Dead Island sparks sexism flap

PC gamers unearth derogatory references in code of Techland's survival horror action game; developer apologizes, evaluating options for its removal.


Techland's Dead Island has proven to be quite the controversial game, though for reasons that pertain not at all to its rabid, flesh-eating zombies. And while the first wave of anger over the game involved an intense CG-rendered teaser trailer depicting the gruesome death of a child, the second is rooted in a misogynistic inclusion in the game itself.

Zombies have a legitimate claim to the title
Zombies have a legitimate claim to the title "man-eater."

Last night, a Steam user claimed to have uncovered a line of code in the PC edition of Dead Island referring to an in-game skill for the female survivor Purna as "Feminist Whore." The line of code can reportedly be found in Dead Island's .scr file.

Steam users quickly picked up on the original post, speculating that it is in reference to Purna's ability that grants a 15 percent damage increase against male characters. In the game itself, it is referred to as the "Gender Wars" skill.

In a statement released to GameSpot, Techland confirmed that the derogatory references can be found in the game, and apologized for the oversight. The developer also said that their inclusion was the result of a single individual:

It has come to our attention that one of Dead Island’s leftover debug files contains a highly inappropriate internal script name of one of the character skills. This has been inexcusably overlooked and released with the game.

The line in question was something a programmer considered a private joke. The skill naturally has a completely different in-game name and the script reference was also changed. What is left is a part of an obscure debug function. This is merely an explanation but by no means an excuse. In the end, that code was made a part of the product and signed with our company name. We deeply regret that fact and we apologize to all our customers or anyone who might have been offended by that inappropriate expression.

The person responsible for this unfortunate situation will face professional consequences for violating the professional standards and beliefs Techland stands for.

A Techland representative further stated that the studio is "currently evaluating options for dealing with the issue."

Responding to a request for comment, North American publisher Deep Silver would only confirm the line of code, calling it the work of a lone developer at the studio. "These unfortunate actions were of one individual at developer company Techland and do not in any way represent the views of publishing company Deep Silver," the publisher said in a statement.

The PC edition of Dead Island is proving to be a headache for Techland. Upon the game's release earlier this week, Techland said that an "incorrect version" of the game was released on Steam. Though it was subsequently fixed, those who had begun playing the game with the initially released version may have experienced corrupted save files.

Deep Silver has promised a make-good for PC gamers affected by this issue. For more information, check out GameSpot's review of Dead Island.

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Avatar image for risseer23

Who cares so stupid.....

Avatar image for Gryphes2k

There are a ton of sites that solely bash males on Internet but non of them say anything against it. the only person bashes women was D1ck Masterson but I saw how much hate mails he got within 1 year. search on his forum so u would find them. in West women have too much of freedom in Middle East women they got nothing. but in Asia everything is well balanced. ;)

Avatar image for deadbeatatdawn

<< LINK REMOVED >> Women in the West cannot have too much freedom - dickhead

Avatar image for XBLACKXVIPERX

some1 just got he put that on the game knowingly or not what da big deal...its a horror game take left 4 dead or house of the dead overkill WTH is the big deal dont fire the guy 4 it jeezz

Avatar image for chang_1910

@Frame_Dragger: you took the harder task. At least you should have give me fixing health system in the world. You`ll spend the rest of your life trying to deal with internet jerks. :P PS. this game is a good 7.0: glitchy, and no flawless, but very fun (ps3 version, can`t comment on others)

Avatar image for Philly04

"Feminist whore!" there, I said it. Does this make me sexist now?

Avatar image for Sapphire_Lexy

@Philly04 I don't think there's anything sexist about it. I'm female and I consider myself an anti-feminist. :p

Avatar image for gladi8or19

oh well...

Avatar image for JakeX28

Someone's gonna get in trouble..

Avatar image for a_tiger101

You should have just used this as an Easter egg for code nerds or something ... Why did they have to make such a big deal out of it ..

