“Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh” In Devotion – The Taiwanese Perspective, The Chinese Perspective & The Neutral Ground

A comprehensive report on the "Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh" Devotion debacle.

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DISCLAIMER

The content of this article is based on events (such as Red Candle’s initial input, review bombing of the game, discussions on social media and Red Candle’s apology) having valid proof and existence on the internet. No part of this article has been doctored or created by Spiel Times in order to dramatise the narrative of the report. Every fact laid down in the report can be found on the internet (through translations, on public forums and archives) and does have a connection with the overall incident. However, we’ve included information from sources which have now been deleted. For such cases, we’ve clearly mentioned the required. Keep in mind, we’re not taking any sides in this discussion. It won’t benefit us by any means. We’re just a small team of aspiring journalists based in India, trying to do objective video games journalism, nothing more. This article narrates the Taiwanese perspective, the Chinese perspective and the Neutral Ground on the overall incident. We’d like to acknowledge the numerous gamers from Taiwan and China who helped us understand the overall scenario, gave us valuable feedback and corrected us where we were wrong.

SIDE NOTE: Since we want to provide a balanced narrative, we’re still taking in feedback. If you’re willing to provide some inputs, feel free to mail us on [email protected]


PART I Red Candle Games

Growing up playing video games and getting influenced by them, Taiwanese game developer Coffee Yao (姚舜庭) always had a desire to narrate stories that resemble the Taiwanese culture.1 In 2013,2 he penned down his first game Detention (返校), an atmospheric horror set in the 1960s Taiwan of the White Terror period. Teaming up with Light Wang (王光昊), Doy Chiang (江東昱), Henry Wang (王瀚宇), Finger Chen (陳敬恆) and Vincent Yang (楊適維), Yao incorporated Red Candle Games as an independent game development studio on September 10, 2015.3 Soon after, the team developed Detention and ultimately released it on Steam on January 13, 2017.4

On July 2, 2018, Red Candle Games released a one-minute long teaser5 for Devotion, which saw a positive reception. The teaser had 239,708 views (as captured on January 5, 2019), however, it has since been deleted.

PART II Detention

2017 Indiecade Journey Award Winner, Detention, depicted one of Taiwan’s most sensitive periods – The White Terror.6 It occurred following the February 28 massacre,7 an anti-government uprising in Taiwan that was violently suppressed by the Kuomintang-led (KMT) Republic of China government, in which, thousands of civilians lost their lives. Detention, in a fictional way, showed how accessing restricted information during the White Terror period was illegal and that it could result in severe consequences.

The game was very well received by both the critics and the players, especially the Chinese gaming community. Gamers of China appreciated Red Candle Games for their excellent work and formed an immediate bond with the studio. Western audience and the Taiwanese gaming community equally acknowledged the game for what it offered.8

However, as reported by a number of sources, mainland Chinese gamers appreciated Red Candle Games for Detention and some claimed it to be a “Chinese game” with pride.

PART III Devotion

When Red Candle Games first teased Devotion in July 2018,9 the studio’s dedicated fanbase received the game with extreme positivity. On January 14, 2019,10 they announced a release date for Devotion – February 19, 2019.

Two days past its release, Devotion made its way to #1 position of Steam’s Top Selling chart,11 with over thousands of positive reviews, making the overall rating Overwhelmingly Positive. Reportedly, a heavy chunk of the Steam reviews was from gamers in China. The Chinese gaming community applauded the game on social media, internet personalities started streaming it, the game was trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo, gamers were adding positive reviews and recommending the game extensively.

Devotion also became Twitch’s 4th hottest game in just a span of two days.12

PART IV The Findings

IV-A The Fulu Talisman

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

Fulu talismans13 have been a part of the Chinese culture since the ancient days. These talismans can be used for various different purposes – summoning or instructing deities, spirits, or as tools of exorcism and as medicinal potions for ailments. In Devotion, the controversial Fulu talisman is not serving a cursing purpose. It’s being used to ward against the evils as the protagonist is worried his daughter might be under “supernatural influence”. The fulu to the right contains “To exorcise evil, ward against the spirit” (驅邪神煞).

IV-B Your Mother Is Idiot

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

In this context, 呢 on the top right corner, can be homophonic with 你, meaning “you/your”, 嘛 on the bottom right corner, can be homophonic with 媽, meaning “mother”, 叭 on the top left corner, can be homophonic with 八, meaning “eight”, and 唭 on the bottom left corner, can be homophonic with 七, meaning “seven”. In their initial forms, the letters make no sense. However, when spoken out loud, they form the sentence – “Your Mother is 87”. However, because of the homophonic nature of 87, when pronounced, it sounds like “idiot” in Chinese. 87 is also a Chinese Internet slang,14which represents “bitchy” in English and “idiocracy/idiot” in Mandarin. Ultimately, the letters make “Your Mother Is Idiot.”

