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British Academy Games Awards.Date: Thursday 4 April 2019.Venue: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London.Host: Dara Ó Briain .-.Area: Red Carpet

Source: Carlo Paloni / Getty / Abubakar Salim / Tales of Kenzera: ZAU


Surgent Studios founder and creative director of Tales of Kenzera: ZAU Abubakar Salim addressed the constant harassment he and the studio have faced since releasing the game.

The video game industry still has a long way to go regarding diversity and inclusion.

People like Abubakar Salim are working hard to show that Black and Brown people have a place in the game’s business with the release of his game, Tales of Kenzera: Zau. However, there are still issues that must be dealt with, and Salim decided to speak about those challenges he and his studios have had to deal with.

Friday, Salim posted a five-minute video on his personal X/Twitter account to speak on the constant harassment that he admits he didn’t want to address initially.

Salim says he has dealt with claims that he didn’t “deserve the opportunit[ies]” he got at the beginning of his career, adding, “No, it was simply because I’m Black, and I’ve turned my other cheek and just kept doing my thing.”

Before dropping his game, Salim was best known for his acting roles in Assassin’s Creed Origins and roles in MAX’s original series Raised By Wolves and season two of Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon.

Salim states in the video that he could brush off some of the comments, but “when there’s a constant barrage of them, it’s exhausting.”

The actor/video game developer says the harassment reached a “fever pitch” once his game, Tales of Kenzera: Zau, came to the forefront and became a focal point of the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) harassment campaigns.

Per IGN:

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s been so much amazing and beautiful support for this game. The fact that it’s inspired so many people and touched, you know, so many lives, it was one of our goals from the outset — to have this positive impact, right?” Salim says. “But at the same time, we are being faced with constant targeted harassment from people who see diversity as a threat. From people who look across the vast landscape of modern media and decide that anything that doesn’t speak to them or centers around them is unnecessary and inauthentic.”

“And look,” he continues, “there’s always a reason why diverse stories can’t exist. You know, it’s always either we’re doing it the wrong way or it’s just there to tick boxes and it’s just beginning to feel like there is no right way. You know, these exclusionary rules continue to stack up and the goalposts continue to shift until, you know, me, my studio, people who look like us, just sit down, be quiet and just accept the fact that you’re outsiders. But I won’t do that.”

“If there are people who aren’t like you in a game, I want you to know that game is still for you,” Salim continues. “You know, if the characters are a different race or a different gender or you know, a different ideology or different perspective, that doesn’t mean the game isn’t for you. It can still be for you.”

Salim Counters The Harassment By Lowering The Price Tales of Kenzera: ZAU Game On Nintendo Switch

The game dev was determined to make his game accessible to as many people as possible, setting it at an affordable $20 price point across Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

To combat the harassment, Salim announced that he lowered the cost of the game to less than $15 on the Nintendo Switch, thanking Nintendo for “acting fast on this.”

“I’m working with the team in bringing this discount to all platforms, and it’s gonna start from now to until the end of June because, you know, it just means so much to me, man,” he says.

Salim continues, “I believe this is just one way that I can show you how serious I am about this,” he says. “Games are for everyone. Diverse games, they’re not about taking something away from you. They’re about adding something new because there’s room for all of us.”

X Rallies Behind Abukar Salim

Following the release of his video, the gaming communities rallied behind Salim, offering him plenty of support and applauding his courage and commitment to pushing diversity in the gaming space.

“This is the message we all need to hear,” Kinda Funny and Gamertag Radio cohost Parris Lilly wrote.

Senior editor Alyssa Mercante added, “So grateful for your work, your vision, and your voice, and to consider you a friend.”

“Black gamers have been playing as non-Black characters in games for so long and enjoy those games, us included. But there is nothing wrong with us also wanting us to be represented fairly and authentically in the medium. What we’re finding here is these detractors don’t want the exact same experience that Black gamers have had to endure for a majority of the history of gaming,” Black Girl Gamers wrote.

We hear at HHW Gaming stand with Abubakar Salim and will continue to ensure we shine a spotlight on Black and Brown game developers like Salim, Xalavier Nelson Jr., and others.

You can see more messages of support sent to Salim in the gallery below.

‘Tales of Kenzera: ZAU’ Director Abubakar Salim Counters “Constant Harassment” By Lowering The Price of His Game, X Rallies Behind Him  was originally published on hiphopwired.com

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