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WotC Dungeons & Dragons Fans Seek Removal of Oriental Adventures From Online Marketplace

briggart

Explorer
Whenever there is a detailed analysis of something, it's always from one person's perspective - so there's almost always going to be something another perspective will disagree with. That's the nature of the process. There will be things to nitpick over, there will be points that aren't cogent.

But there will also be points that are. The term oriental is broadly considered problematic. The maximum intelligence, not so much in the context of AD&D overall.

One thing to consider is that any time the podcasters misunderstand something within the AD&D context (like the stat tables), you're probably misunderstanding something within the Asian reader context.
But several times the reason they stated something would be problematic to an Asian reader, it was because of how they though those fit within the AD&D context. So if the point of the video was to explain to somebody lacking the proper cultural context why OA is problematic, I don't think they made a good job.

To give you a specific example, in my native language (Italian) there is a single word denoting both eastern and oriental, so finding out that oriental has a negative connotation in US, but eastern is a (relatively?) neutral term was pretty puzzling*. I started watching the videos because I was interested in a better understanding of the issue, but most of the times I felt that they stated that something was problematic, but they failed to explain why.

* The only explanation I came up with was that given that Oriental literally means Rising, there was some association with the Rising Sun flag used by Imperial Japan, and that could be offensive due to WWII.
 

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Mecheon

Adventurer
Well, if you cannot see for yourself how dangerous it is to pressure for books that contain no actual hate speech to be removed from the market because someone has issues with them, I won't be the one to open your eyes.
Hate speech isn't all of the bad stuff out there. Pushing outdated and harmful stereotypes isn't technically hate speech, but its still far from good

I just want White Wolf to know that if they ever decide to apologize for Rage Across the Amazon, I'd prefer my part to me issued as product credit at the Storytellers Vault. :ROFLMAO:
See, what ended up going down for White Wolf is what happens when you throw all of this to the wind and don't care about the impact the books have. It ends up with you causing an international incident
 

I'm sorry, why does it have to be different? We don't need it for Euro-centric games where honor was also a thing (think noblemen dueling at dawn) so why do we need it here? Why does it need to be different
Before Crawford and the rest of his crew started to show up with a dozen UA surveys indicating that this is bad for the game, we used to have our supplements full of wacky subsystems just because we could. I loved (still love) that.
 

toucanbuzz

Adventurer
...there are 13 parts each nearly 2 hours long. (Although I'm taking the time to watch the first one at least)...
Yeah, they rambled off-topic, a lot. It was not an organized scholarly exposition and that hurts any message they're wanting to send along with randomly nitpicking things like the "comeliness" attribute (which had nothing to do with any asian culture). I watched and tried to summarize because I wanted to get some idea of where the idea originated. I'm also not saying everyone has to agree with all their points. I simply tried to summarize their point-of-view succinctly given the length of the first podcast.

Your counterpoints along with those of others on this forum I hope will be part of a greater conversation WOTC has about whether a product is or is not culturally dated. Ultimately, I hope there are no "knee jerk" reactions but rather an in depth discussion, such as whether the term "oriental" is actually an offensive term that would deserve a "tag" like certain Disney movies my kids watch.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
OR, how about that Honor system. Because Samurai were super honorable right? Well... knights have a Chivalric code and were also highly honorable in myth and legend, so why is it we only need an Honor System when dealing with Samurai or other Far East tropes, and not when dealing with Knights?
Erm but you effectively did with the Paladin code, those were the chivalric knights. They had all sorts of restrictions and rules they had to live by.

So, I fully agree, treat them both the exact same way. If you've got a heavily [blank] influenced culture, use their terms for things. If you are going to a new land, don't go calling it "exotic" or "mysterious". We don't say that the people from Baldur's Gate are going to the "Exotic and Mysterious land of Cormyr, where honorable warriors on horseback duel in great jousts" So why say it for Kara-tur?
Because Baldur's Gate to Cormyr was like moving from the UK to Germany (it's barely 700 miles away), very similar culturally. Exotic literally means" originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country" not your neighbour. Kara-tur is distant.
 

MGibster

Hero
As an Asian, I stand with Margaret Cho: "I think what it is is that white people like to tell Asians how to feel."
When I was in high school, back when Clinton was in office and Aerosmith's "Livin' on the Edge" was rocking the airwaves, I had to come up with a survey as part of a group project for my sociology class. I cannot for the life of me remember what the survey questions were, but we did ask for respondents to check a little box for race and we included Oriental as an option. One of our sources was of Asian descent and told us that our use of Oriental was wrong. She was polite about it but told us we should have used Asian.

