MARVEL'S BLACK PANTHER Game Dev Faces Backlash After Admitting To Not Hiring White Developers

MARVEL'S BLACK PANTHER Game Dev Faces Backlash After Admitting To Not Hiring White Developers MARVEL'S BLACK PANTHER Game Dev Faces Backlash After Admitting To Not Hiring White Developers

Dani Lalonders, an associate narrative designer for EA's Cliffhanger Games, the studio working on Marvel's Black Panther, has come under fire for comments made about discriminatory hiring practices.

By MattIsForReal - Mar 15, 2024 12:03 PM EST
Filed Under: Video Games

A narrative designer for Cliffhanger Games, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts and the studio developing the upcoming Marvel's Black Panther game, landed in a bit of hot water this week after their previous comments admitting to discriminatory hiring practices resurfaced.

Dani Lalonders, an associate narrative designer for Cliffhanger Games and self-described "black nonbinary woman," previously admitted to building a team with "no white people" while working on a game called ValiDate.

“We have no white people on our team,” Lalonders admitted during a stream for the Game Devs of Color Expo in 2021. “I did that because I wanted to create a safe environment, and I know the best way for an environment to be safe is to be around people who are just like me.”

“I’m not saying white people are creating unsafe environments, I’m saying sometimes it’s hard to work with white people because sometimes they think something is okay, but it’s really a microaggression,” Lalonders continued.

Although Lalonders made the comments back in 2021, they recently went viral when Libs of TikTok tweeted this portion of the presentation.

Lalonder's comments led to accusations of racism and discrimination, some of it lobbied at Electronic Arts. However, it's important to note that these comments were made back when Lalonder was a lead developer and producer on the independent gameValiDate. 

ValiDate is a romantic visual novel about 13 adults in Jercy City navigating new relationships and the harsh realities that come alongside them.” The game was released in 2022 to mostly positive reviews.

Additionally, she was working at Veritable Joy Studios at the time, a Chicago-based studio “working to bring you authentic, heartfelt games about people of color.” The company's overview reads:

“Here at Veritable Joy, we pride ourselves on creating an authentic and supportive work environment where people of color can tell the stories that we want heard. Our studio is dedicated to crafting games that place people of color and LGBT+ characters at the forefront of the narrative, in the hopes that we can be the change that marginalized communities want to see in the gaming industry.”

Given the game's premise and the company's mission statement, one may understand why Lalonder would want to emphasize hiring people of color over white people but blatantly admitting that she wouldn't hire white developers could make the studio subject to a potential lawsuit for discriminatory hiring practices.

Now it's important to note that this only pertains to Lalonder's time at Veritable Joy Studios. There's no evidence that EA or Cliffhanger Games is engaging in this sort of hiring policy. Lalonder is only an associate narrative designer at the studio, which is a fairly entry-level position, so it's unlikely she is determining who gets hired.

Even so, it's probably not a topic of conversation that EA or Cliffhanger Games wants to be associated with. Neither the publisher nor the developer have commented on Lalonder's previous statements.

Cliffhanger Games was introduced back in July 2023 as a new triple-A development studio with.a focus on Marvel's Black Panther. Led by Kevin Stephens (Monolith Productions), the game is an original, third-person, single-player adventure. The studio aims "to build an expansive and reactive world that empowers players to experience what it is like to take on the mantle of Wakanda’s protector, the Black Panther."

Nintendo's Decade-Long Plans For The SUPER MARIO BROS. Animated Franchise Teased By Chris Pratt

Nintendo's Decade-Long Plans For The SUPER MARIO BROS. Animated Franchise Teased By Chris Pratt

Mark Hamill Is Returning To Voice The Joker In The Upcoming Video Game MULTIVERSUS
Recommended For You:

Mark Hamill Is Returning To Voice The Joker In The Upcoming Video Game MULTIVERSUS

DISCLAIMER: is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and... [MORE], and/or the user who contributed this post, may earn commissions or revenue through clicks or purchases made through any third-party links contained within the content above.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
BillyBatson1000 - 3/15/2024, 12:30 PM
Total click-bait.

And oh look, the comment section hasn't been switched off.
WruceBayne - 3/15/2024, 12:38 PM
@BillyBatson1000 - he knows exactly what he’s doing. This is definitely an attempt at igniting a flame war.
BillyBatson1000 - 3/15/2024, 12:45 PM
@WruceBayne - Absolutely!!! Then the site will piss-and-moan about reader content.

