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January 1st, 2016, 07:44
US Gamer's Mike Williams pens an interesting op-ed about race and traditional fantasy tropes. He doesn't attack The Witcher; instead, he asks what new things can be done.

Thanks again, Couch.

And please, please keep your comments civil! This piece was not posted to cause controversy!

The lack of minorities in The Witcher III is not something I mentioned in my review two weeks ago. That's not because I didn't notice - I did - but because I decided in this specific situation that it didn't bother me. Most of the Witcher III takes place in Redania near the southern front of that country's war with the Nilfgaard Empire, or on the islands of Skellige. In both regions, based on the books and previous game titles, it's rare to see people of color. Redania is largely white. The free city of Novigrad might have featured traders from other races, but there's a witch hunt going on. Skellige is a clear homage to Norse culture, so the rarity is justified there too.

Can you find room within the text and game for the occasional minority character? Yeah. Nilfgaard is based on the Roman Empire and like that empire, operates by conscripting those it conquers into its highly-trained army. There probably should be a few darker-skinned soldiers in its ranks, coming from the south of the Continent. In the far southeast, there's an entire race based on Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski's mashup of African and Indian culture called the Zerrikanians. They're generally off on their own, though they're the origin of the tech behind bombs, which have played a big part in the Witcher's gameplay. Zerrikanian warriors Tea and Vea were featured in the Sword of Destiny collection and CD Projekt Red featured another, Azar Javed, in the first game.

So yeah, they had opportunity. It would've been cool. Despite that, I understand if the combination of Polish author and Polish developer meant their heads were down working on the game and it didn't come up. Even American studios can miss opportunities for diversity, so devs from a country that's 97 percent Polish (read: almost all white)? I understand that. They made what reflected their thoughts on The Witcher book, movies, and TV shows. It's a choice the developer made, but in this case, I don't fault them for missing the depth of their options.

I don't chastise them, instead stating that they probably should think about it and do better for their upcoming game, Cyberpunk 2077. A title taking place in a futuristic city, a melting pot for different cultures. A title based on the Cyberpunk tabletop RPG series created by Michael Pondsmith, an African-American author. Everything I've read about the game tells me that CD Projekt Red is on the right track when it comes to that game. I'm hopeful.

This commentary is partially based on the fact that The Witcher III doesn't exist alone. There is a larger context in games (and entertainment) that can't be ignored. Are you tired of open world games with conquerable towers and towns that open up the world map with collectible item icons as far as the eye can see? (The Ubisoft method.) Perhaps free-to-play games and monetization is your issue. Downloadable content? Jingoistic first-person shooters? I'm sure some major part of our industry annoys you. I'm sure you have commentary on that and you've potentially aired it on Twitter, Facebook, a forum post, or a blog. This is no different, as these mechanics and design choices are as much a creative decision as the narrative and the characters. A game is taken as a work of art on its own, but it's also measured within a larger context.
Check out the rest of the article here.

More information.
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Last edited by Aubrielle; January 1st, 2016 at 08:09.
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January 1st, 2016, 07:44
-1 for using the word tropes. -1 more for being the first article on rpg watch for 2016 for using the word tropes. Cheers and happy new year!
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January 1st, 2016, 10:28
Originally Posted by Aubrielle View Post
And please, please keep your comments civil! This piece was not posted to cause controversy!
I sincerely hope my comment isn't interpreted as an attempt to cause controversy, I mean everything I say in the most civil manner possible.

I think one of the biggest issues with perceptions that are present when commentators discuss the issue of perceived lack of racial diversity within the Witcher 3, or even the series as a whole is the fact that said commentators tend to unconsciously lump people of white skin as simply being a part of the same, culturally humongous whole, wherein no part can meaningfully differentiate itself due to the virtue of sharing the same skin colour. This is seen in the above (though it's a fairly mild and measured example) linked article with:

"No, I would not levy the complaint of overwhelming whiteness at The Witcher III and CD Projekt Red though it's true in abstract." emphasis added

Specifically, this is observed by commentators when discussing the racial majority of a primarily white population within the Northern Kingdoms/Realms, and to a lesser extent, the Skellige Islands.

The major issue with this is that commentators ignore the fact that culture, especially within a European/Polish context (though I would argue that this applies universally), IS NOT solely made up of or determined by skin colour; Polish culture is not simply defined by their skin colour and thus indistinguishable from any other white-skinned population on the globe, but is instead defined by their own unique language, culture, history, myths and a thousand other political idiosyncrasies that make up a person's cultural identity. The Witcher 3, far from being dominated by yet another bland facet of a culturally humongous white group indistinguishable from any other white representation from any other game, is instead a love letter and a celebration of the uniqueness of Polish culture, and Slavic identity and mythology. A representation of a culture that, relatively speaking, doesn’t enjoy much of a presence within wider, Western popular culture; A Polish person living in a country like, say Australia, could easily see themselves as not having any meaningful representation within Australia's or even Western popular culture in general because, despite ostentatiously sharing a similar skin colour to the prevailing cultural representations within these countries, they possess a very different cultural heritage and identity to those involved in these portrayals within that country.

