Five AAPI Games of the Month That Can Challenge Misconceptions

Two female ghosts from the game Home Sweet Home.  One has short brown hair covering one eye and a nasty nosebleed running down her shirt, the other is wearing a traditional Thai dress and posing with her arms outstretched.

Image: Yggdrazeel/Kotaku Group

I dutifully answer the questions: “Where are your parents from?” “My dad is from Bangladesh, my mom is from Bulgaria,” but growing up on a predominantly white Long Island, I was embarrassed that anyone ever asked. I am pale. My hair is thin and bleached and I could never grow it out to be strong and curl around my waist like all my envious cousins.

I wanted to be a real Bengali, like half of my family, but my father always encouraged me to be more American. For me, it meant matching my whiteness and the whiteness of my neighborhood, and while it cut off a part of me that I hoped to nourish, it seemed easier at the time. As my faltering high school identity faltered and I felt more confident in myself as a person, I began to more genuinely embrace the two cultures that created me.

So during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), which begins each year on May 1st, I feel a special debt to fellow Asians who have been taught to separate their culture from themselves. Now, as a video game writer, I often think that games have a somewhat fragile relationship with Asian and Pacific Islander culture. While China and Japan dominate the global video game market, I worry that the same big US market sometimes turns culture into a caricature. It seems even after decades of Asian influence on gaming, the US still doesn’t know Not every Asian character needs a katana.

But the games on this list know that the identity of a person with AAPI is worthy of respect and effort to understand. All of them emphasize history and heritage, rather than tedious superficial aesthetics. Of of course, “AAPI” giant umbrella, and this list is just a small selection of fantastic AAPI culture games. However, I hope you enjoy them and take this AAPI month as an opportunity to better understand yourself, your friends, and the many wonderful cultures that make our little shines the world.

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