Valve got itself into and out of an inadvertent kerfuffle when a poor choice of words on a card in its upcoming Artifact game arched eyebrows on social media.
Artifact, which is a Dota 2 digital card-collecting game, is releasing in November. The game’s official Twitter channel has been touting its features and explaining gameplay in the runup to the launch date. Wednesday’s example was meant to highlight card interactions.
This card was used:
So, the words “black hero” underneath a whip-wielding taskmaster, with the words “crack the whip,” didn’t go over so well, for the obvious connotations.
Suggestion: You should REALLY change the name of this card. Having a card called "Crack the Whip" that says it modifies black heroes is not a good look, especially out of context. May I suggest something like "Intense Training"?— Matt Frazier (@MattFrasche) September 28, 2018
It’s important to note that this is not a great choice of words, not because anyone’s accusing Valve or its designers of racial insensitivity, but left as is, for sure this card would be referred to in an insensitive way. To wit:
@HavocVulture @MrMooEar the card mechanically is fine but yes, the pairing of "black" with "whip" can be easily misinterpreted/misrepresented and judging the Twitch chat/gamer culture, will definitely be used inappropriately— FOOL LULU (@_KOL2) September 28, 2018
And the Artifact team heard loud and clear and said yesterday that a name change was coming:
Crack the Whip has been renamed to Coordinated Assault.— Artifact (@PlayArtifact) September 28, 2018