Because We Can't Have Nice Things: Scribblenauts Racism! Breaking!

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Zzoram

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EazyB said:
Sorry if this has been explained but I've only read the OP: Is there any other use for the word that better explains why a watermelon pops up other than playing on a racist stereotype? Someone obviously went in there and programmed the game accept that word and respond this way so it's hard to call it a mistake. Disregarding Kotaku sensationalism and the internet's popular response of getting offending by someone calling out racism, it seems kinda fucked up the game does this at all.
This.

HUELEN10 said:
It's a type of gourd, which looks a lot like a watermelon. It makes sense that it uses the same sprite. It truly is an unfortunate coincidence, but I think it is foolish to consider it anything more.
 

Tiktaalik

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Roto13 said:
That "leaked" (re: ninja'd by a hacker) list isn't a complete list of words in the game.
So you can put in "asian" "african american" etc? As I said I don't have the game to check myself. Maybe someone can gather more information here.

If so there's no real double standard. But looking further there's also "Native", "Inupiat", "inuvialuit" and "Inuit."

edit: And Maori.
 
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A Black Falcon said:
.

So overall, how do we know that they are telling the truth when they say that it was a complete accident? I mean, yeah, whoever put it there probably did only mean the food ingredient or whatever... but how can you be absolutely sure? It just opens them up to a lot of questions that should never have had to have been raised.
Well we can't be sure what their intention was, so I guess we'll have to call the thought police to find out.
 

HUELEN10

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EazyB said:
Sorry if this has been explained but I've only read the OP: Is there any other use for the word that better explains why a watermelon pops up other than playing on a racist stereotype? Someone obviously went in there and programmed the game accept that word and respond this way so it's hard to call it a mistake. Disregarding Kotaku sensationalism and the internet's popular response of getting offending by someone calling out racism, it seems kinda fucked up the game does this at all.
Not every word has an individual sprites, a lot of sprites are reused! Here is a picture of the "sambo" in question, a figleaf gourd.

It makes sense that they would use the melon sprite for it! It looks a LOT like a watermelon!

What I want to know is if the whole religious thing that's being talked about actually true, that a priest is immortal but a monk or rabbi aren't. That I can see as a problem, because the argument that some religions are better than others could be made.
 

Zzoram

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A Black Falcon said:
So overall, how do we know that they are telling the truth when they say that it was a complete accident? I mean, yeah, whoever put it there probably did only mean the food ingredient or whatever... but how can you be absolutely sure?
How can we be absolutely sure that Obama isn't a Kenyan Muslim even though he denies it?

A Sambo gourd looks like a watermelon so they reused the sprite to save space on the cartridge. They didn't realize it had an outdated racial slur attached to it. No need for crazy conspiracy theories.
 

EternalGamer

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Tiktaalik said:
Yeah that's an unfortunate coincidence but man that's a reaaaaally big oversight.
This sums up my thoughts. Obviously it wasn't intentional, but intentionality isn't everything. You can mean well and still do something stupid that you should't have done. The "intentions" doesn't matter to the people that put in that word and get a big watermelon, intentionality doesn't change the immediate association that will occur. That "gourd" certainly isn't the most well known meaning of the word, I can guarantee that the racial stereotype is far better known.

It certainly isn't "reading into it" to see a connection between that word, a watermelon and a racist stereotype. There is a well documented history to that connection that is VERY well known. It may not be known by everybody, but it certainly isn't esoteric. Those of you that say you never heard that connection, well that's great. I imagine if you are younger, it is less likely that you did because (thankfully) there is less of that racist language/iconography today than there was was previously. But just because YOU never heard of it, don't be so narcissistic to think that it therefore doesn't really exist or isn't a prominent association.


It's a pretty big fuck up and especially given the fact that this game is made by ENGLISH speakers, they definitely should have caught this.
 