Reportedly, this sentence doesn’t appear only in this particular fulu talisman. Many players have found the writing on multiple talismans throughout the game, including the fulu to the right. Since it has been used in multiple assets, it’s possible there’s no direct connection between the seal and the writing.

IV-C Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

The red seal in the centre of the fulu talisman says Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh (習近平小熊維尼). According to Red Candle Games,15 the seal was a temporary placeholder they used during the game’s development process, which, “wasn’t removed properly” due to a said “version synchronisation problem”.

In the evening of 21st February, Red Candle Games replaced the aforementioned red seal with a different one. Have a look –

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON
The new seal says, “Best wishes for the new year to come”.

 

IV-D The Newspaper Clipping

The vertical characters in bold in the extreme right is the name of the fictional newspaper. The main headline in the top-centre is basically a promotion for the game’s singing competition. It roughly translates to, “Come to compete at our stage and you’ll be shining your entire life.” The headline in the bottom-left corner roughly translates to “Red Candle Garden”, a reference to Red Candle Games.

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

The image on the top-left corner. It’s an image of Devotion’s producer Doy Chiang (江東昱). Here’s the visual explanation –

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

The image below Doy’s is a screenshot from Red Candle Games’ first game Detention. The images in the centre and on the bottom-right corner are actually photographs of Red Candle Games’ team members. The first circle says “Baozi has been sentenced a death penalty of more than three years.” Boazi is actually the nickname of one of Red Candle Games’ programmers Henry Wang (王瀚宇). The second circle says “Baozi gets arrested for attacking primary school students.” The second headline was actually indented for fun as it is a reference to Henry’s personal Lolita Complex.

IV-E Related

IV-E-1 Lu Gongming

The controversial personality Lu Gongming is the cult leader from Devotion’s pre-launch ARG event.16 There’s no reference to him in the main game at all. “Lu” (陸) itself means “land”, however, it’s also a common surname. Gongming (恭銘) sounds like “citizen” (公民), but in Taiwanese-Hoklo it can also be pronounced as “light” (光明). After the outbreak, however, the Chinese gamers interpreted the name to reflect as “the citizens of the mainland”.

IV-E-2 7 Days

7 days is an ancient Chinese belief that the spirit of the passed-away will come back for a brief moment to reunite with their family so that the family can say goodbye to the deceased for a final time before they go into the beyond.

IV-E-3 4-9

49 wasn’t supposed to be interpreted as “forty-nine”. There are just a bunch of “4” and “9” candles in the birthday scene from the game. And there are three 4s and three 9s respectively. A more plausible reason is that 4 in Chinese sounds like 死 (death), and 9 in Chinese folklore and customs also can be seen as an unlucky number. In I Ching,17 one of the oldest Chinese classics, 9 is a number of “turn of fate” (because then you need to wrap the number around back to 1), so it’s a kind of numerology. And also there’s a superstition which you are more likely to die when your age ends in 9s.

IV-E-4 October 7, 1987

The protagonist starts the game exactly on October 7, 1987, on his couch. And that day coincides with Moon Festival (Mid-Autumn). Coincidentally, there was a Lunar eclipse18 on that day, which was considered a bad omen as there was a lunar eclipse during a festival in which, people were to celebrate a full moon. DEVOTION SPOILER: In the game, October 7, 1987, is also the date when the protagonist discovers which daughter dies.

PART V Taiwan And China – The Political Tension

Taiwan is an island off the southeastern coast of China and its sovereignty has been a controversial topic since Kuomintang (KMT) retreated to the island in 1949. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) views it as a province, which, the Taiwanese political voices don’t agree with. The PRC asserts that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of it. The “One China” principle is a major issue and also a major contributor to the entire Devotion debacle. Although its essence isn’t known to a fair amount of the world, the political tension between the nations is severe and extremely sensitive.19

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

TAIWAN. The game was already a heated topic of discussion by 20 February 2019. Taiwanese gamers were appreciating the game, internet personalities were streaming the game and video games discussion forums were filled with Devotion material. This is when people started to notice the Fulu talisman.

Initially, players were only discussing the “Your Mother Is Idiot” finding. Chatrooms20 and discussion threads were filled with comments related to this particular finding.

CHINA. Just like in Taiwan, gamers in China received the game with positivity and a majority of the Steam reviews were from the Chinese gaming community. No possible findings so far.

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

EDITOR’S NOTE: The seal in its in-game form isn’t distinguishable. The game was possibly reverse engineered to find the source material, which then, made its way to the Internet.

CHINA. Since the 21st, Chinese gamers started discussing occurrences such as Baozi’s death sentence. People considered all of these as mere coincidences and nothing important.

TAIWAN. In the afternoon of 21 February, the red seal started circulating across Taiwanese gaming forums. Most of the initial threads have since been deleted. In Taiwan, gamers took the seal as a mere joke and started creating memes, and t-shirt designs, making the issue a funny incident.

