Ganakagok, Cultural Appropriation, and the New World

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Comments

  • Posted By: J. Walton But discussions of these kinds of issues easily get derailed by people defending themselves, talking about how hurt they feel, and no longer listening to each other.
    The clear solution is for everyone to be like me: a soulless monster with no human feelings. (Where's that Not Here To Help macro?!)
  • This stakeholder thing is working for me, makes total sense. I don't see how it has anything to do with social politics, but who cares.

    So, responsibly using your powers as an author, because your work has an impact on the world. Works for me. That's going to mean that sometimes you're going to do things that others will disagree with, because responsibility is not a happy and fun thing, and it's not about consensus - the responsible thing is to do right, not to do what some particular person might tell you to. So perhaps this is not a means of justifying a happiness-oriented social policy where not offending others is reified?
  • Posted By: Eero TuovinenSo, responsibly using your powers as an author, because your work has an impact on the world. Works for me. That's going to mean that sometimes you're going to do things that others will disagree with, because responsibility is not a happy and fun thing, and it's not about consensus - the responsible thing is to do right, not to do what some particular person might tell you to. So perhaps this is not a means of justifying a happiness-oriented social policy where not offending others is reified?
    This is a metaphysical minefield. How do you judge what's right? Given that we've already established that the reason you're engaging with this process is that you're recognizing your lack of overriding knowledge on the topic.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: McdaldnoPosted By: TomasHVMI really did not want to participate in this thread
    Then don't.
    Please.I can not oblige us. :)

    Both Bill and Eero are champions of good discourse to me, and they are far between in our world today.

    Bill has opened a good thread, and talk about this issue in a way I wholeheartedly applaud. The doubts I had about people here, after the shitty thread mentioned, have been alleviated by the mass of thoughtful debate that has taken place here since. I really appreciate that!

    As for my post being on or off topic;
    - I apologize for reacting like that, posting my personal feelings, but the comment by Nameless/Lee got at me. I'm a bit surprised by the depth of feeling I suddenly was cast into. I can only surmise that the said thread disturbed me far more than I realized at the time.
    - I hope my post may say something of value about the strategies used by some people on this forum, in relation to this issue; by loudly championing the victims of racism or cultural appropriation some people perceive themselves to occupy a moral high-ground. However; that "high-gound" is not always on the side of truth, or a constructive way to deal with the issues at hand. Often it deals with opposition by demonizing it, and creating straw-men to batter. That is bad for all parties.

    I believe such behavior may be corrected by calling out how bad it is, and by being steadfast in providing arguments that makes sense.
  • Posted By: pigeonThis is a metaphysical minefield. How do you judge what's right? Given that we've already established that the reason you're engaging with this process is that you're recognizing your lack of overriding knowledge on the topic.
    This is totally the case. Figuring out the right is a complex question, obviously. As many other hobbyists of philosophy, I have my own snappy answer to it by the time I turn 30 (10 days to go!), but it's clearly not a topic we can truly cover here in depth on a rpg discussion board.

    Given that we have some sense of how to go about it, though, it seems to me that knowing right from wrong enables us to articulate our duties as artists, too. This is why I'm so interested in this appropriation thing, as it seems to me that surely these people are so concerned about this because of some moral principle they're applying. I can get wrought and wrathful with the best of them myself, but I'll usually get that way only in matters of justice, so I'm sort of assuming that something like that is underlying the issues here, too. This is why I like Liam's articulation about social responsibility - if you're hurting people with your art, is that not of concern to you? Consequently the question then becomes, how to balance this moral evil against others, and how to recognize the moral hazards present in engaging other people in cultural dialogues that are in peril of being hurtful. And of course, as a skeptic I have to also ask whether this is a moral good we're discussing in the first place - perhaps hurting other people is not a moral issue, or maybe Liam's wrong about hurt happening. Many things to consider before any sort of moral certainty may be reached.

    That's in my head, though, and evidently folks are mostly interested in the practical best practices issues rather than the morality of e.g. Bill's publishing Ganakagok as it was. I'm fine with that, too, and learning a lot.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: Eero TuovinenMaybe it is that simple. So self-identified people who care about what you're doing are the stakeholders in your project. So the advice essentially boils down to listening to the people who care about what you're doing, and engaging in dialogue with them about it. Preferably publish in stages and use modern methodology so you don't end up with shit on the market where you can't withdraw it and try again once the stakeholders dialogue has progressed.

    What do you do with stakeholders who disagree with each other? Also, aren't you a stakeholder yourself in your own work?
    Yeah, being respectful and disagreeing are not mutually exclusive. If you demonstrate that you understand somebody's position and then give them a well-considered reason for why you went a different way, you will probably find they respect you a lot more than if you say something like "what do you mean "oriental" is an offensive word? I've never heard that!"

    Expertise is probably the most important aspect of stakeholdership. Knowledge, practice, language, and belief are all areas where people do constant boundary work, making it perhaps a bit too simplistic to just say "anyone who cares" is a stakeholder, because just off the top of my head, there's a bunch of different, distinct categories that a potential game designer would have to deal with differently:

    1.
    The most important stakeholder group is the one with personal experience of the subject matter, i.e. people who speak the language, regularly engage in the practices, etc. So, if your game is inspired by Inuit cultural ideas and practices, as in Bill's case, this group is the Inuit peoples themselves. If you're writing a game about African park rangers, then it's African park rangers. They're not a distinct ethnic group or nationality, of course, but I assume they have their own culture and jargon and whatnot like any profession. If your subject is the pre-contact Aztecs or the pre-Hellenistic Egyptians, then there are no people in group 1. Which doesn't mean the next three categories are any smaller or less vocal.

    2.
    Then there are people with knowledge and experience but who, for one reason or another, can't identify 1:1 as part of that group. So, like anthropologists, linguists, and historians who specialize in Inuit culture but are not Inuit. Or non-Inuit in other fields who say, live and work in the arctic with Inuit people. If you're an outsider looking to write a game, this is probably the best group to make contact with first, because they are both knowledgeable and are experienced in communicating their knowledge to other people outside the subject culture. They also tend to write a lot of stuff, especially the academics, so you can just go read that stuff, too, and not pester anyone until you kinda sorta know what you're talking about, at least a little bit.

    3.
    Then there are people who self-identify with the subject matter and consider it emblematic of or essential to their culture, regardless of knowledge or practice. So, there are Mexicans who only speak Spanish but are still proud of their indigenous heritage and don't want to see it caricatured or exploited. There were Britons who felt that since they had started reading Xenophon when they were twelve years old that they had the right to dig up whatever they wanted and crate it back to England, and now there are Greeks who want the Elgin marbles back. But also, if Eero Tuovinen, Finnish game designer, goes and lives in Israel for ten years and writes a game based on his observations, he will at some point have to deal with American Jews who have never been to Israel but nevertheless feel they have a right to critique his game and its portrayal of Israel. However, if he really spent ten years in Israel, then he has already become part of group #2, right? So yes, you are of course a stakeholder in your own work insofarasmuch as you know what you are talking about. If, when you start, you know next to nothing about the subject you are interested in, then you are not really a stakeholder. Hell, if you don't know anything at the end, either, you might not even be part of group 3, you might still not be a stakeholder! If you know nothing about the subject of your game and can't self-identify with it, I would say that's a pretty clear case of exploitative cultural appropriation.

