RACISM in Alchemica??


It is recently being brought to our attention that one of the major race in the game, the Lekumba, is considered by some players as some sort of stereotyping and racism. In this devlog post we would like to address this issue and also give proper explanations as to what was behind our reason to design the Lekumbas that way. 

WARNING! The paragraphs below contain spoilers to the game.  Our tldr; answer is NO, it is not meant to convey racism in any shape or form, but if you absolutely need to know the reason behind it, you have been warned.

Lekumba's skin "color", why they wrapped themselves in bandages if you view them from the back, and why they conceal their faces with masks is already covered  inside one of the books that can be read or obtained in the game. In case you never read them, they originated from underground, once enslaved by "The Dark Ones", before being freed and lead to the surface by the two deities they now worship. Based on this lore, players should be able to connect the dots easily as to why they get their brownish skin. Should we use the color blue, green, or purple to represent a sunburnt skin for a race that come from a place that never see the sun?

How "primitive" they look are also indirectly explained on the same book. It is heavily suggested that in their past civilization was much more sophisticated that the present day Lekumbas, judging by the still-working totems that patrolled the Stony Ruin, ancient constructs that are powered by Lay Lines through the mysterious Focus Stones, something that even the dwarves of the present day Rochendil cannot replicate (they resorted with mana stones which only provide finite amount of mana). Something evidently happen to the Lekumbas, but the game has not progressed far enough to explain this.

Their broken "English" speech pattern is simply because of how rare their exposure with other races were. The Lekumba Chieftain, a longtime friend of Charlotte's father, speak fluent "English" unlike the rest of the Lekumbas in his village. Given enough time since the event in the game, all Lekumbas in that village may speak proper "English". We are also planning to release more "speech impaired" races to the game in due time, should that also count as racism?

Said players also spoke out that because they called Charlotte and the other "white" NPC as "paleskin", it just enhances the idea that these "dark" skinned people can't take care of themselves, and are less human than the rest of the characters in the game. The answer is no. The Lekumbas nicknamed all of the other races "paleskin" simply from comparison based on their sunburnt skin, and to express their confusion as to why these "other people" choose to stay inside cold stone buildings  when they have the option to bathe under the freedom-giving sun.

Lekumbas in the game are proud, independent, and strong people. The world around them uses magicks, something that (for a yet to be disclosed reason) they despise. It is not until they are struck with Malevalice that they realize that they must stop avoiding other races to  help the rest of the realm with this rising problem.

As of a matter of fact, and hopefully not a major spoiler for anyone who read this, the Lekumbas and their origin story will play a major part on the main storyline for the chapters to come. For this very reason we design the Lekumbas the way they are, and introducing a change to this may force us to change the story that are in store to those who plays Alchemica. 

Lastly, please remember that Alchemica takes place in a fantasy world. There are no whites, no blacks, or any other colored people on that matter that are being represented from the real world to the game. We only have Rochendil's humans, Dwarves, Elves, Lekumbas, Frostlings, Avians, and other imaginary races that will be introduced later in the game: absolutely none of them come from Earth.

Also, while this absolutely have nothing to do with the game itself, we believe that people, whoever they are, are created equal. After all, we breathe the same air and share the same planet. That is unless you breathe Nitrogen, has gray skin, and possess three digit fingers, but we believe that would be another matter entirely (Hello from Earth from us!).

Thank you for reading this long explanation and we hope this clears things up.

Sincerely,


Crunchy Bit Games.

Comments

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hi! As a person of colour who plays Alchemica, I'd just like to clarify some stuff about racism. Whether or not a person intends to be racist does not affect whether their actions are racist or unintentionally support racism. Now the lore behind the lekumba's is reminiscent of the history of black americans,  and while this may not be intended, it could be interpreted as representative of this period of history. What becomes a problem is the idea that, originally when the Lekumba's where a developed civilization, they were a lighter colour, but now, when they are considered less intelligent, they have darker skin. This idea subtly promotes the idea that dark skinned people are less intelligent. Now I'm not expecting a change in story or plot for this one thing, the real problem comes in with the fact that the Lekumba are the only dark skinned characters in the game. While you may not choose to have black, white or coloured people, because the races are human, Dwarven, elven etc, the only skin colour for a human you have shown is white. And perhaps this is normal for you, I don't know where you come from, you could be from a white majority country, so wouldn't have the understanding of racial tensions in somewhere like the USA or Australia. What would help your game be less unintentionally discriminatory would be the inclusion of a multitude of skin colours in human characters, in future. I also understand that you are making a fantasy game, probably being inspired by other fantasy media. The fantasy genre has its problems with racial depiction and racism deep rooted in its culture and so its understandable that you might have accidently picked this up. It's ok to make mistakes, especially when you don't know any better and this comment isn't meant to shame you and tell you you're a horrible person. I just want to help you learn and understand, and hopefully fix or acknowledge the connotations for some of your decisions and hopefully in future do better. I'm happy to explain anything in a bit more depth if you don't get it or anything so don't be afraid to ask! 

(Edited 3 times)

Hi,

Thank you for your reply. First we need to clarify that the Lekumbas were just as developed as any early civilizations do when they came out to the surface. Their civilization became advanced after that point of time. Their background story during that period, and how they radically changed their lifestyle to be the mask-wearing nature-loving communities as seen in Alchemica Chapter 1 will unfortunately play a large part of the main story in later chapters so we can't spoil things further.

Rest assured that more "colored" characters and races will be added as we develop the game further, and they won't be limited to our normal skin color palette. There are just too few content in Chapter 1 to justify adding more type of sprites (there are exactly one elf and one dwarf in the game as of now). We tried to simplify things for our development time for Chapter 1, but as more content is released, more characters will be introduced to the game. In fact we already throwed in some hints about other unseen races that Charlotte will later meet in the game.

Cool!  Thanks for addressing the issue, I can't wait to see future developments and updates!