Dan Salvato, developer of the indie hit Doki Doki Literature Club addressed the game’s fan base directly on Wednesday. Following a Twitter conversation with a fan who had used the t**p slur in reference to one of the game’s characters, Salvato went to Reddit to issue an official statement to the community. Both links contain transphobic slurs, especially if you delve into the comments. If you’d rather not expose yourself to that, I’ve quoted some of his key points below.
Salvato’s initial statements were in response to fan asking him to confirm that the character Natsuki was assigned male at birth. “For waifu ruining purposes,” the fan explained. Salvato had this to say:
“The whole meme is just really disrespectful and I can’t believe that it’s gone on for this long. Please don’t continue to be part of the problem.”
The next day, he went on to make a longer statement on Reddit. “I don’t agree with gender being used to deliberately stir controversy from nothing,” he elaborated. However, Salvato also shied away from the issue of the slurs used in the community. In his own words, “that’s a different conversation entirely, one that of course has nothing to do with DDLC.”
Naming the Problem
It’s heartening to see a developer shut down transphobia in their game’s community. However, it’s also disappointing to see Salvato skirt his way around calling out the problem for what it is. Transphobia is rampant in gaming, especially in anime and romance games. When developers and other community leaders have a platform to speak out against it, it’s crucial that they do so in an explicit fashion. Given Salvato’s initial response on Twitter, his lukewarm statement on Reddit comes as an even bigger letdown.
At the same time, it’s difficult to blame Salvato for not wanting to expose himself to fans’ harassment. While his position as developer gives him a lot of authority, it also puts a huge target on his back. Despite Salvato’s power to protect Doki Doki Literature Club’s trans players, it’s unfair to demand that anyone subject themself to the trauma that comes with online harassment.
I can understand Salvato’s caution, to an extent. Still, I hope that in the future he speaks out more explicitly against the transphobia in Doki Doki Literature Club‘s fanbase. Doki Doki Literature Club is available for free either on Steam or its official website. The game is up-front about its disturbing content, but you can find a full list of content warnings here.
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