Stellar Blade reviewers came across a controversial graffiti in-game that was unintentionally racist and pointed it out. The developers have since replaced it with a politically correct one.

With the review embargo lifted on Stellar Blade, media website IGN came across graffiti in-game that when looked at next to each other appeared to read the phrase "Hard R". The term itself, while maybe harmless to the world at large, is considered a racist slur in particular in North America. Sony quickly addressed the issue, calling it "unintentional" and announcing it would be patched.

"The placement of two graphics near each other in Stellar Blade resulted in an unintentional objectionable phrase. Shift Up had no intention of creating offensive artwork and will be replacing the graffiti for the Day 1 patch."

PlayStation's statement via IGN

What was the "Hard R" graffiti about in Stellar Blade?

Image Source: <a href="">IGN</a> | Sony claims the racist graffiti in Stellar Blade was "unintentional"
Image Source: IGN | Sony claims the racist graffiti in Stellar Blade was "unintentional"

Stellar Blade has a character who runs a shop as an information broker in-game. This character, called Roxanne, runs the "R Shop". The R Shop sign has a large R with the word shop written underneath it. Right next to it is graffiti that says the word "Hard". Unfortunately for the developers it visually came across as a "Hard R", which evokes a references to a racial slur, particularly in North America. Reviewers pointed out this unintentionally racist graffiti on Twitter, prompting backlash towards the game.

How did Stellar Blade address the racist graffiti?

Sony quickly addressed the "Hard R" Graffiti issue in Stellar Blade, telling reviewers the graffiti was "unintentional", promising an immediate patch, which was swiftly deployed.. The graffiti now says "Crime" after the game's New Game Plus patch. In the grand scheme of things, this was a small issue. Reviewers pointed out an unintentionally controversial piece of in-game art. The developers addressed it as soon as they found it.

Unfortunately for the developers ShiftUp however, this incident reignited the "Sweet Baby" discourse on Twitter again, a discourse which debates how much involvement diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) agencies should have on video games to avoid such incidents.

What's the Sweet Baby discourse?

Sweet Baby Inc. is a DEI consultancy firm in the gaming industry that advises game developers on addressing sensitive topics in-game and vets games before release for any content that could offend minorities and other groups of people.

Recently, it has been the subject of discourse on Twitter, with several arguments between gamers and critics. Gamers believe that Sweet Baby Inc. is responsible for games going "woke" and being censored. The discourse is being dubbed "Gamergate 2.0" on Twitter.

The racist "Hard R" graffiti in Stellar Blade sparked discourse that consulting a DEI consultancy firm such as Sweet Baby Inc. would have avoided such controversy. As always, there is a pushback to this opinion from gamers. Unfortunately for Stellar Blade, the game has attracted this discourse on review day.

All said and done, the developers addressed the issue quickly. The Sweet Baby discourse is unlikely to die down anytime soon.

Reviewers have given Stellar Blade a positive score overall. The game currently sits at a critics rating of 82 on Metacritic, with Stellar Blade's release date near at hand.

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