Valkyria Chronicles, and How Games Talk About Racism

maninahat

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I'm playing through Valkyria Chronicles, an enjoyable, if weirdly conceived, turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy WWII. There is a subplot in the game wherein a bunch of your squad members are bullying another squad member because she's Darcsen - some ethnic minority nobody likes. I've not finished the game yet, but presumably there will be some life lessons wherein everyone overcomes their differences through teamwork or whatever.

Anyway, what makes this subplot weird is how the racism is presented in the game in the first place; Darcsen people are literally identical to everyone else in the squad, except for having dark hair. If she dyed her hair, she could pass for any one of the gang. Come to think of it, even though there are dozens and dozens of characters, all of them have the same generic anime white skin (outside a couple with greyish tans) and there are no other distinguishable races. So my issue is this: how could the game developers come to the decision to talk about racism in a game with apparently only one race? Did they not think it was odd when they were designing the characters?

This is pretty much the exact same problem with the Witcher 3, in that the devs went to the trouble of depicting racial discrimination in their setting, but their setting is one where everyone is a white. There seems to be this weird hypocrisy behind criticising racism whilst excluding every other race from your game. How does this even happen?
 

Jamash

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maninahat said:
This is pretty much the exact same problem with the Witcher 3, in that the devs went to the trouble of depicting racial discrimination in their setting, but their setting is one where everyone is a white. There seems to be this weird hypocrisy behind criticising racism whilst excluding every other race from your game. How does this even happen?
So you see Humans, Mutants, Elves and Dwarves in the Witcher series and judge them all to be the same based on their skin colour?

Racism exists in The Witcher universe, but it's based on actual race and not ethnicity (although there is plenty of ethnic and national racism between peoples of the same race too), with the main divide being between Humans and Non-Humans in spite of the fact of the fact they all come from the same place and all have white skin.

Additionally, the Witcher games and books don't "exclude" other races, they exist but aren't represented much since they don't inhabit the area of the world in which the Witcher takes place (although the accusation of "excluding" other real world races or human ethnic groups in work of fantasy from a very specific cultural background don't make sense as there's not much reason for them to be considered in the first place).

Race and racism (or other bigotry due to ethnic and national differences) is more than skin deep and you can't just judge everyone by their skin colour or base physical appearance that are dictated by a shared geographic heritage.

To extend your Witcher example to the real world, do you also believe that no racism exists between Indians and Pakistanis, or between the Japanese, Chinese, South Koreans and North Koreans just because they all have the same colour skin?

In GTA IV, are the ethnic slurs hurled at each other by the Irish and Italian mobsters, and the Russians and Albanians, somehow non-racist ethnic slurs because all the ethnicities being insulted have white skin?
 

Chimpzy_v1legacy

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Ehm, racism is not limited to just the color of a person's skin you know. If that is what you are implying, you are opening a really big can of worms. Don't say you weren't warned.

Anyway, just like the conflict in Valkyria Chronicles is an expy of WWII, so are the Darcsens expies of the Jewish (with some gypsy thrown in). FFS, there's even a mission where you basically go to a concentration camp. It makes sense for the Darcsens to look similar to everyone else, because irl Jewish people don't generally look all that different from other people in the areas they have lived in either (apart from orthodox Jewish, who can be easily distinguished by their dress and hairstyle). For example:

One of these very white women is Jewish, the other is not. Can you tell me which is which just by looking at them?
 

maninahat

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Jamash said:
maninahat said:
This is pretty much the exact same problem with the Witcher 3, in that the devs went to the trouble of depicting racial discrimination in their setting, but their setting is one where everyone is a white. There seems to be this weird hypocrisy behind criticising racism whilst excluding every other race from your game. How does this even happen?
So you see Humans, Mutants, Elves and Dwarves in the Witcher series and judge them all to be the same based on their skin colour?

Racism exists in The Witcher universe, but it's based on actual race and not ethnicity (although there is plenty of ethnic and national racism between peoples of the same race too), with the main divide being between Humans and Non-Humans in spite of the fact of the fact they all come from the same place and all have white skin.

Additionally, the Witcher games and books don't "exclude" other races, they exist but aren't represented much since they don't inhabit the area of the world in which the Witcher takes place (although the accusation of "excluding" other real world races or human ethnic groups in work of fantasy from a very specific cultural background don't make sense as there's not much reason for them to be considered in the first place).
There is of course a lot more to race than just skin colour, but racism itself is traditionally based on emphasis of the obvious differences between races - the most obvious being that of skin colour. This is never presented in the Witcher though, making all of its characters white, regardless of what fictional species they are. We don't see non-white minorities in the game, which is odd in a game that wants to explore interracial relationships.

