RACE AND GENDER IN GAMES

Posts

author=Liberty
Um, what? Really? Have you even seen the character editor?

Literally, any colour.

Also, nice way to advertise the release. Been planning this for a while?


I... think they predominately look like Caucasians with a different skin tone, like what existed in VX Ace. A skin color alone isn't what makes a race look different or unique. I think it's okay, but it strikes me as more of an accessory than a different race.

Sorry, I didn't mean to cause offense. Obviously we have different opinions on this. Thanks.
author=MercynMetal
I... think they predominately look like Caucasians with a different skin tone, like what existed in VX Ace.

I think that's your own personal bias: seeing white folks as the default. RM characters are drawn by Japanese people in an anime style, and when some Japanese kid watches an anime about high schoolers saving the world by piloting giant robots, it takes place in a Japanese school and the Japanese kid perceives all of those characters as Japanese. Most anime abstracts people enough that you see what you're trained to expect. I mean, people think Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z is a black dude, even those he's clearly green, has pointy ears, stretchy arms, and his species is from another planet.
Ratty524
The 524 is for 524 Stone Crabs
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author=Jude
author=MercynMetal
I... think they predominately look like Caucasians with a different skin tone, like what existed in VX Ace.
I think that's your own personal bias: seeing white folks as the default. RM characters are drawn by Japanese people in an anime style, and when some Japanese kid watches an anime about high schoolers saving the world by piloting giant robots, it takes place in a Japanese school and the Japanese kid perceives all of those characters as Japanese. Most anime abstracts people enough that you see what you're trained to expect. I mean, people think Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z is a black dude, even those he's clearly green, has pointy ears, stretchy arms, and his species is from another planet.

The point he's getting at is that race is not just a matter of skin tone, it also characterized by certain physical features a group of people share in common.

The generic Manga/Anime style is particularly bad at this due to its somewhat systematic over-simplification of the human form. While this actually has a pretty valid purpose in most mediums, it still doesn't really do a good job at representing specific races of people.
The thing is, there are various facial shapes and eyes shapes and noses and hair and whatever else to use in the generator. If there's not something you want in there, you can make it and add it to the generator easily enough.
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4368
It's more a JRPG thing than it is them not thinking about or not wanting to add different races. Though I think Liberty has already fought for the fact that you can make the faces look different or a different skin tone, and that's basically as good as it gets outside of doing it yourself.
Guess what I've been doing for the last bunch of hours? If you thought it was reading through three months of old posts in a forum, you're right!

So I have one overall question for the group, one LOTR comment, and then just a bunch of quotes I thought were worth repeating.

The overall question is what if you design your characters and then just randomly assign race and gender?

I ask because when writing for other genders/races, I was going to say "I don't relate well with them and can't write convincing dialogue for them." But then I realized, "I don't write convincing dialogue for anyone, so who cares?" So should I care? Does it matter who's doing the speaking?


My Lord of the Rings comment is that I don't know where you guys are getting your information, but it sounds mostly like people assuming things after the fact without getting a full picture. The fact is, Tolkien's letters and even his body of work as a whole don't match the claims. If you're interested, I found the following link to be a good summary. You'll note that the top questions the sources, but if you actually read through you'll note that the missing sources are in favor of Tolkien's racism, and the well sourced items are against him being a racist.
http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Racism_in_Tolkien's_Works


And now the quotes:
author=slash
However, if you just make a fantasy game where everyone is white, you're not ignoring race, you're just picking one out of ease, y'know?


author=Solitayre
This is an amateur community even by indie standards and I don't really feel like a 16 year old kid making a game in their spare time should feel any obligation or compulsion to address social issues in their projects, but I do think it's cool when developers go the extra mile to be inclusive, and think it's something to be encouraged.

I do think larger scale studios have an obligation to start doing better by minorities, but I'm starting to think it might not actually be their fault. They made a black guy be a main character in Star wars and people are losing their minds. I mean what the hell?


author=Crystalgate
Of course, if the responsibility lies across multiple games, then it also lies on none at all as well which can be a dilemma.


author=PentagonBuddy
I don't care for the approach of "I leave it to people to headcanon" or "I don't think about that so people can decide what they want". I get not wanting to specify someone's race or orientation or whatever else if it seems irrelevant, and like ok, sure, but that's not even close to "representation" if it's invisible or up to the audience to decide.


