Last month, developers Chucklefish Games published an announcement revealing the cast of Wargroove’s upcoming free expansion, Double Trouble. All four new characters being added in Double Trouble are being portrayed by white actors, while only one of the characters is white.
Now, after dozens took to Twitter to call out the cast’s lack of diversity as an instance of whitewashing in voice acting, Chucklefish and Wargroove’s outside casting director are responding to the criticism and pledging to improve its casting practices in the future.
Chucklefish responded to its initial casting announcement with a response credited to the “Wargroove Team” on Friday morning. In the statement, the developers explain that they were aided by an outside casting team, and that the developers themselves made their final casting decisions without “looking at profiles, back catalogues, headshots etc.”
“We sincerely apologise for the harm we have caused,” the statement reads. “We will be more sensitive in our future casting decisions and will continue to support the work of all those pushing for better representation of people of color in the industry.” The full text of Chucklefish’s statement follows:
Later on Friday, Kimlinh Tran, the casting director hired for Double Trouble and voice actor for Wargroove’s Ragna, weighed in with a response of her own. In a lengthy thread on Twitter, Tran recounts the months-long casting process for Double Trouble and attests that the Chucklefish team wished “to cast the characters as authentically as possible.” Even as they struggled to find actors who could do authentic Scottish accents (the developers’ desired choice for Double Trouble’s new bandit faction), Tran says she “directly contacted Scottish VA’s, minorities too, to audition.” Ultimately though, Tran is happy with the actors cast in Double Trouble’s roles. She says she feels their process was flawed and that more steps could have been taken toward representative casting.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the voice talents that were selected. I’d go to bat for all of them. But with a still imperfect landscape where marginalized voices still struggle to be cast as their characters, let alone someone else, more could’ve been done. Should’ve, even.
– Kimlinh Tran (@KimlinhTran) December 6, 2019
As with other matters of diverse representation in media, whitewashing in voiceover casting is being met with increasing scrutiny of late, particularly in film and TV production. It’s an issue Tran has spoken to previously, in another thread she links to in her response to the Wargroove criticism.
Discriminatory or non-inclusive casting practices aside, video game voice is an industry rife with difficulties. Even for performers fortunate enough to have union representation and who find work on prominent titles, challenges related to seasonality, instability, the rigors of self-promotion, and various forms of exploitation are common in voice acting, as with any largely freelance-oriented profession.
Earlier this year, contractors who worked on Chucklefish’s 2016 release Starbound accused the company of exploitative practices. At the time, Chucklefish released a statement declaring that the developer places “strong emphasis on good working practices, [and on] providing a welcoming environment for all employees and freelancers.” With regards to both its casting decisions and its treatment of contractors, Chucklefish’s future actions will speak louder than its words—and as always, whatever progress is made will be due in part to the community members who brought attention to the issues at hand.