    4.
    There's also people who have a stake by association (for lack of a better term), mainly because of colonialism. Like, Bill's game is inspired by Inuit culture, but because he's an outsider, all indigenous peoples of the Americas are stakeholders. Even though Inuit, and say, Mayan, Navaho, and Coast Salish cultures are all completely different, white settler culture tends to treat them all the same. So, if Bill's game is some Orientalistic hack job, non-Inuit peoples can be fairly certain he would treat their cultures in the same way. If Bill writes his game in a more informed manner, and it promotes respect for and understanding of the Inuit, then other indigenous peoples can point to it and say "we would like our dealings with the dominant culture to be more like this more often."

    And these are just general types of groups who might feel they have a stake in your game. There might be more that I'm forgetting, and certainly there will be other perspectives on this. I'm just one dude.

    In terms of when stakeholders disagree, if one of them is from group 1 and another is not, it's probably best to go with group 1. Especially if it's you they have an issue with, because telling someone they are wrong about something they know more about than you do is a bad position to be in. Group 2 is probably a small group, or at least the academic portion of it is. Group 3 can be pretty large unless your subject is obscure, and it can include everything from reasonable people all the way to American Christians who believe it's their job to start a war in the Holy Land so the Apocalypse can happen. You probably don't want to consult them about your living-in-Israel game. Group 4 is probably the easiest group to impress? If you show respect for groups 1-3, that's kinda what group 4 is looking out for, so you don't have to do anything extra, really.

    Does any of that make sense? I'm getting sleepy and it looks like a wall of text now.

    disclosure: Eero in Israel is a fake example I made up. It doesn't come from actual play life. As far as I know.
  • Posted By: pigeonPosted By: Eero TuovinenSo, responsibly using your powers as an author, because your work has an impact on the world. Works for me. That's going to mean that sometimes you're going to do things that others will disagree with, because responsibility is not a happy and fun thing, and it's not about consensus - the responsible thing is to do right, not to do what some particular person might tell you to. So perhaps this is not a means of justifying a happiness-oriented social policy where not offending others is reified?
    This is a metaphysical minefield. How do you judge what's right? Given that we've already established that the reason you're engaging with this process is that you're recognizing your lack of overriding knowledge on the topic.

    Absolutely. That's why it's hard, and that's why it needs to be taken seriously. It's not about giving offense, it's about communicating a vision that you have and want to share. In the case of Ganakagok, it's about highlighting the powerful human drama that the game can produce, that has to do with imagining the reactions and responses of people faced with the death of their world and their hope for its rebirth. Pace Chris Chinn, that's not exotification; if anything, it's domestication. But you cannot refrain from judging, or ask someone else to judge for you. You just have to do the best you can.
  • Posted By: TomasHVMI believe such behavior may be corrected by calling out how bad it is, and by being steadfast in providing arguments that makes sense.
    The problem is that this is the exact thought process that people used in responding to you in that thread. Both sides of this interaction feel as though the other side was immediately offensive and refused to acknowledge their behavior when called on it.
  • Posted By: pigeonThe problem is that this is the exact thought process that people used in responding to you in that thread. Both sides of this interaction feel as though the other side was immediately offensive and refused to acknowledge their behavior when called on it.
    Seems to be that way. Quite interesting how that could be, considering how we're all adults and all ;)

    Maybe there are some politeness standards that are different in different parts of the world, and those happen to coincide with the perceived sides of this discussion. I've myself been developing a theory over the years where Nordic (and European in general) white-collar professionals and academics tend to be more abrasive and intense socially than their American counterparts. Like, Americans expect more conservative thinking and group-think on the level of ideas while being pretty free-wheeling socially (not liberal, just informal), while Europeans tend to respect and value good manners while taking ideas less personally and being more free in debate, and less prone to merely reaffirming other's thinking. Stereotypes, obviously, based on my own biased experiences. But something like that could explain why both sides in an interaction could perceive themselves as behaving well while the other side is being insufferably rude or hypocritical.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: NamelessBut culture is like a tree. It starts as a seed, grows to a seedling, then a sapling, then a full grown tree, eventually dies and becomes a snag, and then a fallen log. At each point along this timeline, there is no doubt that it is the same tree, despite not being identical. At every point along this timeline, there is value. Just like the tree, there may come a point when taking part of the tree will not kill it. But there is no point when taking something will not change it. And when a culture or tree has had so much taken from it, so much insult in it's lifetime, you can understand when the culture or tree says "No more. The rest is mine to share as I like, but you have no right to just take." While the culture lives, you have no right to take from it. And only those who live the culture have a right to say if it is alive.
    I understand what Nameless are saying here. It is a powerful, poignant, metaphor. But, it has a (fruitful) flaw. I want to point it out, because I think it cuts to the heart of why threads like this get so contentious, and maybe can lead us to a better way to talk about this. The flaw is this: when I take a part of a tree, I now have that part, but the tree no longer does. But when I make a part of another culture into myself, I now have that part, but so does the original culture. Unlike the tree, it is not a zero-sum game. And exactly because it is not a zero sum game, this ability we all have—this knack for taking what we are exposed to and using it to help define and redefine ourselves into something better—is absolutely the best part of being a human being. It is the only thing about life on this planet that is constantly surprising and worthwhile.

    So, because of this, I greet attempts to call this ability "theft" with chagrin. Declarations of who "has no right" to do this and who does seem to me to move the discussion in exactly the wrong direction. Even just the term "cultural appropriation" seems to ill-serve those who use it, because it focuses the discussion on the wrong thing. These terms convey the idea that it is the "taking" of other cultures that is the problem, but that isn't actually what you are talking about; the objections are about something else. I want to talk about that something else.

    In the paragraphs that follow Nameless' metaphor, he talks about a some very real damage. But none of these objections read to me to be because of "taking" culture in an of itself. Rather its seems they fall into two basic areas (there are no doubt others as well). One is what is done with the culture once it is "taken". In other words, people are using their ability to incorporate experience into themselves not to make themselves better, but to do harm. The other is harder to pinpoint, but is something like thinking you are taking a culture, when you are actually buying into an inaccuracy. Part of this idea also seems to be that once enough people get the wrong idea, the wrong idea perpetuates itself, and this acts to sort of "drown out" the legitimate culture.

    Focussing on areas like this from the beginning would be a lot more helpful in getting me to understand you than a fixation on "stealing culture" does. Tips on things I can do in daily life, such as "when you take aspects from living cultures, then reuse them for your own ends, be careful that you know what you are talking about. Be careful that you are not recombining hurtful stereotypes, or even romanticized stereotypes" are very useful, at least to me. Statements like "you have no right to take from my culture"? Not so useful, at least to me.

