Ponkin Igor Vladislavovich, Doctor of Law, Professor, Member of the Expert Council under the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Commission of the Public Council under the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the Moscow Region
Object of study: computer game “Genshin Impact” (“Genshin Impact”).
Subject of study: the semantic content and direction of the computer game “Genshin Impact”, the features of its impact on the health and development of children (including their intellectual, moral, mental state and development), from the standpoint of their legal (including legal and psychological) and moral and ethical assessments.
The study was conducted within the framework of the following questions:
What is the impact of using the computer game “Genshin Impact”, playing it on the intellectual, moral, mental health and development of children? What exactly does this impact consist of and manifest itself, what are its consequences? How does the distribution and advertising of the Genshin Impact game as a game for children compare with the requirements established by the Federal Law of December 29, 2010 No. 436-FZ “On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health and Development” and other legal acts?
The study is based on a functional-instrumental methodology for the production of examination of children’s play objects (as well as objects that are not children’s toys, but which are positioned as toys by manufacturers, advertisers and sellers of such products) and children’s play environment .
As part of the study, the methods of semantic analysis, visual content analysis, logical analysis, and a number of other methods were used .
Research production time : January 23 – 28, 2023
Main part. Study
“Genshin Impact” (in Russian, the pronunciation is settled as “Genshin Impact”) is an adventure ( action-adventure ) computer game in the drawn “anime” style of the “open world” format (in this case, the fantastic world of Teyvat ) and RPG elements ( role-playing game), produced by the Chinese developer studio miHoYo (outside China uses the HoYoverse brand ), 2020 (with subsequent numerous updates).
On Google Play, on some other resources, it is indicated that the game has a rating of “12+” (PEGI 12). There is no such information on the main page of the Russian-language version of the game website .
The conducted study of the game “Genshin Impact” made it possible to determine that the target audience of the named game (not excluding adult users, gamers) is accentuated and predominantly positioned and in fact are children and adolescents in the age group from 10 to 16 years. And in fact this is how it is recorded in Russia, in particular among Moscow schoolchildren, and is also recorded in numerous reviews and comments on this game posted on the Internet.
The study of the game “Genshin Impact” made it possible to establish that the creators of the game effectively provide a fairly intense cognitive and emotional immersion and involvement in it of gamers (players, players) from among children, realizing the psychological manipulation of their consciousness and introjective  formation of the prerequisites for them to their pronounced psychological dependence (“ludomania”) on this game due to and through the following solutions implemented in the named game:
- – sophisticated finds of plot and software solutions and the pronounced epic nature of what is happening in the game, making the plot and individual storylines and elements of the named game really exciting and exciting for children aged 10-16;
- – high-quality graphic performance, high detailed elaboration in a specific art style, visual beauty, pronounced positive entertainment of game landscapes (landscapes of open spaces, sunsets and dawns, designs and decorations of internal spaces), showing a sophisticated desire of game developers to enchant and delight gamers as much as possible (in fact a well-designed virtual game meta-universe has been created), a relaxing psychological “atmosphere” and the corresponding musical accompaniment of the game, due to which the emotional sphere of the gamer’s consciousness is intensively exploited, as well as the “defrosting” of his consciousness (as the first stage of manipulation of his consciousness);
- – high-quality graphic design (making references to the anime pseudo-culture that is still quite fashionable today), colorfulness, character, pronounced originality of the images of game characters, their attire and equipment (and a pronounced variety of such heroes), which determine the ever-increasing interest in the game;
- – pronounced external sexualization (although to a certain degree of coding of the communicative signal, but quite visible) or, in any case, the fetishization of the images of game characters, especially females (with a readable, in fact – metonymic , reference to sex dolls “hentai”, although visually in a somewhat more decent performance);
- – successful finds of software solutions that actually provide greater (in comparison with many other game “worlds”) freedom of discretion, initiative and action, a variety of gamer activities in the game universe and successfully create gamers’ illusions that they are, as it were, real actors-subjects games that are not connected in any way and are not manipulated by the game itself in their actions within it;
- – the use of simulations of “societies” in the virtual universe of the game (to be evaluated in conjunction with the manipulation of the mind of the gamer in the game);
- – emphasis on articulated and produced touching sensuality (in places – a reasonably dosed exaggeration of such sensuality), due to which the intensive exploitation of the emotional sphere of the gamer’s consciousness is carried out, as well as, again, “defrosting” of his consciousness (as the first stage of manipulation of his consciousness);
- – rhetorical cover with an articulated emphasis on the topics of honor, justice, friendship, fidelity (due to these undeniably positive value imperatives, the creators of the game, among other things, a priori “block” or at least greatly reduce parental skepticism and control over their underage children -players in terms of passion for this game);
- – departure from the clichéd primitiveness of the dialogues of game characters;
- – the semantics of “magic” massively integrated into the game, which manifests itself literally in everything, including in the combat abilities of game characters and in their battles;
