Orientalism, Game Design, and Roleplay


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Kirth Gersen wrote:
KutuluKultist wrote:
Why should whether or not someone actually takes offence at misrepresentation not be the arbiter of its moral value?
I look at the Jyllands-Posten affair a few years back and immediately see very strong reasons why an offended party is the least reliable of all possible arbiters.

The issues with that cartoon go beyond "offensive." I don't even hold the beliefs that people often associate with those who were offended, and I found the islamophobia inherent in those images inherently offensive and harmful.

I mean, the comics are also an example of Orientalism. Specifically they're a manifestation of western ideas about Islam and the Middle East. This is an example where knowledge about the Middle East for the purposes of the west, in an "uneven exchange with various kinds of power, shaped to a degree by the exchange with... power moral (as with ideas about what "we" do and what "they" cannot do or understand as "we" do)" (Said, p. 12).

So my offense is actually informed by my understanding of power inequality and the moral implications of this inequality.

Though, on another note, I glad you brought this up because it is a great example of why it is so important that we talk about these things. While you may be under the assumption that all offense here is unfounded, there are perspectives which can illuminate the different moral dimensions of these issues.


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Annabel wrote:
The issues with that cartoon go beyond "offensive." I don't even hold the beliefs that people often associate with those who were offended, and I found the islamophobia inherent in those images inherently offensive and harmful.

I found the "inherent offensiveness" to be a lot less harmful, overall, than the actual deaths of 200+ people who were murdered in response. YMMV.

The Exchange

Comrade Anklebiter wrote:

Yeah, in general, I think throwing around the term Orientalism was just confusing to most people, although it was amusing to see how many people jumped on the "But the Japanese/Chinese/whoever were racist too!" bandwagon.

Turns out, this is just another "How to make a PC game" thread like all the veterans have seen a bunch of times before.

But, it's got a lot of people I've never noticed before. I think I'll let the newbies have the thread.

(For those interested: Orientalism by Edward Said)

Ad Nauseum.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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MMCJawa wrote:
A comment above also reminded me of one weird aspect of keeping alignment as real: It actually allows one to treat genocide and racial slavery as an acceptable possibility, as long as the individuals you are oppressing are evil.

Except that the alignment system doesn't allow for that at all.

There is NOWHERE in the alignment system that says "hurting evil people is good." I've seen a lot of people make that assumption, but that is a reflection of those individuals' perceptions. It is not what is coded into the alignment system. There is nothing even close in the alignment rules that suggests what you say is true.

This is what Pathfinder's alignment rules--which, bear in mind, are just abstractions for a game system--say about oppression:

Pathfinder Reference Document wrote:


Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

Evil implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others.

Therefore, according to the alignment system, oppressing others--"others", not good or bad or whatever people, just "others"--is evil. Period. It doesn't matter what kind of people you are oppressing--if you are oppressing them, you are evil.

Good people, by the same rules, have a "concern for the dignity of sentient beings." Not a "concern for the dignity of other good people." Not a "concern for the dignity of people they agree with." No, a concern for anyone capable of self-awareness and intelligent thought.

Therefore, by the rules of the game, what the game defines as a "good" person would be concerned even about the dignity of an evil person, and would not try to do do anything that would strip them of that dignity (including enslave them).

You yourself may not define those things as good or evil, but that is what the alignment system says about the situation.

The only implication about what harm may be done by good is that "good characters and creatures protect innocent life." Therefore, a good person my be forced to hurt or kill a creature that threatened innocent life and there was no other way to stop them. And while it's not implicit, usually most assume good characters can kill in self-defense.

(And yes, that means things like misogyny and other concepts that would lead to the oppression of "others" would be, by the rules of the game, considered "evil" in that game's rules.)

Sorry to contribute to the discussion derail--as the OP was and is rather fascinating--but this is one of those things that sticks in my nerdy craw. The alignment rules do not say "good is always allowed to hurt evil" anywhere and I get really tired of the suggestion that they do.

===

(As for morality vs ethics, my very layperson's broad, incomplete sense of it: morality has to do with a sense of regard for others' well being or lack thereof, and ethics is to do with an individual's regard for society's well-being or lack thereof. I would say that my personal religious beliefs absolutely play into both the state of my personal sense of morality and ethics, but so do a number of other personal philosophies and ideologies, as does my core personality. I'd reckon, religious or no, the broader concept would apply to anyone else as well.)