Suairyu

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Ca1amity said:
Obviously this isnt the first time (see: "clearly no one black worked on this game") and we all do it from time to time. But, I'm wondering how we can purport to enjoy an international hobby, have global developers and a (generally speaking) multicultural take on things and then get caught up in American hand-wringing worrying over offense, or even worse, people digging around to find something offensive.

Why arent more developers able to say "No, here in Japan no one considered your nations particular history with slavery when making our zombie game. We just made a zombie game. Play it, discuss it from every angle, but dont try to paint us for what comes out of it" or "Yes, the song does use quotes from the Quran - it does so with respect and in aide of creating a beautiful sound. We stand behind our developers choice."
Why do we as consumers allow this petty shit to continue? Is there even anything we can do about it?
Discussing these sorts of things is important. There was a genuine point -an important one- behind the RE5 discussion once everyone actually bothered to read what N'Gai had said and realised he never called it racist. That discussion just never took part on NeoGaf or the Kotaku comments section.

This Scribblenauts thing? Yeah, that's just one guy making an unfortunate connection in his mind (it happens, he couldn't help his brain and social knowledge) and then two blogs running with the thing without the slightest intent of balanced discussion. That's just shit. The issue worth talking about here is the problem of influential journalists who aren't held accountable by a system of peers due to their independence.

EDIT - and yeah, those two sites should probably be banned. Reading NeoGaf's FAQs, the site has a policy of only allowing sources with proven credibility or at least no marks against its record. I can't speak for Joystiq (but apparantly others can) but Kotaku has a mass history of 'reporting' news with major bias or without even the most rudimentary fact checking (the Ziff Davis/1up Street Fighter IV leak issue comes to mind). It is also a blog that dedicate post after post to Princess Peach's panty shots in Super Smash Bros. Brawl under the header of 'maximum risky'. Because, y'know, that's important.
 
HUELEN10 said:
Not every word has an individual sprites, a lot of sprites are reused! Here is a picture of the "sambo" in question, a figleaf gourd.

It makes sense that they would use the melon sprite for it! It looks a LOT like a watermelon!
Wow, that's some obscure shit, I'd never heard it used in reference to that or anything non-racial but I'm not going to pretend to know how commonly it's used everywhere. It's a really unfortunate coincidence and could easily be misconstrued as racist, I feel sorry for the Scribble devs but they should really have done there homework here.
 

Jackson

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A Black Falcon said:
So overall, how do we know that they are telling the truth when they say that it was a complete accident?
Off the top of my head in Scribblenauts :

Life Guard spawns a black girl
Ballerina also spawns a black girl
Fireman spawns a black man
Wine Maker also spawns a black man

Also... wait for it... A terrorist doesn't spawn Arabic person!!

Oh noes! Racial stereotypes abound! Wait... no, sounds to me it's more like random people of random races being in random jobs like in real life.
 

Crateman

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A Black Falcon said:
Being ignorant about the law does not mean you don't have to follow it... same applies here. And it is a very well known term.
If that the case, then I think a lot of us should publicly apologize for being born and raised outside the US and not knowing beforehand the possible racial connotations of a word we didn't even heard once before. It won't happen again.

Sambo -or fig leaf- looks like a watermelon. Same color, same overall shape. If I was in charge of putting the sprite of that in the game, it would look like a watermelon.
 

sonicmj1

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EternalGamer said:
This sums up my thoughts. Obviously it wasn't intentional, but intentionality isn't everything. It doesn't matter to the people that put int hat word and get a big watermelon dropped on the screen. It certainly isn't "reading into it" to see a connection between that word, a watermelon and a racist stereotype. There is a well documented history to that connection that is VERY well known. It may not be known by everybody, it certainly isn't esoteric.

It's a pretty big fuck up.
Come on.

In Scribblenauts, you summon whatever object you write. So if Sambo is a racial slur referring to a group of people, and writing Sambo does not even summon a person, how can this possibly be construed as a deliberate attack?

