, //Genshin// asks you to complete [[daily tasks->daily]] in return for premium currency to spend in the gacha games that fuel the entire experience. Obtaining characters in gacha is the only way to alter the playstyle of the game, experience new parts of the story, or sometimes unlock [[different parts of the game's core mechanic->mechanics]].
Additionally, //Genshin's// pulling system is the primary form of monetisation packaged into this free game. In order for //Genshin// to make good on its profits, it is essential for the players to be interested in the gambling system.(text-style:"italic","blur","fidget")[full table of contents]
This page contains a link to every single page in the project. If you get lost, try beginning from the part you started at and checking each section's page for where you were last at.
i. [[introduction->1: intro]]
* a) [[ongoing iterations->free labour]]
* b) [[the ideal commodity->capitalism & games]]
* c) [[free labour->free labour, 2]]
* d) [[//genshin impact//->Genshin Impact]]
* e) [[pulling from the pool->pulling]]
ii. [[钟离->2: zhongli]]
* a) [[queerness ->queerness]]
* b) [[feng shui dowry chopsticks->zhongchi]]
* c) [[queerbaiting i->baiting]]
* d) [[queerbaiting ii->baiting 2]]
* e) [[queerbaiting iii->baiting 3]]
* f) [[poc presence in //genshin impact//->xinyan and kaeya]]
* g) [[liyue->Liyue fieldnotes]]
* h) [[funeral parlour consultant->zhongli 1]]
* i) [[the twist->zhongli 2]]
* j) [[father to his people->zhongli 3]]
* k) [[the father and traumatic childhood->fatherhood]]
* l) [[patterns of vent->history with fatherhood]]
* m) [[exploratory writing->venting]]
* n) [[ariana telvayn i->ariana]]
* o) [[ariana telvayn ii->Ari 2]]
* p) [[writing with zhongli->Ari 3]]
iii. [[identity->3: identity]]
* a) [[art i->art]]
* b) [[art ii->art 2]]
* c) [[art iii->art 3]]
* d) [[writing->writing]]
* e) [[therapeutic zhongli scene i->writing 2]]
* f) [[therapeutic zhongli scene ii->writing 3]]
* g) [[therapeutic zhongli scene iii->writing 4]]
* h) [[therapeutic zhongli scene iv->writing 5]]
* i) [[shared connection->shared connection]]
* j) [[penelope and xiao i->Penelope]]
* k) [[penelope and xiao ii->penelope 2]]
* l) [[penelope and xiao iii->xiao]]
* a) [[gameplay mechanics in //genshin impact//->mechanics]]
* b) [[penelope and the free-to-play labour experience->mechanics 2]]
* c) [[the advantage of the lottery->mechanics 3]]
* d) [[unrealistic showcase standards->mechanics 4]]
* e) [[whaling i->whales]]
* f) [[whaling ii->whales 2]]
* g) [[whaling iii->whales 3]]
* h) [[whaling iv->whales 4]]
* i) [[the daily login cycle->daily]]
* j) [["gameplay loops"->gameplay loops]]
* k) [[addiction->addiction]]
* l) [[work for those to come->preparing for childe]]
* m) [[FOMO creates desperation->addiction 2]]
* n) [[loyalty->addiction 3]]
* o) [[the ideal commodity returns->loyalty]]
* p) [[wrapping up->improving on identity]]
* a) [[my own traumas->recovery 2]]
* b) [[thirty dollars->recovery 3]]
* c) [[lack of regulation->recovery 4]]
* d) [[summing it all up->recovery 5]]
v. [[final thoughts->conclusion]]
* a) [[(just a game.)->conclusion 2]]
* b) [[finishing page->Departure page]]
vii. [[appendices->appendices]] A 'gameplay loop' or 'contingency' (Hopson, par. 5), used often when discussing games, is generally considered a core part of the game's experience. It usually revolves around performing an action and being rewarded for it - killing a gang of bandits, clearing a level, mastering a musical combo. Games themselves center around these experiences in ever widening circles that scale in difficulty, with combos becoming more complicated or levels getting harder to clear. It takes more and more experience points to level up your Pokémon, or bigger guns to kill those bandits.
In //Genshin Impact,// the gameplay loop centered around improving battle skill steps in tandem with a [[daily routine->daily]]: log in, complete the offered daily quests, and then log back out. Short, intense bursts of play here work with staggered content feed - monthly updates to an incomplete game - in order to keep players engaged.
[[It's a digital Skinner box.->addiction]]If these games can draw you in, they can use you for profit. And this profit is not always money. The presence of //Genshin Impact// as a wider community permeates the fan space for this text, encouraging multiplayer and visiting other players in order to manufacture a sense of camraderie and social presence. Theorising about future plans for the game - and the characters involved - creates excitement and attention. Sharing which characters are the most effective at combat generates desire. Locking characters behind limited-time events creates jealousy and exclusivity from players who miss the opportunity. Publicity for new gacha rewards [[inspires players to work in-game to earn materials needed for their use. ->preparing for childe]]
All of these desires are only sated by getting astronomically lucky in //Genshin// lottery menus.
