Ghost Of Tsushima is currently taking the world by storm, receiving almost universal praise for its lush visuals and satisfying combat. Unlike The Last Of Us Part 2 before it, Sucker Punch’s PS4 exclusive has yet to garner much controversy, with the exception of offending some gamers in China.
In Ghost Of Tsushima, players assume the role of Japanese protagonist Jin Sakai to reclaim Tsushima Island from the invaders and antagonists of the game; the Mongols. Since the conflict takes place far from China, it’s not anybody’s fault to think that the Chinese would be involved in any way.
However, if you know your world history, you’d know that during the Mongol invasions of Japan (which took place in 1274 and 1281), the Mongol Empire was under the rule of Kublai Khan, who (at the time) was also occupying most of Northern China, having established his own Yuan Dynasty.
While he only conquered all of China in 1279 by defeating the remnants of the Southern Song Dynasty, he had already established the Yuan Dynasty of China by 1271, which was three years before the Mongols invaded Japan (via Ancient History Encyclopedia).
In fact, he was the one who directly ordered the invasions of Japan after the latter refused to become a vassal of the Mongol Empire and send tribute.
Thus, some in China argue that the Mongols, who had ruled China under the Yuan Dynasty, should be considered to be part of the Chinese people while the Japanese should be considered enemies, as they had previously invaded Manchuria, China in 1931 just before World War II erupted.
According to the South China Morning Post, some users on several of China’s online platforms, like video streaming site Bilibili and Quora-like Chinese site Zhihu, have posted comments that are nationalistic in nature, including:
“I stand with the Mongols, [Japanese people] can crawl.”
“At the end of the day, this is a game where Japanese people are killing Chinese people.
The Mongols are one of the nomadic peoples of northern China. Just like the Han Chinese, they are Chinese people.”
“Foreign players can play if they like, but Chinese people shouldn’t join in the fun.”
However, there were also many others in China who don’t feel the same way, replying to the comments above with logical statements and arguments in retaliation, such as:
“The war at the time [of the Mongol invasion] was a standard act of aggression.
Invasion is wrong. Resistance is right. These are basic moral concepts.”
“The Japanese invasion of China was a war of aggression, and so was the Mongol invasion of Japan.
I personally think that our hatred should go against any acts of aggression rather than the Japanese people.”
“I get it, this is us Chinese people watching a game made by the Americans about how the Japanese people defended against the Mongols 800 years ago.”
“A bunch of Chinese people trying to find national pride in a Japanese game made in the US, how inferior is that…”
In my opinion, while Ghost Of Tsushima does depict the Mongols as the primary antagonists, the game does not overly demonise them. Also, I appreciate that Sucker Punch has put in an effort to include 50 different collectible Mongol artifacts in the game, indicating that they’ve done their research on the Mongols.
In the meantime, check out all our Ghost Of Tsushima-related coverage here.