TrentCrimm - 3/15/2024, 3:55 PM
@WruceBayne -

Absolutely, as soon as he used the word "libs".

I gave this article a click and a comment, but I'll make a conscious effort not to give it a second. It might only be a fraction of a penny to Josh, but he wont get it from me anymore.

I'll Google search the headlines before I give another one of his articles a click.
WruceBayne - 3/15/2024, 5:01 PM
@TrentCrimm - you have a brother in arms on this one. If we all adapted this way of thinking we’d change the quality(hopefully raise it) and output of the articles we receive on this site. I’m with you.
ProLife - 3/15/2024, 7:49 PM
@BillyBatson1000 - Actually, this is not click bait. There is an interview of this racist from a few years ago where she openly admitted not hiring white people. I do find it funny how there are people on here so quick to dismiss this, while they will pick up and right away make judgements if there is a article about a black person 'claiming' to be discriminated against. Just like this tic tok lady who claimed this white lady and her kids got out of the hot tube simply because she is black. Then there are idiots who eat that up without any proof except her "assumption." Just like people here that lie, with no proof, 'well if they were black, blah blah blah. So tired of certain people always claiming that, yet they have nothing to compare it to. But when a black person does it, oh, we are just reading too much into it. The anti-whiteness is very real and very alive. But what I find funny about DEI and this push to have blacks in every commercial and lead, is how they leave out all the other races. Sure there might be a so called Asian, you know, people who look Chinese or Japanese for instance, but no other races in Asia are considered so called Asian. Or a token hispanic to shut them up. But no other races are included. 'Well, DEI means blacks only. As long as we have blacks, we meet the DEI diversity quota. And democrats are happy with us. After all, they have to protect 'their' voters.'
Chaos200 - 3/16/2024, 3:48 AM
@ProLife - Surprised they posted this but not this
Demigods - 3/16/2024, 5:18 AM
@TrentCrimm - "Libs of Ticktok" is the name of the handle that reported this.
Look, I LOATHE identity politics, but this is exactly what both sides need to do. Call out our own people for the bull shit that isn't okay. Both democrats and republicans need to do more like this. I dunno anything about "Libs of Ticktock" but I'm happy to see someone calling out their own saying "this is not okay." Republicans, hop on this train and maybe we'll end up getting a half way decent candidate in 2028
RockerTodd - 3/16/2024, 11:32 AM
@Demigods - That's a good point, except that, as I understand it, Libs of Tick Tock are a group of CONSERVATIVE activists who are pointing out Liberal F*ckery. Should Democrats do the same thing? (trick question)

Of course, if there are Republican supporters out there using the N word or other derogatory language, the entire media machine will inform you, full spectrum.
Demigods - 3/16/2024, 4:34 PM
@RockerTodd - ohhhh... I'm an idiot. I did not look into the group's other posts. That would be annoying if that were the case. I mean, the lady did still need to get called out for her racist remarks.
Yeah, I just saw them and they're definitely hardcore republicans.

[frick]... that really gave me hope for a second that we, as a group of people, would start actually policing our own again and trying to put forth the best ideals and candidates... unfortunately more identity politics.
Gabimaru - 3/15/2024, 12:31 PM
CoHost - 3/15/2024, 12:32 PM
How awful...

...let's go get some ice cream.
AnthonyVonGeek - 3/15/2024, 12:33 PM
“I know the best way for an environment to be safe is to be around people who are just like me.”

JustAWaffle - 3/15/2024, 2:31 PM
@AnthonyVonGeek - Yeah, segregation always worked out for everyone.
Origame - 3/15/2024, 4:09 PM
@AnthonyVonGeek - and let's not forget these same people defended sweet baby by claiming you can't be racist against white people. You know, that thing only racists say so they can have an excuse to remain racist against white people.
Nomis929 - 3/15/2024, 12:35 PM
So you think to get away from our understanding our differences is to segregate from each other?

