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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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tuubi 4 Sep
Quoting: madpingerThis knee jerk outrage over every little thing is just absurd imo.
So is knee-jerk outrage over perceived knee-jerk outrage. Please don't invent drama where there is none.
madpinger 4 Sep
Quoting: tuubi
Quoting: madpingerThis knee jerk outrage over every little thing is just absurd imo.
So is knee-jerk outrage over perceived knee-jerk outrage. Please don't invent drama where there is none.

Call it how you want. I suppose we're all become revisionist, rewrite all existing books to make them conform to some idealized view, nonsense. I just believe it should be left alone, we don't have to always agree on everything. It's not like I can't recall reading much the same thing in past books even as a child about a wheelchair char, but I suppose such a simple thing wouldn't be allowed today, by the mobs.


Anyway, My views are clear, like em or not. I"m done with this topic.
mirv 4 Sep
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So I went over some of the character to fill myself in on the debate, and I'll wrap my own thoughts on the matter in a spoiler tag just in case:

Spoiler, click me

The great irony behind it all I find are some of the words spoken by the character in question:
"I've never, not even once, been allowed free reign over an exhibition."

It looks to me like the developers tried to make it about someone seeing themselves as defined by the wheelchair, or more precisely that they told the narrative as though others could not see beyond the wheelchair at some of the achievements that the character had, and were actually being, done; whether this is true or not, that's how the character felt, ultimately deciding later that the object of the chair should not be a definition of person.

The character in question was obviously full able bodied at some point, and in a chair later - this is important, as it will give a different view to someone who has been using one their entire life. In this case, I think the developer was trying to use their game to say that there is meaning in what people do, what they create, and someone not be defined by what they perceive others to be thinking. At least, that's my take on it.

At the same time, I can see how some people might be disapproving of the choice of dialog. For current day political sensitivities the words could perhaps use some adjustment; but I think the reaction has indeed gone overboard. It was obviously not intended to be offensive in any way, I think much of the rest of the dialog involving the character should be brought into the discussion.

I hope the developers keep the core of the character in place. If the words can be tweaked a little bit, there's no harm in that, but at the same time the choice of a character seeing their sense of self and worth degraded after an accident is something that should remain. It is something that affects people; who are they if they can no longer do something? I don't want to see that be removed, but I think some middle ground can be reached.
kneekoo 11 Sep
The need of some people to have fictional characters reflect real-life people is rather weird. Most art, movies, games, etc are work of fiction and the depth of each work goes way beyond the creator's knowledge of each particular character. It's not the point of most works to replicate some real-life people, situations, etc, but to create something that triggers certain responses in the audience.

The problem is some people seem to be focused on finding thing that trigger them in a negative way, so they can complain. I don't see how a real disabled person wouldn't hate their disability, chair, or whatever else, just like an enabled person would hate their weight, height, mental/social/etc abilities, and so on. Sure, not everyone hates stuff. But then why can't people acknowledge the differences between them, despite their similarities?

The game is about a spirit farer. As far as we know, there are no spirits and there are no people who guide dead people to another place. There's nothing wrong with a fictional character who wants something that a real person doesn't want. It's a story. Stop slamming creators for "isms" over fictional works.

As a real person I can't have all the positive and negative attributes of fictional characters, and it makes no sense for me to object to fiction or to get offended over something like that. How about we focus on the great parts of what people do, and if we think it's so important to point something out, why not do it in such a manner that others don't have to apologize?
tuubi 11 Sep
Quoting: kneekooIt's not the point of most works to replicate some real-life people, situations, etc, but to create something that triggers certain responses in the audience.
In this case some interactions in the game apparently triggered a negative response in a player with a personal stake, and based on the feedback the developer decided that they wanted to do something about it. I assume this wasn't the kind of response they were looking to elicit in the audience. Of course, they could have responded that the character behaves the way they do because they want them to have a certain flaw or something, but seems like that was not the case. Should we tell the developer that they are not allowed to change their own game?

The people reacting in a negative way to this apology seem to do so out of a misguided principle, and not because this will somehow make the game worse. They don't seem to even care about the details that much. Is it just the macho notion that compromises and apologies are somehow shameful? That they're signs of weakness? As if honestly engaging and compromising with someone is always somehow letting down everyone else.
kneekoo 13 Sep
Quoting: tuubiIs it just the macho notion that compromises and apologies are somehow shameful? That they're signs of weakness? As if honestly engaging and compromising with someone is always somehow letting down everyone else.
It can certainly interpreted this way as well, but it's not the case here. Go down a few pages of tweets in this thread to see the negative reactions.

If you've been active on Twitter for at least of few months, you're probably aware of how people gang up on others for some reason, and it usually gets seriously ugly, no matter how polite you to talk to them. No wonder an indie developer who can't afford bad publicity wanted to fix this complaint as quickly as possible without even trying to bring up valid points. I don't believe the developer really thinks there aren't disabled people who hate their wheelchairs, who had no problem at all with the game characters.

Had the complaint come from an enabled person simply ranting about something in the game, as it happens with every game, the situation could've been addressed reasonably. But not immediately addressing the negative reactions of a disabled person, who happens to be a girl, who describes herself as "aggressively disabled and queer", easily brings a lot worse reactions than the existing ones in the thread I mentioned.

We, as a society, are going through a phase of shaming and virtue signaling. There's almost zero chance to get away from an angry mob who shows up to "dismantle" the accused person(s) if the accuser is part of a minority or not in an apparent position of power.

