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Harvard Library adds Devotion, the game removed from Steam for insulting Xi Jinping

The title from Taiwanese developer Red Candle Games was added to the collection of Harvard-Yenching Library

Video gaming
This article originally appeared on ABACUS
Taiwanese horror game Devotion was pulled from the world’s biggest PC game store online nearly a year ago for containing an insult aimed at Chinese President Xi Jinping. But while it might not be available for purchase again anytime soon, it’s now being preserved for posterity at Harvard University

Developer Red Candle Games recently posted on Facebook and Twitter that two of its games – Devotion and Detention – have been added to the Harvard-Yenching Library at the request of Harvard University. The library is known for its “rare and special collections” and has one of the largest collections of East Asian material in the Western world, according to Harvard.

“While we truly appreciate the recognition, we had also taken this opportunity to rethink the possibilities that our games could achieve,” Red Candle Games said on Facebook. The Taiwanese developer pledged to continue to “develop games with the same passion”. Harvard University did not reply to a request for comment by the time of writing.
The developer had previously been tight-lipped about Devotion since it was removed from Valve’s Steam store. It likely did not want to reignite debate that resulted in the game’s publisher in China having its business license revoked for endangering national security.
The red seal itself says “Winnie the Pooh Xi Jinping.” The four characters around it mean “moron” in a Taiwanese dialect. (Picture: Red Candle Games)
The controversy started when some Devotion players spotted a hidden insult aimed at Xi. A poster on the wall shows a red seal written in unusual fonts and mixes the Taiwanese dialect and Mandarin, which reads, “Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh moron.” This plays on yet another controversy involving Winnie the Pooh, which has been used as a caricature for Xi and resulted in the cartoon character famously being banned in the country in some media.

The Easter egg immediately triggered a backlash in China. Thousands of Chinese gamers review-bombed the game on Steam, the world’s biggest online PC game store. Steam subsequently removed the game from the platform for a quality assurance check.

In its Facebook post thanking the library and the professors involved, Red Candle Games acknowledged that the past year has been tough, saying the current status of the studio isn’t ideal.

Before Devotion was engulfed in controversy, it was considered one of the best horror games of 2019 and commanded a huge following both inside and outside of China. Soon after the game was pulled, the studio said that it didn’t plan to rerelease the game anytime soon.

Devotion tells the story of a Taiwanese family in the 1980s that resorts to cultish practices under unfortunate circumstances. It was met with rave reviews for having immersive visuals, engaging gameplay and clever references to elements from traditional Chinese culture. 

Red Candle Games had another hit horror game in 2017 with Detention, which was also widely acclaimed. Unlike its 3D successor, Detention is a 2D side-scroller that also involves cultish practices and witchcraft during the White Terror period of Taiwan’s history.
Detention was adapted into a movie in 2019 and garnered mostly positive reviews.

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