What We Lose When We Eliminate Controversial Content

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Kaodi

Hero
Does that mean that knowledge of the culture is less relevant than blood ancestry then?
That is generally how ownership works. I can be the most knowledgeable person on Earth about the history of British royalty but it does not make me the King of England.
 

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Mesero

Explorer
That is generally how ownership works. I can be the most knowledgeable person on Earth about the history of British royalty but it does not make me the King of England.
And being of British heritage automatically means one is knowledgeable about British culture?
 

Kaodi

Hero
But does it make you qualified to write an RPG in 2023 about British royalty if you're not British? That's the question.
I do not think my analogy is perhaps the best example for actually asking about ownership. I think British royalty ranks up there as a topic for which the least amount of cultural ownership is even claimable. But if you were writing material using your expertise British royal history and you were engaging in a lot of naughty word stereotypes about British people that would probably still be a significant faux pas.
 

And being of British heritage automatically means one is knowledgeable about British culture?

I think this is a bad analogy, given that most minorities are visibly distinguishable and often face challenges based on their appearance. For example, being African-American may not give you more knowledge of African tribes (though I find the people involved did, so the original point of this question is mooted anyways), but it will give you knowledge of the problems and challenges they can face abroad, as the negative stereotypes associated with black Africans are not exclusively applied to the residents of the continent.
 

Mesero

Explorer
I think this is a bad analogy, given that most minorities are visibly distinguishable and often face challenges based on their appearance. For example, being African-American may not give you more knowledge of African tribes (though I find the people involved did, so the original point of this question is mooted anyways), but it will give you knowledge of the problems and challenges they can face abroad, as the negative stereotypes associated with black Africans are not exclusively applied to the residents of the continent.
But the problems and challenges the people of an African culture face while being in Africa are completely different from the ones faced by African-American. For example they are not a minority there and can't be visually singled out. So why would those experiences help you when writing about African cultures?

I am quite frankly perplexed that people here argue that blood relations to a region gives someone insights into the cultures there. Wasn't there a big discussion for Levelup how species and culture should be separated? But now people (at least thats how I interpret it) argue that in real life being descendent from a different culture, even if that was a few generation ago, automatically gives you the ability and "the right" to write about this culture.
 

But the problems and challenges the people of an African culture face while being in Africa are completely different from the ones faced by African-American. For example they are not a minority there and can't be visually singled out. So why would those experiences help you when writing about African cultures?

I am quite frankly perplexed that people here argue that blood relations to a region gives someone insights into the cultures there. Wasn't there a big discussion for Levelup how species and culture should be separated? But now people (at least thats how I interpret it) argue that in real life being descendent from a different culture, even if that was a few generation ago, automatically gives you the ability and "the right" to write about this culture.

I'm perplexed that you don't think that they can't face similar problems, especially when it comes to stereotypes and bad tropes, across the world. Yes, they will not have the exact same problems, but they will understand them at a deeper level socially because they are closer to them than I as a white American. This whole schtick seems to be begging the question as to why it's important to have these minority voices and the reason is they are more likely to have cultural relationships and to understand/recognize the tropes/stereotypes in a way that others won't.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
But the problems and challenges the people of an African culture face while being in Africa are completely different from the ones faced by African-American. For example they are not a minority there and can't be visually singled out. So why would those experiences help you when writing about African cultures?

Just spit-balling, but it feels like there are at least three things here:

  • Knowledge of the historical culture being portrayed.
  • Knowledge of how those associated with that culture are treated by the wider world.
  • Seeming to take it seriously.

It feels like the first one doesn't need to have anything to do with ancestry. The second seems like it involves knowledge of a wide range of experience, and someone living in the country the game is about may have a very different experience than the diaspora, with both being important first-hand experiences- and there may be people who study it but aren't directly part of that particular culture who have valuable insights too. The third one seems trickiest, and I guess is judged by the (potential) consumers.

Clearly a game set in Africa can't have contributors from all 2000+ ethnic groups on the continent as contributors. On the other hand - regardless of how anyone feels about it - it feels like a hard sell to say the only expert they could find was a professor of ancient history of European descent in the Midwestern US.
 
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Mesero

Explorer
I'm perplexed that you don't think that they can't face similar problems, especially when it comes to stereotypes and bad tropes, across the world. Yes, they will not have the exact same problems, but they will understand them at a deeper level socially because they are closer to them than I as a white American. This whole schtick seems to be begging the question as to why it's important to have these minority voices and the reason is they are more likely to have cultural relationships and to understand/recognize the tropes/stereotypes in a way that others won't.
Why exactly is a African-American closer to someone from, for example, Nigeria, than a white American?
The culture is different, the problems are different, the religion is possibly different, and so on.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Does that mean that knowledge of the culture is less relevant than blood ancestry then?

I know folks want simple rules, but they don't exist.

We can simplify this somewhat - for example, how many non-Nigerians have deep, serious understanding of Nigerian cultures - say, Masters or Doctoral level study - and are trying to use that knowledge to write supplements for D&D? I'm guessing that's a really short list that would be better treated as individual cases, rather than as a general hypothetical.

So, our general hypothetical is more about amateurs in cultural studies. At that level, knowledge alone is not sufficient to justify profiting off another people's culture, especially when the culture you are part of has been profiting off and suppressing the other people's cultures for some centuries. One would need to do more work to justify the profit.

Now, folks who have the personal connection to the culture in question might not have deep knowledge, but if they want to do a crappy job with their own cultural heritage, that's not your look-out.
 

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