Valve has been working on its Hearthstone competitor, Artifact, for quite some time now. Where Anduin and Jaina battle it out on a tavern table thanks to the core World of Warcraft universe and its related shenanigans, Artifact is similar in a way, though its source inspiration is DOTA 2. Valve has been rolling out teasers for the cards as the game nears its release, and had a really long tweet thread about card interactions recently that was a little bit controversial. This controversy involved a possibly racist Artifact card name being changed for connotations around whip-cracking and the use of “black heroes”.
This Twitter thread from the Artifact account (@PlayArtifact) was explaining how card interactions work, and the tweet below was a part of it:
This card packs a big punch immediately and then keeps on punching. When you play Crack the Whip, it triggers once right after it’s played. If you play an Untested Grunt next to the whipped hero it will trigger again, and the Grunt will receive the bonus. pic.twitter.com/qXflFpdOZb
— Artifact (@PlayArtifact) September 26, 2018
Much like Magic The Gathering, there are different types of cards in Artifact. Those types are demarcated by different colors to indicate a particular strategic style, and there are heroes of different card colors as well that work with those styles. The controversial card in question was called Crack The Whip, and it was controversial because of the text in its description which noted that it would “modify a black hero” when played. In the tweet from the Artifact Twitter account, it also refers to affected heroes as “whipped heroes”.
There were a lot of people who spoke out on social media about this in the wake of the tweet. The connotations between the use of the word “whip” as well as the association with black heroes were troubling to some. They had also suggested that while nothing may be inherently wrong with the context of the card, it had the potential to be abused and to be given racist connotations through certain use.
While Valve did not comment officially on whether or not the material was inappropriate, it did end up changing the name of Crack The Whip to Coordinated Assault so it does look like the community’s views have been taken into account.