This is a spinoff from a subject that came up in “Should Hosted Games be vetted more thoroughly.”
Generally, I am curious to hear people’s preferences and perspectives about the balance of writing content that deals with topics related to discrimination. I can certainly understand that when I just want some light, potentially escapist entertainment, this isn’t a theme I’d want to deal with then. But it’s also such a major theme that it can be a valuable part of literature… and interactive fiction is literature too. So I feel like this can be a difficult balancing act.
Here’s the post from the other thread… and I want to clarify that I’m not really creating this topic specifically in regards to the post I replied to there… it’s just what got me thinking about this topic…
Elaborating, I can see that writing about fantastical discrimination can raise some red flags when it’s a thinly veiled metaphor for a real world minority… for example, the bit about the “gangs” in Moreytown, which we were responding to, could be potentially concerning Still, I think that, when worldbuilding, depending on the setting, oppressive dynamics often make sense, though they should be based on the logic of the setting itself, rather than a contrivance, and they most certainly shouldn’t be exploited purely to make a setting seem more edgy.
When I was taking writing classes in college, oftentimes people would dismiss escapist writing as being less meaningful and less valid. I do believe that this is wrong; escapism can engage the emotions, and also just help people feel better, which is a perfectly nice thing to do. In particular, marginalized groups deserve to have just as much escapism as everybody else. Like, for me, I get really tired of it if everything I read about a gay guy deals with him struggling with being gay. Sometimes I just want a story about a gay guy being awesome, without any obstacles directly related to his sexuality But, at the same time, I still like many stories that deal directly with homophobia, and I strongly believe that they are valuable.
Still, I feel like sometimes a writer would wish to explore less escapist themes in writing, which should be just as valuable in interactive fiction as in any other medium. The sorts of storylines where the main character might be struggling more, and that tackle a lot of weighty material. Especially if an author’s going for something that can reflect on major issues, or provoke particularly strong emotions.
Of course, it’s also possible to write something that isn’t escapist and also doesn’t deal with discrimination… there’s plenty of other challenges and bad things to throw at characters And really, there’s a lot of middle ground… a story can deal in “big issues” and also include fun… if anything, providing that material would help maintain balance and keep the story engaging and not too preachy.
Anyway, I’d just be really curious to hear what other people’s preferences and perspectives are about this kind of thing.