On the Witcher 3, culture, and representation

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Posted by imsh_pl (4207 posts) -

With a title like this, this could be just another one of these click-bait articles and threads that you've probably browsed enough of for this week. I'll do my best to offer something more on the issue, my own perspective, hence why this is a pretty personal blog post rather than an entry on some thread.

The Witcher 3 is, for me, a truly unique game. A game that holds me for hours at a time, devouring the fantastic world and lore. But it feels different from other world class fantasy games. I could not quite tell what it was, but I was sure that it didn't have to do just with the great environments, lighting, and the thrill of taking down a griffin mid-flight. Often times while playing it I find myself smirking at the humor, and opening my mouth in an honest giggle; something which is very rarely the case while playing other games. I could not fully grasp what made me it so special, until I was given a prod (well, more of a shove) by a blog post shared in this thread. It all finally clicked, and I realized what it was:

The Witcher 3; no, Wiedźmin 3 is the first game that makes me feel represented.

At this point many of you might seem confused. To a certain extent, I was too. This makes little sense. I am white, I am male, I am straight, I am 20; all of the boxes are checked. 90% or so of games are being made for me, tailored specifically to my liking, exclusively for my demographic, or so I'm told. Celebrimbor is white, John 'Soap' MacTavish is male, Commander Shepard is straight. The notion that I am underrepresented is not warranted.

And then, I saw on the list a box that has never been ticked. The ink has almost crumbled away and the dust has covered some of the letters, but for the first time, I put a check mark next to it.

"I am Polish."

It all clicked. I finally realized what that gut feeling was. See, Vesemir's face? It kinda reminds me of my grandpa, with the nose and all that. The main menu music sounds pleasantly reminiscent of festivals I have attended, with the female moans and all. That little kid chanting about how 'cesarz Emhyr narobił w gacie' (Emhyr shat his pants) brings my little rascal of a cousin to mind. The painted flowers on the walls of the inn? I have ones just like that on the curtains in my summer house, in Kaszuby. They're all around the town, with the blue and red petals and everything. And referring to Vodka as 'Wódeczka'? Well, that's just every party I've attended, every wedding I've been to.

You see, the Witcher 3 isn't 'a third person action fantasy role playing game'. It doesn't 'have a medieval setting with references to Slavic mythology'. It doesn't 'borrow from eastern european folklore'. Wiedźmin 3 is a Polish game, about Polish culture.

So, upon the release of the game, while reading numerous threads, blog posts, articles, and reviews, I sometimes felt something which I have never felt when reading game coverage: I felt insulted.

'Everyone is white, why don't they just throw in a few people of color in there, it would make everyone feel more represented.'

'The developers included an English translation, so I see no reason why the writers wouldn't change the world by adding non-white characters. They didn't choose to make the dialogue exclusively Polish, they've already sacrificed integrity, why not make marginalized groups more represented.'

[sic]'We’re part of an industry that frequently tells the stories of white people and stars white people. (...) Thus, wanting more people of color in stories that focus on mythology for a predominantly white culture doesn’t work the other way. Wanting white people in spaces dedicated to people of color ignores that stories of white people already dominate this and other creative industries. It’s "What about me?" when everything is already about you.'

'Stories of white people.'

'White culture'.

'Everything is already about you.'

Is it?

What about stories of Polish people?

What about Polish culture?

Is it really all about us?

Are we really that widely represented?

Is Polish culture just a subset of 'white culture'?

Are Polish stories just 'white stories'?

No.

We have our own traditions, mythology, folklore, history, and culture. As shocking as it may seem, there are actually elements of the Witcher 3 which will go unnoticed by Swedes, Germans, Norwegians, the French, the Dutch, or the Americans; even though they are all, more often than not, white. The reason for it is simple:

Skin color does not define culture.

After reading some of the Witcher 3 coverage I am under the impression that many people have this misguided notion that culture and tradition is skin deep. That the desire to be represented should be satisfied by the player character having pigment of a tone similar to yours. That the developers of CD Projekt are somehow obligated to combat the oversaturation of white player characters, because [sic] 'We’re part of an industry that frequently tells the stories of white people and stars white people.'

As a Pole, I am basically told that all of my desires of representation are already satisfied by the skin color of major video game protagonists. Call of Duty protagonists are white, what's all the fuss about? There's tons of games with white people! We don't need another one of these!

Well, I do.

It's one thing to call for representation, and it's one thing to criticize; both of those I'm all for. I would love to play more games telling stories of Indians, Brazilians, Italians, Ethiopians, Egiptians, Arabs, trans people, gays, lesbians, minorities; if you have a story to tell, I think you should be able to tell it.

But don't tell me that the story of Poles has been told, that's it's all about me, because I can play a white guy in a shooter. Don't tell me I don't need this, don't tell me that the story has been told without proper consideration of your people, don't tell me it should be changed because it doesn't fit diversity quotas.

Because that's insulting.

The Witcher 3 is not 'another one of those white stories'. It's a Polish story, arguably the best in the whole medium, one that I'm glad I can experience.

Now forgive me, I have some drowners to scorch.

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#1 Posted by TwoLines (3508 posts) -

The whole thing is bizarre. If you're looking at this game and saying "there's not enough black people here!" Then maybe, just maybe, you're thinking about it too much. Enjoy the game. It's not racist, it's not in any way malicious towards any race. I'm not upset when playing Dragon Age because there are no Slavic people in it. Stop being offended by everything.