RED CANDLE GAMES. In the evening of 21 February, Red Candle removed the seal while still keeping the fulu talisman in the game.

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

CHINA. On 22nd February, images of the red seal started circulating on the Chinese forums and it was then when players started becoming aware of the entire issue. The circulations became widespread between the midnight of 22nd and 23rd February. After the discovery of the seal, Chinese gamers reconsidered the events and upon further investigations, found out about the “Lu Gongming” part and similar. This is when the issue became wide-spread.

TAIWAN. There were no significant progressions happening related to the event.

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

CHINA. On 23rd, the review-bombing started. Gamers in China started showing their disappointment towards Devotion and Red Candle Games in general, by dropping negative reviews on Steam.21 Streamers and internet personalities started discussing the topic and showing their disapproval. As a general idea, the entire gaming community knew what lies ahead.

23rd February was also the day when Chinese gamers started creating connections of politics, Red Candle’s alleged political agendas and the game’s alleged “mocking” nature towards the country and its people. Since players were able to connect multiple threads with their own interpretations, the situation was moulded in a way that Red Candle Games wanted to politically attack the Chinese president and its people.

Gamers in China weren’t particularly happy. The concern here was that Chinese gamers supported Red Candle Games, both Detention and Devotion, however, Red Candles “backstabbed” and “betrayed” their loyalty.

Devotion was soon delisted from the Chinese Steam store, censored in Weibo and most of the discussions related to “Steam”, “Devotion” and “Red Candle Games” were removed from gaming forums entirely.

Not only Devotion, but Detention faced the backlash as well. The game, which initially boasted an Overwhelmingly Positive overall rating was soon bombarded with Mostly Negative reviews. The conversion happened on a massive scale.

TAIWAN. More and more people from Taiwan started to notice the increasing magnitude of the incident. After the Taiwanese public heard about the game getting delisted, they assumed hostility at first sight. Because of the outbreak, many Taiwanese gamers started to mock Chinese gamers even more.

Soon after, the situation grew out from just a gaming issue to a more political one. The general public who had no prior idea about the studio or the situation started joining in the conversation and voicing their individual opinions. A lot of the mainstream Taiwanese media and internet personalities started reacting to the events and criticising the Chinese public. This wasn’t a gaming issue anymore.

Following the backlash, Red Candle Games stopped their communications temporarily and rather maintained a low profile. The two publishers – Indievent and Winking Skywalker were removed from the game’s steam page and were replaced with Red Candle Games. For the context, both the aforementioned publishers are based in China.

GLOBALLY. On 23rd February, we broke out the story that attracted a lot of Western mainstream media, including Eurogamer,22 PC Gamer,23 and Comic Book24. The incident soon went viral. Red Candle Games initially announced their apologies in Chinese. Interestingly, however, after they noticed the situation being covered worldwide, they added English translations to their announcements as well.252627

The Chinese Perspective

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

On The Fulu Talisman & Your Mother Is Idiot

Before the outbreak, it wasn’t really paid attention to. After the discovery of the red seal, people deconstructed the image, possibly through reverse engineering, and connected “Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh” with “Your Mother is Idiot”, creating a meaning that Red Candle is not only creating similarities of their President with Winnie-the-Pooh but also referring his mother as an idiot.

On Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh

Gamers who were supportive of Devotion and Red Candle Games were hurt and felt backstabbed. They showed their disappointment by review bombing the game on Steam and abusing it on gaming forums and social media. Streamers and internet personalities voiced their disregards as well. The general public that discovered the red seal contining “Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh” through social media and chained-sources started blaming and ill-treating Red Candle Games for involving unnecessary politics in the game.

On The Newspaper Clipping

As the newspaper clipping was scrutinised, players immediately connected Devotion producer Doy Chiang’s photograph on the top-left corner to the incident and misinterpreted it to be a photograph of Xi Jinping. To back the claim, a photoshopped image started to circulate on Chinese social media. Have a look –

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

The headlines claiming Baozi receiving a death penalty and attacking primary school students coincided and a relation of the same was made with President Xi Jinping.

On Related

Gamers in China made a connection of Lu Gongming from the ARG game and interpreted that Red Candle Games, very smartly, is cursing the citizens of China. Additionally, they made connections with the Chinese Independence Day, i.e., October 1, with the cult events in the game.

The Overall Perspective

Since the outbreak, a fair amount of resources, links and discussion threads related to Devotion and the issue have been either deleted/censored or entirely pulled off in China.

In China, these issues turned out to be majorly disturbing. Gamers showed their outrage by review-bombing Devotion on Steam. The heavy chunk of positive reviews that pushed Devotion to an “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating, were now all in the reds. Comments related to backstabbing, the involvement of politics in Devotion, Red Candle’s “intentional doing” and similar started to fill up the entire Devotion’s Steam reviews section.

