If you’re an avid gamer, you probably noticed the prevalence of more and more video game characters that look like us, Southeast Asians.
We love it! And frankly, it’s overdue. Southeast Asia’s video games industry generated over 1 billion USD from 2016 to 2017 and this figure grew to $4.4 billion USD in 2019. Over 154 million gamers live in Southeast Asia, a region with a total population of about 682 million. So, for those of us who game, it’s awesome to see ourselves represented in a video game…and even be able to play their character!
Also, there were almost 1.5 billion gamers in Asia in 2021 out of the global total of over 3 billion. Asians therefore account for half of the world’s gamers and effectively constitute the largest market for video games in the world, according to Statista!
Which are the video game characters inspired by Southeast Asia? Let’s get to them.
1. Echo / Dr Mina Liao from Overwatch
Just imagine a video game character in a popular international game spouting phrases such as “Alamak”, “Jialat” and other familiar Singlish phrases. Yup, that’s Echo, the robot version of researcher Dr Mina Liao in Overwatch, a shooter game by giant game producer Blizzard.
2. Badang & Friends from Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
In the popular smartphone game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Southeast Asia is represented in a big way. A lot of characters in the game hail from Southeast Asia, with notable ones being Badang (Singapore/Malaysia), Kadita and Gatotkaca (Indonesia), Lapu-Lapu (the Phillippines) and Minsitthar (Myanmar).
But we want to focus on Badang, who not only hails from Singapore, but from an ancient time where legends of Sang Nila Utama came from. This was a time where the orang laut thrived, and when Singapore and Malaysia were a single unit. Thanks for putting Singapore in the limelight, MLBB!
3. Bolo Santosi from Just Cause
Bolo Santosi was most famous for her appearance in the Just Cause 2 game demo, for her…Singapore accent? The Reapers revolutionary army rebel leader is from the fictional island of “Panau”. She doesn’t seem to use Singlish but her inflections of speech are so undeniably yet exaggeratedly Singaporean… Encountering her is like recognising (but not acknowledging) a fellow Singaporean tourist in a foreign country.
4. Letz Shake from No More Heroes
If you’ve been suspecting that Letz Shake, an assassin and punk vocalist is Singaporean, yes he is! The 22-year-old character can be found in No More Heroes, a Japanese hack-and-slash Wii game published by Ubisoft, Spike Marvelous Interactive Inc and Rising Star Games. You might at first be confused by his hilarious German accent, but in-game concept cards that confirm his Singaporean identity. Ah, he’s like one of those classmates who went overseas on exchange and came back with a new accent after just one month – relatable.
5. Josie from Tekken 7
Ah yes, Tekken, the Japanese fighting game genre franchise has even welcomed Southeast Asia into its world with Josie Rizal, a new fighting character who gets her name from Dr Jose Rizal, a Filipino national hero, nationalist and well-learned individual. Her fighting style is Eskrima-based kickboxing, which focuses on weapons like knives and sticks. Hers is more defensive though, with weapon disarming…similar to a real fighting style in the Philippines known as Sayaw ng Kamatayan, or the Filipino Dance of Death.
6. Noor Casulink from Hyper Scape
In this battle royale-style aka PvP game from Ubisoft, you can pick a character called Noor Casulink. In her bio, her full name is Noor Azimah Binti Yusof, and if you read further, she hails from Malaysia, more specifically Pekan in the state of Pahang.
Another fun fact about Noor: She’s a self-declared influencer, fashionista and live-streamer, and speaks a hodgepodge of English and Malay. Some also compare her to the famous Malaysian international artist Yuna.
7. Tim from Home Sweet Home
In this horror game, you play Tim, who we’d like to think is Thai. You navigate through a haunted scape of aggro ghosts all trying to take your life while all you’re looking for is your wife. There’s plenty of Thai culture, from folklore horror elements to the costumes and imagery. It’s also fantastic that this game has broken into the international market, with a sequel produced thanks to its popularity.
8. Santos from Def Jam: Fight for NY
Here’s another game from the fighting genre that features a fighter from the Philippines called Santos. It’s different from Tekken in the sense that you’re in an underground fight where rappers are clashing. Anyway, Santos is most likely Filipino as he wears the country’s flag proudly on his boxers, plus his signature move “Filipino Pride” is a sure sign that’s where his patriotism lies.
9. Talim from Soul Calibur
Last but not least, in Soul Calibur you have Talim, which actually means “Sharp Edge” in Tagalog, the Filipino language. If you’ve used her character before, check out her moves, which are also in Tagalog — Tagga Sa Kamay (stabbed hand), Tuhod Slicer (knee-slicer) and Sunggab Throw (grab-throw). This makes us curious: Why are Southeast Asian characters known for fighting?
Anyway, how many of these video games and characters have you played?
While you’re here, check out MLBB on M1’s Data Pack!
Using the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Data Pack from M1, you can enjoy unlimited data access and 80 free diamonds in-app every month as you assemble the perfect team with your comrades-in-arms.
Simply subscribe to the data pack through the My M1 App, receive SMS with a unique redemption code and link! You can then start redeeming your diamonds and game away with unlimited data.
Better still, get 100GB for just $19.95 per month with an M1 SIM-only plan and try out the Southeast Asian characters Badang, Kadita and Gatotkaca, Lapu-Lapu and Minsitthar as you try these mobile games – show Southeast Asia some love!