Genshin Impact: A Case Study of Virtual Biogeography
Vicki Tinnon-Brock, Chemistry & Geosciences
4:00-4:10pm | Houston Cole Library, 11th Floor
Place can be defined by different definitions. ‘a space or location with meaning’ and ‘an area having unique physical and human characteristics interconnected with other places.’ Just to name a couple. It is my belief that place is not just based in the physical world. Places have been built through literature, like with JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Places have been built for television such as Nickelodeon’s Avatar the Last Airbender or Babylon 5. Video games are no different. We have simplistic places like the maze in Pac Man and it has since evolved into ‘open-world’ style’s like our subject, Genshin Impact.
What makes a place believable in fiction is the immersion, the transition from what we know, to what we expect. When you are put into a scenario involving aliens you expect to see alien people, and alien foods. When you’re placed into a fantasy you look for the familiar and hope to see differences. Genshin Impact is an open world game created by Mihoyo. This game has the regular aspects of an open world such as fighting a variety of enemies and having different playable characters. This game offers more immersive actions like the ability to cook and using a fantasy element called alchemy to create items to enhance your performance in the game. While researching this topic I examined the differences via the lens of familiarity such as specific location of flora, or soil requirements to farm (and more).
Where things get interesting is the means of gathering the items to utilize these crafting methods. Because for a potion you might need a stone called Cor Lapis, a stone you can only find in the country of Liyue. Or perhaps you need to make a soup that requires calla lilies, you can only find those in the northern country of Mondstat. These type of region locked items may seem like deliberate choices to limit players, but there is evidence that there is conscious biogeographic elements being displayed. There was once a quest to gather region locked items for experience points. On the surface it may seem superfluous, but it is our belief that this game encourages biogeographic exploration with the hidden lesson of understanding natural dispersion of resources!
We wanted to explore this more, analyze the resource locations and find any logic behind the placement of these artificial species. From in game research, mapping and analyzing the literature of the game a lot of questions about the flora and fauna can be answered through geography.
student research, chemistry and geosciences
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Rayburn, Tabitha, "Genshin Impact: A Case Study of Virtual Biogeography" (2023). JSU Student Symposium 2023. 9.