Front Page

Content

Authors

Game Index

Forums

Site Tools

Submissions

About

O
oliverkinne
March 02, 2021
205 0
JF
Jenny Ford
March 02, 2021
62 0
MT
Matt Thrower
March 01, 2021
739 0

Play Matt: Wavelength Review

Board Game Reviews
JL
Jason Lutes
March 01, 2021
314 0
T
TabletopIsland
February 27, 2021
284 0
T
TomerHelzer
February 26, 2021
459 0
O
oliverkinne
February 26, 2021
694 0
MB
Michael Barnes
February 26, 2021
934 0
U
ubarose
February 25, 2021
504 0
U
ubarose
February 25, 2021
537 0
U
ubarose
February 25, 2021
361 0
J
Jackwraith
February 25, 2021
733 0
B
boardgameinquisition
February 25, 2021
492 0
W
whowhatwhycast
February 24, 2021
346 0
AL
Andi Lennon
February 24, 2021
783 0
U
ubarose
February 23, 2021
310 0
×
Bugs Update: Recent Topics & Main Menu (11 Dec 2020)

Main Menu drop down bug has been fixed. You may need to clear your cache to pick up the new code.
Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

Twilight of the White Boy Club

More
04 Feb 2021 17:07 #318822 by Michael Barnes
Today’s piece was scheduled to be a review of Ares...

Might as well have a "No Blacks, No Girls" sign on the box...

Read more...
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, ChristopherMD, jpat, Jackwraith, san il defanso, Josh Look, Ancient_of_MuMu, ecargo

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

More
04 Feb 2021 19:55 #318837 by Jackwraith
Twilight of the White Boy Club sounds like a New Wave album, circa 1983.
The following user(s) said Thank You: san il defanso, WadeMonnig

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

More
04 Feb 2021 22:29 - 04 Feb 2021 22:51 #318845 by Sagrilarus
is worth a look, though very limited in its scope. I think there’s a pretty big debate to be had on the subject(s), and I don’t you can handwave away the role history plays in games depicting historic events. That said, the choice of historic events chosen for depiction in games continue to be white as hell. Frankly, most historians wouldn’t survive close scrutiny of their writing, where it is far simpler to present the broader spectrum of humanity because the reader isn’t forced into taking on a role in it.

Like it or not we’re in a deeply rutted road where breaking away from bad habits is hard to do. In a time where we’ve been brutally reminded just how many people are more than happy to continue oppression and stigmatism it will take concerted effort to break out onto a new path. That will require overt action carried out by leaders that get people to follow them.
Last edit: 04 Feb 2021 22:51 by Sagrilarus.

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

More
05 Feb 2021 01:11 #318846 by ubarose
I think you are right. We don’t have to give these sorts of games the time of day. Certainly don’t need to waste reviews time , our money or the site’s bandwidth on them. There are 5000 games published annually. It is no longer difficult to find ones that are more inclusive. Personally, I never feel like I’m missing out on anything when I take a pass at yet another bland white boy fantasy.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Michael Barnes, san il defanso, Ancient_of_MuMu, Varys

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

More
05 Feb 2021 07:36 - 05 Feb 2021 08:00 #318847 by Josh Look
Thank you for writing this, Michael, very on the money and needed to be said.

I don't want to be the voice of doubt, but there is something that I find to be quite frustrating. Over the last several years, we've seen various people expose themselves for being complete shitbags, or the general course of the world pushes us away from problematic topics. We, on this side of the fence, like to loudly declare, "NO MORE," but I can't tell you how many times I've seen those same people bend over backwards to fit that new Harry Potter or Sandy Peterson game into their shelves. I've seen a whole lot of people announce their commitment to the cause but suddenly make excuses for themselves when it's something they want to CONSOOM. Just yesterday I saw someone who I really respect say, "I can handle bad opinions," after making it abundantly clear last June that racist bullshit will not be tolerated. No, it doesn't fucking work that way. These people also need to be taken to task.

The Tacsini games I owned are already out of the house, both of which I quite liked, but that's not something I want sitting on my self for all to see and that's not a message of exclusion I want anywhere in my life. I'm sure many will look at their copies of white boy club Struggle of Empires, transphobic Harry Potter and "What about white slavery?" Sandy Peterson bullshit fucking terrible Cthulhu Wars and say, "Well, I already bought it, the damage is done," or, "I've had too many good times with it, I can't get rid of it." Yes. Yes you fucking can.