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The closest you could come to slavery as a 'Good' society would be Indentured Servitude as Criminal Penalty. That is, you are made to work off your debts by spending X years as an indentured servant.

You couldn't do it for violent offenders, but you could probably do it for people who were thieves, accidental killers (someone who accidently killed someone), and the like. There'd need to be strict laws to prevent abuse of course.

Scarab Sages

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KutuluKultist wrote:
While the absence of offence does not make something acceptable or good, the presence of offence does at least constitute some kind of evil.

If the offence is not justified, then not only is the alleged offender not guilty of even 'some' kind of evil, but the accuser's behaviour should be put under the microscope, since it is very likely to be a cynical, opportunistic attempt to pretend to have been hurt, in order to gain an unearned material and 'moral high ground' advantage.


Snorter wrote:
KutuluKultist wrote:
While the absence of offence does not make something acceptable or good, the presence of offence does at least constitute some kind of evil.
If the offence is not justified, then not only is the alleged offender not guilty of even 'some' kind of evil, but the accuser's behaviour should be put under the microscope, since it is very likely to be a cynical, opportunistic attempt to pretend to have been hurt, in order to gain an unearned material and 'moral high ground' advantage.

Just to clear things up, there seems to be a big difference between "being offended by specific content/material" and "being offended by a specific person." The former is what needs to be addressed, and the later is usually an unproductive place to start when trying to understand the nature of the offense.

To do we determine whether "the offense is/isn't justified" requires that we analyze the offending material.

I actually that beginning with the assumption that someone is being "cynical" in an "opportunistic attempt to pretend to have been hurt, in order to gain an unearned material and 'moral high ground' advantage" is an unproductive position to take. I mean, specifically in the context of roleplaying games, why are we assuming this is the motivator for the person voicing offense?

Is this assumption an cynical, opportunistic attempt to deflect criticism from serious problems? I mean, in my experience I have never seen someone voice offense simply as a means "to gain an unearned material and 'moral high ground' advantage."

Scarab Sages

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I wasn't limiting myself to commenting merely on RPGs.

I witness cynical, opportunistic accusations of prejudice, to derail legal proceedings, as part of my job, every day.

It's the last refuge of the guilty, to deflect attention from the fact they were caught red-handed.


Snorter wrote:

I wasn't limiting myself to commenting merely on RPGs.

I witness cynical, opportunistic accusations of prejudice, to derail legal proceedings, as part of my job, every day.

It's the last refuge of the guilty, to deflect attention from the fact they were caught red-handed.

Okay... well it seems out of place in the context of personal relationships between people in at game table (or any casual social gathering). Further, doesn't it makes sense to not jump to that conclusion when talking about offense in other situations. Especially if it's outside of the high conflict situations like legal proceedings.

Lantern Lodge

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You can talk about sensitive presentation of culture, and a thousand other PC topics until you're blue in the face, but you're still going to get tables guffawing over a host of off-color jokes.

And I would not change a thing.


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Let me rephrase "oppression"

Under an alignment system, it is perfectly permissable to imprison all goblins, and keep them on a really tight lease. As free goblins are likely to kill and murder other sapient species. Making them work off their captivity would also be permissable (just like we do with dangerous felons).


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[Adds MMCJawa's name to the list]

The Exchange

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Talking to my son the other day about the alignment system. We decided that the Good/Evil could be looked at as a Moral/Immoral axis. While the Law/Chaos could be perceived as Ethical/Unethical.


Quote:
Okay... well it seems out of place in the context of personal relationships between people in at game table (or any casual social gathering). Further, doesn't it makes sense to not jump to that conclusion when talking about offense in other situations. Especially if it's outside of the high conflict situations like legal proceedings.

"doesn't it make sense"? I don't know, does it? And, if so, why?

the overly simplistic models of power that postmodernists and their ilk try to invoke are overshadowed only by sheer amazement about how they ever got to infiltrate academia in the first place and how they continue to survive after the Sokol hoax.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

MMCJawa wrote:

Let me rephrase "oppression"

Under an alignment system, it is perfectly permissable to imprison all goblins, and keep them on a really tight lease. As free goblins are likely to kill and murder other sapient species. Making them work off their captivity would also be permissable (just like we do with dangerous felons).

