Saturday, 10 March 2007

It is a game

The Evil DM has a bit of a politically correct rant about a game supplement for Spirit of the Century (SotC). I don’t know anything about SotC, so I’m going to leave any research as an exercise for the reader, but I gather it is a game in the vain of 1930s pulp fiction, a la The Rocketeer. About the supplement for SotC, the Evil DM says:

By creating a supplement of this nature, it seems that the publishers are saying:
Attention ladies and people of color. you now have your own supplement. so if your character is a Wong or a Gomez please convert your PC to comply with this new “special” supplement we have made for all of you.

I can’t believe that the Evil DM is buying what he’s selling. The Evil DM would have me almost consider that somehow the publishers of SotC seek to market this supplement only to minorities that have been historically segregated; the caucasian player need not bother reading the supplement, because, well, he/she wouldn’t get it. Where’s my game show buzzer? I think the Evil DM got this all wrong.

Instead, I argue that roleplaying is one of the finest forms of imaginative play for the young or young at heart. Many life lessons can be played out in sessions. If a GM of SotC were to offer this supplement to PCs as a way to round out a game world, or provide historical backstory, I say: Kudos! The game that this GM is running is going to be much more fun, and I might learn something about what it is to be segregated at the same time.

Evil Hat Production’s Rob Donoghue get’s it, responding to the Evil DM:

I'm just going to state that this is going to be a game supplement, not a screed or tract or big-s-Statement. We’re not in this to enlighten anyone, we’re in it because we think there’s some good play to be had in it. (emphasis mine)

And are we to pretend that racism never existed in the forms that the SotC supplement possibly offers? Are we expected to deny that the very games we play now do not provide story elements for racism? To do so, is to delude oneself. Maybe it’s not called racism, but we’re all adults, or mature teens at least, how hard is it to figure out?

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay provides racist elements for the Empire, I cite the Ear Tax for example. As a GM I will play racist elements with no compunction. In my last session of WFRP, I played a NPC with an outright distaste for elves, turning his nose at the offer of assistance from the elven PC. And again, a second time in the same session with a handout that stated in fine print: Elves and Halflings need not apply.

Is this the same kind of racism that the SotC supplement offers? Probably. Or is the Evil DM bothered because it is “too real”? Please! spare me. While the Evil DM would have me believe that his players are enlightened, “...well aware of [racism’s] existance [sic]” in pulp fiction, and by deciding to “have fun” minus offensive, or politically incorrect game elements, the real world becomes, in some small way, a better place. Believe me, it doesn’t.

I frankly would laugh outright at a player, or GM, that called me racist for in-game play. My players, and GMs, are expected to make a distinction between in-game play and reality, otherwise they, or I, don’t return. Hell, if everything I did as a PC in a game world had any bearing on reality I wouldn’t be the person I am today; especially having taken “the pledge” in Greg Costikyan’s Price of Freedom RPG.

I’ll let the reader figure that out. Think of it is a riddle.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:29 PM in d10

 

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