- – implemented in the game references to the culture of martial arts (martial arts), which a considerable number of children are fond of, exploiting this popularity; at the same time, the software mechanisms for the implementation of battles (“combat mechanics” and related conditions) are reasonably embodied in such a way as not to cause disappointment among gamers of any age and even low abilities for such actions;
- – the semantics of the “cult of the seven” implemented in the game makes a reference to a similar quasi-religious ontology in the very popular book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George Martin and in the movie series “Game of Thrones” based on it, exploiting this popularity;
- – complex embedding of spin-offs (substantive and logistical branches) in the form of mini-quests, cooking lessons or playing musical instruments, etc., giving the game an additional potential for generating a steady and growing interest in it and being drawn into it;
- – integration into the game of certain educational (elementary teaching) components (regarding the physical properties and characteristics of the interactions of the forms of matter, etc.), forming an additional interest in it among children;
- – sophisticated exploitation by game developers of the interest and craving of gamers for novelty, massiveness and systematic updating of logistical tracings in the game and the opportunities to acquire “valuable finds”, systematic completion of the virtual universe of the game – completion of the map of the game universe with new parts of the plot and new regions updated editions of the game, releases), accompanied by very competent marketing presentations and promotions , due to which the game continues to be of interest even to sophisticated and advanced gamers (“you can always find something new”);
- – sophisticated exploitation by game developers of the interest and desire of gamers to win, due to the implementation of the “gacha” mechanism (something like a specific roulette in a casino), which implements the possibility of obtaining virtual gaming benefits and virtual things (requiring payment in the game) conditionally free of charge (although gaining the opportunity to play in this roulette and get a chance to win will require payment with virtual or real money);
- – software solutions that ensure the retention of regular players in the game, increase the frequency of the regular gamer coming to the game and increasing the time of his stay in the virtual universe of the game (in-game events tied to the real world chronometry – by date and time and limited in time; special periodic ( for example, daily) tasks, etc.);
- – software solutions that ensure the forced return to the game of gamers who left the game and returned one-time after a certain period of time, due to “bonuses”, etc.;
- – casual adaptability of the game for each specific gamer, most likely, software solutions that implement (we reasonably believe, due to known technologies for machine analytical processing of big data (Big Data) – the gamer’s preferences on the network, his orders in online stores, his visits to sites of a certain topics and semantics, and finally – his behavior in this game itself, as well as due to the technologies for creating a digital model-double of the gamer) quite effective prediction and, in accordance with this, the manipulative imposition of certain stereotypes on the gamer, providing even greater introjective getting used to and getting used to the game;
- – the game is free ( free-to-play ), ensuring its accessibility and attractiveness, especially for young children who are objectively limited in their financial capabilities (“donations” are provided in the game, but rather limited and not very intrusive, directly and directly (for gaining a new “advanced” character – five-star or “gold”, considered the most valuable, new combat abilities or weapons in the game, etc.), so a young gamer may well do without spending for a full-fledged game), especially considering that the game available on most existing devices (computers, tablets, smartphones).
All of the above conditions, provides and directly implements a massive cognitive-manipulative impact on the mind of a child gamer (we are talking about children), aimed at introjective formation of addiction, getting used to the game and establishing the maximum possible achievable stable psychological dependence on this game.
The reason is that a bright, fantastic, exciting game with a sufficient degree of immersion in it already causes a child to have a cognitive dissonance with the “gray” everyday life and the complexities of the real world surrounding the child, rejection of this world and rejection from it, with the desire to leave as cognitively and emotionally as possible and hide from him in the game space, including not establishing (should be established), or cutting off or reducing as much as possible social ties (desocialization, social dissociation) in the real world (with classmates, with relatives and friends), in principle, is applicable to a considerable number of computer role-playing games, but in relation to the game “Genshin Impact” this conclusion is reasonably articulated and updated especially strongly. Especially for children from dysfunctional families or families,
The danger of the game for young children is also predetermined to a large extent by the fact that its game universe acts, to a certain extent, an anonymized platform for real opportunities and real attempts to establish by pedophiles and others with criminal intentions (this is easier to do in the form of a mentor – a more advanced and experienced player in the game ) direct contact with young children, which may lead to the creation of direct threats to children. And adult male lovers of ” anime boys “” (or rather, young boys of the real world, playing under the images of adult sexualized heroes of the game), that is, homosexual pedophiles (hidden behind the images of the players), inside the universe of this game there can be no less (or even more) than men who lust underage real-world girls playing as the game’s adult sexualized heroines. And leaks of the personal data of game players (in relation to this particular game, this has already been reported by the media) can make such threats very real and high.
