Update: “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh” In Devotion – The Taiwanese Perspective, The Chinese Perspective & The Neutral Ground
Just four days past its release, Taiwan-based Red Candle Studios’ Devotion is already in a circle of controversy. The game is being review bombed by players from China due to an in-game poster that said, “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh Moron”.
Updated 23 Feb, 3:52 pm IST – As reported by Mac, one of the commenters in our article, the game has also cursed everyone in mainland China and have told them to “die”.
The poster is a Fulu talisman. Daoist practitioners in the past drew and wrote these supernatural talismans as instructions to deities, spirits, or as tools of exorcism. Wikipedia
Updated 23 Feb, 3:52 pm IST – However, the Fulu talisman that appears in Devotion is not a generic [task] duly done by general Taoist monk[s]. It’s a curse spell that is considered very evil in traditional Chinese culture. It’s the Chinese equivalent of having a stabbed voodoo doll.
The red seal in the centre of the poster reads “Xi Jinping” on the right, and “Winnie the Pooh” on the left. The four corners of the Fulu talisman reads “Your (mom moron)” in Taiwanese dialect. ResetEra
Any discussions related to Devotion are currently banned in Chinese gaming forums, which includes NGA.Cn, China’s leading video games forum. Recent reviews of the game have taken a drastic negative turn, the majority of them being from Chinese players.
Updated on 23rd February, 3:37 pm IST
As reported by What’s on Weibo, there’s another alleged reference to Xi Jinping. In a newspaper segment found in another part of the game, one of the headlines say “Baozi(a Chinese dumpling, which is also used as a term to mock President Xi Jinping) has been sentenced to prison” and that he has been given “capital punishment.”
First Circle: Baozi was sentenced a death penalty of more than three years.
Second Circle: Baozi (dumpling) gets arrested for attacking primary school student. Szuyu. However, as reported by Facebook user 巫掌盆, 包子(Baozi) is the nickname of Red Candle’s co-founder 王瀚宇 Wang Wei. Zh.Wikipedia
Additionally, a tweet on our Twitter profile says that Xi Jinping is also depicted as a child attacker in the game, for which, we don’t have any evidence as of now.
Third Possible Reason
Updated on 26th February, 8:49 am IST
WE HAVE A MORE REASONABLE EXPLANATION OF THE FOLLOWING COINCIDENCE. WE’LL EXPLAIN THE ENTIRE SITUATION IN OUR UPCOMING REPORT. BEAR WITH US.
As submitted by Mac –
The antagonist cult leader [in Devotion] is called Lu Gongmin. Lu 陆 means mainland. Gongmin is homonyms with the words for “ citizen” or “populace”. Under his leadership, the cult sacrifice is committed on October 1. One of the main characters also with the last name synonymous with “mainland” was killed on his 49th birthday. Chinese Independence Day is on 1949, October 1.
In addition, there was another piece of writing in the scene with the paper that translates to something like you dumb shit. Finally, in the mainland, multiple social media influencers were paid especially to promote the game as a “made in China” game with traditional Chinese cultural elements to sell it.
UNVERIFIED Basically, people felt like they were tricked into paying for something that was literally cursing them in both senses of the word. Also, note that no one in mainland even picked up on any of the aforementioned until someone posted on a Taiwanese forum gloating about how mainlanders got tricked into paying for it without noticing the “Easter eggs “.
Updated on 26th February, 8:47 am IST
Overwhelmingly Positive turned Mostly Negative. (12,782 reviews and counting)
Game removed from Steam.
Why Is It A Matter Of Importance?
It’s a matter of utmost importance for Chinese players and the entire Chinese gaming community in general. Upon skimming through dozens of the recent reviews, we found one thing that was in common. If the concerned authority of the People’s Republic of China finds out about the discussed controversy, not just will they ban the game, but there’s a possibility they’ll ban Steam entirely.
In a country where games are constantly banned, modified and restricted to users due to several cultural and ideological conflicts, a reference like Devotion’s could turn disastrous.
Updated on 23rd February, 1:13 pm IST
Following the controversy, the names of the two publishers – Indievent and Winking Skywalker have been removed and replaced with Red Candle Games. For the context, both the aforementioned publishers are based in China. The game has also been removed from the Chinese version of Steam.
Detention is being review bombed as well
Updated on 23rd February, 1:42 pm IST
Red Candle Games’ award-winning 2D atmospheric horror, Detention, is being review bombed as well. The game boasts an Overwhelmingly Positive overall rating but the recent reviews are Mostly Negative and the conversion is happening on a massive scale.
Google Trends in China
Terms like Devotion, Winnie-the-Pooh, Taiwan Independence, Red Candle Games, Xi Jinping, Steam and Video Games are currently breaking in China.
A rough translation of one of the top reviews
The name used by the cult is the name of the Chinese national leader: Written on the character, it is your mother 87, and the red seal is written “Xi Xping, Wei X Xiong”.
If the game is noticed by the competent authority, then the entire Steam may be blocked by the competent authority. You, the group of game producers, do the game and do the game well. You have to do something like this, after all, the pattern.
Some people still regard this as a “domestic” game conscience. People don’t take you as a family. Take you as a 426 [Editor’s note: 426 is a Taiwanese term for disrespecting people from the People’s Republic of China. The pronunciation of 426 sounds similar to “damned mainlanders” in Taiwan’s Hokkien dialect. What’s on Weibo]
You still have a hot face to stick to people’s cold butt. If your surname is Qin, if someone talks to you about how Qin Qin is. Is that simply saying, Qin? That is the way you change the law!
