Kitfox Games’ dungeon-crawling dating sim already comes with an initial content warning (CW) letting players know the game will cover some darker topics, but it doesn’t tell players exactly what lies in store later on in the game. That lack of specificity has led to blowback among some players and an announcement by the studio to update the game with a more thorough warning.
Boyfriend Dungeon’s trailers pitch it as a playful dungeon crawler where romantic partners can transform into weapons that you can wield during battle. But without going into spoilers, it also dives into issues around personal boundaries and consent via one of its main antagonists. “This game may include references to unwanted advances, stalking, and other forms of emotional manipulation. Play with care,” reads the current content warning.
Some read the CW and thought it meant that the sensitive topics mentioned might be background details, or avoidable in some way, given the lighthearted tone within marketing materials leading up to the release. In reality, the themes are a big part of the story within the game, which has led to some discord within the fandom. Victims of similar trauma say that making things like stalking a central part of the game makes it hard to engage with, especially since some bought it without expecting that part of the narrative.
“The content warning for Boyfriend Dungeon inadequately describes the events of stalking and emotional manipulation that exist in the story,” Kitfox Games wrote on Twitter over the weekend. “We’ll update the game next week with a more accurate CW. We apologise for any hurt inflicted by our mistake. Thank you for playing!”
The content warning for Boyfriend Dungeon inadequately describes the events of stalking and emotional manipulation that exist in the story. We'll update the game next week with a more accurate CW. We apologize for any hurt inflicted by our mistake. Thank you for playing!— Kitfox Games ???? BOYFRIEND DUNGEON OUT NOW (@KitfoxGames) August 14, 2021
While some people called for the game to be more upfront and transparent about the themes it covers, including on any storefront that sells it, while others have argued that the content around emotional manipulation should be made optional altogether. This prompted discussions on social media throughout the weekend about artistic freedom and the extent of personal responsibility when it comes to deciding how to engage with potentially upsetting storylines. It also raised questions about the expectations borne by marginalised creators compared to those whose artistic freedom is never questioned.
“I’m REALLY grateful that even though there’s some heated Discourse about real issues, nobody is harassing me or Kitfox! wow! Hooray!” Kitfox co-founder Tanya X. Short wrote on Twitter over the weekend. “But also, I wish ya’ll were more kind to each other too, please. empathise; recognise needs; respect.”
Released August 11 on Xbox, Switch, and PC, Boyfriend Dungeon was originally Kickstarted back in 2018 as a queer romance game that would let players engage in all different types of relationships. “I think inclusivity is important in every game…but especially in games about love and the bonds we forge with other people,” said Short in a 2017 interview about the game. “True love is always inclusive.”