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Little Devil Inside developer apologizes for ‘racist stereotype’ in a character design

The company outlined steps to change the design

Enemies running through a dark forest Image: Neostream Interactive

An indie development team apologized this weekend after a trailer shown for its upcoming PlayStation 5 game, Little Devil Inside, included a character model with features associated with harmful, racist stereotypes for black people.

A trailer for Little Devil Inside appeared on Sony’s PlayStation 5 reveal event last Thursday, showcasing the quirky indie game from South Korean developer Neostream Interactive. The stream, called The Future of Gaming, showcased a number of next-generation games that’ll be released on PS5 — Little Devil Inside is among them, and was immediately popular on social media for its aesthetic.

However, shortly after the trailer debuted, some viewers noticed racist character design for some enemies shown briefly. People on social media began pointing this out, including Twitch streamer LordBalvin, that the character design appeared to be based on racist depictions of black people in media. Neostream apologized over the weekend and vowed to change the design.

“I was so excited for Little Devil Inside,” LordBalvin wrote on Twitter. “But then I noticed these enemy types.”

He continued: “So — this game is developed by an indie team in Seoul called Neostream, it’s not a Sony game. It’s not up to me to decide the intentions here, it could just be a tone deaf character design. But this shows you need some insight from indigenous and/or black people in the room.”

Neostream business development director John Choi told Polygon in a statement that the “racist stereotype ... was absolutely not intended.” Choi apologized, and said the developer will adjust the design.

Choi said the characters were designed to be “protectors/guardians of a particular mystic region in the world of Little Devil Inside.” The developer didn’t reference real “African and/or Afro-American human tribes,” and instead focused on “creating colorful masks.”

Choi said Neostream will “remove the dreadlocks,” “change the bold lips,” “change skin tone,” and “tweak the dark blower so it looks less like a joint.” He added that the team will also consider changing the design of the characters entirely — and noted that this scenario will not happen again.

Sony has not responded to Polygon’s request for comment. Little Devil Inside does not yet have a release date.