Valve’s card game Artifact is coming out in November. Recently, the Artifact Twitter account has been tweeting out designs for some of the cards alongside explanations of how they work. On September 27, that included a card called “Crack The Whip”, the text of which begins “Modify a black hero...” Today the name of the card was changed.
In the context of the game, “black” isn’t being used racially, but rather to refer to cards of a certain colour with a thematic connection. Crack The Whip’s illustration is of a big blue lizard creature whipping a group of smaller blue lizard creatures on a battlefield.
The words themselves though, when taken together, read like an allusion to slavery and the subjugation of people of colour by whites.
This card packs a big punch immediately and then keeps on punching. When you play Crack the Whip, it triggers once right after it’s played. If you play an Untested Grunt next to the whipped hero it will trigger again, and the Grunt will receive the bonus. pic.twitter.com/qXflFpdOZb
— Artifact (@PlayArtifact) September 26, 2018
People following the game, such as the commenters on ResetEra, noticed the connection. “How do people not catch these things?!?” one of them wrote. “Like I’m oblivious at times but even I can see the problem here.”
The responses to the initial Artifact tweet saw the obvious problem as well. “A card called Crack the Whip that modifies black heroes... guessing there’s not a lot of diversity over at the Artifact offices,” reads the first response.
Valve did not respond to a request for comment by Kotaku about how this sort of thing ended up in the game or whether there was any internal discussion about its implications. However, shortly after Kotaku reached out to Valve today, the company announced through another tweet on the Artifact Twitter account that it would be changing the name of the card to “Coordinated Assault”.
Artifact is currently in closed beta on Steam and set to release on November 29.