Consultant helps game developers not do stupid things such as decorate lava levels with Stars of David

Geographer Kate Edwards helps game developers avoid offensive and malignant stereotypes and tropes in their work. There are more than enough mistakes and blunders to keep her in business.

A common and "safe" way of avoiding problems [is] inventing a whole pseudo-country. It's worth noting that Ubisoft have since announced that their next big Clancyromp, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, will airlift our angry shootyboys out of Bolivia and drop them in a fictional Pacific Island nation called Aurora. But I want to know if transplanting your story like this really helps. Or if it's just an ill-fitting patch.

"I actually think that's a very effective tool," says Edwards. "Good science fiction and fantasy have been using allegory forever… [It's] a very powerful way to make people think about the particular situation without just bluntly hitting them over the head with it. You can do that too if your narrative serves that purpose – and I don't think we should instantly shy away from doing that. If you have a good reason to set your action and narrative in a certain locale that is real, then I would go ahead and explore that option.

"Ultimately, you have to ask yourself… how much of a difference does it make to the narrative purpose of your game whether it's set in Bolivia or it's set in some fictional South American country? Is it really going to change things significantly for the narrative of the game?"

But even Edwards admits that allegory can sometimes go wrong

Example: they put an evil alien in Halo 2 and named it "The Dervish" until someone noticed and fixed it. It's like a scene from a dark comedy show on TV, offensiveness catalyzed into surreal humor by its own magnificent stupidity. The bottom line: "big companies will not pay attention to any of this unless you convince them that thoughtfulness will lead to more worldwide sales."