The issue also caused a severe uproar in social media platforms, including the popular Weibo. The situation took an even worse turn when streamers started pulling out their streams, internet personalities started commenting on the issue and the chain-reaction started exploding.

It became an issue related to nationalism. From the Chinese perspective, Red Candle Games not only insulted their President but also thrashed the general population of the nation. Whether or not the Chinese population was over-interpreting the links in the game, the red seal itself was enough of an evidence to provoke them in the first place.

From a different angle, many have claimed gamers were hurt even more when their loyalty was rewarded with backstabbing. On a Taiwanese forum, a Chinese participant wrote that everyone in China was very supportive of Devotion until the 23rd. Allegedly, some Chinese piracy circles were discussing to pirate the game, which, the gamers didn’t support. They criticised the piracy groups and wanted to support the game through legitimate purchases. However, when the gamers found out about the red seal, they felt Red Candle Games cheated and backstabbed them, even when their support was beyond any measure.

Another serious issue is the grey gaming market in China. And Steam is a part of it. Although you can purchase and play almost every game on Steam, you can’t access the Steam Community which includes profiles, friends, groups, broadcasts, discussions, achievements and similar. A separate Steam “China” version was in the process of being set up and it wasn’t clearly decided whether or not Steam’s global version will be banned. Following the controversy, there’s a strong possibility that Steam’s global version might be banned entirely in mainland China. This acted as one of the main reasons for the inflammation from the Chinese gaming community as well.

The Taiwanese Perspective

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

On The Fulu Talisman

Before the spread of the issue, the fulu talisman was considered as a funny easter egg, nothing more. After the discovery of the seal, a majority of the Taiwanese gaming community mocked the gamers in China and acknowledged the connection of Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh and Your Mother is Idiot, while some clarified the art material.

On Your Mother Is Idiot

A mere joke, both before and after the discovery of the seal. However, the number of gamers making fun of it increased.

On Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh

While some stood by Red Candle’s side and acknowledged the studio’s mistake, many claimed it was the right thing to do and that Red Candle did a great job sneaking in the symbol to humiliate the Chinese community.

On The Newspaper Clipping

No such perspective. It was only after the Chinese gamers that the Taiwanese gamers observed the paper clipping. Chinese gamers, most of them being unaware of the team members at Red Candle Games, claimed that the image on the top-left corner was a doctored image of President Xi Jinping. The headlines talking about Baozi’s relation with illegal tasks was also taken as an offence, as Xi Jinping is also referred to as Baozi. The Taiwanese gamers clarified the meanings, made it clear that the image was of  Devotion’s producer Doy Chiang (江東昱) and declined any connection with Xi Jinping.

On Related

No such perspective. The Taiwanese gamers claimed that the connections and interpretations made by the Chinese gamers were false and that they were totally coincidental.

The Overall Perspective

Past the outcry, gamers in Taiwan took the situation with witticism. It wasn’t a problem for Taiwanese gamers. Some did show their concerns regarding Red Candle Games and the backlash they might face, but the majority was still participating to mock the Chinese public.

Many Taiwanese gamers mocked the gamers in China, claiming that Red Candle Games have done a great job with the hidden messages and provoked the Chinese gaming community through multiple forum posts. And the situation worsened after the mainstream media’s outbreak on the issue.

Internet celebrities and mainstream media joined in the conversation, not because they were concerned about Red Candle Games or Devotion, but because of the existing political tension between the two nations. The entire debacle served as an opportunity for the general public of Taiwan to voice their opinions against China.

The general public that wasn’t even familiar with the initial incident started questioning the freedom of the press in China, the censorship status and similar, destabilising the already-worse political situation.

The media outlets28 that covered the issue were narrating the events in a stretched, funny and ridiculous way. Netizens started circulating memes, t-shirt designs with the red seal and creating a joke out of the entire situation.

The Neutral Ground

Devotion XI JINPING WINNIE THE POOH MORON

Despite the majority and their reactions towards the issue, I came through many individuals who were rather disappointed and sad from how the situation turned out to be. Not everyone was playing the blame game, but instead, reaching out to me with solutions, proper explanations and laid-down facts to help create a fair and objective report.

This group of people from both sides actually agrees that the entire situation was somewhat misinterpreted and stretched. Individuals from Taiwan helped me understand how, due to homophonics and obfuscations, the situation worsened, and individuals from China helped me find shreds of evidence and the missing pieces of the puzzles, and both the sides together helped me understand the political tension between the nations, the existing uproar about nationalism and why the issue turned out to be such a massive one.

Devotion Pulled Out Of Steam

On 25th February, Red Candle Games pulled out Devotion from Steam temporarily. “Due to technical issues that cause unexpected crashes and among other reasons, we are pulling <Devotion> off from steam store to have another complete QA check”, the team wrote. “At the same time we’d like to take this opportunity to ease the heightened pressure in our community resulted from our previous Art Material Incident, our team would also review our game material once again making sure no other unintended materials was inserted in. Hopefully this would help all audience to focus on the game itself again upon its return.”