author=LockeZ
What's really important with representation isn't the character's appearance or accent but the audience's ability to connect with them and imagine themselves in that character's place. Appearance and accent are just the cheapest ways to accomplish this without any writing skill or effort.


author=Sated
I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if more people wrote all their characters based on character traits xyz before determining their sex and race and whatever-else.


author=slash
The point is, like, you could swap out Marcus Phoenix from Gears of War with an equally gruff and stubborn black guy, woman, whoever, and literally nothing would change about the story or the characters. It's not about Marcus Fenix being a white dude, it's about... shooting space bugs and whatever.


author=Liberty
One thing I'd like to point out is that it's not just dark skinned minorites that get left out. There's plenty of white skinned races out there that are shunned too - their cultures are interesting as well.


author=Sooz
Yeah stereotypes can be a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS because you're going, "OK awesome, I avoided this one yay for life" and then find out that OH THERE'S THIS DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE ONE and now apparently your only option is to make something super bland OH WAIT THEN IT'S THIS THIRD PROBLEM


author=Craze
Basically, a cast like Captain Planet or the stereotypical college brochure kinda pisses me off. It's inclusion for the sake of inclusion, and extremely base-level. There is SO MUCH MORE to a person/race/culture than their skin color, after all.


author=Corfaisus
Helping is good, but I think what Mog is getting at is the whole tendency by the well-off to throw artificial solutions at a problem instead of actually being neck deep in the thick of it like those whom it affects. People want to feel like they can get their own shit straightened out instead of having someone else fix their problems for them.


Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
Weighing in to say that while creating characters whose gender and race and the like are not the main focus is definitely a great thing, as it helps stopping people from judging others by those factors, I'd definitely like to see games that actually explore those topics too. I am generally curious about things I have no way of knowing about (like the female experience). Therefore I would definitely like to see a game with a female protagonist who actually deals with female topics (like patriarchy, pregnancy and motherhood, just to name three).
I would like to share several articles about erasure of marginalized people and why it's important for them to be featured. It's these kind of stories why I bothered making such a topic in the first place. By the way, I just looked on this and the next page of the Game Design forum; this is the only topic about representation of marginalized people in games.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
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We've tried to have others.

Most did not end well.
slash
APATHY IS FOR COWARDS
4008
We definitely have discussion about representation pretty often - although it's not always centralized to one topic. That said, we've also had several topics, statuses, etc. on it in the past:


http://rpgmaker.net/forums/topics/12114/

http://rpgmaker.net/forums/topics/17125/

http://rpgmaker.net/users/mawk/statuses/1845/

http://rpgmaker.net/forums/topics/18233

http://rpgmaker.net/forums/topics/10316

http://rpgmaker.net/forums/topics/18459/

^ If ya'll are looking for some light reading. This is what I found just skimming my post history! It's come up before, and it'll keep being a topic of conversation until everyone is happy or dead. I think that's a good thing. If there's not one headlining the Recent Posts currently, it's because they always get heated and I think people can only handle so much of that at a time.
Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
author=LightningLord2
I would like to share several articles about erasure of marginalized people and why it's important for them to be featured.

I definitely agree that creators should be encouraged to make marginalized people more visible. The media are very white-washed, and there are not enough people who fight against that by representing minorities in their creations, which is a crying shame.

However, these articles seem to argue for creators to be forced to include marginalized people in their works, and to be called out whenever they don't, with which I disagree wholeheartedly. Creative freedom is still a thing I hold in high regard.
Well, only the first article writer specifically chooses to call out media that lack representation. However, I do agree with you on two fronts in that enforcing something is not only prepesterous on it's own, it's also not going to accomplish representation.

But I'd sooner take a request on more PoC characters than, say, writing a different style of story: While writing a different genre requires me to do a lot of reading, studying and understanding, I can make the main character of my game PoC by simply changing the color palette (or simply write a story around an existing PoC).
it's ridiculous and childish to drive the idea that criticism is 'forcing' anything on anyone. I see this all the time in these discussions: people are okay with this kind of criticism in theory, but once people start bringing up specific examples they pretend that someone is holding a gun to their head. they agree that things should be better, but only as long as they don't have to make changes, or see any changes in what they're used to elsewhere.

if the subject of this criticism were literally anything else (pillow shading, tileset use, battle mechanics), would you still be accusing people of forcing changes onto poor, innocent game designers?
kentona
I am tired of Earth. These people. I am tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.
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author=mawk
if the subject of this criticism were literally anything else (pillow shading, tileset use, battle mechanics), would you still be accusing people of forcing changes onto poor, innocent game designers?
This is more a testament to the pettiness of small time hobbyist game designers than a rebuttal to your intended rhetorical question, but yes. This happens and has happened frequently, in my experience with the community.

