Netflix’s rumoured decision to cast a BAME actress as Ciri sparked a huge backlash recently, but why?
Sapkowski’s fantastic Witcher novels created an enthralling world rife with war. CD Projekt Red’s Witcher games added to this by having the player fight back against the fierce Wild Hunt. But perhaps no Witcher story has seen as much conflict as Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of the series, mainly because of the rumoured decision to cast a BAME actress as the beloved character Ciri.
Fans of both the books and games have been in uproar about how it’s important that the actress who plays Ciri is similar to her description in the novels, or her representation in the games. It’s understandable, perhaps, that some fans are upset over this decision. They want to see as close of a true representation to the original that they can get. It’s a chance to relive those incredible stories, and share them with non gaming or Fantasy reading people. They want the adaptation to do justice to the brilliant world of The Witcher.
But this opinion is flawed, especially with regards to the video game industry. Why is there the need to see something that is already great reproduced again? Why do we, as fans, long for faithful movie and TV adaptations of our favourite games when we know they’ll so often fall short?
A movie or TV series is never going to live up to our expectations set by the game that inspired them. No matter how much we loved the story and adored the characters, gaming lets us experience them in a different way. After all, a movie pretty much never lives up to the book, and it’ll always be the same with games too.
As of 2017, The Witcher games have sold over 30 million copies worldwide. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest game series of all time, with many great reasons to go back and replay it. So, why isn’t this enough for gamers? It’s simple. We’re insecure about the industry. No matter how huge the gaming industry gets we always feel that our favourite titles are underappreciated by the mass media.
We hope for a great movie or TV adaptation of our favourite games so that they get the recognition they deserve. We want them to expand on our experiences and enrich them. And we also want them to draw new people into the fray. Fans want Netflix to cast someone familiar to the Ciri they know and love because they feel that others will recognize how great the character is.
If Netflix makes a terrible Witcher series then fans have the right to be angry. But it won’t be down to who they cast, or how close it comes to the expectations of gamers worldwide. A BAME actress won’t change anything. It’ll come down to the stories that it tells and the actions of its characters, not the colour of their skin. The gaming community should come together and share their love for The Witcher in the right way; that’s what the franchise deserves.