"Teahouse of the Gods"—Harness the energy of qi to save the world!

Yeah it would be really weird to gloss over the fact that you’re character is an outsider but the option is there to speak and understand chinese but if you can’t do that than you’re basically only have one option. Which is kind of a draw back when the main selling point of these games is the fact that you have multiple options to choose from


I think the problem (insofar as there is one) with the way language is handled in this game is the fact that it is not advertised as an experience that can only be fully enjoyed with an understanding of Chinese. People buying a CoG do not expect to be shut out of part of the product because due to whatever reasons in their real life, they did not choose to learn Chinese.

I don’t think the author did something wrong. There is value in rebelling against the assumption that a game should go out of its way to make us comfortable in a foreign culture when we did not do the necessary work to understand it in real life, but at the same time, I don’t think that’s what many of us are here for.

I can understand why people might feel a little cheated. They expected that if there was an option to play as an insider, as Hannah puts it, it would not be circumscribed by their actual status as insider or outsider in real life. I wouldn’t call that an unreasonable expectation, considering that no other CoG does this (at least, not intentionally).

Personally, my feelings on the topic are mixed. As an individual with Chinese heritage but a grievously imperfect command of the language, I do feel wounded by the fact that my inadequacies as a member of a culture I belong to in many ways extend even inside a game I might play for fun. On the other hand, perhaps I don’t deserve that kind of pass. Maybe the only way to appreciate the kind of Chineseness this game wants to convey is to speak and be literate in the language to the requisite degree, and if that is so, then I can’t really argue against that.


Honestly, I don’t see how people are feeling forced into a romantic relationship with any of the characters. That’s not something I experienced at all. In fact, considering the backstory of the character I’ve seen the most complaints about, she actually shows tremendous restraint. Interestingly, I’ve probably seen the fewest complaints in connection with the character I least liked having to interact with.

@lil_g - That’s why I think it should be reframed as an option for the player, not a character customization option. I think of it more like not being able to take a second-year class unless I’ve taken the prerequisite. It’s not that I’m being punished by not getting to take the class I want, it’s that that class is for people who are at a level I’m not.

@FabricSeat and everyone else - If I understand correctly, you’re not actually missing out on content. If there were an option to play as a Chinese-speaker but get dialogue in English, it would be pretty much the same as the English dialogue now. The only differences between what you read in English and what someone else would read in Chinese is the kind of linguistic nuance that doesn’t really translate anyway.

1 Like

I haven’t played the whole game yet, but from the demo, this does not appear to me to be the case. The characters in the story (and the narrative) do try to make allowances for the fact that the main character and presumably the player cannot understand the things they say in Chinese (if that option was chosen), but some conversations are different if the characters are not accommodating a non-Chinese-speaker.

It is not a huge issue either way, as the story is still written to be comprehensible to someone who knows only English, but are things to miss out on.

The things in the first few chapters that are in Chinese no matter what aren’t important to the story. You can figure out in context that your driver is asking A’Li for directions; you’re not missing out on anything by not knowing exactly what they’re saying.

I’m talking specifically about things that appear in Chinese only if you select the option that your character speaks Chinese, and otherwise appear in English.


Hey, all. I’ve completed my review of Teahouse of the Gods. Thanks for reading!


Those bits are different too. For example, if you tell A’li that you are literate in logographic Chinese, he says something different to you from if you can speak it but are only literate in Pinyin or if you don’t know it at all, and the latter two options are different from each other too. Other conversations have their own bits that only seem to appear if you have them in the full Chinese.

Moreover, there are things here and there that simply aren’t translated from the logographic Chinese.

Of course, as you say, nothing critical to understanding is gated behind an knowledge of Chinese. I think people might be more upset if that was the case. Still, I don’t think what some are having a problem with is that they can’t figure out what is going on. They just don’t like that if they want to fully experience certain aspects of the game, they are required to be literate in Chinese logograms or actively translate for themselves. In that sense, something is missed out on.

I’m sorry, but anybody “playing” a role-playing game without fully immersing themselves into the world of the story is not actually playing the game. They are just going through the motions and reading words on a screen. If you don’t understand what I mean, there are plenty of YouTube channels out there where groups of people play role-playing games as intended.

Again, it is fine if one wants to say that a story isn’t for them. But that is not the author’s fault or responsibility. Their goal is to offer us a world full of characters we’ve not encountered before and experience new experiences with them. If every story was a happy little romance, then what is the point? We would just be reading the same stories over and over again. This is something new and different and full of a culture that many are obviously unfamiliar with. The fact that this story has made many feel uncomfortable tells me that the author achieved their goal.


Okay, this is what I don’t understand. If you are not truly missing out on anything relevant to the story, what is the player missing out on? How is this not 100% characteristic of IRL? If I am in the bodega and hear the person behind the counter speaking to another customer in a different language, do I need to be included in their conversation to be able to live my life? The intent is clear, and it has been stated repeatedly in this thread. I genuinely don’t understand how this is so difficult for people to wrap their heads around.


Please focus on the game, and the relevant issues involving the game.

Shifting the focus to “how” others experience or interact with the game is a path that leads to off-topic deflection and possible derailment of the discussion involving the game.

There are other threads that exist to discuss “how” people experience interactive fiction; use this space to focus on the game itself.


It’s not that people don’t understand the intent.

