Take a look at Square Enix’s official comment on the matter: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a fictional story which reflects the diversity of the world’s future population by featuring characters of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. While these characters are meant to portray people living in the year 2027, it has never been our intention to represent any particular ethnic group in a negative light.”
See what’s missing there? The same words that Sony avoided for so long: “We’re sorry.” (Also missing is something along the lines of “We screwed up,” something else Sony didn’t want to acknowledge initially.)
Certainly, the issue of perceived racism and the compromise of sensitive personal information are two entirely different beasts. But they’re both issues that people take very seriously and personally. And by trying to defend their actions rather than immediately apologizing for them, both Square Enix and Sony risked alienating part of their audience.
Time’s Evan Narcisse wrote a spot-on look at the problems with the character of Letitia. Though he was careful to note that he was not calling Eidos Montreal or Square Enix racist, that’s what many people inferred from the column.
That’s easy to understand, given that Letitia’s speech patterns are reminiscent of something you’d hear in a minstrel show. And while voice acting is hardly the high point of this otherwise widely embraced game, Letitia’s patois is particularly hard to defend.
- From “Square Enix’s Handling of ‘Racism’ Case: A Page from Sony Playbook?,” on IndustryGamers.com