Also- I don't like Polish folklore. I really dislike the world of The Wicther. But I appreciate that it's different.

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#2 Posted by Evilsbane (5561 posts) -

Bravo one of the best articles I have seen on this issue and written from the perspective it needs to be.

Skin color does not define culture.

Stick that down your pipe and smoke it.

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#3 Edited by conmulligan (1701 posts) -

This is a good writeup, and I’m glad we have someone from Poland to give their perspective. It’s unfortunate that The Witcher’s uniqueness has been overlooked somewhat, because it really isn’t just your standard Western fantasy, even though it shares a lot of the same tropes. So, we should celebrate the fact that the series represents Poland in a way that hasn’t been done before and draws from mythology that isn’t always used as inspiration. We shouldn’t erase Polish history and culture because it’s predominately white. But, as I said in the other thread, none of that is incompatible with a more ethnically diverse population. In some ways, it’s selling CD Projekt RED awfully short — true, Poland is overwhelmingly white, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of other cultures or races. They had no problem writing, modelling and texturing a Zerrikanian in the first entry, a game featuring a significantly smaller cast of characters.

The Witcher 3 is a poor example to bring up if you’re trying to make a larger point about diversity in games, but that doesn’t mean you can’t criticise it in the right context. It just requires a certain amount of nuance. I’m glad the game makes you feel represented and does a good job of representing Polish culture! It’s part of the reason why I adore the series. And, who knows, maybe CD Projekt will take some of the criticism to heart and use the introduction of Toussaint to shake up the ethnic makeup a bit.

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#4 Posted by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

Thanks for writing this! I remembered there being a really articulate Polish poster and I wanted to PM you to ask what you thought about this stuff, but I didn’t get around to it.

Skin color does not define culture.

After reading some of the Witcher 3 coverage I am under the impression that many people have this misguided notion that culture and tradition is skin deep. That the desire to be represented should be satisfied by the player character having pigment of a tone similar to yours. That the developers of CD Projekt are somehow obligated to combat the oversaturation of white player characters, because [sic] 'We’re part of an industry that frequently tells the stories of white people and stars white people.'

This is probably the aspect of the recent spate of sophomoric “should the Witcher 3 have people of colour” think pieces that’s annoyed me the most. I’m not European, and the closest I’ve come to visiting Europe is visiting London, but it seems obvious to me that “white” is not a homogenous culture in Europe. “White” Europeans are not interchangeable, and don’t share a culture. Some high-profile schmuck (who I won’t name because he’s sort of a live wire) recently matter-of-factly said that the Polish people are “anglo.” That’s simply not true – anthropologically and/or culturally. Polish people are (overwhelmingly) ethnically Polish. (I gather that wasn’t the case pre-WWII, so in terms of folklore it admittedly might be more complicated.)

I don’t even buy that “white” is a homogenous culture in North America – there are pretty significant regional, class, and traditional/cosmopolitan splits – but it seems to me that a lot of the people writing these articles are doing so with a myopically American (or at least Anglo, in the correct sense of the word) perspective.

FWIW, I lived in the traditionally-Polish neighbourhood of Toronto for a few years. One of the most interesting people I know is half-Polish. I took it upon myself to do some basic research on Polish culture and history, and it left me with a real appreciation. It also left me with a much clearer picture of how much the Polish people have gone through in recent history – if the argument is that the Polish people are privileged (and therefore “punching down” or whatever) because they’re white, it’s at odds with a very recent history of subjugation and prejudice.

(To be clear, I’m not trying to front as an expert – I’m just saying I know enough to know that a lot of the commentary I’ve read is startlingly at odds with reality.)

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#5 Posted by Sterling (4115 posts) -
No Caption Provided

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#6 Posted by Asrahn (582 posts) -

As someone who's normally strongly on the side of better representation advocacy, I have to say that this article offers a rather fresh and interesting view on the Witcher 3. I for some reason never considered its foundation as a Polish product to be particulating to and so heavily influenced by Polish culture; that is, in spite being aware of the fact that the books that inspired the game were written by an older Polish gentleman, it never struck me that the game could have a different cultural marking than "dirty, grimdark, boobs, medieval world from a white person's viewpoint, plus dragond and shit" setting. It's rather remarkable how this entire debate has polarized my thinking into such a black and white (sorry) mindset, and I have to say that you've opened my mind for further considerations. Thank you for this article.

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#7 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

@asrahn said:

As someone who's normally strongly on the side of better representation advocacy, I have to say that this article offers a rather fresh and interesting view on the Witcher 3. I for some reason never considered its foundation as a Polish product to be particulating to and so heavily influenced by Polish culture; that is, in spite being aware of the fact that the books that inspired the game were written by an older Polish gentleman, it never struck me that the game could have a different cultural marking than "dirty, grimdark, boobs, medieval world from a white person's viewpoint, plus dragond and shit" setting. It's rather remarkable how this entire debate has polarized my thinking into such a black and white (sorry) mindset, and I have to say that you've opened my mind for further considerations. Thank you for this article.

I highly encourage you to dig into The Last Wish, the first book, a collection of short stories for which the Witcher Saga was founded upon.

They're essentially Aesop Fables with a twist. I can't pretend to suggest that they're fables "Polish style," because I don't know what that looks like (I'm Canadian myself), but they're very clearly written with an understanding and appreciation of the author's local folklore. On top of that, they're really quite fun reads.

