×
Coming the Week of August 19th

Patchwork Doodle, Horrified, Sumo Gnomes, Doctor Doctor, and Jaws reviews, Beyond the Veil, Brainwaves Podcast and more TBA.

× For those who like to push chits.

GMT's Gandhi

More
16 Apr 2019 16:35 #295587 by Gary Sax
GMT's Gandhi was created by Gary Sax
This appears to be coming out very soon, GMT just showed a preview copy on Instagram:





I'm very interested but wary of both a) COIN and b) hard to do right subject matter. But the fundamental idea to model Indian independence with a bunch of different actors at cross purposes feels like a good approach.

Anybody played this one? Can you speak to the card events? I was happy with the way GMT handled the recent scramble for Africa cancellation (ymmv), so I'm hopeful they got someone with some history and cultural chops to look this one over.
The following user(s) said Thank You: jpat, mezike, Frohike

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 10:42 #295616 by jpat
Replied by jpat on topic GMT's Gandhi
Out of curiosity, what does a "package design" credit refer to? I'm guessing it means that Rodger picked the color for the top and bottom bands of the box lid, but maybe someone else knows.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 10:53 #295618 by jpat
Replied by jpat on topic GMT's Gandhi
More substantively, it's certainly possible to do sensitive material right. GMT's Conquest of Paradise is a good example. Historical notes help, as does a fundamental treatment of people and groups as actors. COIN is probably a reasonable design for this, as it does promote a certain historicism while also portraying different factions with different goals and generally avoiding easy answers.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 11:13 #295620 by JonathanVolk
Replied by JonathanVolk on topic GMT's Gandhi
I dunno y'all. I DON'T KNOW.

I admit that I've barely played any of GMT's COIN stuff, and I can see the case made for a game like this being used to "actively" teach history, but.......we live in an age of **optics**, for better, for worse, and the **optics** of white men designing (and then other white men, let's be real, playing) a game about decolonization/resistance to whiteness is off? Doesn't it feel off to anyone besides me?

I can't help but think of how so many of these GMT designs (and their designers) are operating from a position of "rational", unemotional distance to the traumas that they game-ify, which is a privilege some folks who've experienced those traumas, or inherited them, can't ever access.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 11:46 #295625 by JoelCFC25
Replied by JoelCFC25 on topic GMT's Gandhi
I don't have any COIN games and don't see myself getting into them, so to be very clear I have no stance whatsoever. Just wanted to say that there have been some posts from the designer at the Inside GMT blog during the development process-- this is but one of them .

Everyone can evaluate what he has to say and his sourcing. I ended up there because I searched on CSW to see if there was a discussion folder for this title and came up empty.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 11:48 #295626 by DarthJoJo
Replied by DarthJoJo on topic GMT's Gandhi

JonathanVolk wrote: I dunno y'all. I DON'T KNOW.

I admit that I've barely played any of GMT's COIN stuff, and I can see the case made for a game like this being used to "actively" teach history, but.......we live in an age of **optics**, for better, for worse, and the **optics** of white men designing (and then other white men, let's be real, playing) a game about decolonization/resistance to whiteness is off? Doesn't it feel off to anyone besides me?

I can't help but think of how so many of these GMT designs (and their designers) are operating from a position of "rational", unemotional distance to the traumas that they game-ify, which is a privilege some folks who've experienced those traumas, or inherited them, can't ever access.


Two points I’d like to make in response to what you raised here. One: even if you’re right that white designers can’t adequately place their mostly-white players in the appropriate context of the colonized, I would argue that it’s still better for the attempt to be made and this game to exist than not (unless, of course, the ultimate thesis is Gandhi and the rest of his crew should have shut up and stayed in their place). People have started to question the loads of games that gloss over the fact you’re leading Nazi and Confederate armies. I think we need to push in the opposite direction and make more games that look at people and groups that have done the hard thing. Let’s see more games set during American civil rights and against apartheid and during Indian independence.

