Taiwan horror game causes uproar with hidden message defaming China’s Xi

A scene depicts a Taoist talisman reading “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh”

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Horror game Devotion

Horror game Devotion (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A recently launched Taiwan-developed horror game has sparked an outcry among Chinese netizens for a scene displaying a Taoist talisman believed to carry words defaming Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Devotion” (還願), a game developed by Taipei-based studio Red Candle Games (赤燭), was officially released Feb. 19 on the Steam platform and immediately took the online gaming community by storm.

Set in a Taiwanese apartment complex in the 1980s, the game revolves around a first-person horror mystery. It employs the nostalgic setting to build up unsettling tension and incorporates chilling elements based on Taiwanese folklore and religion, reported the Verge.

Despite its immediate popularity, Chinese fans’ devotion to “Devotion” waned rapidly after a scene of the game was found to have contained a Taoist talisman hung over the wall which, though inconspicuously, carries a seal script reading “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh” (習近平小熊維尼) in an ancient style of Chinese writing, said CNA.

Chinese netizens are apparently furious over the reference to their leader as Winnie the Pooh, the image and mentioning of which have been banned in China for the character’s uncanny resemblance to Xi.

Protestors have gone so far as to stage a boycott of “Devotion,” which prompted the developer to release an update for the game that sees the controversial image removed, the Apple Daily wrote.

In a Facebook statement posted Saturday afternoon to address the incident, Red Candle Games apologized over what it called “an inadvertent mistake springing from the use of trendy language online.”

The post has been flooded by both supportive and condemning comments. A Taiwanese gamer wrote, “This is Taiwan, a place advocating freedom and democracy. The incident should only be taken as a mischievous sense of humor, just like how Donald Trump has been mocked in the U.S. that even translates into business opportunities.”

The Taoist talisman reading "Xi Jinping Winnie-the-Pooh" in Chinese (Image/Devotion screenshot)