Chucklefish apologises for ‘insensitive’ casting decisions that didn’t acknowledge the ‘systemic problem of representation in the industry’

Chucklefish has apologised after it revealed a number of white voice artists were hired to perform as characters of colour in the upcoming Wargroove DLC. 

In a lengthy apology on its social media channels, Chucklefish said it had attempted to mitigate the unconscious biases of its team by using a third-party casting team to manage the process, as well as hold blind auditions that only examined audio files, not the headshots or back catalogues of its performers. 

“During our casting process we knew that we didn’t want our own unconscious bias to impact who we hired to work on Wargroove,” Chucklefish said in a statement. “We took two steps to do this: the first was that we had an external casting management team who helped throughout development, and the second was that we handled the auditions blindly. That is to say we made a point of not looking at profiles, back catalogues, headshots etc. and made our decision only using the audition audio files sent to us.

“We sincerely apologise for the harm we have caused,” Chucklefish added. “We will be more sensitive in our future casting decisions and will continue to support the work of all those pushing for better representation of people of colour in the industry.”

The company further acknowledged that it was “insensitive” to have depicted the white voice performers alongside their characters of colour, and admitted the process had been “poorly communicated”.

This is the second time Chucklefish has had to issue an apology in the last few months. In September, the publisher responded to allegations it exploited “around a dozen” unpaid contributors who worked on Starbound.

The accusations came to light when writer Damon Reece made a number of allegations on Twitter, reporting they had worked “hundreds of hours” without any pay “while the company made unbelievable amounts of money off of [their] labour, and that of around a dozen other unpaid workers”.

“We’re aware and saddened by the current allegations against Chucklefish regarding Starbound’s early development,” the developer said via a statement at the time. “During this time both the core crew and community contributors were collaborating via a chat room and dedicated their time for free. Community contributors were under no obligation to create content, work to deadlines or put in any particular number of hours. Everyone was credited or remunerated as per their agreement.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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