Regarding the current state of Devotion, Red Candle Games announced –

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.

Steam29

Conclusion

Red Candle Games made the initial mistake, no doubt. Had they not included the red seal, none of these would have occurred. And for what we know, they’ve apologised for their mistake. However, whether or not they intended political meanings and connections through their game remains unanswered.

References

  1. IndieCade 2017: Detention – Red Candle Games Interview, Con, Freaks And Geeks
  2. Red Candle Games, Zh.Wikipedia
  3. Red Candle Games, findbiz.nat.gov.tw
  4. Detention, Steam
  5. Devotion Teaser Trailer, Archive.org
  6. The White Terror (Taiwan), Wikipedia
  7. February 28 incident, Wikipedia
  8. Detention, Metacritic
  9. Devotion is a Taiwanese psychological horror game about religion, Polygon
  10. Intriguing horror Devotion gets teaser trailer, The Indie Game Website
  11. Devotion, Currently Steam’s #1 Top Selling Game, Will Change Your Perspective On “Home”, Spiel Times
  12. How Devotion, Twitch’s Hottest Horror Game, Builds On The Genre’s Legacy, The Verge
  13. Fulu, Wikipedia
  14. Chinese Internet slang, Wikipedia
  15. Devotion Art Material Statement, Steam
  16. [Devotion ARG] Full Documentary Film, YouTube
  17. I Ching, Wikipedia
  18. October 1987 Lunar eclipse, Wikipedia
  19. China-Taiwan Relations, Council on Foreign Relations
  20. PTT.CC
  21. UPDATE: “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh Moron” Found In Devotion; Game Is Being Review Bombed By Chinese Players, Spiel Times
  22. Chinese users review-bomb Steam horror hit Devotion over Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh meme reference, EuroGamer
  23. Devotion review bombed by Chinese Steam users over Winnie the Pooh meme, PCGamer
  24. Chinese Users Review Bomb ‘Devotion’ Horror Game Over Winnie the Pooh Meme, Comic Book
  25. About the Store Page, Steam
  26. Official Statement Regarding Devotion Current State, Steam
  27. Devotion Art Material Statement, Steam
  28. 《還願》藏習維尼中國封殺 台製最夯電玩 符咒敲碎玻璃心, Apple-Daily
  29. Official Statement Regarding Devotion Current State,Steam

35 COMMENTS

  1. Man, thank you for reavealing the truth on both sides. Although there are some more that can be added, but it is enough to explain what is going on. I feel said that most Chinese people cannot see this. The Chinese media and false information on the Internet distorted the information and misled people so much.

    Hope that more Chinese can be awaken.

  2. The comment here which says ‘The Chinese media and false information on the Internet distorted the information and misled people so much’ is definitely wrong. The truth is, Chinese media do not say anything about this Devotion event. This user who named ‘Tel.’, you should use google to search the keyword and try to find if there has any mainland media website talking about Devotion. You should not just comment by your imagination. Actually, there are only Taiwan media keep talking about it these days and it is Taiwan media distorted so many information about Devotion.

    News such as ‘mainland China players only bought 9000 Devotion’, or ‘Devotion had been sold about 1000000 on global market’ are all posted by Taiwan media and they are all fake news. It is very very very easy to know who is the one distorting people in this case. JUST GOOGLE IT.

    As a Chinese I should say, this accident is not only about a game. It is actually about the feeling of mainland Chinese. The young Chinese generation is the group who completely be taught that Taiwan is a part of China. Meanwhile, the young Taiwan generation is taught that Taiwan is a country as well. There has a confliction between them. Young Chinese use to believe that Taiwanese still think of themselves as Chinese, and the Devotion event just made them finally know they are wrong. They finally understand that they cannot see Taiwanese as ‘their people’. This big disappoint then outbursted, through the game Devotion. And it is not a beginning, it is actually a consequence of accumulated contradictions.

    Devotion may not a real ‘supporter of Taiwan independent’, but most of its Taiwan supporters are. Devotion just showed that the real thought of those Taiwanese. And it is this thought irritated Chinese. The game is just a vehicle of anger.

    Taiwanese always think that is CCP forces people to think ‘Taiwan is a part of China’. They are totally wrong. No matter which party governs China, most Chinese always think of Taiwan as a province. CCP promises that they will take Taiwan back, this is one of the reasons why Chinese support them.

    Hope that more Taiwanese can awaken some day, knowing the desire that Chinese want to unify the island. And stop dreaming about Chinese can allow them to earn money from mainland China while they try to be independent.

