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19 January 2009 @ 07:09 pm
While I drink my spiced chai tea latte  
A juggernaut, yeah, that's a great big machine
from Star Wars -- or maybe a truck
Avatars are who you are in a game
and karma, we all know, is luck.

Kali's a demon; Dan Simmons should know
He went to Calcutta one year
and Soma's a drug out of Huxley. It's so
very great how inventive they were!

---

Sparked by some of the conversation on the What is Cultural Appropriation thread. And oddly not entirely consistent with what I've said about it. Apparently my writing brain doesn't entirely agree with my analyst brain.

ETA: I'm very sorry to do this but I'm disabling comments for now. turning off email notification on this thread and won't be checking  back on it for several days.   I  meant to disable comments, but then realized that would hide the comments that were already made, which isn't my intent at all.

This is all me and my silly head -- I need to work on a paper and won't if I keep wondering if people have said anything here.  So I  need to forbid myself lj till the paper's done.
 
 
Current Mood: amusedamused
 
 
 
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 05:22 am (UTC)
Well, you know my position on it, right? I say do it, but do it as right and as respectfully as you can.

And you know, when the base is European and there are things from all over the world, ask yourself why. Is it just convenience+exoticism? Cause if so I'm for rethinking.

Not that you're writing the game :D
zwol on January 20th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC)
And you know, when the base is European and there are things from all over the world, ask yourself why. Is it just convenience+exoticism? Cause if so I'm for rethinking.

It's a good question.

I'm bored with the standard set of fantasy-game monsters, which are largely taken from Grimm and Tolkien, when they're not regular animals only BIGGER. (queenpam is playing a game of this type at the next computer over and tells me that her PC was just killed by wild dogs.) Taking monsters from world mythology seemed like a good way of expanding the pool. I still like this idea.

The frame tale is "a bunch of people from Nonmagical Land go exploring the geographically-adjacent Magical Land because rumor says it's all torn up by war and disaster, so maybe there are abandoned castles with treasure (and monsters)." The last time I talked about this on LJ I called Magical Land "Faerie" because I was thinking of Lud-in-the-Mist. This is what wants some rethink, because it could easily turn into a colonialist narrative. And that's true whether or not "magical land accessible by walking across a geographic boundary" is a uniquely European notion (which is what I was thinking of with the earlier post).

The trouble is, I can't give up the abandoned castles with treasure and monsters. They're necessary to the genre. And I don't want to give up the notion of things getting increasingly alien and messed up as the PCs go farther away from home base, which when whittled down that far seems like a human universal, and in the land of game design gives a natural reason for the difficulty ramp that is also necessary.

It's good that I'm not writing this game; it would probably be so complicated it never got finished.
Dichroicdichroic on January 20th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC)
1. What if you make 'em palaces rather than castles? Asia has palaces.

2. Castles do seem to be a culturally European thing, true. *However*, I don't think they restricted themselves to building them only within Europe. You've specified "abandoned" castles, which to me doesn't have to imply that the dominant culture around said castles is currently European. In fact, maybe that's why they're abandoned? (I'm sort of thinking Rhodes here - granted Greece is in Europe, but I don't think it's otherwise a part of the castle-building parts of Europe.)

Not that that makes anything less complicated. And sorry if I'm being too much of an enabler here!
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
I'd say it could be done, but would take some rethinking beyond this, and possibly twisting the premise of this type of game, to make me happy.

But then I don't play them :)
zwol on January 20th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
I don't want to design a game that you would find clichéd at best, offensive at worst, if you ever played it, whether or not I ever actually write it or you ever play it. If you see what I mean?

I'm going to ponder this a little more and then reply at more length on my own journal; I'd like to see what some of the people who do play these games (e.g. Leonard) make of the question.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on January 20th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
I'd call that a good reason to talk about it further.
Nathanielelsmi on January 20th, 2009 10:08 am (UTC)
Maybe the castles are left over from the last wave of colonialists. You know, the ones from a few centuries ago, who took over, got rich lording over the natives for a while, all that. Not that the protagonist knows any of that when they start out, because it was a long time ago. There may come a point when they gain an urgent interest in *why* the last guys felt they needed big castles, and why exactly they aren't there anymore, though...

If you want to avoid the "oh this is happening off in a nebulous otherwhen unconnected to our reality so please don't think carefully the actual content" vibe, then this also gives a cute way to make a more fleshed out connection to our world, with the protagonist coming from vaguely-modern-era and the castle-builders being analogous to our vaguely-medieval-colonial-whatever period. You know, whenever it was that people built castles. Or whatever they did.
  > inventory
  You are carrying:
    A Gore-Tex(tm) jacket (equipped)
    A first-aid kit
    ...
    A pistol
    20 bullets

Very handy starting gear -- though not as much as it might be, since somehow Faerie just doesn't contain *any* crates of refill ammo...

I'm not sure how one would turn this approach into a full, semi-responsible storyline while avoiding "What these people need is a honky", though.

(Silly brain, deciding to run away with fun ideas. Use or ignore as appropriate!)
zwol on January 20th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
I like it.

Avoiding "what these people need is a honky" is extra fun in a game, because it's hard to separate from "what these people need is a player character", which is hard to downplay without ruining the player's fun. Although one does often wonder why the villagers are incapable of solving their own problems.

More later on my own journal, as mentioned.
Meredith L. Pattersonmaradydd on January 20th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
And that's true whether or not "magical land accessible by walking across a geographic boundary" is a uniquely European notion (which is what I was thinking of with the earlier post).

From my old comparative-lit and anthropology days (which are a good thirteen years old at this date, and thus not entirely to be trusted), I recall the notion of gradations in geography mapping to gradations from the Known to the Unknown (or the Real to the Magical, or Our World to the Otherworld, or whatever) being fairly universal. It varies from culture to culture, though, and with respect to non-Western cultures I'd be careful about non-primary sources with Western anthropologists/folklorists mapping their expectations onto the cultures they're writing about.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on March 11th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
I'd actually be careful about that with regard to so-called "Western" cultures too :)

The reframing of Ancient Greece and Rome to match current norms is pretty staggering. For example, I've run into people who are surprised to learn that democracy didn't mean the same thing then that it does now. And shocked, shocked, that Great Heroes of ancient civilization were indulging in gay sex.