Second, I always get anxious when people say that one’s race or sex or whatever precludes them from making a game or novel or film. It may provide additional insight or nuance, but I worry you can turn the argument around and other races can’t do “white” games. Hold your horses on Blood Rage, Eric Lang. I don’t think Odin had too many black worshippers.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 12:05 - 17 Apr 2019 12:09 #295628 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic GMT's Gandhi

JonathanVolk wrote: I dunno y'all. I DON'T KNOW.

I admit that I've barely played any of GMT's COIN stuff, and I can see the case made for a game like this being used to "actively" teach history, but.......we live in an age of **optics**, for better, for worse, and the **optics** of white men designing (and then other white men, let's be real, playing) a game about decolonization/resistance to whiteness is off? Doesn't it feel off to anyone besides me?

I can't help but think of how so many of these GMT designs (and their designers) are operating from a position of "rational", unemotional distance to the traumas that they game-ify, which is a privilege some folks who've experienced those traumas, or inherited them, can't ever access.


I do think it's a your mileage may vary and the concern is real despite the positive things I'm going to say following this. I do play potentialy fraught wargames but I try to be judicious and not play really ugh stuff.

Conquest of Paradise is a good example of this going right imho. Comancheria and Navajo Wars are even better examples of what I consider the "strong" side of GMT's designer based model on interesting but potentially sensitive issues. The designer is white but worked on the res for many years, iirc, and worked through a lot of facets of the design while there and talked to people there a lot about the design. That design really works for me and I haven't heard a lot of people out there leveling devastating critiques about its viewpoint or historicity, it's a careful and considered solo game from the perspective of the Navajo and Comanche respectively.

But GMT games can also go very wrong on this. Not just Scramble for Africa but consider the portion of the hobby well serviced with incredibly, many would say overly strong, SS units on black counters... the extremely yikes weird perspective of Labyrinth, which makes sense from the original designer's intention of making a game about "the world from the perspective of the DC elite" which ends up just being pretty fucked up fantasy.

The design diaries were helpful, there are four more after that, thanks for the links. They definitely didn't turn me off to the game, a lot of what those diaries are discussing seem to have a pretty nuanced and interesting perspective. I'll probably wait to buy to be sure.
Last edit: 17 Apr 2019 12:09 by Gary Sax.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Frohike

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 12:08 #295629 by JonathanVolk
Replied by JonathanVolk on topic GMT's Gandhi
DarthJoJo wrote,

One: even if you’re right that white designers can’t adequately place their mostly-white players in the appropriate context of the colonized, I would argue that it’s still better for the attempt to be made and this game to exist than not


I'm arguing for shoulds rather than cans. The latter is a technical problem, the former a moral problem. I'm interested in how these intersect, and I'm not sure the GMT games CAN handle these historical traumas without making them seductively fun (which, obviously, at least to me, SHOULD not be the point).

A tangent: my favorite novelist in the last 30 years, W.G. Sebald, made his primary project the Holocaust (and the debts Germans like him still owed). Sebald wanted to avoid all the tropes and dusty signifiers of traditional Holocaust stories. His novels approach the trauma of the Holocaust tangentially, and often through layers and layers of mediation, never facing the trauma directly, which Sebald feared would fetishize or, to use Truffaut's famous quote about war films, "ennoble" it.

Anyway, I feel a FUTURE ARTICLE coming out of this.
The following user(s) said Thank You: DarthJoJo

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 12:24 - 17 Apr 2019 12:27 #295635 by Gary Sax
Replied by Gary Sax on topic GMT's Gandhi
I guess it's a fundamental impasse, right? Should any designer work on a sensitive topic if they are not in the outgroup that suffered from those usually unjust events? There's an answer to that that says no. I can't say I subscribe to that viewpoint but I do respect that people argue that it literally can't work... as you said, the moral argument. And they should *definitely* pass on stuff like this!

Your seductively fun comment is interesting. When I play games like this that are actually good, I find myself placed in the (constructed) shoes of whatever group elites or leadership existed. I can have fun, yes, but I also find the medium can be informative. I think you're right to point out that that places a great deal of stress on the designer to get the "shoes" you're being placed in right and reasonably accurate. Comancheria is a great example of this.