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#8 Posted by Asrahn (582 posts) -

@asrahn said:

As someone who's normally strongly on the side of better representation advocacy, I have to say that this article offers a rather fresh and interesting view on the Witcher 3. I for some reason never considered its foundation as a Polish product to be particulating to and so heavily influenced by Polish culture; that is, in spite being aware of the fact that the books that inspired the game were written by an older Polish gentleman, it never struck me that the game could have a different cultural marking than "dirty, grimdark, boobs, medieval world from a white person's viewpoint, plus dragond and shit" setting. It's rather remarkable how this entire debate has polarized my thinking into such a black and white (sorry) mindset, and I have to say that you've opened my mind for further considerations. Thank you for this article.

I highly encourage you to dig into The Last Wish, the first book, a collection of short stories for which the Witcher Saga was founded upon.

They're essentially Aesop Fables with a twist. I can't pretend to suggest that they're fables "Polish style," because I don't know what that looks like (I'm Canadian myself), but they're very clearly written with an understanding and appreciation of the author's local folklore. On top of that, they're really quite fun reads.

Thank you! I'll be sure to check it out along with W3!

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#9 Edited by csl316 (13915 posts) -

I'm Polish, too, and I'm proud of the reception this game is getting. I'm guessing Swedish people felt the same way with Brothers, a game that brought their culture to the forefront. Or maybe Muramasa, which did the same for Japan. Personally, I absolutely love games that come out of a country and have the heart and approach that could only come from people in that country.

I was bummed to see people bash it for a lack of diversity, but then I remembered Disney getting the same thing a while back. The common response was "Frozen was a Slavic story. Mulan was a Japanese story. Aladdin is a Middle Eastern story. The characters all fit the culture and setting." And I feel The Witcher does the same.

And this was a very good read.

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#10 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

@csl316 said:

I'm Polish, too, and I'm proud of the reception this game is getting. I'm guessing Swedish people felt the same way with Brothers, a game that brought their culture to the forefront. Or maybe Muramasa, which did the same for Japan. Personally, I absolutely love games that come out of a country and have the heart and approach that could only come from people in that country.

I was bummed to see people bash it for a lack of diversity, but then I remembered Disney getting the same thing a while back. The common response was "Frozen was a Slavic story. Mulan was a Japanese story. Aladdin is a Middle Eastern story. The characters all fit the culture and setting." And I feel The Witcher does the same.

And this was a very good read.

Honestly, all of this hubbub really seems to come from people with a rather myopic, Americentric worldview. That is to say, people who do not understand that different people across the world belong to different cultures, and that those cultures are not the same as their own. I've noticed this a lot when you consider so many people (again, hailing from America) say that all white people have a shared culture and heritage. Or that a black American is virtually the same as a Black Englishman.

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#11 Posted by ToTheNines (1373 posts) -

crap I was tricked into clicking on a polygon link!

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#12 Posted by csl316 (13915 posts) -

@csl316 said:

I'm Polish, too, and I'm proud of the reception this game is getting. I'm guessing Swedish people felt the same way with Brothers, a game that brought their culture to the forefront. Or maybe Muramasa, which did the same for Japan. Personally, I absolutely love games that come out of a country and have the heart and approach that could only come from people in that country.

I was bummed to see people bash it for a lack of diversity, but then I remembered Disney getting the same thing a while back. The common response was "Frozen was a Slavic story. Mulan was a Japanese story. Aladdin is a Middle Eastern story. The characters all fit the culture and setting." And I feel The Witcher does the same.

And this was a very good read.

Honestly, all of this hubbub really seems to come from people with a rather myopic, Americentric worldview. That is to say, people who do not understand that different people across the world belong to different cultures, and that those cultures are not the same as their own. I've noticed this a lot when you consider so many people (again, hailing from America) say that all white people have a shared culture and heritage. Or that a black American is virtually the same as a Black Englishman.

I live in America, and I could never understand why people here can simplify the rest of the world because this country's so incredibly diverse.

I'm in the suburbs of Chicago, which is a pretty quiet and uneventful area. I'll drive an hour north, I'm in the city where everything is fast-paced and constantly busy. I'll drive an hour south, and my friend spends his days fishing, playing guitar on his porch, and enjoying the country life. I know white folks from all three of these relatively close areas. We all have completely different worldviews. We have some shared interests, but have different approaches to things despite looking alike. Now spread that across 50 states, and there's so much diversity here. And spread that across the world...?

But nah, let's focus on the negative. Instead of all the potential video game stories that could be told if people just pursued their ideas instead of a focus group.

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#13 Edited by TobbRobb (6083 posts) -

THANK YOU. Holy shit this is the best blog I've read on this subject in such a long time. You are hitting the nail on the head of why the whole diversity argument has been so ridiculous for a long time now. We need to clamor for REAL representation of diversity and not the shallow knee-jerk reactions that is forcing in diversity just for the sake of it.

And yeah I am from Sweden, and I believe you when you say I won't get it 100% like if I was from Poland. But I'll be damned if the Witcher hasn't represented me more closely than any other RPG as well. And it does make a big difference. I couldn't give less of a shit for any of the other "new" fantasy universes we've been sold in recent years, but the Witcher speaks to me on another level.

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#14 Posted by Brackstone (473 posts) -

I just got to say, this post was really excellent. People always seem to forget that this game is so incredibly, proudly Polish, and wasn't one of those made by committee Ubisoft games.

