Gaming with ‘Genshin Impact’

Exploring student experiences with the video game

Claire Wen

Scrolling through Instagram, sophomore Kelly Tung saw a promotional illustration of the video game “Genshin Impact” by one of her favorite artists, @rosuuri, on Instagram a year before it was released. Although she found the image interesting, she didn’t think much of it at the time. 

In September of 2020, during the week of “Genshin Impact’s” release, TikTok videos of the game popped up on her “For You” page, leading Tung to giving it a try. She has been playing it ever since.

According to WIRED, “Genshin Impact” is the most popular Chinese game release in the West, as Screen Rant reports that there were an estimated 39.3 million players in 2020.

“Genshin Impact” is set in a fantasy world where characters can control elemental magic. Players can obtain characters through the gacha system — mimicking the toy vending machines it is named after in Japanese — where players spend a certain amount of in-game currency, which can be purchased with real money, in order to “pull” and obtain randomized characters. The game also features an open-world environment, which allows players to explore the virtual world freely, rather than more strictly structured gameplay.

Graphic by Claire Wen

“I think [‘Genshin Impact’] was just a bit special because it combined gacha and open-world together,” Tung said. “I haven’t really seen this unique intersection between the two genres before. So I think that appealed to a lot of audiences and it also generated a really interesting game aspect.”

Tung enjoys the aspect of collecting and playing the characters she wants, and sophomore Adian Du agrees with the sentiment. 

“I think a large portion of the appeal is that [a] lot of the characters are fun to play,” Du said. “When [‘Genshin Impact’] first launched, I remember a lot of people were hyping it up because of its unique character designs and art style.”

Du describes the art style and characters as similar to anime. Junior Marvin Wu also compliments the graphics quality, especially for a game that is available on mobile devices. 

“I think the main appeal that really brought in people was the aspect of the graphics being so nice,” Wu said. “But ultimately what kept them hooked on [‘Genshin Impact’] is a bit of the storyline, but a lot of the sense of ‘gambling’ that you do with the gacha system. It gets people excited to get new characters and build them their own way.”

Du enjoys building new characters by collecting artifacts and leveling the character up. He finds the process of getting artifacts to be tedious, since it’s luck-dependent, but says it feels good to get a good artifact after trying for a long time. Wu also likes “trying random stuff on [his] characters.”

“Because it’s a single-player game, that leaves you with this freedom that you don’t have to just do as much damage as you can, but you can customize the gameplay to how you want to play it,” Wu said. “You don’t really have to build what the internet says you have to.”

Graphic by Claire Wen

Tung’s favorite part of the game is playing the characters, and she enjoys it as a break from school to de-stress. However, at the same time, she appreciates that the game doesn’t require a significant time commitment.

“So there are these things called Dailies [Daily Commissions] where you can just do a certain amount of tasks in a day and you don’t really need to spend extra time grinding or trying to get the best equipment [or] weapons,” Tung said. “So as a student who has to balance both extracurriculars along with schoolwork and homework from MVHS, I think that ‘Genshin Impact’ is a great game that can allow me to balance these different aspects in my life efficiently.”

Du agrees that there aren’t many downsides as he doesn’t think it is easy to get addicted to the game because “after a certain bubble, there’s not much left to do.” He has currently finished the content available in the game so far and primarily logs on for 20 minutes a day to complete Daily Commissions.

As a game that is still getting updated with new events and characters, Wu also thinks that “Genshin Impact” is a new experience as a game in-development, whereas other games he has played in the past were fully developed and add-ons consisted of features rather than storyline. He thinks that the storyline incorporates itself into the gameplay and the backgrounds of characters are particularly well developed.

Graphic by Claire Wen

“Their storyline just keeps on giving; while new characters are introduced, they somehow fit in with the existing characters,” Wu said. “It creates this kind of world that you don’t really find in other games, or that aren’t as pronounced in other games.”

Tung also appreciates the worldbuilding and the ability to explore the open-world in the game. There are currently three territories available in the game — Mondstadt, Liyue and Dragonspine — which are inspired by the real world locations of Germany, China and the Alps, respectively. 

“It kind of gives me a glance into the outside world, because I’ve been staying inside throughout COVID-19,” Tung said. “It’s just really cool to discover and explore the variety of places that the game offers.”