By playing this game at all - appearing in lists of players 'online', owning and showing off characters one obtains - it doesn't matter whether or not one plays alone. Existing in wider fan communities, attaching large groups of players to public works of art and fiction from those who love characters in the roster as much as I do, and public discussion all create visibility and generate interest in //Genshin Impact.// [[They help to draw new players - new potential spenders - into an exploitative, poorly-regulated gambling system.->addiction 2]]It's only a small list of things every day. It barely adds up to fifteen minutes: log in, finish four daily quests (all of which are simple things - enter a location, clear that location. Or enter a location, defend an item. Always simple and uncomplicated), pick up a few rocks, and defeat a boss to claim its rewards with a "resin" currency.
But it's a //routine.// It's small enough that it becomes just another aspect of your day. Here, //Genshin Impact's// "structural characteristics of particular activities are responsible for reinforcement (...) of excessive or pathological use" (Chou et al., 378) of the online gaming medium. It breeds addiction and dependence - - it forms a habit so the player returns to be tempted once more toward //Genshin's// in-game lottery system.
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return to part iii.->gameplay]]The amount of work I have performed for //Genshin Impact// should not be understated.
I have been logging on daily since October last year. I have hand-drawn and published online works of art that further the brand. I singlehandedly attached myself to one of the game's characters through hundreds of thousands of words of communal writing with Penelope. If //Genshin Impact// was considering the amount their game has overreached past currency and into my time and energy, I suspect they would deem this a return on investment. Still, despite my love for Zhongli and intent to perform labour for him, "the fact that (I) love these activities does not make (me) less exploited" (Fuchs, 64).
My identity in-game and out-of-game is partially defined by my attachment to characters I love as ways to acclimatise to traumatic experience. Zhongli has become one such character; he is welcoming, a symbol of fatherhood that I am learning to slowly live and breathe beside. A sign of my healing and recovery. The game, with its combat system and exclusionary gacha, //feels// secondary. But it is important to remember that under capitalism, //Genshin's// objective is not telling a story but instead [[maximising profit.->recovery]]I take delight in maintaining loyalty and performing work for Zhongli. There is a degree of determination - as with my art, my focus is on the end product. On a Zhongli that achieves as highly as I can enable him to. I am a perfectionist; I want to ensure that everything I do reaches the highest quality it can. To an extent, I define myself by my work.
Zhongli is not only a way for me to express the fruits of that labour, but a reason why it is performed.
[[The ultimate product opens its maw.->improving on identity]](text-style:"italic","blur","fidget")[iv: conclusions]
It comes back to capitalism. To the ideal commodity.
Profit overshadows the human experience. Stories are told now for money. Copyright has been extended and extended and extended, and today intellectual property remains out of public hands for nearly a hundred years from time of publication thanks to lobbying from companies like Disney. The cultural bounties of the twentieth century remain out of reach for a generation of new artists in order for these art pieces' dead creators to continue generating profit for corporate entities.
But I don't think humans are creatures of profit. Money is a construct that helps trade, but it is not //essential// to us as human beings. I think cultural richness comes from people telling tales and weaving stories into the societal tapestry. Poets that describe their lives, their losses, that write songs about what the world means. Artists that create new lenses with which to view the world around them. Children that grow into adults and produce new reams of generational art based on trauma, love, and humanity. [[Our earliest history is built on communication and social connection, not on economics.->recovery 2]]For Kline et al., games are the newest in a long series of "ideal commodoties" (75); items that further capitalism's reach in new ways. Video gaming, particularly, echoes capitalism in the ways that it is "attempting to force itself beyond its own limits to commodify life with new scope and intensity" (76). These games ask not only for your money, in the price of entry and the in-game shops, but also for your time. They beg [[logging in each day->free labour, 2]]. They ask of habit-forming tasks to be completed every twelve hours, and attachments to be formed to digital avatars and spaces. (text-style:"italic","blur","fidget")[works cited]
(text-style:"superscript")[Please be aware that page location links on this page will have you ''leave twine'' and will not open a new tab.]
Chou, Chien. Condron, Lisa. Belland, John C. "A Review of the Research on Internet Addiction." //Educational Psychology Review,// vol. 17, no. 4. 2005.
"Eula Hitting 5.47 Million." //YouTube//, uploaded by Tony To. 24th May 2021. (link: "Page location.")[(goto-url: 'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yc0P4nFJ044')]
Fuchs, Christian. //Social Media: A Critical Introduction//. SAGE, 2017.
"Genshin Impact Races Past $1 Billion on Mobile in Less Than Six Months." //SensorTower,// March 23rd 2021. Accessed 2nd June 2021. (link: "Page location.")[(goto-url: 'https://sensortower.com/blog/genshin-impact-one-billion-revenue')]
Hopson, John. "Behavioral Game Design." //Gamasutra.// Accessed 1st June 2021. (link: "Page location.")[(goto-url: 'https://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3085/behavioral_game_design.php?page=1')]
Jordan, Nickolas. "World of Warcraft: A Family Therapist's Journey into Scapegoated Culture." //The Qualitative Report,// vol. 19, no. 31. August 2014.
