Detroit: Become Human

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Fandom
Name: Detroit: Become Human
Abbreviation(s): D:BH, DBH, Detroit
Creator:
Date(s): Quantic Dream
Medium: Video Game (PlayStation)
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: Offical page
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Detroit: Become Human is an adventure game developed by Quantic Dream and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for PlayStation 4. It was released worldwide on 25 May 2018, and is widely known for indelicate handling of issues such as racism and the civil rights movement with Polygon's review stating: "But Detroit: Become Human fails to either challenge or reflect upon the ramifications of abuse or the history of the civil rights movement, around which its three storylines cohere."[1] Despite this, D:BH has a large and enthusiastic fanbase.

Fans of the game often disregard the portions of canon they don't like, instead choosing to focus on the parts of the game they found compelling. In practice, this "fuck the canon" attitude many D:BH fans have means AU and canon divergence are both common within fanworks. Since many of the focal characters are androids, All Human AU is common and the sometimes violent nature of the game means Hurt/Comfort is also common.

Synopsis

The plot revolves around three androids, Kara, Connor, and Markus, and their journeys toward becoming self-aware. Connor is a police investigator android whose job is to hunt down sentient androids that have deviated from their programmed behaviors and, depending on player choices, can go deviant himself. Kara is a housekeeper android who develops artificial consciousness and escapes the owner she was serving to explore her newfound sentience while trying to protect Alice, a young girl. Markus is a caretaker android who, after gaining consciousness, takes it upon himself to free other androids like him from bondage.

The game revolves heavily on choices the player makes, primarily through QTEs, and there are quite a number of different endings to the game[2] meaning that every player's experience will be a little bit different.

Characters

Connor, Kara, and Markus are the only playable characters in D:BH, but there are several other important characters in the game:

  • Hank Anderson, Connor's human partner
  • Gavin Reed, an antagonist to Connor and Hank
  • Elijah Kamski, creator of the androids in D:BH
  • Alice, the girl that Kara saves from her abusive father
  • Luther, an android Kara and Alice meet on their travels
  • Josh, North, and Simon, who are androids Markus meets in Jericho
  • Chloe, the android from the main menu screen and one of Kamski's creations

Fandom

Most of the D:BH fandom centers around the character of Connor, whose popularity is only helped by the fact that Connor's actor (Bryan Dechart) is active within the fandom on Twitch and YouTube. He did several playthroughs of the game, including a blind lp.[3] Connor's popularity within the D:BH fandom over the other two playable characters is often explained with the assertion that his storyline is one of the reasons why the game was enjoyable at all:

I love all of Connor's chapters too! Connor's story is just handle better imo, your decisions really shape him while Kara and Markus decisions feel more linear or forced. I played through this game a lot now and I'm still not tired of any of Connor's chapters yet.- AngelAssassin19, Connor's Popularity
Connor is the silver lining in this raincloud of a video game, an empathetic police android whose story deserves to be told on its own, albeit in a game far less hackneyed. Had Connor’s been the sole storyline in Detroit, I have a feeling the game could have found a much fonder audience. Because I know for a fact that the internet loves Connor, and so do I.- Detroit: Become Human stars one of the best characters of 2018
I can’t really speak for everyone else, but I feel like one of the reasons why Connor is so popular is because his story is very character-focused. Connor has a lot of chances to change and evolve as a person over the course of his narrative, which makes for a compelling story.- AprilRaven, Connor's Popularity
Markus' options for graffiti in the "Capitol Park" chapter of Detroit: Become Human

Connor's popularity may also have to do with the fact that his storyline is the least "issue driven" of the three and therefore suffers the least from the kind of misstep that spawned many variations on the already popular Press X To meme. These memes ranged from "press triangle to evoke actual historical civil rights struggles"[4] to "press x to end racism"[5] and much of the critical discussion about D:BH centers around this aspect of the game. Markus' storyline is almost entirely about the Android Revolution, culminating in him effectively becoming Jesus, and Kara's storyline focuses on themes of domestic abuse and motherhood. This leaves Connor's storyline as the one where fans can drop the more problematic aspects of D:BH and focus on the relationships between characters without feeling like they're ignoring the issue.