Avatar image for steveguttenberg

In response to, "...zombies chomping away on people in game, that's ok, but you mention whore and people have a problem?" I guess the difference is the presentation. The zombies' actions are presented as wrong an terrifying. The developer is clearly against zombies eating people. This is unanimously accepted because zombies don't exist in real life, and can't be offended. Feminists, though, are actual people. The game doesn't openly present them as villains, one of the programmers called them a name privately in the code. Seems likely that something you write to yourself is what you actually think, so I'd say at least that programmer is a little hostile to feminists. But that's my problem with this. The code is some normally inaccessible thing, and the developers shouldn't have to pay for something no one could see without violating their privacy. If your son reveals in his journal that he did in fact eat all the cookies, isn't it wrong to punish him for it without punishing yourself for violating his privacy?

Avatar image for WickedWeavile

Isn't 'feminist whore' an oxymoron? Correct me if I'm wrong. [Edit]: Also, if the line of code had been "Male Pig" instead of "Feminist Whore" I guarantee that there wouldn't be any kind of uproar. Hell, not even a whisper. Got to love those double standards.

Avatar image for Psycho_Hands

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

Avatar image for jasonzilla11

Wow. Do people just search in codes for games just to find something that they think is a bit controversial? How does someone find that on accident? : *sigh*

Avatar image for Mogzsnet


Avatar image for lewishim666

Everybody needs something to b*tch about.

Avatar image for lexika

Pfff...I'm a girl and this doesn't offend me one bit. BIG DEAL! Move on with it

Avatar image for FK_InTheCoffee

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

Avatar image for KoRneYEZ

You could hear the same damn line on TV, so what's the uproar about some obscure line of code? I seriously hope the so-called professional consequences against the employee are a bunch of PR whackjobs doing their thing.

Avatar image for Gravity_Slave

people have way too much time on their hands. Its just a game! Movies and books do it all the why can't an adult game join the ranks? Lame.

Avatar image for DP1130

I find it funny you see zombies chomping away on people in game, that's ok, but you mention whore and people have a problem? I just need to stop reading articles like this. They only upset me.

Avatar image for Eincrou

The title of this article is outrageous. It's no more sexist to lampoon feminism than it's racist to make fun of Jesse Jackson. Get a clue, Gamespot. There is a proper definition of 'sexism' and this incident meets ZERO of the qualifications. It has nothing to do with women as a whole, unless you're foolish enough to believe that ALL women subscribe to the full spectrum of feminism's insanity. Feminists like to hide behind the fraud that challenging them and their ideology is hatred for all women, and your Tom Magrino has fallen for it. However, this incident does highlight the possibility of MISANDRY, i.e. hatred of males. The Gender Wars ability allows Purna to deal extra damage to ALL MALES. This meets the sexism definition. But I bet you won't write an article about that, Gamespot. That's okay, though, because I already have. Go to the-spearhead(dot)com to read it. My article (and the rest of the website) will give you that clue you sorely need.

Avatar image for comb5

I would have loved it if the developer response was "We thought it was funny, we still think it's funny, sorry that you people have no sense of humor."

Avatar image for caketoo

People need to stop getting all riled up over things that are hidden in game files that most people cant even find or want to find. Only games get this kinda crap while every other form of entertainment can do what they want, in far worse wording. They shouldnt apologize and the 'person' shouldnt even be spoken to about it. This is what happens when you let em out of the kitchen{couldnt help myself}

Avatar image for stEElyDaN909

Why is it that every time I hear about this game, it's got a new controversial problem?

Avatar image for Cloud-Zehro

@jmrwacko You've obviously never had a girlfriend, or wife...

Avatar image for aaron25m

wow why the big deal? how many players are going to be sifting through the game files to find stuff like this if it doesn't show in game play, talk about get a life to those that do.

Avatar image for Dynamo11

lmfao what "Feminist Whore" XD

Avatar image for X-7

"Feminist Whore" wow that classy... :P Sexist jerks.

