Debating the “Chineseness” of a mobile game in online communities

Qian Li, Xiaotian Li

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


After its global popularity and commercial success, Genshin Impact, a Chinese-developed, Japanese anime-style mobile game, provokes online discussions on whether such a game of cultural hybridity exemplifies “authentic Chineseness.” Based on online ethnography in the fan communities, this article investigates a two-year debate on whether GI should be considered a symbol of China’s “cultural export” to other countries. It reveals that players construct multiple meanings of authentic Chineseness, including GI’s integration of Chinese cultural elements, telling “the China story,” and its patriotism and “political correctness” in China. This article contributes to the project of de-westernizing cultural studies by revealing how the meanings of cultural authenticity are constructed in a Global South context. Moreover, players situate “Chineseness” in the power relations among China, Japan, and the West, and associate cultural appropriation in the increasing hybridization process with global soft power competition. It reveals that the construction of cultural authenticity as a relational concept is shaped by others defined in a contingent, contextual, and multilateral way, and that the construction process is conditioned by domestic and international power relations, thus contributing to the project of going beyond dichotomous thinking in cultural studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-461
Number of pages20
JournalGlobal Media and China
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • authenticity
  • Chineseness
  • cultural export
  • cultural hybridity
  • Genshin Impact
  • globalization
  • mobile game
  • North-South dichotomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication


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