First, you're assuming all games run under a "all members of x race are always evil" premise, which they don't. (There are goblins in my world, for example, who live openly and work in mixed-humanoid-race urban areas. Finding an actually nice goblin in my world would be a tremendous anomaly, but they don't all just run around and eat babies and set people on fire, because goblins are smart enough to know that would just get themselves killed, and besides that's just stupid and narratively boring to just have an entire race of people who are lacking in so much free will they are all just identical anthropomorphisms of childish sadism. Someone who killed or captured a goblin on sight in my world just for its being a goblin would NOT be considered doing a good act, and might be considered performing an evil act.)

Secondly, if your idea is "people imprison people who are proven to be dangerous" -- well... yes. I don't see how that's affected by an alignment system. That's more of a presumption about how most societies tend to function.

But if your idea is "the alignment system forces people to imprison people who are members of typically evil societies even without proving each individual to be evil" then that takes several vast leaps of logic I am failing to make with you. And have certainly never seen that in practice. And if I did, I wouldn't blame the alignment system for it.


For those trying to follow along at home who didn't go to grad school:

Sokol hoax


DeathQuaker wrote:
(There are goblins in my world, for example, who live openly and work in mixed-humanoid-race urban areas. Finding an actually nice goblin in my world would be a tremendous anomaly, but they don't all just run around and eat babies and set people on fire, because goblins are smart enough to know that would just get themselves killed, and besides that's just stupid and narratively boring to just have an entire race of people who are lacking in so much free will they are all just identical anthropomorphisms of childish sadism. Someone who killed or captured a goblin on sight in my world just for its being a goblin would NOT be considered doing a good act, and might be considered performing an evil act.)

F~*%in' a right, they would!

Although, I've always found us to be as nice as any of you pinkskins.

Grumblegrumble"anomaly"grumblegrumble


Well... that was less reading than I expected, but still more than I hoped.

I had imagined (perhaps under crude assumptions) by the title of thread that this would be a discussion of sophisticated world building. I imagined that we would be brainstorming ways to step outside the faux-midieval europe quagmire that still exists as a meta-setting across the mainstream gaming community. I thought we would be able to honestly address the fact that older roleplaying texts such as "Oriental Adventures" were a unabashed mash-up of real-world cultures that played into silly stereotypes and moreover ceased to be coherent. I imagined this would happen without feathers/jimmies being rustled.

I didn't expect so many people to immediately jump at the opportunity to call each other racists. (This is directed at both sides of the abstraction that is this debate.) Though I'm more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt to OP and those who have made an effort to follow OP's discussion. Not only because I agree with this threads basic premise, but because I think it is rude to enter a forum thread for the purpose of promoting the exact opposite sentiment.

... On the subject of the Erastil alignment debate, which is quite off-topic: A paladin who slays demons for a living and protects the townspeople is a good person. He may also be a misogynistic person who thinks a women's place is in the kitchen. Is he flawed for thinking that way? Many, including myself, would say yes. Does this invalidate his noble actions? For some, a little but not completely. TLDR for this paragraph; Good characters can still be or not be jerks, but it doesn't do much to change their alignment.


Zombieneighbours wrote:
Spanky the Leprechaun wrote:
Arssanguinus wrote:
I do find amusing that in a post about cultural assumptions, generalizing and offensive stereotypes there are talks about 'the west' as some sort of cultural monolith. Perhaps a lesson there?
Key West, Florida........um,......Liverpool,....uh.......Venice, Italy.......same exact thing man.

I know this is a weird concept, but when your talking about that Venice, you don't need to add in the ",Italy" bit. Just like if you talking about Paris, London, or Berlin.

It doesn't make it clearer that your talking about those cities, because in the absence of information to the contrary, the assumption is that when your talking about a Venice, your talking about that Venice.

;)

And you're dyslexic, so my only advice to you is if you're going to be a passive aggressive grammar Nazi, you're going to look a whole helluva lot more authoritative if you only just leave contractions alone.


DeathQuaker wrote:
MMCJawa wrote:

Let me rephrase "oppression"

Under an alignment system, it is perfectly permissable to imprison all goblins, and keep them on a really tight lease. As free goblins are likely to kill and murder other sapient species. Making them work off their captivity would also be permissable (just like we do with dangerous felons).

First, you're assuming all games run under a "all members of x race are always evil" premise, which they don't. (There are goblins in my world, for example, who live openly and work in mixed-humanoid-race urban areas. Finding an actually nice goblin in my world would be a tremendous anomaly, but they don't all just run around and eat babies and set people on fire, because goblins are smart enough to know that would just get themselves killed, and besides that's just stupid and narratively boring to just have an entire race of people who are lacking in so much free will they are all just identical anthropomorphisms of childish sadism. Someone who killed or captured a goblin on sight in my world just for its being a goblin would NOT be considered doing a good act, and might be considered performing an evil act.)