The game's many different endings mean that it's extremely popular among YouTubers who do Let's Play-style content, since they can do multiple runs of the game without the content feeling stale to their fans. This popularity, however, means that many of the game's fans have not necessarily played the game themselves but rather have experienced it through someone else's playthrough. While that's not inherently a good or bad thing, depending on which YouTuber a fan decides to watch play, their opinion of the game and the ideology around it can be colored by the commentary of the person playing. For example, Super Best Friends went into their D:BH playthrough already aware of the issues surrounding it and were prepared to mock David Cage's writing to the full extent. Because Quantic Dream's games haven't handled the types of issues that D:BH deal with well in their past games,[6] with the company itself coming into question ahead of D:BH's release,[7] their history of missteps caused Super Best Friends to release a bingo card ahead of their LP. There were many other bingo cards made by fans ahead of the game's release, highlighting some of the many problems people had with the game even when they enjoyed it,[8] and overall the tone of their playthrough was neutral to negative. Bryan Dechart's playthroughs, on the other hand, are more joking and lighthearted and Jacksepticeye's first playthrough is much the same way.

As noted in the article The Super-Fans Of Detroit: Become Human Hate Most Of The Game, much of the fandom around D:BH is centered around hatred of the source material or ignoring the aspect of canon that are terrible. In a sense, the fandom itself is acting like Fix-it on the canon. This is reflected in the most popular tags used on fanworks hosted at AO3, which include fluff and "Post-Pacifist Best Ending (Detroit: Become Human)."[9] Other common tropes include a focus on deviancy in the android characters[10][11] and human aus.[9] Given the nature of the canon, darkfic dealing with the various darker aspects of D:BH are also quite common. Because all three of the main playable characters can die, depending on player choices, and many of the secondary characters can also die so Everybody Lives[12] and variations on that theme are relatively common. Like many other choice-driven fandoms such as Fallout or Dragon Age, fans for D:BH will often clarify which path their character is written from to avoid confusion among other fans.[13] The most common of these tags is "Deviant Connor"[10] whose use far outstrips the opposite tag "Machine Connor."[14]

Shipping

Shipping the the D:BH fandom is unique in that, given the player-driven nature of the gameplay, one would assume that all pairings were more or less possible as "canon" as in games like Dragon Age. This is not the case, as Markus/North is the only true "relationship" you can pursue in the game, with David Cage saying that Quantic Dream considered other romance options for Markus but "the amount of permutations that it would have triggered in the script would have been pretty unmanageable" and "[w]e chose to privilege the relationship with North, but a relationship with another male character would have worked as well."[15] The juggernaut ship is Connor/Hank Anderson (also known as ConHank or HankCon), at almost double the amount of works of the next most popular ship RK900/Gavin Reed.[9] Like many newer fandoms, especially ones populated with younger fans, Reader-Insert fics are also popular with Connor/Reader being the third most popular ship in the fandom.[9]

Interestingly, even though Markus/North is the only pairing that can become canonical, it's relatively rare within the fandom.[16] This may be due to the fact that North is almost impossible not to romance, despite the fact that North despises Markus in the beginning. Their "romance" mainly happens over a single scene in which North's affection for Markus goes up without regard for the player's choices[17] and this led to many players feeling as though the game railroaded them into a relationship with North, rather than it being something they chose to pursue. It's also unusual that the second most popular pairing in the fandom would be between the relatively minor character of Gavin Reed and the completely fanon character of RK900, who appears in a single mid-credits scene that players may or may not even unlock[18] and who has no lines or discernible character traits. Whether RK900/Gavin Reed is a case of Two White Guys or a crackship that's gained traction is unclear, but it does highlight the fandom's tendency to do whatever they want rather than adhere to canon.

The dissatisfaction that many players felt with Kara's storyline in the game seems to carry over into shipping. She features most heavily in fic about Connor and Hank, but suffers from Bruce Banner Syndrome in that many of the fics that Kara is tagged in aren't about her.[19] Most often, she's paired with Luther. The lesbian Tracis featured in Connor's storyline are also a popular component of D:BH fic[20] that rarely feature prominently.

