There is very little solid, confirmed information available to us about what exactly went down with the removal of the Canthan district in Divinity’s Reach (which is now the site of the Crown Pavilion), but both the Cantha support thread on the official forums and commentary on third-party fansites are full of speculation and rumors repeated as fact. As if to mimic a mass game of Telephone, the removal of a single Canthan-themed area from one zone in alpha due to a “cultural consideration” has morphed into a popular conception of NCsoft as evil overlords who demanded the removal of all Asian cultural influences from gw2 gold and forbade ArenaNet from letting Cantha creep into the lore.
This scenario doesn’t hold up under the most gentle scrutiny, even if we hadn’t been directly told that Cantha and Elona aren’t off the table. If ArenaNet isn’t allowed to add elements inspired by Asian cultures, it’s certainly very strange that the Tengu we meet in game are almost entirely reminiscent of the Canthan Angchu tribe instead of the Quetzal and Cairomi tribes, both of which are native to the areas bordering the Dominion of Winds. We also have multiple NPCs descended from Canthan refugees, Vigil members who suggest heading to Cantha to see what’s going on there, and weapon sets that evoke Canthan nostalgia. From the looks of it, the upcoming Festival of the Four Winds will see the already Canthanesque Zephyrites embracing that theme even more vigorously; even if that’s just for the benefit of the new players in China, it still makes the idea of an anti-Cantha plot look pretty silly.
I’ve touched before on the conspiracy theories that sometimes take root in the GW2 community, and I’m always bitterly disappointed in the xenophobia some gamers display toward players from China and Korea. ArenaNet is a relatively progressive company, one that has a history of trying to make players of all kinds feel respectfully represented. If ArenaNet was told that it had not succeeded in respectful representation, I can imagine that the developers would feel a sincere desire to do better. Dismissing that as “censorship” or “political correctness” implies that nobody would want to change things to make them more inclusive if they didn’t absolutely have to, and I think that’s giving the devs too little credit.
Listening to the voices of people from different cultural backgrounds can do wonders for the quality of creative products. Not only does it become less likely that creators not of those cultures will hurt someone by mishandling, erasing, or taking credit for something precious, but it helps in avoiding tired tropes and stereotypes and incorporating fresh perspectives. Players are understandably homesick for GW1’s Cantha, but by listening to fans whose actual home and mythology inspired it, I think ArenaNet is far more likely to create something fantastic that can be enjoyed by everyone. It just might take a little longer than if the studio simply introduced Shing Jea 2.0 for old times’ sake.
And here’s a challenge for the GW2 community as a whole: We need to stop making and tolerating comments that suggest ArenaNet’s listening to paying customers and new community members in China constitutes some kind of hostile takeover. Call out racist jokes and comments; question speculation and opinions about GW2’s development that masquerade as facts. Do that because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it doesn’t reflect well on our community to be demanding a fantasy playground based on a real part of the world if so many of us apparently view players from that part of the world with contempt and suspicion.