age of mythology tale of the dragon

New Age of Mythology Expansion Brings Good and Bad News

Good news, After a long 12 year wait, Age of Mythology fans will finally receive a new expansion! It’s called Tale of the Dragon, and set to be released on the 28th of January, 2016.

I myself, being Chinese, is extra excited that the new expansion focuses on the Chinese pantheon. Having loved Age of Mythology when it was first released, back when I was in primary school. I used to grind out on the demo of the game for hours, as I could not afford the full game. Once, I was able to buy the full game with the Titan expansion, the first thing I did when I got home, was always to load up the game. Now it’s going to be even better, being able to play as a pantheon of Gods that I can culturally relate to.

Sadly though, there’s been quite some controversy in regards to the artwork of the new game, and this where the bad news begins.

The Yellow Emperor’s (Huangdi) artwork in the game is remarkably close in design to that of something out of a Yellow Peril poster.

fumanchu

 

aom age of mythology Huangdi Yellow Emperor

 

Many Chinese residents leaped over the Great Firewall to critic the perhaps accidentally offensive designs.

One Chinese netizen, Dongcheng Xu, commented:

“I am Chinese and I do want to make one point very clear: Most Chinese probably do not care that much about the looks of Fuxi, Nuwa, etc. because those are truly mythical figures to us. Huangdi is different because he is not just mythical or legendary, he is actually considered the founder of the Chinese civilization, the very first emperor of the Chinese people, to not make him majestic and grand looking is a very serious problem.”

This very much embodies a large part of the issue in using the Chinese pantheon, as many of the Gods to these day are somewhat still revered and worshipped in Chinese culture. Especially, Huangdi, as many still believe that he is the common ancestor of all Chinese people and culture.

The term Yan Huang Zisun translates to Descendants of the Yan and Huang. Most Chinese to this day still use this term to describe themselves, showing the importance of the Yellow Emperor within Chinese culture.

This is not the only piece of artwork that’s been under fire. The other portrayals of the Gods have been considerably weak.

monkey king wu kong aom age of mythology

For instance, the culture transcending Wukong, the Monkey King, in which the much loved Goku from Dragonball is based off, looks more like a bumbling monkey uncle than the agile and quick-witted Heavenly Sage that he is meant to be.

Within Chinese culture Wukong was generally known for his speed and trickeryHe could travel 108, 000 Li (Approximately, 50 000 km or 30 000 miles) in just one jump, yet, this bloke looks more towards the solid type than the speedy type.  Wukong also possessed the ability to change into 72 different forms, in order to confuse his enemies. Which is why in general most portrayals of the character of Wukong, have been a mixture of agile ape combined with a sense of playfulness.

For instance in the games Smite and League of Legends, where Wukong both feature, there’s this sense of underlying mischievousness. I mean this guy went around stealing drugs, crashing parties and setting the Jade Emperor’s horses free.

Then there’s the other side of the argument in which the Chinese are acting over-sensitive. As Portentous Pysche puts it:

Frankly, I think this is just another case of Chinese egocentrism. Be glad your region was considered over other interesting pantheons like the Gauls, Mesopotamians or Nahuas.

Frankly, the reason that this is happening, is that there’s barely any representation of Chinese culture overall in the west, especially for the longest continual civilisation in the world, as well as the largest population. Chinese gamers, like myself, are bloody joyous that this is happening, but we don’t want another Fu Manchu happening, we want to be able to be proud of our culture, instead of getting the usual ridicule online. Such as having a reputation for cheap labour and low quality products, which are all in someways very  hurtful truths. We want the world to know that the Chinese have a long and interesting history, one that spawned much innovation in the past. Hundreds of inventions still in use today were originally constructed by the Chinese, yet the Middle Kingdom is far more famous for ignoring copyright laws. For gunpower, paper, the compass and printing were all originally from China, leading to today’s modern society.

Now the Wukong and Yellow Emperor artworks are not the only offenders but I think the point has been made. Forgotten Empire should definitely be applauded for picking up one of the less popular cultures (within the Western sphere) for their new expansion. However, a few changes to the artwork will go a very long journey into the hearts of the Chinese people, where the history of their nation is a sanctuary of pride.