    Since all of this is likely to get me rapped in the mouth anyway, might as well talk about another aspect of culture:
    Posted By: ValamirThere's a point at which members of society have to simply accept that a culture has entered the public domain and they no longer have any ownership claim over it. My current working notion for when that is, is the point at which no living person remains who had ever personally first hand met and spoken with an actual living member of that culture.
    I am less interested in the moment when a people "no longer have any ownership claim over" their culture than I am in the moment when a people no longer have sole ownership claim over their culture. And that moment happens the very second when that culture interacts with another. Whether those cultures like it or not, they are now infecting each other with experience. Sometimes this ends very badly. Sometimes, it makes the people in both cultures better.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: pigeonPosted By: TomasHVMI believe such behavior may be corrected by calling out how bad it is, and by being steadfast in providing arguments that makes sense.
    The problem is that this is the exact thought process that people used in responding to you in that thread. Both sides of this interaction feel as though the other side was immediately offensive and refused to acknowledge their behavior when called on it.Liam;
    Sorry to disagree with you, but the two sides are not alike. I got bullied for reasons that had little to do with what I said, and a lot to do with how some people twisted it, and the issue in general. Shouting down a straw-man is not providing arguments of sense. Some of the people in that thread were spoiling for a fight. And some of them got dragged along.

    Eero;
    I do not believe in the US vs Europe explanation. I believe it has to do with a lot of people having no intellectual discipline, which is crucial when debating serious stuff. You have to balance two important principles here;
    1 - to think critically on the issue at hand
    2 - to read your partners in the discussion clearly, so you may offer arguments on their real positions

    The first is the one that transports you into the issue with a clear mind.
    The second is the one that makes the communication focus on the issue

    This thread is a good example of a balanced and constructive discussion.
  • Posted By: Wordmanwhen I make a part of another culture into myself, I now have that part, butso does the original culture.
    A culture grows in sharing. A culture grows in change too.

    A problem faced by many indigenous people, and by other minority-cultures, is the wish to keep things as they once were ...
    - it inevitably leads to the culture becoming a nostalgic museum of our forefathers, not a living thing that grows with us.
  • Posted By: WordmanIn the paragraphs that follow Nameless' metaphor, he talks about a some very real damage. But none of these objections read to me to be because of "taking" culture in an of itself. Rather its seems they fall into two basic areas (there are no doubt others as well). One iswhat is done with the culture once it is "taken". In other words, people are using their ability to incorporate experience into themselves not to make themselves better, but to do harm. The other is harder to pinpoint, but is something likethinking you are taking a culture, when you are actually buying into an inaccuracy. Part of this idea also seems to be that once enough people get the wrong idea, the wrong idea perpetuates itself, and this acts to sort of "drown out" the legitimate culture.
    Interesting take, I can understand this answer. (The question being, what's the problem with cultural appropriation.) Some follow-up questions:

    How do you do harm with appropriated culture? Is it by mixing in lies and thus smearing a culture with e.g. racist propaganda? The appropriated bits make the lie more convincing? Or should I be thinking of something more insidious here?

    Also, about drowning out legitimate culture with wrong ideas: how do you do this in reality? Is this something like lying to people about their own culture to damage their self-identity? I can get the blatant forms of this from national historical memory, Russification is one of the big spooks of the Finnish history; too many nearby examples of people who are no more (either living or acknowledged as having ever lived) after the Tsarists and Communists got through with their re-education regimes (which failed in Finland, to be exact). But what about, how do you do this sort of thing insidiously? Also, does this happen without intent, or only intentionally?

    Are both of those types of harm present in Bill's execution of Ganakagok, or is it mostly just one of them? Or neither, perhaps his appropriation wasn't so evil in nature?
  • Posted By: TomasHVMPosted By: pigeonPosted By: TomasHVMI believe such behavior may be corrected by calling out how bad it is, and by being steadfast in providing arguments that makes sense.
    The problem is that this is the exact thought process that people used in responding to you in that thread. Both sides of this interaction feel as though the other side was immediately offensive and refused to acknowledge their behavior when called on it.Liam;
    Sorry to disagree with you, but the two sides are not alike. I got bullied for reasons that had little to do with what I said, and a lot to do with how some people twisted it, and the issue in general. Shouting down a straw-man is not providing arguments of sense. Some of the people in that thread were spoiling for a fight. And some of them got dragged along.

    Eero;
    I do not believe in the US vs Europe explanation. I believe it has to do with a lot of people having no intellectual discipline, which is crucial when debating serious stuff. You have to balance two important principles here;
    1 - to think critically on the issue at hand
    2 - to read your partners in the discussion clearly, so you may offer arguments on their real positions

    The first is the one that transports you into the issue with a clear mind.
    The second is the one that makes the communication focus on the issue

    This thread is a good example of a balanced and constructive discussion.

    I am going to stand on my rights as the OP in this instance. I don't want to metacommunicate in this thread. As has been suggested, it has the potential to derail the conversation. In particular, I don't want to re-hash old threads in this one. That seems like the very definition of counter-productive to me.
  • Posted By: WordmanSince all of this is likely to get me rapped in the mouth anyway, might as well talk about another aspect of culture:

    Posted By: ValamirThere's a point at which members of society have to simply accept that a culture has entered the public domain and they no longer have any ownership claim over it. My current working notion for when that is, is the point at which no living person remains who had ever personally first hand met and spoken with an actual living member of that culture.
    I am less interested in the moment when a people "no longer have any ownership claim over" their culture than I am in the moment when a people no longer havesoleownership claim over their culture. And that moment happens the very second when that culture interacts with another. Whether those cultures like it or not, they are now infecting each other with experience. Sometimes this ends very badly. Sometimes, it makes the people in both cultures better.

    I agree that there is no such thing as "pure" culture--that cultures exist in interaction with each other and overlapping within individuals. But I encourage folks to read this article on intellectual property as it applies to indigenous people's folklore and folk art; it argues that "a system of protection should encourage indigenous peoples' expectations of respect for their creative works, particularly from those outside the indigenous culture. This means that folklore should be protected from debasement, distortion and consequent loss of cultural integrity due to inappropriate uses which would be offensive to the community from which it originates or prejudicial to the artist's or tribe's honour or reputation."
  • edited May 2012
    But I encourage folks to read this article on intellectual property as it applies to indigenous people's folklore and folk art; it argues that "a system of protection should encourage indigenous peoples' expectations of respect for their creative works, particularly from those outside the indigenous culture. This means that folklore should be protected from debasement, distortion and consequent loss of cultural integrity due to inappropriate uses which would be offensive to the community from which it originates or prejudicial to the artist's or tribe's honour or reputation."