When such facts are uncovered, the owners and managers of the online gaming resource, as a rule, seek to hush up this matter as much as possible, only denying the adult noticed in such behavior access to the game (as was the case with a number of games ). There is no good reason to believe that this game is something different.
But the main dangers for the child still lie within this game itself, in its semantics.
Scenes of violence and cruelty in this game (death and painful screams of characters defeated in battle, etc.), in terms of what we managed to identify, are within reason and tolerance even for children. In this sense, the game under discussion is no better and no worse than other average computer games involving battles. Due to the claimed use of “unrealistic-looking violence towards humanoid characters”, it is recommended for children from 12 years old.
The following is essential. With the formal free of charge of the game in question, this is still a pronouncedly commercial game, and it is designed and implemented in order to constantly manipulatively form (introjectively cultivate) in the gamer an ever-increasing need for a constant and growing receipt of virtual benefits (incentives, resources) and virtual things ( virtual artifacts, weapons, etc.) in the game universe and “upgrade” your account there (to a more advanced, more “high-ranking” player), in participation in gaining access to the above “ gacha ” mechanism”, which essentially represents a specific roulette in a casino and requires payment with virtual (which are collected during the game and quickly run out) or real money (and we are talking about very considerable expenses). The whole game is accentuated designed for the maximum possible manipulative stimulation of the gamer, purely psychologically, for further more and more purchases (that is, for the maximum possible “milking”), although formally the player can do without it (the game is formally free).
The impact on children described above can reasonably be qualified as aimed at shaping their “desire to take part in gambling”.
In this part, the involvement of children in the computer game “Genshin Impact” and the connivance of their access to this game and their involvement in it grossly violate the Federal Law of December 29, 2010 No. 436-FZ “On the protection of children from information that is harmful to their health and development” prohibition of dissemination among children of information that can cause children to want to take part in gambling (paragraph 2 of part 2 of Article 5).
In the absence of financial resources among gamers from among young children and slightly older adolescents, such addiction can cause (and is highly likely to cause) pronounced frustrations and other psychological problems in a child, will lead to sharp conflicts with his parents (refusing to give him more and more money for these gaming purposes, especially those trying to forbid playing it), can encourage him to steal, and so on. deviant behavior, or will entail a significant drop in self-esteem and the formation of far-fetched inferiority complexes that are destructive for him.
In this part, the involvement of children in the computer game “Genshin Impact” and the connivance of their access to this game and their involvement in it grossly violate the Federal Law of December 29, 2010 No. from information harmful to their health and development” prohibition of dissemination among children of information that induces children to commit actions that pose a threat to their life and (or) health, as well as aimed at inducing or otherwise involving children in committing such actions (clause 1 of part 2 article 5).
Excessive involvement of the child in the game “Genshin Impact” entails his desocialization, throwing him out of the usual society, harms his school performance, overall development. A similar claim can, in principle, be addressed to any computer game, but with regard to Genshin Impact, what has been said is especially relevant.
Another danger for children as a result of excessive enthusiasm for the game “Genshin Impact” should be the desire of children to copy the images of the key game characters of this game, which for the most part have traits and behavioral features that may be plot-appropriate for the game universe, but in the real world described in categories of serious psychological personality problems and disorders. And such imitation cannot pass without a trace for a child in his real life, it will entail a lot of already real, and not simulated psychological problems.
The game in question should be negatively assessed in terms of its impact on young children through premature and clearly excessive (and therefore unacceptable) sexualization of their consciousness (the use in the game of pronouncedly sexualized images of female characters, with a very realistic portrayal and demonstration of female secondary sexual characteristics and even slightly covered female genital organs, sexualized elements of female intimate underwear). There is probably nothing reprehensible in such images in a game for adults, but in a game for children (claimed to be from the age of 12), the use of such pronouncedly sexualized images of female characters that objectively resemble hentai sex dolls to a degree of confusion and, in fact, cases containing metonymic references to a line of such sex dolls is unacceptable.