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#15 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

@csl316 said:

@oldirtybearon said:

@csl316 said:

I'm Polish, too, and I'm proud of the reception this game is getting. I'm guessing Swedish people felt the same way with Brothers, a game that brought their culture to the forefront. Or maybe Muramasa, which did the same for Japan. Personally, I absolutely love games that come out of a country and have the heart and approach that could only come from people in that country.

I was bummed to see people bash it for a lack of diversity, but then I remembered Disney getting the same thing a while back. The common response was "Frozen was a Slavic story. Mulan was a Japanese story. Aladdin is a Middle Eastern story. The characters all fit the culture and setting." And I feel The Witcher does the same.

And this was a very good read.

Honestly, all of this hubbub really seems to come from people with a rather myopic, Americentric worldview. That is to say, people who do not understand that different people across the world belong to different cultures, and that those cultures are not the same as their own. I've noticed this a lot when you consider so many people (again, hailing from America) say that all white people have a shared culture and heritage. Or that a black American is virtually the same as a Black Englishman.

I live in America, and I could never understand why people here can simplify the rest of the world because this country's so incredibly diverse.

I'm in the suburbs of Chicago, which is a pretty quiet and uneventful area. I'll drive an hour north, I'm in the city where everything is fast-paced and constantly busy. I'll drive an hour south, and my friend spends his days fishing, playing guitar on his porch, and enjoying the country life. I know white folks from all three of these relatively close areas. We all have completely different worldviews. We have some shared interests, but have different approaches to things despite looking alike. Now spread that across 50 states, and there's so much diversity here. And spread that across the world...?

But nah, let's focus on the negative. Instead of all the potential video game stories that could be told if people just pursued their ideas instead of a focus group.

That's the thing, though, isn't it? To look at it another way, race relations in the US are different to race relations across Europe, or Asia, or any other continent. Hell, race relations between black and white folk in Canada is different to the US (there's no baggage about slavery, for instance; many black people in Canada trace their roots to the Caribbean as well), but a lot of these writers (especially at Polygon) seem to think that it's the same everywhere. That American culture (as incredibly diverse as it is, being the Melting Pot as it were) can be applied to other regions of the world. It's not like that. It's never been like that, and it always make me laugh when somebody thinks that it is.

Hopefully this is just a phase that people will soon grow out of, because honestly this whole thing is getting rather tiresome.

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#16 Posted by FrodoBaggins (867 posts) -

This is a fantastic read, thanks.

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#17 Posted by Asrahn (582 posts) -

On the other hand, and don't kick me if I'm utterly wrong, but wouldn't the apologist mindset of "Witcher 3 is about Polish culture/mythos" in order to to dismiss criticism regarding lacking representation of other ethnicities simply not make sense as a defense, unless one tries to claim/reconcile that having a different skin colour than white(ish) is somehow not compatible with polish culture? Conversely, does this argument mean being of white(ish) skin colour is inherent to polish culture? If polish culture is separate from "just white culture", then isn't that an argument in itself to be able to include people of colour; particularly in a setting that otherwise is so fantastical and filled with magical and otherworldly things, what makes it so incredibly controversial to ask of other levels of melanin be present as well?

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#18 Posted by Marokai (3577 posts) -

@oldirtybearon: It's bizarre to me that this attitude comes from self-described "progressives" as well! What is there progressive about diminishing the cultural distinctiveness and history of huge groups of people because "Well, you are all white, so..." It's such a shockingly shallow analysis from the same group of people who go on and on about gaming being "mature" and "thoughtful."

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#19 Posted by TobbRobb (6083 posts) -

@asrahn: There's nothing inherently bad about asking for wider representation in the game. It's more about respecting the integrity of what they were doing and wanted to do. Asking, hoping or wishing is all fine and good. It's when we get into the territory of condemning the game or the developers for not widening their representation in the game that it gets weird. They need to be allowed their artistic integrity and CDPR in this case, for one reason or another decided to not represent other skin colors. Maybe they thought it would have been out of place, maybe they didn't feel up to the task to represent a culture they didn't have experience with (and honestly had no precedent in that universe to do it anyways). Whatever the reasoning was, they should be allowed to make decisions like this for the integrity of their vision.

It'll be interesting to see what they do with Cyberpunk. They definitely have the writing chops to create good characters, but will they stick to what the know as far as culture goes? Or will we see some Japan style uncanny valley halfway international characters?

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#20 Posted by Excast (1368 posts) -

Well said.

Honestly it feels as if there is a competition going on nowadays among some media figures in the industry to see if they can insert some perceived discrimination into every release that comes out. It's become less about games and enjoying them and more about the constant drumbeat of shallow intellectualism and seeing who can garner the most publicity by criticizing the current "it" game. It's a race to see who can come off as the most progressive.

Acting as if all "white culture" is the same would be acting like India and Central America are the same culturally because many of their citizens have similar pigmentation. Some media figures might realize that if they looked beyond the white guy on the box.

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#21 Edited by Asrahn (582 posts) -

@tobbrobb: My greatest worry isn't actually what they motivated their choice of "whites only" with in their game, but rather whether they made a choice at all, and simply didn't fall into a "default white" pattern. People should definitely be allowed to create what work they want - I mainly levy criticism towards games with poor representation as a means to making sure that it's a conscious choice and not implicit, subconscious exclusion that is at work; that's the greatest issue with the industry representation after all, the fall-back on the average white, male perspective.