I think what I'm saying is that there's an awful lot of rallying around a cause going on from folks who for a variety of reasons aren't willing to follow through or don't actually care when they get down to it. We don't get the change we want unless we stop giving this shit a platform, and that platform shouldn't be limited to the internet.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2021 08:00 by Josh Look.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Michael Barnes, themothman421, Varys, WadeMonnig, mc

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

More
05 Feb 2021 09:11 #318848 by jason10mm
I think Michael may have been a bit too hasty in his judgement or at least overreacted a smidge. Looking over the game, there are what appear to be minority characters ("renegade" for sure, "Travelers", possibly "Preacher", "guide", "scrap dealer" in the expansion). Plus the game is set in the arctic or near it, places that are like 95% white. So it is, IMHO, a bit forgivable if there aren't a ton of ethnicities other than white appearing folk (to the extent you can see anything in some of the characters with only eyes shown).

As for the co-pilot thing, if they are chosen by the leader for their sexiness then presumably the female leader is LGBT since she has a female co-pilot as well? I don't think these characters are even given names, much less any kind of backstory or any indication of their sexuality since even having different art for those cards was apparently a stretch goal. So you can imprint any persona you want on them. The game definitely has a "wintery Mad Max sexy" aesthetic (which, IMHO, is a MUCH more valid criticism against ALL media, not just this one game) that does sorta necessitate pretty people in tight clothing and rugged masculinity.

The game got less than 2 thousand backers on KS. I think we overestimate just how broad of an appeal most games get, or even need, to be 'successful". These aren't blockbuster movies costing hundreds of millions that need to be watched by billions in order to turn a profit. A board game can have an appeal only to a niche demographic and still be quite successful if the expectations are modest to begin with. IMHO this should be encouraged because it allows the designer and art team full creativity of their vision without having to resort to some type of checklist (often one that differs by the day).

I've said it here before, rather than lambast the game and the distributor for a couple of art images, why not go find a minority designed game with all POC art to signal boost? Why trash this game, especially with criticism that is apparently false, or at least exaggerated (that only white people survived in the game) instead of just ignoring it?

It is a good rant though, look forward to your criticism of my criticism of your criticism! :P

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

More
05 Feb 2021 09:33 #318849 by Rugerfred
I am male and Italian. Thank you a lot for this article. It's so frustrating to see your game scene being kept anchored to problematic behaviors and coming up with excuses. We need to change. The community and hobby CAN and MUST be better!
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, Michael Barnes, Sagrilarus, Josh Look

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

More
05 Feb 2021 09:47 #318850 by ubarose

jason10mm wrote: Plus the game is set in the arctic or near it, places that are like 95% white. So it is, IMHO, a bit forgivable if there aren't a ton of ethnicities other than white appearing folk


Saami, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk, Chukchi, Aleut, Yupik and Inuit are a few of the Arctic peoples.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Sagrilarus, Jackwraith, Josh Look, hotseatgames, Cambyses, n815e

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

More
05 Feb 2021 10:04 #318851 by jason10mm
Some further thoughts, less playing Devil's Advocate like I did above.

I've often been curious at how much just some art can drive player engagement. This game is a good example.

The player isn't playing themself in the game, nor does it appear to have more than the most superficial and minimal amount of role-play elements to make the player feel attached to their leader and co-pilot. Yet there isn't much of any in the way of story or flavor text to explain/justify why these SPECIFIC art profiles are necessary. I.e. it isn't Tom, his sons Jack and Sven, and his daughter Luda (to explain the leader gender and racial mix) with the remnants of a nunnery (to explain the co-pilot genders). So in that sense the artwork is essentially meaningless in the game other than evoking a sense of cold post-apocalyptic scandinavian theme.

So does it matter to the PLAYER what their in-game avatar looks like? As a white guy it usually isn't difficult to pick an avatar that looks similar to me in almost any game, or pick one that appeals to me for whatever reason. So player engagement based on art is rarely, if ever, a concern. But it is an oft quoted statement that "the game had no one that looked like me" in a lot of female or minority interviews about gaming (at least the RPG ones I listen to) so certainly for at least some segment of the potential gaming audience this is a concern.