    • It is certain that there are people on both sides of the Straight distorting information and spreading it around.
      The examples you mentioned are just part of it. You’re just looking at what you want to see.
      Devotion (還願) is already a blocked keyword on Baidu, discussion on it is not allowed, how do you expect people to fact-check in that sort of situation? With the political situation in China a rumor saying “that game cursed all the people in China” is all that is needed for the more nationalist people to come out raging. No-one is interested in hearing the other side, no-one is ABLE to hear the other side of the story.

      On your last paragraph, the Taiwanese have already awoken. In the past government approved schoolbooks all taught us that our comrades on the mainland needed us to take back the country and save them from the CCP. The Taiwanese have already awoken from that dream. You might say that they CCP doesn’t force you to think that, but how do you really know if that’s what your schoolbooks teach you from an early age? We’ve already been down that path before, school materials used to be “one version only” and were approved by the government. Meaning we were only allowed to learn what the government allowed us to.
      Also, what is wrong with people trying to earn money and having their own political ideals? Do you tell all the other countries in the world that they must be part of China in order to earn money from them?

    • I get really sad when obviously Chinese Americans who forget the freedoms they have here think it’s OK to constantly keep doing this.
      The vast majority of Chinese never think about all the nuances of inflammatory speech because the government does it for them, it jails your unharmonic (adult) artists/writers, it censors your Tienanmen Square, it blots out your Winnie the Pooh.
      It’s the worst example of global capitalism combined with government dictatorship, every thought is bought and every company that operates there has to install “harmonic” software to even exist.
      And yet the public claim to be “aware” and not brainwashed and always bring up the themes of “backstab” and “betrayal” every time they pull this stunt against stuff deemed “unharmonic.”
      It’s like they think they are too smart for the discussion because their government has removed it for them, so they never have to fight against opposing viewpoints in the echo chamber and just use their numbers to stifle any discussion.

      The worst part is once they leave the government surveillance they’ve been trained so well that they self-censor themselves and others, and then they think that other countries want this brand of nonsense.

  3. Thanks for the effort putting all these together! It is great that all these facts and underlying emotions can be documented in a clear manner.

    For the conclusion part, I think Red Candle Games has already declared in their 1st announcement on Feb 23 [15] that they by no means have any intended political meanings and connections in the game Devotion. The artist put the material in prototypes while referring to internet slangs at that time.

    From the fact that this game takes years to complete, the red seal may exist in its code base at the very beginning — given the fact that China banned Winnie the Pooh in July 2017 (https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-40627855), maybe the seal is put in the game years ago, when the internet slang is very popular. Afterwards, its ancient font face made it slip through the review process (actually, not many Taiwanese can actually recognize characters in that font), and finally got delivered to the players.

    As for all the other clues mentioned in the section IV-E RELATED, I believe that there are no intended political meanings at all. Red Candle Games has covered that subject in this sentence in their Devotion Current State announcement:
    “Even if the sensitive art element was wrongfully placed before, we kindly ask you not to over interpret other game material.”

  4. Thank you Pingal for updating your article and providing extensive information. Thank you for listening. We need more like you.

    And as a gamer from mainland, I’d like to point out that not all of us were baited into this nationalist dumpster fire. We are actually aware that making fun of a head of state is very different from disrespecting a country or its people. Whoever drags TW independence or other inflammatory shit into this is clearly missing the point and in need of re-examining their definition of patriotism. Also our “feelings” of this event was mostly the fear of losing Steam entirely. But if you think about it, the (banned) games aren’t the ones to blame.

  5. The photo in the newspaper of Easteregg is not xi’s. It was the member’s nickname 包子(real name 王瀚宇)in the Game development team. And he like loli in Japanese animes. So team make some jokes on him with this easteregg. The original photo is here ( http://disp.cc/m/163-bc3b ), and you will find the text on the photo matches the background of the newspaper.

  6. thank for organizing all this information! I think we need more media like Spieltimes. it’s really helpful to clarify misunderstanding and also combating fake news.

  7. Hello Pingal,

    Your coverage on this issue is good, but sadly still incomplete.

    As a game developer in Taiwan that doesn’t support the “Taiwan Independence” idea, there are many people in Taiwan that know Red Candle is formed by a group of people who actually support such an idea and the incident is not a mistake – some even believe that they’ve used this as a way to promote their game and it merely got out of control.

    If you really wish to understand the issue, you need to first understand how the Taiwanese population is torn between Blue and Green factions. The Blue faction disapproves Taiwan Independence idea and the Green faction supports it.

    The leader of the Green Faction won the presidential election in 2016. Due to political correctness, the Green faction supporters have grown much more vocal in the past a few years, while the Blue faction supporters have been getting more and more silent. That doesn’t mean they are the majority; in fact, during the 2018 mayor elections, the Green Faction lost by a lot, keeping only 2 Green faction mayors out of 6 major cities while the Blue faction won 4, the exact opposite of the outcome from 4 years ago.

