Indie Dev Removing Racially Charged Gag From Game After Complaints

Most people seem to really like the indie PC sensation The Stanley Parable, but not everyone enjoys one of the jokes in the game. Specifically, a jokey 50s-style PSA video that shows a black child being given cigarettes and set on fire by a white guy.

In response to a couple player complaints, The Stanley Parable creator Davey Wreden says he's going to remove the offending images in an upcoming patch. You can watch the scene in question at 2:49 in this Let's Play video, though mind that it does show one of the game's many (many) endings.

"Choice," the PSA video's narrator says in the game, "it's the best part of being a real person… For example, in this scenario, a hypothetical real person named Steven has a choice. He could spend years helping improve the quality of life for citizens of impoverished third-world nations... [Cue image of him lighting a cigarette for a young black kid] ...or he could systematically set fire to every orphan living within a thirty kilometer radius of his house. [Second image of him setting the kid on fire]"

"A white man giving black children cigarettes or setting them on fire in Stanley Parable = not cool or funny," said writer Oliver Campbell yesterday on Twitter, before reaching out to a couple of Kotaku's editors to point out the offending images. Today, Campbell said that Wreden had agreed to patch the game and remove the images.

I asked Wreden why he'd decided to change the game. "I received two separate complaints today from people who found that the images made them significantly uncomfortable," Wreden told me in an email, "and in one case a teacher expressed concern about the effect of that kind of image on her kids.

"It's actually really tough to respond to complaints about someone being offended," he said, "but I think I would be able to change the actual images without having to go to too much trouble." Wreden says he'll be able to change the images sometime in the next couple of weeks, but that the dialogue in the scene would be much more difficult to alter.

"I'm not exactly married to the visual gag there," Wreden said, "it doesn't make or break anything about that particular section, and we always wanted the game to be something that could be played by anyone of any age. If a person would feel less comfortable showing the game to their children then I've got no problem helping fix that!"

A happy enough ending, then. It's common to hear cries of "censorship!" at this kind of thing, but as anyone who's told a joke knows, punchlines don't always play out how you'd intended. It's understandable that Wreden would choose to simply tweak his game rather than leave in a joke that makes some players uncomfortable in a way he hadn't planned.