The protagonist of Fallen Order is a Force-sensitive black man who’s been denied his powers and exiled from the Jedi order. “The idea that we would make a character like this, it just seemed crazy,” says David Sirland, the game’s lead developer. The studio faced backlash in August 2018 when they announced their upcoming title with an all white cast of heroes.
Taron Malicos, a former Jedi: Fallen Order developer, says that the protagonist of the game was denied for being “too diverse”. The developers wanted to create a character who was not white and male.
Fallen Order: Former Jedi Diverse Protagonist Denied, According to Developer
Former Respawn developer expresses his dissatisfaction Cal Kestis was chosen instead.
Playing Video Games
Jedi: Fallen Order, one of the finest Star Wars games of the past ten years, has recently gotten additional attention owing to speculations of a sequel’s unveiling in the coming months. Rumors aren’t the only reason it’s been in the limelight; a former Respawn developer who worked on Fallen Order’s lighting claimed that the studio wanted a black/female protagonist at first. Nora Shramek, a former Respawn programmer, disclosed in a Tweet on May 10th that “a lot” of developers wanted a black/female protagonist for the game, but that wish was denied.
When I worked on SW:JFO a LOT of devs wanted & advocated 4 the main character 2b black &/or a woman. ‘Reasons’ 4 NO: We already have 2 black people in the game. Rey is a woman & we can’t do that to’ guess what the demographic of the people making those decisions looked like?
May 10, 2022 — NoraNevaBoreYa (@NoraShramek)
She goes on to state that the request was denied since the game already has “two black individuals in it,” and Rey is a woman in the sequel movie. And, before you ask, yes, Respawn’s development team is now receiving emails and questions over how they treat people of color and women in general. Sigh. “The worst thing I heard was when someone (not going to offer any details here) remarked ‘I believe all the black people need more shiny skin since black people have more oily skin than other people,’ dead shock on everyone’s face,” she continues in a follow-up Tweet. Interestingly, she claims that everyone’s face was frozen in astonishment when the racist remark was made, meaning that the majority of the team did not act in this manner, which somewhat contradicts her original argument, but I digress.
I’ll save you the specifics of this Twitter discussion, which drifts into the normal diversity push discourse we’re all too familiar with at this time. I’ll merely pass along this nugget from the previous developer.
Isn’t it funny? Don’t get me wrong, I adore Cameron as an actor, but when they informed us who was playing the lead, I said to myself, “Wow, that’s the most white man you could possible go.”
May 11, 2022 — NoraNevaBoreYa (@NoraShramek)
Let’s get this party started before we lose any more brain cells. What are your thoughts? Was Cal Kestis a decent protagonist choice? Cal has character development and a profound past that ties into age-old Star Wars themes like legacy, loyalty, and temptation, despite what many reviewers said at the time. Check read my Fallen Order review for further thoughts on the characters and themes. Cal Kestis’ demeanor isn’t as strong or assertive as his colleagues Greez and Cere’s, or the hostile Night Sister Merrin’s, but he’s neither Rey or Finn.
It’s not only lately that Fallen Order’s protagonist has been criticized. Back when Fallen Order was originally being previewed and subsequently reviewed, game reviewers all over the industry were berating poor Cal for his appearance alone. When I was younger and used to listen to previews and podcasts, most remarks about Cal focused on his identification as a white guy rather than the substance of his character or skill. Various critics have expressed dissatisfaction with Cal’s ‘plain’ appearance.
Review by PC Gamer:
“You’re Cal Kestis, a plain-faced scrapper with too-clean hair and a strange fondness for ponchos,” says the narrator.
“The larger story isn’t bad, but it’s ultimately very ordinary, and it’s not helped by Cal Kestis, who is plainer than plain.”
Playing Chronicles of Video Games
“Then there’s the narrative, the story of Cal Kestis, a Jedi in hiding in the aftermath of the Emperor’s eradication of the Force-wielding good guys.”
“It also doesn’t help that Kestis is such a bland guy with no charm.”
These aren’t even the worst criticisms of Cal’s race or gender; the previews were far worse. Did these same publications moan about how uninteresting Rey’s Disney persona was? Many outspoken Star Wars fans did, but the traditional media gushed about The Force Awakens. Today, the picture has a 93 percent reviewer score on Rotten Tomatoes, with few reviews criticizing Rey’s ‘vanilla’ appearance or demeanor.
Onward and upward into the future, then. The good news is that EA no longer has the exclusive rights to the Star Wars franchise. Many exciting Star Wars games are presently in development, like Amy Hennig’s studio’s project and Quantic Dream’s Star Wars Eclipse.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2, which has been in production for years and is expected to be released this summer, is at the vanguard of future Star Wars games. What are your expectations for the sequel to The Fallen Order? Do you want to see Cal continue his quest in Fallen Order 2, or would you prefer a new primary protagonist?
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