    I would never support this stance if it didn't come with a reasonable expiration date. This argument is the same one that has allowed Disney to make mockery of fair use and public domain and continually extend copy right law...to prevent Mickey Mouse from debasement and distortion and loss of artistic integrity. The world is a better place when people get to mutilate and spindle other people's art in order to create new art. At some point THAT is far more important...FAR more important than offending some community's honor or reputation...especially when so much time has passed that that community's ties to the culture in question is more wishful thinking than reality.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: Eero TuovinenHow do you do harm with appropriated culture? Is it by mixing in lies and thus smearing a culture with e.g. racist propaganda? The appropriated bits make the lie more convincing? Or should I be thinking of something more insidious here?
    This:

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    is to this:

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    roughly what this:

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    is to this:

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    This is not a perfect analogy, but close. The options for footwear are expanded by adding NKIE sandals to the market. Now imagine that it takes great effort to find NIKE sandals, but it is very easy to find NKIE. Like there are practically 7 billion NKIE sandals, and about 2 million NIKE. If you were the creators of NIKE sandals, and you had a long history of creating NIKE sandals, then one day there were all these almost-NIKE sandals, only they were not made with the care of NIKE, but people didn't understand the difference because they had never really had a chance to wear a real set of NIKE sandals, and now real NIKE sandals were 0.1% of what people thought of when they heard of NIKE sandals, then would you be happy?

    Imperfect analogy aside, in a world where your homeland, your family, your dignity, your, language, your spirituality, your version of history, and even the legal right to claim your own ancestry have been "legally" denied to you, when someone takes what you and your ancestors have spent hundreds of years and real blood and lives defending your right to practice, when it is something you find so important that you would die to defend the rights of your children to know and practice, when they take it and use it flippantly without care for what it means to you, then you will have the right to say "That wouldn't bother me." And even after you have the right to say that, you will never have the right to tell me I should not get offended when you do that to me.

    There are real world hurts that are associated with the casual appropriation of the cultures of the marginalized. Those hurts are derived from being continuously denied a voice in what would be considered the world outside the cultures of the marginalized, and then capping that with being denied a voice in the meaning/significant/use/right to their own culture. This is hard to understand for those who come from a culture whose basic and central tenet is to shove their culture down your throat whether you want it or not. It is easier to understand for those who have not always had the right to determine whether they accept that outside culture or not.

    And no, this is not about wanting to keep things as they once were. This is about respecting my right to my culture. I am willing to share my culture, but only with those who are willing to respect it the way that I do. Otherwise, it is another example of marginalization. I would have used the term racism, but that seems to provoke some hurt feelings.
  • Posted By: ValamirThe world is a better place when people get to mutilate and spindle other people's art in order to create new art. At some point THAT is far more important...FAR more important than offending some community's honor or reputation...especially when so much time has passed that that community's ties to the culture in question is more wishful thinking than reality.
    Who gets to say that it is wishful thinking? You may be surprised at how much my culture is alive.
  • Posted By: ValamirI would never support this stance if it didn't come with a reasonable expiration date. This argument is the same one that has allowed Disney to make mockery of fair use and public domain and continually extend copy right law...to prevent Mickey Mouse from debasement and distortion and loss of artistic integrity. The world is a better place when people get to mutilate and spindle other people's art in order to create new art. At some point THAT is far more important...FAR more important than offending some community's honor or reputation...especially when so much time has passed that that community's ties to the culture in question is more wishful thinking than reality.
    If you make at least a reasonable effort, though, you can make your art without offending anybody -- even while the culture is alive. It's not at all a comparable situation.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: Nameless
    Who gets to say that it is wishful thinking? You may be surprised at how much my culture is alive.
    Is your culture still within the window I proposed above? I suspect it is. But there will come a time when it IS wishful thinking and your descendants trying to maintain a claim on it will make as much sense as me trying to claim Julius Caesar or Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
  • Caesar is a man. I am talking about a living, breathing culture, not a memory of a man, or even of a culture. If you stated that you wear togas at all your most important occasions, that you were in regular communication with an italian who grows and processes olives in the traditional way practiced 2000 years ago so that you could acquire olive oil for your ceremonies, that you attend regular roman galas, that you personally practice the traditional art forms of BCE Rome, that you are learning Latin and are teaching your children latin, and that when you pray, you prayed sincerely to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, and that your family had done so for longer than since your grandfather's grandfather's grandfather was alive, and likely longer, despite the fact that doing so was illegal until ~30 years ago, then I would say that there was equivalency, and your claim to Roman culture was valid. It would still be valid, even if you posted about it on game forums, even though your ancestors did not. Living in the modern era does not detract from the legitimacy of my claim of a living culture with direct lineage from the pre-colombian Choctaw.
  • edited May 2012
    Nike sandal
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    Nike of Samothrace
    (excavated by French amateur archaeologist, 1863.
    Sent to Paris, France same year. Now located in the Louvre)
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    Samothrace
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    The Louvre Palace (and Louvre Pyramid)
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    Nike of Samothrace Reproduction, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas
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    Cleopatra corporate cosplay
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  • Posted By: ValamirPosted By: Nameless
    Who gets to say that it is wishful thinking? You may be surprised at how much my culture is alive.
    Is your culture still within the window I proposed above? I suspect it is. But there will come a time when it IS wishful thinking and your descendants trying to maintain a claim on it will make as much sense as me trying to claim Julius Caesar or Llywelyn ap Gruffudd

    Yeah but this is now, not 2000 years from now. How does the idea of public domain culture help me write and play games now?
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: ValamirBut there will come a time when it IS wishful thinking and your descendants trying to maintain a claim on it will make as much sense as me trying to claim Julius Caesar or Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
    I am not trying to be vitriolic or unduly contentious, but I have to call this out. This is stating in somewhat subtler words that my culture is doomed and dying, and that there is no chance for survival. This is casual acceptance of the inevitable cultural genocide of my people. I am pretty sure that you are not suggesting that it is OK to wipe out a culture, but the statement seems to imply that you are fully accepting that this is plain fact. These are the types of statements and positions that are used to justify cultural genocide, and it's baby brother cultural appropriation. Why can't my culture be a living breathing culture similar to Catholicism? Why is it OK to make these claims about marginalized people, but it would sound offensive and ridiculous to state them about dominant cultures?
  • Posted By: Johnstone

    Yeah but this is now, not 2000 years from now. How does the idea of public domain culture help me write and play games now?
    When a property is still under copy right, in order to use it you must get permission / licensing rights. When a property is not still under copy right...you don't.

    I propose the exact same model holds. When a culture is within the window* it is your responsibility to treat it with the respect and consideration it deserves. When its outside the window its now as much your culture as anyone's and you treat it however you like.

    So I think the concept helps in two ways.

    1) it acts as a reminder to tread lightly. People who would never think of stealing intellectual property can thus see that they're doing the same thing to cultural property. People who would view such thieving as piracy and refuse to patronize it can thus see that they need to treat cultural piracy the same way.