Secondly, if your idea is "people imprison people who are proven to be dangerous" -- well... yes. I don't see how that's affected by an alignment system. That's more of a presumption about how most societies tend to function.

But if your idea is "the alignment system forces people to imprison people who are members of typically evil societies even without proving each individual to be evil" then that takes several vast leaps of logic I am failing to make with you. And have certainly never seen that in practice. And if I did, I wouldn't blame the alignment system for it.

You misunderstand me. I personally hate the idea of mortal races having fixed alignment: IMO, anything with free will (i.e. sapience) is by default neutral, with individuals judged by their actions. However some setting including Golarion (which is what the topic is really about) run certain races, especially orcs and drow, and pretty much always evil. If you have a race that is pretty much almost 100% evil, it can be hard to argue that genocide isn't the best solution. Would Golarion be better off without the Drow? Probably.

Project Manager

Removed some religious flame baiting.


Golarion drow are always evil?! Now I cant port over my favorite characters from dnd. :)

- With regards to "offensive material" I find two things to be true, 1, it is impossible to have any work of art with subject material not be offensive to someone, somewhere, 2, being offended is at least partially a choice, so, given 1 you should think long and hard about what and why you feel offended and find out how many others feel like you do before complaining about or taking action against the offending material.

About the only rule I can think of that would mark out material as offensive and reasonably worthy of counteraction is when the material is intended specifically as an insult.

The derpy issue is a good example of people complaining about material they really should have left alone. Only 150 people petitioned to have Derpy fixed and nearly 50,000 people petitioned to leave Derpy in the original fashion. Derpy was quite clearly not intended to be insulting, therefore I find the changes they made not only disappointing but also unreasonable.

-The only artwork that has the potential to be completely unoffensive is total abstract, not picaso type abstract, but " black painted square on a canvas" type abstract, and even then it could be offensive in the right context.

Scarab Sages

Crimson Jester wrote:
Talking to my son the other day about the alignment system. We decided that the Good/Evil could be looked at as a Moral/Immoral axis. While the Law/Chaos could be perceived as Ethical/Unethical.

That's a good way to look at it.

And it helps to understand why allies, both on the side of Good, can and will get exasperated with each other.

Imagine two cops, the responsible one (the 'Danny Glover') wants to do everything by the book. The 'maverick' (ie the loopy one, if this were a film, this would be Mel Gibson, the one the audience is supposed to be rooting for) wants to kick in doors and crack heads.

Officer Law: "We've been after this guy for years, and he's always escaped on a technicality, or passed the buck to an employee. We've got a chance to make this charge stick, but we have to cover every angle, and make sure we're squeaky clean in our methods."

Officer Chaos: "Your methods are too slow. This guy is a douche, and I'm going to prove it."
<breaks into business without a warrant, beats up or intimidates (innocent?) employee, finds evidence of wrongdoing, which judge throws out of court as inadmissable.>

Officer Law: "What were you thinking? You've wrecked our case!"

This doesn't mean Officer Chaos is all bad; there are times when someone should act without thinking. But he's a liability in a long-term investigation.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
GM DarkLightHitomi wrote:

Golarion drow are always evil?! Now I cant port over my favorite characters from dnd. :)

No, they are not.

Unless it says specifically 'ALWAYS EVIL', then they are not.

Grand Lodge

Is using the term Oriental-themed adventure, or the product name Oriental Adventures, offensive to Asians in American English? Is the use of Asian-themed, East Asian-themed, or Far East-themed adventure much more acceptable in American English? I am aiming for precision, but also do not wish to offend.


TritonOne wrote:
Is using the term Oriental-themed adventure, or the product name Oriental Adventures, offensive to Asians in American English? Is the use of Asian-themed, East Asian-themed, or Far East-themed adventure much more acceptable in American English? I am aiming for precision, but also do not wish to offend.

Too late. Internet forumgoers as a population find necromancy extremely offensive.

Grand Lodge

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Atarlost wrote:
Too late. Internet forumgoers as a population find necromancy extremely offensive.

No forum is the same. On other forums creating redundant topics is considered extremely offensive.