So to whom does the responsibility lie? If it is JUST game art, i.e. no game mechanic or theme really hinges on a depiction of ethnicity or gender (and quite frankly I've almost never encountered a game like this outside of an old RPG or some civilization game tracking dynasties) and it is really just the superficial art layer being focused on, why wouldn't art designers pick from more diverse character roster and conversely why are players so hung up on what their game avatar looks like on a 3 inch card?

For the former, I suspect it is just the product of a closed loop in game creation. There are still very few locations producing most of the games we see in english. Game designers, particularly individuals or small teams, are probably still in the "I'm making games for me!" mindset and they don't really need to deliberately broaden their appeal because they have little ability or requirement to reach it anyway. While a large game company with dozens of staff that thinks in term of scale far beyond even kickstarter will certainly want to hit all quadrants with either a diverse art design or an overly abstract one (or a licensed IP that takes all the responsibility away).

For the latter, again I've not had to butt up against it too often because if there is a game about polynesian island conquest that requires I play as a samoan then that is more of a novelty to me than the norm so I don't feel slighted or marginalized. But others do, especially when it is game after game after game of dour europeans doing stuff even when the game isn't set in europe. But even a POC game designer can create a fantasy game full of monoethnicity (Blood Rage, Rising Sun) so the temptation to play into a specific aesthetic at the expense of player facing representation is very strong.

How to combat this trend? I would argue that as board games (particularly non-abstract games where this is even an issue to begin with) have radically expanded their audience it is naturally falling away. Designers from a background that allows them the passion to design a game away from tried and true medieval europe are there. Artists that can paint skin with more than shades of light cream are there. Publishers willing to risk a theme outside of renaissance europe (and the savvy to market it) are there. The audience certainly is ready, they are nothing if not desperate for new stuff. Even if the conservative approach of "here is a lavish minis game about knights jousting!" earns more on KS than "here is a lavish minis game about flying carpet jousting!" at least in this era both games can get good exposure and a fair shake at it.

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

More
05 Feb 2021 10:22 - 05 Feb 2021 10:24 #318852 by Josh Look
First off, I didn't mean to give the above post a Thank You. It's the responsibility of publishers to knock it off and for us to stop giving it a pass just because it's a game that interests us. It's not just art, what we're given visually is the first level of immersion into a game world. When there isn't anyone who looks like you do on that surface level, that's not the most welcoming first impression. Not really a debate, we're past that point.

Representation matters. It works, I've seen it. People want to see themselves in important characters throughout popular culture, not just secondary, throwaway characters. That's where this game failed.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2021 10:24 by Josh Look.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ubarose, Michael Barnes, themothman421, hotseatgames

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

More
05 Feb 2021 10:48 #318854 by jason10mm

ubarose wrote:

jason10mm wrote: Plus the game is set in the arctic or near it, places that are like 95% white. So it is, IMHO, a bit forgivable if there aren't a ton of ethnicities other than white appearing folk


Saami, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk, Chukchi, Aleut, Yupik and Inuit are a few of the Arctic peoples.


Very true, and they are also a tiny minority. The omission of indigenous people is a criticism that can be levelled at ANY game set in North America, northern europe, australia, or many other countries.

Plus perhaps the message is "see yah later whitey, don't let the snowstorm hit your ass on the way out!" as they drop mic and walk away like that guy on Quigley Down Under :)

Regardless, have you guys considered reaching out to the game dev or the art team? We appear to have a native Italian here that could help with any translation issues and I'm sure he would love the chance to explain his decisions since this is a game that otherwise seems like it would be right up this sites alley.

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

More
05 Feb 2021 11:11 #318855 by jason10mm

Josh Look wrote: First off, I didn't mean to give the above post a Thank You. It's the responsibility of publishers to knock it off and for us to stop giving it a pass just because it's a game that interests us. It's not just art, what we're given visually is the first level of immersion into a game world. When there isn't anyone who looks like you do on that surface level, that's not the most welcoming first impression. Not really a debate, we're past that point.

Representation matters. It works, I've seen it. People want to see themselves in important characters throughout popular culture, not just secondary, throwaway characters. That's where this game failed.


