Wyll from Baldur's Gate 3 looking intense
(Larian Studios)

‘Baldur’s Gate 3’ Is the Latest Target of Racist Dog Whistle Mods

As a lifelong Dragon Age fan, I’ve always been uncomfortably aware of the fact that not everyone in the fandom shares the same worldviews. This is most evident within the modding community, where some of the most popular mods involve changing the race of the games’ companions—and no, I don’t mean from “elf to human.” These mods whitewash darker-skinned companions, often with terminology that makes your skin crawl—which, more often than not, is the intention.

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Whitewashing mods have always been a blight on the gaming community, and they have unfortunately made their way to Baldur’s Gate 3. One of the main companions, Wyll, is a Black man, and the latest recipient of this stupid bullshit. The mod seems to have been made in response to the ludicrous backlash against the game for being too “woke,” with dog whistle phrasing and usernames such as SwedenRebel and AHDNW (Adolf Hitler Did Nothing Wrong). As one reddit user pointed out, another account was quickly made after these two called “Blacker the cherry,” which uploaded a mod with similar verbiage making a white companion Black. This was likely one of the original two modders attempting to “even the score” and avoid scrutiny.

There’s two mindsets that tend to pop up with the creation and proliferation of these kinds of mods. The first is the aforementioned dog whistle approach, wherein bored, self-loathing people with too much time on their hands and no outlet for self-reflection deliberately do offensive things in order to get a rise out of others. The second seems to be a genuine (if delusional) belief that race-changing falls under the category of “letting people do what they want,” and that skin color is therefore “just a preference.”

Of course, these two things often go hand-in-hand, which is why I’m hesitant to just make this a “thing bad!!” article, which would give these tools exactly what they want. All the same, it’s upsetting to see racist mods, and it’s immensely frustrating that they’re often made by people whose minds are too narrow to be reached. This content can be tremendously hurtful to players of color, since western games already have a problem with failing to recognize the tangible potential for diversifying fantasy. Moreover, many gamers still bend over backwards to protect this mindset and refuse to understand the merit of something as simple as including a non-white character in a fantasy—”it’s based on Medieval times,” “Tolkien was racist” (not even really true), and so on. All the while, they’ll go on to criticize mods that do try to diversify companions based on original concept art, claiming that the character is being “ruined” in order to adhere to an “agenda.”

If you’re noticing a pattern here, you’re right on the mark: you can’t win with these fools. For them, video games are a safe space where they don’t have to challenge their own biases. It’s almost useless to try and confront these people directly, because if a person is willingly getting themselves stuck in the mud, you can only move them so much. What you can do is report these mods to Nexus and take note of the patterns regarding who uploads them; don’t go straight for the throat and react impulsively (because that’s what keeps them going); and continue to praise devs like Larian who try to go the extra mile and create inclusive games. By and large, it seems to be a particularly sheltered minority who actually takes issue with this kind of inclusivity, so bearing that in mind is crucial to moving ahead.

The general trend seems to be moving towards a better, more inclusive gaming world. It’s still a swamp out there, and the loudest people can make it hard to see past them. But it hasn’t stopped the right people from hearing what needs to be done, and that, at least, is something.

(featured image: Larian Studios)


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Author
Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).