A new report from IGN alleges an ingrained culture of sexism at Game Science, developer of the upcoming Black Myth: Wukong. The title has been featured prominently at game events like Gamescom in recent years, and received attention for being one of the first triple-A games from a Chinese studio.
IGN's investigation dove into public statements by studio leadership as well as a number of other public communications by the developer. While the outlet scrutinizes public-facing statements made by those connected to Game Science, behavior within the studio itself is presently unverified.
Several job postings from Game Science have reportedly featured sexually suggestive images, and studio co-founder Yang Qi once made a post on the social media site Weibo about games that are separately made for men and women due to "biological conditions."
Industry professionals and players told the outlet that another Game Science co-founder, Feng Ji is a glaring example of how the company permits sexist behavior. Feng has a reputation for making outlandish comments, such as in 2007 when he once compared failed projects to stillborn babies.
"Is the pregnancy too short? Is the baby lacking nutrition?" he wrote at the time. "Are the doctors in charge of caesarean sections lowly skilled? Why can’t we produce a healthy child (product)?"
A developer under the pseudonym Cathy noted to IGN that women on Chinese social media were frustrated how much of Game Science's comments were being glossed over. One commenter on the social site Weibo made clear she was hurt by the studio's comments and actions over the past decade.
"[Game Science] definitely doesn’t need money from a female player like myself," they wrote. "So gross, as a female player I actually wanted to buy the game originally. Forget it, I’ll just keep playing foreign AAA games (bye bye)."
Much of this behavior is a result of China's already systemic sexism. The women in the country are in the midst of a rising feminist movement in the hopes of being more regarded as equals amidst a larger culture of frustrated adult men and the reported feminist hostility held by men in governmental power.
China research specialist Rui Zhong told IGN that feminist organization in the country has been an "uphill battle" due to crackdowns on labor organization and societal problems like marriage and assault. Sexism is further prevalent in its game community, and until recently, nearly all games were marketed exclusively towards men.
"Before the emergence of female-oriented games, all female players could only play games that were mainly focused on men," explained developer Elva Tan. While that emergence led to "more girls also discovering that games can be fun," it hasn't fixed the Chinese tech industry's larger issues regarding sexism and visibility.
Several Chinese game studios have had "very unsettling" pubic chats filled with sexist remarks. Duoyi Games, makers of Gunfire Reborn, laid off 11 woman employees following an internal investigation allegedly because he "didn't want another feminist bitch" at the studio.
Cathy noted Game Science has never been truly called out for its previous behavior and comments, which Zhong believes is damning given the game's international appeal. Western games are equally sexist, she pointed out, which allows the studio to potentially "coast on the status quo, and people ignoring misogyny."
Amidst all this, questions remain about how (or if) Game Science will respond about its previous behavior, and that of its player base. A China-based designer known as "Jen" acknowledged that male players in the country can get vitriolic whenever a studio makes a change to a game in response to feminist critique.
"In their eyes, women don't deserve respect. Even just listening to them is considered pandering, a marketing tactic, and catering to Western political correctness. I can't describe how despairing this feels.”
IGN's full report on Game Science, Black Myth: Wukong, and how they both intersect with the specific sexism within China. can be read here.