Avatar image for spartanofhell7

I've heard worse in the GTA 4 game play than this, this is nothing, complain? go complain about GTA jeez (i love GTA) I mean we're talking about the scripting not the real game play, as much as I'm concerned this is nothing. (i love GTA makes these kinda things look just smack down stupid)

Avatar image for shakensparco

People make big news out of the stupidest things all the time. It's not like many girls will actually play Dead Island. Then consider how many of the girls who play Dead Island would find the code or hear about it from someone, and then consider how many would actually be offended. If people just chuckled at it and moved on, then companies wouldn't be unfairly slandered and I wouldn't be shaking my head at people and news companys that make this seem like a big deal.

Avatar image for Llama345

@RapidFirE53211 I was just going to say about the same thing. It amazes me that people get so uptight about stuff. It is a videogame, like someone else said they have a little kid falling out of a building and people think that is cool, how do you define a line that says you have gone too far? I mean you are killing people in this game. Did that some how get overlooked as not being a line?

Avatar image for seldom-fat

They mention it already, but it's odd they issued an apology to people who might be offended by the term, yet a child falling off of a hotel is a cool trailer. Not that either should require an apology, though, it's just strange where they draw the line...

Avatar image for Overlord_Meril

That's kind of really hilarious... lol.

Avatar image for darkcomedian


Avatar image for jmrwacko

@ RapidFirE53211 Give me a single instance in which you have been systematically oppressed by a woman who wasn't an authority figure (parent, teacher, etc).

Avatar image for RapidFirE53211

Sexism: Its only unacceptable when men do it :/

Avatar image for vallan2

1. Who finds this kind of stuff digging through game code, and 2. Why would they whine about it on a forum? Especially given the skill it was used for? It's the devs freedom to write the code however they please, and if it doesn't affect the general public, why stir up the issue? It's not like subliminal thoughts or anything

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@LinkLuigi A lot of comments are not ALL the coments, maybe most of people here don't understand how hard this is, but in you go to you will find it is not like that, not in hard percentage. This, of course, does not deny how bad this reaction is when it happens.

Avatar image for Yamaneko22

What's so offensive in word "feminst whore"? LOL Political correctness:P

Avatar image for LinkLuigi

@Warlord_Irochi I don't know what sites you're going to. I honestly don't. Most comments out there are pretty much like this. Yes, this does speak for the community as a whole, pretty much because of the contents of the comments. As you can see here, most people feel that this is no big deal. Not a problem. However, from these comments (and many, many others) they feel that way because games can do no wrong. "This is a violent video game, why is tihs such a big deal! It's just two words!". Probably because those two words have nothing to do with the game? Maybe you should...I a tad more research before saying that I speak for my "contrieved truths". Everytime there is an issue like this, gamers are usually quick to sweep it under a rug. So yes, these comments aren't about Dead Island, as much as it is about defending a developer who has done something stupid. And that happens very, very often. The video game industry is growing up, and is starting to become a valid form of entertainment that's not just for immature children. We gotta call these things out.

Avatar image for Lamesy

@elitmer_basic +1000. I can't believe someone else on this website knows 3rd wave feminism! WWCPD? (What would Camille Paglia do?)

Avatar image for zidan4000

Shut up and go make me a sandwich.

Avatar image for voidhawk2000

I really dont see the big deal here - or am I missing the point? Back to the age old saying - "It's only a game" People trying to be too smart for their own good... honestly - they should get a life...

Avatar image for syam32245340

Dush!*slap to your face*

Avatar image for syam32245340

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

Avatar image for Tylendal

What a coincidence, I was just thinking about the Hot Coffee scandal today, and how getting worked up over that would be like getting worked up over something found in a coders comment line. Would people get worked up over a mere comment line. I guess this proves yes. Yes they would.

Avatar image for XboxGuy1537

Whatever, I honestly don't care. Way more offensive stuff out there folks.