Friday, 3 June 2011

Ethics, Outside London


I've been listening to the Fantasard podcast, well worth checking out if you haven't heard it.

Among other things they had a discusion about female characters - and characteristics - in games.

In a sense this is a typical feminist arguement. The basics of which are that women in games are dealt with as sex objects - big boobs etc - and are simply there to be saved. Which is fine until you consider the role of men in games which is just as stereotypical. After all if you look at real life heroes - holders of the Victoria Cross for instance - they are just pretty ordinary really, and the males that do follow the mega-muscled route are generally a bit dull - far from fighting dragons on a misty mountain they are more likely to be selling speed while doing a bit of bouncing down at the local boozer.

But as it is a feminist issue, the guys on Fantasard made all the right noises until the little lady blew herself out and they moved onto other topics.

In a more recent show they had a discussion about ethics in gaming, and particularly the issue of slavery. Now it should be pointed out that they are teachers, so you should expect them to think that slavery is a big deal. And yes historically it is of relevance to a great many people - but equally the way the issue is handled today is frankly a little bizarre. Because it is largely ignored that the British Navy was expaneded in institutionalised to prevent British citizens being taken in slavery by North African pirates. That navy then became the instrument of creation and expansion of the British Empire, of which the West African slave trade was part. Yet what is always overlooked is that running parrellel to the process of populating the colonies with slaves was a program of exporting debtors, criminals and over undesirables. A program that continued for half a century after the abolition of slavery - enforced by the Royal Navy - and only stopped in the mid-nineteenth century with the discovery of gold in the Australia, not out of moral concern for the condemned, but because transportation was the cheapest way to reach the goldfields and people were deliberately committing crimes in order to seek their fortune.


They interveiwed the designer of the game Endevour and asked if the issue of slavery had been a problem when trying to get the game published - to which he said no, no one had even mentioned it.

I mention this because the Fantasard crew are embarking upon Malifaux.

Now I have seen the game played, and the mechanics of the game interest me, but it is not a game I will ever play. Our youngest is currently getting back teeth, so it so happened that the missus was up trying to settle him while Fantasard were doing their review. She said that it sounded like an interesting game.

At which point I explained why I won't play the game, namely because of the Never Born, and the use of dead children.

As our first child was stillborn at 34 weeks, let's just say I am a little sensitive to the notion of playing a game which for reasons of playing to the gallery of sick minds includes such characters. Which no doubt sounds very strong, but until you have been through an experience like stillbirth you don't really notice how much psychopathic and generally warped views surround the issue of dead children.

But hey! I'm just too sensitive, right?

Still check out the Fantasard podcast, it's a very nice painting companion.


ps, I really do need to find a gamee I can play with the missus - no smutty replies - perhaps when Bloodbowl comes out......

1 comment:

  1. Kia ora!

    Most excellent post! (Well we would say that, right?) And yes, us guys (and gal) do try to make all the right noises...and sometimes we succeed!


    The Fantasards