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Cancelled

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Cancelled
There Will Be Games

The tabletop hobby is growing rapidly. Every year we see more and more people around the world sit round a table. They come together to chuck dice, deal cards and explore this wonderful pastime that I, and you, love.

As the audience grows, so does its diversity. Keep in mind that I am a very typical white, cishet, male gamer. We see people with increasingly diverse backgrounds start to pickup games we love and fall down the rabbit hole of boardgames, cardgames, and tabletop RPGs.

Sometimes though, their reaction is the opposite of what we hope for. These new voices reach out to question the status quo, joining voices that have been present for years doing the same. They question how people, politics, genders, and sexualities are portrayed in the world of tabletop gaming. They are right to do so.

tiny epic dungeons coverMany in the community criticsed the portrayal of women on this front cover for a recent Kickstarter. They were right to do so and the publisher has responded to their concerns.

It’s not nice when you or something you love is criticised. When you feel passionately about a game, publisher, or whatever you want to defend it from criticism. It can feel like a personal attack. You go on the defensive, get angry. Most importantly, you stop listening. You become afraid that the thing you love will be taken away. That it will get ‘cancelled’.

The concept of ‘getting cancelled’ or ‘cancel culture’ has become a pervasive idea in politics and culture across the world. Merriam-Webster traces the term back to twitter round the time revelations around the behaviour of celebrities like Bill Cosby and Louis C.K. were coming to light. The idea of calling people out for terrible behaviour of course has existed since terrible behaviour has. For all of time pretty much. You could even call it criticism.

Over the last decade the idea of cancelling someone has become co-opted by the right wing of politics. This especially seems to be the case in the American politics. During the confirmation of Joe Biden, several Republican senators questioned the democratic process and failed to admonish those who had attacked the Capitol.

One of those was Senator Hawley. He had a book deal with Simon & Schuster. That contract had a morality clause in it that Simon & Schuster considered violated by his actions, or lack of them. Senator Hawley said he had been a victim of ‘cancel culture’. He said this in several national newspapers and news channels. In reality he breached a a contract and the publisher decided they didn’t want anything to do with him. It was business.

What is happening here? The far right are taking a term that was originally meant to express criticism of figures we once admired and using it as a hammer to smash any hint of criticism of them or their positions.

This has spilled over into gaming in general and over the last year we have seen it come up many times in the tabletop community. Most recently this has been in the context of comments by Phil Eklund, Daniele Tascini and other controversies involving prominent designers and critics.

This comic from XKCD sums it up pretty wellThis comic from XKCD sums it up pretty well

Are these figures getting cancelled? No. They are not. They have expressed opinions and acted in ways that the community has collectively found unpalatable, to put it mildly. The community has expressed its opinion and said these actions and opinions are not acceptable. That’s criticism.

Aren’t we suppressing their voice? I’m no constitutional lawyer, but let’s talk about free speech for a moment. The First Amendment, which comes up a lot in these conversations, protects you from the government suppressing your voice. It does not mean that people have to listen to you. Free speech means you can say whatever you want. It also means I can call you out. That’s not cancellation. That’s me disagreeing with you.

The world of tabletop gaming is growing and with that will come more criticism of the way we talk about games, the politics of games, and what their designs say about the human condition. It will be painful, and we, I include myself here, may get defensive about things we thought were OK. It’s a good thing. We should lift up diverse voices so that their criticism can be heard and their games played. The hobby will grow and be better for it. Those in a position of influence must stand up for voices old and new that are calling out behaviour that has never been acceptable, but has long been tolerated. If we don't, then maybe we don't deserve to be in those privileged positions in the first place.

There Will Be Games
Iain McAllister  (He/Him)
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Iain McAllister lives in Dalkeith, Scotland with his wife Cath and their two dogs, Maddie and Gypsy. He has been a keen member of the local gaming scene for many years setting up and participating in many of the clubs that are part of Edinburgh's vibrant gaming scene.

You can find more of his work on The Giant Brain which publishes a wide range of articles about the hobby including reviews, previews, convention reports and critique. The Giant Brain is also the home of the Brainwaves podcast, a fortnightly podcast covering industry news that Iain hosts with his friend Jamie Adams.

