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How Microsoft enlisted a Native American tribe to design a Killer Instinct character

SEATTLE — When Microsoft announced a few years ago it would reboot the Killer Instinct fighting game, fans were ecstatic. The original game came out in 1994, but now it would come out as a free-to-play game on the Xbox One video game console.

But Shannon Loftis, the general manager of Microsoft Global Games Publishing, said in a talk at the IGDA Leadership Summit that at least one of the characters from the series didn’t age well. The development team wanted to bring back Chief Thunder from the first Killer Instinct. But as they designed the modern character, they realized that the it made sense to make a culturally sensitive version of the Native American warrior. To do that, they enlisted support from a Nez Perce tribal member in Washington state.

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Festano1536d ago

Interesting story, thanks for sharing it

Rookie_Monster1536d ago

Great that MS did that. KI still one of the best Fighting games around and can't wait for season 3 in March!

UnHoly_One1536d ago

"Welcome to modern game design, where companies have to be aware that their characters and games should be more inclusive so that they don’t offend a larger part of an audience."

God help us all.

I'm sickened by the direction this country is headed and the power that is being given to the whiny and perpetually offended.

slate911536d ago (Edited 1536d ago )

If youre going to depict a native american the LEAST you could do is aim to be as accurate as possible. If you have the funds and resources to do so, why not aim for a perfect representation?

Tankbusta401536d ago

Last time I checked most "Native" American's didn't stand 6'4 300lbs. In fact the Plains Indians were championed for being "tall" Tall was 5'8 to the Natives.

If they wanted to get accuracy right Thunder would have looked more like this http://www.albinocrowgaller...

So don't act like Microsoft did anything in the name of accuracy.

UnHoly_One1536d ago

I have no problem with trying to be accurate or whatever.

I equally have no problem with him being a huge stereotype if that's what they want.

That's my whole point. I just wish people weren't so damn offended by everything nowadays, it's ridiculous.

There are TV shows that have sterotypical characters that mock everything about me, and I think it's hilarious. I don't cry about and try to form a movement to get it stopped.

I'm just pissed at the state of the world, and the ridiculous younger generation that is ruining it.

slate911536d ago (Edited 1536d ago )

@tankbusta

Sounds like you would have the same argument in saying most "african" americans arent 5'5 130 lbs and instead name them all 6'8 260 lbs.
It sounds like you just labeled an entire race of people into a certain window that you only believe to be right. I believe thats the definition of stereotype.

Is there a problem with having a tall buff native american?? Lol. Are you here to say that having a tall buff white man like jago is more traditionally correct? Your argument is terrible in all places.

rainslacker1536d ago (Edited 1536d ago )

KI is hardly an accurate depiction of real people and cultures. Every character is a caricature of people or culture, or just some made up off the wall thing.

To be fair, this can be applied to many popular fighting games, and games in genearal, not just KI.

Anyhow, my point is, what did they achieve by enlisting a native american tribe?

Well, they say it's for better representation. Fair enough.

But then the article goes on to talk about how they enlisted the help of Kate Edwards, head of the IGDA, who is pretty much the biggest high level Sarkeesinite, to quash out other stereotypes in their games.

I have an idea. If you want to represent a bad ass fighting female, go talk to a bad ass fighting female, and see if they really give a rats ass about if they appear sexy or not. I bet a lot of them do because they are in top physical form, and women tend to like to show off that form as much as man in top physical form does. People like Sarkeesian, or her lackeys, are not the kind of person to tell you what a bad ass fighting female should be like, because they have no frame of reference, and instead try to project their own ego onto the character.

Now, rant aside, fair enough to quash out stereotypes, but what does the picture of this supposedly native american representation show? Man holding Tomahawks who looks like he's pissed off, not unlike you'd see in an old western movie with John Wayne. Then of course, they throw in the buff look, thus, no actual representation of the males from it all.

The whole thing seems like a way to get some good PR.

I applaud that the company, and I guess the devs, would want to try and be as faithful and representative as possible, but in this case, they really aren't. i find it to be just as stereotypical of native americans, and now they have a nice card to play to say they had a native american consultant.

Basically, MS is trying to ride the wave of political correctness because of the perceived notion that, "The world is changing"[a reference to GG according to the article]. All it is is pandering to a group of vocal people who only wish to stifle creativity.

I'm all for better representation when it's done because it's what the dev feels is the right thing to do, and they want to be as faithful to the source content as much as possible. Not when they have to do it because they feel they'll get negative publicity if they don't conform.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 1536d ago
specialguest1536d ago

I understand that video games shouldnt have to be "PC" on things, but in some cases being accurate on depliticting certain cultural characters makes the character look much cooler, more thought out with a "functional" look.

There's an old 3do fighting game developed by Naughty Dog called Way of the Warriors. Each of these characters from their country of origin were designed with pure stereotypes. Australian fighter who resembles Crocodile dundee, an Japanese character dressed in ninja outfit w/pointy had and a fan, a Scottish guy with a kilt(of course). See how lazy and uninspired those characters are? Lol. The new KI Thunder with its advisory from a native looks way more badass than the original one.

rainslacker1536d ago

I think the caricatures of the characters was the point of the presentation. It was more satire than trying to perpetuate stereotypes.