And damn I am pumped for Cyberpunk; CDPR has shown to be a leading star of writing and world-building in the industry, so I'm hoping it'll be a grand mixture of everything grand and great, cyberpunked up to over 9000 :)

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#22 Posted by imsh_pl (4207 posts) -

Wow, thanks for the great comments! Didn't really expect so much positive feedback :)

I'd also like to take this opportunity to say that you shouldn't be afraid of criticizing my post. Just because I'm Polish and talk about Poland doesn't mean I'm automatically right.

@asrahn said:

On the other hand, and don't kick me if I'm utterly wrong, but wouldn't the apologist mindset of "Witcher 3 is about Polish culture/mythos" in order to to dismiss criticism regarding lacking representation of other ethnicities simply not make sense as a defense, unless one tries to claim/reconcile that having a different skin colour than white(ish) is somehow not compatible with polish culture? Conversely, does this argument mean being of white(ish) skin colour is inherent to polish culture? If polish culture is separate from "just white culture", then isn't that an argument in itself to be able to include people of colour; particularly in a setting that otherwise is so fantastical and filled with magical and otherworldly things, what makes it so incredibly controversial to ask of other levels of melanin be present as well?

I think you're looking at it the other way around. You're asking 'why wouldn't it' instead of 'why would it'.

Witcher 3 is an extremely thought out game, as probably anyone who played it knows. The side arcs are stories on their own, and, at least to me, don't have the impression of filler. A woman lost her sister, a lover was killed, a man searches for his brother. I know that the GB staff and many duders here share this impression. There are no 'gee help a farmer catch his chickens, get gold' stories, or at least there are few of those.

For me this is achieved because it seems like the writers sat down and said 'okay, convince me that this lady's arc is a story worth telling; what does it bring to the world, the feel of the game; why is it here?' and basically scrapped the quest which were defended as 'well why can't it be here? I mean we need a questionmark in this area here sooo...'.

So the question is: would arc which had, let's say, black characters do them justice?

Wouldn't you say that throwing in different colors just because 'why not' isn't very thought out?

If you were a black person, would you feel content of being represented in the game just because farmer X is suddenly the same color as you, but his story is just the same as if he were white?

For me, this is the definition of a token character. 'Well, he doesn't add anything meaningful to the story, but let's make him black so people won't be outraged'.

So, to me, you should be asking 'why should there be a story with someone who is non-white'. Because if the answer is 'so people won't be mad' then perhaps the writers didn't feel like they would do the story justice; that it would feel just like a pallet swap for the sake of 'diversity', which, I would say, would be much worse.

ToddRobb summed it up pretty well:

@tobbrobb said:

@asrahn: There's nothing inherently bad about asking for wider representation in the game. It's more about respecting the integrity of what they were doing and wanted to do. Asking, hoping or wishing is all fine and good. It's when we get into the territory of condemning the game or the developers for not widening their representation in the game that it gets weird. They need to be allowed their artistic integrity and CDPR in this case, for one reason or another decided to not represent other skin colors. Maybe they thought it would have been out of place, maybe they didn't feel up to the task to represent a culture they didn't have experience with (and honestly had no precedent in that universe to do it anyways). Whatever the reasoning was, they should be allowed to make decisions like this for the integrity of their vision.

And to your question about being non-white as being incompatible with Polish culture: Poland, historically, has been ethnitically diverse, but not in the sense of skin color. Rather, in the sense of nationality, beliefs, religious cults. The world of the Witcher is culturally diverse; this diversity just isn't expressed in the skin color.

Historically, yes, Poland has been pretty much exclusively 'shade of white', if you want to talk about just skin color. We had no colonies; during the period of blooming european trade post the dark ages we have been under partition by the neighboring powers. So it's not like we were an attractive immigration destination. There was no Africans-in-chains slavery like in the US. Racial tensions are pretty much nonexistent both nowadays and historically (unlike cultural/ethnic tensions).

Of course I'm not arguing that nowadays we should somehow condemn non-whites as 'unpolish'. That's absurd. But historically, they just weren't here.

It's kind of funny. It might be difficult for someone like a US citizen to understand that the fact that there are no black people in our history is not because we are trying to erase them, or because we think they are subhuman, or because we are the Polish KKK or something. They just weren't here. I follow US news to a degree and here there simply is nothing comparable to the racial tension that they have.

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#23 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

@marokai: As repugnant as it is, I think it's a fallacy born of ignorance as opposed to malice. To give you an example:

In the United States, white people are generally considered homogenized these days. It doesn't matter if you're actually of Irish descent or Italian descent, despite both of these heritages being landmark cases in oppression throughout the 19th and 20th century US, you're white. It doesn't matter if your last name is McCullouch or Johnson, if you're Scottish or Serbian; the idea is that you're American. If you grow up in a culture that homogenizes a skin colour this way, you're bound to extrapolate this to an entire worldview because, quite frankly, you don't know any different. To you, white people are just white; they don't come from a specific place in the world. Black people are all African, because the majority (or so I'm told) of blacks in the United States are descended from African slaves. This is a concept that is unique to America because it is in and of itself a country built upon the backs of immigrants. Even the First Nations peoples (of which I'm a member) are immigrants. Granted we immigrated to the Americas some 20,000 years ago, but still.

Basically, when you grow up in a place where everyone is considered the same, and the only distinction between people is the colour of their skin, there's bound to be times when people read too little into the inherent cultural differences that are found elsewhere in the world. To an American who has only known other Americans, the idea of a Slavic people creating a piece of art based on their own culture, their own stories is actually just another group of white people creating something for white people. They don't see the nuance because they're not aware of it. Education is probably the best tool in disarming this kind of thinking.

