A video game developer has spoken out against tides of horrific personal abuse – after the inclusion of a transgender character in an expansion pack.
Beamdog Studios had included a transgender character in the latest expansion to fantasy role-playing game Baldur’s Gate, ‘Siege of Dragonspear’.
In the new expansion, an optional conversation with character Mizhena about her strange names leads her to reveal that she chose it because “my birth name proved unsuitable”.
She explains: “When I was born, my parents thought me a boy and raised me as such. In time, we all came to understand I was truly a woman. I created my new name from syllables of different languages. All have special meaning to me; it is the truest reflection of who I am.”
However, the inclusion of the character sparked a backlash among fans, who claimed that it was too unrealistic despite the game also featuring magic and mythical creatures.
Hundreds of fans flooded the game’s pages with negative reviews, claiming that the “crap writer” should be dismissed for creating “a tranny that doesn’t fit the lore”.
Many of the comments are personally directed at writer Amber Scott, who has been subjected to online abuse and repeated threats of violence.
In a statement, the game studio spoke out against the flood of abuse.
Beamdog CEO Trent Oster said: “We’ve received feedback around Mizhena, a supporting character who reveals she is transgender. In retrospect, it would have been better served if we had introduced a transgender character with more development.
“This is a lesson we will be carrying forward in our development as creators and we will be improving this character in a future update.
“The last few days have showed us how passionately many of our fans care for our games.
“We’ve had a lot of great feedback from players who love the expansion and are having a great time experiencing the first new Baldur’s Gate story in 15 years.
“While we appreciate all feedback we receive from our fans, both positive as well as negative, some of the negative feedback has focused not on Siege of Dragonspear but on individual developers at Beamdog – to the point of online threats and harassment.
“I just want to make it crystal clear that Beamdog does not condone this behavior, and moreover that it will not have the desired effect as we stand behind all our developers 100%. We created the game as a group, and moving forward we’ll work on the game’s issues as a group, which I believe is exactly as it should be.”
Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood, who originated the universe the game is set in, also took a super-nerdy axe to the suggestion that transgender people are somehow new.
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He said: “I am saddened by what I hear of the current kerfluffle raging about Siege of Dragonspear and the trans character Amber Scott designed and included in it.
“Folks, the Realms have ALWAYS had characters (mortals and deities) who crossdressed, changed gender (and not just to sneak past guards in an adventure, by way of shapeshifting magic or illusions), were actively bisexual, and openly gay.
“How underscored this was by TSR and later Wizards varied over time, and was always softpedaled, because D&D wasn’t a sex game, and we generally don’t rub the reader’s nose in sex unless there’s a good in-story reason for it.
“But even deities have changed gender, sometimes for good, and the servants of deities (Elminster, in ELMINSTER: THE MAKING OF A MAGE) have sometimes been forced by the deity to “spend time as the other” to learn what life is like.
“It has always been there, and is an integral part of the Realms.”
He continued: “D&D has half-orcs, and half-dragons, and half-elves, and has magic items that specifically change gender, right there in the rules.
“Surely, if you can handle the basic notion of cross-SPECIES sex, having a full variety of gender roles should be something that doesn’t blow your mind. If it’s not for you, that’s fine. I hate wearing certain shades of yellow.
“But I don’t scream and yell at someone I see wearing those shades of yellow, and call them names, and threaten things. My right to dislike yellow applies to me; it doesn’t extend to others.
“Because somehow, through an incredible oversight on the part of the universe that still hasn’t been rectified, no one made me a god. (I’m still crushed.)”