N-word used in Animal Crossing PR gaffe

Every now and then, game companies' PR and marketing backfires. Sony's 2007 God of War II promotional party featuring a decapitated goat made Fortune's list of the 101 Dumbest Business Moments of the year. Then there was the Wii port of Okami, for which Capcom swiped cover art from gaming site...

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Every now and then, game companies' PR and marketing backfires. Sony's 2007 God of War II promotional party featuring a decapitated goat made Fortune's list of the 101 Dumbest Business Moments of the year. Then there was the Wii port of Okami, for which Capcom swiped cover art from gaming site IGN--and forgot to remove the watermark.

This week sees another such misstep, this committed by Nintendo in an effort to promote the interoperability of the recently released Animal Crossing: City Folk with 2005's Animal Crossing: Wild World for the DS. To allow members of the media the chance to check out the function, Nintendo sent out copies of Wild World with a saved city already on it.

But as spotted by MTV Multiplayer and confirmed by GameSpot, not everyone in the city was very neighborly. Specifically, the character of Baarbara the sheep greets players by using a racial epithet (pictured) in a modified form commonly used as a greeting in hip-hop culture. The line also includes a line of dialogue from the film Full Metal Jacket that Asian-Americans might find offensive. Wild World lets players customize greetings, and it appears that the objectionable wording was inserted using that function.

Although embarrassing, the Animal Crossing N-word flap doesn't rank alongside the game industry's biggest PR fiascos. Those include Microsoft's steady drumbeat of denials of widespread Xbox 360 failures in the months leading up to its $1 billion admission that the "Red Red Ring of Death" was all too common. The Big Kahuna of publicity trainwrecks came in 2005, when Take-Two Interactive insisted that the "Hot Coffee" sex minigames in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were the work of PC hackers...just days before the minigames were found hidden in the unalterable PlayStation 2 version of the game.

[UPDATE] True to its word, a contrite Nintendo issued a statement to GameSpot apologizing for any offense and promising to recall the offending copies of the game from media outlets.

"Previously played copies of the 2005 DS game Animal Crossing: Wild World were sent to 14 members of the media to demonstrate the ability of players to transfer items to the new Animal Crossing: City Folk for Wii," said the publisher. "We regret that an offensive phrase was included without our knowledge via a wireless function that allows user-generated catchphrases to spread virally from one game to the next. This version is limited to 14 copies created for media review purposes only and is not available at retailers. We sincerely apologize for the incident and are working with media who received the game cards to return them to Nintendo immediately."

Discussion

38 comments
Pokebub22
Pokebub22

Anyone come here from Nookipedia?

bgres077
bgres077

Oh no, they said nachos!!!!!!! That's no Japanese delicacy!

DataDream
DataDream

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Lisandro_v22
Lisandro_v22

ok this is really stupid and it's nothing compared to the GoW goat issue, anyway i find it even more stupid that GS didn't post the word, it's just an article come on

-abacus-
-abacus-

The thing is, this is a game that is marketed towards children, and having racial slurs like this could give them bad impressions. While in the hip-hop culture it is used as a greeting, historically it has been used as a racial slur and a derogatory term.

MetalMan300
MetalMan300

Ok, personally I find this very irresponsible of nintendo. They should know better to put that kind of language in a kids game. Consider me disappointed with you all nintendo, at least until you make pikmin 3 :) Then maybe Ill reconsider.

DataDream
DataDream

Isn't this kind of crap common sense by now? Certain things are going to be offensive - why don't game developers get that? Oh well it seems to be getting more common instead of less.

burstlimit514
burstlimit514

ya i partly find this offending but some how i dont.

tehfireballer
tehfireballer

i agree with seacorpse. Why is race such a big issue? I mean really. I'd rather have someone call me a cracker than call me retarded. Or call me a leprechaun because im irish, then call me a failure at life... Fact is, shouldn't you have reasons to be proud of your race? So why feel bad when someone calls you black? Or in this case, a synonym of it?

Fanboy4Hire
Fanboy4Hire

I'm black, and I think this is pretty funny. Maybe I'm not sensitive enough. Besides, everyone knew sheep were racists. Where did the term "black sheep" come from? Racist sheep! lol

ItsEvolution
ItsEvolution

Everything is offensive. Let's all just bury our heads in the sand.

daveneonfarrell
daveneonfarrell

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

enoslives7
enoslives7

I knew it !!! Nintendo is a bunch of racists

Jaymian
Jaymian

Everybody settle down. The sheep is black and it is therefore ok if he says it. Seems fair right?

howell1972
howell1972

Great. Why should it be a problem. Colored people call them selves that all the time. In both movies and music. Cry me a river. Ohhh the rasicm.