E:
as an experiment, try suggesting that someone using random encounters should use touch encounters.
Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
Criticism, when constructive, is definitely a form of encouragement. Of course I'm not equating constructive criticism to forcing change, that'd be absurd. However, simply calling people out for something and shaming them is not constructive, and that kind of criticism I am not okay with.

Here's two ways you could word your criticism:

"I noticed you don't have any marginalized people in your game, and I think it would greatly improve the quality of the game if you represented minorities better."

and

"You have no marginalized people in your game. Shame on you."

The former encourages the creator to include marginalized people but leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of that creator. The second attempts to force the creator to make changes. There's a difference.

Of course creators can choose what to do with the criticism no matter if the criticism is constructive or not, but non-constructive criticism is still not the way to approach things, as it disrespects the creator's creative freedom.
oh, it totally does happen either way! I'm mostly saying that while going 'my creative freedom!' in response to mechanical, visual, or literary criticism is generally thought of as a bad move, using that fallacy to shoot down any socially-themed crit is much more widely accepted even though the message in all cases is the same (this is a weakness in games, and here's how you might improve it).

it's weird.

e: Jeroen, there are tactful and tactless ways to give criticism no matter the subject. I feel like people are way more justified in their anger around issues of representation, though, than they would be for things like sprite palettes and encounter rates. it's something that has effects on the real world and the way people see it.

the big thing is that criticism is a two-way street -- the critic has to speak in good faith, and the recipient has to make an effort to put their discomfort aside and think about what the critic is saying. if you aren't willing to deal with a little righteous anger on a subject that has a lot of deep emotional meaning for marginalized groups, then that's your own failing.

a lot of the things people say about social critics ~forcing changes into games~ really gives the impression that from the start, they were looking for an excuse to ignore everything the critics were saying.
Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
That's a fair point. Creators definitely have to think about what the critic is saying, and if there really is no story reason that marginalized people are under-represented in their game, then it's common courtesy (or at least it should be) to seriously consider changing that. But they might actually have story reasons for why there are no marginalized groups in their game. If this is the case, the critic should respect the creator's decision to say no, as the decision is ultimately the creator's to make.
Yeah, the language in those articles leaves something to be desired. All three of them. Which is really at the core of this issue. This is not so much about "marginalized people" or the "X or Y experience". This has more to do with the political inclinations of certain people. And guess what? Not everybody shares your politics! So of course things are bound to get feisty.

Btw, I see this a lot. No matter how careful you try to be with your words, or how nuanced your arguments, the discussion always devolves into: "So what's your problem with criticism, uh? UHH???" Well, none. It's the shaming; the judging; that is the problem. And we can tell the difference. Quit trying to conflate the two to justify your own behavior or that of others...

"I noticed you don't have any marginalized people in your game, and I think it would greatly improve the quality of the game if you represented minorities better."

Mmh. I'm not so sure. Maybe it would "broaden the appeal" of the game; not its quality. The implications are very different.

Just sayin' =P
Jeroen_Sol
Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays. A game of betrayal, where the most suspicious person is brutally murdered? How savage.
3945
Well, I do think legitimately representing marginalized groups (or even any groups that are not white cis males) well, and having relatable protagonists who deal with issues specific to their groups could make for some kick-ass games. And if they're written well, I sincerely believe that can also raise awareness.

I mean, the only way I am disadvantaged is that I am very very short. (157 cm. The average male height in my country is 184.8 cm, the average female height is 168.7 cm) I am still a white cis heterosexual male who is mentally wired to be able to study maths and physics, both fields that basically guarantee jobs within a year of finishing the master's course, so I can definitely accept that I am more privileged than many. But without understanding how much that privilege actually accounts for, I still feel like I don't understand my own privilege enough. Having a game show that to me would be awesome.

So in that sense, I do think representing minorities better definitely can improve not only the appeal but also the quality of a game.
author=alterego
This is not so much about "marginalized people" or the "X or Y experience". This has more to do with the political inclinations of certain people. And guess what? Not everybody shares your politics! So of course things are bound to get feisty.

'black people exist' is not a political inclination. treating the topic of representation as though we're all just well-off white guys debating our preferences with regards to imaginary fantasy people is really bizarre.