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    Game About Vampire-Ruled Chechnya, Run by 'Sultan Ramzan' Pulled After Backlash

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    The parent company of White Wolf, a tabletop role-playing game maker, has reigned in its subsidiary and is in the process of reshuffling its management after the company released content considered "offensive" for the second time in the space of a few months.

    The latest scandal began after the company released a 'Vampire: The Masquerade — Heritage' board game earlier this month.

    The game takes place in a fictionalised Chechnya run by vampires, where one 'Sultan Ramzan', a stereotypical Muslim ruler with a penchant for lavish living, lobbies vampires' interests in Moscow in exchange for immortality. With 'Sultan Ramzan' being an obvious, insulting nod to real-life Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov, the game also uses other real-life landmarks, including the 'Heart of Chechnya' Mosque, and mentions the Chechen clan system. In fact, in the game's universe, Chechnya is actually ruled by an ancient clan of vampires who secretly collect ordinary citizens' blood at special sites disguised as gyms and sporting facilities.

    As if that wasn't offensive enough, a major plot point of the game's sourcebook features the imprisonment, torture and murder of gay Chechens, an obvious, over-the-top reference to Western claims about alleged human rights violations against the LGBTQ community in the Chechen Republic.

    Facing a backlash over the ludicrous and offensive plot devices used in the game, White Wolf owner Paradox Interactive issued a stilted apology on Friday.

    Shams Jorjani, Paradox Interactive's vice president of business development, said in a statement that there would be "some changes…implemented at White Wolf, starting immediately," including the temporary suspension of sales of the offending game booklets, the removal of references to Chechnya in both the digital and print versions of the game, and the reshuffling of the company's management.

    "Horror should not be afraid to explore difficult or sensitive topics, but it should never do so without understanding who those topics are about and what it means to them. Real evil does exist in the world, and we can't ever excuse its real perpetrators or cheapen the suffering of its real victims. In the Chechnya chapter of the V5 Camarilla book, we lost sight of this," Jorjani said.

    However, instead of apologising for the game's cartoonish depiction of Chechnya and its officials, Jorjani only apologised for the game supposedly dealing "with a real-world, ongoing tragedy in a crude and disrespectful way. We should have identified this either during the creative process or in editing," he said.

    The Chechnya scandal is the second time White Wolf has attracted controversy in the space of just a few months. In August, the company was forced to address concerns that it was catering to neo-Nazi groups amid perceptions that game materials showed links to neo-Nazi and white-supremacist ideology. The company forcefully denied the claims.

    Chechen authorities offered a measured response to White Wolf. Ramzan Kadyrov spokesman Alvi Karimov told Russian business newspaper Kommersant that game developers seemed to have wanted to "drum up hype for themselves using the popularity of Chechnya and its leadership."

    "This is a continuation of the campaign to slander Russia and Chechnya. I'm certain that those behind it are the same organisations which made claims about the alleged persecution of sexual minorities [in Chechnya]. They released the game, and are now themselves criticising it – that's the real game. Immoral and unscrupulous," Karimov said.

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    Tags:
    board game, game, offensive, White Wolf, Paradox Interactive, Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechen Republic, Russia
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