Chuchel is the most recent madcap point-and-click adventure from Amanita Designs, best known for Machinarium. The titular character is little ball of dust, named for a Czech word meaning just that. But his colour and design bear a notable resemblance to blackface, and that fact has come up several times in criticism of the game over the course of the year. Today, Amanita announced that this design is changing.
“We would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who has been offended by the original appearance of Chuchel,” Amanita writes on Twitter. “As a team of peace-minded creative people, we simply do not want any of our games and characters even remotely associated with racism or any other form of hate crime.”
The Czech studio attributes the character’s original appearance to “significant differences in culture and history between Central Europe and other regions,” as a result of which “we did not consider the possibility of Chuchel being associated with ‘blackface’, a theatrical racial stereotype which emerged in the US” in the 19th century.
There was never a widespread outcry about Chuchel’s original design – we covered the game quite positively earlier this year – but there was certainly an article or two written about the topic and some discussion on social media. Those criticisms pointed not just to the character’s look, but the way his personality seemed to build on minstrel stereotypes.
On Twitter, designer Jaromír Plachý to one fan’s concern back in February by saying “Chuchel is inspired by my personality and personality of my black dog.”
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An update will soon change the character’s appearance in-game, and store pages will similarly be updated to reflect the new design. Amanita has already put out a trailer to reflect the change.