Behavior Interactive, developer of co-op survival horror game Dead in daylight, has decided to remove certain cosmetics from the game after years of complaints that they were used for racially harassing black players. Announced as part of a developer update, the cosmetic will be removed in an upcoming patch, and players who unlocked the cosmetic will be compensated with in-game currency. In the update, Behavior Interactive wrote:
“Community members have shared their experiences with people who attacked and harassed them while using some of these masks. These messages were discouraging to hear and we absolutely condemn this behavior. We don’t like having these masks in play when they are used as a means of spreading hate. To that end, we’ll be removing The Cannibal’s unlockable faces in this upcoming mid-chapter.
The cosmetic, introduced into the game several years ago, was a special skin designed for the killer “The Cannibal”, also known as Leatherface from the 1974 horror movie classic. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The cosmetic allowed Leatherface to wear the faces of one of the four original surviving characters, one of whom is a black woman named Claudette. Black players expressed their unease about the Claudette version of the skin, as it appeared to be a case of blackface. Blackface is a racist trope in the media in which non-black performers make themselves look like caricatures of black people by darkening their skin, drawing on huge, exaggerated red lips or wearing unkempt, frizzy wigs.
MiladyConfetti is a black streamer and member of the Dead in daylight affiliate program. She described the skin as “horrific” and initially thought the game was faltering because she didn’t believe such a skin — one where a white man wore a black woman’s skin in a literal case of blackface — could exist.
In addition to the skin itself evoking the specter of blackface, the way the skin was used caused an even greater concern. black Dead in daylight streamers reported killers wearing the Claudette version of the Leatherface skin — which they’d adopted to call it “Blackface Leatherface” — and harassing them.
“I was harassed by players who knew I was a streamer, especially with the Blackface Leatherface cosmetics,” MiladyConfetti told me. The edge. “I knew it was the players because after they were harassed in the game, they came to my stream and called me slander and acknowledged that they were the killer.”
MiladyConfetti and other Black Dead in daylight players began a campaign advocating the removal of the cosmetic, citing the inconvenient proximity to blackface’s racist act and the abuse by players targeting Black streamers.
In November 2021, SistaKaren, another one Dead in daylight partner maker, released a video explaining the problem they and others have been having with Blackface Leatherface.
The video contains numerous anecdotes of black streamers being targeted by killers wearing the Claudette Leatherface skin. SistaKaren described how a Claudette Leatherface sent her messages that read, “I hate black people,” and other messages that were ostensibly defamatory but censored by chat filters. Another player related an incident where a Claudette Leatherface would hurt them by playing with them exclusively or killing them while ignoring other survivors. The incidents of harassment got so bad that, upon seeing a Leatherface with the Claudette skin, black players immediately locked themselves out of the game as a protective measure, which ironically led to even more intimidation. A Claudette Leatherface user mounted a lengthy campaign of harassment against a streamer who disconnected upon seeing the skin and sent racist and toxic messages to the streamer’s Discord, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
The Claudette Leatherface skin is another example of racist players using things designed to be representative of black people as a tool of intimidation. Twitch has long struggled with people spamming the Trihard emote, with the face of Black streamer Trihex, to harass Black streamers. The same goes for the “cmonbruh” emote, which has many streamers banning the use of both emotes outright in order to avoid that kind of behavior. In Red Dead Redemption Online, players concocted elaborate racist role-playing games in which they act as slave catchers for players with black avatars.
“I feel good that [Claudette Leatherface] has been removed,” said MiladyConfetti. “It should have taken way too long, especially since this conversation started years ago.”
Other players agreed, including the senior character artist at Behavior Interactive who created the skins.
As the artist who created the bubba masks, I’m glad they’re being removed. As cool as it would have been to have an Easter egg for all the survivors. The reality is that there were a lot of players who used them in harmful ways. Gamers, regardless of the game, please treat others with respect.
— Eric Bourdages (@EZE3D) January 4, 2022
Other players on Dead in daylight forums see this action as ineffective because it seemingly “punishes” people who worked to earn the skin, while racist players will simply find other ways to be racist. They propose improved reporting features as a better solution to the racism problem.
SistaKaren understands that Behavior has not magically solved the problem of player racism in Dead in daylight.
“It will not [solve the racism problem], especially when you consider how anti-black animosity and outright racism are still widespread and normalized in gaming,” she said. The edge.
“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also recognize the ongoing damage that black players would experience,” she said. “While we have all experienced racism in the game, the worst cases are always with someone wearing these cosmetics.”
Behavior Interactive’s decision to remove the Claudette Leatherface acknowledges that while something was conceived with benign intentions, its use will cause harm and damage will not be tolerated.