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Articles & Podcasts by Iain McAllister

 

Iain McAllister
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Articles & Podcasts by Iain

 

 

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Erik Twice's Avatar
Erik Twice replied the topic: #320780 18 Mar 2021 04:15
This is a very difficult topic for me to discuss because the cultural differences are massive. Gaming is extremely anglocentric and offering my views as a Spaniard leads to some huge cultural shocks.

For example, that XKCD comic is one of my most hated images on the internet. Freedom of speech is not defined by the American constitution nor does it only affect goverments. I'm actually confused at why you would use it, Iain, since you are British, right? And neither Tabarni nor Eklund are under the jurisdiction of the US.

Just my two cents.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #320786 18 Mar 2021 08:32
My guess is because usually when some (American) asshole meets the consequences of their actions, they say their First Amendment rights are being stomped.
Sagrilarus's Avatar
Sagrilarus replied the topic: #320791 18 Mar 2021 09:25
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights covers freedom of speech worldwide. So this isn't a particularly American thing.

Speaking your mind and not expecting consequences is naive. But the current global communication channel provides positive feedback for extreme positions. There's advantages, often financial, to being a dick, regardless of which direction your dickishness is heading. That is what is driving modern media worldwide. Rupert Murdoch has made it a business model (and made serious book) and I believe his team is responsible for this particular one-word slogan.

"Cancel" is not a concrete thing. It's a marketing slogan. "Rebuttal" is the real concept meant for 90% of "cancel" usage, and Socrates spoke to it 2500 years ago. I'd wager it pre-dates language. But Murdoch's team came up with "cancel" because it can be new and trendy and easy to remember and easy to say, a slogan to generate market share. Boil down a concept into a short phrase that will piss people off, bang on it all day, sell ad space.
We-reNotWizards's Avatar
We-reNotWizards replied the topic: #320794 18 Mar 2021 09:30
I'll repeat what I've seen in other places, that's it not really Cancel Culture unless it's from the Cauncelle Coulture region of France, otherwise it's simply Sparkling Consequences..
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #320802 18 Mar 2021 11:15
Last week, I made a comment in this forum to the effect that you can't bully someone into liking something they don't like. While I think it is perfectly acceptable to stop spending money on products, services, or entertainment provided by a person who doesn't share your values, I detest it when people try to shame other people who are able to separate the product/service/art from the creator. And with the current polarization in American society, it doesn't really accomplish anything when somebody gets cancelled because new fans will rally to that creator out of sheer spite. There are exceptions when the individual in question becomes indefensible, like Bill Cosby, but cancellation is often a zero-sum game without any real winners or losers.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #320807 18 Mar 2021 12:17
Yesterday on Twitter, Calvin Wong was tweeting about how the settings in the Z-Man Euro Classics Line perpetuates Orientalism. First of all, before I say anything else, he is absolutely right. It is not up for debate. I in no way disagree with him.

However, Orientalism is something I have always struggled with, ever since I first studied it back in my college art history classes. I understand that it portrays Eastern cultures in opposition to Western culture, with Western culture being the superior. So Eastern is passive, static, emotional and chaotic, while Western is active, mobile, rational and ordered. And, of course, this is all tied into colonialism. On the other hand 19th century Orientalism produced some very appealing art, poetry and literature. It has been rather difficult for me to come to terms with, especially when my professor was showing a slide of a really pretty painting that I very much liked, but telling me it was a "bad" thing.

So, when I read Calvin's tweet, my first gut reaction was that someone wanted to take all the pretty things away from me. Fortunately, I had read this article just a few days prior (because I read all the articles before you all do), and remembered this bit:

"It’s not nice when you or something you love is criticised. When you feel passionately about a game, publisher, or whatever you want to defend it from criticism. It can feel like a personal attack. You go on the defensive, get angry. Most importantly, you stop listening. You become afraid that the thing you love will be taken away. That it will get ‘cancelled’."

I felt exactly as Iain described. So my second thought was, stop, listen and think. Most importantly, listen and think from the perspective that what Calvin says is valid and true. So my third thought (and truthfully, I fumed and sulked for a bit before getting to this third thought) was reassuring myself that no one wants to take anything away from me, they want to give me something that's better.

