Dina Abou Karam, the former community manager for Comcept’s Kickstarted side-scroller, Mighty No. 9, discussed her side of the story of what transpired with the crowd-funded game. A detailed account on the Dina controversy was cataloged on Know Your Meme. Furthermore, leaked chat logs from Crash Override Network reveal what she had intended for the game and how she felt about the people behind the project.
There’s a mega thread over on Kotaku in Action that contains links to the full chat logs, but user IE_5 put together a small collection of the logs containing Dina’s portion in a separate post. The quoted text below are excerpts from the logs, formatted for readability purposes. The particular discussion in question took place on December 28th, 2014.
Dina is asked by some of the individuals in the chat about her involvement with Mighty No. 9, where she explains…
“Oh ask away, I never got to publicly defend myself in fact I was explicitly forbidden to.
“We could not figure out how to ban because the forums were broken until 2 months in so I had to moderate abusers for 2 months. the outrage was because I said when I was a backer that I’d like a playable female option Beck actually haha”
Dina goes on to explain that Comcept – her employers – were sexist. She explains that she had to work hard to get things changed in Mighty No. 9, stating…
“You all have no fucking idea how sexist my employer is and what I had to do to get them to 1) change no.2 into a girl 2) make Beck’s rival Ray into a black woman presenting androgynous 3) add another big character as female which I can’t tell you about because they have not been revealed yet.
“Oh [Mighty No 9] still has the trademark japanese underlying sexism. […] I was just gonna keep my head down and not say anything SJW-ey when I first got the job but after they tried to get me fired/kill myself I went full feminist and it kinda worked haha.”
For context, many gamers had felt as if Dina being part of the project was borne out of nepotism because she was dating one of the people working on Mighty No. 9. There was a lot of disgruntlement shared on social media (well before the chat logs were leaked) that Dina appeared to be trying to inject Social Justice Warrior ideology into the project. This was in addition to claims of lots of censorship happening on the forum against backers who said things that Dina did not approve of, as well as general antagonism towards backers whose views did not align with her own.
The news about the chat logs managed to make their way to the Mighty No. 9 sub-Reddit, where some of the users referred to various sources stating that what Dina claimed about injecting feminism into the project is false or contradictory to other information out there.
NackTheDragon did a point-by-point breakdown sourcing information that states that a lot of the things Dina is claiming credit for was already in development before she joined the team.
“Will the community manager be skewing things the way they would personally like to see the game? Will the community manager ignore views that don’t match with their own personal ideals? Will the community manager lose the community’s desires due to unfamiliarity with the type of game we are making? Will the community manager be creating their own robots and levels and programming, or changing the game in any way, from what the core creative team wants?! A lot of these or similar questions have been raised.
“The good news is that the answer, in all cases, is no.”
[…] “As far as affecting the game in other ways, rest assured all direction and decisions are still in the hands of all the same people they have been from the start. Everyone should know that choosing a community manager is not something the team took lightly — all the key players at Comcept were involved in the selection and hiring process, all the way up to and including Inafune himself. We are supremely confident we made a great choice, as we think you will all agree as you get to know Dina and see her work.”
Whether or not Dina had any effect on the outcome of Mighty No. 9 is something only Comcept could confirm, but according to their public statement regarding the role of the community manager (made in response to the backlash that they were receiving in regards to Dina censoring a large part of the community based on personal ideology and making statements that made the community worried about the direction of the project), it sounds like her role did not affect the development of the game.
However, in a video archive from the Internet Aristocrat, he goes through some tweets and other logs that appear to show that Dina was working with the art team on the character designs, which seems to indicate that she may have had some influence on the game’s direction after all.
Of course, regardless of the outcome, the chat logs do reveal that Dina did appear to want to inject feminist/Social Justice Warrior ideals into the game, which was the fear that many gamers had when she first joined the project.