This post was updated on October 5, 2017. Please scroll to the bottom for updates.
A Canadian independent mobile game development company, Big-O-Tree, is in hot water this week after the Asian American community caught wind of the company’s first mobile game offering: an offensive, anti-Chinese game called “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”.
The game centers around protagonist Wong Fu, a pot-bellied immigrant from Hong Kong who is tasked with managing his brother’s new Chinese food restaurant. Judging from the game’s twotrailers, game developers have taken great pains to include virtually every anti-Chinese stereotype one might be able to think of in this retro-style restaurant management mobile game. As Wong Fu, players have the option of gambling to raise money, hire undocumented immigrant workers, and pay employees exploitative wages. Workers can be motivated to work harder by invoking “sweatshop” mode. There is a mini-game where ingredients can be obtained by hunting dogs, cats, and mice, or by searching local trash bins and dumpsters. Players must bribe tax collectors, and may have their workers deported by immigration officers. An online webcomic published in association with the game suggests that protagonist Wong Fu might be an undocumented immigrant who snuck into the country on a falsified passport. Even the look of the game is offensive: characters are rendered in skin tones of bright yellow, and many restaurant patrons are inexplicably wearing coolie hats while they dine.
Food blog Grub Streetnoted that the game is one where “apparently no racist stereotype gets left behind.” Representative Grace Meng (D-NY 6th) took to Facebook to slam the game, saying “this game uses every negative and demeaning stereotype that I have ever come across as a Chinese American.” She urged the Asian American community to call out this shocking example of racism, and for Google, Apple, and Android to deny the game placement in their app stores.
Several Canadian groups and politicians have spoken out against the cartoon. The Toronto Chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) wrote an open letter to the Sun‘s editorial board chastising the paper for failing in its responsibility to “tell stories that will not continue the marginalization of racialized people.” Last Thursday, current NDP leader Tom Mulcair lambasted the cartoon, calling it “an amalgam of everything offensive that you could possibly think of”, and then elaborating that it is a “racist caricature of a Chinese person.” Chow, herself, called the cartoon “disgusting”, and “both racist and sexist” just a day after its publication.
The Sun has now issued a bizarre, half-hearted apology in which they simultaneously defend Donato’s work while acknowledging the offensiveness of the caricature.
Torontonians headed to the polls today to elect the city’s newest mayor, someone who will hopefully replace the eternally disgracefully (yet endlessly entertaining) Rob Ford. One of the candidates was Olivia Chow, a Chinese Canadian, former City Councillor and former member of Parliament. Chow was running as the New Democratic Party candidate and — if my Facebook timeline is any indication –stood a pretty good chance of taking the Toronto mayorship in a tight race; election results published just a few minutes ago show that Chow lost to Progressive Conservative candidate John Tory, coming in a distant third after Ford’s equally-as-obnoxious brother.