Wasn't the whole point of the Black Panther movie is that that kind of philosphy NEVER solves anything?
Demigods - 3/16/2024, 5:22 AM
@Nomis929 - Dude! Two things! 1. spot on. 2. your avatar used to be my avatar for pretty much everything! That's awesome to see it again! Hell yeah!!!!!
Kurban - 3/15/2024, 12:35 PM
Honestly I’d be totally okay with this if they’d leave all the dev studios full of white guys alone
Baf - 3/15/2024, 12:36 PM
Poor girl. Boop bop beep.
marvel72 - 3/15/2024, 12:37 PM
She won't be sacked for these comments because she is Black.
TheShape9859 - 3/15/2024, 12:53 PM
@marvel72 - and nonbinary...
AvalonX - 3/15/2024, 1:12 PM
@TheShape9859 - sigh, f me
marvel72 - 3/15/2024, 2:08 PM
@TheShape9859 - Is she? Hahaha
Canon108 - 3/15/2024, 5:19 PM
@marvel72 - she'll lose a lawsuit before she gets sacked...when the company gets dragged to court for her stupidity, then she'll lose her job.
RedFury - 3/15/2024, 12:39 PM
Yikes... I'm a guy who wants equal opportunities for all, and also for the proper voices to tell their own stories.

But comments like that are very troublesome. If you want to have an all "insert race here" team to tell a story through their lense of experiences, that's perfectly fine I think. But when you throw shade at a group, you're no better than the people you feel that oppressed, and treated you wrongly.

We have to try and move forward, not backwards. All of us.
Demigods - 3/16/2024, 5:28 AM
@RedFury - look, if she said "I hired black authors to tell a story from a black perspective" I could see that, but to say that she wouldn't hire anyone just to work on the game unless they were black is not okay. To then say that she actively sought to avoid hiring white people because they make her uncomfortable is discrimination.

I'd have a problem with attempting to get away with discriminatory hiring practices in any way, which means saying "I excluded 'x race' from the hiring process because of"... well anything. The only only thing I could think of is hiring someone as a writer to tell a specific type of story... but even then, depending on the subject, that is dicey as well. For a black panther game, I'd say you could get away with it. For a lot of other things, slippery slope.
RedFury - 3/16/2024, 12:44 PM
@Demigods - well said, I completely agree.

While having the right people telling a story through their experience is essential, especially when it's culturally significant. The strength we gain as a collective is also very powerful. Bringing in ideas from all walks of life and cultures only makes us stronger as a species.

I'm sure her point of view stems from an experience in her life where maybe she didn't feel safe, or heard because of a certain group. But I would hope that going through that would give someone the insight as to why those kinds of things should be avoided.

Hate only breeds more hate. I think it's in all of us to try and move past those scars, and strive for something better.
bkmeijer1 - 3/15/2024, 12:42 PM
I don't give a crao who develops the game, as long as the game's good. Just don't throw shade. That's borderline bullying, and bullying is not cool
X75 - 3/15/2024, 3:23 PM
@bkmeijer1 - and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Hire people based on their talents, not on skin color, sex, etc.
Franshu - 3/15/2024, 12:43 PM
The idiocy of this is not so much in what was done per se, but how it was presented. If instead of saying "we want to be free of microagressions" (WTF) they'd said something kind of like "this is a marvelous opportunity to give a chance to work on something this big to people who'd otherwise be left aside, and to work on something that really means something to them culturally, making sure they bring their A game", then it wouldn't have been so absurd.
Nightwing1015 - 3/15/2024, 12:45 PM
@Franshu - it would still be admitting to discriminatory hiring practices however u dress it up. Not really sure if the legality of it but seems risky on the face of it
Nightwing1015 - 3/15/2024, 12:44 PM
Is that even legal to admit to that? I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t be, just saying it could be inviting a potential lawsuit to openly say u discriminate on race like that.
Nomis929 - 3/15/2024, 12:48 PM
@Nightwing1015 - No, It's Discrimination and illegal.
GhostDog - 3/15/2024, 12:44 PM
Comment section turned on***

Flame war ignite!
BillyBatson1000 - 3/15/2024, 12:46 PM
@GhostDog - exactly.
GhostDog - 3/15/2024, 12:48 PM
@BillyBatson1000 - like moths to a flame
BillyBatson1000 - 3/15/2024, 12:49 PM
@GhostDog - with the same end product.
SATW42 - 3/15/2024, 12:53 PM
@GhostDog - This is news. He said he would leave comments on for news and exclusives. It's things like his editorial lists he was turning comments off for. Why do you feel it is like a right to a have a comment section
Arthorious - 3/15/2024, 2:28 PM
@GhostDog - idk most of the comments I’ve read so far have called out this bigot of a woman.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Please log in to post comments.

Don't have an account?
Please Register.

View Recorder