    The Blue faction supporters mainly agree that Red Candle is in support of Taiwan Independence and the Green faction ideologies, evident in both games they have made so far – one bashing KMT, the lead Blue Faction party in Taiwan, while another bashing the Communist China, both considered enemies of DPP, the lead Green faction party. Since Detention, Red Candle’s first game, told the story of White Terror, the stories that DPP has been using to win elections over the years and making up more and more false details to incriminate KMT army half a century ago, the majority of the Blue faction supporters believe that the showing of the talisman and the naming of the game characters were actually intentional. The insinuation and insults were meant to be subtle and to create a buzz on the media. The damage was expected but it merely got out of control.

    When you do the report on the Taiwanese perspective, please listen to the other side of the story, not just the Green faction supporters or the more neutral ones, but the Blue faction supporters as well. The Green faction supporters cannot represent the whole Taiwanese population, as indicated by your coverage. It’s misleading to foreigners.

    Thanks,
    Frank

    • In short, the blue faction (supporters of KMT, full name Chinese Nationalist Party) support the view of the Chinese that it was deliberate.

    • There will always be mixed voices no matter which side of the Taiwanese Straight you are on. Sadly those who are supporting the game in China can’t speak out since all the forums debating the issue were deleted, hence why the Chinese side of the events couldn’t be confirmed.

      • As I’ve stated, I’m a game developer in Taiwan. I have game industry friends in China.
        They said that the government in China has banned all discussions of Devotion/Detention/Red Candle on search engines and forums.
        Another friend of mine said that their game discussion groups on Wechat were deleted overnight. Gone.
        The Taiwanese game developers in China are facing extreme difficulties to get funding to work on their titles in the future. After this incident, the chance to get investment has virtually become zero.
        The goodwill of Chinese/Taiwanese game developers and funding was literally killed by this incident.

        • I’m left wondering, if a government cannot take criticism or mocking and goes to such a great extent to remove it, is it really worth it to take that risk to jump into a market controlled by such a government?
          Are there actually rules or laws in place that state one cannot speak bad of their leader in China? What law are they using to block discussion on Devotion/Detention/Red Candle?
          If there are no laws, then basically the government is just doing it because they wished it so.
          What’s to say that someday you might not run afoul of some government higher-up despite being cautious?

          I’m sure that as a game developer you might have some ideals or story that you try to present through your games. You might be angry because the chance to get funding that allows you to develop it has dwindled. But the truth of the matter is that your creativity would be limited in such environment.

          You never know what that government will crack down on next.

  8. It feels ironic to me considering what was shown in Detention, KMT was the leading force in opposing communist China back in that era. Now they’re siding with the CCP.
    Also despite the liberal use of anti-communism propaganda in Detention, it did not receive as much criticism as Devotion did, where a controversy was raised over a single piece of background art.

    • It’s actually a shallow interpretation from foreigners that KMT supporters are, if not siding with DPP, siding with the CCP.

      Do you think China and Taiwan are two countries, or are they two governments in a civil war that both claim their right to rule over China?

      DPP supporters think that China and Taiwan are two different, independent countries.
      KMT supporters think that Taiwan’s government, Republic of China, owns the right to rule over China, including mainland China and Taiwan.
      CCP supporters think that China’s government, People’s Republic of China, owns the right to rule over China, including mainland China and Taiwan.

      This game is made by a group of DPP supporters.
      KMT supporters disagree. CCP supporters disagree.

      Clear enough for you?

      • Allow me to elaborate on the final few sentences for you.

        This game is made by a group of DPP supporters. They said, “oops we’ve slipped something inappropriate into the game unintentionally.”
        KMT supporters sarcastically disagree that it was unintentional.
        CCP supporters angrily disagree that it was unintentional.

        • And this article states that it remains unanswered, leaving the readers to reach their own conclusions.
          The only hard evidence is that something inappropriate WAS left in the game.

          The point of this article is to try and present all the points in this controversy to try and paint a clearer picture of what happened. Sure, add the KMT supporter’s view to make it more complete, but to come outright and state that the producers of the game are DPP supporters would be insinuating that they had some agenda, since the DPP is generally anti-China.

          • I was not insinuating that they were supporters of DPP with an agenda, but stating it bluntly. By choosing to make game contents with political views and story, I’m sure they are prepared for this accusation. How the background was presented, how the KMT was painted during the narration, and how the believers of the story hate KMT / fear their rule even more after playing the game – exactly the political agenda the supporters of DPP would devise.

        • On the view of the relation between the KMT and the CCP, if they were truly competing over the right to rule the mainland, KMT should not keep silent whenever the CCP talks about reunification. The CCP has repeatedly stated that the PRC would be the one in control when that happens. KMT does not argue about it and just keeps talking about reunification. To an outsider’s eye, that would imply agreement.

