Friday, April 22, 2016

Racial Inclusion (The Sea Eternal)

Note: This post deals with my game The Sea Eternal. As such, it will contain spoilers. 

This game was mostly focused on the interaction between merfolk and humans, but that dynamic was very much based on real-life interactions and concerns between groups of real racial groups in the world. I wanted to make sure to accommodate themes of racial inclusion, anxieties, and prejudice while being respectful of those strategies and issues in real life. I did this by focusing on microaggressions, and by discussing real-life human racism in addition to fantasy racism.

I wanted to talk about issues of racism, but I didn't want that discussion to focus around exaggerated, blatant, almost nonsensical racism because those felt like low, easy bars that end up validating or excusing low-level racism.

So, I wanted to talk about issues that dealt with issues that dealt with a privileged group unintentionally ruining things for a minority, and then not really being all that interested in fixing what they ruing. I wanted to talk about the kind of racism that isn't an outright hate of the minority, but a discomfort that pushes people to justify undeserved discrepancies. This is why I focused on issues of inclusion, minimizing, inconsideration. A world where merfolk mistreat humans, and don't learn what they're doing.

I created a system where the merfolk end up pressuring minorities to conform. In the real world, this society would slowly advance and grow as minorities end up pushing back, and as those in charge learn about and confront their privileges. But this society insidiously erases that progress when the humans are forgotten. Because really, nobody's perfect or knows everything about how to be a good ally, but it's that chance to learn and improve that makes people better.

I was worried when creating this game that it wasn't fair to Tamru / Awat / Liyu (TAL) that they were the only black person, and would possibly be forced into a position of being representative of not just their whole race, but also representative of all minorities. I definitely didn't want TAL to be a representative, but just a person dealing with their own issues, and leaving TAL by themselves was a hard choice. But I did want the game to touch on feeling of being alone, of feeling isolated and not really understood, with race a small part of that.

I also discussed human racism in addition to the fantasy racism because I feel like too often fantasy racism ignores or minimizes human racism as a way to ignore and minimize racism in the real world (e.g. white elves as the victimized group). The truth is that in a fantasy world with fantasy racism wouldn't just exist in a vacuum; it would be connected to and an extension of real-world racism. I especially hate when the fantasy victims of racism are white elves, because it doesn't actually touch on real prejudices that exist within the world. I wanted to deal with real prejudices.

Because TAL had the potential to be a woman as Liyu or even genderqueer as Awet, I made sure to include references to intersectionality issues they had faced throughout their life where appropriate.

As a white person myself, I will say that I defer to other people's judgment on how to respectfully represent minorities, listening to minority voices and tying to boost them instead of assuming that my opinion or representation is correct. I definitely tried hard to get this conversation right in the game, but I made mistakes along the way. I wrote some scenes badly, and asked for help poorly. But as soon as I was told, or figured out, what I was doing was wrong, I jumped to fix what I was doing.

It's possible the game may still have mistakes or holes, and I welcome discussion or suggestions for things that can either improve this game, or make future games better.


  1. Games like this are most welcomed, they prove the quote "is immortality possible"

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.