What about PoC?


#1

Dragonborn, Dranei, Night Elves… What about PoC? I’ve seen threads and topics about gender options and sexual and/or romantic orientation, but I haven’t seen one yet for race and ethnicity.

Speaking from my own experience, I haven’t found many games that allow me to choose my exact racial and/or ethnic background. Some games allow you to choose your own race and even have a selection of linguistically diverse names to choose from. Others ask for your physical appearance and offer a variety of choices that allude to your racial makeup.

So, what are your opinions for race in games? Should there be more racial representation in games? What about choosing your own race? What about mixed-race individuals?


Races and language . Described some character as black is racist in english?
The Alchemist; A Measure in Measures (Updated 6/10/16)
Ilyaaren: The Explosion
Choice of Rebels Part 1 WIP thread
#2

Personally I’ve not seen the need. I also find choosing things like eye colour and hair colour unnecessary.

When you play a COG game I find I always imagine myself as the character unless told otherwise and I fill in any unspoken features with myself. If you give people the option to chose race or eye colour or something all your asking is for them to vocalise what they’re already imagining. It doesn’t ever change the game further on.

Obviously this is different if the game is about racism or its a fantasy world where the races are about more than just skin/hair/eye colour (Orcs vs gnomes) and will actually make a difference to the story.


#3

Honestly? I agree with you. Most authors bet that you’ll place your race in the MC’s shoes, but it can be all too obvious for a white writer to accidentally mention pale skin (see: Emma), or make every other character white without noticing.


#4

Totally. I’m glad that people are open to writing non-white characters, and though there are different ways to interpret a character’s race based on physical description (i.e., a black person with albinism, a South Asian person who has a European last name), I still haven’t seen many non-white characters whose race has been specifically pointed out. And, like you said, written without really noticing.


#5

For a modern or futuristic tale, racial diversity should be the norm under most circumstances. For period pieces set in the distant past however, with the exception of characters visiting from geographically different realms, attempting to shoe-horn in significant racial diversity within a single nation can make a story seem contrived. Nevertheless, It would be interesting if everyone else in the “kingdom” were to have the same color of skin as the player chooses for the MC, and while a little bit more work, it would still be less work than making a single gender flippable character I would think.


#6

As much as I love medieval fantasy and historical games on here (there are a lot of absolutely wonderful ones) it’s always a bit disappointing to me to see the same medieval setting. Like, old European. I think there’s only the one game set in Asia, though I would love to be proven wrong. While I do really love the stories it can get a bit boring when I’m surrounded by characters who are assumed white. And it can be frustrating when I’M assumed white too.


#7

@Maxmansung I understand what you mean, and I think it’s an interesting way of looking at it. Personally, I like choosing my physical appearance and even my race, but I can understand why it’s unnecessary if a story doesn’t see the need.


#8

Exactly! I’m alright with European-inspired settings in fantasy, but it can get a bit tiring when it’s all there is. Heck, I’m half white and I get a bit annoyed when I’m assumed as fully white and I don’t get a say in what I also am. It gets kind of weird when you can only choose one race in games too. I go through a mini-identity crisis, just like I do when taking exams that ask the same question.

But I guess that’s why I liked the Avatar series so much, because it was a fantasy whose different countries were inspired by Indigenous American and East Asian cultures. Man, that show was great. I love learning about different cultures, so I think a fantasy game that’s inspired by different cultures that aren’t just European would be more than refreshing.


#9

Um.

I’m sad to say that the history white people read was, uh, yeah, written by white people… who like to focus on white people.


#10

I’m half white too (Uighur/German)! It’s frustrating when you can’t explicitly pick your race because like. There’s a lot of people who identify as biracial and it hurts to have to erase part of yourself. I understand reasons why it works like that technologically speaking with coding and stuff, but at that point I feel it would be better not to include race. I prefer specifying skintones over race.

I feel bad criticizing the whole European medieval fantasy thing because like I said, there are a lot of really good games on here that follow that trope. But I hope one day more poc or even myself can make games with more diverse cultures. I can’t remember the name of the now dead WIP, but there was one set in like Persia or something where you play as a jinn. How cool is that?


