Polygon

Horizon Zero Dawn designer responds to appropriation criticisms

Julia Alexander
 

Four terms from the game have come under fire Horizon Zero Dawn recently received criticism for its portrayal of different tribes represented in the game and four words used to describe those people: savages, braves, primal and tribes. On Feb. 28, a Native American writer called out the game in a Medium essay for the descriptive words that historically have a degrading connotation attached. In her essay, Dia Lacina calls out the fact that terms like savages, primal and braves can “reinforce racist and colonialist ideas about indigenous people.

” Lacina also calls out reviewers for not picking up on it in their critique of the game and its appropriation of Native culture. “Video games have been appropriating from Natives both blatantly and obliquely for decades,” Lacina wrote. “And as much as we’d like to hope — it’s probably not going to stop anytime soon. ” Waypoint spoke to Guerrilla Games narrative designer John Gonzales about the essay.

Gonzales said he and his team took the descriptive words into consideration and it wasn’t their intention to insult or offend. He added that when the team was studying tribal cultures, they looked into a variety of cultural and historic groups. It’s why, Gonzales added, people often compare main character Nora to a Viking than someone of Native descent. Gonzales said the team tried to stay clear of offensive terms, but that it was impossible to plan for every player.

“That said, with the kind of culture of the internet that we have right now, it's impossible to predict what it is that may offend,” Gonzales said. “Certainly we were not intentionally being insensitive, or to offend in any manner. ” “Video games have been appropriating from Natives both blatantly and obliquely for decades” On Twitter, Lacina said the response from developer Guerrilla Games was along the lines of what she expected, but was disappointed by the lack of ownership from the studio. Other critics added their own thoughts on Gonzales’ response, calling it a good example of a situation that could have benefited from additional research…

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