I can understand that people want to be politically correct, but this is a bit much.
 
EazyB said:
I feel sorry for the Scribble devs but they should really have done there homework here.
It was in the wordlist between "sambhar" and "samboussa", both of which I have absolutely no idea what they mean, but 5th Cell did enough research to know. They used the correct definition of the word. How much 'homework' do you think they should do? It's pretty obvious to anyone who's intellectually honest that this isn't a subtle racial overtone thing. If they wanted to use the racist meaning of the word they would have made a little black kid pop up.

Also please yes let's ban Kotaku ;P not entirely sure what their contribution to society is.
 

boiled goose

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never thought sambo was racially charged.

i just thought it meant native and black mix. (which it does?)

just like mulato means white and black mix
and mestizo means native and white mix.




but whatever. good thing the "watermelon" thing got cleared up....
ppl looking for things will find them, no matter how silly.
 

Ca1amity

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Suairyu said:
Discussing these sorts of things is important. There was a genuine point -an important one- behind the RE5 discussion once everyone actually bothered to read what N'Gai had said and realised he never called it racist. That discussion just never took part on NeoGaf or the Kotaku comments section.
I agree entirely that discussing them is important and that there was room to explore the topic of race/racism with RE5. My problem was just with the media laying blame at the feet of the developers and starting the conversation from that point. It tainted things badly.

Suairyu said:
The issue worth talking about here is the problem of influential journalists who aren't held accountable by a system of peers due to their independence.
Among other things, most definitely.

EternalGamer said:
This sums up my thoughts. Obviously it wasn't intentional, but intentionality isn't everything. It doesn't matter to the people that put int hat word and get a big watermelon dropped on the screen. It certainly isn't "reading into it" to see a connection between that word, a watermelon and a racist stereotype. There is a well documented history to that connection that is VERY well known. It may not be known by everybody, it certainly isn't esoteric.

It's a pretty big fuck up.
Unless you dont live in America, which was part of my point in the OP. It becomes esoteric if youre from, lets say Ecuador where "Sambo" would make you immediately think of the watermellon-fig-thing, not blackface caricatures.
 
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Sambo is a style of wrestling isn't it?

Typing the word in spawns the dictionary definition of the item. I'm pretty sure that Scribblenauts' dictionary was created using objects they wanted to be in for gameplay purposes, random items and thesaurus references for items already in the game.

Maybe their thesaurus has sambo as an alternate word for watermelon. It's too obscure to make it in any other way, right?

I wonder if it were made as an exclusively British game, they could have included the word "fag" and spawned a cigerette. Although I do believe that would be more of a slang term than a dictionary definition.

This better not cause them to delay Scribblenauts UK release.
 

Slavik81

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Jackson said:
Off the top of my head in Scribblenauts :

Life Guard spawns a black girl
Ballerina also spawns a black girl
Fireman spawns a black man
Wine Maker also spawns a black man

Also... wait for it... A terrorist doesn't spawn Arabic person!!

Oh noes! Racial stereotypes abound! Wait... no, sounds to me it's more like random people of random races being in random jobs like in real life.
They're just trying to hide their racism by being fair at all times. They acted like they didn't have a secret massive racist agenda by doing everything exactly as a non-racist person would. That way, nobody would suspect them when they did something really insidious, like including inoffensive homographs of obscure racial terms.
 

Tiktaalik

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Not A Fur said:
It was in the wordlist between "sambhar" and "samboussa", both of which I have absolutely no idea what they mean, but 5th Cell did enough research to know. They used the correct definition of the word. How much 'homework' do you think they should do? It's pretty obvious to anyone who's intellectually honest that this isn't a subtle racial overtone thing. If they wanted to use the racist meaning of the word they would have made a little black kid pop up.

Also please yes let's ban Kotaku ;P not entirely sure what their contribution to society is.
Type sambo in google. You don't get figs. Basically either 5th Cell didn't actually check the words at all beyond noting that they existed, or whoever was responsible for checking these words was very negligent.

