Horizon Zero Dawn had quite a successful launch, with it being praised for its gameplay, story and great protagonist from critics and gamers alike. Not everyone is too happy with the game though, with some criticising the game for being a bit culturally insensitive.
In a blog written by Die Lacina, a Native American writer, the developers of Horizon Zero Dawn are being accused of cultural appropriation, or at least in a way. The blog focuses more on gaming journalists not picking up on certain phrases and words being used in the game such as ‘Savages’ and ‘Braves’, which are considered as racial slurs by some Native American people.
The criticism prompted Narrative Director, John Gonzales, to respond in Guerrilla Games and Horizon Zero Dawn’s defense:
[quote]”The vocabulary was certainly discussed during the creative process, in terms of wanting to make sure we were sensitive to the cultural concerns of our audience. We weren’t looking for inspiration from one particular group, and we cast the net widely to look at cultures, tribal cultures, around the world, and also throughout history.”[/quote]
He went on to say that they were trying to use multiple cultures and influences, including Viking and Celtic lore and history, and explained why they decided to go with certain words and explanations:
[quote]”We were trying to find a term that would combine the capabilities of a warrior and the capabilities of a hunter. It was a term that [we felt] was not derogatory, as we came across some terms that were definitely slurs against Native Americans and other groups throughout history. And so, our decision was based on ‘brave’ not being a ‘hot button’ term.”[/quote]
It’s unfortunate when things like this come to light, but with games becoming much more mainstream and accepted by the general public, the onus falls on developers and writers to be considerate to other cultures and beliefs, because what you might not consider as a major deal will really sting or hurt somebody else.