Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Marginalisation, realism, history and fantasy

Some fair time ago, I looked at portrayals of sexism in history, history-based fantasy and full-on fantasy. Notably Game Of Thrones, which has gone on to depict a madly sexist society partially through the POV of women breaking through marginalisation in various ways.

The Mary Sue posted on this recently, including another look at Westeros, and Assassin’s Creed III nearly having a female protagonist but then not because “The history of the American Revolution is the history of men... they tried very hard in the TV series (John Adams) to not make it look like a bunch of dudes, but it really is a bunch of dudes.” But the story of the Founding Fathers (note the term Fathers) also essentially a history of rich white men, and the protagonist is a poor outcast of Mohawk ancestry. As well as a member of an Arabic secret society most active in Renaissance Italy. Sure, it’s harder to tell ethnicity than gender at a distance in a battle with your hood up, but still... Which marginalised group do you represent and why?

In gaming, of course, you can receive instant feedback (and angry glares from players of marginalised groups definitely qualify). It’s a highly sensitive topic, and one to be considered and discussed before bringing an unpleasant society to the table, real or imagined. Some players might enjoy wrecking it in-game, or use it as a way to trouble their characters, but some might equally not want to deal with problems they face in reality in their gaming.

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