It’s a relatively hard decision to choose Wuxia video games as the subject of the essay. Because there are few studies about this topic in Western academia and even the same in Chinese academia. However, it is an exciting adventure for me to discover such an area that I can not avoid and both love and hate with powerful emotion.
I used to kind of hate the Wuxia video games. Because there are too many in China, almost 7 in 10 games are with the label of Wuxia. Moreover, less than 1 in 10 is relatively good.
However, last year two events changed my mind. One is that a Wuxia novel master Jingyong died in 10.30. I love his books and feel great sorrow for his death. Another is that finally, a Wuxia game attracts me so much. It is called The Scroll of Taiwu. I admit that It is not a masterpiece but contains many innovations like the level up mechanism is diverse and unique; each NPC has their own stories recorded; each setting with Chinese culture is carefully examined … Its disadvantages are also very obvious – terrible newbie guide, inappropriate interface, and interactions, and repeated level-up progress. However, flaws cannot obscure the splendor of the jade.
Wuxia, known as “martial heroes” in Chinese culture, has significant influences on different media of art in East Asia, including literature, painting, film, TV series and game.
For me, Wuxia is attractive mainly for its culture, which contains history for thousands of years. The world it draws, the heroes it describes and the sense of feeling it transfers all hold the thick passion of Chinese romance. Plus, in almost all kinds of media, Wuxia can always show unique characteristics, which attract many fans interested in different areas.
Take skills in Wuxia games as an example. In Western RPG or JRPG, skills may have names like “fireball” or “fire bolt” or (cooler) “ultimate flame burst.” These names are direct and easy to remember, but lack of connotations. In Wuxia game, a recovery skill may be called (direct translate)”Nine-color Jade cicada spell.” In Chinese culture, cicada flying away from its shell represents the rebirth and jade can obtain people’s souls. “Nine-color” functions similarly as “ultimate.” Although it causes problems when players are not in the cultural context. However, for Chinese, it is fascinating to play such games that only a skill could be this meaningful.
The writer is too lazy to put more words here.
These are some pictures taken from CG animation in Wuxia or Samurai games. I conducted research with 23 Wuxia novel lovers and 27 online Wuxia game players. These people are familiar with Wuxia story and very confident that they can tell the difference between Wuxia and Samurai.
However, the result is that only 3 of them can judge it perfectly right. Moreover, the three admitted that it was possible because of luck. Although, I also have to admit it is hard to recognize them according to the scenery. Still, it could reflect the similarity (at least in art style) in these two kinds of games.