Race and racism (or other bigotry due to ethnic and national differences) is more than skin deep and you can't just judge everyone by their skin colour or base physical appearance that are dictated by a shared geographic heritage.
Racism kinda is skin deep. That's what makes it racism.

To extend your Witcher example to the real world, do you also believe that no racism exists between Indians and Pakistanis, or between the Japanese, Chinese, South Koreans and North Koreans just because they all have the same colour skin?
What makes you think I think that? Of course there is racism in those countries too. But this was a discussion about videogames (also, there is a great amount of variation in skin colours in many of the countries you suggested).

In GTA IV, are the ethnic slurs hurled at each other by the Irish and Italian mobsters, and the Russians and Albanians, somehow non-racist ethnic slurs because all the ethnicities being insulted have white skin?
The GTA games do actually go to the trouble of depicting more realistic forms of racism though, and presents different races as well as ethnicities. Even between the Italian, Slavic and Irish mobsters, there is a lot done to distinguish them culturally, and language/accent wise.
 

Schadrach

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maninahat said:
There is of course a lot more to race than just skin colour, but racism itself is traditionally based on emphasis of the obvious differences between races - the most obvious being that of skin colour. This is never presented in the Witcher though, making all of its characters white, regardless of what fictional species they are. We don't see non-white minorities in the game, which is odd in a game that wants to explore interracial relationships.
Obvious physical differences between races? You don't see any of those? I mean, I've heard people claim that they don't see color, but now you're claiming to only see color and not other traits like height, build, or ear shape. The Witcher is set in what is essentially mythic Poland, I don't find it hugely strange that in such a setting and with limited large scale international travel that the dwarves, elves, and humans all tend to possess a skin color that's common to that region of the world. Hell, even today Poland is very very white.

Even then, going back to you complain with Valkyria Chronicles, the Darcsen are supposed to stand in for the Jews. Want to start talking about how anti-semitism is based primarily on skin color?

maninahat said:
To extend your Witcher example to the real world, do you also believe that no racism exists between Indians and Pakistanis, or between the Japanese, Chinese, South Koreans and North Koreans just because they all have the same colour skin?
What makes you think I think that? Of course there is racism in those countries too. But this was a discussion about videogames (also, there is a great amount of variation in skin colours in many of the countries you suggested).
So if I handed you a bunch of pictures of Chinese, Japanese, North Korean, and South Korean people you think you could accurately sort them based on skin color? Someone who is less lazy than me needs to hold you to that.
 

Zhukov

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maninahat said:
So my issue is this: how could the game developers come to the decision to talk about racism in a game with apparently only one race? Did they not think it was odd when they were designing the characters?
Because the "Darcsen" are supposed to be analogous to the Jews, who aren't physically distinguishable from white Europeans?
 

Kerg3927

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Schadrach said:
The Witcher is set in what is essentially mythic Poland, I don't find it hugely strange that in such a setting and with limited large scale international travel that the dwarves, elves, and humans all tend to possess a skin color that's common to that region of the world. Hell, even today Poland is very very white.
Yep, Poland's population is 98.6% white. (Wikipedia link [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Poland])

Such a strange world we live in today. You know, sometimes a group of people is all white simply because it just happens to be made up of only white people. No need to find fault with that. No need to think it is shameful or "weirdly conceived." No need to try to force equal representation of all races into the situation to avoid criticism. Sometimes it just is what it is.

What would be "weirdly conceived" is portraying a racially diverse Poland.
 

maninahat

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Schadrach said:
maninahat said:
There is of course a lot more to race than just skin colour, but racism itself is traditionally based on emphasis of the obvious differences between races - the most obvious being that of skin colour. This is never presented in the Witcher though, making all of its characters white, regardless of what fictional species they are. We don't see non-white minorities in the game, which is odd in a game that wants to explore interracial relationships.
Obvious physical differences between races? You don't see any of those? I mean, I've heard people claim that they don't see color, but now you're claiming to only see color and not other traits like height, build, or ear shape. The Witcher is set in what is essentially mythic Poland, I don't find it hugely strange that in such a setting and with limited large scale international travel that the dwarves, elves, and humans all tend to possess a skin color that's common to that region of the world. Hell, even today Poland is very very white.
What part of me saying "of course there is a lot more to race than just skin colour" did you not understand? Also, the parallels with Poland mean nothing when a) it's a fictional setting, with fictional races, that they've never-the-less decided have to be white, and b) despite the overwhelmingly white demographics of Poland, it still has People of colour, so it isn't even accurate to portray a Polish-esque setting as exclusively white, especially if your setting happens to feature harbour towns, traders, and other hubs to the outside world. Heck, you could literally have a single black character in the game and have a character pass comment about how unusual that is, and that would be far more plausible.

