The WINDS of CHANGE
Proof that you can make change occasionally.
This blog entry was a long time coming. But I felt before I added any other entries to the site, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this.
On January 20, 2022, the much-anticipated sequel to an arcade classic made its way into game consoles in the form of WINDJAMMERS 2 (now developed by DOTEMU).
The original game developed by (DATA EAST) was created for SNK's NEO GEO in 1994 and the arcades which took the classic concept of PONG and created an entire world out of it.
WINDJAMMERS takes that concept and adds a fighting game aspect to it complete with athletic competitors aiming to be the best. Like any fighting or sports game, you have characters complete with their own back story on why they want to be the best in the sport.
Added to that, each character has their own special technique that will help give them the edge against an opponent. The techniques used can be reminiscent of moves seen in Street Fighter, KOF, and other fighters.
Adding these bells and whistles to the PONG template gives the concept many more layers to a paleolithic form of gameplay.
While DATA EAST reinvented the wheel, Paris game developers DOTEMU decided to reinforce that same concept by giving it a fresh new coat of paint.
Enter WINDJAMMERS 2 which brought back the high-octane athletes but also added some new flares to it.
The game at best is a lot of fun and for anyone that needs a quick and easy game to play (especially on the go with your Nintendo Switch) this is the perfect game for that.
However, upon playing the game I've noticed something interesting (in a bad way). One of the OG characters of the game known as G. Scott was depicted in a way most would find offensive.
G. Scott is an African American character in the game and is considered a favorite to some who played the original.
WINDJAMMERS 2 provides a map that shows your character in Chibi form complete with potato nose which is common for that art style. The character is a map marker that shows you where your character will compete next.
However, when choosing G. Scott's character, you saw him with not only the potato nose but also big lips.
This type of depiction is widely considered racist and offensive. For generations in the US we have seen poorly developed forms of art with stereotypical depictions which were made to be demeaning and insulting to an entire race.
As we've become more educated, conscious, and aware of these actions many have made strides to change the way we are looked at while adding some much needed and deserved value to the art forms.
As an African American I found this to be slight triggering and upsetting that we are still seeing this in 2021 (TAKE NOTE: At the time of writing this blog President Joe Biden just signed the Emmet Till Antilynching Act which now says lynching and killing Black people is now a hate crime by law asking yourself why it took this long?).
So, I decided that I somehow need to address this to DOTEMU. The only way to do it is to put it to their attention on social media.
On January 21, 2022 (just a day after the release of the game) I posted and tagged DOTEMU on this issue and much to my surprise in less than 13 minutes after the post DOTEMU responded expeditiously with an apology and a promise to fix the issue ASAP with a quick tough up for G. Scott's map marker.
I was very appreciative of their actions as I recognize that not all game development companies are this diligent when it comes to hearing their target audience's concerns and request.
They said it would take about a week to do as they must get approval of the many gaming platforms the game is on.
If you don't know, when a developer makes a game that is geared to play on multiple platforms, they must abide by the game store's qualifications for their game to be shown and sold on their platform.
Sometimes it is a simple and easy approval and other times it is not which will delay any releases of games or patches.
Fortunately, it all went as planned and as a result the change was made. The simple change to G. Scott looked much better and much more appropriate.
The best part about the situation is how it was handled.
If you notice, no erratic or irrational back and forth occurred doing the discussion of changing the design of the character.
It was handled with the utmost respect from both sides, and we were able to resolve the issue.
For that I thank the wonderful team of DOTEMU. I have been a fan of the company for quite some time with great games like this one as well as STREETS of RAGE 4 and more. They also have some awesome games lined up for the coming year including TMNT Shredder's Revenges and a METAL SLUG tactical RPG which looks fantastic.
We can take two points of value from this.
We can handle issues on social media without trying to make everything a war.
Change can be made if you really do all that you can to make it happen.
True strength comes from not making mistakes, it is owning up to them and knowing how to correct them when they are made.
I can now enjoy one of my favorite games of 2022 with pride knowing the significance of it and how I was able to make it happen.
Cheers to you DOTEMU. You are appreciated.