Do orcs in gaming display parallels to colonialist propaganda?

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S'mon

Legend
However, even Thule kinda suffers under unspoken racism. In a setting that is purportedly real world Greenland (however, it's fantasy from just before the last Ice Age), every human civilization on the island save one is white, European. There is one invader group that is black, but, everyone else is European.

Not a single native group to be found. It was something that did stand out to me running the setting.

And, I say this as a huge, gushing fanboy of the setting. It really is fantastic and I love it to pieces. There's a six foot map of Thule hanging above my computer as I type this. So, yeah, the setting is great.

Does that make Thule racist? No, of course not. But, would it have been better for having included a couple of native groups - maybe a mythological Inuit people, perhaps? I think so.
The physical description of the Kalay is east-Asian, though this doesn't really get reflected in the art.

There's no indication of whether the Daray (generic European) Nimothans (Scandinavian) or Kalay(east-Asian) are more or less native, ie who arrived first - the Serpentmen presumably arrived before any of them. The Lomari and Atlanteans are noted as arriving more recently, with the African-descended Lomari the most recent arrivals, as you note.

IRL the Inuit only reached the area very recently, wiping out the Paleo-Eskimos, and possibly
wiping out the Greenland Norse, though the latter is uncertain. Thule is set in a mythical past of
course, but IRL 25,000* years ago most modern population groups didn't exist yet. Caucasians & east-Asians were only starting to diverge as the last Glacial Maximum made central-north Asia uninhabitable.

Anyway my point was that racial conflict in the setting is not Good Race vs Evil Race, and I rather like that. It's also a relatively minor theme compared to typical Tolkienesque Orcs-vs-Elves D&D.

*I settled on 25,000 years ago since that was the last time there was a significant climate cooling so it seemed to make the most sense for when Thule becomes glaciated, 25,000-22,000 years BP. IRL Greenland was last ice-free more like 75,000 years ago, from what I recall, but that seemed too early, while setting it at the end of the last Ice Age ca 12,000 years ago seemed too recent and not fitting the glaciation theme.
 
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pemerton

Legend
he's substantially more complicated than your statistical estimation of him
This is true of nearly everyone.

which suggests, to me, that his goal in writing an alternative mythology based on northern european culture wasn't in pursuit of racist goals
And no one has suggested otherwise in this thread. I certainly have not said anything about JRRT's intentions except that I'm indifferent to them.

I did conjecture some beliefs/attitudes that JRRT likely held, given his social, historical, cultural etc context. I didn't and don't conjecture that these shaped his intentions in writing his book. I did and continue to conjecture that these are likely to help explain his use of racist tropes to help present orcs, southerners etc as evil.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Never read LOTR tried a few times just couldn't get into it.

My Orcs are just Orcs. I rarely use real life cultures in my games. If I do I usually base them on an organization. Elves might be imperialist based on the East India Company. A country might be based on the Teutonic Knights. Most players won't recognise the tie in or I steal from obscure sources.
 

S'mon

Legend
I think the majority view is that it's best not to have natural races/species who are Always Chaotic Evil (or Always Lawful Good?) and players should go by what is actually a threat, not by labels.
So basically more like Runequest.

I think this supports my view that having Good and Evil Alignments in D&D is not really a good thing either. I've always thought it worked better to stick with Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic for Moorcock/Anderson type settings, and the majority of settings can happily do without Alignment entirely.
 

S'mon

Legend
Having seen this video and lived in Japan and Korea most of my adult life, it does resonate very, very strongly. The fetishism of asian people (particularly women) is a real thing and it's deeply, deeply embedded in racist attitudes. It really is offensive as all get out.
I have a friend who could be described as having an east-Asian fetish, Japan specifically (Weaboo, I think the term is). I don't think there is a racist bone in her body, and she is highly respectful of Japanese culture.
 

Hussar

Legend
I have a friend who could be described as having an east-Asian fetish, Japan specifically (Weaboo, I think the term is). I don't think there is a racist bone in her body, and she is highly respectful of Japanese culture.
There's more to it than that though. Even [MENTION=19675]Dannyalcatraz[/MENTION], who I believe is black, when asked where is he from, would not be repeatedly questioned when he answered New Orleans. No one else seems to get this blank stare of disbelief as when an Asian American or Asian Canadian states that they are Canadian. Like I said, that video resonates really, really well. It's an ongoing thing and it happens all the time.

I mean, sure, people in Canada have asked me where I'm from. But, when I say Toronto, they don't then keep asking. Have you ever had complete strangers question you on your nationality? I've seen it repeatedly. And it only ever seems to happen to people of Asian decent.

It really is offensive as hell. If you feel the need to question someone's nationality, remember, that person may very well have been questioned fifteen times previously that week and just might not appreciate the sixteenth time.

