Pillars of Eternity exposes risks of crowdsourced content

Pillars of Eternity developer Obsidian Entertainment has been painfully reminded why crowd-sourced content can be a risky inclusion into any game. The gaming community has blown up following the discovery of an offensive tombstone, included in the game by one of its many Kickstarter backers.

Firedorn Ligthbringer

Firedorn Ligthbringer

The tombstone for Firedorn Ligthbringer (their spelling, not mine) reads:

Here lies Firedorn, a hero in bed.
He once was alive, but now he’s dead.
The last woman he bedded, turned out a man
And crying in shame, off a cliff he ran.”

This was first spotted by Twitter user Erika Imperial, who comments that “Transmisogyny is not acceptable in 2015”. Other gamers quickly picked up on the news, asking Obsidian for an apology, explaining that it is “horrifying” that such content made it into the shipped product.

…however, not everyone is being so civil (this is the internet, after all). Polarising online personality TotalBiscuit has also chimed in on the matter – saying that he didn’t find the memorial offensive (instead, he considers it a joke), and arguing that Obsidian should leave the offensive content in the game.

It seems TB’s opinions are shared by many on the Obsidian forums, where fans on both sides are airing their thoughts on the matter. There are even accusations that “the last woman (Firedorn) bedded” had actually raped the now-dead character, before his apparent suicide.

Throughout all of this, it’s been quite clear that Obsidian did not write the offensive content, and the tombstone is tucked away in a part of the game where you have to be actively looking for it to find it. The memorials, which also include notes to Keith Allen Stevens, Fenrir, last of the Wolfkin and Fluffle, Fluffy Marshmallow of the Obsidian Order, were offered to Kickstarter backers who threw $500 or more towards the project. While some fans chose to use this as an opportunity to commemorate the real-world fallen, it seems Firedorn Ligthbringer had other ideas.

With 367 backers at the $500 tier, and more than 200 people pledging more than that (up to $10,000), Obsidian were understandably swamped by submissions for memorials. We’re told the development team dedicated hours to carefully reading through, vetting and approving each submission, in an effort to avoid this sort of situation. Some memorials were revised, refused, or sent back to the backer for changes. Somehow, it seems that one of the potential 500+ submissions slipped through the process.

Obsidian writer Josh Sawyer has officially responded to complaints via Twitter, with a promise to look into the matter.

I’ll talk to our producers about it. it’s hard to catch everything.

We’ve contacted Obsidian for more thoughts on the topic, including whether or not the problematic tombstone will remain in Pillars of Eternity – it looks like no matter what happens, someone will cry that the bullies have won.

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