Game collaborates with “Sanxingdui” and “Longmen Grottoes,” fulfill creative transformation of classic cultural IP
Published: Dec 27, 2023 12:51 AM
A large-scale bronze head on display at the Sanxingdui Museum Photo: VCG

A large-scale bronze head on display at the Sanxingdui Museum Photo: VCG

Embracing more than 100 million users worldwide, the Chinese action role-playing game Genshin Impact has recently become a hot topic again on social media platforms like the Sina Weibo due to its crossover collaboration with the "Sanxingdui" culture- one of China's most mysterious ancient ruins in Guanghan, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. 

The game's collaboration with the Sanxingdui Museum includes multiple aspects. The iconic gold mask unearthed from the Chinese early bronze civilization has been turned into a special prop in the game. 

Two interactive programs focusing on explaining the Sanxingdui culture's history have also been launched. It allows players to follow the game's character Zhong Li to explore notable Sanxingdui relics like the over 2 meters tall bronze statue in a virtual world. 

A short promotional video that features the Sanxingdui culture was also released with subtitles in 15 languages including English, Japanese and Korean, countries considered to be the dominant markets of the world gaming industry. 

Zhao Juxing, a gaming industry observer, told the Global Times that such a "dense" collaboration was achieved through "fully exploring the Sanxingdui IP's cultural value." He believes that regardless of time backgrounds, the game and the Sanxingdui culture is a "perfect match," due to their shared mysterious and adventurous styles. 

"The gaming industry borrowing traditional culture is no longer novel. The way to collaborate is changing from just showing elements in the contents to matching a game's style and cultural value to the classic culture," Zhao told the Global Times. 

The new collaborated IP has managed to harvest not only Chinese fans but also overseas players. On YouTube, the promotional video published by the game's official account received more than 50,000 likes.

"As someone who appreciates and studied art history, this is such a cool collaboration!!!" a netizen posted on YouTube. 

Zhu Yarong, the deputy director of the Sanxingdui Museum also emphasized that the museum has shifted strategies to tell the Sanxingdui story to the world by not just "physical display and academic exchanges" but also new digital attempts to deliver the story by "using the language of young people." 

In recent years, the 'Gaming plus traditional culture' pattern is trending. Other notable combos in the industry also include the Chinese web game Dream Journey to the West to feature the country intangible cultural heritage treasures like the paper-cutting and Peking Opera. Another role-playing game Qian Nv You Hun, also known as "A Chinese Fairy Tale" has "moved" the Longmen grottoes' statues into the game setting. 

Those collaborations can overtly be interpreted as the traditional culture gives power to games, yet cultural policy expert Song Weiping, told the Global Times that only the "mutual growth" can help such collaborations become a way to tell the world about Chinese 'cultural modernity.' 

"China is a huge market for global gaming, so the industry is also a platform to share Chinese values and cultural modernity with the world," Song told the Global Times, adding that the creative transformation happens when "traditional cultures are more effectively promoted online where they can be shown to audiences worldwide." 
In 2023, game users in China surged to over 660 million people and the total growth of the Chinese gaming market has harnessed a sensational 300 billion yuan. Behind the thriving industry, the country soon provided policy-wise regulations to help with its growth. 

On Monday, China's National Press and Publication Administration approved the publishing applications of 105 Chinese games. The number is the highest this year. Song told the Global Times that it is clearly a "positive signal" for the industry to "expand with increased diversity," especially when those applied games were created across different styles and themes. 

"The future missions of the Chinese gaming market include further exploring IP transformations, collaborations with overseas peers as well as launching original IP. China's developing self-innovative technology can potentially helping with the gaming industry," Zhao told the Global Times.