SeacorpsePirate
SeacorpsePirate

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Absolutezerr
Absolutezerr

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

gnbfd
gnbfd

**** you Nintendo...

CryoZero
CryoZero

Well all animals in the series hate humans, thats why they make them do work for little in return, and don't get me started on Nook

Apoklitty
Apoklitty

being african american this is just ofensive

diddz1
diddz1

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

diddz1
diddz1

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

DeltaSpirit
DeltaSpirit

Nintendo's Lame attempt at appealing to the hardcore gangster rap crowd?

IrishNoFear
IrishNoFear

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Triton
Triton

Maybe all the A-word people should sue them for damages...

Link_86
Link_86

Nintendo! Wow... didn't think you had it in you...

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

I really don't remember any racial slurs when I got my copy of the game earlier in 2006. But I do know that you can have animals say racial slurs for their catchphrase or something like that. Back on topic, I wonder who did this at Ninty though? I hope Reggie fires the guy who did it.

Helbrec
Helbrec

I hate how people think the Nword is so bad. I said it to my friend at school in a joke, someone overheard and told this black kid. Next day I walk out of the pizzashop across from the school and he jumps me and clocks me in the side of the head 20 times. He got off with a 1 day suspension while i get 3 days because i said something racist....

Fareru
Fareru

Hah! That's too funny... I wonder how someone managed to let that slip under the radar...

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

Well, looks like someone's going to get fired @_@

higglefliggle
higglefliggle

It looks like a racist Mario! It makes my rofl-copter go SOI SOI SOI SOI SOI SOI SOI!

daabulls23
daabulls23

Whoops. It's kinda funny since it looks like he's saying it to Mario.

AdventFFVII
AdventFFVII

OMFG!!!! ROFL!!!!! KeKeKeKeKeKeKe!!!!!

xColinRx
xColinRx

Family friendly gaming my @ss!!! Im totally dissapointed in Ninty right now.

GS_News
GS_News moderatorstaff

Every now and then, game companies' PR and marketing backfires. Sony's 2007 God of War II promotional party featuring a decapitated goat made Fortune's list of the 101 Dumbest Business Moments of the year. Then there was the Wii port of Okami, for which Capcom swiped cover art from gaming site IGN--and forgot to remove the watermark.

This week sees another such misstep, this committed by Nintendo in an effort to promote the interoperability of the recently released Animal Crossing: City Folk with 2005's Animal Crossing: Wild World for the DS. To allow members of the media the chance to check out the function, Nintendo sent out copies of Wild World with a saved city already on it.

But as spotted by MTV Multiplayer and confirmed by GameSpot, not everyone in the city was very neighborly. Specifically, the character of Baarbara the sheep greets players by using a racial epithet (pictured) in a modified form commonly used as a greeting in hip-hop culture. The line also includes a line of dialogue from the film Full Metal Jacket that Asian-Americans might find offensive. Wild World lets players customize greetings, and it appears that the objectionable wording was inserted using that function.

Although embarrassing, the Animal Crossing N-word flap doesn't rank alongside the game industry's biggest PR fiascos. Those include Microsoft's steady drumbeat of denials of widespread Xbox 360 failures in the months leading up to its $1 billion admission that the "Red Red Ring of Death" was all too common. The Big Kahuna of publicity trainwrecks came in 2005, when Take-Two Interactive insisted that the "Hot Coffee" sex minigames in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were the work of PC hackers...just days before the minigames were found hidden in the unalterable PlayStation 2 version of the game.

[UPDATE] True to its word, a contrite Nintendo issued a statement to GameSpot apologizing for any offense and promising to recall the offending copies of the game from media outlets.

"Previously played copies of the 2005 DS game Animal Crossing: Wild World were sent to 14 members of the media to demonstrate the ability of players to transfer items to the new Animal Crossing: City Folk for Wii," said the publisher. "We regret that an offensive phrase was included without our knowledge via a wireless function that allows user-generated catchphrases to spread virally from one game to the next. This version is limited to 14 copies created for media review purposes only and is not available at retailers. We sincerely apologize for the incident and are working with media who received the game cards to return them to Nintendo immediately."