Kline, Stephen. Dyer-Witheford, Nick. De Peuter, Greig. //Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and Marketing.// McGill-Queen's Press, 2003.
"New Area Announcement: Of the Land Amidst Monoliths | Genshin Impact." //YouTube//, uploaded by Genshin Impact. 14th January 2020. (link: "Page location.")[(goto-url: 'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DuZblVxG3I')]
Paez, Danny. "How Genshin Impact Made A Despised Video Game Genre Irresistible." //Inverse.// Accessed 30th May 2021. (link: "Page location.")[(goto-url: 'https://www.inverse.com/gaming/genshin-impact-gacha-game-meaning-definition')]
Roseboom, Isaac. "What You Need to Know About How Whales Spend." //deltaDNA.// Accessed 1st June 2021. (link: "Page location.")[(goto-url: 'https://deltadna.com/blog/how-whales-spend/#:~:text=Overall%2C%205%25%20of%20spenders%20(,completing%2055%20transactions%20on%20average')]
Straub, Nicholas. "Every Country With Laws Against Loot Boxes (& What The Rules Are)." //ScreenRant,// October 5th 2020. Accessed 2nd June 2021. (link: "Page location.")[(goto-url: 'https://screenrant.com/lootbox-gambling-microtransactions-illegal-japan-china-belgium-netherlands/')]
Terranova, Tiziana. //Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age.// Pluto Press, 2004.
Van Dreunen, Joost. //One Up: Creativity, Competition, and the Global Business of Video Games.// Columbia University Press, 2020.
[[return to homepage->entry page]]
[[table of contents->contents]]I've read //Owls Do Cry.// I remember reading about Janet Frame's experiences, the manner in which she held her own hand over her mouth for most of her life; the way she uses fiction to explore her own trauma resonated so deeply with me that it forced me to turn and look at my own.
And it's so clear now I'm in recovery. Ariana's deepest moments of despair and self-hatred come during the times I was closest to suicide. Her expressions hold no joy. She is burdened by an absent father and a sick mother, and then forced to shoulder an entire country's hopes as well.
[[Ariana had to die so that I could begin to heal. ->Ari 2]](text-style:"italic","blur","fidget")[v: final thoughts]
This study was conducted over the period of a few months, following a few major updates to //Genshin Impact// that occurred over the months of March, April, and May. By the time May's monthly update was announced and implemented, I had toned down the majority of my deep fieldnotes; I feel that if I had continued for just a little bit longer I could have measured far more intensely the desire to perform free labour for Zhongli specifically. The limited-time gacha in May was a Zhongli-themed event, where players could obtain him and power his character to higher levels. Given I did not want to pay for anything else in Genshin, I forced myself to work for as much of the gacha currency as I could, but none of it was explicitly recorded in any capacity that could be used effectively.
I also feel this study would have been more comprehensive if I had made more of a foray into the multiplayer experience in //Genshin Impact//. Mostly, I stayed in private servers with either myself or Penelope and I; at the time of the study, there was a community-wide paranoia about hacking and the security of accounts that was addressed only in late May. By that time, I was wrapping up my study to begin drafting the final presentation, and so the //Genshin Impact// experience recorded within my study does not hold quite as much weight in its community aspect. Were I to continue or re-do this study now that two-factor authentification is present within //Genshin Impact,// I would likely commit more to multiplayer events in order to examine how I reacted with strangers as well as with close friends from outside //Genshin's// servers.
[[Continue.->conclusion 2]](text-style:"blur","fidget")[Trauma, Identity, and Work: methods of attachment and play in //Genshin Impact//]
[[table of contents->contents]] | [[bibliography->bibliography]] | [[appendices->appendices]]
click to [[''begin.''->1: intro]]Begin by reading all the text on a page. Some pages will contain images, or perhaps even videos. Once you've read all the text on a page, click on [[blue text to interact with it.->instructions 2]]appendices i.
* a.) [[tutorial->instructions]]
* b.) [[gachapon->pulling]]
* a) [[the reveal->zhongli 2]]
* b) [[venting as recovery->venting]]
* c) [[ariana's death->Ari 2]]
* d) [[zhongchi->zhongchi]]
* a) [[learning to draw them->art 2]]
* b) [[therapeutic zhongli scene i->writing 2]]
* c) [[therapeutic zhongli scene ii->writing 3]]
* d) [[therapeutic zhongli scene iii->writing 4]]
* e) [[therapeutic zhongli scene iv->writing 5]]
* f) [[penelope and xiao i->Penelope]]
* g) [[penelope and xiao iii->xiao]]
* a) [[penelope and the free-to-play labour experience->mechanics 2]]
* b) [[unrealistic showcase standards->mechanics 4]]
* c) [[whaling i->whales]]
* d) [[whaling ii->whales 2]]
* e) [[whaling iii->whales 3]]
* f) [[whaling iv->whales 4]]
* g) [[work for those to come->preparing for childe]]
* h) [[loyalty->addiction 3]]And digital communities are empty without the public to inhabit them. Online games are filled with thousands of avatars, each logging in and performing in-game tasks - - boss fights, errands, community connection. All of this is done out of passion, for free - sometimes even at cost, through subscription packages - and serves, for players, as a product of leisure. However, the publishers hosting servers profit directly from the inhabitance of their world. In many of these online games, "consumption of culture is translated into excess productive activities that are pleasurably embraced and at the same time often shamelessly exploited" (Terranova, 78); free labour is freely exchanged between player and [[publisher.->Genshin Impact]]MiHoYo's //Genshin Impact// was released mid-2020 to general critic interest, as its colourful online world and snappy combat were packaged in alongside a harsh monetisation system relying deeply on a gambling system known as [[gacha.->pulling]]
I've been playing //Genshin// since just after launch in October. Quick gameplay and bright colours keep me entertained, but it's the unlockable characters list that draws me in: each day, I log in to greet my favourites, complete my daily tasks, and note down my activities in present events. I know I participate in games not for the experience, but for these characters I can speak to, relate to. But I also know that I exist under capitalism, and that //Genshin// is trying to sell me its products. It is trying to be the [[ideal commodity->capitalism & games]]; to spend my time and energy as well as my money.
