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Our Greatest Mistake

The first game our team offered up to Kickstarter was fraught with first-time mistakes. In 2017, the majority of Luminary Games were still enrolled in Western Washington University. None of us had any experience in game design, and none of us were artists. Some mistakes are easier to catch than others. It took one game of testing for us to realize Druidic Lore could probably stand to be -1/+2 instead of 0/+2. About 9 months of development passed before we realized the board should be a 4x4 grid rather than a 1x7 line.

It took us 3 years to realize that across 500 unique Ivion illustrations there is only one person of color.

At its core, Ivion is a game about bringing to life your hero. You can play a wielder of fiery magics, or you can brandish a massive claymore. You can be lithe or lumbering, stout or scrappy. But you can’t be a person of color—it’s just not in the cards.

Of course, we knew that none of our art portrayed persons of color. This was a conscious decision. Our first expansion told the story of a remote northern island trapped in an eternal winter. The inhabitants of the Skels, it was determined, were entirely white. A similar story would be told for the next realm we explored, which was based on Arthurian tales of knights, wizards, and enchantresses. Our logic went as such: “When we explore an area of Ivion which draws inspiration from the real world, we’ll have the skin color on characters be historically accurate.”

This is our greatest mistake. Ivion is a high-fantasy card game about crafting heroes and claiming glory, and without a thought we benched all persons of color “until next time”. To make matters worse, we did not equally rule on the importance of historical accuracy. Something we are very proud of in Ivion is our equal representation of male and female characters in historically male-dominated roles. We overturn history for women and enforce history for people of color. This is racist, and completely unacceptable.

And it took 3 years for us to notice. More accurately, it took 8 minutes and 46 seconds. It took a man being choked to death and global protests shouting, Black Lives Matter for us to examine our own bias. It took a Seattle march 2 miles long and 60,000 strong for this moment of reflection.

It goes without saying that we will be thoroughly restructuring how we ensure representation in future projects. It pains us to say that we do not have the time nor the budget to rectify this issue in our latest release. In all that comes after, we will meticulously plan to include people of all colors and creeds so you, no matter where your roots are, can see yourself in our game, and see that you matter. You exist, and we acknowledge and celebrate that. Prejudice is insipid and elusive. It hides where we don’t expect, and festers if left unchecked. To fight prejudice is not simply a list of do’s and don’ts; it is a constant vigil by the better angels of our nature. We at Luminary Games have not done enough to support players of color, and this is inexcusable. We can and must do better.

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