          I would argue that even within KMT’s supporters, opinions differ on who is the legit government of China. Only hardcore KMT supporters would think that the ROC should rule over China.
          Besides, even if reunification were to occur, the CCP would never give up sovereignty to ROC.

          • You don’t understand, friend. KMT has already lost its spirits and no longer a match for the DPP, after DPP claimed the definition of “Who loves Taiwan.”

            Buy stuff made in China? You don’t love Taiwan. Having “China” in the name of the company? You don’t love Taiwan. Having trade talks with China? You don’t love Taiwan and want to sell Taiwan to China. And you will lose your jobs to flooding Chinese immigrants if KMT candidates win the election.

            Silly story? That’s what the broadcasts in Southern Taiwan said every single day during an election.

            KMT doesn’t know how to fight back these fear mongering talks and the Blue faction supporters are sick and tired of their feeble attempt to win back the right to define who loves Taiwan and who doesn’t.

            After the first DPP president Chen Shui-bian changed the education text materials back in the early 2000s, the younger generation who used those textbooks have become more or less DPP supporters – the most major change being that the history books stopped introducing Chinese geography and provinces as “our land,” but “China’s land”. All (Hundreds of) similar occurrences were changed.

            I explained all of the above under assumption that you’re a foreigner who needs to be educated on the other side of the story. However, if you’re already more sympathetic to DPP’s ideology (that China and Taiwan are two different countries) then so be it. 😉

          • The majority of the international community already acknowledges the fact that the PRC has control over the mainland. I believe a vast group of Taiwanese people has as well.

            I do not think school materials can make people staunch supporters of certain ideologies. Unless it’s a strictly controlled environment where it’s the only information you feed them. In Taiwan there are no restrictions over the internet, people can certainly find out for themselves whether the information is true or not. If you say that the younger generation are more or less supporters of the DPP, then why in last year’s election they have lost so badly?

            I think it’s because it is easier to find a sense of home in a place where you grew up in than some far away land your government doesn’t even control. That is why the younger generation have become “naturally independent” as some people put it.

            What I also don’t understand is the need to insist that the other government doesn’t exist and that both sides cannot be different countries at the same time. North and South Korea both agree that there will be eventual reunification, yet they are both countries with seats in the UN. East and West Germany were two countries before they reunified as well.

  9. >What I also don’t understand is the need to insist that the other government doesn’t exist and that both sides cannot be different countries at the same time. North and South Korea both agree that there will be eventual reunification, yet they are both countries with seats in the UN. East and West Germany were two countries before they reunified as well.

    This befuddles me as well.

    >I think it’s because it is easier to find a sense of home in a place where you grew up in than some far away land your government doesn’t even control. That is why the younger generation have become “naturally independent” as some people put it.

    Not true. I was born in 1977. Taiwan was already in war with China, civil war or not. I had never been to China but I was taught that one day we would fight back and reunify with mainland China one day and I believed it. Please do not underestimate the power of mainstream media, of which the DPP government has grown very good at controlling. Saying that 70% of the media (TV/Online/Newspaper) is controlled by the Green faction would likely be an understatement.

    >If you say that the younger generation are more or less supporters of the DPP, then why in last year’s election they have lost so badly?

    Why? The young people only consists of 1/5 of the total eligible voters and a mayor candidate, Han Guo-yu, rose up to capture the attention of the Blue faction supporters and surprisingly united the blue voters and boosted their morale. Also, the DPP government has failed to deliver what it promised during the election and a DPP representative said things like “you’re not happy about it, you can stop voting for DPP.” That’s why.

    • Lol, the Green faction would argue that most of the media is controlled by the Blue faction, or even the Reds who have been steadily investing more and more in the Taiwanese media.
      I find it hard to believe that a government Party who has only managed to gain over half majority seat in the Legislative Yuan for the first time in 2016, and only three terms of Presidency would have more control over the media than a Party that declared martial law on the island for nearly four decades.

      If what you said was true and the DPP controlled over 70% of the media, then Han would have not been able to raise such a big wave. Considering he only announced that he would run for Mayor of Kaohsiung less than a year before the elections, such a candidate would normally be considered an outsider that “airdropped” in and find it hard to gain support locally, yet here we are. Now he is the Mayor of Kaohsiung and is even popular enough that there are voices calling for him to run for Presidency despite being Mayor for only a few months. So who really controls the media here?

      • If you find it hard to believe, so be it.
        It’s evident that you know your way around Taiwanese politics but much more sympathetic to the side of the story that the Green faction has been feeding to their supporters.
        Explaining to someone unbiased, I would do gladly. Persuading someone with an established opinion, I would not.
        That’s it, and good day to you.

        • …and good day to you too, though I would say it’s likewise that Blue faction has also been feeding their supporters different sides of the story.

          Hopefully someone unbiased can look at our discussion and gain a more neutral understanding of the current political situation in Taiwan.

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