And it can do this because I let it. [[I let myself love its characters.->2: zhongli]]<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847620028828221500/unknown.png">
These are the only two darker-skinned playable characters in //Genshin Impact//.
Admittedly, they aren't the only people of colour - Liyue is modeled off China and its thirteen playable characters are all Asian-coded. But the absence is still felt, when all but two of the presently thirty-three overall characters to choose from are porcelain-skinned.
Regions to come include one with a Native American theming and one with a Middle Eastern theming. I have to hope that those regions will include more characters with varying skin tones, because as it stands, dark-skinned identity in //Genshin Impact// is hard to express.
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return to part ii.->2: zhongli]]<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5DuZblVxG3I" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
"Of the Land Amongst Monoliths," proclaims this announcement from developer MiHoYo, posted onto their YouTube channel in January 2020. I joined the game's playerbase too late to keep up with Liyue as it was released, but the red terraces and proud pagodas spoke mostly for themselves when I first fell in love with the bright golds of the zone.
//I do spend much more time in Liyue since it’s got flavour to it. A lot of the time, Mondstadt feels very bland in comparison – and especially when painted next to places like Guyun Stone Forest or Jueyun Karst, it’s… sort of empty.//
It feels like I never see Eastern ideas and designs in the popular texts of the fantasy genre, and even less so presented as just another place instead of something magical or //other;// here, Liyue is just a location one can visit that's the same as everywhere else. It is populated by everyday citizens, and its lifeblood is commerce and trade. The figurehead of this trade is the region's draconic god: [[Rex Lapis.->zhongli 1]]Rex Lapis dies when you first arrive in Liyue to meet him.
You plan his memorial with the help of a consultant at the local funeral parlour. He is knowledgeable, kind, and fatherly. He speaks deep, voice a soothing baritone and cadence friendly and calm. Each item he turns his gaze onto seems to spur in him a tale of its history, an explanation of where it came from and why it's so significant to Liyue. He lives and breathes the culture of this province.
He is very close with a foreign diplomat who introduces you to him in the first place - - the consultant's name is 钟离. //[[Zhongli,->zhongli 2]]// of the Wangsheng Funeral Parlour.//The diplomat reveals he is here for Rex Lapis’ godly power and that Rex Lapis is likely not dead at all, and that he plans to drag slumbering sea monsters out of the ocean to draw Rex Lapis out of hiding.
We find out that – all along – (t8n:"dissolve")+(link:"Rex Lapis")[Zhongli] has been [[planning his own funeral->zhongli 3]]. //Zhongli is, from the beginning to the end of the Liyue story, a figure of authority. He begins as a knowledgeable consultant employed at a funeral parlour, and he ends as the retired god-king of the province itself. Yet, he carries himself through it all with a love and gentle grace, with a kindness that reflects easily onto the people around him. It is an attractive quality.
In retrospect it is obvious. His chosen mortal name, 钟离, variably means "off the clock" or "time of departure". His clothing is ornate, featuring dragon scales and Rex Lapis' sigil. [[He carries a paternal adoration for his province and his people.->fatherhood]]//Sometimes text will be in italics. This text is from fieldnotes taken during the study.//
[[//Continue on.//->intro 3]]The back button in the corner allows you to return to the page you just left. But don't be afraid that you might miss something - there will be a full page of contents on the final page.
This is an exploratory process, but all good games give you a transport system. Sometimes you will see text accompanied by this icon:
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Like this.->entry page]]
That is a ''waypoint''. Click it to be returned to the title menu for a particular section. Try it now to return to the homepage.//"In one movement she'd thrown her bow aside; it broke on the stone, string snapping and wood cracking under the impact, and she took Minthe's arm roughly in her freed hands. Ariana wrenched Minthe backward, moving at once sideways and forward to rush into the place where Almalexia's target had occupied just breaths ago.
Minthe was bounced back onto the stone and she hit her tailbone first; when she looked up again Ariana was still in an arc of movement. She hit the ground in a heap, momentum still keeping her in motion across the stone. When she finally came to a stop, her armor was scorched and her body was smoking, and her face was pressed into the ground.
