So you may or may not have heard of Cookie Run. It’s a cute little endless runner game on iOS and Android, and its colorful and diverse cast of characters has attracted a large following, not to mention the awesome and communicative devs behind the game. It’s lovely, recommend it. But we have a story here, so I’ll move on.
Cookie Run is developed in South Korea by DevSisters, and thus a large amount of its player base is Korean. If you’re familiar with the Korean entertainment industry (which I very much am not, I’m just an outsider looking in, but CR fandom drama is always interesting) you may be aware of the Burning Sun scandal, involving certain K-pop idols (the two leading individuals were Seungri and Jung Joon-Young) who sexually assaulted and raped women using drugs and recorded and photographed them, before posting it online. All of this information is incredibly disturbing, but the South Korean government’s management of this case was what tipped the Korean public over the edge, as evidence of police bribery came out. It was (maybe still is, as it seems evidence is ongoing) a very public and dramatic issue, that I don’t know enough about to say more about it, so I’ll leave it there.
Anyway, CR has a guild system, which lets users make public guilds and earn rewards for guild runs. The names of these guilds are public, and cannot be changed. So guess what? Some bright bulbs decided to name their guild “버닝썬”, or, well, Burning Sun. At the time this issue was very fresh, and those who could read Korean immediately caught on and became very angry.
Suddenly, left and right, calls to boycott CR until the guild was removed were launched, all with increasingly absurd demands. You have to understand that a good deal of the CR community are also Tumblr users (no offense, I’m a Tumblr user too, but some of y’all can’t behave) so they launched into attacking the devs with fervor, even though this wasn’t even their fault! It was honestly kinda shocking. While I agreed that the guild should be banned, ultimatums like “if you don’t ban them right now we’ll review bomb the game on the AppStore so your downloads tank” were a bit extreme.
The guild leaders seemed to catch on to the backlash, and initially tried changing the name of their guild to slip under the rug, but they needed admin permission to do so, and it was eventually changed to Cookie Run Gallery. The users then doubled down on their hate by changing their usernames to phrases mocking those on Twitter who spoke out.
So, who’s to blame for all this? Well, if you look at the twitter comments made adjacent this fiasco, it still seemed like the devs were being blamed. The community wanted DevSisters to address this directly and apologize, which is difficult to do, mostly because the game and its social media is very family-friendly, and try to avoid controversy as often as possible. As of right now, their public twitter has not addressed it, but the issue has mostly blown over. The guild has been shadowbanned from search results when looking for guilds, and while I don’t know the fate of the players involved, it’s entirely possible they’re banned too.
Overall, this is just a very messy issue, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I think DevSisters do amazing work on Cookie Run, which could’ve ended up as a mediocre mobile game, but turned into one of my favorite games of the past few years. This whole debacle was frustrating for me, and I’m sure frustrating for them to deal with.
Strange thing is, CR launched its own Discord server less than a month after this issue. Whose bright idea that was, I’ll never know, but it was a mess initially. I joined after the dust settled, though, and it’s not too bad now.
Anyway, I’m gonna go play Cookie Run. If this whole post is incoherent, it’s because I’ve been stuck in the house for two weeks and it’s been affecting my thought process. I wish you all good health and cute cookie friends.
Sources: https://twitter.com/cookierunupdate/status/1186219101015855110?s=21 https://twitter.com/cookierun/status/1186203983842398210?s=21 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_Sun_scandal