In that Twitter thread someone said:
QuoteI played this game and I'm trying to understand the problem. I came away thinking the problem wasn't the chair, but that due to his paralysis and wheelchair people were treating him differently and belittling him. The character even says the issue isn't the chair in game.

Then in this very forum thread we learned that someone's mother hates her wheelchair. So while the Twitter complaint is legitimate, the character in the game is just as legitimate (and it's fiction anyway). There was no need to fix something that wasn't broken in the first place.

We can all cherry pick character traits and dialogs that offend us in some game, movie or other works of artistic expression - if we take it personally. But should we feel offended? Is that more important than realizing that plenty of people like us are also different from us? If we go down the path of getting easily offended, there's no hope for people to ever get along. Getting along requires us to acknowledge and respect differences, as well as the fact that maybe except for breathing, nothing is for everyone. What I like/love, others can easily dislike/hate. No game can make everyone happy - not even the top rated games, they still have negative ratings.

"Learn how not to offend, but work even harder to not be offended." - spaceXcentric
tuubi 13 Sep
I think your take is based on a few fundamental misconceptions. First of all this:
Quoting: kneekooWe, as a society, are going through a phase of shaming and virtue signaling.
Both have always happened in any social community that ever existed, and there has never been a society or a time when one or the other was measurably absent. People have always been shamed to compliance (just look at religious communities in all their forms throughout history) and people have always "virtue signaled" even if the term is quite recent. Please don't ask for examples or I'll just assume you're being insincere.

Quoting: kneekooIf you've been active on Twitter for at least of few months, you're probably aware of how people gang up on others for some reason, and it usually gets seriously ugly, no matter how polite you to talk to them.
I'm happy to say I've never been active on any social media. And the problems you describe were obviously always there. Social media facilitates and amplifies certain types of communication. That's just inevitable.

The emergence of truly global communities simply got rid of any filters and inhibitions that moderate our social behaviour by granting relative anonymity and making our peers seem distant and insignificant, thus amplifying existing problems but not really creating new ones. The phenomena you bemoan are not exclusive to social media or in any way caused by the technology.

I avoid social media simply because I don't see how it would make my life better in any way, but I don't see the point in blaming social media in general for the behaviour of people using it. Also, people who complain about virtue signaling tend to do that while signaling their own virtue and shaming those they disagree with. Just look at certain populist politicians complain about snowflakes, and then melt down completely at the tiniest perceived slight.



In the end, I'm sure you'll agree that we have no right to tell the developer what they should or should not do. It's presumptuous to assume you know what went through the developer's head. The whole negative publicity thing would have been sufficiently well handled with a message in the vein of "we acknowledge the issue and will try to do better in the future", sincere or not, so I'd like to think they actually did agree and weren't just doing damage control.
kneekoo 13 Sep
Quoting: tuubiPeople have always been shamed to compliance
That's true. The correct way to put it is that we're going through a new wave of shaming and virtue signaling, and it's still wrong. I guess the best thing to do is always call it out and to keep hoping that we will move past such social behavior.

Quoting: tuubiThe phenomena you bemoan are not exclusive to social media
The anonymity or the mere physical distance between those who post online make some people post seriously vile things that they likely don't do in person. Even I got threats of physical beating, through electronic means, for refusing to volunteer my time to further assist someone with his problem with a free software, but when I actually met the guy, in real life, by pure chance, he acted like nothing happened. Social media can actually be worse than real life in various circumstances. It's a serious thing, so there's no need to downplay it to people bemoaning it. So when it happens, it has to be called out.

Quoting: tuubiI don't see the point in blaming social media in general for the behavior of people using it.
I specifically blamed the people who do this. The social media is simply their avenue.

Quoting: tuubiIn the end, I'm sure you'll agree that we have no right to tell the developer what they should or should not do. It's presumptuous to assume you know what went through the developer's head.
True. I didn't claim to know the truth, but "I don't believe the developer really thinks..." and that there was no need to fix what wasn't broken in the first place.

Quoting: tuubiThe whole negative publicity thing would have been sufficiently well handled with a message in the vein of "we acknowledge the issue and will try to do better in the future", sincere or not, so I'd like to think they actually did agree and weren't just doing damage control.
See, this is where the flip side of the coin really stands. Some people overreact online, others fake a reply, and some by standers are happy as long as there's a message, sincere or not. Why do fake damage control?

If we really want to evolve as a society, we're supposed to have an honest and civilized talk, and learn from it. It's fine if we don't agree on everything, and it's not an offense to think differently. But talking is essential, and so is to learn to empathize so we can offend less, and also learn how to not be offended to the point we react like that. Because what applies to us doesn't apply to others.

Games, movies, art, they can strike chords in people who really look into those creations. It can be both good and bad, but I'd venture to say that the majority are not designed to offend people in general or in particular. The role of artistic expression is to offer people a distinct environment where they can place themselves to discover new things about the world, about people, and even themselves. That kind of a discovery is supposed to make us wiser and more considerate to all kinds of people.

The Imitation Game and Hidden Figures are two great examples of more recent movies that some people can use to "grow up" and understand how important it is to act like human beings. And it's completely reasonable to say that it's not just a category of people who need to better themselves. We're broken in different ways, and instead of becoming angry and loud with each other, it would be more effective and a lot more peaceful to help each other improve. It's not an easy thing to do, but it's well worth the effort.
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