After facing criticism for continuing to sell “legacy content” like Oriental Adventures, WotC has issued a statement and added disclaimers to certain books.
In an update to last week’s story on the DMs Guild and Wizards of the Coast facing backlash from the community for continuing to sell products like Oriental Adventures and Al-Qadim, WotC seems to be following in the foosteps of companies like HBO and Disney by putting a disclaimer on their “legacy content” acknowledging that a reader might find ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice portrayed within books like Oriental Adventures and Al-Qadim.
Legacy content is a broad catchall term for older editions of D&D; the disclaimer, which warns the viewer that they might be reading content that contains portrayals of harmful “ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice”, has been added to every product that fits that category. So you’ll find it on everything from Oriental Adventures to the 4th Edition Starter Set.
We recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website, does not reflect the values of the Dungeon & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.
It’s an approach other companies have taken where their sensitive material is concerned. Here’s an example of the statement from Warner Brothers about some of their old cartoons:
However, some have pointed out that, depending on the title, you may not see the disclaimer. On the Oriental Adventures product page, the disclaimer comes after several paragraphs of text:
WotC put disclaimers on all of their legacy content like Oriental Adventures. After two weeks of me receiving abuse for calling out the fact that they continue to profit from harmful Asian stereotypes, they QUIETLY added this.
— Asians Represent Podcast! Vote for the ENnies! (@aznsrepresent) July 8, 2020
But, as WotC has clarified in a statement issued late yesterday afternoon, this is just the first step, and it was done ahead of schedule.
A disclaimer has been added to several legacy titles on our partner distribution sites. We'd like to talk about why we've added that disclaimer, what it means, and other steps that are being taken to address a legacy of ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice in some old products.
— Dungeons & Dragons (@Wizards_DnD) July 8, 2020
The linked tweet above will take you to a thread of WotC’s full statement, but for ease we’ve reprinted it in its entirety below:
“A disclaimer has been added to several legacy titles on our partner distribution sites. We’d like to talk about why we’ve added that disclaimer, what it means, and other steps that are being taken to address a legacy of ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice in some old products.
This is an early step and not done in a vacuum. It’s not enough to evaluate ourselves. As outlined in our original diversity statement (dnd.wizards.com/articles/featu), we’re undergoing the process of reviewing our content and practices and hiring external consultants to review with us.
These processes take time to implement, and we’ll continue to provide future updates. Unfortunately, our disclaimer was added before we were ready to fully communicate the steps we are taking. We apologize for failing to handle this situation with the care and grace it deserves.
Lastly, we want to make it clear that we condemn the harassment or bullying of those raising their concerns about our content, past or present. D&D wants to be an open, welcoming, and inclusive space. Those who do not reflect those values are not welcome in our community.
Simply put, we messed up and we’re sorry. Wizards of the Coast is constantly working to be better, and we have a lot of work to do, especially so in repairing trust with our community. Thank you for continuing to use your voice so that we may continue to make meaningful change.”
WotC is reaching out to their community, and their community continues to try and hold WotC to their pledge: to build a D&D where all feel welcome. Even as they issued the statement, some of the community have expressed their distrust, especially given recent statements by WotC’s own employees of color, higher level employees, and other creatives who have worked with WotC expressing similar statements.
Though such statements are being made of many aspects of the tabletop roleplaying industry right now; the recent ENnies controversy, the allegations of abuse and harassment welling up in streaming and creator communities — the list goes on, WotC is the biggest fish in the pond. Where they go so go the eyes of the mainstream. And once WotC starts implementing the changes, we may see evidence of the company turning a corner.
All eyes appear to be on Wizards of the Coast for now though as they approach a critical point in the company’s development.
What do you think of the disclaimer and WotC’s statement?