Honestly, Tekken is probably a worse offender of presenting stereotypes, but it's not done to be derogatory towards a people or culture...although I think Polar Bears were pretty pissed over their representation in the game.

I think that the new Thunder certainly is more badass looking. But that doesn't mean he's particularly representative. In some ways, he actually perpetuates stereotypes that have been around for a long time when it comes to Native Americans

1536d ago
Erik73571536d ago

Yea god forbid trying to create a character that represents a real culture of a ethnicity.

maniacmayhem1536d ago

"I'm sickened by the direction this country is headed"

Lmao, this guy is sickened by people trying to not offend a whole race of people by actually getting input from them.

I think this article is the wrong soapbox to stand on to start this PC dribble.

"I equally have no problem with him being a huge stereotype if that's what they want."

Maybe you're the problem with this country and God should be helping the rest of us.

rainslacker1536d ago (Edited 1536d ago )

Native American's, as a whole, are a pretty diverse race of people. Tons of different cultures, societies, outlooks, appearance, and histories which means that having one consultant from one tribe is not going to achieve what they are hoping for.

Now, the Thunder character, from what I can gather, is supposed to be a member of the Nez Perce tribe, so at least they got that part right, so if they are trying to represent a Nez Pearce Indian, which I find to be a reasonable assumption, then fair enough. I don't know if his appearance is really any less a stereotype than before...it's just more bad ass than before.

Stereotypes are kind of a funny thing really. They aren't inherently bad, and many do exist due to some real world thing. It's how they're portrayed, and ultimately interpreted(sometimes on a large scale) that causes problems. Sometimes they can be quite harmful, other times they can be pretty innocuous, and possibly even irrelevant in today's world.

As far as Thunders new appearance, I imagine if I were a Nez Perce Indian, I would probably just think that guy was a bad ass representation of one of my people. Not unlike how I might think that some buff white guy who can kick ass is a bad ass representation of mine. I doubt I'd be offended either way if they brought in stereotypes, because I'm reasonable, and know there are bigger concerns in the world than such trivial matters.

People's culture is attacked every day regardless of race. If people want to spend a lot of time in their life being offended by it, then they aren't going to have much time left over to do other things.

Edit: BTW, wasn't trying to say you were wrong or anything. I found Unholy's OP to be rather stupid. Was just making conversation.

KwietStorm1536d ago

*Native Americans* enlisted to design character. Sickened by where THIS country is headed.

You're voting for Trump, aren't you?

Paytaa1536d ago

Well you seem offended by something aimed not to offend people. Hypocritical much?

I don't understand the notion of being a perpetual dick just because.

"Oh no SJW's ruin gaming!!1" "Being politically correct is ruining 'Merica!!"

Enough.

MachuchalBrotha3161536d ago (Edited 1536d ago )

You come off like a perpetual offender.

+ Show (5) more repliesLast reply 1536d ago
OpieWinston1536d ago

Shannon Loftis gets it when it comes to the diversity requirement of games.

I don't want reboots to change the ethnicity of characters we love. But if some New IPs or Old IPs brought on some cool protagonists with a bit of flare to them I think it's a little fresh.

I actually enjoyed Agent Locke in Halo 5 because it was a fresh viewpoint. Course.... Buck4Life.

rainslacker1535d ago (Edited 1535d ago )

The race of a character is typically inconsequential to a story, unless that story is about race...which most game stories aren't. Have no problem with any race being included so long as it's done because the creator wants to, and not just because some focus group decides the creator should to make it more appealing.

Now, it's not to say that some of the stereotypes in game stories shouldn't be taken back a bit. But I also think that some people confuse archetypes with stereotypes, and classify certain archetypes as stereotypes due to the character's race or other factors which go into that stereotype.

I guess my question would be...what did you like about Agent Locke in Halo 5 other than the fact he was a black man? If that's all you found appealing, then it's shallow, and does not really denote a strong character. If you liked the character for other reasons, were those reasons related to race? And if not, did his race really matter?

I don't wish to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like your saying more that Locke's inclusion was progressive, because black people don't have as much representation. However, it's really not progressive if they did it to appeal to a group of people who demand such things because of whatever reason they can find to be oppressed.

A good example is Gene Rodenberry. He didn't include the different races and ethnic origins in the original Star Trek because it tested well....because it would have tested horribly. He did it because he wanted to show that people, at their most basic level are very much alike, while at the same time say that these people who often get delegated to stereotypes are just as capable as those considered the majority(in Star Trek's case the male patriarchy). Many of the original Star Trek characters were very much a stereotype, however, their archetype was that of a competent, intelligent, and feeling human being despite outward appearances. That's the biggest thing that I feel J.J. Abrahms lacks from his reboots of the movies, where he just turns them more into stereotypes or thinly guised sex objects.

Muadiib1536d ago (Edited 1536d ago )

He's my least favourite looking character, they ruined him as he looked great in the original. They should've thrown their politically correct nonsense out of the window and just focused on making him look cool. All this talk of realistic representation makes me laugh, this is Killer Instinct for goodness sake!! Did they enlist feedback from undead skeletons and cyborg raptors also?

TheCommentator1536d ago

I like the way he looks now. He doesn't look like he came from a Village People tribute band audition anymore.

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