Even though you may not agree with the policy, you may think that other people who believe in it around you are “brain-washed dogs”, but is there a difference in the eyes of others? People can ignore your thoughts. In the eyes of others, you are a dog, just like the people around you. Why do you have a face to talk to others, is it awkward? I am sorry for you.
Game Removed From Steam
Updated on 26th February, 8:47 am IST
Devotion has been completely pulled out of Steam following the controversy. Here’s the official statement from Red Candle Games –
1. Red Candle Games herein confirm the following information spreading on the Internet is incorrect.
(1) The highly-estimated sales number of Devotion
(2) Extensive implication about the game content
(3) Photoshopped statement screenshot made by the forged official account
For the official information, Red Candle Games’ Facebook account and the Steam page are the only reliable sources. We kindly remind you not to be misled by other incorrect information.
(At the moment, Red Candle Games’ official Weibo account has been shut down. But we will keep contacting Weibo officials in hope to provide an official channel with correct information to all the player.)
2. The theme of Devotion is about how cult does harm to people, leading to the tragedy caused by pure parental love. For the earlier sensitive art material incident, the whole team of Red Candle Games bears the responsibility of this awfully unprofessional mistake. It is not Red Candle’s vision to secretly project extensive ideology, nor is it to attack any person in the real world. Even if the sensitive art element was wrongfully placed before, we kindly ask you not to over interpret other game material.
3. As a game company, Red Candle Games’ only goal is to provide an impressive and good playing experience to all. However, we failed our players’ anticipation and offended many others due to the said mistake. For that, we feel awfully sorry and devastated. Again, we would like to reaffirm that the severe art material mistake is made by Red Candle Games. It has nothing to do with any of our partners. Red Candle Games take full responsibility and bear all the condemns. We sincerely hope that this end with Red Candle, and that please do not take it out on all the innocent partners.
4. It is our genuine hope that everyone can remain calm and shift the focus back to the game’s core message, which can be obtained through playing experience of Devotion. After all, it is a mistake to insert the unrelatable material to the game content. Not only does it destroy how people experience the game, but also affect many more people. It is our regret to say that this is not Red Candle Games’ original aim for game development.
5. At the moment we are in the process of business mediation. We kindly ask for everyone to remain calm and give Red Candle some time to address the incident. This will be the greatest support for us. Thank you.
Vincent Yang, Coffee Yao, Henry Wang, Light Wang, Doy Chiang and Hans Chen
Co-founders, Red Candle Games
On the morning of February 23, 2019, I saw on the Internet the news that Devotion was a game with private goods. The evidence was sufficient and well-founded.
For a moment, all the feelings of yesterday’s harvest turned into deep disgust. I have to say that the Red Candle Company has been very successful at this point, and you have succeeded in disgusting me.
But what can you do? You support Taiwan independence and insult your own national leaders, and still cannot change the trend of history. You use the game to satirize white horror and satirize the cult, but you are playing a ridiculously jumping clown, doing a daydream of arrogance and unreality, and complacent about it, as if taunting your compatriots is incomparable. Glorious, extremely successful things.
Taiwan, China’s territory since ancient times.
I suggest that you go to see Japan and South Korea next door. If you go to see what is going on in the United States, will their people really be happy, or is it just your wishful thinking? You are just like Du Feng. I feel that I am doing the right thing, being a devotee, but I personally push my people into the heat!
This game! The irony of doing it is a cult! Or are you yourself? !
The game is really good, very touching. So I don’t want to have many years later, your company is being made into materials in the game… to become the object of irony or ridicule.
Red candle ah… With the heart still alive, open the door and save her?
The first time I watched this game it really shocked me so much, like a fantastic meal. But now, it just like I know that it was made by a toilet.
— Clover (@wyhgoodjob) February 23, 2019
— 张佩琪 TOMOMI (@satoshi_cocoa) February 23, 2019
— O~嘉川 (@iaMAsv2rNIkICsG) February 23, 2019
— 护教壬🇸🇪文和 (@Kinamusou) February 23, 2019
Red Candle Games’ Apology
Rough Translation via Google Translate.
ABOUT ART MATERIAL STATEMENT
Our team often [uses] popular internet memes for placeholders in the prototype stage. It was a temporary material, but it was not completely deleted due to the version synchronization problem. It was an accident and there was no attack or abusive intention. Removed from v1.0.5 on 2/21 night.
This turmoil reflects the fact that the team is not rigorous in the production process. As a game company, Red Candle does have a lot of room for improvement, and we are extremely sorry for the troubles of all parties. Please forgive us.
All responsibilities are on us.
Rough Translation via Google Translate.
TERMINATION OF COOPERATION
Hello everyone. We are Indievent, and this time is responsible for the mainland issue of “Responsible”. After learning about the incident at 11 am on February 23, 2019, we immediately checked and issued an apology statement. At this point, our company has carried out mandatory internal rectification and severely punished the relevant principal responsible personnel to ensure that such situations will not occur again in the future.
According to the last commit, we have tried our best to check whether there are still similar politically sensitive issues in the game, and the player reports that the latest version of the game still has metaphorical political elements. After careful consideration, we announced the official termination of the partnership with the Red Candle Games!
Spiel Times reached out to Red Candle Games multiple times today. However, the Red Candle team didn’t pick up the call.
The art material has now been removed. But as the controversy has already reached the depths of the internet, Devotion would still be a heated topic of discussion for weeks to follow. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Make sure you subscribe to our push-notifications and never miss an update on Devotion and the discussed controversy. We’ll update the article when there’s a response from the developers. Until next time, Careful Gaming!