Amanita Design have redesigned Chuchel, the eponymous star of their delightful 2018 adventure game, to avoid associations with blackface. Chuchel is a dust mote but with his black face, curly black hair, thick orange lips, and scampish ways, yeah, I can see the comparison. The Czech studio say they didn’t consider this at all when making the game, and they don’t want to be “even remotely associated with racism”, so they’ve given him a new look. Chuchel’s black body is now orange, and his orange hat is now black – a look that will be patched into the game’s various editions across “the upcoming days and weeks.”
The change is “in reaction to a number of requests we’ve seen coming from the players throughout the year,” Amanita said in their announcement on Facebook.
“We acknowledge that due to significant differences in culture and history between Central Europe and other regions, we did not consider the possibility of Chuchel, a living dust bunny, being associated with ‘blackface’, a theatrical racial stereotype which emerged in the United States in the 19th century.”
Here’s his original style:
“We would like to sincerely apologise to anyone who has been offended by the original appearance of Chuchel,” Amanita said. “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.”
Not wanting to be associated with racism is a fair goal. And the change is fair enough. They put something out into the world, they didn’t consider how it might seem elsewhere, and they’re reacting now they’re aware of other cultural contexts in which their game is being read. They don’t like how it looks through some other people’s eyes, so they’re changing it.
Amanita’s next game is Creaks, a game departing from their usual point ‘n’ clicking for some sort of puzzle-platforming.