Ragnar Tørnquist defends ableist language in Dreamfall Chapters: "Those people exist in real life, and so they must exist in fiction" | PCGamesN

Ragnar Tørnquist defends ableist language in Dreamfall Chapters: "Those people exist in real life, and so they must exist in fiction"

Dreamfall Chapters

Dreamfall Chapters’ first episode is out now, and by early accounts it’s typical of Ragnar Tørnquist’s finest work: a bustling sci-fi world that takes pleasure in defying cliché.

But a flurry of ableist language from one character in the game has upset fans who’ve come to expect inclusiveness and diversity in the Dreamfall series. Tørnquist, however, is unrepentant.

“You know, when we create and write characters, those characters are not always pleasant and they don't necessarily reflect our own point of view,” wrote the Red Thread boss. “Those people exist in real life, and so they must exist in fiction.”

The controversy centres around one scene - in which protagonist Zoe’s boss, Mira, subjects her friend and business partner Wit to a hail of abuse. Mira labels Wit a “retard”, and accuses him of faking his apparent autism.

Players in the Red Thread forums and on Twitter said that, in the wider context of the game, they’d been given the impression that Mira was a rude, crude, but otherwise likeable character - and that her subsequent bigotry wasn’t presented with the gravity it deserved.

But Tørnquist insisted that Mira is “horrible”, and defended his studio’s right to mirror the ugliness of the real world in their work.

“Mira is an unpleasant person,” said the Norwegian designer. “She’s offensive and rude and controversial. 

“Have you never watched a film, a TV series or read a book where a character has expressed racist, misogynist, ableist views? Those people exist in real life, and so they must exist in fiction.”

Tørnquist argued that games “should not be exempted” - and said that Red Thread “accept the consequences” of their depiction.

“Do we think she is nice? Of course not,” he said. “She's horrible. And she's supposed to be. She's a character in a world we've created. That world isn't always pleasant, and that's the point.

“We're sorry to hear you regret your purchase, but this is part of our mission to bring more maturity, diversity and soul to storytelling in games.”

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Vit avatarshade100 avatarJezcentral avatarTunnel Snake OG avatarChaz avatarJulian Benson avatar+5
Jezcentral Avatar
536
3 Years ago

“She's horrible. And she's supposed to be."

How did the argument not end right there? I remember Fenris from Dragon Age 2 getting a similar reaction. Because he was anti-magic, some people hated him, and said Bioware had written a really badly-drawn character. No, you were supposed to find him objectionable, if you didn't share his views.

EDIT: Mind you, on that thread you link to, Loerwyn is the only person being offended by it. Hardly a case of "fans" in a tizzy.

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Tunnel Snake OG Avatar
39
3 Years ago

"We find the language these 'Nazi' characters were using in your documentary to be extremely anti-semetic and offensive" - the Internet in 10 years

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icheyne Avatar
223
3 Years ago

As the father of an autistic boy, thank you for raising awareness of this. People use words like retard too casually. Criticising it's use by an obnoxious villain is probably too much, but I haven't seen it, so I can't judge. A YouTube link would be good.

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Vit Avatar
23
3 Years ago

So, people are tripping over themselves because a character said "sh*t"? These people must have never watched TV in their lives.

Oh wait....they have.

Bunch of hypocrites.

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Ems1920 Avatar
1
2 Years ago

No. That's not even close. The character uses the R word as she is verbally abusing him, and accuses him of faking a disability. It's not about a few meaningless swears which is clear from reading the above.

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shade100 Avatar
11
3 Years ago

"Ableist"? The fuck is that?

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Chaz Avatar
159
3 Years ago

Discrimination against people with disabilities, both physical and mental.

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shade100 Avatar
11
3 Years ago

Is this the type of term created by bullshit people who think everyone has some kind of disability?

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Julian Benson Avatar
181
3 Years ago

It's a term to describe an attitude that considers anyone with a disability to have less value than someone without.

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Chaz Avatar
159
3 Years ago

While there may be people who (in my completely unprofessional opinion) go completely nuts in overstating mental disabilities it doesn't change the fact that such disabilities do exist and "ableist" is a genuine term to describe slurs centered around them.

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Narub Avatar
1
3 Years ago

Whats with modern tendency for hugboxes? i find this in no way offensive. Character development requires depth and diversity, and just as irl there are many types of people, by no means should storytelling ever be limited or censored because some people dont like the character, you dont have to like all characters, hell the point is that sometimes you are supposed to hate a character.

This starts to get to a ridiculous level of censorship and thought-policing... which in all honesty only makes things worse.

A word is a word, it has no load in by itself, if you ban the word "retard" some other word will be used, it solves nothing. Some people just love being offended.

Guess they should make a character like that as well.

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KOZPRESSOR Avatar
2
3 Years ago

Britta in Community is exactly that character you describe.

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Unilythe Avatar
1
3 Years ago

I couldn't care less if people use words like that. I know they use it in a different context with a different meaning and do not feel offended in any way. In fact: I used the word myself regularly until people complained about it. I had no idea it was even considered to be offensive.

Also the "ableism" (a word I had never heard of before) this article talks about is completely unoffensive to me. There are dicks in the real world, and it would be completely boring if they wouldn't exist in games. Villains are supposed to be dicks.

But instead let's all solely create games about rainbows and only the most pleasant of unicorns. That would be fun and interesting.

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