It's an unfortunate coincidence, but it's their fault.
 

lorddarkflare

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fernoca said:
Can't wait for the other racism arguments like:
  • Main character = White
  • Write 'God' = White God

But hey, more exposure to the game....we all know how the that racist Capcom game on which you controlled a white-bulk man whose only mission was to kill black people in Africa, suffered because of that too.


Don't forget the grape juice!
Dude, do not start shit please.

Also, i heard the term my first and only time in Invisible man(not the wells one, the Ralph Ellison one).

Anyway, this is a dude that overeacted and made connections both because he wanted to, and because he thought something was there.

Lastly, shit like this would not be a big deal if y'all did not make it a big deal, i vote for a thread delete as arguments like this NEVER end well.

P.S. Kinda funny that it turned out to be something completely unrelated.
 

EternalGamer

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sonicmj1 said:
Come on.

In Scribblenauts, you summon whatever object you write. So if Sambo is a racial slur referring to a group of people, and writing Sambo does not even summon a person, how can this possibly be construed as a deliberate attack?

I can understand that people want to be politically correct, but this is a bit much.
It' is NOT a deliberate attack. But that doesn't excuse it. As I said, intentionality isn't everything. I know some of the posters here may be younger and therefore not know the connection between this word and a watermelon, but it absolutely exists. And not only does it exists I can guarantee you that ALOT more people know of "Sambo" as a racist term and know of the sterotypes of watermelons and blacks than know about this "gourd." It's not a minor secondardy meaning, it is the most well known meaning of the word.
 

JoeFu

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Doesn't matter that sambo is a gourd, haters gonna hate no matter what. Seriously its a freaking gourd that looks like a watermelon, so they used a watermelon. Kotaku needs to be banned again. This kinda crap slinging towards 5th cell does nothing but harm their reputation.

If anybody needs to do more homework, its Kotaku. THE FIRST GOOGLE SEARCH FOR SAMBO IS RUSSIAN MARTIAL ARTS OMFG RACIST

Before today, I had no idea what sambo was. Now I know its a gourd and was a blackface thing back in the day. The thing is it was a gourd before it was a blackface racial comic or whatever. and guess what, sambo is still a gourd. LIke other posters pointed out, if you don't live in america, sambo is a gourd, and not a racial term, and even IF YOU DO live in NA like I do, you probably found out today it was used as a racial term.
 

boiled goose

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EternalGamer said:
This sums up my thoughts. Obviously it wasn't intentional, but intentionality isn't everything. You can mean well and still do something stupid that you should't have done. The "intentions" doesn't matter to the people that put in that word and get a big watermelon, intentionality doesn't change the immediate association that will occur. That "gourd" certainly isn't the most well known meaning of the word, I can guarantee that the racial stereotype is far better known.

It certainly isn't "reading into it" to see a connection between that word, a watermelon and a racist stereotype. There is a well documented history to that connection that is VERY well known. It may not be known by everybody, but it certainly isn't esoteric. Those of you that say you never heard that connection, well that's great. I imagine if you are younger, it is less likely that you did because (thankfully) there is less of that racist language/iconography today than there was was previously. But just because YOU never heard of it, don't be so narcissistic to think that it therefore doesn't really exist or isn't a prominent association.


It's a pretty big fuck up and especially given the fact that this game is made by ENGLISH speakers, they definitely should have caught this.
how is it a big fuck up?
it is an unfortunate coincidence. who the hell would get offended by this?
im sorry but overly sensitive, complexed people deserve to get offended. there are real social issues out there that could get attention over this stupid shit.
 

