Design oversights and accidental racism in You're in the Movies

Recounting the tale of "the worst moment" in his career, You're in the Movies lead designer Andy Trowers has shed some light on how accidentally created a racist video game. 

Recounting the tale of "the worst moment" in his career in a recent Kotaku guest post, You're in the Movies lead designer Andy Trowers has shed some light on how he accidentally created a racist video game. 

In case you don't remember it, You're in the Movies was an Xbox 360 exclusive party game that used the console's Xbox Live Vision Camera to transport players, would you believe it, into fictitious movie trailers.

It was a novel idea, but one that was surprisingly difficult to implement. "It was definitely flaky round the edges, but under the right lighting conditions, whilst wearing a different color outfit to the background, you could play. It worked," recalls Trowers.

There were, however, other unforeseen issues that only revealed themselves at the worst possible moment. And out of all the times to find out you've made a glaring error, right before a Microsoft-funded launch event in Times Square has to be up there with the worst. 

"Just before the launch event, we were fixing bugs and going through Xbox certification when one of our artists dropped a bombshell," continues Trowers. "He stood in front of the camera and showed me. It didn’t work.

"Puzzled, I stood in front of the camera and it did work. After a few moments of bemused frustration, the penny dropped. His skin was dark, mine was not. The camera relied on reflected light to detect motion. He didn’t reflect anywhere near as much as me. We had made a racist computer game."

You can read the rest of Trowers' cautionary tale, and find out what he thinks the wider industry can learn from his mistakes, over on Kotaku.

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