Image: Triternion (Steam)

After a controversial interview with PC Gamer discussing Mordhau players’ use of slurs and the potential implementation of a race or gender toggle, the game’s developers issued a statement this morning to clarify their stances. They now say they had no plans to add an ethnicity toggle to Mordhau, adding in a statement that they are “stretched thin” and do not have the staff “to moderate everything to our intended level of standards.”

Made by a small indie team called Triternion, the medieval hack-and-slash PC game has become enormously popular since its late April release. Alongside its growing playerbase, according to a PC Gamer report, has come a growing issue with bad player behavior, including racism, sexism, and homophobia. While hundreds have been banned on forums and Discord, one of Mordhau’s developers seemed wishy-washy about what constitutes harassment or hate speech in their interview with PC Gamer. They recently added a mute function to the game, although in response to the journalist’s questions, they said they are reticent to add a word filter to catch and remove slurs or other unwanted language. The developer, artist Mike Desrosiers, said that if Triternion took an official stance and published a list of filtered words, “People will, first, find a way around it, and it might catch innocent words, or people might claim we’re censoring. So we’d rather put the power in the player’s hands.”

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Here’s the full statement, which also addresses a back-and-forth between PC Gamer and the artists it interviewed over a toggle for characters’ gender and race. As of right now, Mordhau only offers the option for players to be white men, but the developers say they are “looking into” expanding gender and race options in the future. In the interview, the artists suggested they had plans to allow players to filter out non-white or female characters if they chose, but the studio is now chalking that up as a misunderstanding.

In light of recent publicity on the state of MORDHAU’s community, we would like to discuss our stance on toxicity and the topic of gender and race in our game.

First and foremost, Triternion does not, nor have we ever, had plans to add a customization option that would force a white male default. This is an absurd idea that stems from a misunderstanding in a recent interview by PC Gamer with two of our artists. These artists, both uninvolved with character development went into a verbal interview with minimal PR experience and ended up answering some of the questions in a misleading way, which combined with a lack of context, led to some very controversial statements. Again, we at Triternion do not, nor have we ever had any plans to implement any kind of ethnicity toggle on potential future character ethnicity customization additions.

The responses given were referring to the gender part of the questions, which were based off an old controversial “gender toggle” idea, with the intention being to give the player options to play the game with only female characters, only male characters, or both. This concept was brought forth by one of our developers and posted prior to the game’s release as a response to a large number of heated debates regarding the topic of realism. The idea to give players this ability was simply a theoretical solution to a difficult problem and was never intended to be the official stance of Triternion on this topic. This is a lesson for us that we must be excessively prudent with the wording we use in the future as it can be easy to misconstrue an individual’s opinions and ideas as officially sanctioned.

Shortly after launch and in internal discussions, the concept of a gender option toggle was dismissed as it would undermine the customization players work hard to create. The two artists featured in the interview were ill-informed of this decision, which was a major mistake and miscommunication on the side of Triternion; and in combination with a question on a sensitive issue of which they were underprepared to answer, strongly contributed to this misunderstanding. Our official stance is that these toggle options are out of the question.

In regards to community toxicity, we do not have prior experience managing communities of this size, nor the manpower or resources that established studious can leverage. Our team consists of 11 first-time developers working remotely and volunteer moderators who try their best to curb this toxicity and behavior across all platforms, including in-game. At the moment we are stretched thin with major important content additions and unfortunately we do not have the staff nor systems in-place to moderate everything to our intended level of standards. We plan on improving in this regard. We hope our players understand our situation and will continue to place their faith in us, as improving these things will take time.

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On the game’s subreddit, players are debating the merits of Trinernion’s statement. Several are defending the developers, citing how small they are or their aversion to “mass censorship.” Others are citing how strange it is for players to be complaining that women might be added to a game where frying pans do more damage than pitchforks.