Heroes of Newerth is a popular real time strategy/role playing game hybrid created by S2games where basically, you fight in teams to destroy the other team’s camps. It’s one of the more popular games of the genre and recently, Giant Bomb released an inside look at the new Heroes of Newerth patch (dubbed as HoN 2.0).
One of their new features is an announcer pack which is rather controversial. Here’s a link to the relevant part of the video.
I tried to reach a rep for S2games for comment and he had this to say:
The flamboyant pack is one of many voice pack options that will be available for HoN 2.0 players. The intention of offering a wider range of voice packs is to bring a broad representation of personalities to HoN that let gamers express and differentiate themselves.
When pressed to explain the reasons behind choosing the pack specifically or explain the decision process, he did not reply (as of the time that this article was published)
GN is a bit divided on the issue.
I *get* that it’s supposed to be a joke but you know what? This is just puerile and insensitive. The whole announcer schtick was meant to humiliate and taunt the other player and then they also decided to use an effeminate male voice, rainbows, glitter and an oversexualized gay stereotype. Why not just call it the “faggot” pack instead of the flamboyant pack? It’s pretty clear what you’re trying to make fun of. Calling it flamboyant doesn’t hide anything.
In my head, this is really no better than them releasing an “Exotic” pack and having the announcer say “ROR YOU GOT OWNED” or “CHING CHONG CHANG MOTHER FUCKA'” or having a “Negro” pack and having it play “Song of the South” clips then putting a sad black face versions onto the other person’s avatar. It’s the cheap, easy but insensitive laugh that just plays on outdated stereotypes and just pisses all over your minority fan base. As a gamer, it’s all too often an occurrence to be called “fag” or “gay” online as a synonym for being bad at a game and this just officially endorses that behavior. You have to draw the line somewhere and I draw it here. This is completely inappropriate for any modern game company.
I don’t really take much issue with this and I think we have to examine exactly what the product consists of. The “announcer packs” are in essence intended to be taunts – something designed to annoy a fellow player as they lose – and having listened to the brief sample, this particular pack consists of an overly affected and obnoxious voice, which in my estimation fulfils its purpose rather well. I personally would find it grating after around the third time of being subjected to it.
The next aspect, which seems to be the contentious one, is the choice of name, the “Flamboyant Pack.” The question I have to ask gay people who see this as a swipe at them, is when did we start defining ourselves as flamboyant? For a community as diverse as ours, why are we trying to take offence to something that we know not to be representative of us? You can argue that straight gamers might be ignorant and perceive things differently, but as soon as a gay person makes an issue of this we are buying into our own outmoded stereotype, and reinforcing it in the minds of others, which only hampers and reverses progress.
There’s nothing explicitly anti-gay here, and do we really want to become those people who try to infer prejudice from everything, as though being offended was our hobby? This pack is something we can love or hate without bringing our sexuality into the equation.
What do you think? Comment in the forums.