Grand Lodge

I wanted to also thank you for handling this issue with a necropost flame, rather than a PM.


No offense to anyone, but I think people are waaaaaay too sensitive nowadays when it comes to this. People will watch something or play something and be all like "That offends me!" To that I say "ok, either keep playing/watching and forget what you saw or stop playing/watching." We shouldn't restrict what's put into art based on who we will potentially offend.

For example, I'm a Christian guy and have played all the Assassin's creed games. And there are evil preachers in those series. Was I offended? Sure, a little. But I got over it and enjoyed the games cause they were fun enough.

So yeah in short I say, if you're offended enough to not play a game, then don't play. If it's not that offensive, then we can ignore it and move on. But designers and artists should create whatever art they wish no matter how offensive it may be.


+1

If you are offended then ignore it and walk away. No reason to destroy everyone elses happiness and enjoyment because you are overly sensative about something.

That said, no one should push something on someone else and make it difficult for them to walk away, and if they can't walk away, such as coworkers in the same office, consideration is a good, but that just means limiting yourself in that circumstance, not all the time and forever.


One might want to consider that the issue is not whether anyone is offended or not. It is how certain cultural stereotypes are reproduced and how that influences a general, often subtle emotional prejudice towards whatever we identify as belonging to that stereotype in actual life.

Offensiveness has nothing at all to do with the problem. This problem would be there even if no-one ever took offence.

Also, Necromancy is da bomb!


TritonOne wrote:
Is using the term Oriental-themed adventure, or the product name Oriental Adventures, offensive to Asians in American English? Is the use of Asian-themed, East Asian-themed, or Far East-themed adventure much more acceptable in American English? I am aiming for precision, but also do not wish to offend.

As far as I know, it is not.

There are terms that ARE highly offensive and considered racist and discriminatory...most of those would probably get the post deleted, the poster either warned or banned, and other things.

I'm pretty certain calling something Oriental Adventures will not offend anyone overall anymore than calling something a Nordic or Welsh themed or other type of themed idea.


The only thing I care about is if my player's are okay with something. My player's are thick-skinned adults who don't get easily offended, so I'm free to do whatever I like.


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Vivianne Laflamme wrote:
Not a tabletop roleplaying game, but I remember when Ocarina of Time was first released, the desert thieves in the game used a symbol very similar to the Islamic star and crescent. (This was changed in later releases of the game.) I think this obviously goes too far. While I don't think it's problematic to draw inspiration from stories of characters like Ali Baba, identifying fictional characters portrayed in a negative light with real-world religious symbols is doing much more than that. This is a pretty low bar, but I guess it's something?

Yeah, I recall that dispute. I've studied early Islam and when the desert thieves and warrior tribes organised around Muhammad post hijra, that was when Islam really got going. The use of military power and raiding allowed them to conquer Mecca (Medina went over to conversion) and then expand outwards grabbing Sassanid Persia and Byzantine Egypt. Islam has had its bandits and warriors there almost from the beginning, this is backed up by such researches as Johann Arnason, Walid Phares, Particia Crone, Ibn Warraq. Some years back, making a point that Islam was for so long a warrior religion wasn't even controversial.

If you are interested in a thorough discrediting of Said, there is this: Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism. In it he goes through how Said was very fast and loose with his theories, he made a range of what would later turn out to be false accusations which he used to attack many different people and mar the reputation of an entire scholarly discipline. This group have contributed much to our historical knowing of the history of the world, through Assyrianology, Indian, Arab and Mesopotamian studies. They were only interested in studying and learning more about the non-Western world and grasping histories not the West's own; but Said publicly and intellectually shamed them greatly by attacking even their intent to analyse other cultures, and calling that whole endeavour into question. What he did was pretty shameful actually., fortunately Warraq exposed him.


Annabel wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
KutuluKultist wrote:
Why should whether or not someone actually takes offence at misrepresentation not be the arbiter of its moral value?
I look at the Jyllands-Posten affair a few years back and immediately see very strong reasons why an offended party is the least reliable of all possible arbiters.

The issues with that cartoon go beyond "offensive." I don't even hold the beliefs that people often associate with those who were offended, and I found the islamophobia inherent in those images inherently offensive and harmful.

I mean, the comics are also an example of Orientalism. Specifically they're a manifestation of western ideas about Islam and the Middle East. This is an example where knowledge about the Middle East for the purposes of the west, in an "uneven exchange with various kinds of power, shaped to a degree by the exchange with... power moral (as with ideas about what "we" do and what "they" cannot do or understand as "we" do)" (Said, p. 12).

