SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Korea Bizwire) –In a recent episode of online drama, a promotional video for the popular game ‘MapleStory’ found itself in the crosshairs of male-centric communities, with many branding it as a symbol of misandry. However, as the details unfolded, it was revealed that the artist behind the controversial illustration that included a hand gesture commonly associated with a defunct online feminist community was not a female creator, but, in fact, a male artist.
The initially vehement claims of intentional inclusion of a symbol of misandry by a supposed “feminist” artist crumbled under scrutiny, revealing the fallacy of the allegations. The controversy, however, took an unexpected turn as the game developer Nexon faced criticism for hastily deflecting blame to the company tasked with creating the promotional video, without proper fact-checking.
The artist responsible for the illustration, featuring the female character ‘Angelic Buster’ in Nexon’s promotional video, was revealed to be a man in his 40s identified only as Mr. K. Contrary to being an employee of Studio Ppuri, the company that Nexon hired to create the video, Mr. K was a freelance animator enlisted due to a tight deadline. Despite facing accusations of creating ‘misandrist’ content, he had no such intention.
Investigations conducted by the Hankyoreh shed light on the collaborative effort involved in creating the video. The male artist who drew the illustration in question, which features characters making a pinching hand gesture using their thumb and index finger, was one of numerous animators working on the project, overseen by a director in his 50s. The director’s role was to guide the overall poses of the characters, with animators executing the detailed artwork.
Approximately 30 animators contributed to creating the video featuring ‘Angelic Buster,’ and the animator wrongly accused of ‘misandry’ was just one among them. Nexon had supposedly reviewed the video and storyboards with Studio Ppuri more than eight times during the planning phase.
However, despite these facts, Nexon chose to pull the video and issued an apology to users immediately after concerns were raised. The company even hinted at legal action against Studio Ppuri. Kim Chang-seop, the director of MapleStory at Nexon, emphasized the company’s stance, stating, “We firmly oppose those who feel no shame in blindly hating others and find joy in exposing them.”
As this information came to light, criticisms arose even within male-centric communities, with some pointing out the absurdity of confirming intentional misandry based on a few tweets about the finger gestures. Kim Hwan-min, head of the IT Union, remarked, “Confirming intentional misandry based solely on a hand gesture is an absurd mockery of the animation industry. Nexon’s failure to verify even basic facts before blaming the company engaged to produce the video also defies logic.”
The controversy surrounding the hand gesture illustration in ‘MapleStory’ highlights the necessity for careful examination of claims and responsible actions in addressing online criticisms. It also underscores the importance of challenging stereotypes and promoting a more informed and respectful dialogue within the gaming community, as developers navigate the delicate balance between creative expression and societal sensitivities.
Meanwhile, following the controversy, reports indicate that game industry employees worked even on weekend nights to scrutinize images and promotional materials in games, aiming to eliminate any potentially offensive hand gestures.
Nevertheless, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and others alleged that Nexon’s actions constituted a “feminist hate-mongering campaign.” On November 28, a press conference was convened in front of Nexon Korea’s headquarters in Seongnam-si to denounce the game’s management.
In response, Nexon’s union strongly criticized the KCTU for staging a protest rally at Nexon’s headquarters without prior consultation, particularly regarding the handling of the ‘man-hating hand gestures’ in the game’s promotional materials.
M. H. Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)