Archive for the ‘our stories’ Category

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Speak Freedoms

July 15, 2009

APIA Summit

In completely non-game related news, the 5th APIA Spoken Word Summit is coming up in 2 weeks.

I attended the first one in Seattle in 2001 which was a life changing event for me. It wasn’t just folks working through the struggles of pulling out the internalized ‘ism’s that hit us along the way, it was also seeing folks like me, at my age, from around the country finding their voices- a sense of not being alone in it.

While it’s true that this culture loves to feed alienation, it’s a very different story between the usual adolescent alienation vs. actually being othered to the point of being assumed to being alien (The perpetual foreigner). It’s a major reason I expect more from mass media- perpetuating hate for profit is only a different kind of crack being slung.

Spoken word, like hiphop, like writing, like roleplaying, is about finding and creating your own stories, and finding your own voice.

And for some of us, that’s the only way we’ll hear any voices like our own.

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Robots, mutants, and kittens

June 16, 2009

I’m pretty much with Willow on this one…As much as I love me the idea of Robo-noir, it does make me wonder- why is it that mainstream media has an easier time building empathic “minority” characters who are robots, aliens, mutants, ghosts, or otherwise literally non-human than they are at having actual characters of color?

To be sure, Penny Arcade touched on this same subject with Resident Evil 5 and the slope of the fantastic, I think that’s exactly what makes it a shield against really thinking about it.

When you have weird non-real beings, and caricatures of discrimination, it’s easy to toss in the same realm as pure fantasy, and not really think about what it means in the totality of it. Just like how war with aliens isn’t the same as war between humans- it’s fantastic enough you immediately go to the land of faerie tales and magic and it loses it’s bite.

And I think that’s the big difference between X-men and say, Bayou. X-men goes fantastic enough that it stops being about discrimination- no one has to worry about the oppression of blue monkey people by giant 50 foot tall Sentinels… whereas in Bayou, the magical threats are just reflections of the human threats- the story begins with fishing a lynched boy’s body out of the Bayou…

How many people even realize The Dark Crystal is a story about survivors of genocide? Muppet Elves and vulture people go a long way towards masking the content.

I think this is why a lot of POC spec fiction gets thrown into the phrase, “magical realism” – in fact, it’s not less fantastic than any given vampire, werewolf, ghost, whatever story- it’s that certain ugliness of humanity isn’t shied away from, isn’t masked by robots waving guns at giant bugs, but that even with magic, history is history and people are people, and not all of it is pretty.

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Internalized Escapism

May 17, 2008

The Black Panthers/GTA game idea at Token Minorities is awesome.

It’s also a game we’ll never see, despite the fact that we have endless games about US military action in the Mideast, fighting games about rappers beating the shit out of each other or even a videogame about the Columbine shootings, if only because white on brown, brown on brown, or white on white violence doesn’t upset status quos like brown on white violence would, even if it’s “just a videogame”.

But this also got me thinking about why I, personally, avoid history in my games. It’s that history holds too much for me, on an emotional level. I mean, for a lot of folks the BPP is an inspiration, but for me, it stands as a reminder of how far people will go to put down folks for putting up stop signs and making soup lines. Growing up, someone I knew, his father was a BPP member… until they found him decapitated by a lake, cause of death, “suicide”…

It’s shit like that, which makes our history generally too raw for me to even play with. I can’t have escapism with it.

So I wonder how many of us escape into comic books, The Matrix films, Star Wars, Halo, anything to basically avoid looking at our ugly history, full of sorrow and martyrs more than heroes.

And then I wonder what we’re really escaping?