It’s simply that in the game, there is an option to play a character who understands Chinese, but this is only fully available if the player themselves understands it. This, suffice to say, is an unusual decision. People tend to buy a CoG assuming that all of the available content will be easily accessible to English-only speakers. In another universe, perhaps the game might have been made so that people who did not understand Chinese could yet still play a character who did not feel like an outsider to Chinese culture, of course while preserving the ability to be an outsider if they so desired. Presumably, this alternate version of the game would not have engendered the complaints about language.

As it is, some people may feel like they are being told that they are only allowed to be fully Chinese in the game if they meet the necessary qualifications in real life. Maybe this is a valid position. I do not consider it void of merit. Perhaps it is not right for a game to allow us to impersonate members of groups we do not belong to in reality (although exceptions might be made for fictional groups; I doubt there are any issues with, say, a game that lets people pretend they are Jedi).

I don’t think the author was wrong to handle the language issue as it ended up being handled, but it is also understandable why not everyone was satisfied with it.


You’re welcome. Mt. QingCheng is one of the places in China I’d love to visit besides Chengdu and Xi’an (aka Chang’an) when the pandemic has gotten better and international travelling isn’t such a hassle as it is now.

To add on this, IIRC the author said in their WIP thread that the choice to select whether or not the MC can communicate in Mandarin is for the benefits of the reader(s), not the MC.

The Mandarin dialogues are for bilingual or multilingual players who know Mandarin. If you, as a reader/player, don’t know Mandarin, it’s ok, you can play this game (almost) entirely in English and you won’t miss out on anything.

I hope this clears the confusion of players who feel penalised for not knowing Mandarin.

To concerns about missing out on content, I just ran some math: less than 0.4% of the game’s characters are Mandarin. Of that number, most is encoded as follows, with direct translations:

@{(mandarin) Xiao Hu|Xiǎo-Hú|小胡}

While rarer, non-direct translations can also support comparable experiences. (Eg. When a non-Mandarin/Pinyin player learns a few sentences, the Mandarin/Pinyin version has a few sentences of related conversation as opposed to nothing. If a joke only makes sense in one language, I’ll use different jokes so all versions are funny.)

The non-Mandarin/Pinyin option also includes additional information that the Mandarin/Pinyin doesn’t, often to provide context on language quirks. (Eg. Explaining Chinese names’ meanings beyond translating their sound.)

If people want my opinion/translation of a specific Mandarin fragment, feel free to ping~


Wow I don’t agree with a single thing you just said. Let’s agree to disagree have a nice day.



I think this intent needs to be clarified in-game, so that the separation between player and character is maintained. As it is, it reads like the decision is meant to be for the character, and not the player.


Strongly disagree. Especially since the issue many have is that they can’t immerse themselves into the world because of the metatextual theme of linguistic and cultural alienation/integration. The problem isn’t exploring that theme; I find that a very exciting line of exploration. The problem is that many people are bouncing off of the immersion because of the confusion over what exactly knowledge of Chinese means for the player vs for the character.

Also, as someone who enjoyed this story, for a CoG story, it’s fairly linear. Best exemplified by the list of Achievements - you get the majority of them just by playing through the game, not as a result of specific choices.


Was that character Xingtu by any chance?


Quick poll

Poll closed as of Dec. 1st—responses have been consistently in favor of Alternate 1, which will go live in the next patch. Thanks to everyone who voted!


Alternate 1:

Your response will determine the appearance of Chinese dialogue. The world may try to accommodate your language ability, but characters will be limited by their own language skills.

  • The player can read Chinese characters.
  • The player is comfortable with romanized Chinese, or Pinyin.
  • The player prefers minimal Chinese text.

I prefer:

  • Original
  • Alternate 1
  • Other (ping me and I’ll add options)

0 voters


feels very good to be able to read chinese

1 Like

So is the game finished or Is Xingtu the only romanceable character in the game because I’ve played this game three times trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong or why I can’t get the A’Li or poly route with Victoria

To answer your questions regarding romance, I’ll just quote what the author said previously:

I’m going to preface this by saying that I’m a multilingual person of Asian identity. I know three languages from pretty radically different language families, fluently enough to read novels and watch TV and hold conversations and do whatever in them (I’m not fluent enough to write prose in my third language, alas—or rather I could, but the writing style would suck). And I feel immensely put off by how this game designs its way around languages. No, it’s not just because Chinese isn’t one of my three languages. If it’s done with one of those three, I’d still be put off. Hell, if it’s one of the languages I know, I’d be more than put off. I’d be very angry.

It’s this whole idea that being multilingual deserves a reward, or that there deserves to be some things that are only conveyed to people who know the language involved. That when presenting a story set in a culture to another group, there deserves to be some secrets only given to an in group who’d understand it without explanation, that can’t be reliably looked up without losing meaning. Maybe it’s only 0.4%. Okay, that’s great. It still puts me off on principle.

I’m not a fan of everything being localized and turned into English ‘equivalents’ when none exists, mind you. But I’m also not a fan of leaving in text in another language unnecessarily, with no explanation, and simply wanting some people who’s not in the correct in-group to not understand it. I’d rather the text be rewritten as ‘someone talking in Chinese that you don’t understand’, with perhaps some sort of pinyin replacement if you’re really hell bent on having actual Chinese in your game, if the the MC is someone who doesn’t understand it. And then translated to English dialogue if the MC understands Chinese, with some notes about special terms that need to be kept to maintain the authenticity of the setting.

I know I sound harsh and normally I try not to be so when criticizing games. I love this genre. But this decision by this game rubbed me really, really wrong.