Tiktaalik

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Also on the topic of foolhardy decisions, no one with a game available to check this fact has gotten back to me on that, at least according to the leaked list of words, you can create a whole bunch of indigenous nationalities but not any other races....
 

gutshot

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Slavik81 said:
They're just trying to hide their racism by being fair at all times. They acted like they didn't have a secret massive racist agenda by doing everything exactly as a non-racist person would. That way, nobody would suspect them when they did something really insidious, like including inoffensive homographs of obscure racial terms.
You keep using the words "they" and "them" when responding to a post made by Jackson. You do know he is the creator of this game, right?
 

Tiktaalik

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Not A Fur said:
Maybe, instead of typing shit into Google or Wikipedia, they used an actual dictionary. Y'know, like grownups.
lol come on dude

Dictionary.com
Sambo: stereotypical name for male black person (now only derogatory)...
 

EternalGamer

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Ca1amity said:
Unless you dont live in America, which was part of my point in the OP. It becomes esoteric if youre from, lets say Ecuador where "Sambo" would make you immediately think of the watermellon-fig-thing, not blackface caricatures.
And if 5th Cell was located in a country where that fruit was produced and well known, yo would have a decent argument. but they aren't. They are located in Washington and in the States, that racial stereotype is far, far more well known and prominent meaning than the fig like fruit.
 

JoeFu

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Merriam Webster said:
sambo
One entry found.

* Main Entry: sam·bo
* Pronunciation: \ˈsam-(ˌ)bō, ˈsäm-\
* Function: noun
* Etymology: Russian, from samozashchita bez oruzhiya self-defense without weapons
* Date: 1972

: an international style of wrestling employing judo techniques
racist
 

VOOK

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Epic lols at the people who don't know who Jackson is and replying to him like he's lying.

Not funny is him having to defend his game on here because of idiots.
 

boiled goose

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EternalGamer said:
It' is NOT a deliberate attack. But that doesn't excuse it. As I said, intentionality isn't everything. I know some of the posters here may be younger and therefore not know the connection between this word and a watermelon, but it absolutely exists. And not only does it exists I can guarantee you that ALOT more people know of "Sambo" as a racist term and know of the sterotypes of watermelons and blacks than know about this "gourd." It's not a minor secondardy meaning, it is the most well known meaning of the word.
i would say that they fact that they overlooked it proves that they are not racist.
It didnt even cross their minds. when race is a non issue, thats when racism ends, not when you are being overly cautious and patronizing by being extremely careful not to offend certain groups.
 

RSLAEV

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Did I stumble in to a thread of people with the audacity to claim that the term 'Sambo' doesn't have any racist connotations at all?


a Gourd? a type of wrestling?? Give me a fucking break people!
 

Slavik81

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gutshot said:
You keep using the words "they" and "them" when responding to a post made by Jackson. You do know he is the creator of this game, right?
I do. However, unless I'm mistaken, he's not responsible for creating the items in the game.
But really, it doesn't matter.
 

laserbeam

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VOOK said:
Epic lols at the people who don't know who Jackson is and replying to him like he's lying.

Not funny is him having to defend his game on here because of idiots.
Agreed I feel really bad for Jackson and 5th Cell. Kotaku is taking a page from Jimmy Carters playbook apparently.

RSLAEV said:
Did I stumble in to a thread of people with the audacity to claim that the term 'Sambo' doesn't have any racist connotations at all?


a Gourd? a type of wrestling?? Give me a fucking break people!

Funny enough the first find Google.com,Bing.com etc bring up is the Russian Martial Art. Words can have multiple meanings you know and considering the word in the game brings out one of its meanings that is totally harmless people need to back the fuck off the racist stuff.
 

cuyahoga

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Ca1amity said:
First and most obviously, that connection has entered "the world of Nintendo's DS" thanks to Ashcraft and Totilo themselves. Their somber musings over the plight of the black man in America vis a vi videogaming is, for me anyway, disgusting in its self serving nature. Am I the only one that finds this more "offensive" than the actual issue theyre supposedly covering?