Controversies

While Detroit obviously has a thriving fanbase, many people believe that it shouldn't due to the many, many things that the game handles poorly or even harmfully. These people are often ones who have played other Quantic Dream games and have come to believe that David Cage should not be given a platform given his previous games track record and the allegations against him.[7] They also are often critical of the fact that David Cage won't admit that D:BH is an allegory and refuses to politicize his games[21] but will use Ellen Page for street cred[7] when he once spent 12 months creepily looking for photos of her to write Beyond: Two Souls[22] and put a nude model of her in a game against her will, causing her to explore legal action against Quantic Dreams.[23]

It’s a David Cage game. David Cage has a long history of being a creep and an awful writer. From putting racism and rape fantasies in every single one of his games to letting his team make a nude model of Ellen Page without her consent which she tried to sue them over, it’s a wonder how Sony let this game happen. Maybe they wanted to fuck the twink cop like the rest of the internet.- ladysaytenn, Detroit: Become Human doesn’t deserve a fanbase

Fans are also often critical of the way some of D:BH's fans have chosen to express their fannish interest in D:BH[24] given the fact that D:BH doesn't engage well with the history of racism and social justice, appropriating symbols without regard or respect for how th e optics of those symbols are used.[25][26] Many people who are critical of D:BH don't even hate the game, they just believe there are serious issues with the handling of certain topics and real-world issues that fans have a responsibility to be aware of, even if they enjoyed the game.[27] They also expressed disappointment with many aspects of D:BH's story, in particular its handling of Kara's storyline and the function of the lesbian Tracis in Connor's storyline, given that they're the only direct LGBT+ representation in the game.

I’m still really upset that Kara is so inconsequential to not only the revolution but the entire fucking game. Y’all watched me kill Kara in her SECOND playable chapter and it was EASY. There were no consequences. In fact, it shortened the game by about 4 hours. Markus can’t die until the freedom march (that’s HOURS into the game) and Connor can’t fucking “die” unless he’s a deviant or doesn’t find Jericho (like his last three chapters). If Markus dies, North takes over the revolution and the public automatically hates androids. There’s no happy endings. If Connor dies permanently, nobody is there to kill the leader.- dechartians
While playing as Connor, the detective robot, you and your partner Hank are taken to an android strip club to investigate a homicide. A man was strangled to death by two female androids. One of the androids is dead, but tracking down the other, you find that she is in love with another female android. The two lesbian androids fight Connor and Hank, wearing nothing but stripper clothing (bras, panties, and high heels. It’s also conveniently raining, making their skin shine, covered in droplets of water.) This scene is complete with close-ups. If you fail to complete quicktime events, they will both stab you to death. If you succeed in the quicktime events, you can choose to spare or kill one of the androids. Sparing them let’s them escape, while killing one will let you psychologically torture her girlfriend by decapitating her head and using it as a puppet. The player can still get a good ending by using these brutal tactics.

I’m all for LGBT+ representation, and I’m all for having players choose the morality and actions of the protagonist. But as a lesbian myself, having the sole LGBT representation in the entire game be two literal robot half-naked strippers who try to kill you, and who you can kill and torture without any long-term consequence? it’s bad. Plain and simple.[27]

While much of the fandom is either accepting of the fact that D:BH is deeply problematic or deeply critical of the game while still enjoying it, there are fans who believe the team at Quantic Dream worked hard on the game and it's disrespectful to their hard work in trying to make the game good to "hate" on the game because everything is problematic and nothing is pure. These people often only address the less critical arguments against D:BH, such as some people's disdain for Connor purely on the basis that he's popular, rather than the deeper issues that fans are critical of. There are also those who believe D:BH isn't a racist game at all.

To the people pissed about how it’s ‘racist’ because it’s taking real world concepts (hate speech, segregation, etc.) and making them fictional with non-humans. Fiction has been doing this for years. It’s very common to use fictional stories to show real world bigotry in a different light. Harry Potter and Zootopia are two prime examples that I can think of off the top of my head

It takes real life racism and makes it easier to relate to, more obvious to those who refuse to notice it, and this is not the worst way it’s been used, I assure you. In fact, the game even brings it up with Rose mentioning that Blacks were treated the similarly and how people helped them escape and that’s why she was helping Deviants in the first place- why can’t we have nice things?
My dad bought this game for me. He is black, and grew up in southern Georgia. For those outside of the USA, or just don’t know this in general– that is the country, cowboy, rural place you see in movies. Racism was common– so common in fact, that his schooling was affected by bigoted teachers who were later fired for purposely failing black students. He is well aware of the systems in place to stunt the growth of black people as a whole, and has passed this onto me. He is well studied.