From an editorial in the Chicago Tribune by J. Tsuchiyama: "As an Oriental, I am bemused. Apparently Asians are supposed to feel demeaned if someone refers to us as Orientals. But good luck finding a single Asian American who has ever had the word spat at them in anger. Most Asian Americans have had racist epithets hurled at them at one time or another...But Oriental isn't in the canon. [/QUOTE]

For what it's worth, probably not much I know, but I used to play some Oriental Adventures AD&D with an Asian kid back when we were all wearing Hammer pants and those pale girls with the dark lipstick were really into Edward Scissorhands. If he or his parents were unhappy about the name nobody ever said anything.

Like many things, I guess some people are okay with it and others aren't. I generally don't refer to people as oriental though. Just in case. Generally can't offend someone with Asian. I bet someone might prove me wrong on that last point though.
 

Hate speech isn't all of the bad stuff out there. Pushing outdated and harmful stereotypes isn't technically hate speech, but its still far from good
Man, the book is from 1985, isn't it? I have shown my support for WotC to make changes like the one they're making to Curse of Strahd, for example. Also, I stand by my statement that Zeb Cook may have failed once you look 30 years in the future, but he still tried to present the source at the best light he could. I doubt it that Perkins somehow believed that presenting the Vistani as a bunch of lazy drunks was the best light he could bring to the culture that inspired them.

Is OA an outdated book? Both in flavor and mechanics, really. Is it harmful? In a world where Mein Kampf is still in print, even if only for academic study, calling a book harmful because it allowed some 80's teenagers to run a crossover between D&D and their favorite Ninja movies is more harmful than the book itself.
 


Bagpuss

Adventurer
If you’re one of those people who only pop up in this type of thread, we’ll likely be asking you to leave in the near future.
Sorry. Can I help it if I find these topics more engaging than if this or that class/spell is balanced, what's the best/worst XXX?

You get some decent debate in topics like these, you get some unreasonable types as well, but generally here I think you have a nicer class of discussion.
 

Mecheon

Adventurer
Is OA an outdated book? Both in flavor and mechanics, really. Is it harmful? It a world where Mein Kampf is still in print, even if only for academic study, calling a book harmful because it allowed some 80's teenagers to run a crossover between D&D and their favorite Ninja movies is more harmful than the book itself.
I mean, in the grand scheme of things its not the most harmful thing. But it has problems, and presenting as-is with no commentary isn't the best look

Slap in a one page "This is presented as is from 1985 for the purposes of just putting it out there" and I think most issues would be resolved
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
I mean, in the grand scheme of things its not the most harmful thing. But it has problems, and presenting as-is with no commentary isn't the best look

Slap in a one page "This is presented as is from 1985 for the purposes of just putting it out there" and I think most issues would be resolved
Do you remember that old disclaimer at the end of movies and TV? It went like “This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any real person, people, or place is not intended and purely coincidental.”

Would something like that help a contemporary product?
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
Yeah, they rambled off-topic, a lot.
It gets even worse in the second episode... yes I'm still watching.

They go off on tangents that are unrelated to Asia representation in D&D, like body hair being codified with evil. Then another tangent on the indigenous people of Japan, the Jomon verse the Yayoi. Then another tangent on tattoos. Pretty interesting stuff, but not really that related to the book they are looking at.
 
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PsyzhranV2

Adventurer
I'm a person of Chinese descent living in Canada. My personal thought on the Oriental Adventures line and on the Kara-Tur setting as it is is a resounding "this ain't it chief". A pet project idea of mine was to one day do a Kara-Tur update to post-Second Sundering that would inject some more overt fantasy elements into the setting, while also retooling it to be less dependent on outdated stereotypes of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, and South Asian cultures. But I recently learned that there are individuals who are have actual, professional involvement in the game design industry, Kwan included, who find it too irrevocably broken to reclaim, and it's leaving me wondering if I'm giving the setting too much credit. As well, recent revelations concerning Wizards of the Coast's businesses practices have started turning me off of the D&D property as a whole. D&D may be an industry leader in sales and marketing reach, but when it comes to promoting progressiveness and inclusion, it is trailing quite a bit behind.

For my fellow people of East, Southeast, and South Asian descent, if you don't have a problem with Oriental Adventures, I'd be happy to hear your thoughts. I'm not going to deny your lived experiences that led you to that conclusion, but I hope that a dialogue about cultural artifacts as vehicles of social value transmission, as well as the ways in which the tabletop game industry is grappling with a legacy of systemic racism, D&D especially, would leave both of us walking away wiser.