[[She didn't move."->Ari 3]]//Lately I have been writing Zhongli in an exploratory way in much the same way that I once wrote Ariana. Zhongli is not a figurehead of my own despair, as I have had time to grow and heal, to soak in sunlight and breathe in my own skin.
Rather, Zhongli is a way to examine gender and sexual identity in ways I have not done before. I write him in a romantic pairing with a trans man; both these characters are written by two queer women examining their own gender identity. For us, these characters become not only a way to breathe, but a form of [[shared connection->3: identity]].
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return to part ii.->2: zhongli]]//Genshin Impact// doesn't feature any [[queer->baiting 3]] characters. There's hints. Companion quests aren't gender locked, and content like //this// certainly feels queer.
But nothing is confirmed. It's that //plausible deniability// that allows them to pander without quite committing to anything.
Still, I find myself following these crumb trails. Characters that allude to something that may or may not be there. A [[funeral parlour consultant->Liyue fieldnotes]] offers a gift of chopsticks emblazoned with Chinese figures of marriage, unity, and prosperity - the dragon and the phoenix - to the diplomat he's been meeting with for meals for long enough that they're close. They share smiles and in-jokes. I want to call them //partners.//
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return to part ii.->2: zhongli]]//This morning I logged in at 10:10 AM to check Zhongli’s model for some art referencing. I’m in the middle of doing a study of their faces, as my art style doesn’t translate particularly well to anime. It’s almost ironic that I spent so long working on removing sameface from my art, only to get into Genshin Impact where most characters run on a number of base models I can count on one hand.//
[[//It took me just about two hours to “decode” both Childe and Zhongli.//->art 3]]For me, creating is about the end of the process, the perfection of the art that I am left with. But there is a delight in sharing that which I have created with friends, with online communities. Still, while these works of art are labours of love, that hardly negates their position as works produced by free labour.
In these works of art shared online, "creativity is a force that enables Internet prosumer commodification (...) exploitation of the user's activities and the data they generate" (Fuchs, 61). Zhongli does not belong to me. The ideas and identity that I have attached to him do not belong to me, and largely aren't connected to what has been confirmed part of //Genshin Impact// "canon". Their allowance online serves to further the //Genshin Impact// brand name, increasing awareness and public presence. It draws more people into playing, into spending.
Yet this building of identity, while predatory, also leads to [[shared connection based on these characters.->writing]]//''(Morag)'' — 14/05/2021
"He gave a small, private smile. "It's me, Xiao. You have my word."
Xiao's lip trembled. Then, all in a rush -
He nearly upset Zhongli's tea with how quickly he reached for a hug, tugging him in insistently. Xiao's embrace was, understandably, much different from Childe's, but they shared the desperation of holding onto someone who had already disappeared once. Xiao's face was buried in Zhongli's chest, but he still felt the boy's shoulders tremble, tears clearly just below the surface.
Then, suddenly, he pulled back. Snarling, [["Don't you ever do that again!"->writing 3]]////''(Morag)'' — 14/05/2021
"I'm truly sorry for the pain you must have experienced," Zhongli said, setting his hands on Xiao's shoulders. "I am not asking for forgiveness, Xiao. But I wanted you to know that I am here, should you need me once more."
His hands raised to cup Xiao's face. "You have already experienced so much pain and suffering. It was never, ever my intention to add to that. I can only ever apologise."
Xiao was tearing up, his expression warring between anger and open tears. "That's not enough!" he said, though he just gripped Zhongli's lapels tightly, never once hinting he'd push Zhongli away. "You can't just say that, you have to - you've got to actually do it. Actually be here!"
He hiccuped, finding it harder and harder to stay composed, especially as he held Zhongli's eye contact. "This last year is - it's not even that long, but I hated knowing you weren't out there. I hated it. I felt - I felt so - "
[[He finally broke down, and it wasn't hard to imagine what the last word would have been.->writing 4]]////''(Morag)'' — 14/05/2021
Zhongli sighed, drawing Xiao closer into a long hug as he hiccuped into Zhongli's chest. As he held Xiao, he closed his own eyes, and finally murmured, "I wish I could have been here for you. Had I known I would return, I would have told you. I'm sorry, Xiao. I know that is not enough, but I am sorry."
He glanced down at the picnic, tea and almond tofu and cutlery all left untouched. Another sigh, though this one was quieter.
''(Penelope)'' — 14/05/2021
Xiao's eternally teenaged body may be a disadvantage in battle, but now he was glad he was still small enough to practically curl into Zhongli's embrace. He refused to completely crumble, still trying to speak through his sobs, but he knew he was mostly just mumbling into his coat.
The next intelligible thing he said was no less heartbreaking than his yelling, though. "I just - I missed you. I missed you a lot."
A hesitation, then, "After you died, I - I went to where it happened. I couldn't believe it until I saw, and..." [[He trailed off.->writing 5]]//
//''(Morag)'' — 14/05/2021
"I'm sorry, Xiao," Zhongli repeated quietly. "I couldn't have allowed anyone to be close enough to me to get hurt. Not even you."
He raised a hand to brace the back of Xiao's head as he continued. "I was frightened, but I couldn't have allowed the injury. Even the chance was saddening."
