Video game developer Hi-Rez Studios recently announced they will be introducing Cthulu, created by author H.P. Lovecraft, into Smite, the company’s free-to-play, third-person multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA).
In their announcement written by developed TitanAjax they detailed that “Cthulhu is the Great Dreamer and the High Priest of the Great Old Ones. He is the gateway to a set of cosmic entities with unfathomable power. They have existed for aeons, likely coming into being before our currently known universe.”
They added, “Even as Cthulhu sleeps in the underwater prison of R’lyeh, his power seeps into every shred of life on Earth, causing discomfort and despair. He will soon awaken, and the gods of SMITE will be tested like never before.”
They then went on to specifically detail their vision for Cthulu in the game. The announcement read, “We want SMITE’s Cthulhu to stay true to his literary depiction, while making him a fierce and intimidating monster that has become an iconic part of his modern interpretations.”
They then listed off Cthulu’s theme, visuals, personality, and perspective.
- Theme – Madness – Cthulhu’s visual appearance and powers are designed to inspire psychological horror in his opponents.
- Visuals – Monstrous – The recognizable octopus head sets up a clear template for Cthulhu as a terrifying beast from the darkest depths of the ocean.
- Personality – Nihilistic. Cthulhu holds no respect for human life, nor the gods of SMITE. He sees them as insignificant beings who are utterly worthless within the universe.
- Perspective – Fear. The gods know nothing of Cthulhu, which scares them. Once they see him and begin to know what he is capable of, they fear him even more.
Netx, they explained why they decided to include Cthulu on their roster despite conflicting concerns among their playerbase.
They wrote, “We understand the community is mixed about the potential inclusion of Cthulhu in SMITE. Some of you have been very vocal in favor of the eldritch gods. Others have voiced concerns that Cthulhu represents a step too far, opening a door to some other fantastical, non-God characters.”
The statement then explains, “We think Cthulhu fits SMITE in ways these other potential “Gods” do not. Cthulhu is, in his lore, a supernatural being of immense power. He is the high priest of a pantheon of cosmic deities whose presence alone is enough to render a human completely insane — the sort of character at home on the Battleground of the Gods, and arguably the best-known godly figure who is not currently in SMITE.”
It continues, “Yes, Cthulhu originates from a piece of popular fiction, but from one nearly 100 years old. Baba Yaga is about 250 years old, by comparison. And the Arthurian legends as we know them today were, truly, the product of 12th century popular fiction.”
They then add, “SMITE’s lore is simple: If people believe in a God, if they talk about it, they make it real. That’s what the concept of worshippers is all about. Cthulhu has achieved a near mythical status in today’s world, represented in the thousands of books, comics, games, and movies that pay homage to him — and the people who enjoy them. We think there are enough people who believe in Cthulhu as a godly figure that he’s a valid candidate for SMITE.”
Their statement then details they do not plan on including characters like Harry Potter’s Dumbledore or Robin Hood.
After explaining why they chose to include Cthulu they then announced they reject “the racist and homophobic ideas espoused by H.P. Lovecraft.”
TitanAjax wrote, “One final note: Just as we reject the ancient Mayan tradition of ritual human sacrifice, we reject the racist and homophobic ideas espoused by H.P. Lovecraft. We believe that Cthulhu has grown beyond its creator over the past 100 years.”
“We welcome Cthulhu to SMITE, not Lovecraft; racism and homophobia have no place in SMITE, period,” TitanAjax concluded.
Smite and TitanAjax are not alone in using Lovecraft’s creations while condemning him.
Evil Hat Productions made a similar statement earlier this year. On Twitter they shared a page from their game’s manual that reads, “Also – Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a racist and an anti-Semite. There we said it.”
They added, “We could give a litany of examples, but they are easy to find with a simple Internet search. Look up the name of his cat, for instance (HPL was over-the-top, even for his time). Go ahead, we’ll wait.”
While developing Fate of Cthulhu, we were obligated to reflect on the problematic roots of the source material.
We tackle that on page 6.
The mythos is definitely worth exploring – it’s also worth re-examining.https://t.co/v0F853zsM0 pic.twitter.com/6WKcg0eSf2
— Evil Hat Productions (@EvilHatOfficial) January 17, 2020
In a subsequent they encouraged people to not buy their game.
Since the predictable edgelords and apologists have now shown up, a quick reminder:
If you don’t like the politics included in our games, don’t buy them.
We literally do not want your money.
We are committed to diverse and inclusive gaming.
We’re not perfect, but we’re trying.
— Evil Hat Productions (@EvilHatOfficial) January 20, 2020
SMITE and Evil Hat Productions want to both embrace the ideas of the Lovecraft universe, but at the same time throw the author under the bus for his 19th and 20th century views. They want to profit off the man while dragging him as much as possible to score those points.
They believe the author is bad, but still want to make money off his brand and creations.
YouTuber The Quartering addressed Smite’s statement saying, “H.P. Lovecraft had a bad opinion of his fellow man, obviously. But to both think that it’s shocking that a man born 100+ years ago would have, and also using that game, using him to make money, to me it just doesn’t add. It just doesn’t add.”
He continued, “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say, ‘Hey we are going to take this guy’s product, he was so evil…’ Well how evil do you think he really was? So how much of the money from making this are you donating to organizations that fight…”
First introduced in the short story, The Call of Cthulhu, the Lovecraftian deity has been a major symbol of both cosmic horror and H.P. Lovecraft’s work.
As a member of that pantheon, the imagery that describes Cthulhu, tentacles, dragon features, and the ocean that surrounds him, has been a major staple of the Lovecraft Universe even as other authors and creators have expanded on it, and even mimicked it in many current mediums such as Rick and Morty.
What do you think of the Smite’s statement around H.P. Lovecraft and their inclusion of Cthulu into the game?