    2) it acts as a safe haven principal that can be used to protect creators and their creations from accusations of appropriation that shouldn't be allowed to hold more value than the act of creation holds. And that to me is just as important as the first.
  • edited May 2012
    @Lee: Don't get me wrong, I'm hoping catholicism, judaism, hunduism, buddhism, and all the rest go the way of the dinosaur, too. I'm pretty much against all -isms. Except jism. [/JOKE]

    To be honest, you make a really good point there. It's kind of a mind-fuck to realize how many people are treating a culture as though it's dead already because, in their eyes, it's as good as dead...that's twisted. In Ireland, for example, there's only a small number, say several hundred, people for whom Irish is a first language. But their government goes out of its way to ensure that every schoolchild is taught to speak it, because their ancestors fought so hard against the invasion of the English. Kind of makes you wonder where the US and Canada get off marginalizing the myriad cultures that existed here before ours the way we do, such as the Choctaw. I honestly am really learning a lot from these discussions, and I feel like I'm getting more out of every successive thread. Lee and Bill, you've both been really educational for me so far, so thanks for that. I'll definitely be thinking more about this stuff next time I go to write a game.
  • Posted By: NamelessPosted By: ValamirBut there will come a time when it IS wishful thinking and your descendants trying to maintain a claim on it will make as much sense as me trying to claim Julius Caesar or Llywelyn ap Gruffudd
    I am not trying to be vitriolic or unduly contentious, but I have to call this out. This is stating in somewhat subtler words that my culture is doomed and dying, and that there is no chance for survival. This is casual acceptance of the inevitable cultural genocide of my people. I am pretty sure that you are not suggesting that it is OK to wipe out a culture, but the statement seems to imply that you are fully accepting that this is plain fact. These are the types of statements and positions that are used to justify cultural genocide, and it's baby brother cultural appropriation. Why can't my culture be a living breathing culture similar to Catholicism? Why is it OK to make these claims about marginalized people, but it would sound offensive and ridiculous to state them about dominant cultures?

    Actually, I'm going way beyond this. ALL culture is inevitably doomed, and not only is it not ridiculous to state about dominant cultures...its patently obvious about dominant cultures as well.

    Modern English Culture is no longer 12th century English Culture. I, as a citizen of Earth, have as much claim (as do you and everyone else in the world) to 12th Century England as the modern English do.

    All cultures get wiped out. Older cultures influenced today...but they are not today.

    To use a different analogy, cultures evolve...just like animals...only a whole lot faster. And when they evolve past a certain point they create a new species. And the new species may have evolved directly from the older species, and it would thus be fair to say that the new species would not have existed without the older species...but it would be wrong to say that the new species is a member of the older species. Categorizing it as such would be wrong. For a time members of both the old species and the new species can live side by side, and sometimes its the old species that survives and sometimes its the new species that survives. But when the last living member of a species dies...that species is extinct.

    There may continue to be a species that greatly resemble that other species...but its not that other species and never will be.

    And so it is for culture.

    The culture you're talking about being doomed...its not doomed. Its already gone. And its never coming back. And what you have today can be grand, and amazing, and wondrous, and unique...but it isn't that older culture. It can be inspired by that older culture but it isn't that culture, that culture is already dead. What you have is its own thing. I 100% respect and acknowledge your ownership of the culture you're ACTUALLY a part of. But that older culture...that older culture didn't include internet access and discussing social justice on gaming forums.

    That older culture is already gone, and at some point it should be freely owned by every citizen of planet Earth to do whatever they please with it.
  • All true except that the concept of species and evolution only makes sense with the addition of the concept of reproductive isolation. Otherwise you are just drawing arbitrary lines. I would say that those lines you draw are arbitrary. You could draw them 180 year ago, or 50 years ago, or last year, or last week, or last night, or now, wait, now, wait, now... Arbitrary.
  • I don't think "when the last member of that species is dead the species is extinct" is all that arbitrary.

    Pick a culture, and be specific as to time and place...like say...1960s Southern California. Be more specific if you like...middle class white 1960s Southern California...include as many variables as you think necessary to define that specific culture or sub culture.

    You now have a period and a geography...all people who lived there during that time are a part of that culture.

    That culture will soon end, but to the extent that it lives on in the memories of those who lived there one can declare it extinct when the last of those people die. I added a buffer to my proposed window to include the last to die of the people who knew those people...but I think that's reasonable to do, though perhaps not strictly necessary.

    I'm open to alternates. I'm not so much committed to that particular definition of a window as I am to the need for one that can reduced to a measurable time.
  • I think that the concept of stakeholders is more useful and readily useable than an expiration date. The idea of stakeholders will help to identify those you may hurt, and help open a dialogue with them to avoid possible offense, while expiration dates only further helps to protect a cultural appropriator from a dominant culture against the possible claims of a marginalized and disenfranchised group. Do we need protection for the dominant group from the already marginalized? Why are you afraid of the marginalized? Couldn't you just talk to them, and respect the answers that you get?
  • Absolutely...I think Stakeholders is highly practical...and useful...within the window.

    Outside of the window we are no longer talking about marginalized people being disenfranchised. We're talking about people who have no legitimate claim attempting to deny the world free access to what should by then be public domain. And I guess that's my position. You don't get to claim that culture forever...no matter how much it means to you, or how dearly you want to...you don't get to. You don't have that right, any more than Disney has the right to own the Mouse forever.

    And the reason why that's important...is because at some point you shouldn't HAVE to respect the answers. In fact, at some point, the world is better off if you DON'T respect the answers...because what is being created is an art that's worth having even if the original owners would be offended by it.
  • The stakeholders thing seems to get at the same idea as the window, but is somewhat more flexible.
    Posted By: Eero TuovinenI'm intrigued because defining this thing clearly should enable us to see if similar stakesholding happens outside ethnic cultural situations
    So, the obvious non-ethnic example to me is various sorts of disabilities and the cultures that surround them.

    For those who don't know me IRL, I was born without forearms and also without fibulas (small lower leg bone). I have various joint problems in my legs as a result/as well. And of course it's tough to get things off of high shelves. :-)

    I would say that I am a stakeholder in the "cultures" of: a) people with disabilities in general, b) people with physical disabilities more specifically, and c) people with orthopedic disabilities even more specifically.

    But there are some specific disability subcultures that I'm really not a part of, and wouldn't be any more welcome in than someone who is able-bodied, nor would I be knowledgeable about those groups or feel prepared to speak on their behalf. I'm thinking in particular here of the deaf, but there are other examples I'm sure.

    I also want to go ahead and acknowledge that I am in many ways a *terrible* and *irresponsible* stakeholder. The intersectionality of my disabilities with my class, education, and other things have made it so that participating in disability culture is essentially optional for me. That is a privilege my friends who also have disabilities mostly don't have.

    But, like, do you have to be disabled to be a stakeholder? No, not really. I'd respect the opinion of someone who had, say, majored in Disability Studies almost above my own if they wanted to comment on an RPG about people with disabilities. And, to be sure, my able-bodied sister is a stakeholder in disability, simply because she's related to me. Someone who was married to a person with a disability would definitely get stakeholder status as well.

