27 August, 2012

A Non "White Male-Centric" Game

Over on Story Games, in the The White Male-centric Thread, there have been some interesting comments. I was going to add some more over there, but decided to break off into a new thread.

Over the past year, I've asked for gamers to provide images of themselves to be inserted into the game as post-apocalyptic survivors. I did this as an exercise to avoid the stereotypical muscle-bound white heroic warrior, but over half of the players who provided images for me were white males...about one in five were females (typically white), and about the same number were of distinctly darker skin tone. Plenty of the players submitting their imagery were Italians, Russians, and other players who did not have English as a first language, but the white male stereotype held.

To break this up a bit, I deliberately overloaded on stock imagery depicting non-caucasian males, and females of all ethnicities...and one of the core signature characters used in many of the examples will be based on photographs of a half-aboriginal young lady I work with.

But I'm intrigued by the notion that...

Once Sue and I started Malhavoc Press, we tried very hard to have a diversity in both ethnicity and gender in our art. We already knew that unless you specified non-white, non-male, that's what you would get from most artists. In other words, if I asked for a drawing of a warrior, I'd get a white guy unless I specifically asked for something else. And I'm not trying to be harsh toward any artists--it's just the stereotypes of the genre that we need to loosen.....


I've recently considered the option of hiring some outside artists to inject a bit more variety into the project. One of these artists specifically asked for a style guide to provide a framework for the illustrations they might be providing. I was going to include the steampunk and post apocalyptic angles, but I'd only given a cursory consideration to the notion that every artist might produce a "white male" as their central character. Especially when Australia is a fairly multi-cultural society (and Australia is the basis of the game setting).

At this stage, I'm predominantly asking for artists to provide imagery based on two criteria; it needs to tell a story and/or show a relationship within the setting. Perhaps now I also need to add that an artist supplying two or more artworks should ensure to include someone that is non-white and/or non-male as the focal figure of the image.

After all, this is a game about cultural conflict and survival against the odds, more than just white males will survive the apocalypse...

...and if we're going to be stereotypical, then arguably "nerdy white computer gamers" will have less chance of surviving the apocalypse than other ethnic groups who have continued to live under hard times or closer to their traditional ways.
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