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Thunder Lotus have been doing well with Spiritfarer, with it going on to receiving very warm reviews and it's now available on even more stores for additional choice but it's not without issues.

Spiritfarer is an absolutely gorgeous game, that truly hits the right mark in many ways from how it tells the stories of the dead and how you deal with death to the amazing art and audio. However, Thunder Lotus seemed to completely miss the mark in one of the stories it told. It involves a character with a wheelchair, with the character mentioning how in death they would be "free from my dreaded wheelchair" which it has been said is ableist writing.

Thunder Lotus have now issued a formal apology on Twitter, noting that they will be correcting it and learning from it. Considering the setting and how the game is all about caring for people and being empathetic, to me it doesn't seem like it was intentional ableism. Considering they owned up the issues in such a quick and respectful way, I'm certainly not going to be warning anyone away from it (and neither is the person who initially mentioned the issue). Overall, Spiritfarer is a genuinely incredible experience.

As for the availability of Spiritfarer it can now be found across these stores: Humble Store, GOG, itch.io, Steam and Stadia.

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18 comments
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Nezchan 3 Sep
Huh. I did notice that bit of dialogue, but thought they did a pretty good job of communicating that it wasn't wheelchairs in general that were bad, but the character's resentment at how they were seen by others due to the device. But then, I'm able-bodied and thus don't have the experience to really comprehend the point of view.

Good on them for taking this as an opportunity to improve their craft rather than get defensive about it. The writing overall is top-notch (and that particular character is among my favourites) even if I did find the ending unsatisfying.
Fair play to them for acknowledging their error and pledging to fix it rather than doubling down and insisting it stay in the game
madpinger 3 Sep
Meh, I dont' see the issue frankly. If the char doesn't want to be in the wheel chair, that's the char's choice. it doesn't represent all people in a wheel chair.
eldaking 3 Sep
Quoting: madpingerMeh, I dont' see the issue frankly. If the char doesn't want to be in the wheel chair, that's the char's choice. it doesn't represent all people in a wheel chair.

Sorry to break it to you, but fictional characters can't make choices on account of not existing. The choice was the author's all along!
Nezchan 3 Sep
Quoting: madpingerMeh, I dont' see the issue frankly. If the char doesn't want to be in the wheel chair, that's the char's choice. it doesn't represent all people in a wheel chair.

I read a few of their replies to folks with similar responses to yours, and a big part of the issue was regret that they (and, presumably, you) didn't actually consult any wheelchair users while writing to see what they thought of it, a failure in due diligence. Something of particular importance in a game all about empathy and understanding others' perspectives. And when called out, they understood that they should have done so and are in the process of working it out.

I can identify with not seeing the issue, I didn't either until it was brought up. But that's exactly the point, isn't it?
Fureloka 3 Sep
Quoting: Nezchan
Quoting: madpingerMeh, I dont' see the issue frankly. If the char doesn't want to be in the wheel chair, that's the char's choice. it doesn't represent all people in a wheel chair.

I read a few of their replies to folks with similar responses to yours, and a big part of the issue was regret that they (and, presumably, you) didn't actually consult any wheelchair users while writing to see what they thought of it, a failure in due diligence. Something of particular importance in a game all about empathy and understanding others' perspectives. And when called out, they understood that they should have done so and are in the process of working it out.

I can identify with not seeing the issue, I didn't either until it was brought up. But that's exactly the point, isn't it?

Usually I don't care to comment, as no matter what one says on the internet in this day and age, someone will get offended.

I have a mother who is bound to a wheelchair, there is nothing more she wishes for than to get rid of it. The authors thoughts reflects hers perfectly, she would have burned the wheelchair if she could. She hates it with a passion, and I'm sure others do too.

I'm sick and tired of people getting offended on the behalf of a group they don't even communicate with or associate with, all to virtue signal to get likes and thumbs ups and what not. Then again, me saying something won't change shit, so I'll show myself out the door.
F.Ultra 4 Sep
Quoting: Fureloka
Quoting: Nezchan
Quoting: madpingerMeh, I dont' see the issue frankly. If the char doesn't want to be in the wheel chair, that's the char's choice. it doesn't represent all people in a wheel chair.

I read a few of their replies to folks with similar responses to yours, and a big part of the issue was regret that they (and, presumably, you) didn't actually consult any wheelchair users while writing to see what they thought of it, a failure in due diligence. Something of particular importance in a game all about empathy and understanding others' perspectives. And when called out, they understood that they should have done so and are in the process of working it out.

I can identify with not seeing the issue, I didn't either until it was brought up. But that's exactly the point, isn't it?

Usually I don't care to comment, as no matter what one says on the internet in this day and age, someone will get offended.

I have a mother who is bound to a wheelchair, there is nothing more she wishes for than to get rid of it. The authors thoughts reflects hers perfectly, she would have burned the wheelchair if she could. She hates it with a passion, and I'm sure others do too.

I'm sick and tired of people getting offended on the behalf of a group they don't even communicate with or associate with, all to virtue signal to get likes and thumbs ups and what not. Then again, me saying something won't change shit, so I'll show myself out the door.

You can point out possible ableism without being offended, actually I don't see any one being offended here at all. Yes people in wheelchairs are not a homogenous group exactly like people without wheelchairs.

This has more to do with not painting disabled people as stereotypes than being offended.
damarrin 4 Sep
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This is a dangerous slope.

What’s the difference between this and telling a male writer he can’t write a female character because he’s not one?
tuubi 4 Sep
Quoting: damarrinThis is a dangerous slope.

What’s the difference between this and telling a male writer he can’t write a female character because he’s not one?
The obvious difference is that nobody told this dev he can't write a character in a wheelchair. Just that he should be careful not to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. You're allowed to point those out, and it's not the same as censoring them.
madpinger 4 Sep
Quoting: eldaking
Quoting: madpingerMeh, I dont' see the issue frankly. If the char doesn't want to be in the wheel chair, that's the char's choice. it doesn't represent all people in a wheel chair.

Sorry to break it to you, but fictional characters can't make choices on account of not existing. The choice was the author's all along!

Sure, the author creates the char, but that char can still have a life of it's own. We don't have to always agree with char's in our stories, nor must they be likable or PC. It's nonsense. It's not like we have to agree either way.


As to consulting other wheelchair users, I've known many. I also worked in special needs programs over the years. Some take pride in it, are happy, others not so much. We're all individuals. This knee jerk outrage over every little thing is just absurd imo.


Last edited by madpinger on 4 September 2020 at 10:32 am UTC
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