My fourth thought took awhile to arrive, as I pondered the third. It wasn't until this morning as I walked through my house to get some coffee, looking at the art on my walls, that I finally realized, that it isn't Orientalism that I like and want, it is actual real Indian, African and Japanese art that I love. The reinterpretations of it by Americans and Europeans widely misses the mark and is awkward and ugly. Nothing about the settings or the art in the 5 Euro Classic games makes them more appealing to me than if they were set elsewhere. In fact, they would probably be more attractive if the publishers and designers used settings and styles from their own culture, with art done in the artist's own style from their own culture.

Furthermore, Calvin advocates for designers, developers and artists of the culture being represented to work on games. Which means that he is advocating for superior products for me. Instead of inferior, fake Indian art, maybe someday I get actual, beautiful real Indian art, in a game that represents the real India, from Indian designers working within an Indian game design paradigm. How cool is that.

It took me awhile. I still don't understand Orientalism on an intuitive or visceral level. It will probably continue to fly under my radar. But I am working on it. I got there by listening and suppressing my outrage and defensiveness over thinking something that I liked, and was important to me, was being "cancelled."

TL;DR - Stop. Listen. Think.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #320812 18 Mar 2021 13:10
Historically, colonialism was largely an active European effort to exploit a relatively passive rest of the world. I don't think that history should be either suppressed or celebrated. It does seem like a lot of eurogames have colonial settings, and that is not completely unrelated to the focus of eurogames on management and exploitation of workers and natural resources. The box covers of Z-Man's classic euro line do not strike me as disrespectful to those settings, and the person featured on each cover appears indigenous to the setting and not some glorified white merchant.

As for Orientalism, I see some very blurry boundaries between cultural appreciation, appropriation, and assimilation, and I find it more challenging to experience outrage within that blur. I was raised to believe that America's diversity and melting pot culture were strengths, despite the ongoing bigotry and discrimination arrayed against American diversity.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #320816 18 Mar 2021 13:57
The box covers of Z-Man's classic euro line did not strike me as disrespectful either, which is a large part of why I struggled with what Calvin was saying. To even start to understand, I had to first listen, and then force myself to let go of my own views, and try to see it from his perspective. To do this, I had to begin by telling myself, "I'm wrong. He's right." And then proceed from there.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #320819 18 Mar 2021 14:38
The point that Calvin is making about those box covers is that they're a) stereotypical and b) hearken to a time when those cultures were often fundamentally misunderstood (not that that's hugely improved...) and, c) don't really acknowledge the modern versions of those cultures. I know more than one person who still has ideas about modern Japanese culture that are extremely skewed by "samurai and ninjas." Just picking out the one example of Samurai, the depiction of that warrior isn't even especially accurate. But beyond that, wouldn't it be better to have games about Japanese culture that had nothing to do with a warrior class that largely stopped being warriors 400 years ago and haven't existed as a social class in Japan for 150 years? Or if one does want to continue to engage that imagery, set it in a game that's clearly fantastical, like Rising Sun?

Knizia is often tarred with the label that his games have little to do with their themes. I've done it myself. With the (slight) wisdom of age, I've come to realize that that's not the case. He did engage his themes in his design. There's no better example of that in that line of games than Taj Mahal. However, the good doctor also isn't an expert on Indian history and so the cultural references in that excellent game are fairly clumsy when considering the actual Mogul empire and its later fragments. It also has very little to do with modern India but the visuals represent a depiction of "the exotic East" that still pervades common Western/American thinking and it's not outrageous to suggest that maybe something different could be done. That series of games is different from something like Pax Pamir, as the latter was specifically designed to represent a specific time/event in history and, in fact, is partially based on the idea of asking questions about colonialism and imperialism. Taj Mahal and Samurai are not that, but their visuals/themes represent a static portrayal of that period without context. I wouldn't immediately cite them as offensive, but I don't think "tired" is too critical a word.