[...]

So, what happened when we saw Markus stand in the back of the bus? What happened when my dad saw Jericho raise their hands in the air so similarly to the “hands up don’t shoot” protesters? Or when we heard the first reference to slavery?

We laughed. Like, really laughed. It was a running joke throughout our game.

“This game was written by white people.” Is what my dad would say every time another allusion was thrown at us, the player. It was tacky. It wasn’t subtle. It was a bit strange. Racist? No. Bizarre? Definitely.

For us, the symbolism did not take away from the gaming experience at all. We had fun. There was no offence to be taken, and no underlying theme of “the androids are black people” that tainted the experience. It was just another case of white writer tries to be deep, fails miserably. For us, it was funny. For another person, it might be mildly annoying. Between me and my other black friends, the minor distraction didn’t take away from the enjoyable nature of the game.- regarding racism in detroit: become human– by an actual black, jewish american

There's also some discussion about the fact that a major component of the game is the fact that a Chloe is present on the game's main menu screen and you can interact with her.[28] Once a player finishes the game and exits to the final menu, Chloe will give the player the option to set her free, thus adding a powerful player component to the themes of the game. If the player chooses to free Chloe, the decision was meant to be final: when that player booted up the game from that point forward, Chloe would not be there to greet them on the main menu screen. Because of player response, however, Quantic Dream announced that they would be releasing a patch that allowed players to acquire a new Chloe.[29] Responses to the announcement ranged from positive to negative, with players either excited for Chloe's return or feeling that the patch would destroy the original meaning of their choice.

You should just, uh, revert this change. It felt more meaningful to have her gain her freedom.- Ian Miles Cheong
This is the best news ever. I do miss her. I don't regret my decision but every time I exit the game, I feel a little piece of me die because she is not there to greet me :(- EvoIIICE9A
So what's the message here? "Be free, my android, and live your new free life...

...because you're getting replaced with a new model!"

Like, did you play your own game? Remember Daniel?- @HGemsReviews
Thanks the menu was a little bit empty without Chloe...- Delilahtw

There were also those who were upset that the patch would be bringing back a new Chloe, rather than the one they had started to become attached to and set free in the first place. These players felt that the patch shouldn't bring in a new Chloe, but rather allow the old one to visit the player.

I want MY Chloe. I want her to come visit in regular clothes, comment on my replays, tell me about what she’s learned by being free, ask me questions because I want to help her grow as a person. Even if she doesn’t stay forever or only pops in randomly, I’d love to see MY Chloe.- SerenityMG
It'd be way better if Chloe just came back to visit sometimes or decided she liked being on the menu after seeing the world (maybe told us some lines about her trip) instead of getting a new Chloe.-al8rd8

Notable Fanworks

Fanfiction

Deviant Behavior [1] by PrecursorDate: 6 Jun 2018–1 Jul 2019Length: 226,360 wordsMedium: MultimediaStatus: CompleteGenre: Reader-Insert
A unique take on the Reader-Insert genre where the reader is any of several background background characters in the game interacting with Connor. Has a very strong fanbase, including a collection for works inspired by the fic and a discord. It's also available in a number of languages besides English.
Fuck pride (pride only hurts, it never helps) [2] by ImogenGotDrunkDate: 9 Jul 2018–3 Aug 2018Length: 40943 wordsStatus: CompleteGenre: Enemies to Lovers
One of THE RK900/Gavin Reed fics. Also has timestamps.
Halcyon [3] by TerminallydepravedDate: 11 Jun 2018Length: 11102Status: CompleteGenre: Romance
A very popular Connor/Hank Anderson fic told from Hank's POV.
Odd-eyed [4] by headralineDate: 18 Jun 2018–10 Jul 2018Length: 84622Status: CompleteGenre: Romance
One of the very first Connor/Markus fics.
Under the Level Winter Sky [5] by AugurisDate: 29 May 2019Length: 54961Status: WIPGenre: Gen
Part of the Repurpose series by the same author, this fanfic focuses on the fallout of the "good" ending. It features a lot of focus on the characters and their motivations, particularly the motivations of characters who aren't given much in canon.
Shadow Mine [6] by xSparklingRavenxDate: 3 Jun 2018–25 June 2018Length: 36663Status: CompleteGenre: Case fic
Good ol' case fic focusing on Connor and Hank's relationship post-good ending! Also available in Chinese.
It Was Never About Jealousy [7] by ChangeTheCircumstancesDate: 27 Jun 2018–06 July 2018Length: 32535Status: CompleteGenre: Secret Siblings AU
An interesting AU based on the idea of Gavin Reed being Elijah Kamski's half-brother. Part of the Brothers series.
Roombas [8] by berryblondeDate: 11 July 2018Length: 1259Status: CompleteGenre: Gen
Just a cute fic where Connor keeps adopting roombas and Hank has to tell him he can't adopt every roomba.
i have loved you so long [9] by estoraDate: 2 Aug 2018–22 Dec 2018Length: 48724Status: CompleteGenre: Character Study Gen Angst
A gorgeous character study of North focusing mainly on her relationship with an OC mother figure.
Children of the Revolution [10] by ElsterDate: 8 Sept 2019Length: 31096Status: WIPGenre: Post-canon Gen
A Connor-centric series focusing on a post-Pacifist Ending future and the politics of androids.

