Dead By Daylight developer Behaviour Interactive has announced it will remove a set of cosmetics for its “Cannibal” character (inspired by 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface) after Black players complained they were being used for racist harassment.
The cosmetics which were introduced several years ago, include a set of unlockable skins for the Cannibal that changes the “face” of his victim that he wears on his head, much like Leatherface’s signature calling card. The skins reference the original four survivor characters that players could choose from, one of whom was a Black woman named Claudette.
Black Dead By Daylight players flagged that enemy players would frequently target them for harassment while wearing the Claudette Cannibal skin.
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“Members of the community have shared their experiences with people targeting and harassing them while using some of these masks,” Behaviour Interactive said in a blog post. “These reports were disheartening to hear, and we absolutely condemn this behaviour. We are not comfortable having these masks in the game when they are used as a tool to spread hate.”
Behaviour Interactive will compensate players who unlocked the skins with 6,000 Iridescent Shards, the in-game currency used to unlock cosmetics.
Black players also brought up how Leatherface players wearing the skin of a dead Black person was uncomfortably close to the act of wearing blackface. Blackface refers to the act of a non-Black person wearing makeup to imitate a Black person. The act has historical roots in minstrel shows from the 1830s and throughout the mid-20th Century. In modern times, several politicians and public figures have come under fire for wearing blackface makeup in older pictures.
SistaKaren, a Dead By Daylight partner creator, compiled anecdotes from numerous Black content creators being harassed with the Claudette Cannibal skin.
One content creator by the name of MiladyConfetti described being harassed by someone who sent 500 bots to her channel to spam the N-word in her chat. MiladyConfetti says she was then given the runaround after submitting a support ticket, with neither Behaviour Interactive, Steam, or Twitch taking responsibility for the harassment.
“I understand the reporting system. I had to run into this person four more times in the game, and he knew who I was, and he did the same f****** thing over and over again,” MiladyConfetti says in the video, visibly shaken. “I had to experience that. Why did it take four more times for me to run into this person before anything was done?”
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MiladyConfetti and other Black streamers later began advocating for the removal of the skins, but the decision only came years after the start of their public campaign.
“I feel good that [Claudette Leatherface] is removed,” MiladyConfetti told The Verge. “It was long overdue, especially because this conversation started years ago.”
Eric Bourdages, an artist at Behaviour Interactive, praised the decision to remove the cosmetics.
“As the artist who made the bubba masks, I’m glad they are being removed,” Bourdages said. “As cool as it would have been to have an easter egg for all survivors. The reality of it is there were many players using them in harmful ways. Gamers, no matter the game please treat others with respect.”
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer for IGN.