Scum recently launched into an ever-more crowded battle royale genre, with the Devolver Digital-published title performing better at launch than any other game in the company’s history, shifting some 250,000 copies in its first 24 hours on sale.
Those picking up the supporter’s pack DLC, however, were greeted with a few elements of customisation that... prompted discussion, shall we say. Neo-Nazi tattoos, in short: an iron cross with a skull in it, and the numbers 14 and 88. All three are consistent with neo-Nazi imagery, and it certainly wasn’t a coincidence.
For what it’s worth, Scum – as the name suggests – paints a dark picture of humanity, with players taking control of prisoners made to fight to the death for the entertainment of a viewing public. Safe to say, prisoners in the real world are known for having questionable tattoo choices, so that at least could be argued to be a realistic element.
The pushback against the imagery came from numerous sources – notably Reddit and Steam forums – and resulted in both Devolver and developer Gamepires releasing statements in which they admit wrong and apologise. The tattoos have since been patched out of Scum.
Devolver’s statement, sent to Polygon, read: “Devolver Digital has become aware of tattoos representing neo-Nazi symbology in the newly released prison survival simulation game Scum. We do not agree with use of this symbology or any hateful content, regardless of intention.
“The use of the tattoo was intended to assist in portraying a realistic element of prison culture and the horrid elements within it. This content has been patched out as of this morning, and Devolver Digital are currently conducting a full review of all assets and content in the game with Gamepires. We strongly condemn any and all use of hateful symbology in our games and agree it should have never been in the game regardless of creative intent or realism. Devolver Digital apologizes unreservedly.”
Gamepires, meanwhile – also sent to Polygon – read: “Recently we patched out content from Scum that included neo-Nazi symbols. Our intention was to create an atmosphere of the worst of the worst criminals in Scum, and to portray the horrible type of people who would find themselves in a ‘fight to the death’ situation for a futuristic reality show where the worst criminals are pitted against one another.
“Since our initial response on our forums we’ve discussed this as a team and with our publisher and agree wholeheartedly that this content was unnecessary, should not have been included, and have removed it. We apologize for this misstep and promise to our fans that we will take more caution in our approach moving forward.”