Again, I don't give a fetid dingo's kidney about your friends. Really, really don't. I'm telling you, in no uncertain terms, people of (particularly East Asian) decent get questioned on their nationality very, very often. It's almost like there's a strain of white people that cannot fathom that someone's ancestors came from Japan or China and emigrated to America a hundred years ago or more.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
Why do you only limit it to Europe? This is entirely your choice.
The Chinese (and Koreans) had "barbarians in the north" as had the Japanese which did not treat the Ainu pretty well. Not to mention that the Mongols were not only a threat to Europeans but also to many Asian and Middle Eastern nations. After all who ended the period of Islamic scientific leadership by razing Baghdad? It wasn't the Europeans. And there were also the tribes of Timur who conquered large territories. And why couldn't orcs symbolize Vikings?

So as I said, the barbarian raider stereotype existed around the world in all cultures and has nothing specifically to do with European colonialism. And even if you want to limit it European history you still need to explain why orcs would be related to the colonial era of Europe instead of those times when Europe was attacked by tribal societies (Mongols, Huns, Germanics, Turkish tribes, Vikings, ...)
Because the conceptual history of orcs in Euro-American media have connections to racist Euro-American colonial imagery, terms, and cognitive associations of various non-European groups from the colonial era, particularly Asia and Africa. The answer does not even require that we engage in any Whataboutism like the above. :erm:
 
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S'mon

Legend
I'm telling you, in no uncertain terms, people of (particularly East Asian) decent get questioned on their nationality very, very often. It's almost like there's a strain of white people that cannot fathom that someone's ancestors came from Japan or China and emigrated to America a hundred years ago or more.
Would you find "What's your ethnicity?" less offensive than "Where are you from?"

You can advocate for "Don't ask don't tell" and for offence-taking all you like, but it's still a bad idea IMO.
 

Hussar

Legend
Would you find "What's your ethnicity?" less offensive than "Where are you from?"

You can advocate for "Don't ask don't tell" and for offence-taking all you like, but it's still a bad idea IMO.
This rather sounds like you're trying to be offensive.
Going to take this in reverse order.

Sorry. You are absolutely right. I let my mouth get ahead of me. There's no need for that. It's just that, as both my children are half-Japanese, it's a very, very touchy subject for me. Because, my kids are Canadian and are as Canadian as anyone else. So, when they repeatedly get questioned about their nationality, it's insulting as all get out. Because, I'm going to tell you, no one else ever gets questioned like this.

As to the first quote, do you often ask strangers their ethnicity? Do you often ask anyone their ethnicity? How often do you ask white friends, "So, where are you from?" and when they say, "England", or whatever country, do you then repeat the question until you drill down where their ancestors were born? Do you do this repeatedly?

Because, that's what happens when you are Asian in many Western countries. Saying, "I'm Canadian" is apparently never quite good enough.

So, yeah, I wouldn't blame anyone for getting incredibly offended when strangers somehow feel that they are entitled to ask my ethnicity.
 

S'mon

Legend
As to the first quote, do you often ask strangers their ethnicity? Do you often ask anyone their ethnicity? How often do you ask white friends, "So, where are you from?" and when they say, "England", or whatever country, do you then repeat the question until you drill down where their ancestors were born? Do you do this repeatedly?
I ask white friends/acquaintances who don't appear to be ethnic English where they are from, yes. If someone has eg an Irish accent I may ask which part of Ireland. I asked my player who turned out to be Greek where she was from, a couple weeks ago.

I think "Where are you from?" is better than "What's your ethnicity". I understand why the interaction of various cultural elements in Anglo settler countries (USA, Australia, Canada, NZ) has caused the offence-taking to arise. That doesn't make it a good thing.

I think I should recuse myself from this thread now. I had a good discussion and learned a fair bit.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I ask white friends/acquaintances who don't appear to be ethnic English where they are from, yes. If someone has eg an Irish accent I may ask which part of Ireland. I asked my player who turned out to be Greek where she was from, a couple weeks ago.

I think "Where are you from?" is better than "What's your ethnicity". I understand why the interaction of various cultural elements in Anglo settler countries (USA, Australia, Canada, NZ) has caused the offence-taking to arise. That doesn't make it a good thing.

I think I should recuse myself from this thread now. I had a good discussion and learned a fair bit.
It is possible this is a US thing, but it is generally something we don't do here, or we know you are not supposed to do. I think it is largely because the US is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic place, but Asians are the ones who always seem to get asked this question. So that is why they did that video. I am sure if it happened to other groups all the time, there would be a video for them as well. There is a difference though between people born here and people who immigrated here. My wife isn't from the US and she doesn't mind if people ask where she is from (but she has an accent). When I was a kid, you saw more of this kind of thing. But these days it is definitely something most people would know is going to be an issue if you ask.

EDIT: Also the US is huge, so this stuff might vary a lot from one state to another. The concerns in Massachusetts are different from Denver and different from Hawaii or Minnesota. Here is Boston for example, it is still very common for people to ask about your ethnic heritage right off the bat (and people carry those ethnic more than they seem to in the midwest or California (at least in my experience). But even here, asking an Asian person 'where are you from' would be bad form.
 