    By the way, since people with disabilities tend not to cluster in the way that ethnic or religious groups do, it can in some ways be harder to pin down the "culture" and thus the appropriation thereof. It does happen, though. The main way is through a trope called the "supercrip." This is when someone with a disability is celebrated for doing something amazing like climbing a mountain or whatever, and it's almost always framed as them "overcoming" their disability. This is bad because no matter what you accomplish, you still have to live with your disability. The other, more insidious implication is that PWDs who *don't* accomplish amazing things in spite of their disabilities must live lives of constant misery, loneliness, bitterness, and worthlessness. (And don't even get me started on disability and sexuality...)

    So, if someone came to me with an RPG about disability and it was all about how you were supposed to overcome it during the game, I'd be pretty pissed, to say the least. But it's not outside the scope of my imagination that some sensitive person, able-bodied though they might be, might write an RPG about disability, play it with me, and have me react positively.

    Which brings me back full circle to the topic of Ganakagok. I suspect (though obviously I can't know for sure) that if an Inuit person who knew a lot about their culture and mythology were to play the game, they'd be likely to nod and be like, "Yeah, that's about right." Of course, not every stakeholder would necessarily see it the same way—maybe some would love it and others would find it problematic*. Maybe the best thing would be to aim for at least an 80-20 love/hate ratio?

    One final comment: I do think that RPGs have one advantage on these issues over other media, which is that they ask us to directly identify with the character we are playing, in a way even books do not. Now, of course some people are simply going to play for laughs, and will happily just portray some stereotype if they are playing a character of a different race or sexual orientation or whatever. But anyone playing in good faith won't take this approach.

    Matt

    *Now that I think about it, I kind of wonder how blind people feel about Toph from Avatar? I personally thought she was a great character and that, though she does in many ways "overcome" her disability with her tremor sense, it doesn't always work, they make blind jokes, etc. This to me felt very true to life. But I am not blind!
  • Ralph, I think that we may be way into edge case territory here, and you may be in danger of writing a law of one man. Can you give me a real life example? Is there an example of a real life case of cultural appropriation that had legitimate stakeholders as identified above, but with the application of your rule, they would be eliminated from having any claim to what happens with the tropes, iconography, etc... of the appropriated culture? In what way would this example be an example of good and reasonable behavior that dialogue and civil compromise would not do better? Would you feel good as the appropriator?
  • Yeah, you're still in the realm of theory, Ralph. While I'm inclined to agree with you, I think it's a model that works for European history, but not so well for indigenous American history.
  • Lee, I'm not sure what you're asking for an example of...

    ...an example of a culture that had legitimate stakeholders while within the window (however defined) and who no longer had exclusive claim as stakeholders after the window expires? I'm dubious that's what you mean, since any culture that underwent substantial change longer ago than the window period would provide such an example...but you seem to be asking something more that I'm unable to parse.

    Johnstone, what are you using to differentiate it working for one but not the other? I don't see why that distinction should be made.
  • Well, there's still the issue of how you actually come to know about a historical culture. As I said before, there's no such thing as objective historical knowledge.

    Like, let's say you want to make a game based on Ancient Greek literature (epic, tragedy, comedy, let's say). There are no issues of appropriation whatsoever. For centuries, the people who have preserved these works have promoted them and done all they can to spread them. Meanwhile, they are part of European history, and Europeans have done the same thing with their history. They preserve it, they promote it, they want everybody to know about it, and they keep all this stuff from the past around, as distinct pieces of history compartmentalized from everyday, living culture. It's actually really, really easy to pronounce this stuff public domain, and all the aspects that encourage this are most pronounced with regard to Ancient Greek literature.

    On the other hand, there's the archaeological knowledge, which has been recovered as part of Western Europe's physical and economic colonialism. There's a lot of material culture whose ownership is contested because British people and other Europeans dug it up and took it without asking anybody and then used it to promote their own political ideas. There's a lot that isn't contested, too, but that's still something to keep in mind. Re-framing it so that these works belong to a dead culture and thus are "up for grabs" is a tactic that's been used against Greeks and Egyptians before.

    In the Americas, there's no history per se, since there's no written documents. Knowledge of historical cultures comes from either archaeology or oral history. The archaeology, if anything, is vastly more problematic than Classical archaeology or Egyptology in terms of colonialism and the violence done to living people. It's also entirely material culture that is recovered by these methods, so there's certain limitations put on what there is that you can even appropriate.

    Oral history on the other hand is, by definition, part of a living culture. So any access to the past you can gain from it comes to you as part of a living culture, so any issues of copyright or public domain you could possibly think of applying are completely nullified.

    Now, in certain parts of the Americas, we have a long history of European settlement and thus written records. And some of those records were made in order to preserve indigenous art and culture. So, like, I've written lyrics for songs that were inspired by Aztec poetry (which I can only read in English translation). I don't write songs about the Aztecs, but I've borrowed some imagery and some metaphors, because I like them a lot. And these are ideas that have exited the culture of living people long ago. At the same time, however, some of these poems also describe the founding myth of Tenochtitlan and Mexico, which is still a current part of Mexican culture, as far as I know (that's what the book said, anyway). So even if we decide that these words that were written down in the 16th century are public domain, that's not going to stop Mexicans living now from identifying it as one of their cultural referents and be concerned about it. If you disrespect them by using it, you still have to deal with that, and if they're going to make an issue of it, you have to deal with that too.

    And finally, the other issue is that, well, if we're going to think of cultural property in terms of intellectual property, you can't actually get any information on the Aztecs in English that's public domain, or not much. All that knowledge still belongs to people who haven't been dead for fifty years (Canadian copyright is death+50). History in the Americas is a lot younger than history in Europe. This is sort of a separate issue and not exactly an argument against your idea, but it's a complication to be aware of.
  • Posted By: ValamirAbsolutely...I think Stakeholders is highly practical...and useful...within the window.

    Outside of the window we are no longer talking about marginalized people being disenfranchised. We're talking about people who have no legitimate claim attempting to deny the world free access to what should by then be public domain. And I guess that's my position. You don't get to claim that culture forever...no matter how much it means to you, or how dearly you want to...you don't get to. You don't have that right, any more than Disney has the right to own the Mouse forever.

    And the reason why that's important...is because at some point you shouldn't HAVE to respect the answers. In fact, at some point, the world is better off if you DON'T respect the answers...because what is being created is an art that's worth having even if the original owners would be offended by it.
    I may be going back into this forum, but I'll use this to echo what a lot of people are saying.

    Who gets to say that another culture has entered the public domain? This isn't a corporation that has created a product that they are mass producing to sell to the market place (like your Disney example), this is a group of people who have survived repeated attempts to have their culture ripped away. Not some sort of expiry on a clock, but clear and active attempts at Genocide. Shouldn't the people in question, these stakeholders, have any say in what's going on? If your answer is no, then you're one of those people who feel that they should have a say, and there you have colonialism in a nut shell.

