Xbox One and PC fighting game Killer Instinct updates Native American character Thunder to be more “authentic.” The free downloadable content also signals the first time that a character in the game has been given a third costume.
The team behind the game admits that although it worked with (Native American people) the Nez Percé prior to launch in order to make Thunder more “culturally representative,” it admits that it didn’t get “everything right” and this update aims to fix that.
Killer Instinct Updates Native American Character ‘Thunder’
The Legend of Thunder costume pack is now available free for all Killer Instinct players (though players must have Thunder unlocked to access it). It is described as “100% authentic to the Nez Percé warrior tradition” from the “metal axes to the buckskin & beaded pants.”
In posts on the Xbox Wire and the Killer Instinct website, the game’s senior marketing manager, Nicole Fawcette, explains that Nez Percé members Thomas tátlo Gregory and Josiah Blackeagle Pinkham (Nez Percé cultural consultant, who worked with the KI team prior to the game’s release) helped with the update.
Working “hand in hand” with the Killer Instinct team, they provided “valuable insight,” including the use of reference material that has been part of the Nez Percé community for “hundreds of years.”
The Legend of Thunder costume drops this week. Are you ready? pic.twitter.com/25ltTPrDtb
— Killer Instinct (@KillerInstinct) 19 December 2016
Some of the changes made as a result include the removal of a headdress (“we learned that headdresses are mostly worn for ceremonial events vs battles or combat”), the addition of traditional moccasins (“worn for more agile combat and handcrafted from raw materials”), as well as Thunder’s new pompadour hairstyle which is a “traditional warrior style.”
Fawcette says that Pinkham told the Killer Instinct team that the changes to Thunder represent “a positive step in the way indigenous people are portrayed in entertainment and a way to empower a new generation in their community.”
Many other games have been criticised for misrepresenting Native American people and Native American culture (such as Overwatch, which has been called out or cultural appropriation). But as Killer Instinct and games like (Iñupiat puzzle/platforming game) Never Alone show, developers can avoid this by working with and listening to indigenous people.