Another good example of this is Fields of Fire, actually. It places you in a low level commander's shoes and does a good job of showing you the viewpoint from that particular area. It's chaotic, scary, and kind of sickening how you make calls in that game that you know are going to get people killed but will advance the mission. I know Jeb has trouble even playing the game due to this tension. But, maybe this is a good example of your point---it is designed by Ben Hull, a military officer with combat experience who I believe was unsatisified with the perspective of like ASL.
Last edit: 17 Apr 2019 12:27 by Gary Sax.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Count Orlok, Frohike, charlieturtle

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 12:31 #295636 by Count Orlok
Replied by Count Orlok on topic GMT's Gandhi
I'll have more to add later, but I think there are ways around claims of cultural appropriation when dealing with historical subject matters. If the designer is upfront about sources, arguments, and debates, I think many of the problems can be largely avoided. Part of doing this is actually using scholarly sources from experts of the Indian subcontinent, sources that provide insights that will correct for an overtly colonialist perspective. There are plenty of scholars that study subjects without being part of that cultural group, but do so very carefully, and respectfully.

I think respect is ultimately the issue. The problem is, most gamers are not interested in history as a functioning discipline of study, but instead want a romanticized view of it. From my understanding, military history is a relatively fringe subject within the discipline, in part because we can't really understand war outside of social, political, economic and cultural forces. In my eyes, a good designer will find ways to abstract or incorporate these concepts, while a poor will reinforce the mythology of war and warriors, imagining the genius of Napoleon without an eye toward the larger global forces that paved a way for his rise.

I also want to fight back against the idea that Norse myth belongs to "white" people. It's myth and oral literature, so by its nature circulates across the ill-defined boundaries of culture. I don't think contemporary Scandinavians have any strong claim to that cultural patrimony, except for linguistic, geographical, and historical ties to actual cultural artifacts. There is no direct inheritance of pre-Christian Nordic culture and anyone who claims otherwise is a liar, Romantic, or - unfortunately very likely - a white supremacist. The use of Norse myth is largely entirely within the realm of fantasy, "inspired" by sources which I would imagine few designers or players are ever likely to read. This inspiration belongs to no one, but should be understood as a creative construction. If the authors are insistent that their creativity adhere to certain racist myths or assumptions, then we know wherein lies the problem.

As for the Scramble for Africa "controversy", the problem as far as I can tell, is an attempt to create a game inspired by the myths of imperialism. The designer wanted Africa to be a blank slate for adventures of the Europeans. If you can't see why this is ahistorical, problematic, or simply reinforcing antiquated and backwards views, I don't know what to tell you.

Okay, I wrote way more than I meant.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, jpat, Msample, Jackwraith, Frohike, charlieturtle, mc

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 17:52 #295674 by Msample
Replied by Msample on topic GMT's Gandhi

jpat wrote: Out of curiosity, what does a "package design" credit refer to? I'm guessing it means that Rodger picked the color for the top and bottom bands of the box lid, but maybe someone else knows.


Pretty much. He does usual clip art/recycling for the box cover, but the grunt work graphics wise - look at the credits for maps, counters, etc - its someone else. It’s a credit to massage his ego IMO.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 19:08 #295679 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic GMT's Gandhi

JonathanVolk wrote: we live in an age of **optics**, for better, for worse, and the **optics** of white men designing (and then other white men, let's be real, playing) a game about decolonization/resistance to whiteness is off? Doesn't it feel off to anyone besides me?

No, it doesn't feel off to me. We might live in an age of optics, but that doesn't mean we should abide to them. I believe in having ethical principles, not in looking the part. I actually think a great deal of evil is allowed when we focus on that instead of actual morality.
The following user(s) said Thank You: sornars, Vysetron

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 20:44 #295686 by san il defanso
Replied by san il defanso on topic GMT's Gandhi

Count Orlok wrote: I'll have more to add later, but I think there are ways around claims of cultural appropriation when dealing with historical subject matters. If the designer is upfront about sources, arguments, and debates, I think many of the problems can be largely avoided. Part of doing this is actually using scholarly sources from experts of the Indian subcontinent, sources that provide insights that will correct for an overtly colonialist perspective. There are plenty of scholars that study subjects without being part of that cultural group, but do so very carefully, and respectfully.

