Deadly Premonition 2 director Swery apologizes for offensive trans content in game

Image: Toybox/Rising Star Games

Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise director Hidetaka Suehiro — known casually as Swery — apologized Monday on Twitter for the handling of a transgender character in the game. The director penned a statement via Google Translate, citing his “poor english skills.”

“I realized by pointed out from friends, I might have hurt transgender people in my scenario,” Suehiro wrote. “It wasn’t intentional. I am really sorry for that.”

Suehiro added that the scenes in question will be “sanity checked by a team that included diversity,” and said that he will rewrite an unspecified scene as soon as possible.

Deadly Premonition 2 is the follow-up to 2010’s cult hit Deadly Premonition. The survival horror sequel was released July 10 on Nintendo Switch, and takes place both before and after the events of the first game, in both 2019 and 2005.

The character in question — Lena Dauman — is present in the 2005 section of the game, which follows FBI agent Francis York Morgan. Lena is repeatedly misgendered and deadnamed (referred to by the name she used before transitioning, a practice often used to delegitimize transgender people). While York at one point gives a passionate speech to his assistant, Patricia Woods, about accepting marginalized people, he deadnames Lena to her face in the very next cutscene. York continues to misgender her throughout the game.

Lena’s storyline is riddled with transphobic tropes that go beyond deadnaming and misgendering, most notably a revelation that paints her as a sexual degenerate. Suehiro did not clarify which scenes would be rewritten or how many would be. Polygon has reached out to Deadly Premonition 2 publisher Rising Star Games about a timeline for the patch update, and we’ll update this article with any information we receive.

Comments

Warning: don’t bother reading his twitter message’s comments, trust me. Don’t go down that rabbit hole.

As far as I’m concerned this is a good apology and I’m glad he sees his mistake. It feels really uncharacteristic for the game as York is defending LGBTQ characters in the game, so these things just felt so out of place and weird.

I haven’t played it, so I can’t speak to all of the scenes, but "switching to misgendering mid sentence" (emphasis mine) seems more like poor translation than anything intentional.

That seems my thought. A lot of games are translated line by line, sometimes lacking context; especially games on a tight budget, so it could just be a mistake. Either way, it’s nice that it’s getting fixed.

I don’t get this at all; he’s a character. By this logic, the series The Sopranos should be banned for racism.

Except that the author of the game didn’t intend for that to be the character’s actions, which is the problem. If David Chase had come out while The Sopranos was still going on and said "whoops we didn’t intend for Tony Soprano to be racist, we’re going to re-shoot and edit that" would you be out here saying that he must be incorrect?

Except it makes no sense, did you play the game? Francis York Morgan is NOT a transphobe, he’s pro LGBTQ in the game.

Yes, fair enough – I need to play to the game. I guess people are saying that the comments are out of character, which then it makes sense to rewrite. The reason for my response is that I have seen discussions where characters’ behaviours are held under scrutiny, as if they have to behave like model citizens. When reading this article and watching some of the clips, I thought that this was more of that.

Imagine jumping to conclusions. That’s cringe, brah.

Um, who said anything about banning anything?

Yes, a developer deciding to change a scene because it was accidentally offensive is exactly the same as banning a TV show. Because Gamers desperately need to invent some conspiracy to rail against.

Wait, you mean a game that was rushed out WAAAAAAYY too early and has a framerate in the ~20 FPS range while you’re looking straight at the ground somehow didn’t have enough time or money for a diversity expert to comprehensively review the game’s script before it was released?

At least he didn’t double down on it like some others would have. I wanted to wait on a performance patch anyways. I was very curious about the issue after listening to Jim Sterling talk about how much he adores the writing yet also loathed a few particular things that he didn’t want to get into.

If anyone legitimately thinks Swery is a transphobe, they should go play The Missing, and then talk.

Yeah the guy is openly pro-LGBTQ.

The difference there was he had lgbt consultants to make sure the writing was handled better, something clearly missing from DP2

My guess is that it comes down to a combination of translation and cultural blind spots. I am certain that what Swery intended to do was create a homage to David Duchovny’s Twin Peaks character Denise, which was an early positive representation of trans people in media.

I tend to think the apology is extremely sincere and that he actually regrets this getting out in a way that does not reflect what he intended.

Japanese doesn’t use third-person gendered pronouns the same way English does, so yeah I totally buy that this was just a mistake with the translation. Glad he was willing to put out an apology either way, that was sweet of him!

I’m sure the GAMERS will be in soon to tell us why this is the worst act of fascist censorship in human history.

Good on Swery. One of the pitfalls of translation is the loss of creator intent. It’s a delicate process.

Yeah, you should generally refer to a trans person by the current name and gender they’re presenting as, even in reference to past events. In a one on one case, maybe you know them well and they’ve confirmed they don’t mind, sure. But in public or to others, always use their current name.

Hi! Trans woman here! This is a very UNDERSTANDABLE mistake to make, and I certainly wouldn’t assume anyone who does it is transphobic… but yeah, we’d almost all prefer to basically never be referred to as our previous identity.

There are people who won’t be nearly as bothered by it, but it’s still just a safer and more conscious bet to refer to a person as you would refer to them right now.

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