What does that phrase mean? I lifted it from the famous phrase about “stupid,” but movies and memes may have spoiled the original phrase’s meaning, so I’ll (probably) waste your time for a moment explaining myself.
The point is that it’s not what people call you or judge you, or conversely, what you think or say either. It’s about the actions: what’s done, what’s there, and how it turns out. I’m applying this to a specific context of potential racism in role-playing games: a broad array of options for player-characters.
I’ve already discussed the issue of calling such options “races” in the first place, in my introductory video for the entire topic of racism for this website (see Monday Lab: Halfbreed). In the lab, you’ll see us wince or struggle with its presence, and I ask that our discussion here not get distracted by it. It’s a big deal but it’s also seeing multiple examinations and meltdowns throughout the internet.
For the topic, meaning, games which provide many player-character options of this sort:
- Is that entire concept intrinsically racist? With or without special distinguishing mechanics?
- If it isn’t, or racist only insofar as the term “race is used,” then what racist (specifically supremacist) content is added or decreased by including humans among the options? Noting that “unmodified, baseline” is itself not as neutral as it might look initially.
- Which games which feature such an array display striking supremacism toward one or another of its options, or toward those in-game groups which are not included in the options?
This playlist starts with a presentation by myself about three games, in order to highlight the third bullet point especially.
In the lab, I don’t think we drove hard enough into these questions, partly because I can get terribly distracted or diverted by someone mentioning certain titles, and because it was hard to establish what I wanted to talk about – games with a lot of options, not merely variations on the standard four or six. And I was mostly interested in the third bullet point, which we barely touched. But we managed to produce some moments of thought anyway.
Help us out! Please focus on games with a lot of options, not on single-group games (which are now much more common than they used to be, and very distracting to this topic), and let’s examine special supremacism as evidenced by game descriptions and features.