Secondly, and more to the discussion end of things, the majority of this piece is spent explaining a uniquely American appropriation of a word (one that has passed out of common verbiage) and why, because it offended in America, it is offensive.
As a non-American, I have a real difficulty with pieces that purport to 'expose' or 'educate' on these matters universally when they are doing so from an American focused perspective.

Obviously this isnt the first time (see: "clearly no one black worked on this game") and we all do it from time to time. But, I'm wondering how we can purport to enjoy an international hobby, have global developers and a (generally speaking) multicultural take on things and then get caught up in American hand-wringing worrying over offense, or even worse, people digging around to find something offensive.
Sometimes I feel dumber for reading a post. This is an American commentary on an American-developed game about a term I've encountered in multiple college classes, and it is pretty salient that the piece is not targeted towards non-Americans.


Jackson said:
I wasn't very happy when I told them that our last game we made "Lock's Quest" had a black guy as Lock's best friend who was the lead support character in the story.
I don't mean to offend you in anyway, but IMO that is enough of a trope that it wouldn't quell a controversy. Why not make the protagonist a black guy?

Anyways, is this anything other than an unfortunate coincidence? No, but the publisher and developer should coordinate a PR response and decide what to about this in future copies of the game to nip a potential controversy in the bud. And maybe make the protagonist of the next game a black character.
 

EternalGamer

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amtentori said:
how is it a big fuck up?
it is an unfortunate coincidence. who the hell would get offended by this?
im sorry but overly sensitive, complexed people deserve to get offended. there are real social issues out there that could get attention over this stupid shit.
So you really don't think racism and racist sterotypes are a problem anymore? Have you been watching any of the recent protest rallies? Have you seen some of those signs? I wish I did live in your America where all that stuff was in the distant past.

I live in Mississippi and when I went looking for an appartment when I moved here for graduate school one of first places I looked at the landlord tried to sell me on the place by telling me no "colored" live there. These sterotypes definitely aren't as prominent as they once were, but they certainly still exist and are still promoted.
 

benjipwns

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Jackson said:
I wasn't very happy when I told them that our last game we made "Lock's Quest" had a black guy as Lock's best friend who was the lead support character in the story.
But, Lock has plenty of black friends!

Bad joke, but had to, sorry.

Edit: Grrr beaten.
You do know he is the creator of this game, right?
Do you know that was blatantly sarcasm, right?
 

Htown

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The thing that actually offends me isn't Scribblenauts, it's the fact that nobody here seems to know that Sambo is a racist term.
 
RSLAEV said:
Did I stumble in to a thread of people with the audacity to claim that the term 'Sambo' doesn't have any racist connotations at all?


a Gourd? a type of wrestling?? Give me a fucking break people!
Well considering that multiple words end up using the same image, I find it hard to believe that it was ever being racist in the first place. Considering that Sambo brings up a Watermelon, and Sambo is a type of Gourd that looks like a Watermelon...it didn't bring up a black person as a item now did it?

People need to shut the hell up and stop looking for stuff that isn't there, seriously, it's idiotic.
 
Tiktaalik said:
lol come on dude

Dictionary.com
Sambo: stereotypical name for male black person (now only derogatory)...
And the only entry on merriam-webster.com refers to the russian martial art.

You don't think it's even =possible= that they source they used just referred to the gourd and not the racist interpretation? I'm not disputing that it's been used that way, I'm saying I believe that they could have easily checked their wordlist and this could have slipped through depending on what source or sources they were using. Since they're using a factually correct definition of it I don't see how any honest person could assume they were using it in a racist way.
 