Even then, going back to you complain with Valkyria Chronicles, the Darcsen are supposed to stand in for the Jews. Want to start talking about how anti-semitism is based primarily on skin color?
The Jews in Nazi Europe were picked out of the crowd by Nazis based on a bunch of "identifiable characteristics", including hair type, skin tone, face shape, and other ethnic stereotypes. They aren't racist to Jews because of their appearance, they just use what was considered the stereotypically Jewish appearance to spot them and then be racist at them. In the case of the game, the squad know a Darcsen by hair colour alone, but its a problem for the player because most of the characters are only distinguishable by their hairstyle anyway. Had the game not mentioned it, the player would have no idea that the character was meant to be of a distinct race, because the character design doesn't include any racial signifiers.

maninahat said:
To extend your Witcher example to the real world, do you also believe that no racism exists between Indians and Pakistanis, or between the Japanese, Chinese, South Koreans and North Koreans just because they all have the same colour skin?
What makes you think I think that? Of course there is racism in those countries too. But this was a discussion about videogames (also, there is a great amount of variation in skin colours in many of the countries you suggested).
So if I handed you a bunch of pictures of Chinese, Japanese, North Korean, and South Korean people you think you could accurately sort them based on skin color? Someone who is less lazy than me needs to hold you to that.
When did I claim to hold a certificate in international racial recognition? I didn't think it was controversial to say that that in many of the previously listed Asian countries there are geographical variations in skin colour that the locals are capable of picking up on and (in the case of racists) discriminating against people for.
 

Smithnikov_v1legacy

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OH SNAP! Valkyria Chronicles is an SJW game that's virtue signalling! Get the GateKeepers on the phone now, we gotta put a stop to this Cultural Marxist indoctrination!
 

Zetatrain

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maninahat said:
Jamash said:
maninahat said:
This is pretty much the exact same problem with the Witcher 3, in that the devs went to the trouble of depicting racial discrimination in their setting, but their setting is one where everyone is a white. There seems to be this weird hypocrisy behind criticising racism whilst excluding every other race from your game. How does this even happen?
So you see Humans, Mutants, Elves and Dwarves in the Witcher series and judge them all to be the same based on their skin colour?

Racism exists in The Witcher universe, but it's based on actual race and not ethnicity (although there is plenty of ethnic and national racism between peoples of the same race too), with the main divide being between Humans and Non-Humans in spite of the fact of the fact they all come from the same place and all have white skin.

Additionally, the Witcher games and books don't "exclude" other races, they exist but aren't represented much since they don't inhabit the area of the world in which the Witcher takes place (although the accusation of "excluding" other real world races or human ethnic groups in work of fantasy from a very specific cultural background don't make sense as there's not much reason for them to be considered in the first place).
There is of course a lot more to race than just skin colour, but racism itself is traditionally based on emphasis of the obvious differences between races - the most obvious being that of skin colour. This is never presented in the Witcher though, making all of its characters white, regardless of what fictional species they are. We don't see non-white minorities in the game, which is odd in a game that wants to explore interracial relationships.
So what you're saying is that despite other noticeable physical attributes among non humans, you're saying that TW3 can't explore race related issues because skin color isn't one of those attributes? That seems incredibly arbitrary
 

direkiller

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maninahat said:
Anyway, what makes this subplot weird is how the racism is presented in the game in the first place; Darcsen people are literally identical to everyone else in the squad, except for having dark hair.
It's also there clothing , Isara's cloak and Zaka's head gear.

You are right it seems a bit weird when they also have a gay man no one bats an eye at, but turn into dicks around someone with arbitrary clothing, hair color, and your ancestors being genocidal assholes a few thousand years ago.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Jamash said:
In GTA IV, are the ethnic slurs hurled at each other by the Irish and Italian mobsters, and the Russians and Albanians, somehow non-racist ethnic slurs because all the ethnicities being insulted have white skin?
Aren't Irish/Italian/Russian/Albanian nationalities, not ethnicities?
 

Jamash

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Johnny Novgorod said:
Jamash said:
In GTA IV, are the ethnic slurs hurled at each other by the Irish and Italian mobsters, and the Russians and Albanians, somehow non-racist ethnic slurs because all the ethnicities being insulted have white skin?
Aren't Irish/Italian/Russian/Albanian nationalities, not ethnicities?
I think they can be both depending on the context.