Slowly, Zhongli moved to start stroking Xiao's hair.
"I'm here now," he murmured. "And I have no intention to take another Gnosis, so I will not decay the same way."
''(Penelope)'' — 14/05/2021
[["Okay," Xiao said, and his voice was very small. "I believe you."->shared connection]]//Like me, Penelope has a character archetype that she prefers in most of the media we explore together. Our perennial predictability has become an in-joke, something that either of us will poke fun at during opportune moments. These comfort characters still denote underlying trauma, however, and sometimes it is easily forgotten how much this [[attachment can factor into our dedication for these characters. ->xiao]]Genshin's world design is based around seven core elements that interact with each other in combat settings. Four of these are available to you freely, offered outside of the gacha system, and another one is added as a switchable option if the player explores the world.
[[These four characters->mechanics 2]] are the only members of the thirty-three strong cast that the player is allowed outside of gacha. //However, as I saw with Penelope’s desperate week of scraping Primogems from every chest she could find to try, desperately, for Xiao, not everyone is that lucky. Additionally, because of Genshin’s multiplayer feature, oftentimes “[[whales->whales]]” can either join your world or be matched with yours for multiplayer events like domains; you can also oftentimes see them in online spaces, whether it be YouTube videos or Twitch streams.
Here, free-to-play users face a different problem altogether. Where they see others using the favourite character they like, or the hero whose playstyle they feel most comfortable with, those free-to-play users are oftentimes restricted to the few characters they’ve managed to “pull” independently or the base-game offered characters - - the Traveller, Lisa, Kaeya, and Amber.
[[(Coincidentally, Amber is also rated the worst-playing and least-useful character in the meta right now.)->mechanics 3]]////In the Genshin community, and the wider gaming community in general, there’s a kind of stigma toward “whales”. This term is a descriptor for a player who spends hundreds or even thousands of dollars to max out in-game teams, collectibles, items, or other products - - so long as it can be tracked to an in-game purchase, it’s fair game. The stigma from the term comes from its association - - games with microtransactions tend to build their games off these “whales” over the larger playerbase, because data tends to show that the majority of microtransaction profits come from a tiny, tiny part of the playerbase (these “whales”, usually). And if whales are willing to spend, many companies are willing to either keep squeezing or squeeze harder.//
They're the biggest fish in the sea. //"Whales",// as they're called in gaming circles, are the tiny minority in a game's userbase that spends the most on in-game transactions. These players often make up less than 5% of a game's population (Roseboom, par. 6) and are the most valuable to developers for the sheer amount of money that they pour into the games they spend on - their spending can tally up into the hundreds of thousands. //Genshin// does little to disable this, and [[in some cases might actively //enable// it.->whales 2]]Those who play the //Genshin// lottery objectively have a more enjoyable and rewarding experience. Characters do more damage, have more skills and abilities, and last longer in battle. The player has more choice in what they use and don't use.
An experience to be celebrated in my own play experience was achieving 160,000 points of damage in a single hit. It's the highest damage output I've ever managed to accomplish, and I'm still proud of it. But for those who use the lottery to [[maximise character potential,->mechanics 4]] as seen below, the celebrated experience is closer to //five and a half million.//
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yc0P4nFJ044" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>//Me and Penelope waited around for Childe to launch most of the morning. Penelope thought he arrived at 10, and she rushed to log and check only to find nothing greeting her. So we waited for another hour, and at 11:03 we both logged in and, while calling to talk again, we both started pulling.
And… 62 saved wishes later, I was met with nothing. I used the currency from the dud wishes in the in-game store to buy more wishes, the max of five each month, and then some from the other flavours of store with rarer currency from duplicate four-star hero pulls. 69 wishes. Still nothing. I did Contending Tides. I did daily commissions. I did the Childe trial for 20 Primogems. 70 wishes. Still nothing. I did Boreas. I did Childe. I checked off both of them for Battle Pass rewards for Primogems. 71 wishes. Still nothing.
Irritated, now, I purchased the Premium Battle Pass, which gives you all of the paid rewards as well as ten extra levels on the Pass and a bunch of extra items like Primogems and Resin refills.
75 wishes. [[''Still. Nothing.''->whales 3]]////At this point I had 159 Primogems – the amount you need to buy a wish is 160 – so, I resolved to complete a random achievement for the reward of 5 Primogems most achievement completions offer. I picked an easy one – completing a domain challenge with four characters of the same element. While I originally intended to use Zhongli and use all four Geo characters in my possession, I changed my tune when I realised the Geo-themed domain’s lowest level – and therefore easiest setting – was level 65. So… I swapped my team for all Pyro and did the Pyro domain instead at level 35.
76 wishes. Still nothing.
Now me and Penelope were desperate. We sat through twenty Ley Lines for the Adventure Rank XP, because the experience from leveling your world up to the next level offers 100 Primogems as a reward, and Penelope was very close to getting that quest. I already had it, so once we’d both slogged through the Ley Lines we returned to our single-player worlds and forced our way through the World Level Ascension Quests.
