Racist “Dirty Chinese Restaurant” Mobile Game Pulled by Developers After Community Backlash

A screen-capture from the upcoming mobile game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant” by game developers “Big-O-Tree”. (Photo credit: YouTube / Big-O-Tree)

Last week, I posted about “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”, a mobile game in development by a newcomers Big-O-Tree Games, based in Markham, Ontario, Canada. The video game’s trailers and website content suggested that the restaurant simulation game — which was planned for release in the Apple and Google mobile app stores — was a grab-bag of offensive and racist anti-Chinese stereotypes. I wrote about how I was particularly disgusted by the game’s concept as a Chinese Canadian who grew up in the same area as the game developers.

The game was the target of widespread backlash from Chinese Canadian and Chinese American activists. Chinese American elected officials even weighed in. Representative Grace Meng wrote a statement on Facebook deriding the planned game, and both she and recently re-elected New York City Councilman Peter Koo took to Twitter with further criticism. New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky also used Twitter to call the game “disgusting and unacceptable.” In Canada, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne — who is also the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party — tweeted that the game “does not reflect the value of Markham,” and the mayor of Markham, Ontario, Frank Scarpitti, called the game “appalling”.

Now, Big-O-Tree Games has decided to pull the planned game, and has issued a formal apology to the Chinese community. They have also removed all of their hosted web content related to the game from the internet.

In a statement published on their website, Big-O-Tree Games developers write:

After careful consideration and taking the time to listen to the publics opinion we have decided it’s not in anyone’s best interest to release Dirty Chinese Restaurant. We would like to make a sincere and formal apology to the Chinese community and wish to assure them that this game was not created with an intentional interest of inflicting harm or malice against Chinese culture.

Out of respect we will begin removing all marketing media pertaining to DCR off our Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts. These accounts will also be removed. We ask the press to please respect our privacy at this time as we begin the task of removing all our content.

This was a game developed under the banner of a company whose tagline is “political correctness is so… boring” and which managed to stuff so many anti-Chinese stereotypes into one 3-minute trailer as to put Fox News’ Jesse Watters to shame; how developers could possibly suggest this was unintentional harm or malice is beyond me. But, whatever. Either way, the Chinese American and Chinese Canadian communities shouldn’t have to police racist, insensitive game developers for the shitty content they create. Big-O-Tree Games’ “Dirty Chinese Restaurant” was a bad idea from the start, and game developers should have recognized that at the outset and moved on. Instead, once again, racism is mistaken for edgy satire, and communities of colour are somehow responsible for teaching the difference.

As of this writing, Big-O-Tree Games has removed all their web content related to “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”, and their company’s splash page contains only the apology statement re-posted above; however, a cached version of the original website is still available here. The company has also removed their game trailers from YouTube.

The developers have not responded to further requests for comment from NBC News.

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