So in a surprising news, the anticipated indie game Little Devil Inside has somehow gotten itself wrapped up in a bit of a “racial controversy”, all thanks to one Twitter user! However, what’s more surprising is that the developers Neostream have listened to the “backlash” if you can call it that and have vowed to try and redesign them! Should they?
Now when I first saw the trailer, I didn’t even catch it! I praised the visual and vibrant world they had created and moved on. It wasn’t until a day later that I saw the tweet on the web. After the tweet I went back and saw them. They looked like typical, somewhat stereotypical African tribesmen. Now, if I being honest I’m not sure how I feel about them. It didn’t bother me as I know that they were and still are tribesmen in Africa today! Of course, even though I’m African myself, I can not speak for all 1.225 billion Africans in the world! Yet, I kinda understood why some people may have found them to be offensive. Africans have always in the past been depicted in a negative light, and it’s gotten so bad that people don’t even realise it anymore when they replicate it in their own media!
No matter how you wanna look at them, these enemy types do carry a sense of the stereotypical Ooga Booga vibe on them and it’s hard to unsee. Not just in their design but in their demeanor too! I can tell these guys are gonna act in a way that will portray them to be no so bright! Media is a powerful tool and has done some serious harm in the past, so we gotta be more careful in how we portray people in games! We’re still feeling the burn today as Africans! I’m not saying they can’t add African tribes, of course they can, but they have to do their due diligence in the research!
Also, I think most people are kinda getting tired of ONLY seeing African tribes when wanting to showcasing different cultures around the world in a game! Yes, believe it or not, Tribal stuff is only a fraction of what Africans are all about! It’s clear that Little Devil Inside will take us around the world as we hunt monsters, so this being “possibly the only image of Africans we might see in that time period is potentially annoying but not a deal breaker to purchase the game!
Still, it is interesting that the people complaining, a lot of them aren’t even African themselves but are just fed up with the narrative sold to them!
Whether intentionally or not, I’m glad that people pointed them out, and I’m even more glad that the devs where willing to fix the design. I already saw people calling this an “outrage by the SJW” however look at this this way, they’ve been times were people have used a flag, added something or a phrase without understanding the context behind it, and when taken notice, they usually will try to fix it! Heck, all they have to do is get rid of those red lips, or give them a different mask design! That was the only thing that bother me to be honest! The dreads are bad! We can’t act like we don’t sport dreads!
Now, I’ve read the statement by Neostream, and even though they claim that those enemy type was not based on any African tribe known to the world, they’re still based on on something! Nothing is created without inspiration so these little guys had to be based on something! To be that was a flat lie.
Now the question or the worry that people have is that, will this be the norm? Are people going to be more influential in the process of all game development, to the point of blocking the creative process? I will say, it is kinda concerning but it’s not a serious issue! Not yet anyways! Most of the time, if people don’t like a game , they won’t purchase it. That’s what I do! If something like those mobs really bothered me I wouldn’t have bought or even talked about the game.
Changing or redesining the enemies will not break the game! Yes, just like you I was concerned that if we let people force devs to change one aspect, then who’s to say they won’t start changing everything! I’ve always said that creators should be free to create whatever they won’t, just don’t expect people to just accept it! We live in a different time, more people are aware and have a voice, as a developer you just gotta be more attentive to these types of things!