Guerrilla Games responds to accusations of cultural appropriation in Horizon: Zero Dawn

By Kin Boon on Mar 6, 2017

Horizon: Zero Dawn sets up to be one of the best games in 2017, even though it’s only March. Guerilla Games’ take on the open world action-RPG genre is considered brilliant from many reviewers, as they cited the developers’ efforts in creating something unique from a tried-and-tested formula, with a great representation of genders, sexuality, and race. With that said, not everyone is impressed with the game.

According to a blog post by Native American writer, Dia Lacina, Guerilla Games was criticised for cultural appropriation. Even though the article is generally aimed at video games journalists rather than the developer itself, it condemns the seemingly inappropriate use of terms like ‘braves’ and ‘savages’, both of which have negative connotations in indigenous cultures. This accusation prompted a reply from Guerilla Games.

"The vocabulary was certainly discussed during the creative process, in terms of wanting to make sure we were sensitive to the cultural concerns of our audience,” said narrative director, John Gonzales. “We weren't looking for inspiration from one particular group, and we cast the net widely to look at cultures, tribal cultures, around the world, and also throughout history."

From Guerrilla’s point of view, Horizon: Zero Dawn is not just drawing on Native American culture, but also Viking and Celtic lore. This points to a combination of different tribal aspirations in the game, so what can we make from the term ‘brave’, a word that can be considered a slur in some cultures?

"We were trying to find a term that would combine the capabilities of a warrior and the capabilities of a hunter," explained Gonzales. "It was a term that [we felt] was not derogatory, as we came across some terms that were definitely slurs against Native Americans and other groups throughout history. And so, our decision was based on 'brave' not being a 'hot button' term."

Source: Push Square

Kin Boon
About the Author
Just your 'average' media newbie. Have interest in gaming (duh), superhero series, and I enjoy getting engage in conversations about footy. With that said, slight biasedness might be present if we are talking about Chelsea FC. Hope to see the world with my own pair of eyes in the future instead of viewing it through Instagram or Snapchat filters.
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