A Polish developer should not be condemned for exploring the nuance and richness of their own culture (which again, has little to no representation within wider popular culture and is easily considered a minority in a wider context), any more so than any other developer should be criticised for making a work that primarily explores and features the idiosyncrasies of their own culture, or even the culture that they set out to explore (it doesn't necessarily have to be their own culture after all).

I think it's a wonderful idea to make more of an effort to promote more cultural diversity within gaming; I'd personally love to see more games explore cultures and issues pertaining to say, the Persian region or the Indian Subcontinent (one of the reasons why I'm rather fond of Unrest, despite it's fairly lacklustre C&C and mechanics). But we need to recognise that rather the Witcher series being inadequately representative of any cultural minority whatsoever, that it is instead an incredible example of a game that explores a criminally unrepresented (at least relatively within wider pop culture) culture and mythology (Polish and Slavic respectively), and thus broadens the overall cultural diversity within gaming as a result. Successful attempts to broaden cultural diversity in gaming will stem from further attempts like the Witcher 3; games which serve to act as a celebration of a unique culture and it's nuances, exposing this to the wider world and community and not by simply engaging in racial and cultural tokenism, which some of the more zealous commentators are suggesting to be acceptable (it's not and never will be), as well as by not dismissing a unique minority culture simply due to the fact that they share certain physical characteristics with others.

Am I suggesting that games should simply feature one culture and no others, leaving other games to that in their stead? No and yes; Real world history and cultures has been heavily molded by the interactions between different cultures and systems, a fact that is seen in the Witcher 3 with the war between the North and Nilfgaard. However, suggesting that simply chucking an 'asian or two' (i.e. tokenism) into the Northern Realms would somehow constitute a meaningful promotion and exploration of racial diversity, and the interactions between different cultures is simply not the case because it does not do justice to any of the cultures involved, either to the Slavic population of the Northern Realms or the tokenised elements in question.

To sum it up, the article is a fairly mild and measured take at a topic that's been bubbling away for a while since The Witcher 3 has been released, but it makes the same basic mistake regarding what defines a culture, and fails to recognise the Witcher 3 as an incredible expression of Polish culture and identity, rather instead seeing it as part of an indistinguishable, humongous white cultural whole.

PS: Happy New Year’s everyone! Here's to a good year of RPG's!
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January 1st, 2016, 12:25
I think the hunt for PC by a vocal few has hit the bar of idiocy by a mile at least.

Looking for pointless flaws where there is none to be found is beyond dumb.

Games are good, because they are good, not because half of the protagonists/villains are white, black, male, or female. Or they have a diversity of races, gender or handicap. To be white is seen as a death sin by other whites and is just accelarating the white guilt agenda. It piss me off here as much as black people do in Robin Hood. I would be equally pissed if I saw white folks as tribesmen in Africa, or on the Great Wall of China whan it was built.

Please stop and just focus on gameplay, story, and atmosphere.
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January 1st, 2016, 12:36
Whoever it is that wrote this doesn't want controversy but is in a way throwing a timebomb towards cdprojekt's next game "you better add more colour people there because I've announced it'd be ilogical and racist to not do so". Personally I wouldn't mind if there were more coloured people or even homosexuals in Cyberpunk, but it's a complete non-factor to me when buying and judging a game's quality. I do think it's quite asinine the way some people find ways to pull through their first world problems…
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January 1st, 2016, 12:46
I see where this is going.

I'm going to request that this news post be closed.
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January 1st, 2016, 12:54
Chill girl There is absolutely nothing to worry about so far and discussion on that level should not only be allowed but welcomed?
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January 1st, 2016, 12:59
Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
Chill girl There is absolutely nothing to worry about so far and discussion on that level should not only be allowed but welcomed?
You are far more optimistic than I am about the ability for rational discourse among most of this site's users.

Regardless, the decision on whether or not to leave it open lies elsewhere, not with me. And if it gets out of hand, I won't be the one wading into the fray. Not this time.

But, please…by all means, have reasonable conversation. I encourage it!
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January 1st, 2016, 13:21
I don't usually post here, but posts like this make me rather angry so forgive me if i end up being a little offensive, i sure will try not to sound like that.

I see certain….point this person brings but people, lets not forget; regardless of what the world of witcher is based on IRL, it is still fantasy after all, and it is based on book after all too. I'm not sure what the world in book is like, but i hear at least it is also similar.

I know author of this article just genuinely wants a good thing, but i still strongly disagree with the whole racial things in witcher 3 that some people seems to complain, one way or another.

People, it's fantasy world. Sure, it has some grounds in real life, but it's still fantasy world, that means it in no way has to follow any real life example by any means. It simply doesn't have to, so suggesting it should include some real life racial minorities just feels very forced to me.

