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Opinion: SIFU isn’t cultural appropriation, grifters have it all wrong

SIFU isn't cultural appropriation

This morning I’ve been hearing nothing about how good SIFU is or how much fun it is to play, I’ve only been hearing this gigantic cry of outrage from culture war-mongering sites parading as “gaming” websites throwing literal hissy fits because most of the development team at Sloclap are White Europeans. I’m writing here to say SIFU isn’t cultural appropriation, and the grifters have it all wrong.

If any of these “journalists” had any sort of integrity, they wouldn’t write clickbait hate pieces for cheap clicks knowing damn well there’s plenty of reasoning readily available to explain the amount of research and decisions made in the creation of the game, and why SIFU isn’t cultural appropriation.

If you’re a content creator or a media person, you’ve likely had encounters with PR people. In the case of SIFU, Sloclap went with a certain PR firm to represent this title, and the team put together a description for backstory on the creation of SIFU specifically to avoid seeing pieces like the one penned by The Gamer and others. Had this piece never been published, perhaps the mostly unknown corporate entity Fanbyte wouldn’t have also tried to jump on the easy clicks train and regurgitate their opinion.

Here’s information right from the team showing why SIFU isn’t cultural appropriation:

There’s been a ton of discourse (for some reason) around how Sloclap didn’t use any Chinese consultants, but they did, so I’ve included some context info below:

Pak Mei lineage and full bio for SIFU’s combat coordinator Benjamin Colussi can be found here.

Here’s a quick tl;dr version (please read the website for full context): Benjamin lived in Foshan and studied as one of the chosen disciples of Chan Yau Man and then Lao Wei San. Together with Chan Yau Man’s son, Lao Wei San, he owns and operates one of two of the schools of Pak Mei Kung Fu (Paris and the second is in Foshan.). He serves as the Vice President of the Foshan Sports association. He has a relationship with Sloclap that predates Sifu, and lead designer Jordan Layani has studied Pak Mei Kung Fu under Colussi. He is one of the world’s foremost experts in the study of the Pak Mei style of Kung Fu of which all combat in Sifu is based

Several developer consultants in China contributed to Sifu throughout development on the following areas through Sloclap’s partnership with Hong Kong-based Kowloon Nights and Kepler Interactive: Animation, Character art and design, Environment design, Localization (a future patch in full Mandarin is being recorded currently in China), Narrative, and Writing/Dialogue

All of this was literally provided to these people to go along side their review codes for the game, and even though the team at Sloclap did everything they could to faithfully create a story that’s authentic and culturally respectful, it’s still not enough simply because they weren’t born the right race.

We saw similar accusations and outrage over Ghost of Tsushima – a game which was so well received by the people it was created about made the development team honorary ambassadors of their city. Japanese game developers were stunned by how much attention to detail and how much went into a very Japanese game, about ancient Japan, by westerners.

The beautiful thing about video games is that they are meant to be an escape from reality. People of all races, sexes, and skin colors should be able to depict and tell any story they want to regardless of what their personal background is. If an all black dev team wants to make a game about the Holocaust, they should be allowed to. If a Jewish dev team wants to make a game about the struggles of life in the inner city ghettos, they should be allowed to. Full stop.

Stifling someone’s creative outlets is senseless nonsense that only serves to cater to an agenda, and not to truly allow freedom of expression. In an ideal world, people would create games that show respect to the subjects they are based on – but even if they don’t, you can boycott that by simply not buying or playing the game. It’s really not that hard.

The fact of the matter is this: It really doesn’t matter what you think about cultural appropriation, because without cultural mixing we wouldn’t have the melting pot of things we’ve got right now. So many things are inspired by other things and it’s impossible to keep trying to segregate them by being upset about someone’s race or identity definitions.

If a transgender person made a game and you don’t like it, don’t play it. We had this same discussion on the Bloodborne demake article a few days ago – just because someone doesn’t identify in a way you agree with doesn’t take away the merit that this person made something that’s fun or unique. As gamers, we should be continually demanding unique experiences told from all sorts of different viewpoints, in order for our favorite medium to be taken as seriously as a movie or a book.

SIFU and cultural appropriation shouldn’t even belong in the same sentences. It’s long overdue for people to put the culture war bullshit aside and allow themselves to check things out, even if those things might not appeal to you based on the initial appearance.

I went into Deathloop expecting it to berate me and make me feel guilty for being white, and it wound up being super fun and threw back to some of my favorite genres of film and comedy. Put your biases aside and just give things a chance – you might actually find out that you’ve got more common ground with people than you realize.

While writing this piece, once again, noted “games” website The Gamer published this piece from an Asian man who lives in Singapore complaining about how in SIFU the Chinese aesthetic is simply sprinkled in to make the game pretend to be diverse. He complains that graffiti is in both Chinese and English, which is actually pretty common considering there’s a lot of English speaking people in Hong Kong.

Despite this, the facts don’t ever matter when there’s a grift to get paid off of. Representation matters, until you get it – and then inevitably someone of that race will complain that it’s not good enough – because nothing ever is. This is why the culture war needs to die in a fiery car crash, so we can get back to just taking entertainment at face value.

Sifu is launching on February 8th, 2022 release date across Windows PC (via the Epic Games Store), PS4, and PS5.

This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.

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