Beamdog‘s recent expansion Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear has garnered some criticism recently, with some of the most vehement complaints revolving around two main issues: a transgender supporting character, Mizhena, and a line of dialogue aimed at GamerGate. The joke was spoken by a different character, Minsc, and it was “Really, it’s all about ethics in heroic adventuring” (a reference to GamerGate’s insistence that their movement is really all about ethics in journalism).
While some people were complaining about the lack of development for the transgender character (ignoring the fact that you have to ask the character a few questions before she reveals she’s transgender, and that fact that most RPG NPCs share random personal details at “hello”), and the fact that Minsc’s line seemed out of character, others took it farther and started threatening and harassing its writer, Amber Scott, who has spoken out in the past about the importance of diversity in video games. They also bombarded the game’s Steam page with negative reviews about the game’s writing and “ideological agenda.”
Beamdog’s CEO Trent Oster released a statement addressing the criticism. While he acknowledges the complaints, he takes a hard line against harassment.
“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.”
Beamdog’s support of Scott stands in sharp contrast to Nintendo’s recent refusal to speak out when one of their female employees was targeted and harassed online in a similar way.
As for the feedback that Mizhena could have been fleshed out more, Oster said that in retrospect they should have introduced a transgender character with more development. He said that they will remember that lesson for the future and will be improving the character in a future update.
Oster further stated they agree with the feedback that Minsc’s controversial joke is out of character, and that they will remove it. The Beamdog team will also be working to fix a variety of bugs in their next update.