Deadly Premonition 2 has gotten quite a lot of negative feedback due to its performance and frame rate issues, but how they handled one trans character as incestuous, and constantly misgendered her, has the internet alight and now the game's director is addressing the backlash head-on.
For those unfamiliar with Deadly Premonition, it's an open-world horror game that is as weird as it is just good. Unfortunately, the long-anticipated sequel failed to live up to the first game's magic and the glitches it offered players rendered the game unplayable for many. Even still, the bigger point of contention this week is how the team handled the portrayal of the character Lena Dauman, a trans character that is often misgendered purposefully despite the lead character designer promising to do the trans community justice with representation.
But it wasn't just misgendering in the game that many felt was unfair to trans players and the character itself. The use of the character's "deadname," the name assigned at birth, was also a huge concern for many but more than that, the fact that the game heavily implied that this particular character was incestuous is what had many seeing red.
As I myself am not trans, I felt it important to include some reactions from the community itself:
Seeing the transphobia in Deadly Premonition 2 really hurt.— RestlessDreams(Audrey) (@DreamsRestless) July 13, 2020
But not for one second did I believe it was intentional.
This is why trans consultants are important.
While this should have never happened in the first place, seeing this apology means a lot to me.
Thank you, Swery. https://t.co/uJ4kHyxxDq
NEW VIDEO! In which I talk about those transphobic parts of Deadly Premonition 2 and the harmful trope of trans people primarily being defined by their past traumas and present struggles. https://t.co/vJ30MtOevM— Pim (@PimIsOnline) July 10, 2020
Finally got deep enough into Deadly Premonition 2 to experience some of the gross trans content firsthand. Starting to get a handle on the contexts in which misgendering and deadnaming pop up.— Laura Kate Dale (@LaurakBuzz) July 11, 2020
Right, I feel pretty confident in saying that Lena, the trans woman character in Deadly Premonition 2, is voiced by Billy Kametz, a cis man.— Laura Kate Dale (@LaurakBuzz) July 10, 2020
Reached out to Swery for comment. he said "I think... it was him. But no guarantee."
Swery was not directly involved in casting.
Swery is a very respected name in the games industry and he addressed the backlash head-on and is making active changes to correct the mistakes made during development. In his message, via Google Translate, Swery mentions "I need to tell you about my apologies about DP2. So I wrote a message by myself with Google-sensei. Please forgive my poor English skills." The message itself is as follows, via Google Translate:
"I realized by pointed out by friends, I might have hurt transgender people in my scenario. It wasn't intentional, I am really sorry for that. Some scenes will be sanity checked by a team that included diversity and I will rewrite that scene ASAP."
Again.— Hidetaka SWERY Skywalker (@Swery65) July 14, 2020
Thank you for messages. But, I don't want to get any message over DM. I'm using DM for only chat with real friends. so please never send me.
I'll block you.https://t.co/wZA4MG0bok pic.twitter.com/eok8hKJHUA
While this may not seem like a big deal to some, trans lives are human lives and oftentimes this community is represented poorly in all media types, including games. Being treated as a joke or as predators, the trans community is often left in the cold when it comes to representation. Games like Dragon Age Inquisition did a phenomenal job with characters like Krem and even tackling ignorant attitudes towards those that are transgendered. It's 2020, it's time to do better.
No word on when those changes will go live, but at least it's more than words being offered in reaction by the team. As for the game itself, Deadly Premonition 2 is now available on Nintendo Switch.