Yes, indeed, the production and marketing of “hentai” sex dolls was based on the audio-visual “culture” of anime, not the other way around. But in the game “Genshin Impact”, which appeared in 2020, references to “hentai” are deliberately used, which in this case already have a long history and act as a primary phenomenon in relation to this game.
To the signs of a crime – the commission of intellectual forms of depraved acts with persons under the age of sixteen (Part 1 of Article 135 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), these acts (involving young children in the Genshin Impact computer game and connivance with their access to this game and involvement in it) do not “hold out”, but quite definitely conflict with the requirements of the Federal Law of December 29, 2010 No. 436-FZ “On the protection of children from information that is harmful to their health and development” in terms of ensuring the information security of children (a number of norms) .
And this cannot be reduced to just our subjective perception, which third parties would arbitrarily and unreasonably label as a “delusion”. The same (and harsher) assessments have been repeatedly published on Internet resources dedicated to parental control of children’s online gaming behavior, where, among other things, it was indicated that it is essential that the emerging and increasingly active community of fans of the game Genshin Impact creates their own images and spatial figurines (figurines) of characters (fan art), which can be (and in fact are) already openly sexual or even pornographic in nature . Fanatically fascinated by the game “Genshin Impact”, a child simply cannot help but encounter this built-in porn “culture”.
Separately, it should be noted the high degree of danger to the health of the child due to the intense mystification (“demonization”) and thanatization of the child’s consciousness in the universe of the game “Genshin Impact”, since the whole game is simply oversaturated with such semantics, this is its essence.
So in the game “Genshin Impact” there are, for example, such characteristic female characters: ” Raiden Shogun [Raiden Shogun] is the vessel of Beelzebub, Inazuma’s electroarchon. Beelzebub is actually a twin, and she won the war of the archons with her sister Baal, who later founded the Shogunate. Beelzebub became the face of the Electroarchon, and the inhabitants of Inazuma believed that there was only one god, Baal “; “ Qiqi [Qiqi] is a zombie resurrected by adepts in the body of a child ”; “ Shenhe [Shenhe] was born into a family of exorcists, but… she was abandoned by her father, sacrificed by him. It is not known how she managed to survive the fight against the monster she faced, but she survived ” . About the same characters from another source: “Shogun Raiden is unique as it consists of two beings in one body: Hey, Inazuma’s current Electroarchon; and Shogun, a puppet created by Ai to act as Inazuma’s ruler in her place, who also serves as her vessel ” ; ” The daughter of an unnamed exorcist couple, Shenhe was taken in and raised as an apprentice by Cloud Guardian after a traumatic incident instigated by Shenhe’s father during her childhood ” ; ” Qiqi – she was resurrected by adepts as a zombie… ” . There is also such a male character: “ Itto [Arataki Itto] is the head of the Arataki Hanamizaki gang … He has two red horns on his forehead” . This image, as well as the above-mentioned other images of the characters in the game, definitely contain (in the perception of believing Christians and Muslims) metonymic references to the semantics of religious Satanism. And this, perhaps, is not yet the most shocking characters of this game.
The massive use of this kind of semantics in the game “Genshin Impact” and the corresponding negative impact on the minds of children playing this game make this game completely unacceptable for children.
The conducted research gives grounds to assert the following. The impact of the computer game “Genshin Impact” on gamers from among children forms in them the prerequisites and conditions for their pronounced psychological dependence (“ludomania”) on this game, is really capable of harming the health and physical, mental, spiritual and moral development of the child, is aimed at provoking extremely negative consequences (including delayed ones) for the psyche of children, contributes to their degradation, and therefore grossly infringes on the constitutionally protected rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of the child, as well as the rights and legitimate interests of his legal representatives.
The computer game “Genshin Impact” is contraindicated for children in terms of protecting their health and development (including their intellectual, moral, mental state and development).
Imposing on children (in any case, minors) the Genshin Impact computer game and their involvement in this game, facilitation and connivance of their access to this game and their involvement in it, is unlawful, in gross contradiction with the Federal Law of 29.12. 2010 No. 436-FZ (as amended on 12/29/2022) “On protecting children from information harmful to their health and development”, as well as Federal Law No. 124-FZ of 07/24/1998 (as amended on 12/29/2022) “ On the Basic Guarantees of the Rights of the Child in the Russian Federation
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