So my offense is actually informed by my understanding of power inequality and the moral implications of this inequality.

Though, on another note, I glad you brought this up because it is a great example of why it is so important that we talk about these things. While you may be under the assumption that all offense here is unfounded, there are perspectives which can illuminate the different moral dimensions of these issues.

For settings and setups in my games that could be considered Orientalist, I always make sure it is thoroughly backed up by the historical record and the knowledge that is available. Furthermore if any player has a problem we can chat about that. Less relevant for pathfinder, but if and when I am running a game set in the real world, if someone decries Orientalism that will be met with this was a historical reality, or a depiction of what happened. Doesn't matter if it is slavery, despotism, Islamic or Arab war bands, or the loss of freedoms for women as Islam took control in Mecca.

A major problem of Said's theory lent to gaming is that it attempts to police depictions of fantasy and what is acceptable in any non-western setting you create. Saidians and their theories try to intrude on any depiction of old Asia (a concept far larger than what we now consider Asia), whether that be the Islamic world, India, China, Japan or south-east Asia. Dms resist it because they know when they are being told or pressured in what they do and depict. We have a sense of these things even if we can't always articulate it.

I've run some Islamic setting games, and because of my research I have been really tempted to run an early Islam game. Truly a very exciting time and Muhammad makes an excellent nemesis (if they chose to turn against him and protect their home city, instead of join him in Medina). His desert thieves raiding caravans, his assassins killing poetesses, his warriors marshalling with their new exceptional morale, all set him up as a very strong enemy for players to eventually defeat.

Course I also want to run a game set pre-Islam mid-fantasy Arabia where players are running a slavery business, so I've got a lot of controversial ideas for campaigns in the future.


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KutuluKultist wrote:

One might want to consider that the issue is not whether anyone is offended or not. It is how certain cultural stereotypes are reproduced and how that influences a general, often subtle emotional prejudice towards whatever we identify as belonging to that stereotype in actual life.

Offensiveness has nothing at all to do with the problem. This problem would be there even if no-one ever took offence.

Also, Necromancy is da bomb!

Ok I hear where you are coming from. But I still think that when one is crafting art, whether it be a game, movie or whatever, they should be able to put into it whatever they wish.

On the subject of Ocarina of Time, which I freaking adore, the Muslim references and the changes made always interested me. Another thing that used to be in the game is a different song for the Fire Temple.

In the original version the Fire Temple song featured a Muslim chant. A lot of Muslims were offended by this because you aren't supposed to listen to the chant unless you are in a place of worship and are not distracted by anything worldy. In other words, a few Muslims felt like they were sinning while playing trough that Temple because they were listening to the chant while playing a game.

I'll admit that is a pretty extreme mistake on Nintendo's part. Though they were probably just trying to make the Fire Temple (and the Gerudo thieves) feel more exotic. And as a family friendly company they sort of had no choice but to remove those references.

Though if Nintendo didn't make that game and instead it was made by say, Rockstar or Activison, those companies would definitely keep those things in. And as a form of art that's ok in my eyes. Nothing is enjoyed by everyone after all.


GreyWolfLord wrote:
TritonOne wrote:
Is using the term Oriental-themed adventure, or the product name Oriental Adventures, offensive to Asians in American English? Is the use of Asian-themed, East Asian-themed, or Far East-themed adventure much more acceptable in American English? I am aiming for precision, but also do not wish to offend.

As far as I know, it is not.

There are terms that ARE highly offensive and considered racist and discriminatory...most of those would probably get the post deleted, the poster either warned or banned, and other things.

I'm pretty certain calling something Oriental Adventures will not offend anyone overall anymore than calling something a Nordic or Welsh themed or other type of themed idea.

What can be offensive (or more a laugh) is when lazy paizo writers subtly change the name of figures from Chinese history and throw them all together in a thoroughly un-original mix, that leaves so much out but rushes in its presentation of Golarion's China, leading to a shallow copy paste of condensed Chinese culture. A Singaporean friend pointed that one out a while ago for Jade Regent history of the Asian realms.


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Good lord why is this in General Discussion for the Pathfinder RPG?

Why isn't this in Campaign Setting or Gamer Talk?

I literally threw up in my mouth a little. This drivel is worse than Alignment threads.


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Heres an airsick bag, just in case you hang around. :)


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Golarion also caricature Troll culture. Just saying.


