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It’s time for fantasy and role-playing games to undermine their racist history Game

When Black Lives Matter fiercely protested after the death of George Floyd, publisher of the tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, committed to taking concrete steps to make their game more diverse. Wizards of the Coast promised to “share what we are doing and what we plan to do in the future to solve the old D & D content does not reflect our people today.”

; In addition, it also draws some racist cards from the Magic: The Gathering card game, such as the Invoke Prejudice, Jihad, and the Pradesh Gypsies.

Awareness of racism in the fantasy film return the origins of the genre. Is it a coincidence that D&D’s obnoxious dark-skinned goblins come from a matriarchal society, or that its barbarian orcs have a resemblance to the traditional white, Western concept of barbarians barbaric from the “uncivilized” world? Although Fantasy gives us every freedom to imagine worlds and new cultures, for the past 200-odd years, humans have mostly managed our own fax derivatives. This includes recreating the scourge of systemic racism.

Kavita Mudan Finn, a first-generation Indian American who is an interdisciplinary scholar of medieval and early Europe, said: The racist history of fiction, including games immersive history. “It hits back a misplaced fantasy nostalgia for a golden age when people were in their place and most importantly, happy to be there. Some extremely talented writers, artists, poets, and musicians pick up this nostalgia and create wonderful works of art that are nonetheless immersed in colonialism, culture and ideology. racial appreciate this, “Finn said. “Maybe in 10, 15, 20 years we will see a more diverse, more welcoming, more realistic, and more accurate version of the medieval period. This started in academic circles, and eventually it spread to popular culture, and in the cultural conversation about fandom and representatives. “

Today’s popular fantasies are inextricably linked with that of medievalism imagined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the social and cultural values ​​of that time, in the heroes associated with masculinity and purity. Take JRR Tolkien. On the one hand, he spoke out against Nazi racism and was heralded for “multiculturalism” in his work. However, his stories full of prejudices Europe. As Dimitra FIMI, author of Tolkien, race and cultural history, writes on his blog, the forces of “good” in the Middle-earth are white, while the forces of “evil” are dark; Orc is “slanted eyes, brunette and black grease”; all “heroes” are white. “Why must the organization of the neo-fascists and fascists approve of the Lord of the Rings?” Fimi asked.

Similarly, Conan, Robert E Howard is an “American hero White: self-sufficient and independent, strong, honest and ethical, compliance with its own code of honor,” wrote the Melbourne-based school Helen Young in her 2015 the book Race and popular Fantasy Literature. “His dual identity as a barbarian, but the white man” makes him a natural fit to lead the nation weaker soft, decadent and corrupt in the south.

Young said: “When the magic appeared in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” a lot of things produced quite imitate Tolkien, especially Howard and tales of sword and magic first your. So the 19th century racisms … that established the genre were then inscribed into the genre convention through which the process of imitation “.

One of the best – or worst – examples of historical misinterpretations leading to perception of racist representation is George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which is watch on TV with the title Game of Thrones. “I want my books to have a solid foundation on what medieval society and society is like,” Martin said. But the sexual abuse of young women, the weirdness of non-white characters, and the plot of the white savior in the series are typical of the prevalent bleaching trends in medieval history. neck. When asked by a fan on his blog why all the black characters in the novel should be “servants, guards, or quackers”, Martin replied so: “Of course, Westeros enters around 300 AC isn’t as diverse as 21st century America … but with that being said, I have some ‘colored characters’ who will have a slightly larger role in [forthcoming book] Winter wind. Admittedly these are secondary and tertiary characters, though not without importance. ”

And fantasy literature in Asia, Africa and the rest of the world is not white people, why? Young said: “The critics, readers and publishers do not understand our Western imagination. “They are lined up, often, like magical realism. It is probably the legacy of colonialism, in that fantasy understands itself as a literature of the impossible, where magic is real, and where rational audiences know that this is not. can happen in the world of us … there is a real tension with Western concepts that emphasize rationality and phenomena can be explained and observed in a scientific way, and kind except for ways of thinking and phenomena that do not match reality. “

The repelling structural racism in fiction, be it novels, television or games, comes in many forms. Starting the conversation about diversity and inclusion in publishing is a start. Nick, co-host of the MEGAsheen podcast, said: “It’s not enough just for these characters to look like us. “We have developers, writers, all the people behind the scenes making the game should have a say something.”

Some of those jobs may require a return to the drawing board. Eugene Marshall, a designer and writer whites games, has published a magazine providing character creation rules replaces the fifth edition of D & D, alternative race against ancestors and culture. “The race is not a biological reality,” he wrote, “rather, it is a social concept that was built and used differently at different times in history and at different places. in the world … Because these harmful concepts have no place in our world, they need neither in the stories we tell our friends. “

“Dungeons & Dragons taught that diversity is strength, only a diverse group of adventurers can overcome the challenges many a D & D story presents,” began Wizards of declared diversity Coast. But in an unequal world, words like “variety” are uploaded. Repelling the legacy of colonialism is the only way to create a more level playing field; the fantasy should not be an excuse for the stories to perpetuate the prejudice caused by imperialism. “Part of our job will never end,” the statement continued. In it, at least, it is true.

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