You can't un thank you on this forum? I'll try not to take it personally :)

Anyway, to continue a discussion, your point about the importance of each character is a good one. Again, not to stan for this game though I'm sure no one else here believes it, it looks to me like in the original KS version there was only a white guy Leader and the red haired kinda olive skinned female co-pilot. Then they expanded the roster a bit as a stretch goal. So POC cards like the renegade could actually be pretty high on the original representation list, she just seems marginalized because of KS being KS. Naturally I know as well are the rest of you that KS "Stretch goals" are often pre-programmed parts of the initial game experience so this slight attempt at a defense is probably moot but it is possible that he hit that goal and then had to pull the "B list" art from the art team (Skeleton Crew apparently, whoever they are) which is what it is.

So an interview with the designer and art team might be pretty illuminating as to the choices folks have to make when planning a game and sorta kinda gambling on KS. They KNEW they wanted Renegade in the game and she is a POC, but they GAMBLED that the expanded leader/co-pilot roster would be reached, and those are all white appearing.

Anyway, Ares or Pendragon aren't paying me to shill and I think I've said all my points in regards to the value of art diversity WRT game appeal versus keeping a theme (however stereotypical or narrow it may be) so I'll bow out for now. I don't think this game is being deliberately exclusionary and I wonder if the design team would respond well to constructive criticism that folks out there disagree with their choices.

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

More
05 Feb 2021 11:14 - 05 Feb 2021 11:15 #318856 by ubarose
Jason, I think you are lost staring at a single tree when we are talking about the forest. This game is simply a single example of the 100s, perhaps 1000s of games like it that are published annually. It just happens to have been Michael's last straw. Unlike the average consumer who can simply choose not to purchase a game that doesn't have adequate representation or is about a theme that offends them, the reviewer has both greater power and greater responsibility. Choosing not to review a game due to theme or lack of representation is a bold step.

I think the next step may be updating out review policies to state that we reserve the right not to review games with offensive or racist themes, or that lack adequately diverse representation. In the future if one of our reviewers receives a review copy of a game that does not meet our standards, we can contact the publisher and let them know that their game will not be reviewed due to the fact that it does not meet our standards, but that we would be happy to review other games in the future that do.

Of course, each of us as consumers will need to make our own choices about where we draw the line regarding what we feel comfortable buying, owning and playing. Hopefully, articles like this will raise some of our readers awareness. I know it raised mine.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2021 11:15 by ubarose.
The following user(s) said Thank You: jpat, jason10mm, n815e

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

More
05 Feb 2021 11:16 - 05 Feb 2021 11:46 #318857 by Gary Sax
fyi, you can unthank you by pressing the thank you button again after it registers a thank you, for Josh or anyone in the audience. I've hit it by accident when I'm trying to hit a different button on occasion too.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2021 11:46 by Gary Sax.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Josh Look

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

More
05 Feb 2021 11:44 - 05 Feb 2021 11:51 #318858 by Sagrilarus
So Jason, yes, it matters. Most white people I know are scared to walk into the African American Studies section on Barnes & Nobles, so it's reasonable to assume discomfort in the opposite direction.

But here's my question -- is art so damn expensive that you can't produce 12 leaders to fill the 4 slots, 4 sets of 3 where each set has more or less equivalent stats and abilities? This seems like a really easy problem to solve that won't offend anyone, and frankly would give struggling artists more work. It would also be really cool. I'd love to see different shades (literally) of the same character that add a different flavor (not literally) to the game play.

Personalities matter to me. If the card in front of me says the character is rash and impatient it will change the way I play. 10,000 hours of role-playing does that to you. This zero-rule change addition could make the game play differently for anyone that immerses in the packaging as much as the rule set, making the overall package more inviting even for us middle-aged white males.

I know margins are tight in the industry and that Ares is a low budget operation. But jeeze, they're just cards. You generally have to purchase them in lots of 54 anyway, print one more sheet and offer everyone a choice, charge me $1 more. Put some personality into the game and open it up to groups that are underrepresented.

(And yes, I know, somebody is going to explain to me that adding 8 more cards is going to increase the cost of the game by $300 because "clearly, you don't understand how a small change to the physical components when multiplied by the printer/publisher/wholesaler/retailer mark ups results in blah blah blah blah blah." I call bullshit. Do the right thing, show leadership, get credit and expand your audience.)
Last edit: 05 Feb 2021 11:51 by Sagrilarus.

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

Moderators: Gary Sax
Time to create page: 0.209 seconds