Slavik81

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cuyahoga said:
Anyways, is this anything other than an unfortunate coincidence? No, but the publisher and developer should coordinate a PR response and decide what to about this in future copies of the game to nip a potential controversy in the bud. And maybe make the protagonist of the next game a black character.
Nothing. Changing anything would be telling accusers that their wild accusations are valid.
 

gutshot

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Slavik81 said:
I do. However, unless I'm mistaken, he's not responsible for creating the items in the game.
Ok, just checking. And yes, you are probably right about him not personally creating each in-game item. Would be quite a chore!

benjipwns said:
Do you know that was blatantly sarcasm, right?
Yeah, I picked up on the sarcasm.
 

laserbeam

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Htown said:
The thing that actually offends me isn't Scribblenauts, it's the fact that nobody here seems to know that Sambo is a racist term.
Why would that offend you? if anything the world would be a better place if they forgot stupid shit like that and the harmless meanings were all that people knew
 

sonicmj1

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EternalGamer said:
It' is NOT a deliberate attack. But that doesn't excuse it. As I said, intentionality isn't everything. I know some of the posters here may be younger and therefore not know the connection between this word and a watermelon, but it absolutely exists. And not only does it exists I can guarantee you that ALOT more people know of "Sambo" as a racist term and know of the sterotypes of watermelons and blacks than know about this "gourd." It's not a minor secondardy meaning, it is the most well known meaning of the word.
It's still completely meaningless, even in the vaguest context of the game.

Don't think I'm a stranger to this stuff. I even made a thread for discussing race in RE5. I know what it means to propagate a stereotype. This does nothing of the sort. While I know how "sambo" works as a racist term, and I know of the stereotypical relationship involving watermelons, it doesn't make sense in the game.

If you type "American", you get a person, not a cheeseburger. If you type "Policeman", you get a person, not a donut. Creating objects isn't some connect-the-dots process of hoping for a relationship between the word you type and the object you produce.

Let's say someone who knows the more damaging definition, and not the game-intended definition, somehow stumbles upon this word after playing the game for a while. He has created jetpacks, dinosaurs, and trains, but he misclicks while typing "sombrero", and this word is suggested. He tries it out (confused, and possibly offended) and sees a watermelon sprite. What damaging message are the Scribblenauts developers hiding in this act? What negative stereotype is being reinforced?

It would seem to me like a non-sequitor, in a way.
 

Korey

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Not A Fur said:
Maybe, instead of typing shit into Google or Wikipedia, they used an actual dictionary. Y'know, like grownups.
That's the weird part. I was somewhat peeved by the sensationalism from the blogosphere, so I checked the online dictionaries.

Dictionary.com defines "sambo" with the racist definition.

Webster.com defines it as "an international style of wrestling employing judo techniques".

A wikipedia search doesn't yield the gourd definition as a search result.

So, the gourd definition is apparently pretty obscure.
 

cuyahoga

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Slavik81 said:
Nothing. Changing anything would be telling accusers that their wild accusations are valid.
No, it would not if WB (which is very capable of doing such a thing) conducted a successful PR response.
 

Jak140

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Tiktaalik said:
If you actually want to have a discussion about race in Scribblenauts someone should ask why apparently[1] the words "Native American", "American Eskimo", and "Eskimo" are in the game but "Jew", "Asian" or "African American" aren't. It's a shame, but I suppose it shouldn't be surprising considering the near invisible status of American Indians in American society, and their continued status as sports team caricatures.


[1] going from the leaked list, since I don't have the game myself.
I have the game and can confirm the above. "American Eskimo" is a dog though. "Native American" spawns a man in headdress and "Eskimo" a guy in a fur coat. Your right that it's probably a case of inadvertent ignorance rather than something done with deliberate malice. They most likely were in a precarious position whichever way they went, but they definitely should have taken an all or none approach to including ethnicities.
 
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jamesinclair said:
So "monkey" shouldnt be in the game, because it could be used in a racist way?
If writing "monkey" made a black person appear or something like that, then it would. The point isn't the word, it's what what it makes appear looks like.