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16 thoughts on “New Age of Mythology Expansion Brings Good and Bad News

  1. daddyleon

    Wow, this is very surprising… I didn’t at all expect people to find this offensive. I did think some of the gods on the designs weren’t really Chinese-looking, in terms of facial features. Having said that.. the art work for the gods isn’t always the best it could’ve been. Anyway, thanks for increasing my knowledge, I hope it sticks :3

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    1. Michael Post author

      The pride isn’t from the the video game portraits, it’s more of a sense of inaccuracy that should be corrected, as the Yellow Emperor one is steering close to the waters of stereotyping Asians.

      I mean, would Greeks be happy if Zeus was portrayed as some dude owing heaps of cash to the Germanic gods?

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      1. Kepkeilen

        Maybe a bit more accurate comparison would be if in a Chinese/European game based on history portrayed George Washington as, say, a bald, black bearded, short, muscular man. Americans wouldn’t like one of their most important historic figures looking so inaccurate in a foreign game. Now I am not sure exactly how important Huangdi is in Chinese history but I have a feeling their feeling towrds his portrayal in AoM is similar to what many Americans would feel in the George Washington scenario.

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  2. Kepkeilen

    I somewhat agree that the Yellow Emperor doesn’t exactly look majestic and deserves to look more regal. I don’t find that to be a big issue but I obviously can’t fully comprehend his importance to Chinese people. I also say it should be changed.

    On the other hand Wukong’s appearance looks… fine to me. He doesn’t look bambling at all. Though he has a determined and warrior-esque appearance rather than a mischvious look. But I imagine the AoM team went to portray a warrior-king on a legendary journey rather than the mischevious monkey king and from my limited knowledge I assume that doesn’t go against his myth either. Personally I prefer his apperance in Smite than this one but this doesn’t seem incorrect to me. Could it be cooler? Definitely. But is this offensive in any way? Probably not.

    BTW on a related note – could you tell me about the Chinese people’s opinion on Nu Wa’s appearance in Smite? Do they find SKW’s appearance here offensive but are okay with Nu Wa’s appearance in Smite?

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    1. Michael Post author

      Nvwa is in a bit of a different place from Huangdi. As mentioned before, Huangdi is also considered somewhat of a historical figure, that is important in the Chinese cultural identity. After all, we are all Yanhuang Zisun.

      Nvwa is similar to Fuxi, they are considered mostly mythical and legendary, so there’s a much more of a scope in how they could be portrayed. They should be mostly fine with her appearance, as long as it doesn’t go way out of bend.

      EDIT: @ Daddyleon, I noticed the issue with my argument, as I was typing without sleep and made a mistake and changed it. But Nvwa is definitely of less importance in comparison to Huangdi. I am of course not Nvwa is not important at all but comparing semi-mythical ancestor of all that most people still believe in with a mythical being that no one really believes in, this is the result.

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        1. Michael Post author

          I noticed the issue with my argument, as I was typing without sleep and made a mistake and changed it. But Nvwa is definitely of less importance in comparison to Huangdi. It isn’t because Nvwa is not important at all but comparing a semi-mythical ancestor to that most Chinese believe in, to a creator figure that everyone thinks is fiction…you can see what I’m trying to get at.

          Huangdi is just way too real for too many people, as so many Chinese follow ‘Wu Qian Nian’ Five thousand years of history.

          I apologise for the earlier comment, as it was worded very poorly.

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          1. daddyleon

            Sorry Michael, I wasn’t trying to comment on that comment but rather on this one:

            “I mean, would Greeks be happy if Zeus was portrayed as some dude owing heaps of cash to the Germanic gods”

            But for some reason the site wouldn’t let me :-/ Sorry for any confusion,

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              1. daddyleon

                O, right, that wasn’t really clear to me. I thought you were being serious. The rest of the article (Chinese people being offended by the art/pictures) is also a joke? I’m not sure I get it anymore.

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                  1. daddyleon

                    Hmm… I don’t think he was joking remotely though, but I guess that only underlines how terrible you and some other Chinese people might feel about those pictures, how ever well-intended they were. Fascinating subject really.

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  3. Oki

    And don’t forget about Dabo Gong who is the water God and protector of immigrants. I’m a bit dissapointed because he is mixed with Tudi Gong who is the real soil God

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