Then again, some of these people refuse to see the inherent cultural differences between the Northerners and the Southerners, or the Western folk or the Eastern folk, or even those in the Midwest. None of this is noticed because, I think, the idea that America is a monolith is so strongly ingrained in the culture that people have become blind to their differences. In Canada, we're often taught in our schools that our culture is a mosaic, one made of many pieces that form a greater whole, as opposed to a melting pot where all associations with previous cultural identities is, ideally, done away with.

I hope this made sense in some way. My thoughts are still a little scattered on the subject as a whole.

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#24 Posted by baka_shinji17 (1118 posts) -

Dzieki! The Witcher has quickly become one of favorite fantasy series for just that reason. It truly introduced me to a culture that I had zero familiarity with, few games or books have ever really done that. It was when watching the behind the scenes content for Witcher 1 that I got a better understanding of all the uniquely Polish parts of the game. These had gone right over my head while playing, but when I understood them, it elevated the Witcher above just another typical fantasy game.

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#25 Posted by Excast (1368 posts) -

You can see the kind of difference in ethnic makeup even among different areas of the United States.

For example, I live in Maine. Only 1% of our population is black and overall we are 95% Non Hispanic white. Compare that to a state like Massachusetts that is relatively close, yet around 9% of it's population is black and it's only 75% Non Hispanic white. And some distance away in a state like Georgia more than 30% of the population is black and a mere 55% is Non Hispanic White.

Now, if I was making a game based on Maine, fictional or otherwise, would it make sense to pretend as if we are some kind of racial melting pot that just isn't born out by reality? Probably not. It would certainly make a lot more sense if my story was based in a part of the world where racial diversity is actually present. It's not malicious or wrong. It just is what it is.

Now, could CDPR have ignored their established lore that seems to indicate most people of different skin colors live in a faraway land? Sure, I guess so. But does that serve any real purpose? Should they just do it out of fear of being criticized by media figures with nothing better to do than find discrimination of some kind in every big name game that comes out?

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#26 Edited by Zeik (4416 posts) -

Great blog. I don't often comment on these things, but I very much agree with a lot of what you're saying.

The conversation about race and diversity in video games is a good one to have, but it seems like too many people have taken a skewed viewpoint and approach to trying to solve the problem. Greater diversity in games is not about going down a diversity checklist with every game making sure that every single thing has representation in some form or another. A strongly polish inspired game that can speak to polish people while also giving outsiders a look into polish culture IS a step toward greater diversity, and a fairly meaningful one at that. It's not just a game that crammed a bunch of random polish references into it for flavor, or made some token polish character for the sake of diversity, but a game that is simply polish by its nature.

That is not to say that games should be segregated based on the race that the developers happen to know how to represent best, but if people are going to be clamouring for racial diversity it shouldn't be about making sure every game has at least one black person in it, it should be about creating games where they are meaningfully represented. If someone made a game that was deeply infused with Arab culture and people the subject shouldn't ask why aren't there more Japanese people in it.

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#27 Edited by GrantHeaslip (1869 posts) -

@oldirtybearon said:

@marokai: As repugnant as it is, I think it's a fallacy born of ignorance as opposed to malice. [...]

Basically, when you grow up in a place where everyone is considered the same, and the only distinction between people is the colour of their skin, there's bound to be times when people read too little into the inherent cultural differences that are found elsewhere in the world. To an American who has only known other Americans, the idea of a Slavic people creating a piece of art based on their own culture, their own stories is actually just another group of white people creating something for white people. They don't see the nuance because they're not aware of it.

I agree with this, but I don't think ignorance is a defence when people are making very strong normative judgments about the game. I don't mean to imply that you disagree -- I'm just less inclined to be sympathetic about people's ignorance when that ignorance is aggressively weaponized rather than latent.

Personally, it's the cocksure patronizing attitude of a lot of the rhetoric that's pissed me off. I'm ignorant about all sorts of stuff, and I try to keep that ignorance in mind when I'm speaking about a given subject. I have a lot of respect for people who are self-aware about what they don't know.

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#28 Edited by NickM (1158 posts) -

Three words. Carpets on walls. CARPETS ON WALLS!

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#29 Posted by TerminatorZ (115 posts) -

Ah, you make sense and say things that are realistic and worldly, such as the fact that culture belongs to so many sub-categories of "white" or "black," that it's not so binary like the dumb people of the "diversity" witch hunt think, and all that.

Very pleasing.

The Witch Hunters of the Eternal Fire are coming for you and your logic and realism!! (not really).

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#30 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (5710 posts) -

That was well written and pretty much articulated my views on the whole lack of diversity issue better than I ever could. My enjoyment of the game has only increased tremendously when I reached the Skellige Islands. As someone who grew up in Ireland I'm loving some of the Irish culture on display in parts of the Islands. I'm even finding my Irish accent coming back as I occasionally run into people that sound like Irish natives.

Everything on display so far has come off as authentic to me that the people making mountains out of misperceived molehills either have never played that much of the game and are forming opinions off of trailers or are looking for the current game that's hot at the moment in pop culture to incorporate into their social justice crusade because it'll draw more attention to them.

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#31 Posted by Nime (545 posts) -
@imsh_pl said:

I think you're looking at it the other way around. You're asking 'why wouldn't it' instead of 'why would it'.

I think this line succinctly sums up my whole views on this and why I have issues with a lot of the arguments going on.

