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Old 01-03-2017, 04:35 PM
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shivam shivam is offline
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Default a happy story about diversity in gaming for once

With all the talk of diversity and representation in games I need to share an awesome story, because there are more than enough negative stories to go around.

So the former punter of the Minnesota Vikings is a gent named Chris Kluwe. We became acquainted at PAX this year over a shared love of magic, and have spoken about a game he was creating, which involved deities from different pantheons fighting. Now, that set off some alarms for me, because it has historically not gone well, you might say, as it always ends up being a bunch of dead or highly marginalized pantheons and Hinduism, because something about having many gods and lots of colorful representations makes folks think they have the right to use the tradition like a public domain comic book or something.

Kluwe came to me because he WAS including Hinduism (sigh) and wanted me to vet the art and make sure it wasn't offensive or whatever. I agreed, because hey, maybe I could at least stop anything egregious. He sent over a rather lovely picture of Vishnu and some stats, and I sighed again and offered some notes about hand placements and whatever. But I appended to my reply a question- did he just want me to look at the art, or did he also want my honest opinion about what he was doing?

And i'll be honest, it took a long time for me to be able to actually write even that query, because as a person in a minority community, you become accustomed to having your culture and traditions becoming someone else's toy, and you learn to sigh, and suck it up.I pinged a lot of people i trust to ask their opinions on how to breach this topic, and i eventually did.
Kluwe, to his credit, immediately replied yes he wanted to hear everything i had to say.

this is what i wrote--"But here's my personal bigger issue- the other deities you're using are from effectively dead pantheons. Barring reconstructionist groups, there aren't a ton of people worshipping the Greek or Druidic or Norse pantheons right now. Hinduism, on the other hand, has something like 600 million followers. And Vishnu is an immensely popular god, worshipped in some form or another by about a third of those people. I'm not sure what message it sends that you're lumping in an actively practiced faith with these other faiths from dead civilizations. This is basically the Smite problem all over again, where that game took a bunch of dead pantheons, and then one very much living one, and turned it into a MOBA. And when living practitioners complained, the devs replied with that lame old chestnut of "well my hindu friends totally like it" etc etc.

The thing is, it's kinda dehumanizing to see your faith turned into a toy. Its not about disrespecting the faith, cause whatever who cares, as much as telling the believers that their tradition is not worth a ton more than the iconography it provides, and not equal to any western traditions, which are subconsciously afforded respect. Consider- how many games do you see using Abrahamic traditions? Even atheist game designers tend to shy away from using stuff from Christianity/Islam/Judaism/Baha'i/whatever. It's a subconscious bias that stems from old school colonialism- the brits are monotheists, so anything less is barbaric, etc.

Now, i'm not accusing you of anything, and i think your game looks hella cool and i can't wait to play it! I just think that you should perhaps reconsider using Vishnu as one of your characters. If I may offer a replacement, draw on the older Vedic pantheon instead. The Vedic culture is what gave rise to Hinduism and Buddhism, and features a vast pantheon of Gods that are still spoken of in the Hindu tradition, but aren't worshipped or revered the way Vishnu is. Indra, for instance. King of the old gods, drunken reveler, wields a lightning bolt, rides an elephant and all that. He's an old Indo-European god that is from the same source faith that gave us Zeus/Jupiter/Thor. Pretty cool dude. Alternatively, if you want the more Law focused side of Vishnu, there's Varuna, the original chief deity of the Vedic pantheon (before being replaced by indra, who was then replaced by Vishnu and Shiva). God of the oceans and the Law, focused on oaths and the truth and the like, and worshipped everywhere from India all the way to the Mediterranian. He's attested in Hittite literature even. Name comes from the old Indo European "Oueranos", which is the same as Uranus in greek! Also, the cult of Mithra-Varuna became the mystery cult of Mithras that the Romans followed, giving rise to a lot of the iconography borrowed by early Christianity. The reason we shake hands, for instance, is because that was how worshippers of Varuna swore oaths with each other.