    "I know that people like me have come before and tried to take this away from you by force, and by death, and by appropriation. I however am none of those people, I will try to take it from you with logic."

    Now what I'm going to say at the end here might be provocative and start stuff, but let me just make a point. This whole thread has turned into "How can I use other cultures and not be appropriative. This is the essence of the conversation, right? Help me navigate these troubling waters so I can make a great game. There have been lists, there have been discussions on who you can talk to (again not for approval, but for information, knowledge) in order to fill the holes that you're going to have in your game because your experience can't even know that they're there.

    What you're saying is Ralph is, "Forget that. I want to be able to be lazy, here is why I should be allowed to be lazy."
  • The distinction between "living" "dead" and "dying" cultures that's being attempted here reminds me of that scene from Monty Python, where the ostensible corpse feels obliged to point out that he's not dead yet. And while I agree with Ralph that Disney's cold dead hand is driving extant IP law to the point of absurdity, I think that it is reasonable for communities--cultures!--to want to resist the effects of turning their cultural productions into commodities for others' consumption, of drowning their local culture in the sea of undifferentiated "mass culture," and of being stereotyped or misrepresented in the larger or dominant culture. It is the same logic that makes France subsidize French film production firms, so that it can sustain a home-grown cultural industry.

    And it matters, too, that these processes of cultural evolution, transformation, and competition take place in a social and political realm where who gets to be a cultural stakeholder is "contested" (i.e., fought over). I read a journal article recently called "Blood-Speak: Ward Churchill and the Racialization of American Indian Identity" (reference below) that pointed out the irony of racial laws and policies that understood anyone with "one drop of Negro blood" to be black but that required much more extensive evidence of native American heritage in order for someone to be a "real Indian." The article points out that these definitions were sometimes employed in order for the U.S. government to limit its obligations, but at other times in order for native American groups to control access to communal resources and to do what could be called "boundary work."

    So issues of power should be taken into account when trying to distinguish one's ethical accountability to cultural stakeholders, which is what Ralph is not seeing or disagrees with.


    Reference:

    Kelly, C.R. (2011). Blood-speak: Ward Churchill and the racialization of American Indian identity. Communication & Critical/Cultural Studies, 8(3), 240-265. Abstract: After publishing a controversial essay on 9/11, Professor Ward Churchill's scholarship and personal identity were subjected to a hostile public investigation. Evidence that Churchill had invented his American Indian identity created vehemence among many professors and tribal leaders who dismissed Churchill because he was not a 'real Indian.' This essay examines the discourses of racial authenticity employed to distance Churchill from tribal communities and American Indian scholarship. Responses to Churchill's academic and ethnic self-identification have retrenched a racialized definition of tribal identity defined by a narrow concept of blood. Employing what I term blood-speak, Churchill's opponents harness a biological concept of race that functions as an instrument of exclusion and a barrier to coalitional politics. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
  • edited May 2012
    Todd's post with visual images and Bill's follow up with capital R References led me to post about this neat documentary I watched about the history of Native American portrayals in film. I'm not sure how accurate all the information in it is, but it raises some great questions about identity, media, and culture, and the "cultural appropriation" (? correct term?) of the Native American culture in America and Europe. I see a lot of parallels here between what we're talking about with game design, and what they're talking about with film.

    It's called Reel Injun, and it's streaming on Netflix. I found a lot of it really interesting and informative.

    From the Wikipedia page:
    Reel Injun explores many stereotypes about Natives in film, from the Noble savage to the Drunken Indian. It profiles such figures as Iron Eyes Cody, who reinvented himself as a Native American on screen. The film also explores Hollywood's practice of using Italian Americans and American Jews to portray Indians in the movies and reveals how some Native American actors made jokes in their native tongue on screen, when the director thought they were simply speaking gibberish.

    (edited for rephrasing of things!)
  • Posted By: ValamirAbsolutely...I think Stakeholders is highly practical...and useful...within the window.

    Outside of the window we are no longer talking about marginalized people being disenfranchised. We're talking about people who have no legitimate claim attempting to deny the world free access to what should by then be public domain. And I guess that's my position. You don't get to claim that culture forever...no matter how much it means to you, or how dearly you want to...you don't get to. You don't have that right, any more than Disney has the right to own the Mouse forever.

    And the reason why that's important...is because at some point you shouldn't HAVE to respect the answers. In fact, at some point, the world is better off if you DON'T respect the answers...because what is being created is an art that's worth having even if the original owners would be offended by it.
    First of all, I will again note that I don't think that intellectual property is the proper way to look at this.

    To illustrate, there is a basic inequality here, though. Someone might claim that, say, the modern-day Lakota tribe members no longer have a legitimate claim to the culture of historical figures such as Tȟašúŋke Witkó (aka Crazy Horse). However, outsiders are likely to react to modern-day Lakota members (and others) through the lens of what they see in works like "Dances With Wolves" or various film portrayals of Crazy Horse. The same goes for modern-day Mongolians and Genghis Khan, or modern-day Nahuatl speakers and the Aztec Empire.

    I don't believe that there should be a time-limited ownership of the culture that prevents portrayal of that culture by outsiders. Instead, I think that regardless of the time period, insider and/or informed portrayals of the culture should not be drowned out by outside and/or uninformed portrayals. This is not the same thing as ownership, because outside portrayals are fine up to the point that they are not drowning out the insider portrayals.
  • Jonathan, I said:
    Posted By: ValamirAnd the reason why that's important...is because at some point you shouldn't HAVE to respect the answers. In fact, at some point, the world is better off if you DON'T respect the answers...because what is being created is an art that's worth having even if the original owners would be offended by it.
    You than said:
    Posted By: JonathanWhat you're saying is Ralph is, "Forget that. I want to be able to be lazy, here is why I should be allowed to be lazy."
    Clearly you are not reading what I wrote very carefully. I'm not talking about being lazy.
  • I only have a moment to respond, so this might not be very well developed. Hopefully it gets the point across.

    Ralph, I have heard a similar thing before.
    Posted By: ValamirAnd the reason why that's important...is because at some point you shouldn't HAVE to respect the answers. In fact, at some point, the world is better off if you DON'T respect the answers...because what is being created is an art that's worth having even if the original owners would be offended by it.
    This is almost exactly what was said to justify the land grab, the forced relocation, the residential schools, etc...

    "You have had possession of this land since God put you there. What have you done with it? The world will be a better place if someone else did something creative/productive with it. You may be upset, but I don't have to respect that. What is being created is progress in the name of God, and that is more important than how upset you might become."

    Appropriation is appropriation, even if it can be rationalized.

    Your process serves to justify the forcible appropriation of something that originally belonged to someone else. You created a rule to help you feel better about it, but if someone else gets upset about it, then obviously there are stakeholders that would have been better dealt with through engagement, rather than through a rule rationalizing upsetting behavior. If, as you are saying, there are situations that could arise that have no "legitimate" stakeholders, and that you should have every right just to plunder the culture as you see fit, then who will be there to get upset? Wouldn't this situation have been identified through a process of attempted identification of stakeholders?