This isn't a slight on the games, on Knizia, or on Z-Man. It's more like a suggestion that maybe we as a community have moved on from that sort of thing and new games and new versions of old games could perhaps register a bit more with what the modern community happens to be.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #320820 18 Mar 2021 15:20
@Jackwraith

Very well articulated and so helpful. Thank you.
fightcitymayor's Avatar
fightcitymayor replied the topic: #320821 18 Mar 2021 15:27

Erik Twice wrote: This is a very difficult topic for me to discuss because the cultural differences are massive. Gaming is extremely anglocentric and offering my views as a Spaniard leads to some huge cultural shocks.

I would love to hear them!

One thing I have noticed (as the socio-political hullabaloo creeps ever-further into the boardgaming space) is how one of the strongest voices against the feminist critique of how women are portrayed in popular culture has been European men. I expect to see acolytes of folks like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson and Joe Rogan being irritated with women decrying sexualized images, but I was honestly surprised at how many times the angry voices were not North-American.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #320822 18 Mar 2021 15:32
I feel that it takes an excessive level of handwringing to complain that there is a samurai depicted on the cover of a game called Samurai, or that there should be a modern Japanese person on the cover of a game set in medieval Japan. But I do sympathize with the idea that the samurai are often inaccurately depicted. Would it be better or worse if game designers used a fictional setting that happened to resemble an inaccurate version of that historical setting? I don't know. Various games tied to the Rokugan setting of Legend of the Five Rings depict a distorted version of samurai culture, but at least they acknowledge the existence of female samurai.
mc's Avatar
mc replied the topic: #320823 18 Mar 2021 15:47

Sagrilarus wrote: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights covers freedom of speech worldwide. So this isn't a particularly American thing.

Speaking your mind and not expecting consequences is naive. But the current global communication channel provides positive feedback for extreme positions. There's advantages, often financial, to being a dick, regardless of which direction your dickishness is heading. That is what is driving modern media worldwide. Rupert Murdoch has made it a business model (and made serious book) and I believe his team is responsible for this particular one-word slogan.

"Cancel" is not a concrete thing. It's a marketing slogan. "Rebuttal" is the real concept meant for 90% of "cancel" usage, and Socrates spoke to it 2500 years ago. I'd wager it pre-dates language. But Murdoch's team came up with "cancel" because it can be new and trendy and easy to remember and easy to say, a slogan to generate market share. Boil down a concept into a short phrase that will piss people off, bang on it all day, sell ad space.


There is no bill of rights or constitutional amendment guaranteeing anything where I live, but the cartoon makes plenty of sense to me, largely because of the UDHR as you say. Philosophically I find it amusing to see privileged people with huge audiences and platforms crying free speech and cancel culture when they are called out.

Yes, a large percentage of cancelling is rebuttal, and the term is a tool of Murdoch et al, who amplify the idea into a bogeyman hiding behind every door. I still think it's a real phenomenon though, at least, steps are taken beyond rebuttal; Defamation cases or other legal measures (the first port of call for the wealthy and aggrieved) , legislation to ban protesting, sicing influential pundits/media on organizations or individuals to cloud or stop debate, doxing, these are all examples of things beyond rebuttal. When I hear "cancel culture" I think of the long history of that kind of thing and its ongoing use, and the many many societal rules that forced- or still force - people to not exist or not voice their convictions because it was forbidden.
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #320824 18 Mar 2021 16:00

Shellhead wrote: I feel that it takes an excessive level of handwringing to complain that there is a samurai depicted on the cover of a game called Samurai, or that there should be a modern Japanese person on the cover of a game set in medieval Japan.


But that's not the point I was making and I don't think it was the one Calvin was making, albeit his response was a bit hotter than mine because the issue is more personal to him. The point is: Why do games involving Japanese history and culture have to be called "Samurai" at all? The game itself is, in fact, one of Knizia's that is more loosely attached to its theme (like Ra in that series, as well) so there's no reason to present it in that fashion. It doesn't mean that his original concept was wrong or that it being published in that way, including by Z-Man, is wrong, either. It's just a matter of asking: Why always this? It was the same question people were asking a couple weeks ago about Tiny Epic Dungeons: Why are heroic fantasy women usually represented, not only with sexualized features that appeal in that fashion, but also in poses and wearing clothing that emphasize those features? Elizabeth Hargrave's question was very pointed in that respect: Why can't this be different? That's the same question that Calvin is asking.