What witcher 3 needs, is to have racial minorities of well, races, that actually do exist in witcher universe as a whole. If there is actully some contitent that is more like on south, with hot climate and maybe people with darker skin, THEN i would agree there could be people with darker skin in W3. Now i don't know how's with the lore, i don't rememeber if book or game mentions such lands, if they do, then i partly agree with author.

So bottom line; people should stop to look at games, especially FANTASY games, and put some real life restrictions over them; how game should or should not be.

Game has to do whatever makes sense in the particular world that it's set. Witcher 3 does that; you have dwarfs, you even have elfs, etc. And they do show racial tensions in that. But including people of different skins just because they exist in REAL world, doesn't make any sense if they don't make sense in witcher world (and as i said, if you don't have any land with hot climate, it kinda doesn't make sense).

So i would only suggest to stop focusing what exists in real world, or rather, when you do, have in mind what kind of world witcher 3 is set in.

Just for exampe, Gothic 2 included 1 guy that looks and sounded very much like some guy from middle east, but that made sense because in gothic world, as we saw later, there actually was continent with very hot climate and people being mostly like that, so it made sense.
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January 1st, 2016, 13:31
Dogmaster & Zocky hit the nail on the head for me. Was Pong racist because both bats and ball were white? Do me a favour. It bellends who publish articles like these which mean devs have to waste time appeasing a few idiots instead of putting that extra effort into the game itself.
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January 1st, 2016, 14:21
Originally Posted by Aubrielle View Post
You are far more optimistic than I am about the ability for rational discourse among most of this site's users.
Nothing to do with optimism and all to do with the scale. If you start worrying at such a low level stuff what will you do when it gets heated?
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January 1st, 2016, 14:22
Originally Posted by zahratustra View Post
Nothing to do with optimism and all to do with the scale. If you start worrying at such a low level stuff what will you do when it gets heated?
Be somewhere entirely different. Even nasty feminist killjoys like me have their limits, and after the last few days, I need to hunker down in the woods somewhere with no internet.

This thread is all you guys.
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Last edited by Aubrielle; January 1st, 2016 at 14:33.
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January 1st, 2016, 14:38
Originally Posted by Falksi View Post
Dogmaster & Zocky hit the nail on the head for me. Was Pong racist because both bats and ball were white? Do me a favour. It bellends who publish articles like these which mean devs have to waste time appeasing a few idiots instead of putting that extra effort into the game itself.
Reminds me of of one of the actions of "Campaign for Equal Heights" from Pratchett's "Discworld" cycle: as dwarfs are on average two-thirds the height of humans, true employment parity may only be achieved if the Post Office, as a responsible employer, hires three dwarfs for every two humans.
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January 1st, 2016, 15:13
TW3 was the first RPG I've ever played where I noticed the lack of racial diversity, for what it's worth. I'm not 'that guy' who really cares, one way or the other, but when someone like me actually notices it..? Now does that mean I'm becoming more sensitive to that stuff, or is there another reason? I dunno.
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January 1st, 2016, 15:49
Lack of racial diversity? Hmmmm… we did have dwarves, we did have elves and we did have humans…. that's diversity as well don't you think? In addition we have Ofieri in HoS.
Do Ofieris count towards diversity or does it require a token black character or two?
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January 1st, 2016, 15:51
I don't know…to me it leaves a bad taste when people start "demanding" inclusion of a certain race/minority to authors.
If I want to make a game with only burrito loving Mexicans living on the face of the moon, then I'll bloody well do it.

Devs of Exoplanet said it best:

"We think that a good game developer cannot be really ashamed about adding or not adding something or someone to his creations. Our decisions are made not in order to please certain social groups or offend them, but to create a believable and immersive world for a videogame. Yes, it is a fictional world, but it has internal logic and rules. If someone does not like it – those people are free to make their own games the way their principles or desires dictate them. We clearly understand that our game cannot meet the expectations of all players or critics, but that does not mean that we must be shamed for it or be afraid of being attacked by some active groups who seem to be more interested in generating hatred and scandals than playing good games. WE do our best and get motivation from people who like our game as it is, as we like it ourselves. That is the only thing that matters."
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January 1st, 2016, 16:21
Btw, i dunno about you guys but:

http://www.twinfinite.net/wp-content…0522233113.jpg

…that looks like…not white to me.
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January 1st, 2016, 17:02
The lack of color diversity was noticeable but it mostly did not detract. However in open world games, for me when you come across people of different color in your travels it gives the game world more vibrancy. And it seems like some easy drama to add to your game world without writing anything.

Still, in the fantasy world diversity is mostly about humans, elves and dwarves getting along. After all, Orcs don't see color, all they see are human heads to smash and put on pikes and in meat bags.
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January 1st, 2016, 17:29
I was pretty disappointed there were no Belgians in tw3. Could they be more offensive ? I hope they fix their mistake in the next game.

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January 1st, 2016, 17:34
Also, there are far too many British villains in everything. They are clearly out to besmirch our cultural heritage. Bloody foreigners.
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