Publication Details

Chan, D. 2006, 'Playing with indexical Chineseness: the transnational cultural politics of Wuxia in digital games', Enter Text, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 182-200.


Wuxia narratives delineate an imagined cultural China. Although officially banned in Mainland China for most of the twentieth century, contemporary Chinese reclamations of these pseudo-historical and fantastical tales of martial chivalry now circulate locally, regionally, and internationally. New treatments of wuxia—especially in film and literature— have drawn increasing international scholarly interest.1 Nevertheless, the proliferation of wuxia digital games has, to date, received scant academic attention. Over the past decade, the use of wuxia fictions has steadily gained momentum in East Asian games networks, particularly within Chinese language territories. This essay traces a cultural history of the evolution of wuxia digital games from PC role-playing games (RPGs) to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and offers a contextual analysis of their attendant significations. The games industry uptake of wuxia may be linked, in part, to newly emergent forms of Chinese economic nationalism. Such an interpretation not only accounts for why wuxia has become an important aspect of Chinese digital content production, but also how it modulates Chinese cultural identity within transnational games networks today.

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