FOR EVERYBODY ELSE:

Is it really that hard???
 
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Reynard

Legend
Talking about this stuff is valuable, even if people disagree. Sometimes people just don't ever consider how something they consider innocuous and part of their regular diet of popular cultural intake might be distressing or harmful to others. Accidentally partaking in cultural appropriation or even systemic racism isn't a condemnation of a person, it's a condemnation of the system that allows it to continue to exist. Individual people are only the problem when they take pains to knowingly defend that system with no regard for those that are distressed or harmed.

No one cares what you do at your table at home with your group of friends who have been playing together for 30 years. You do you. But by the same token, neither WotC nor the community at large needs to coddle whatever off color preferences exist at your table. The company and the community have the responsibility to be welcoming and safe for every person that wants to discover D&D. Things like OA that display at best cringeworthy stereotypes create a barrier to entry in the same way sexist stereotypes do.

tl;dr: we only get better by examining the game and community and refusing to acknowledge the things we find when we do holds us back.
 

MGibster

Hero
I mean, in the grand scheme of things its not the most harmful thing. But it has problems, and presenting as-is with no commentary isn't the best look
It's a 35 year old book with "oriental" in the title. I expect the adults who are purchasing digital copies and I believe they're intelligent enough to figure out whether or not they want to buy it. You can't buy a product that's almost old enough to retire with full benefits and expect it to have been written with the same sensibilities, style, or standards of 2020. But while I think a disclaimer is silly and won't appease everyone I don't object to it being there.

Slap in a one page "This is presented as is from 1985 for the purposes of just putting it out there" and I think most issues would be resolved
Please, for the sake of Call of Cthulhu, let's not tell anyone about HP Lovecraft.
 

Slap in a one page "This is presented as is from 1985 for the purposes of just putting it out there" and I think most issues would be resolved
As I said before, I'd prefer it if they don't make me go through the work of removing that message before printing, as the DRM watermark is already bad enough. On the other hand, a disclaimer in the product page is not only reasonable, in my opinion, but also something that people would see before buying, which I think is the best option in this case. While I don't think OA is offensive, I'm in no position of speaking for anyone else, and I wouldn't like it if fellow gamers got it from the DMG just to realize that the book somehow offends them.
 


Slap in a one page "This is presented as is from 1985 for the purposes of just putting it out there" and I think most issues would be resolved.
When I posted about it earlier, I did not have the actual wording to add to the post, but here is how Disney words it on at least some of their older content:

This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.
@PsyzhranV2 It is nice and all to show that person's tweets saying to butt out, but does Kienna actually tweet why they think it is harmful? Or are they just trying to pull one of those "because I said so" things that parents use?[/quote]
 

Mecheon

Adventurer
It's a 35 year old book with "oriental" in the title. I expect it's adults who are purchasing digital copies and I believe they're intelligent enough to figure out whether or not they want to buy it. You can't buy a product that's almost old enough to retire with full benefits and expect it to have been written with the same sensibilities, style, or standards of 2020. But while I think a disclaimer is silly and won't appease everyone I don't object to it being there.
And its being sold for $5 on a website today with basically no notes on that history. I know you and I know about all of the history of 1E and all of its weird quirks, but given D&D's a lot bigger of a thing nowerdays, we're among the few. If there's no disclaimer of "We're just shoving this up here for archival purposes and haven't touched a thing", then, well, you can at least assume stuff is being checked for any problems. And then you get OA.

D&D's bigger than ever before and folks are going to poke downwards from the surface of 5E into facets of its history while not being aware of other parts of it. Disclaimer at least shows they're willing to put their money where their mouth is and do -something-, because most of the original call-out was pointing out that WotC weren't doing anything despite their words saying they would

As I said before, I'd prefer it if they don't make me go through the work of removing that message before printing, as the DRM watermark is already bad enough. On the other hand, a disclaimer in the product page is not only reasonable, in my opinion, but also something that people would see before buying, which I think is the best option in this case.
Hence, slip it onto a separate page. Its a PDF, just slip it between the title and the contents. Don't want it? Don't select page 3 when printing. Quick, simple, should handle most problems
 

SkidAce

Hero
Supporter
That we should double check what they find offensive, and triple check with those consultants about how big of a deal it is.
I think this is the majority of the problem, how "big" it is lies on a kinda wide spectrum, and like most things on the internet, our discussions get polarized into the extreme ends of right and wrong absolutes.
 

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