October 26, 2014

Racism in game from a dev

This is another entry in the series of dev problems. While I didn't have nearly the problem with racism complaints as I did sexist complaints it still came up. Mostly it was over linguistics and word selection. I didn't go into eubonics or any nonsense and for the most part things were fine on paper it was in development that this really came up.

Similar to how it was with sexism I had complaints that a character was black or was too black and if I changed it to white it became "why isn't this guy black?" and this was before we even had a script. Later on it was revisions to the script  over and over till finally I switched the character to white and nobody complained about the script then so I switched the character back. I found it was better not to give anyone a color or face until the script was universally approved for content then I'd assign models and voice actors.

When it came to voice actors there was a whole different story for another article unrelated to this I might have to write, but basically actors wanted to switch characters and in some cases didn't like other actors for some reason. Once I had the voice actors and some pre-vis of the scene it was the expected problems of people saying the voice was too this or too that or was implying something that wasn't there which led to dozens of retakes until it was perfect. The real hard part was getting people to separate the quality of delivery and the content which was sometimes meant to be offensive.

Part of the game was intended to include racism. It's not out of place or forced it's a very natural inclusion yet it sparked some conflict within the group leading to a few members leaving. That's probably one of the harder things to deal with especially as an indie dev where every member is invaluable. This wasn't racism for the sake of it, it was racism with a purpose and a message which I was thankful most of the team members understood.

The strange thing was the only complaints I had about racism were about strictly black characters. No complaints about any of my content for latin, asian, european, or otherwise. There was an unrelated complaint about a french character but it wasn't racism related. I thought that either that says something or it's a huge coincidence. Either way while the headache around racism seems to be much smaller and shorter lived it can be so much more painful than dealing with sexism.