#11

Specific examples I can think of off the top of my head too are the Moors, Jews, Ottoman Turks, Sami…


#12

I haven’t mentioned the race of the MC in my games yet, because it hasn’t been relevant for the story - as several people have mentioned, I don’t fancy introducing hair and eye colour choices unless I have a good reason.

I have mentioned the races of other characters in my current WiP. Partly because of people commenting on the European flavour of so many books, games, and even CoGs and HGs, I made a point of having different ethnicities in my descriptions and illustrations. Besides, I’ve usually lived in multi-ethnic cities myself.

And even though my story is set in Edwardian Wales, it’s a faux, fantastical version - one of the characters even has green skin and hair. Also there are several internationals in this particular town.

That said, I suspect a lot of the writers here, and in general a very large percentage of people who are writing games and books in English, are culturally European, American, and Australian, if not actually pale-skinned.

So then, that brings up cultural appropriation. That can be a huge issue, and potentially a very offensive one. Here’s one of many, many articles on the topic. Sometimes people feel like the great white colonial descents take a culture (or a language) that they’ve stepped on, oppressed, and generally tried to erase from the face of the earth - and then monetise or fetishise said culture.

I’ve been thinking very hard about setting a book in India - or possibly in the Middle East, where I at least lived for an extended period of time and I speak a few of the languages a bit. Partly inspired by this amazing comic, partly because I love cultures and languages.

But when I discussed it with some friends from India, they were actually really offended. Why should I make money off their culture, using opportunities they really don’t even have? And I was shocked, and really dismayed. The last thing I want to do is cause offence by borrowing a culture and a language that I myself enjoy and in many ways admire. (Of course there are bad things about any culture - but there are so many wonderful things about any culture, too!)

So, I’d be very interested in hearing from some of the non-Europeans on our forums on this topic. I hate being called white - I’m Romani/Scottish/handful-of-other-things, and I get called white in certain cultures and not-white in others and it’s all very annoying, all the labels and assumptions that go with them. But I’m white enough to have offended those friends of mine in India.

I see the appropriation discussion happening a lot on Gaelic-speaking forums too. Now that Celtic is rather trendy, some people are looking back to years where even speaking the language, or wearing clothing indicative of the culture, was illegal and dissenters would face imprisonment, deportation, or even death. And this wasn’t so very long ago, from a world history perspective.

It’s one reason why I enjoy a good translation, or even slogging through books in other languages (or other alphabets). There are lots of books out there based on other cultures - but a lot of them have never been and may never be published in English. And of course English books are much more likely to be translated in the other direction.

TL/DR: I’d be very interested if anyone, especially non-European-descent people, had any thoughts about appropriate use of foreign cultures, and unjust appropriation.


#13

There’s also this! But yeah, there’s been a lot of interaction between people, regardless of race. There’s also been a lot of immigration during more recent centuries.


#14

I think there was a thread about race in video games after Witcher 3 came out a while back…

…Yup, here it is.


#15

Thanks, I didn’t know about that I appreciate it!


#16

Making half the characters non-white in a tale of England during the time of Chaucer -would- strain credibility in a way that creating a legion from Southern Egypt with a black commander during the time of the Roman Empire does not. the Roman Empire wasn’t an insular little nation state, it was a very large empire with territory in Northern Africa and the Middle-east, not just in Europe.


#17

For me, my feelings about white people and/or other minorities that aren’t my own writing about my people are a bit complicated.
Part of that has to do with the fact that it’s harder for us to do it ourselves. We’re not really given the same opportunities as white people are. But because I’m aware of how hard it can be for us to get it done, sometimes, if the writer shows a lot of care and accurate depiction of my culture I can enjoy it a lot…as long as they have someone who is part of that culture helping them make sure it stays a nuanced and safe depiction. For example, the writer for Ms Marvel is white, but the editor is Pakistani.
My biggest concern when white people who have someone advising them is that they will use racial stereotypes. Like with the Disney Aladdin movie and the racist caricature that is Jafar.


#18

Which is why the blog I just gave you a link to specifically focuses on medieval Europe.


#19

@RedRoses

Why is Jafar a racist caricature?


#20

No one is asking to make everyone in medieval England brown. We’re just talking about potentially using settings in that era that include more racial diversity–accurate racial diversity-- instead of making everyone white.
There were people of color in England at the time but yes, they were not as common as white people. But they did exist, and it’s reasonable to wish they existed in the games and stories we tell.