You're correct that they're all nationalities, but in the context of the Irish/Italian rivalry in GTA IV and the ethnic slurs exchanged between them, I think technically because they're all Americans, albeit Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans, doesn't it make that nationality also an ethnicity with regards to the ethnic slurs used, or are they not ethnic slurs at all but national(?) slurs?

I suppose you could call them racial epithets, but wouldn't that bring us back around to them being nationalities not races?

I also think Russian and Albanian can be ethnicities too, like it seems like a lot of the hate Albanians get is more to do with their ethnicity rather than just their nationality, whereas I've also come across ethnic Russians living in Ukraine and Ukrainians who identify as Russian (although I'm not too sure how much of that is also an issue of politics/ideology as well as ethnicity).
 

gyrobot_v1legacy

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Smithnikov said:
OH SNAP! Valkyria Chronicles is an SJW game that's virtue signalling! Get the GateKeepers on the phone now, we gotta put a stop to this Cultural Marxist indoctrination!
Do you have to go out of the way just to show how butthurt you are? This isn't the topic for it but lately you have been injecting your special brand of bitterness.

inu-kun said:
maninahat said:
In game there's a bit more going on, they have traditionally pale skin and black hair and usually sports some sort of cultural fabric on them not too dissimilar to the jewish kippah. So it's quite close to the Jewish situation of "usually very similar minority with a different culture hounded for an imagined past transgression".

VC did the racism angle quite well, not dwelling on it too much and showing there's no point in it, some of you party members are anti darcsen. VC3 was kinda disturbing in that you are against an elite squad of Darcsens fighting for the empire who in turn promises them a country if the war is successful, a really great story and villains but damn the implications are uncomfortable.
Then again, Calamity Raven got so desperate to the point where they will invoke a second race war between everyone just to get their point across, once they had won they would make sure to give their just due and make the great calamity myth an actual fact which propels the cycle of hate even further.

To be fair, I was expecting Imca to get raped at some point given her status as a penal battalion soldier by some assholes in another unit. There is literally nothing she would be able to do except maybe cause a friendly fire accident
 

Dreiko_v1legacy

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The dark hair thing is a reference to Jewish people, basically. Since to an Eastern person, Jewish people don't look any different from other Europeans outside of having typically darker hair. VC is a game pretty heavily based in a fictionalized WWII situation after all, so it's pretty easy to discern as much.


I think your fixation with skin color or other such things as signifies of race is your problem here, TC, because in the Japanese context anime chars tend to all be Japanese (unless otherwise specified), despite them seeming "white" to the western audiences which suffer from Ethnocentrism which causes them to see anime chars as white due to white being the "default" in their minds.
 

Smithnikov_v1legacy

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gyrobot said:
Do you have to go out of the way just to show how butthurt you are? This isn't the topic for it but lately you have been injecting your special brand of bitterness.
Just doing like in Rome.

And hey, you're the guy that asserted us anti GamerGaters sucked at games because one dumbass journo pulled a DarkSydePhil.
 

Michel Henzel

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maninahat said:
I'm playing through Valkyria Chronicles, an enjoyable, if weirdly conceived, turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy WWII. There is a subplot in the game wherein a bunch of your squad members are bullying another squad member because she's Darcsen - some ethnic minority nobody likes. I've not finished the game yet, but presumably there will be some life lessons wherein everyone overcomes their differences through teamwork or whatever.

Anyway, what makes this subplot weird is how the racism is presented in the game in the first place; Darcsen people are literally identical to everyone else in the squad, except for having dark hair. If she dyed her hair, she could pass for any one of the gang. Come to think of it, even though there are dozens and dozens of characters, all of them have the same generic anime white skin (outside a couple with greyish tans) and there are no other distinguishable races. So my issue is this: how could the game developers come to the decision to talk about racism in a game with apparently only one race? Did they not think it was odd when they were designing the characters?

This is pretty much the exact same problem with the Witcher 3, in that the devs went to the trouble of depicting racial discrimination in their setting, but their setting is one where everyone is a white. There seems to be this weird hypocrisy behind criticising racism whilst excluding every other race from your game. How does this even happen?
How is there hypocrisy? You said it yourself, they depict racial discrimination, which, by definition, includes discrimination based on ethnicity and nationality. Since the Valkiria franchise clearly depicts other European based ethnicities I don't see your point in the slightest. And it actually fits in the setting as ethnic based racial discrimination is the most common type in Europe.