Bay 12 Games and Kitfox Games’ Dwarf Fortress is coming to Steam at an undetermined time. The Steam version of the game will feature an improved graphical user interface over the original ASCII design, along with various other under-the-hood improvements to appeal to the Steam userbase. One addition to the game caught various people off guard, though: the inclusion of trans dwarves.
It was confirmed by Bay 12 Games in a tweet that was posted up on March 16th, 2019 that Dwarf Fortress would feature trans dwarves.
Yeah! We’d have them already if I hadn’t overcomplicated my thinking on what additions were needed (this is a problem of mine.) There are still some code obstacles to overcome, how I did pronouns etc, and for intersex and others we have some issues with object defs. Doable tho.
— Bay 12 Games (@Bay12Games) March 17, 2019
The first thing that most gamers asked is… “why?”
The Twitter user who requested the trans dwarves replied on behalf of Bay 12 Games, stating that it was about gender identity and expression rather than serving any sort of meaningful, functional purpose.
There are already homosexual and bisexual dwarves. It’s far more about identity and expression than anything else.
— Star Gay Lily🛡️ (@Bird_Allergies) March 17, 2019
This sort of decision did not go over well with plenty of gamers, who did not see the point in adding the feature. However, people who began to criticize the decision were promptly blocked by Bay 12 Games.
Whoooo, I’m blocked too. Hahahaha. Grow some thicker skin and stop blocking potential customers over nothing, ya dingus. Peace.
— KienanX 🇺🇸 (@KienanX) March 20, 2019
The discussion attempted to further itself and mutate into some kind of clarity on why the decision was made by going from the limited character count of Twitter to the Steam forums.
However, gamers soon found out that the Steam forums was no bastion for the freedom of expression they thought they would be afforded away from the restrictive quarantine of Twitter.
On March 20th, 2019 a Steam thread was started, discussing the developer’s decision to include the trans characters to the game. User pango wrote…
“I’m just hoping and praying that they don’t also put bigotry and prejudice towards trans and intersex people in the game. I know the game is all about realism, hence the representation of trans and intersex and gay people and it would be realistic to have people being bigoted towards those groups in the game, but Dwarf Fortress is one of my safest of safe spaces and if it contained bigotry I would have to leave and find another software safe space.”
The thread didn’t last long on Steam, though. After six or so pages it was promptly deleted.
However, any attempts to broach the topic within the Dwarf Fortress community on Steam was for naught because discussing this developmental feature is not allowed on the Steam forums.
That’s right, even though the developer decided to add trans dwarves to the game, discussing any kind of politics is forbidden, including identitarianism and sociopolitics. On March 15th, 2019 the developers pinned a post on the Steam forums, which reads…
“To be clear: it’s okay to have doubts, criticize, or analyze what we’re doing with the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress or us as publishers SO LONG AS YOU STAY RESPECTFUL.
“We may retroactively modify the rules if an issue comes up that isn’t covered in the above.”
The rules are listed as follows:
So the TL;DR of the matter is this: Bay 12 Games acquiesced a request for including trans dwarves in Dwarf Fortress. Some gamers didn’t like this decision and voiced criticism of the decision, for which Bay 12 Games promptly blocked them on Twitter. Making threads about it on the Steam forums that could come off as “divisive” are also prohibited.
This is almost identical to what Hardsuit Labs is doing with Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, where the forum is censoring and banning feedback critical of the developers’ sociopolitical influence on the game and the Left-wing agenda that gamers are not comfortable with.
Given that Dwarf Fortress is much smaller and more niche than Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, it will be interesting to see how the community deals with various forms of Left-wing sociopolitics invading the game and how they will react as it crops up during their play sessions when Bay 12 Games’ title launches on the Steam store at some point in the near future.
(Thanks for the news tip Claude)