[Update: Mike Sacco no longer works with Cryptozoic Entertainment, seemingly as a result of his discussion over Borderlands 2. At first, Sacco stated, "I'm gonna confirm two things: That people tried to pressure Cryptozoic into firing me, and that I no longer work at Cryptozoic."
Despite wording that implied Sacco had been fired, Cryptozoic issued a statement to clarify Sacco was a contracted worker, and had been asked not to represent the company with his opinions. According to the company, Sacco then quit, an apparently unexpected move.
"We asked him not represent himself as an employee of Cryptozoic. After the message was delivered, Mike quit. We like Mike and we are as surprised by his reaction as you are."
Sacco has since said he cast Cryptozoic in a more negative light than intended.]
Many critics have slammed Tiny Tina -- a quest-giving NPC in Borderlands 2 -- for being annoying. Until now, few of them have implied she's racist. Last night, however, writer Anthony Burch addressed concerns from players via Twitter after they took umbrage with the way Tina talks.
Mike Sacco of Cryptozoic Entertainment led the charge, telling Burch, "Hey. I really like BL2's writing, but Tiny Tina's trope of 'white girl talkin' like them urban folk!!' has got to go."
Although Burch first responded with, "Well, it's not going to," he received further criticism. Sacco went to the extreme of calling her "actively racist" as others chimed in.
"Its exaggerated stereotypical low class 'black' lingo that with Tina amounts to verbal blackface," wrote one player.
"I don't think you meant to make Tina racist but it's a reasonable view IMO. She equates stereotyped ebonics with wacky," suggested another.
Tiny Tina has fans, however, and others leaped to her defense with cries of, "DON'T CHANGE TINA." Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford also jumped into the discussion, standing by his writer and declaring that Anthony Burch was certainly not racist.
"Tina is not racist because you are not racist," the executive told Burch. "You're a pillar of tolerance and inclusion."
Despite the support, Anthony Burch went from dismissing the criticism to opening himself up for it, stating that he may now end up revising the character and her way of speaking, provided he can be convinced her dialog is inherently problematic.
"The last thing I want to be is exclusionary or prejudiced, so if Tina truly is problematic I’ll change her," he said. "I’m just not convinced that a character using lingo like badonkadonk/crunk is inherently racist. If I’m wrong I would like to know why."
He responded to Kotaku writer Patricia Hernandez to say that he wouldn't update Borderlands 2 to reflect any changes, due to "technical restraints" with the game. Indeed, it would be quite a feat to redo entire portions of a months-old game due to a single Twitter exchange. Any revision to the character would be undertaken in future installments.
An interesting discussion, but one that leaves out an important factor -- there are white people who talk like this, believing it's how all black people speak. If Tina herself had been black, and using these ludicrous words, it may indeed look entirely racist, but I never took her as a character making fun of the way black people speak. She seemed more to me like a mockery of the way white people speak when they think they're sounding like "cool black people."
That was just my take on it, though, and it's far from the only interpretation. We navigate stormy waters whenever we set sail on the sea of racial comedy, and it's hard to avoid charges of racism whenever you dip your toe in that particular ocean. As we saw recently with Django Unchained, the floodgates are more than willing to open when your fiction touches upon a racial issue, and the utmost care must be taken to ensure your writing is tenable. Burch remains confident his is, but it'll be intriguing to see if anybody can change his mind.
At least the dialog between Anthony, his supporters, and critics is respectful and enlightening, rather than full of rage and insults. Well ... mostly.
|7:00 AM on 05.10.2013|
Borderlands 2: Hands-on with Krieg the Psycho Bandit
With the Borderlands 2 season of content coming to an end, Gearbox is releasing one last vault hunter just before the curtains close. Krieg is his name, he loves self-inflicting pain, and the insanity of the psycho enemy...more
|7:30 PM on 05.06.2013|
Borderlands 2's sixth playable character available May 14
The sixth playable character for Borderlands 2, Krieg the Psycho Bandit, will be available for loot hunting on May 14, Krieg himself announced on Twitter. Unveiled at developer Gearbox Software's PAX East panel back in March,...more
|2:30 PM on 05.02.2013|
Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina DLC announced (Update)
[Update: Gearbox has cleared us to share with you the following, in light of today's leak. Borderlands 2's Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep DLC, which follows Tiny Tina who is running a role-playing tabletop game, will come...more
|5:00 PM on 04.06.2013|
HAWP: How Anthony Burch wrote Borderlands 2
Anthony Burch was very lucky to get hired by Gearbox to work on Borderlands 2. But the road to writing a critically acclaimed game script would only get harder from there. In this very special episode of Hey Ash, Whatcha Pla...more
|10:15 AM on 04.02.2013|
Borderlands 2 Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack is out today
Starting today, you'll be able to pick up the Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack for Borderlands 2, which raises the level cap from 50 to 61 and a free update that unlocks a third playthrough mode. If you're a Season Pass holder, you...more
|1:30 PM on 03.26.2013|
Borderlands 2 is getting a title update soon
Gearbox has detailed a new free title update for Borderlands 2 that will increase your inventory size and allow you to hold more Eridium and ammo upgrades. The patch is set to go live pretty soon, and full patch notes will g...more
|1:20 PM on 03.24.2013|
PAX: Gearbox making more Borderlands Loot Chests
The fans have demanded it, and Gearbox has listened as they'll be producing more Loot Chests. There will be 5,000 Diamond Plate Loot Chest made in a limited run that will be available this May. While only 5,000 are being prod...more
|1:05 PM on 03.24.2013|
Fourth campaign DLC for Borderlands 2 out by end of June
Gearbox revealed during their PAX East panel that the fourth campaign DLC for Borderlands 2 will be out by the end of June 2013. The studio wasn't ready to show anything off, but they did offer a confusing little teaser video...more
|11:45 AM on 03.24.2013|
PAX: Gearbox details Borderlands 2 level cap increase
At PAX East, Gearbox Software announced that a level cap increase is indeed on the way for Borderlands 2, but it's not going to be free for all. The cap will be bumped up to 61 in a new Ultimate Vault Hunters Pack DLC ar...more
|11:45 AM on 03.14.2013|
Gearbox teases new playable character for Borderlands 2
At some point in the future, Borderlands 2 will be getting another playable character as downloadable content. We don't know what this escaped experiment is called, or what it looks like, exactly, but this teaser trailer fro...more
|8:00 PM on 05.14.2013|
Sid Meier says core gamers should not be forgotten
Sid Meier is a legend to PC gamers for strategy games he lent his name to but the man himself admits that the Meier name doesn't mean much to mobile players. In an illuminating interview with GamesIndustry, Sid revealed his n...more
|6:15 PM on 05.13.2013|
Take-Two's year led by Borderlands and NBA sales
Take-Two held its quarterly earnings call today to report on the end of its fourth-quarter and fiscal year. The company finished the year at a loss, but there were many bright spots to be optimistic about. Of particular note,...more
|12:00 PM on 05.13.2013|
New redaction-heavy The Bureau: XCOM Declassified trailer
There was a rocky period there where I wasn't so sure 2K would keep the XCOM shooter going. To hear that it's back, albeit with new branding, and still looks more or less like what I was hoping to get out of the game in its ...more