How Many Reminders Do We Need To Not Put Content Creators In Games?

The latest in the developing charity controversy around Jirard Khalil, AKA Jirard the Completionist, comes from an unexpected source. Sabotage Studios, maker of this year’s hit RPG Sea of Stars, has announced via Discord that it intends to patch out Jirard’s cameo in the game. In an upcoming patch, the builder NPC in Mirth, who shares Khalil’s likeness and collects donations, will be replaced by a different character. I would feel for Sabotage having to make this difficult decision and doing extra post-launch work if the situation wasn’t so easily avoidable in the first place.



Putting real people in a video game is such a big risk for so little gain, and it’s shocking that studios are still doing it. Many games have included cameos of streamers and content creators as a way to court an e-celeb’s fanbase, and every time it happens the studio is betting that the person will never commit a crime, get canceled, or otherwise turn out to be problematic, and that’s huge gamble when dealing with YouTubers. Fortnite is the most obvious example, which is now full of skins based on real people, including pro players, Twitch streamers, singers and Hollywood actors. Cyberpunk 2077 was also filled with content creator cameos. There’s many more, and they don’t always work out.

This past June, over two months before Sea of Stars released, Activision removed streamer Nickmercs’ operator skin from Call of Duty after he posted a homophobic tweet, then doubled down on it in a video while trying to explain what the tweet really meant. TimTheTatman then backed Nickmercs by asking for his own skin to be removed (from the game, rather than an act of medieval torture). It caused quite a ruckus in the Call of Duty community as his fans immediately called for a boycott of the game. Activision has since added more celebrity operators like Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj to the game, but it has backed off on influencers.


Sea Of Stars Will Remove The Completionist’s Cameo Following Charity Scandal

The Completionist’s cameo in Sea of Stars, Jirard the Constructionist, is being removed from the game.

This isn’t strictly an issue with content creators. Overwatch’s Jesse Mcree had to be renamed Cole Cassidy and given a hamfisted story update after the real life developer he was named after was ousted from Blizzard in the wake of its sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit. Blizzard now has a policy not to include real people in any of its games, and followed up by removing a group of NPCs from World of Warcraft, some of which shared names with other developers.

sea of stars the completionist cameo

I understand why Sabotage Studios wanted to give a little nod to Khalil in Sea of Stars. The content creator has been instrumental in giving exposure to indie games for many years both through his channel and his charity event Indieland. Khalil has long had a positive reputation with indie developers, and it’s easy to see how interpersonal relationships would lead to a cameo like this. While I don’t think Sabotage means to condemn him with this decision, it makes sense that the studio would like to distance itself from controversy, but it also should have known better than to put him in the game in the first place.

Companies are frequently so reluctant to take sides, but in this case, they are forced into it. Doing nothing is taken as a show of support, while removing him implies guilt and wrongdoing. It’s a messy situation to put yourself in, and there’s little value either artistically or commercially from it.

You just don’t know who is going to say something hateful, or get exposed in a sexual harassment lawsuit, or promise to donate millions to charity but instead hold onto it for ten years. Let this be the last time a character has to be removed or replaced in a game, and just stop putting non-actors in games altogether.

Next: The Summer’s Big Indie Game Event Gets Shut Down, The Completionist Saves The Day

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