[[Still nothing.->whales 4]]//
//I returned to the unfinished Hangout quests I hadn’t done. I exhausted Chongyun’s quest for the 40 Primogems I hadn’t claimed and began Barbara’s.
And on wish 81, I (link-reveal:"pulled a five-star hero.")[=
But it wasn’t Childe.
It was ''Jean.''
Jean, who I already have at Constellation 2. Jean, who I pulled on Childe’s banner last time it ran in November. Jean, who I have almost no use for. Jean, who has not been on any of my teams for months and months. Jean, who I have now pulled four separate times on the limited event banner.
Needless to say, I’m not pleased.
And, as I damn well knew I would, I grit my teeth and pulled out my damn wallet.//
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return to part iii.->gameplay]]//I noticed I hadn’t done Venti’s “trial” – this is essentially an arena where the banner character (and sometimes other characters obtainable through gacha) are available at their highest quality to “test” out against a gauntlet of enemies. They’re characterised mostly by having six Constellation points and the character-specific weapon (usually running alongside banner characters in a separate weapon loot pool for the duration of the character banner), so it’s a bit of a misleading trial - - in order to match the power of the character in the trial itself, you’d have to pull seven of the character for each “Constellation” point, as these Constellations unlock abilities, skills, and extras that usually power up the character.
Just as a note, that’s 630 pulls at LEAST.
Then, you’re factoring in the weapon – weapons in Genshin Impact feature a “refinement” system where duplicates of the weapon can be consumed in order to improve the stats for the weapon you’re trying to level. The max refinement level is 5, so that’s another 5 x 90 pulls on the weapon banner – 450, guaranteeing you get the weapon you want for each 5-star pity pull. So, at the LEAST, you’re pulling ''1,080 times'' to buff this character and the weapon up to the “trial” stage. //
Just 90 pulls in //Genshin Impact// costs roughly $170 NZD. To reach the maximum enhancement for only one of thirty-three characters, you would need to spend ''//over two thousand dollars.//''
<img src="https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/818657559493607455/847412208908369940/marker-teleport_resize.png"> [[Return to part iii.->gameplay]]//Genshin's// slick monetisation and emphasis on gambling, then, needs to be examined critically. The methods in which it builds emphasis and favoritism for characters that players might connect to only serves to encourage labour for these groups of pixels.
Gambling is addictive. There is no shortage of evidence to disprove that. But emotional attachment to the winnings places a new kind of risk on those choosing to pull in //Genshin// gacha - limited-time banners for characters that provide a refuge spark desperation in those who //want// desperately to have their company //before they're gone forever//.
If I needed Zhongli and I didn't already have him, I would spend for him. It feels ridiculous to me. I don't spend money on these lottery boxes in other games - - and yet, what Zhongli has become to me draws me back in. I'm willing to spend my time and energy on the ultimate product. I'm willing to perform free labour, collecting items and power-ups for him [[whenever he needs them.->addiction 3]]//I’ve also noted to myself that I should start “preparing” for Venti to arrive by levelling the weapon I want to use in his build (the term for a way a character is outfitted with gear, stats, or items to maximise damage or utility). I’ve already researched in advance on which build I’d like to use for both Tartaglia and Venti, and thankfully I already own both weapons required for them.
“Rust”, the bow I intend to use for Tartaglia, has been in the possession of a character I already use frequently, and thus it’s nearly at the maximum possible level already. However, the recommended bow needed for Venti, “The Stringless”, isn’t quite at the same level. This means I’m going to have to grind out in advance to level the bow up and match my expectations, as I’m already doing with other aspects of their builds – Tartaglia and Venti both require specific artifacts, of which five slots need to be filled – which will boost aspects of their combat stats and make them more viable. At first, I wanted to question why I was doing this, but I realise now it’s because I want to minimise the amount of time they have to spend waiting around. I want to start using them as soon as I can, and I’m excited to; by having everything ready to go in advance, rather than waiting for them to arrive and then starting on their builds, I can avoid waiting for possibly months on end for good artifact drops from domains.
Speaking of domains and artifact drops… today, I cleared the Peak of Vindagnyr domain three times. This particular domain has a chance to drop the Heart of Depth set, which is recommended for Tartaglia; the chances of getting good artifacts are particularly low, but I did try to maximise them by using Condensed Resin.//And this loyalty comes up
//Another extreme difficulty Contending Tides phase; more of the same kinds of enemies, easily melted away by a mix of Klee’s explosives and Venti’s windcurrents. And Zhongli’s shields, but I couldn’t go anywhere without my peepaw.//
again and again
//Looks like we really are getting a peepaw rerun. I should definitely start to save some wishes again so I can stock up on constellations for him. Only the best for my peepaw – I won’t spend any more money on this game, but I’ll do my absolute damndest to pull another Zhongli and get him to C2. My lovely man… he’s become one of the only reasons I’m really attached to this fandom.//
in my fieldnotes.