His secondary question, of course, is: Why can't there be more games by Japanese designers that deal with Japanese culture and history (or any themes at all, for that matter)? That's kind of a bigger problem. But I don't think it's outrageous to point out to Knizia and whomever he picks to put Samurai back in print that the game could stand a retheming or at least a different visual presentation, even if it continues to carry the title "Samurai" (for marketing/identification purposes.)
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #320825 18 Mar 2021 16:06
I understand your point, and I am probably the wrong person to ask why there should even be a game called Samurai. If I have a choice between playing a game about samurai or playing a game about salarymen, I will pick samurai 10 out of 10 times. I wouldn't actually want to live in Tokugawa Era Japan, but I admire their idealized notion of a noble warrior class, much the same way I admire the ideals of the U.S. Constitution despite the number of slaves owned by the founding fathers who wrote it.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #320828 18 Mar 2021 16:37
Shellhead, dude, you probably know more about Japanese history and culture than Knizia or his publishers. But I sincerely doubt you would have the arrogance to design a game about Japan.

What Knizia and his publishers know is the European fantasy of Japan aka Orientalism. It's like, okay, I've seen the Mikado & Madam Butterfly, I'm good to go. Let's set this game in Japan.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #320829 18 Mar 2021 17:06
Maybe there are a couple of larger issues that are getting tangled into this topic, possibly at my fault. First, much of what people think they know about history and other cultures is likely filtered through a bunch of movies and tv shows with varying degrees of inaccuracy. Second, many players like myself tend to be drawn to more violent roles and settings in games because we have a bias towards simulations of action instead of simulations of construction, trade, or diplomacy.

Stepping away from samurai for a moment, consider the American cowboy (as opposed to say, the Canadian cowboy or the Argentinian gaucho) in games. Thanks to popular Hollywood tropes, cowboys are seen as gun-toting men of action, with barroom brawls, range wars, bank robberies, and pistol duels at high noon. The good cowboys wear white hats, and the bad cowboys wear black hats, and they are all white men. In real life, the large majority of cowboys in the American Old West were either African-American or Mexican, and their role was an unglamorous job of tending to cattle and herding them across long distances. But most people don't want to watch a movie about cattle farming, they want to see fistfights and shootouts and explosions, and that sentiment often carries over to games.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #320832 18 Mar 2021 18:17

Erik Twice wrote: For example, that XKCD comic is one of my most hated images on the internet. Freedom of speech is not defined by the American constitution nor does it only affect goverments. I'm actually confused at why you would use it, Iain, since you are British, right? And neither Tabarni nor Eklund are under the jurisdiction of the US.


Yeah I am in the UK, Scotland. I used it because the term has been given its current form and weight mostly by US politics and has then spread out from that point. I think it makes the point very well that cancel culture is nothing more than people being critical of the things you are saying, and in the extreme case telling you to get lost. Now there is of course a wider ranging conversation to be had about free speech and what it means, international law etc. but I wanted to talk about the fundamentals of the term 'cancel culture', where it came from, and its implications in the boardgame world. As Erik points out, often the first call of someone having their view questioned in the States is to invoke the constitutional protection, which was another reason to include that particular comic.

I'm glad I could make Shellie think about her reaction to Calvin's post, which was very good. I have had trouble with these topics myself, and have found myself dismissing others concerns. I have been trying to see things from other people's perspectives a lot more in the last few years on The Giant Brain, and I think it makes me a better critic and a better reporter when it comes to Brainwaves. I hope I can continue to learn myself and persuade others to do the same.

Jackwraith's post was excellent on the problems Calvin was highlighting. Thanks very much for taking the time to break it down so succinctly.
Erik Twice's Avatar
Erik Twice replied the topic: #320836 18 Mar 2021 18:56
I don't think there's anything wrong with Z-Man's editions of those games. I think Calvin's arguments are vague and rely heavily on terms like "exotic" and "orientalist" which are poorly defined. I always feel the discussion on these topics relies heavily on semantics instead of what is really happening. I do disagree extremely strongly on the idea that there's anything wrong to create works of arts based on cultures other than our own.