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#32 Posted by kadaju86 (42 posts) -

Can't say anything other than I agree pretty much with everything you have written. Good to see this side of it so well worded rather than only the incredibly PC view of "we have to make this world as racially diverse as the UN!" :P

Would also like to add that, I might miss a lot of Polish references and such through the game, but as a Norwegian Skellige is incredible to run around on. The islands feel like I would be riding around in the mountains or fjords here, and it's made even more relatable by CDPR having used actual Norwegian place names. Larvik, Lofoten and Elverum (as Elverum Lighthouse in the game) are all actual cities/places in Norway. Coupled with all the Norse mythology references, Ragh nar Roog in particular, it makes the game world feel a lot more tangible and relatable to me as a straight, white male from Norway.

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#33 Edited by Carryboy (1069 posts) -

Don`t have anything to add other then say great post.

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#34 Edited by physicalscience (293 posts) -

@grantheaslip said:

@oldirtybearon said:

@marokai: As repugnant as it is, I think it's a fallacy born of ignorance as opposed to malice. [...]

Basically, when you grow up in a place where everyone is considered the same, and the only distinction between people is the colour of their skin, there's bound to be times when people read too little into the inherent cultural differences that are found elsewhere in the world. To an American who has only known other Americans, the idea of a Slavic people creating a piece of art based on their own culture, their own stories is actually just another group of white people creating something for white people. They don't see the nuance because they're not aware of it.

I agree with this, but I don't think ignorance is a defence when people are making very strong normative judgments about the game. I don't mean to imply that you disagree -- I'm just less inclined to be sympathetic about people's ignorance when that ignorance is aggressively weaponized rather than latent.

Personally, it's the cocksure patronizing attitude of a lot of the rhetoric that's pissed me off. I'm ignorant about all sorts of stuff, and I try to keep that ignorance in mind when I'm speaking about a given subject. I have a lot of respect for people who are self-aware about what they don't know.

I completely agree. Sometimes articles like the ones that polygon like to post about how "Oh man MORE white people in a game" can sort of make it feel like they are attacking me just because my skin color is white. I never once considered my culture to be "white guy" and I think sometimes people just assume that all white males are essentially dudes from a bud light commercial which can be pretty insensitive. I'm pretty sure the area and culture I grew up in (NORTHERN ass NY, like more Canadian flags in my town then American) is much different then say someone who grew up in like Alabama or grew up in a Midwestern city. Though those people might have a similar shade of skin color it doesn't make us the same just like an African American person who grew up in San Francisco, CA and an African American person who grew up in Syracuse, NY would also not have the same life experiences and stories to tell just because they are of similar skin color.

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#35 Edited by conmulligan (1701 posts) -

@imsh_pl said:

So the question is: would arc which had, let's say, black characters do them justice?

Wouldn't you say that throwing in different colors just because 'why not' isn't very thought out?

If you were a black person, would you feel content of being represented in the game just because farmer X is suddenly the same color as you, but his story is just the same as if he were white?

For me, this is the definition of a token character. 'Well, he doesn't add anything meaningful to the story, but let's make him black so people won't be outraged'.

Of course no-one wants a single token character, but that's not the only option! You're telling me that in the dozens (hundreds?) of quests that make up the game, there wasn't room for one involving merchants from a distant land? Or Zerrikanian expats living in Novigrad? You're saying that in the courts of Emperor var Emreis, King Radovid and King Bran there are no emissaries from non-white nations, that the ports of Novigrad and the streets of Oxenfurt are completely bereft of foreigners? The Nilfgaardian Empire has dozens of provinces in the temperate south; is it really so hard to imagine that their conscripted armies are not composed entirely of white people?

You also don’t need to contrive the existence of foreign people to be ethnically diverse. Eastern Europe may have always been predominately white, but never exclusively so. To the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing in The Witcher books that would exclude members of the general population from being of Indian extraction like the Romani, or Turkic like the Cumans.

The Witcher might be unmistakably Polish, but it’s also clearly influenced by the wider story of Europe. That story doesn’t have to be, and in fact never was, exclusively Caucasian. I think that’s part of reason why conversations like this are important. For me, it’s not about shaming developers for depicting their own culture, but incentivising them to think more broadly about race, ethnicity and society.

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#36 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

@grantheaslip said:

@oldirtybearon said:

@marokai: As repugnant as it is, I think it's a fallacy born of ignorance as opposed to malice. [...]

Basically, when you grow up in a place where everyone is considered the same, and the only distinction between people is the colour of their skin, there's bound to be times when people read too little into the inherent cultural differences that are found elsewhere in the world. To an American who has only known other Americans, the idea of a Slavic people creating a piece of art based on their own culture, their own stories is actually just another group of white people creating something for white people. They don't see the nuance because they're not aware of it.

I agree with this, but I don't think ignorance is a defence when people are making very strong normative judgments about the game. I don't mean to imply that you disagree -- I'm just less inclined to be sympathetic about people's ignorance when that ignorance is aggressively weaponized rather than latent.

Personally, it's the cocksure patronizing attitude of a lot of the rhetoric that's pissed me off. I'm ignorant about all sorts of stuff, and I try to keep that ignorance in mind when I'm speaking about a given subject. I have a lot of respect for people who are self-aware about what they don't know.

Believe me; the reason I don't engage in these discussions as often as I would like to is because I can't stand the same things you're speaking to. I know myself well enough to know that if I'm confronted with patronizing rhetoric and blatant revelry in one's own ignorance, my patience wears thin enough to get me in trouble. The most I can muster when these kinds of controversies spring up is an eye roll and maybe a grunt or two about waiting for the asteroid.

