Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear released last week, with some controversy. A small but #vocal number of #gamers were disgruntled with an “ethics” crack in the game made by Minsc, which looked like an obvious jab at #Gamergate. Even moreso by a NPC cleric named Mizhena, if asked, identifies as transgender.
Writer Amber Scott, speaking to Kotaku shortly after Dragonspear came out:
“If there was something for the original Baldur’s Gate that just doesn’t mesh for modern day gamers like the sexism, [we tried to address that],” said writer Amber Scott. “In the original there’s a lot of jokes at women’s expense. Or if not a lot, there’s a couple, like Safana was just a sex object in BG 1, and Jaheira was the nagging wife and that was played for comedy. We were able to say, ‘No, that’s not really the kind of story we want to make.’ In Siege of Dragonspear, Safana gets her own little storyline, she got a way better personality upgrade. If people don’t like that, then too bad.”
CEO Trent Oster of Beamdog issued a statement this week addressing the controversy surrounding a transgender character, as well as an “ethics” joke spoken by Minsc, in Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear. Oster acknowledged the character of Mizhena could have been addressed better with more development, agreeing with “feedback” about the controversial line from Minsc, saying that this “has nothing to do with his character.”
This whole issue prompted negative reviews on Steam and GOG, many people citing technical issues as a lead-in to complaints. One user called out the ordeal as “ham-fisted social justice garbage.” A far cry from Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition having a “very positive” user rating on Steam, wiith a 4/5 average score on GOG. Where as Dragonspear is “mixed” on Steam with an averaged of 2.5/5 on GOG.
I’m Trent Oster, CEO of Beamdog.
First off, everyone here is ecstatic to have shipped Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear. Siege represents years of hard work by a dedicated team that we grew from a combination of home grown talent, original Baldur’s Gate modders and former Bioware developers. Siege of Dragonspear represents more than 25 hours of new Baldur’s Gate gameplay, and more than 500,000 words of writing. I’m proud of our team for launching this great expansion.
We’ve received feedback around Mizhena, a supporting character who reveals she is transgender. In retrospect, it would have been better served if we had introduced a transgender character with more development. This is a lesson we will be carrying forward in our development as creators and we will be improving this character in a future update.
The last few days have showed us how passionately many of our fans care for our games. We’ve had a lot of great feedback from players who love the expansion and are having a great time experiencing the first new Baldur’s Gate story in 15 years.
While we appreciate all feedback we receive from our fans, both positive as well as negative, some of the negative feedback has focused not on Siege of Dragonspear but on individual developers at Beamdog — to the point of online threats and harassment.
I just want to make it crystal clear that Beamdog does not condone this behavior, and moreover that it will not have the desired effect as we stand behind all our developers 100%. We created the game as a group, and moving forward we’ll work on the game’s issues as a group, which I believe is exactly as it should be.
We’ve received valuable feedback around some bugs we failed to catch for ship. We’re hard at work right now patching up the issues that slipped through and we’re striving to ship fixes and improvements quickly. We will provide a complete list of the issues we plan to address in our next update. Issues of note we are addressing are:
Multiplayer – We are acting on reports of multiplayer issues and hope to have this fixed in the next update.
Minsc – Minsc has a line which generated controversy. Looking back on the line, we agree with the feedback from our community, it has nothing to do with his character and we will be removing the line.
We hope all our players continue to enjoy Siege of Dragonspear and we look forward to providing an update in the near future.
Despite all the anger, developer Beamdog has not backed down. Founder and CEO Trent Oster has responded to the negative reviews on the Beamdog forums and asked people to “consider posting a positive review to balance out the loud minority,” if they enjoyed the game.
Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear is available on Steam for Linux, Mac and Windows PC. Feel free to play and leave a more constructive comment or review.