A review of Kingdom Come: Deliverance on Eurogamer which was critical of some facets of the game has sparked a row about political correctness, both on the well-regarded website itself and its Facebook page.
In the review, senior staff writer Robert Purchese questioned the lack of any non-white characters in the game, which purports to be historically accurate and is set in 15th-century Czechoslovakia: “But there’s also a big problem. There are no people of colour in the game beyond people from the Cuman tribe, a Turkic people from the Eurasian Steppe. The question is, should there be? The game’s makers say they’ve done years of research and found no conclusive proof there should be, but a historian I spoke to, who specialises in the area, disagrees.”
Purchese went on to highlight unsavoury views held by developer Warhorse Studios’ creative director, writer and co-founder Daniel Vavra: “He has been a vocal supporter of GamerGate and involved in antagonistic exchanges on Twitter (collected in a ResetEra thread. More recently, he wore the same T-shirt depicting an album cover by the band Burzum every day at Gamescom 2017 – a very visible time for him and his game. Burzum is the work of one man: Varg Vikernes, a convicted murderer and outspoken voice on racial purity and supremacy. He even identified as a Nazi for a while.”
Eurogamer readers have overwhelmingly taken to the review’s comments section and Facebook to protest that Purchese’s evidence of the presence of non-white people in the real-life counterpart of Kingdom Come: Deliverance’s game-world is sketchy at best. Purchese quoted a historian, Sean Miller (without setting out his credentials), as saying: “We know of African kings in Constantinople on pilgrimage to Spain; we know of black Moors in Spain; we know of extensive travel of Jews from the courts of Cordoba and Damascus; we also know of black people in large cities in Germany. You just can’t know nobody got sick and stayed a longer time. What if a group of black Africans came through and stayed at an inn and someone got pregnant? Even one night is enough for a pregnancy.”
Typical comments on that issue include this from a reader called marmaduke: “Christ I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but this is one instance- a historical game, set in a particular time- where the lack of diversity really isn’t an issue.” And from nikolaylapko: Let’s imagine there were some black people in 1403 Bohemia. Is it meaningful to include them in the game? KC: D doesn’t even have Prague, its settlements are pretty small. Not spending budget on such a superficial thing would be the right thing to do, IMO.” On Eurogamer’s Facebook page, a number of Czech gamers have weighed in, with comments similar to this one by Lukas Codr: Dear Eurogamer, as a Czech citizen I find your article extremely insulting and misleading. If you look in the credits of the game and do some basic background research, you will realize that the historians who contributed to this game are essentially an “all star” team of scholars specializing on Bohemian medieval history.”
Others have called out whether Vavra’s admittedly less than savoury views – support for GamerGate, which acted as a precursor for the rise of the “alt-right” in the US, is particularly egregious – are relevant in a review of a game which he helped to develop. Jack Millard said on Facebook: “Review started off well, and I get why the author hates the developer, but ultimately this quickly turned into a miscalculated rant on issues that have nothing to do with the game.” While in the review’s comments, up_the_ante added: “I thought a review might keep the art and the artist separate.”