Apex Legends has been a champion of representation in gaming - but many fans feel they've had a hand in cultural appropriation.
Apex Legends has been regarded as one of the best games in the battle royale genre when it comes to diversity and representation. The leading cast of fighters is a diverse one, featuring people of colour predominantly, and offers plenty of representation when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. One of these characters is Gibraltar, a gay pacific islander who is recognised as one of the game’s most likeable legends.
But, despite the game’s relatively consistent representation, it seems to have made something of a misfire, and it’s damaging Gibby’s hearty reputation.
Why Are Fans Accusing Apex Legends of Cultural Appropriation?
The outcries from fans that Apex is guilty of cultural appropriation have come from a brand new emote for Gibraltar. The emotes are a brand-new addition to Season 9 of the game, which will be making its grand debut in the game tomorrow. The emote in question is the Haka, which takes influence from the MÄori dance.
Specifically naming the emote “Haka” has wrought trouble for EA, as it is entirely separate from other dances from Pacific regions - namely the Tongan meke, or the Samoan siva.
It’s a problem that’s frustrating fans of Apex Legends immensely. Especially Teebagginz, a MÄori player of the game. “This turns my gears into war mode”, they said in a tweet. “They better have some form of cultural consultation cos that’s sh*t if you’re ripping off my proud heritage, identity and culture.”
What Is Gibraltar's Cultural Identity?
The trouble is, Gibraltar’s heritage is a little blurrier than being explicitly MÄori. He is a character from the Pacific Islands according to a few fan wikis, but he is not specifically mentioned to be MÄori, Polynesian or Samoan. But, an old tweet from one of the game’s writers may have offered some more information on who Gibraltar is.
Back in 2020, Respawn’s writer Tom Casiello made a tweet that explains Gibraltar’s identity a little further. “Gibraltar’s ancestors are Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian, Indonesian, and even a little Peruvian through one great great great great great grandpa”, he says in response to a fan’s inquisition.
Gibraltar's ancestors are Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian, Indonesian, and even a little Peruvian through one great great great great great grandpa.
This offers a little more insight to the character as tweets like this are often considered to be canonical titbits that feed Apex Legends’ lore. The upset regarding cultural appropriation rests on Gibby’s own culture, and while the tweet may be old and might have passed many players by, it’ll serve as assurance for upset fans.
Whether or not the tweet will help to quell the flames of outrage is yet to be seen, but as it stands right now, it looks as though Respawn have covered their bases. Here’s hoping that they’re a little more careful with their use of sacred cultural staples in future updates.
Images via Electronic Arts