    In short, this is the crux of the debate:

    1) You have said "The world will be a better place if I take what you think you have rights to, as long as I follow this rule. This rule easily identifies situations where there are no legitimate stakeholders." I think that is a tired justification for all the colonialism in history.

    2) I have said, there may be cases where there are no "legitimate" stakeholders per your rule, but identifying all possible stakeholders and engaging them is a better process than pre-emptivly taking any rights that they might have through an arbitrarily based rule. In situations where your rule may apply without taking away the rights of some people, there will be no one to get upset, and hence, no stakeholders. Hence, your rule serves no good purpose.

    So here is what I was asking for Ralph. I would love to hear about a situation in real life of a case of an outside person taking a bit of culture from another people, ensuring that it is outside your "window", and that following this there was outcry about it from people who are upset about the appropriation of "their" culture, and then why they truly have no right to be upset. I want to hear about when your rule could apply and actually mean something. Otherwise it is just staking a claim on territory that doesn't exist, and doing so in a way that comes across as very threatening to marginalized people. Especially since it feels to me like you are stating that my culture is on the edge of becoming ripe for plunder in a way that is fully justifiable in the name of bettering the world through "art".
  • Terra Nullius.
  • edited May 2012
    I want to hear about someone who actually did all this stuff you guys are talking about. Not Bill, because he did it after Ganakagok game out. I want to hear about someone who published a game and sold it, after identifying some stakeholders and engaging them. That would be cool.

    Also, I want to be sure that I understand this correctly: Matthew Sullivan-Barrett's Monsters of Glam, which is about Glam rockers trashing hotel rooms and getting laid, is tantamount to genocide (or, at the very least, land displacement) because it appropriates Coyote the Trickster God. Am I getting this right?
  • edited May 2012
    Well, you could ask Julia Bond Ellingboe about writing Steal Away Jordan, or Vincent Baker about Dogs in the Vineyard. Or, for an author with more of an outsider position, ask Ron Edwards about writing Spione. Or just listen to podcasts of them talking about their games.

    Brennan Taylor wrote a game inspired by Native mythology, that I know less about. You could ask him about the process. Or there's the guy with the New Fire project on Kickstarter, he's apparently done some pretty hardcore research.

    But seriously, dude...
    Posted By: Rafael
    Also, I want to be sure that I understand this correctly: Matthew Sullivan-Barrett'sMonsters of Glam, which is about Glam rockers trashing hotel rooms and getting laid, is tantamount to genocide (or, at the very least, land displacement) because it appropriates Coyote the Trickster God. Am I getting this right?
    Is it really that hard to understand Lee's posts in this thread? Really?

    edit:
    Maybe I'm just taking it for granted because I already understand what Lee's saying, so if it seems like I'm impatient with those who don't, sorry. No, you're not getting that right. Nobody has said those acts are equivalent. What made you think that?
  • Posted By: ValamirJonathan, I said:

    Posted By: ValamirAnd the reason why that's important...is because at some point you shouldn't HAVE to respect the answers. In fact, at some point, the world is better off if you DON'T respect the answers...because what is being created is an art that's worth having even if the original owners would be offended by it.
    You than said:
    Posted By: JonathanWhat you're saying is Ralph is, "Forget that. I want to be able to be lazy, here is why I should be allowed to be lazy."
    Clearly you are not reading what I wrote very carefully. I'm not talking about being lazy.

    I disagree. We're talking about cultures that are still alive, and you're saying there's a time limit on when they have the right to deal with the fact they need to let go. Okay, when's your time limit, when do you someone who isn't a part of that culture get to come in and tell that culture that they've exceeded their statute of limitations? Isn't that a little bit on the arrogant side? Doesn't that ignore that we're talking about a culture on which constantly is is treated in laws as someone less than competent.

    We're saying, "Hey, if you want to do a game and not be part of the group that reinforces the hurt that happens, the death by a million cuts of ignorance, stereotype and erasure here are some handy dandy steps."

    You're saying, "Clearly I don't think you need to worry about that because this is art!"

    Or Being Lazy, because the "it's art" argument always gets bandied about by people who want to defend their right to take without the work that goes into it.

    Look, you don't have to do this work. No one is going to hold your hands to the fire to do it, no one is going to stand over your shoulder glowering at you disapprovingly while you type.

    Just don't expect people who are the stakeholders in that context to want to congratulate you for it, and don't be surprised when they react the way they do because you've added another paper cut.
  • edited May 2012
    Posted By: Johnstone
    Is itreallythat hard to understand Lee's posts in this thread?Really?
    Posted By: Jonathan no one is going to stand over your shoulder glowering at you disapprovingly...
    I am getting a lot out of watching Valamir & Nameless stick to their respective guns, and sort-out where-exactly the areas of contention are between their positions.

    I am not getting a lot out of sardonic posturing, or glowering expressions of disapproval, in the vein of 'you should be ashamed of yourself for even proposing that!' as a silencing gambit.

    To me, it's one thing to believe "Valamir's proposal would be hurtful if implemented", and quite another thing to believe "Valamir's proposal is so hurtful that it shouldn't even be aired for vetting." I feel like I'm hearing some of the latter, but I can't discern whether that's anyone's actual position; or whether what-I-think-I'm-hearing is merely a side-effect of the rhetorical devices being employed to make the former point.
  • edited May 2012
    I'm assuming this wasn't your intention, Todd, but your post reads like you think my question was an attempt to make Rafael ashamed and be silent, and you are telling me I should be ashamed of it and be silent instead. So, for my part, since it was rather snarky, I'll clarify: It's a serious question and I'm fully prepared to respond to a serious answer.

    And just in case you're not clear on my position and would like to be: I don't think Ralph's idea is hurtful, I think it won't help you write a game that won't make people upset.
  • Posted By: RafaelI want to hear about someone who actually did all this stuff you guys are talking about. Not Bill, because he did it after Ganakagok game out. I want to hear about someone who published a game and sold it, after identifying some stakeholders and engaging them. That would be cool.
    Well, one of the reasons this discussion is cropping up is that, historically, it hasn't happened much. Most games about non-mainstream cultures that engaged with the cultures were written by people who were already strongly associated with those cultures. For example, I wrote Dog Eat Dog, but it's basically about myself. You might look at Julia's post in that sunk thread about Aokigahara. Also I think Shreyas is eventually going to write SOMETHING about Mist-Robed Gate.
    Posted By: RafaelAlso, I want to be sure that I understand this correctly: Matthew Sullivan-Barrett'sMonsters of Glam, which is about Glam rockers trashing hotel rooms and getting laid, is tantamount to genocide (or, at the very least, land displacement) because it appropriates Coyote the Trickster God. Am I getting this right?
    Nope! Do you honestly think that's what people are saying in this thread? Because it's so inaccurate that I can't help but read that as mockery.
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