At the end of the day, it's your game, and I'm not trying to stand in the way of someone cool doing something cool. I'd just humbly suggest that maybe there are other options which would suit your needs better than Vishnu, and certainly save you a lot of headache later on.

I hope this helps, and if there's any other way I can be of assistance, please let me know. "

---

And Chris, to his immense credit, basically said thank you, that's exactly what I wanted to hear.

I checked the KS again today, and i was blown away that not only had he changed the god, art and everything, but made an update explaining why.

This is so rare that I don't think i've ever actually seen it happen, and I pay a lot of attention to cultural use in gaming. Just mind blowing. Hopefully the tides are finally turning, and game designers will realize that their potential audience is the entire world.
Here's the game if you wanna check it out. I'm still just kinda stunned.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...-of-revelation
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Old 01-03-2017, 04:51 PM
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is it wrong of my brain to say to myself, I wish jesus were in more video games, he's got awesomely weird powers that would make a good point and click adventure or Baldur's gate style game, among others that spring to mind?

I'm much more proud of YOU shivam than this other guy who probably shouldn't be given an extra bonus gold star for consulting a religious person re: god in card game? seems obvious to do maybe, or am I not getting excited enough about baby's first words?

Brag on yourself, you taught me a clever trick if I'm ever in the same situation, I'll use it too now. Also elephant riding god way more awesome than Zeus any day imo, because bonus elephant.
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Old 01-03-2017, 04:56 PM
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Nicely done, on both sides.
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:10 PM
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shivam shivam is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guild View Post
is it wrong of my brain to say to myself, I wish jesus were in more video games, he's got awesomely weird powers that would make a good point and click adventure or Baldur's gate style game, among others that spring to mind?

I'm much more proud of YOU shivam than this other guy who probably shouldn't be given an extra bonus gold star for consulting a religious person re: god in card game? seems obvious to do maybe, or am I not getting excited enough about baby's first words?

Brag on yourself, you taught me a clever trick if I'm ever in the same situation, I'll use it too now. Also elephant riding god way more awesome than Zeus any day imo, because bonus elephant.
He wanted to put Jesus into the game (something related to waiting three turns to do something) and Mohammad (just the name, no picture), but was suggested not to by his business partners.

but yeah, you would totally think this was absolutely obvious, and yet no one does it, which is why this warranted my excitement =)
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:35 PM
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Well done, and thanks for sharing!
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:45 PM
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I've been tempted to back this, but I have enough constructed/draft closed set games that I never play.
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Old 01-03-2017, 06:22 PM
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This is really good news; thank you for sharing! Makes me want to look out for the same things if or when I ever make a game.

Of course now I just want a game where you play as Jesus (and that isn't called The You Testament, thank you very much).
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Old 01-03-2017, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trar View Post
Of course now I just want a game where you play as Jesus (and that isn't called The You Testament, thank you very much).
It already exists!
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Old 01-03-2017, 07:15 PM
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Good stuff, Shivam.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guild View Post
Also elephant riding god way more awesome than Zeus any day imo, because bonus elephant.
Zeus would be way more likely to turn into an elephant and then try to impregnate a mortal woman (hopefully not directly but you never know with that crazy horndog*†).

*Which is probably another animal he has turned into so that he could have yet another extra-marital affair.

†horngod
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Old 01-04-2017, 01:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aturtledoesbite View Post
I was wondering when this would pop up. This thread has a Xenosaga factor of 8. Not bad!
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Old 01-04-2017, 01:29 AM
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Cool.

Just cool.
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Old 01-04-2017, 06:30 PM
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He's a very cool guy. I remember being really angry for him when the story about the homophobic behaviour of the team happened.
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Old 01-06-2017, 04:44 PM
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Yeah from what I've seen on Twitter and Deadspin Kluwe is a class act. Glad for you, too. It must have been awesome to have that kind of input on something.

It really is a damn shame Hindu literature doesn't get the same treatment in Western courses as the Greco-Roman stuff because it's every bit as good. (And gobs more relevant since it's still widely practiced.)
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