We demand that Niantic fix Wizards Unite so it has racially equitable representation. Currently, its gameplay features deplorably racist portrayals of People of Color and encourages and rewards players to take actions in alignment with white supremacy.
Specifically, we petition Niantic to mitigate as much harm as possible by implementing the following edits to the current game design, so that it is slightly more equitable:
• Name all characters, including but not limited to Characters of Color.
• Give lines to all Confoundable Characters of Color.
• Introduce at least two Characters of Color (NPCs) who speak and contribute significantly to the game's plot progression.
• Additionally, introduce President Picquery as a major character (with lines and significant influence on the story).
• Delete the scenes in which anyone mentally tortures characters. Specifically, delete the interactions in which the unnamed African American medical Ministry official shoots electric white spell energy at the heads of named white male characters.)
🡢Instead, include an interaction where the aforementioned Dr. Bernadette [with her last name] casts expelliarmus on Newt Scamander. (Completely delete the scene with her and Percival Graves.)
• De-weaponize the player's wand in the game, including but not limited to when it is used against Confoundables/Characters of Color. Do not use the wand to imprison or inflict harm on Characters of Color.
• Create Foundable/Confoundable scenes in which the wand is used to heal.
• Create Foundable/Confoundable scenes in which the wand creates a shield/barrier between the two characters.
To be clear, Wizards Unite requires more substantive revisions than the previous list to make it a racially equitable game. These are easy starting points.
In general, we also urge Niantic to live out its promise to making #BlackLivesMatter through the following: have racially equitable developer personnel levels, moving from diversity and inclusion training to anti-racism training for their game designers, and create concrete accountability structures for institutional anti-racism
Niantic's game design and narrative framework in Wizards Unite teaches its primary audience - white, urban players - to view characters of color as useless victims or horrific aggressors. Furthermore, the game objectifies people of color, devalues cross-racial dialogue, ignores de-escalation practices, and normalizes the primary way of interacting with people of color as being at the point of a weapon (i.e. the game's weaponized version of the wand.)
Wizard's Unite perpetuates and rewards players to act out White Savior Syndrome by characterizing people of color as useless victims and rewarding players to rescue them. It objectifies people of color by making their characters into items to be collected. Finally, it demonizes people of color by choosing to have an unnamed African American character mentally torture named white male characters on screen, an act of violence that far outshoots other mild violence perpetrated by white characters on screen (i.e. her violence is more horrific than the Death Eater's, and more violent than Voldemort's in the game).
Furthermore, through the augmented reality feature of the game, Wizard's Unite design to encourage and reward the behavior of attacking characters of color in real-world settings is even more troubling. Through the AR of Wizard's Unite, players can be required to and rewarded for attacking (i.e. firing their wand at) an African American medical official woman in your bedroom. This evokes a horrific parallel to the unjustified murder of Ms.Breonna Taylor. Similarly, players can also be required to and rewarded for attacking characters of color on a sidewalk. This parallels the murders of Mr. George Floyd and Mr. Eric Garner.
Niantic and Warner Brother's Wizards Unite teaches players to enact violence against people of color. Please join in me urging these companies to redesign the game, removing all racist teachings and instead actively promoting racial equity.