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Hussar

Legend
I ask white friends/acquaintances who don't appear to be ethnic English where they are from, yes. If someone has eg an Irish accent I may ask which part of Ireland. I asked my player who turned out to be Greek where she was from, a couple weeks ago.

I think "Where are you from?" is better than "What's your ethnicity". I understand why the interaction of various cultural elements in Anglo settler countries (USA, Australia, Canada, NZ) has caused the offence-taking to arise. That doesn't make it a good thing.

I think I should recuse myself from this thread now. I had a good discussion and learned a fair bit.
*Takes a very deep breath.*

I'm really sorry [MENTION=463]S'mon[/MENTION]. I value your contribution to the thread and I certainly don't want to chase you away. Again, totally letting my own hang ups get the better of me. You in no way deserved that. This is a really touchy subject for me, and I reacted poorly.

/edit - weird multipost stuff corrected.

I'd also point out that the video makes it really, really clear that the two people don't know each other. It's one thing to ask a friend/acquaintance - that's kinda just polite conversation. It's very much another when someone does it to a stranger, which is what the video is talking about. The presumption that anyone who looks Asian must be born in another country is, unfortunately, very common and for some reason, being Asian seems to attract this sort of thing far more often than it should.

Imagine if, on a reasonably frequent basis, complete strangers accosted you to question whether or not you are a "real" ((insert whatever country you live in)). It gets very tired, very quickly.
 
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A few years ago I was working in Glasgow with a black man. I thought I could detect both Caribbean and London in his accent. I considered asking him where he was from but I decided not to because I thought it might make him unhappy, for exactly the reasons Hussar has given. And there was no need for me to know.
 

S'mon

Legend
Imagine if, on a reasonably frequent basis, complete strangers accosted you to question whether or not you are a "real" ((insert whatever country you live in)). It gets very tired, very quickly.
Until I moved to London I got this very frequently due to my Northern Irish accent - nobody asks if you're a "real Londoner" though!
 

Riley37

Villager
I've had the experience of someone pushing past my initial answer, to get at my ancestry, only a few times. *That* seems rude to me. The most recent time, the asker had friendly intent; she was an immigrant from Latin America to the USA, she thought I was another such immigrant (we were chatting in Spanish), and she was looking for common ground. Even so, if I answer with the city where I was raised and attended high school, then *that's my answer*, dammit, and the most polite response is to accept my answer as final. I'm *willing* to explain the mix of my ancestry, even to a stranger met on the road, but I take that as a more personal question than my hometown.

That's my experience as a white American. If I had Hussar's experience - people persistently questioning my children, in a way they don't do to white children - in a way which implies "you look like a foreigner, so what kind of foreigner are you?" - then I would get annoyed, and eventually angry.

If I ever meet Malia Obama, and she tells me that she's from Chicago, I'm going to accept that as her answer. I'm not going to push until I get to the Kenyan part of her ancestry. S'mon, can you see how it might be a touchy topic, not worth pushing past her initial answer?
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I've had the experience of someone pushing past my initial answer, to get at my ancestry, only a few times. *That* seems rude to me. The most recent time, the asker had friendly intent; she was an immigrant from Latin America to the USA, she thought I was another such immigrant (we were chatting in Spanish), and she was looking for common ground. Even so, if I answer with the city where I was raised and attended high school, then *that's my answer*, dammit, and the most polite response is to accept my answer as final. I'm *willing* to explain the mix of my ancestry, even to a stranger met on the road, but I take that as a more personal question than my hometown.

That's my experience as a white American.
This seems like a regional thing to me. I spent five years in southern California as a kid and ethnic ancestry didn't seem to come up as much (and I sensed some amount of discomfort around the idea that someone would be anything other than a given race or and an American. But in the North East, at least where I live, people ask about ancestry all the time (and no one tells you they are white, they say they are Scottish, German, Italian, Irish, etc). The thing S'mon brought up would still be a line though. And when you do ask about ethnicity you don't ask where someone is from (because you are generally assuming they are third or even fourth generation). You just ask what they are. And again, across racial lines it would be a lot more touchy.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I'd also point out that the video makes it really, really clear that the two people don't know each other. It's one thing to ask a friend/acquaintance - that's kinda just polite conversation. It's very much another when someone does it to a stranger, which is what the video is talking about. The presumption that anyone who looks Asian must be born in another country is, unfortunately, very common and for some reason, being Asian seems to attract this sort of thing far more often than it should.

Imagine if, on a reasonably frequent basis, complete strangers accosted you to question whether or not you are a "real" ((insert whatever country you live in)). It gets very tired, very quickly.
That is another good point about the video. In the video I think, if I remember, someone accosts an Asian person who is getting on a bicycle and asks the question. So it is clearly different from people who have an existing friendship. It is sort of like asking someone their religion based soley on their appearance.

Hussar, you had mentioned your experience in Japan and Korea informing your thoughts on this. I am just curious what that experience was if you don't mind sharing.
 
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