Wolsung: How’s that work?July 30, 2012
The period of time the game is set in was chauvinistic and racist. When portraying such a period and letting players play characters grown in such an era we could take two approaches: gloss it all over and pretend racism never happens, or create a setting where racial stereotypes do exist and give the players the opportunity to face them and change them. I decided, that the first approach is not satisfying – pretending a problem do not exist rarely helps, while facing it usually does.
LOOK AT THE ART AGAIN. That’s not the European(“Vanadian”) representation of those people, that’s the actual, in-game, representation of people.
I’m failing to see how that creates a space to confront racism, instead of revel in it.
I understand why you may find the orcs/non-Europeans design choice disturbing, still it was not my intention to portray any of the races as a lesser race.
Orcs represent all that was unknown for the Europeans of our 19th century, dangerous and thus compelling. They are spiritual and impulsive where Vanadians are technological and calculating. Shamans, holy men, warrior monks, samurai, native hunters, desert nomads – orcs are living near to nature and their spirituality, untouched by western civilization.
Some Vanadians, driven by fear of the unknown, treat orcs as the “evil” race (not unlike the sinister Chinese and lecherous Turk clichés from 19th century novels), while others find them fascinating and compelling (not unlike the French artists of the belle époque inspired by the Far East).
For all of them the mystical, exotic, multicultural world of orcs remains a mystery.
Orcs don’t have to be chinese
Most inhabitants of Sunnir (analog to real-world Asia) are orcs. However, not all orcs are Asians and you can easily create characters inspired by other popular variants of a mysterious spiritual foreigner. These are the other archetypes and cultures that may inspire an orcish hero: gypsies, Siberian shamans, Native American hunters, Maori, Inuit.
“it was not my intention to portray any of the races as a lesser race.”
The characters you play in Wolsung are the people who can and should change the world – because they are designed to look at 19th century with your 21st century eyes and react to what they see with your sensibility.
Having said all that I do apologize once more – I really did not see that coming. Every culture has different traumas, different issues and see things in a different way. Before reading this topic I would never thought the game would provoke such a reaction. Lesson learned, I hope.
And here’s where things don’t make any sense at all.
Read the first paragraph I quoted – “create a setting where racial stereotypes do exist and give the players the opportunity to face them and change them. “
Ok, this is a game where we’re knowingly going to deal with, and fight racist stereotypes? But wait, now he NEVER EXPECTED PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT RACIST IMAGERY and just didn’t think about all they oh-so-many histories of racist imagery.
Strange how people would claim to build a game ABOUT dealing with race issues, use Yellow Peril imagery, use the long standing bone-through-nose witchdoctor bit, that even gets used TODAY, and seem surprised that these reactions would come up.
How is it both a game about knowingly dealing with race issues but the designer couldn’t have expected to deal with race issues?
I think we know the answer.