I'm also uncomfortable by how the topic of "cultural appropiation" is often at odds with the opinion of the actual people being represented. Time and time again, people have shown they are happy to have foreigners create works based on their culture. We have seen this issue with Ghosts of Tsushima which was repeatedly accussed of orientalism and cultural appropiation by American writers only to be loved by Japan. There are many other examples, the eternal "should Westerners wear a Kimono" debate comes to mind.

Personally and like I believe most people, it's just a matter of doing the topic justice. If you do it well, if you are fair and don't fall into the same old racist tropes then you are welcome. I would love to see more games about Spain and I would also like to see foreign perspectives into my country.

For example, I'm glad Kramer made El Grande. The first edition gets details wrong (The regions use Francoist-era names) but the newer edition fixes that. The issue is the error not that a German made it.

Jackwraith wrote: Just picking out the one example of Samurai, the depiction of that warrior isn't even especially accurate.

What's inaccurate about it? He looks like a Sanada warrior to me. There's a famous armour that looks pretty much like the one in the cover. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it was used as the reference. He looks more accurate than the vast majority of games do. I see absolutely nothing objectionable about it.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #320839 18 Mar 2021 20:38
Orientalist and Orientalism are not vague terms. They are very specific. Here is a really good essay on it if you are unfamiliar. I forget that not everyone has studied as much art history as I have. Orientalism
Jackwraith's Avatar
Jackwraith replied the topic: #320840 18 Mar 2021 21:13

Erik Twice wrote: I don't think there's anything wrong with Z-Man's editions of those games.


I didn't say that. In fact, I specifically said that Z-Man shouldn't be castigated for their production. There's nothing specifically offensive about them. They're just using tropes to one degree or another and it's fair to ask for something different.

Erik Twice wrote: I think Calvin's arguments are vague and rely heavily on terms like "exotic" and "orientalist" which are poorly defined. I always feel the discussion on these topics relies heavily on semantics instead of what is really happening.


How is it your place to decide what's "really happening"? Or are you accusing Calvin and/or everyone else who's reacted to this issue of some kind of subversive agenda? Since you've complained about US topical hegemony in this thread already, I can say that you're embracing a pretty standard Republican party tactic if that's the angle you're taking. Or is that not what's "really happening"?

Erik Twice wrote: I do disagree extremely strongly on the idea that there's anything wrong to create works of arts based on cultures other than our own.


So do I. I've always disagreed with that idea. I grew up in Detroit where the vast majority of my friends and neighbors were Black. You can't tell me that I can't write about a Black character, especially if I'm basing that character on the people I knew. But that's precisely not what Calvin was saying (nor was I.) His assertion was about more emphasis on works actually created by Asian designers, regardless of theme.

Erik Twice wrote: There are many other examples, the eternal "should Westerners wear a Kimono" debate comes to mind.


I'm also rarely comfortable with assertions like this, given that my personal experience with people of other cultures, among them Japanese, demonstrated that they were quite happy to have other people embrace their traditions and customs. But, again, I wasn't making that point and neither was Calvin. No one said: "Only Japanese people should make Japanese-themed games." or that "Japanese themes by non-Japanese people were offensive." What Calvin was saying was that he felt like some of those tropes were overused and stereotypical and not representative of modern Japan or much of anything outside of an idealized version of the Sengoku period.

Erik Twice wrote: Personally and like I believe most people, it's just a matter of doing the topic justice. If you do it well, if you are fair and don't fall into the same old racist tropes then you are welcome.


This is, in essence, what was being said. But he was also suggesting that continuing to use that same Orientalist imagery was perpetuating the idea that those are the only acceptable/marketable/whathaveyou images for those cultures. They become a trope themselves. Consider the "noble savage" imagery attached to people from sub-Saharan Africa or pretty much any non-White character in countless adventure films and stories. That's the kind of trend that he was objecting to and I think it's a valid complaint. It doesn't mean that Z-Man or Knizia were approaching the games and their themes from a racist perspective. But colonialist...? There's room to argue there.

Erik Twice wrote: What's inaccurate about it?