I'm offended by the depiction of Western European culture in fantasy role-playing games. I find that the trope of "looking for work in the pub" to be highly offensive. Why is everyone always getting loaded on booze? I find that world-spanning all-knowing organizations in game settings are offensive. Why does every town have an Otyugh in the sewer? That also seems offensive. Western Europe's representative characature is pretty repugnant.


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Ha ha, good one BigDTBone. Don't forget that in addition to the portrayal of Westerners as drunkards, they are also typically caricatured as murder hobos and mercenaries.

That doesn't begin to touch the stereotyped presentations of religious people and their organisations. Ho boy.


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there are really a few bad steriotypes about every culture ever to exist. and my big problem with generic "oriental settings" like "Rokugan" is they take the generic tropes of the 2 biggest Far Eastern Cultures and blend them as if they got along, despite the cultural differences and prejudices that happened within that subcontinent, even within a lone country, for centuries

this is also true of a lot of the middle east and a lot of Africa and South America. pretty much everywhere but the major nations of North America and Western Europe

if you look at a large country such as china, there is a lot of infighting, on just sections of China alone

it is why Greece, Rome and Persia, despite all being world spanning empires tended to fail and eventually collapse into the smaller countries they are now. though they could eliminate borders through military force, they couldn't unite the minds and opinions of that many cultures. in Fact. China and Russia. could have an easier time pleasing their people if they broke up their country into seperate sections akin to states and territories where each individual subgovernment could fullfill the needs of that section

with so many cultures and so many steriotypes, it is difficult to not offend at least a few. for example, i'm a member of an Otaku Subculture called the Lolita Fashion Otaku or Loli Otaku. assumed to be lumped with the loligoth style of fashion, when there are many subcultures within that subculture, i hate when people call me a creep for liking a very specific fashion on a very specific frame because i find it cute. a good live action example of the Right Kind of Build for such a fashion, would be Alice in the Tim Burton Alice and Wonderland Live Action Remake. a good animated Example would be Gokou Ruri AKA Kuroneko from Oreimo.

it is a cute fashion i appreciate, but i get ostracized by both being a fan of the style and a fan of the female models that wear it. it requires a specific bodily frame or body build type commonly found in japan that happens to be quite rare in the united states.

at the same time, i have a buddy in my saturday group whom happens to be a Brony, for reasons that Exclude Rule 34, in fact, he dislikes the rule 34 surrounding it, and people pick on him for being an adult male whom enjoys a show for young girls. i don't ostracize him about it because i am a fan of a particular fashion style that makes people call me a creep and i have to make up false reasons and excuses to hide it that unintentionally make me come across as even creepier. but either way, we both like cute things, just different kinds of cute.

the real reason i like the loligoth fashion style is not anything creepy or perverse at all, it's a cute fashion, and i always wanted a younger sister whom would look up to me as a role model and whom i could repay with protection. thing is, my mom can't bear children due to certain bodily damages and the only reason i exist is because i was born in a beaker within a labratory. a process that is cost prohibitive to repeat and often required multiple attempts at the time.

well, at least i have a roomate and childhood friend whom lives with me and kinda does her best to play the part. the part of the younger sister i couldn't get. because this girl was looking for an older brother that she couldn't get.

sorry for the off topic, but i was explaining an example subculture and my reasons for joining it.


Umbriere Moonwhisper wrote:

there are really a few bad steriotypes about every culture ever to exist. and my big problem with generic "oriental settings" like "Rokugan" is they take the generic tropes of the 2 biggest Far Eastern Cultures and blend them as if they got along, despite the cultural differences and prejudices that happened within that subcontinent, even within a lone country, for centuries

this is also true of a lot of the middle east and a lot of Africa and South America. pretty much everywhere but the major nations of North America and Western Europe

if you look at a large country such as china, there is a lot of infighting, on just sections of China alone

it is why Greece, Rome and Persia, despite all being world spanning empires tended to fail and eventually collapse into the smaller countries they are now. though they could eliminate borders through military force, they couldn't unite the minds and opinions of that many cultures. in Fact. China and Russia. could have an easier time pleasing their people if they broke up their country into seperate sections akin to states and territories where each individual subgovernment could fullfill the needs of that section

with so many cultures and so many steriotypes, it is difficult to not offend at least a few. for example, i'm a member of an Otaku Subculture called the Lolita Fashion Otaku or Loli Otaku. assumed to be lumped with the loligoth style of fashion, when there are many subcultures within that subculture, i hate when people call me a creep for liking a very specific fashion on a very specific frame because i find it cute. a good live action example of the Right Kind of Build for such a fashion, would be Alice in the Tim Burton Alice and Wonderland Live Action Remake. a good animated Example would be Gokou Ruri AKA Kuroneko from Oreimo.

it is a cute fashion i appreciate, but i get ostracized by both being a fan of the style and a fan of the female models that wear it. it requires a specific bodily frame or body build type commonly found in japan that...