//I make the comment she’s “feral” for Xiao; (...) my own enthusiasm for Zhongli rivals Penelope’s interest in Xiao. (...) Until recently, Zhongli wasn’t a very useful character and yet he stayed on my team; my “feral” is a determined stubbornness to use him even when any other character would be more useful. Thankfully, though, the 1.3 update gave Zhongli a major upgrade to his attack stats, and now I’m really winning. So!//
A fond nickname. A dedication to labour for his sake. Pride that I remain "in his corner", even when he was functionally useless. It's a powerful attachment. [[//I'm// powerfully attached.->loyalty]]I am an artist, too. I produce stories and works of art that express my own trauma; I explore them in ways that I can use to begin to heal.
Trauma affects everything I produce. The media texts I examine. The characters I gravitate towards. The products I consume. I am vulnerable, in that these emotional attachments I form and [[the methods in which I explore my own trauma open me up to exploitation at the hands of capitalism.->recovery 3]]I am not the only damaged person on Earth who plays games. I am not even the only damaged person on Earth who plays //Genshin Impact,// because I know Penelope just as well as I know myself. But my trauma helps to dictate who I am and the connections I make to characters in media texts, and //Genshin Impact// is doubly built on a system of exclusivity and gambling that aids in maintaining a sense of desire and affection toward its gacha rewards.
I've only spent about thirty dollars on //Genshin Impact//. That //is// less than most major label titles will charge for a full-price game; I paid more for //New Pokémon Snap// on my Switch than I spent on //Genshin//. And //Genshin// has no entry price, either, so one could ostensibly call it a price tag for the game itself.
But thirty dollars doesn't get you much in-game, and it's a slippery slope. As I've said, it costs upward of two thousand dollars to maximise the potential of just //one// character in a roster of over thirty. Younger players who might not recognise the manipulation or may not understand the value of money - and //Genshin// operates on mobile phones as well, so it's open to any fourteen-year-old able to see the App Store - might be easily tempted into spending more and more in order to win the lottery. [[More so if they fall into the same methods of attachment and trauma that I do.->recovery 4]]It comes back down to the profitability of these emotional attachments, though. For one, I've caved. Thousands of others have caved, given how profitable //Genshin Impact// has become. According to data gathered by SensorTower, //Genshin// broke records six months after launch by reaching $1 billion in sales faster than any other app on the Apple Store or Google Play. Their business model //works.//
Part of it is that the gacha industry at large is mostly unregulated. There have been slow movements toward regulating gambling in mobile and online games - the latter half of the 2010s features calls from lawmakers to examine gacha as gambling. "Complete gacha" is banned in Japan. Gacha in China is heavily regulated. Gacha and "loot boxes", similar in play, are outright illegal in Belgium (Straub, par. 4).
[[There are no restrictions on gacha in New Zealand.->recovery 5]]//Genshin// is a Chinese game. Its gacha may be heavily regulated, with the chances of each character and rate of high-rarity "pulls" explained in detail under law, but nonetheless it is still gambling. It is also still an extremely popular, widely-played game, accessible to billions of people //and children.//
Altogether, //Genshin// is a widely popular game that relies on intense attachment to its characters in order to make money and manufacture the appearance of a wide, bustling community through free labour in the name of said characters. Its monetisation system banks heavily on this attachment, begging for the spending of real money in order for higher chances - but not quite 100% chances - of attaining these points of connection and identity. Those who connect to fiction historically or don't understand the psychological tricks at work here are more likely to fall into the trap of spending thousands in order to get these characters.
It's a harsh system, but it clearly works, and because it is insofar mostly unregulated internationally it will likely continue. //Genshin Impact// has, as mentioned, made millions. [[It will make millions more.->conclusion]]Still, I think it is important to continue to highlight what this study //does// demonstrate. In vulnerable individuals - such as myself - exploitative games like //Genshin Impact// use appealing characters to draw players into a monetisation system that preys on emotion and desire. The industry isn't regulated, it's open to minors, and it is incredibly widespread. For some of its huge audience, //Genshin Impact// is the first gacha game these players have experienced. It was my second. I'm still unfamiliar with its pitfalls.
//Genshin's// characters demonstrate to me my own patterns of attachment: how I approach my own thoughts and feelings in places where I feel I can explore them safely. Zhongli is an avenue of that exploration. The problem with this, however, is that Zhongli is not one of my own characters. Zhongli is not mine to have. It could be said that I barely even understand him correctly; I am missing the Chinese cultural context that shaped him and birthed him.
In a more abstract way, Zhongli is simply an aspect of //Genshin's// gacha that I have attached myself to. He feels like more than that. He //is// more than that to me. But I have to //force myself// to remember every time I log in and see him that he's a figure borne of profit. He's part of a game. Just a game. It's part of all too much coding and framework designed only to overreach profit into time and energy. (Just a game.)
The ideal commodity.
[[(Just a game.)->Departure page]](text-style:"subscript")[//Very special thanks to Penelope for helping me to proofread, brainstorm, perform free labour for Zhongli, and altogether learn to become a person again these last few years. You're wonderful. I couldn't ever have done this without you.//]
You've made it to the end of //Trauma, Identity, and Work.// If you'd like to see the full list of pages in this document, [[click here for the full table of contents->contents]].
A full list of appendices is available [[here->appendices]], as well as a bibliography located [[here->bibliography]].
If you would like to start over from the entry page, [[you can return here.->entry page]]