Not too long ago, I wrote about how the newly released and incredibly popular Indie Game, “Dinkum”, is problematic in its nature. In that post, I talked about how the developer has yet to address the allegations and the controversy around the game – and well,… it’s been a while. We’re sitting at the end of August here. A lot of the tweets started around July. There is still nothing about it to be found online… or rather: There kind of is but nothing that you can find too well on the internet if that makes sense.
Dinkum lets the player build farms and other buildings, fish, and dig up relics in a post-apocalyptic version of Australia with no First Australians. Digging up relics on sacred land is problematic enough… the question of erasure remains unaddressed… and well,… there is that whole thing about this Trader “having been acquired by his parents for a set of antique cutlery” which is a tasteless joke, really.
- The “Joke” was removed.
- A Statement… in the Credits???
- Is this the statement we wanted?
- “Off with the heads?”
The “Joke” was removed.
As previously mentioned, there is this insensitive joke in the game. It was removed and changed to something harmless that has nothing to do with Indigenous people or anyone really. It actually makes said trader out to be a legend of sorts.
Anyhow, despite being changed/removed from the game, said act is not acknowledged anywhere in the patch notes for Dinkum which is upsetting. Dinkum’s developer knows that he messed up there and instead of apologizing for it or at least acknowledging it in the patch notes, he tries to sweep it under the rug.
“Hey, I put this joke in there and after many of you reached out, I noticed how insensitive that was of me. Hence, I want to apologise for that joke. It’s no longer in the game either!” It would probably have been more than enough to make this less sketchy. Hardly anyone reads the patch notes but at least it would be sincere to have it in there, right?
A Statement… in the Credits???
Before making this post, I wanted to reach out to the developer and get an answer regarding the lack of a statement in regards to these allegations. But… I didn’t get a reply to my e-mail which is something that other people have already told me. Apparently, nobody reads them.
Anyway, I posted something on the “General Discussions” forum of Dinkum: “Will there be a statement regarding the controversies?”
A little bit later I got the following two replies: A link to this post as well as a blank statement from a moderator of the forums.
According to the moderator, “the island was inspired by the wild Australian outback. Asking this type of question on these forums will only stir up drama. Locking the thread.”
Later they added: “The in-game credits contain this acknowledgement by James Bendon: ‘I acknowledge the Wiradjuri, Bindal and Wulgurukaba peoples as Traditional Owners of the land on which this game was created. I pay respect to Elders past, present and future and value the traditions, cultures and aspirations of the First Australians of this island.”
“Stirring up Drama”
Just as a disclaimer: “Stirring up drama” was not the intention of that post. I thought that my phrasing here was without bad faith or anything of the like. I simply stated what I mean by “controversies” and then asked if and when a statement will follow.
However, I can understand the moderator’s decision to lock the thread. After looking at the aforementioned link there to another forum post, I was able to tell that there are a lot of immature people in this game’s community.
Replies start off civil and respectful but a few pages later there are more and more rude and hostile among the other 90+ comments in the thread.
Apparently, a lot of people will take “references to colonialism” that are in the game and just ignore them completely before they attack others for just wanting representation and/or a statement.
Anyway, I digress here. That thread is quite hostile eventually and some people there shouldn’t be on Steam Forums. They should join Twitter!
Is this the statement we wanted?
My issue with this is that people are complaining about it publicly. They’re hurt. They’re offended. They want answers.
Dinkum’s developer is not releasing a statement at all, publicly.
By “publicly”, I mean in a spot that is easy to find.
After all, a statement in the credits of the game can’t be accessed unless someone posts the credit sequence onto YouTube… or unless someone buys the game that they don’t want to support in order for them to see the credits and the acknowledgement by James Bendon.
And again, it’s just the credits.
Personally, I do watch the credits whenever they roll but that’s just because I want to respect the people that worked on the game by not skipping it the first time I see them.
The issue here, however, is that I’m not most people… and most people will always skip the credits. Hence, that acknowledgement is – in my opinion – in the wrong spot.
Make an extra section on the Website. Publish an article onto the DevBlog. Release an Announcement on Twitter/Steam.
There are plenty of ways to do it and I feel like pasting this into the credits is just not the best way to acknowledge people… especially after you make a reference to the Brits having attempted to trade First Australians’ children for junk. What the fuck?
“Off with the heads?”
I don’t want to lead a mob of sorts. Rather, I think it’s important to hold people accountable, and in the Indie Space, hardly anyone does that because people hardly mess up quite as much… and developers don’t always make the most money either.
Dinkum is different though. It’s a game that made 350k sales within a month, is stupidly popular and it’s getting a lot of positive attention at the moment.
This isn’t your average Indie title.
And Bendon knows that. He’s passionate about it and he knows that he won’t make as many sales if he releases a statement that is accessible to anyone on the internet and not just people that browse the forums or ask a question there first or people that bought the game. While people have been hurt, he’s doing interviews about the business side of things.
I don’t want blood. I just want to see a public statement that he put that “joke” in there even though he “respects” Indigenous Australians, fully aware of what he’s referring to. I want him to clarify why he didn’t mention the “joke” that got removed and I want him to talk about why he put it in there in the first place.
Edit: I wasn’t aware of the negative connotations that the term “Natives” can have for Indigenous people, which is why I replaced it with other terms. Thanks for pointing it out!