The belt is wrong. The shikuro is too short. The do looks like European-style plating rather than the segmentation of the presumed period. But I'm kinda hyper-picky about these things. I know too much about tachi and katana, too.
Whoshim's Avatar
Whoshim replied the topic: #320842 19 Mar 2021 01:04
I feel like the tensions in the US are moving us further away from unity. I think that mixing and mingling cultures is a good thing, but that that is now being attacked. There have been problematic representations of cultures/races by other cultures/races. But I think there are non-problematic ways for a culture/race to use another culture/race in its media.

The Japanese anime Trigun is about a sci-fi wild west and has a character that carries a cross around. I have no problems with that. There is an outlandish stereotype of an American in Samurai Flamenco. There are hilarious stereotypes of Americans on Korean SNL (American Dad vs Korean Dad).

In Korea and in Indonesia, people love it if you wear the traditional clothing hanbok and batik, respectively). I feel like it is a celebration of humanity for us to put all kinds of people from all kinds of places onto our games. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." Taking ideas of art and style from other cultures is similar to what we do with food. Things get mixed and changed and adapted to suit the local culture. Chinese food in America, Korea, and Indonesia is all similar, but still quite different and distinct (particularly American Chinese food).

There may be issues of historicity in the representation in these games, but, in the Twilight of the White Boy Club, Michael Barnes wrote: "I want to be clear that I don’t give a fuck about historical authenticity in games, they are all fiction."

When we portray history in different media, things get adapted and changed. The portrayals of Vikings are almost always wrong, but it has just become a thing for them to wear horned helmets and have long braided hair. As long as the representation is not demeaning, I do not see a problem with things like samurai in games.

For me, I feel like these cultural arguments end up attacking games for being too white and not representing other groups, and then for representing other groups (even in a respectful way).

In the previous thread, I was told that getting Indonesian artists to do art for my game with Indonesian-looking characters would be fine. What if my Indonesian-looking characters are inhabiting a fantasy world with elements from Egypt, Europe, and other places? What is the way forward for white designers?

I feel like it is too often a Catch-22.

Finally:

Jackwraith wrote: No one said: "Only Japanese people should make Japanese-themed games."

ubarose wrote: Shellhead, dude, you probably know more about Japanese history and culture than Knizia or his publishers. But I sincerely doubt you would have the arrogance to design a game about Japan.


It seems to me like that is what is being said.
Erik Twice's Avatar
Erik Twice replied the topic: #320844 19 Mar 2021 04:43

Jackwraith wrote: I can say that you're embracing a pretty standard Republican party tactic if that's the angle you're taking. Or is that not what's "really happening"?

Ah yes, you got me. It was all a plan to embrace the politics of an American political party.

This is exactly what I meant. I should have kept my mouth shut, I'm out.

EDIT: For the record, I wasn't replying directly to you with my post, just giving my opinion on the subject. Calvin believes the covers are problematic, I don't. That's it. That doesn't mean I see them as "subversive agents" or whatever.
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fightcitymayor replied the topic: #320850 19 Mar 2021 09:13

Erik Twice wrote: I'm also uncomfortable by how the topic of "cultural appropiation" is often at odds with the opinion of the actual people being represented.

Good point. My current favorite is the progressive use of the term "latinx" which comes from a respectful place & makes sense to the largely college-educated white population that uses it (gets rid of the gendered Spanish language of Latina/Latino and simply replaces it with Latinx so as to be totally inclusive) except the vast majority of actual hispanics/latinos don't use it and don't want it to be used AND... and this is the kicker... see it as the very sort of imperialist language dominance that the folks pushing it would tell you they despise.

So an honest effort to be culturally inclusive is implemented in such a lazy, condescending, and sanctimonious manner that instead of being embraced it gets derided as the very same cultural imperialism that progressive folks claim to rail against.
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Jackwraith replied the topic: #320851 19 Mar 2021 09:23

Erik Twice wrote: EDIT: For the record, I wasn't replying directly to you with my post, just giving my opinion on the subject. Calvin believes the covers are problematic, I don't. That's it. That doesn't mean I see them as "subversive agents" or whatever.


Then that's all you really had to say, right? It's perfectly valid to say that you don't think it's a problem. Shellhead has done so already in this thread. As noted before, we're not talking about blatantly racist depictions here or something like that. We're just talking about what has become customary and which could use some updating in the opinions of many/some/I don't know.