Game database:   #ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ         ALL     Xbox One     PS4     360     PS3     WiiU     Wii     PC     3DS     DS     PS Vita     PSP     iOS     Android


Scribblenauts caught in 'sambo' racism controversy


8:00 AM on 09.17.2009
Scribblenauts caught in 'sambo' racism controversy photo



It had to happen, really. With over 22,000 words in its vocabulary, it was only a matter of time before someone managed to find a racist angle with Scribblenauts, and that racism came in the form of the word "sambo." The word, commonly regarded as a derogatory term for black people, is in the game. Even worse, it conjures up a watermelon when used -- a fruit classically portrayed as the favorite food of a stereotypical black man. 

According to 5th Cell, this racially charged imagery occurred totally by accident. Creative director Jeremiah Slaczka told Joystiq that "sambo" is an Ecuadorian name for "fig leaf gourd." The gourd looks like a watermelon because 5th Cell reuses art for a number of in-game items.

"Fig leaf gourd looks a lot like a watermelon," he said. "It's just an alternative name in a giant list of tens of thousands of names."

Slaczka then pulled the classic, "we're not racist, look at all our not-racist stuff" card, detailing a number of black characters in the game, and going so far as to talk about 5th Cell's previous title, Lock's Quest, and pointing out that one of the characters in it was black. In addition, Slaczka also claims he had no idea that "sambo" was a racist term.

Did 5th Cell do this on purpose? I sincerely doubt it, since everybody's so terrified of looking like a racist that I can't imagine this was intentional, even as a joke. Nevertheless, I am amazed that nobody within 5th Cell knew any better and figured that using the word "sambo" was perhaps a bad idea. Anybody with a shred of social intuition should have seen this mini-controversy coming a mile away, no matter how silly it is.






Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.







Controversy

8:30 PM on 02.18.2015
Early Access game The Stomping Land may be extinct

In another Kickstarter heartbreaker, it seems as though The Stomping Land is stuck in the tar pits. After a very successful crowdfunding campaign in June 2013 totaling $114,060, it was released on Steam Early Access almost a ...more



7:00 PM on 02.18.2015
Developer Giant Spacekat exits PAX East due to threats

The embarrassment caused by a certain faction of the gaming space continues to make things terrible for just about everyone. Because some keyboard warriors refuse to see reason and behave with basic human decency, developer G...more



9:00 AM on 02.08.2015
Valve and ESL retract ban on ex-ESC Gaming CS:GO team

Last Friday, Valve and eSports League Europe, issued tentative bans on three Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competitive teams. Epsilon eSports, the former ESC Gaming team, and WinneR had players who were accused of match fi...more



View all Controversy






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more