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An online video shows gamers in leopard print costumes singing about being “African tribal chiefs”. (Picture: Jason Wu)

Gamers in China are referring to unlucky players as “Africans”

Racial stereotypes thrive in China’s gaming community

Video gaming
This article originally appeared on ABACUS

In an online forum in China, one gamer posed a curious question: “Am I an African or a European?”

You might be scratching your head -- but those who frequent these platforms know exactly what that means. In China, players who are going through an unlucky streak are often referred to as “Africans”, while those who are doing well are being called “Europeans”, according the South China Morning Post.
An online video shows gamers in leopard print costumes singing about being “African tribal chiefs”. (Picture: Jason Wu)

One gamer who plays Onmyoji, a fantasy strategy game from NetEase, said the racial biases might have stemmed from an old Chinese saying that describes someone facing misfortune as “black on the forehead”.

NetEase declined to comment when contacted by SCMP.

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Another gamer who plays Kantai Collection, an online game in which players collect different characters, said the terms seem to have appeared around five years ago. In the game, players are called admirals -- and some started calling unlucky players “African admirals”.

Today, those terms have evolved to include “African tribal chief”, which refers to the most unfortunate players -- and “European emperor”, which are the luckiest ones.

In China, depictions of Africans have often drawn accusations of racism. Earlier this year, a Lunar New Year show televised by a state broadcaster featured a Chinese actress in blackface and an African man dressed as a monkey. Beijing dismissed the ensuing uproar, saying that China was against any form of racism. Some comments about the incident were censored on social media.

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For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.