I think respect is ultimately the issue. The problem is, most gamers are not interested in history as a functioning discipline of study, but instead want a romanticized view of it. From my understanding, military history is a relatively fringe subject within the discipline, in part because we can't really understand war outside of social, political, economic and cultural forces. In my eyes, a good designer will find ways to abstract or incorporate these concepts, while a poor will reinforce the mythology of war and warriors, imagining the genius of Napoleon without an eye toward the larger global forces that paved a way for his rise.


I don't do much wargaming so I don't have much to add to this. But I think this is where I come down. Modeling long conflicts like Indian independence makes this especially important.

I think about this a lot with the upcoming COIN game based on the fall of Marcos in the Philippines. There's a certain generation here that is overly nostalgic for the "stability" offered by his regime, and his time as president is still something of an open question. There are all the Cold War circumstances, religious tensions, etc. that the game needs to take into account. A Filipino viewpoint would be invaluable, and I have no idea how much that plays into it.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Frohike

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
17 Apr 2019 20:50 - 17 Apr 2019 20:51 #295687 by Vysetron
Replied by Vysetron on topic GMT's Gandhi

Erik Twice wrote:

JonathanVolk wrote: we live in an age of **optics**, for better, for worse, and the **optics** of white men designing (and then other white men, let's be real, playing) a game about decolonization/resistance to whiteness is off? Doesn't it feel off to anyone besides me?

No, it doesn't feel off to me. We might live in an age of optics, but that doesn't mean we should abide to them. I believe in having ethical principles, not in looking the part. I actually think a great deal of evil is allowed when we focus on that instead of actual morality.


Agreed. It's dangerous to let optics and fear of what other people might interpret one's work to mean determine what one "should" make.

Was Scramble a bad idea? Absolutely. That doesn't mean people can't produce a perfectly valid work just because their skin tone doesn't match the subject matter. That's ridiculous.
Last edit: 17 Apr 2019 20:51 by Vysetron. Reason: formatting

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
19 Apr 2019 08:51 #295752 by BaronDonut
Replied by BaronDonut on topic GMT's Gandhi
My (disorganized) thoughts on this issue.

*I think wargaming / historical simulation sits under the larger gaming umbrella, but has its own culture, history, and purpose that sets it apart from other types of hobby gaming. I think we need to evaluate historical games in a different context than something like, say, Rising Sun--a big hobby game that happens to have a sort-of-historical theme.

*Representation is important, and I think it's essential when it comes to getting these kinds of subjects right. That said, unlike other types of hobby games, wargaming can value certain "scholarly" practices like documentation of sources, explanations of a "thesis" of a game, etc. I don't think a game about Indian decolonization made by white guys is doomed from the start, but we should hold their work to a high standard and ask hard questions. Where is their information sourced from? What perspectives does it privilege? What is the game's thesis? What does it include and what does it leave out?

*I don't think the project of wargaming is doomed from the get go, even though I think we're right to tread carefully when it comes to issues of (very real) historical trauma and the legacy violence leaves. I think part of this has to do with the definition/purpose of "fun." If we think of fun as something frivolous or trivial that happens at someone's expense, then yeah, we should be horrified that a game can wrap itself in these nightmarish real-world events. But I think this is a low view of both games and fun. I think fun and/or the satisfaction that comes from games is complicated, but can include things like curiosity, connection, understanding, and even empathy. Even though the history of wargaming is sort of weird and militaristic, I do believe in the power of games to teach us things and expand our understanding of the world. And I think this process can be simultaneously social and engaging without compromising the seriousness of the subject matter being discussed. This is maybe an overly optimistic view, and I think games can get A LOT of things wrong, but I think they have the power to get it right, too.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, san il defanso, charlieturtle, Vysetron

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Gary SaxFrohike
Time to create page: 0.341 seconds