Black Panther game dev under fire for resurfaced comments about not hiring white devs

Jacob Hale
black panther image art next to picture of associate narrative designer Dani Lalonders

One of the developers behind an upcoming Black Panther game has come under fire after a clip resurfaced in which they admitted that they previously built a team that excluded white people to create a “safe environment” for them to create a prior game.

Dani Lalonders is an associate narrative designer at Cliffhanger Games who is currently working on a game based off the Black Panther Marvel film series.

Formerly, they worked on a game called ValiDate, “a romantic visual novel about 13 adults in Jercy City navigating new relationships and the harsh realities that come alongside them.”

It was on this game that Lalonders said they had no white people on the team, which was a deliberate decision.

“We have no white people on our team,” they said. “I did that because I wanted to create a safe environment, and I know the best way for an environment to be safe is to be around people who are just like me.”

They continued, “I’m not saying white people are creating unsafe environments, I’m saying sometimes it’s hard to work with white people because sometimes they think something is okay, but it’s actually a microaggression.”

Timestamp 7:10

The clip came from a talk Lalonders did in 2021 at the Game Devs of Color Expo but has been shared across social media in February and March 2024.

Since the clip started to go viral, Lalonders has set their Twitter/X account, and other social media, to private, as users have called out the comments as “blatant racism.”

It is not known if this policy followed Lalonders over to Cliffhanger and the Black Panther project. This development team falls under the EA umbrella and is a much bigger team.

Not much is known about the Black Panther game at the time of writing, with the game still in the infancy of its development, but fans of the films will be excited to start cruising around Wakanda on their own.