Horizon Zero Dawn Dev Responds to Criticism From Native American Writer Over Use of Certain Terms
A Native American writer, Dia Lacina, recently called out Guerrilla Games over its use of certain terms in Horizon Zero Dawn without consideration of their historical usage. She questions why no reviewer made note of words such as “Primals,” “Savages” and “Braves” being used, or the tropes that the game contains.
“The uncritical use of words like ‘primitive’ and ‘savage’ to describe appropriated cultural signifiers on large media platforms serves to reinforce racist and colonialist ideas about indigenous people,” explained Lacina. “If you’re not aware of the broad strokes of cultural appropriation that happens with Natives — a google search will give you dozens of examples to look for.”
Speaking to Waypoint, Horizon Zero Dawn‘s narrative director John Gonzales said that Guerrilla did not intend to be insensitive or offensive. Here’s an explanation in his own words:
The vocabulary was certainly discussed during the creative process, in terms of wanting to make sure we were sensitive to the cultural concerns of our audience. We weren’t looking for inspiration from one particular group, and we cast the net widely to look at cultures, tribal cultures, around the world, and also throughout history. That’s why a lot of the people talk about the Nora as being like Vikings, or why there are visual elements reminiscent of Celtic pictographs. So, inspiration came from a lot of different places.
Talking about the term ‘brave’—with that in particular, our research into it was that it was not a term that would seem to be offensive. We were trying to find a term that would combine the capabilities of a warrior and the capabilities of a hunter. It was a term that [we felt] was not derogatory, as we came across some terms that were definitely slurs against Native Americans and other groups throughout history. And so, our decision was based on ‘brave’ not being a ‘hot button’ term.
If you’re interested in reading Lacina’s article in full, follow the link below.