HUELEN10 said:
It's a type of gourd, which looks a lot like a watermelon. It makes sense that it uses the same sprite. It truly is an unfortunate coincidence, but I think it is foolish to consider it anything more.
I know a lot of people here are now trying to deny that the word means what it does, but come on. It's the most common definition, that or the book that it's taken from. Search for it in any dictionary and the first definition is the racist one. The second definition is another racist one. Dictionary.com for instance doesn't even mention this Portugese gourd they referenced, just the many racist definitions and that aforementioned Russian wrestling style. This gourd is definitely very obscure, while the racist definition is very well known. Yet they'd never heard of it? I'm supposed to believe that? And this isn't foreign developers, they are American It just stretches credibility to say the least. Again I agree that yeah, it probably wasn't added meaning the racist definition. But how the heck did it get through?

I just find it hard to imagine that people whose job it is is to determine which words should go in and what they should create would not have heard of the most common definition of the word... if they really didn't know, it's pretty sloppy work there. If they did and just left it in hoping for it to sneak through or something because it'd been put in to mean that leaf with the same name, then it's even worse. Unless there really wasn't much checking done on inserted words, I find the excuse hard to believe... not for why the word was first put in, that most likely was as the ingredient for some obscure dish, but for how it stayed in despite the obvious connotations of the most common definition of the word.


On a semi-related note, interestingly enough Sambo from the book isn't actually African, he's south Indian (note the tiger in the story? There are no tigers in Africa. :))... not that that difference mattered for people deciding to use it as a racist term for Africans back in the 1800s.

Zzoram said:
How can we be absolutely sure that Obama isn't a Kenyan Muslim even though he denies it?
That wasn't my point there, I was trying to say that in order to avoid the questions, the image should never have been in the game because of how the primary definition is a clear racist symbol. That there's an obscure plant that fits the definition doesn't matter much compared to what most people who see that image are going to think.

I'm not saying everything should be censored... but the racist imagery in the term with that image is just too strong, no matter how accidental its inclusion. You can't be responsible for every way someone could interpret your work, sure, but something basic like this they should have been able to avoid. Even if it were just a plant most people had actually heard of it'd probably be okay, really, people would get the reference. But it isn't, it's one that almost no one has heard of. I don't support censorship most of the time, but common-sense avoidance of racist terms is reasonable. Overall this is a huge oversight, and one that is just extremely, extremely hard to believe they could have missed.

A Sambo gourd looks like a watermelon so they reused the sprite to save space on the cartridge. They didn't realize it had an outdated racial slur attached to it. No need for crazy conspiracy theories.
It's not outdated. Everybody's just trying to defend them, I think, because GAF loves this game, or the concept of the game at least... but that shouldn't be enough for you to defend them for something like this. It's just about whoever decided this word in the dictionary and whatever checking methods they had, not about everything about the game as a whole...

Crateman said:
If that the case, then I think a lot of us should publicly apologize for being born and raised outside the US and not knowing beforehand the possible racial connotations of a word we didn't even heard once before. It won't happen again.

Sambo -or fig leaf- looks like a watermelon. Same color, same overall shape. If I was in charge of putting the sprite of that in the game, it would look like a watermelon.
If it was a foreign developer, and not an American one, I'd consider that a fine defense actually... but that isn't the case here.
 

lorddarkflare

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cuyahoga said:
Sometimes I feel dumber for reading a post. This is an American commentary on an American-developed game about a term I've encountered in multiple college classes, and it is pretty salient that the piece is not targeted towards non-Americans.


I don't mean to offend you in anyway, but IMO that is enough of a trope that it wouldn't quell a controversy. Why not make the protagonist a black guy?

Anyways, is this anything other than an unfortunate coincidence? No, but the publisher and developer should coordinate a PR response and decide what to about this in future copies of the game to nip a potential controversy in the bud. And maybe make the protagonist of the next game a black character.
Concessions need not be made.

They do not need to make anyone white or black. These things(not that i am saying anything is up) are usually symptoms of a bigger societal issue and often change when those are resolved. Forced 'minorities' is also a trope.

This was unfortunate, this was not some sort of attack. In the future NOTHING needs be changed.
 
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