Larp and other cultures

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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby Anarchangel » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:41 pm

Steve Hickey wrote:I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for having this conversation.


Agreed. This is an important conversation.

I agree with Morgue that a lot of tone is being lost in the medium, so hopefully a more personal conversation can clear the air and lead this thread back in a more constructive direction.
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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby Thimble » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:05 am

I am disinclined to trust the sensitivity, cultural or otherwise, of someone who, in a serious conversation with 48 whole hours to think it over, cannot get my name right. I need a better apology than one flippant word.

I would, actually, be quite interested in consulting with your community leaders: it would probably make for a richer game.

But if you want me to respect your opinion in cultural matters, then do something. Get out there and fucking do something. Stop throwing rocks at people from the sidelines.


I second this, expletive included.

If my proposal for the headliner larp is accepted, then that means the Kapcon administrators trust my judgement. No other caveats. They're welcome to pick somebody else to run it - I won't be hurt at all - but that's what it means. If I run the game, it's my judgement, and that of the people supporting me.
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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby karen » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:42 am

I've been thinking about this a lot... My gut reaction was to jump in and support Morgue, but I wanted to be sure that I had valid reasons beyond friendship. I admit my bias. I believe in Morgue's sensitivity, his good intentions and he is frequently one of my sounding boards for appropriateness and feasability of gaming (and life) ideas...

I recently ran a game with a character with a Chinese name. I did a bit of research to ensure the name could be used for either gender (like the other names in the game) but they had what was to me, a more or less western back story... They'd grown up in Fleet Academy... Their dad had always dreamed of being a pilot, but was prevented by Fleet nepotism. Nevertheless, in one run of the game I was asked by a player if I expected him to speak with a fake Chinese accent. The (reassuring to me) response from the rest of the room was "Please don't"

I also now realise that in writing the character as a stereotyped environmental scientist type, driven by a desire to prove themself to an immigrant father doing relatively menial work, I may have inadvertantly mimicked other stereotypes (though in fact I could equally have been describing my own father and gave the background and name combo to this character simply because they were the last one I wrote and they weren't a Lapin)

I work in a professional environment where we have many staff, students and visitors from overseas. Twice I have been in a meeting with 4+ other people where a(n educated professional) Kiwi was talking about how people of some nationalities (it was clear from context that they meant Chinese) had lower standards of hygiene. On each occasion, I was the only person who spoke up. Yes... this a provincial centre, not Wellington... Nevertheless, whatever we as writers and GMs write and intend by what we write, we have very little control over how our players interpret and play their characters. Someone with strong prejudices, especially if they are (as many of us are) unconscious of them may incorporate those into their characterisation. I'm not sure how you deal with that...

My tuppence worth. I would like to play this game... I really wouldn't like to wreck it. I trust your sensitivity as writers, but this will be a LARP for many many people. I guess have learnt the hard way that I can't assume that other people, even in the educated geek community, share my (liberal, I think, but so apparently is Mitt Romney) sensibilities.

I will also be pretty busy this year but if a criterion for having an opinion on this is helping a little, then please let me know what I can do.
Last edited by karen on Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby morgue » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:50 am

I have spoken to Steph and (briefly) to Cat and want to echo here my apology to them: I'm sorry, both of you. I have conducted myself throughout this conversation poorly, and your comments in reply are merited. Note to self: not good enough.

In regard to the substantive point of Larp, culture, etc - instead of carrying on with this online conversation, I'm going to consult with Steph and Cat about whether I can actually *do* something that would be helpful. Action beats talk. Putting my hand up should have happened way earlier.

If and when there's something to report back, I'm sure it will be shared.
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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby Stephanie » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:47 pm

Thanks for calling Morgue, I think it helped clear the air a lot. I also think that we both respect each other's good intentions, and I appreciate your offer of help on outreach.

There was something you said last night that I think really clarified for me where you were coming from - you'd attended a previous game that was drawing heavily on Maori mythology and culture, and you didn't feel safe in it. Specifically, you didn't feel safe being able to talk to your Maori friends back in your non-roleplaying life about it. I think that makes a useful, defined scope for discussion - people's thoughts on how to conduct the game so that:
- Asian players can feel safe that they won't be made uncomfortable if they attend
- non-Asian players can feel safe that they can talk about the game with their non-roleplaying Asian friends and family

I recently ran a game with a character with a Chinese name
Oh yeah. To be honest, I didn't place much importance on the name - I think if anything I just figured that we were in the future and everyone was in the same cultural melting pot and a little bit of everything. Thanks for your offer of help as well.
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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby morgue » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:55 pm

@Stephanie: enthusiastic nod of agreement. Looking forward to talking further.
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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby Thimble » Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:04 am

I thought this was a thoughtful essay on the main issue.

http://www.racialicious.com/2008/09/18/ ... or-insult/

"For some of us, the attractions of another's culture can hardly be overrated. Within the context of speculative fiction's reputation as "escapist" literature, getting away from one's own traditions and background may seem like a good idea. Surely to find that much-prized "sensawunda" sought by genre afficionados, we must leave behind what British fantasist Lord Dunsany called "the fields we know?"

But what if the realms beyond these fields are populated? One person's terra incognita is another's home. What are we to make of the denizens of these exotic lands? And what will they make of us, tramping through their yam patches in search of the ineffable, and frightening their flocks with our exclamations over their chimeric beauty?..."
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Re: Larp and other cultures

Postby morgue » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:32 pm

Awesome article, thanks!

And implicitly it's another reminder of how larp (and other types of character gaming) can defeat appropriation by representing people of marginalised ethnicities as whole beings.
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