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.