Fanart

Fan Films

Zines

Meta

Resources

References

  1. Detroit: Become Human tackles civil rights without a grasp of history. Posted 25 May 2018. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  2. How many endings are in this game. Posted 2 Dec 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  3. Detroit: Play Through #1 (BLIND!) via Dechart Games. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  4. @ponettplus via Twitter. Posted24 May 2018. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  5. @RustyShackleman via Twitter. Post 28 July 2019. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  6. David Cage's Message Is That David Cage Is a Bad Writer. Posted 11 July 2017. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Quantic Dream denies allegations of homophobia, racism and toxic studio culture. Posted 18 January 2018. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  8. Detroit: Become Human Bingo Card Megathread. Posted 22 May 2018. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Detroit: Become Human on AO3.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Deviant Connor (Detroit: Become Human) on AO3. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  11. Deviancy (Detroit: Become Human) on AO3. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  12. D:BH works tagged "Everyone Is Alive" on AO3. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  13. "Pacifist Markus" tag on AO3. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  14. "Machine Connor" tag on AO3. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  15. Hey! I’m David Cage, Writer and Director of Detroit: Become Human. Ask me anything! Posted 22 June 2018. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  16. Markus/North (Detroit: Become Human) on AO3. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  17. Detroit Become Human - Markus & North Full Romance. Posted 24 May 2018. Accessed 17 September 2019.
  18. How do I get the secret RK900 ending??? Posted 23 May 2019. Accessed 23 Sept 2019.
  19. "Kara (Detroit: Become Human)" tag on AO3. Accessed 23 Sept 20-9.
  20. "Echo | Blue-Haired Traci/Ripple | Blue-Haired Traci's Girlfriend" tag on AO3. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  21. Despite Political Overtones, David Cage Says Detroit Is Mostly About Androids. Posted 15 Jun 2017. Accessed 23 Sept 2019.
  22. The Video Game That Began With...Pictures Of Ellen Page. Posted 3 Oct 2013. Accessed 23 Sept 2019.
  23. Ellen Page explored legal action against Sony after nude video-game images leaked online. Posted 20 April 2015. Accessed 23 Sept 2019.
  24. Jesus Christ, this Detroit: Become Human tattoo. Posted 3 Aug 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  25. Tumblr Post by katikacreations. Posted 29 Jul 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  26. nuka-rockit responding to an anon on Tumblr. Posted 23 Jun 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  27. 27.0 27.1 why detroit: become human is a bad game. Posted 25 Jun 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  28. DETROIT BECOME HUMAN - CHLOE SPEAKS: Most Complete Compilation (all episodes). Posted 10 Jun 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.
  29. @Detroit_Game on Twitter: "(Spoiler) A lot of players asked us to « bring back Chloe » after her release. We decided to follow the popular vote: @Detroit_PS4’s next patch will allow you to acquire a brand new model (but your original Chloe will still be free)." Posted 10 Jun 2018. Accessed 24 Sept 2019.