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AndyDavies

Inappropriate NPC names

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I assume that the names for NPC are randomly generated but I think you need to put some sort of blacklist filter on them. I was just watching a walk-through video on youtube and the name Harold Shipman jumped out at me, as he's an English doctor who killed 15 of his patients. This would be particularly inappropriate if you were to ever need to get a joy pill from the NPC. I've linked both the youtube video (see from 6 mins 43) and the wikipedia article on him for your reference.

 

I think the original Elite game hada similar problem as their system names were also randomly generated and they had to exclude specific combinations.

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Shipman

 

 

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Hey Andy,

 

The name of this NPC is not a coincidence. If you get close to him, there could be deadly consequences...

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Thanks for the reply, but I have to say I think this is a serious error of judgement on Compulsion Games' behalf and is both incredibly distasteful and disrespectful, especially as it's not a freak of random generation. There's simply no narrative need for his name to be this, it's crass. The question is are there other characters dubiously named; Fred West, Robert Pickton or Clifford Olson?

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The thing about names is, it is very likely that multiple people will have the same name. If I search my name on Facebook I get dozens of results with the exact same name. So someone named Harold Shipman committed some heinous crimes. Does that mean if you met someone in real life with the same name you'd go to their parents and tell them it's offensive and poor judgement naming them that? Just because they have the same name doesn't mean they've done the same thing. Names are names.

 

And yes, the names are randomly generated. There's a database of first names and a database of last names. From my understanding the engine picks one from each and puts them together. And it's unpredictable, which is how we get Constable Constable and, apparently, Harold Shipman. It's a British name, in a game set in a British city, in the 60s, where the doctors are dubious and people are high on drugs. There is no need to take it so seriously.

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Hi Iris. Yes, of course multiple people have the same name, and I originally just pointed out what I thought a random event. The point that Naila is clearly making is that it is NOT a coincidence at all, it's NOT random. Someone has sat down and decided to name a NPCs after a serial killer.

 

I personally feel it's too close to the bone and crass, you don't care (which is fine, each to their own), but in the spirit of Alpha feedback it's important to make the point, that way they can sit down with a cuppa and just take a second look at it. I wont be the only Brit to notice and think it's an error of judgement and I certainly hope this is the only example of it in the game.

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@AndyDavies I wonder if you at familiar with the comedy Gavin & Stacey? It features two families, the Shipmans and the Wests along with their neighbour Peter Sutcliffe. I was curious as to your thoughts on that TV show. As you say, these names will probably have greater resonance with the British more than anyone else. I have to say I am in two minds about the NPC name. On the one hand it seems a reasonable reference for an undesirable character, however its not like calling him Jack the Ripper or John Haigh (the acid bath murderer) whose names and reputations are a bit further in the past. Shipman was convicted in 2000 which is pretty recent. How would Americans feel if the name Michael Gargiulo (the Hollywood Ripper) was used for a character in a video game? I think you are right to point this out and it is up to the devs to consider and decide if the context of its use is appropriate.

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@tec I have to say I've never seen Gavin & Stecey so I don't think it'd be fair to comment on that. Like you say, it's up to the team to decide.

 

 

 

 

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Hi everyone

 

Thanks for the feedback. It's an interesting discussion/debate.

 

In creating We Happy Few, we pay close attention to names. Alex researches meticulously, and almost everybody in the game has been named for a specific reason (everyone important, that is). I don't think anybody in the public realises exactly how far he goes, possibly because even those of us here in the studio don't have half a clue about the obscure references he writes. He loves it, and it's one of the things we love about him.

 

Harold Shipman has been intentionally chosen for this character because of the reference to the serial killer. His name isn't used to glorify what he did, but in fact to do the opposite - to suggest that you should be wary about this person. He is a bad person in-game, and it's pretty much a terrible idea to help him (I mean, he's asking you to pick up syringes in a toxic waste dump... I don't think we could be much more direct about this not being a good idea). In this way, we hope to challenge people (both to wonder if this name has more meaning), but also to add a deeper meaning and purpose to the story behind that encounter. Alex has written this in the past, in response to the same question:

 

"I asked Constable Burne-Jones about Mr. Shipman, and he said, "I would certainly be very careful about anything that lad was up to. One gets a sense of people in this profession, and it is my opinion that he's not a right sort.""

 

We have a tendency in the anglosphere to get very upset at offence. Yet, we also praise and value freedom of speech, criticism and discussion. Normally, we talk about sanitization of content with disdain, unless, of course, we agree with the reasoning behind the criticism. To change the game based on feedback is to sanitize, regardless of whether we agree that it should be done.

 

Our intent is not to offend. It is, like any artistic pursuit, to challenge. Obviously there are degrees of how far you go in this regard, but we are currently comfortable with the way the name is being used. I hope this post explains why - you are SUPPOSED to be a bit affronted. To think about this person. To read, further, about the horrible crimes he committed. Now, the vast majority of players will gloss over this, as we gloss over most detail. But maybe, just maybe, some people will ask the deeper question, and understand more about the world of We Happy Few.

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Thanks Sam for your explanation. My concern was that if for example the relatives of any victims were offended that it would adversely affect peoples impressions of the game. I would not want to see bad publicity from a perception of the devs making light of fairly recent crimes damage the game you are trying to create. I have no objection to how your describing it, but I would worry that other people more closely connected may no feel the same way. If there was another criminal used who was a bit further in the past I don't think there would be the same concern.

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Having played the Shipman quest last night my personal view is that the name is inconsequential. There is no reason for using the name. It doesn't add anything to the quest or the lore of the game (in its current form at least). This could easily be an argument for leaving it in, but my previous reasoning for not doing so still stands. Just my opinion...

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Every company has a target market. Not everyone gets to be a customer.

 

Adding my opinion, I'd like to see more "inappropriate" NPC names. Ties to reality in games like this lend enrichment.

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I play a lot of games. Almost every game has a name that stands out and makes people go ARRGG or something similar, whether created by writers or by players. EQ has Leroy Jenkins, Fallout 3 has Moira Brown, Skyrim has Shavari. Whatever they do, no matter what they say, folks just remember them for what they were (probably a pain in the ass). Go for it Staffers! As Tony Stark said to Bruce Banner in Ultron, "We’re mad scientists. We’re monsters, buddy. You gotta own it. Make a stand."

 

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Wait are you telling me Mr. Shipman got me infected and bleeding during that quest on purpose? If I had known this before I would have realized he was trying to kill me.

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@Darcphaze I guess you are right to some degree, but I have never heard of any of those names you mentioned thus showing the potential cultural/regional reactions to the use of real peoples names.

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