Thanks for sharing.

For the oriental stuff, as much as it is done crudely, what I like less is when people get really scathing about anything oriental even coming in. It is flawed, but like loligoth, no fan wants it to be rejected and for those that like it to be ostracised.

Also, gothlolita bro-fist. I appreciate its style.


Drawing inspiration from a real world culture to invent a fictional one is a completely different deal from misrepresenting a real culture *in* reality. In the interest of artistic freedom and freedom of speech I would not deny anyone's right to do the former, even if it does draw on stereotypes. And changes being made are inevitable.

There is still a way to be racist in creating your fictional culture, by taking mostly the worst stereotypes and basing your fictional culture around that, because at that point you would have to question wether the writer wasn't racist (culture-ist? Cultures don't equate races... then again ethnicities aren't separate races either) towards those people in the first place. At any rate it does the real culture a disservice by only serving as the inspiration for some kind of villain country.

As a German I would not be happy if someone wrote a for instance a dieselpunk universe and took German culture as a whole purely to include some kind of irredeemable one-track-minded nazi villain-faction in their setting. I however wouldn't have such a problem with it if they just take the specific cultural elements of the Nazi regime of 1930s-40s Germany to create a Fascist culture in their setting that is divorced from German culture in particular.

I don't think this has anything to do with wether your writer is from "western" or "eastern" society, or the inspiration is.


Yep, as I told one of my students, not all of German history is Nazism, they don't get to be all there is to Germany.


Anyone got anything more to say on Orientalism? I find it an interesting topic.


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DM Under The Bridge wrote:


If you are interested in a thorough discrediting of Said, there is this: Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said's Orientalism. In it he goes through how Said was very fast and loose with his theories, he made a range of what would later turn out to be false accusations which he used to attack many different people and mar the reputation of an entire scholarly discipline. This group have contributed much to our historical knowing of the history of the world, through Assyrianology, Indian, Arab and Mesopotamian studies. They were only interested in studying and learning more about the non-Western world and grasping histories not the West's own; but Said publicly and intellectually shamed them greatly by attacking even their intent to analyse other cultures, and calling that whole endeavour into question.

Yes, it seems to be primarily a Shaming exercise. Said wanted Europeans to feel bad about their interest in other cultures. Then he was taken up by US Universities as a tool for 'educating' their students to feel ashamed of themselves (involving a bit of a sleight of hand, since 'Oriental' in American-English refers to the Far East, not Said's Middle East).

Operating within a Marxist-influenced postcolonialist framework, he doesn't seem to have been interested in encouraging genuine objective inquiry, or in encouraging Westerners to see their culture as just one among many world civilisations. The paradigm is one in which power hierarchies are hardwired in; in particular the West is inherently 'on top' and definitional. In Western Liberalism/Neoliberalism the West is uniquely Good, the universal culture to replace all others. In the New Left-Marxist frame the West is uniquely bad, the demonic civilisation that holds the world in thrall. Neither allow for what IMO would be the healthier attitude of seeing the West as just one among many cultures, with some unique features, and very influential globally over the past 500 years, but in many other ways not so different from other civilisations, and with no divine or diabolic mandate to be the universal culture.


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DM Under The Bridge wrote:
if someone decries Orientalism that will be met with this was a historical reality, or a depiction of what happened. Doesn't matter if it is slavery, despotism, Islamic or Arab war bands, or the loss of...

Most Western 'Orientalist' fiction is heavily romanticised and sanitised compared to the reality - but most Western 'Medievalist' fiction is equally sanitised and romanticised, of course.

I used to know a renegade Arab princess from the Gulf, who told me absolutely hair-raising stories of what goes on there even today, absolutely horrible, horrible stuff. Far worse than you'll see in 'Sheikh's Harem' Orientalist potboiler fiction, never mind 'Lawrence of Arabia' type romanticised tales.

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