That said, I'm glad to see threads like this exist. I'm finding that the more outlandish the claim some dipshit from Polygon springs on the Internet, the more people like the OP pop up to educate and provide a different cultural context to the how and why of it. I think that's a positive side effect, at least.

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#37 Edited by RonGalaxy (4688 posts) -

Poland, which is where the game was made, is made up of like 98% white Europeans (mostly polish) Is it really surprising/wrong of them to have only white people in the game? I think a lot of people frame their entire worldview around where they're from and don't consider the possibility of different countries having different social experiences. You may not understand/like how another culture operates, but you should at least accept it for what it is and accept that you don't really have any stake in it.

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#38 Posted by planetfunksquad (1362 posts) -

Yo, this was a good read. The other thread here actually opened my eyes a bit to this point of view and I'm glad of it, because I really was overlooking this aspect of it. However I'm still not sure how I feel about the way some etnicities ARE represented in the Witcher. The Elves are obviously meant as a stand in for another race (I'm guessing Romani?) and that begs the question why that culture had to be represented as a fictional species instead of an actual race of humans. This is a larger problem in fantasy literature granted, but I'd like the opinion of a native Pole on the subject. My great grandmother was Romanichal (UK based Romani basically) and it feels weird to me.

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#39 Posted by Excast (1368 posts) -

Of course no-one wants a single token character, but that's not the only option! You're telling me that in the dozens (hundreds?) of quests that make up the game, there wasn't room for one involving merchants from a distant land? Or Zerrikanian expats living in Novigrad? You're saying that in the courts of Emperor var Emreis, King Radovid and King Bran there are no emissaries from non-white nations, that the ports of Novigrad and the streets of Oxenfurt are completely bereft of foreigners? The Nilfgaardian Empire has dozens of provinces in the temperate south; is it really so hard to imagine that their conscripted armies are not composed entirely of white people?

You also don’t need to contrive the existence of foreign people to be ethnically diverse. Eastern Europe may have always been predominately white, but never exclusively so. To the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing in The Witcher books that would exclude members of the general population from being of Indian extraction like the Romani, or Turkic like the Cumans.

The Witcher might be unmistakably Polish, but it’s also clearly influenced by the wider story of Europe. That story doesn’t have to be, and in fact never was, exclusively Caucasian. I think that’s part of reason why conversations like this are important. For me, it’s not about shaming developers for depicting their own culture, but incentivising them to think more broadly about race, ethnicity and society.

I guess my general feeling is that if it wasn't one thing it would be another. If they hosted a plethora of dark skinned people form the distant lands of the lore, the complaints about race would be replaced by questions about why the main character is forced to be a male or why women do not play a more prominent role in the world. And if there were more strong female characters the question would then be why Geralt is not bisexual or why there are not more gay'lesbian characters. And if there were more gay and lesbian characters the question would then be why asexual, transexual, or others were not included. Because that seems to be the main thing that many of the social commentators in gaming media insist on doing almost every time a big game comes out. It doesn't matter if it makes sense at all in the world that has been created.

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#40 Posted by physicalscience (293 posts) -

@conmulligan: I don't know, I think I find a game influenced by a culture so unbelievably foreign to me (Slavic) is already incredibly diverse even though Slavic people share a similar pigmentation of the skin as me and I don't think shoehorning some darker skinned people from a foreign land adds anything to the game other than clicking some check boxes of "Yup there is some dark people in this game so it's diverse!" I want people to teach me about where they are from, their customs, and their culture. Whether they happen to be black or white or anything in between is irrelevant to me.

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#41 Posted by imsh_pl (4207 posts) -

For me, it’s not about shaming developers for depicting their own culture, but incentivising them to think more broadly about race, ethnicity and society.

That's a fair point, but my question is: why? Every game has its place. We can have games like Persona, which tackle issues such as homosexuality transsexualism, alongside Call of Duty. Some developers choose to present these issues because they want to tell about these struggles, some just want to create entertainment.

I'm sure you would agree with me that not all games need to entertain all the social issues such as race, class, sexism, etc. Well, maybe the Witcher 3 could also be one of those games? I see the Witcher as a story that CD Projekt wanted to tell. A tale based on the country's most beloved fantasy author, whom they possible read under their sheets with a flashlight. A nod or even a proper bow towards their culture and history. If any social commentary is in there I feel like it is certainly not the focus of the game.

Would I like to see more socially, racially and ethnically diverse games? Absolutely. We share that desire. But I think that has to come naturally, from people who want to tell those stories. Maybe CD Projekt's next game will be inspired on South African tribal rituals in the 1530, or perhaps not. If they'd like to touch on this issue I would certainly be interested, if not; that's their choice.

I guess my point is: if we want to see stories being told and issues being tackled, criticizing existing stories for not touching on these subjects gets us nowhere. Instead we should incentivize creators. Kickstart interesting games, Greenlight ambitious titles. Maybe CD Projekt isn't interested in adressing the issues black people exclusively face; I don't see this as bad. I don't think they are obliged to. Unless people are glaringly using heated issues to stir up controversy, I think that criticizing a game for not tackling a subject that we would like to be tackled in games serves little purpose.

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#42 Posted by conmulligan (1701 posts) -

@imsh_pl said:

Historically, yes, Poland has been pretty much exclusively 'shade of white', if you want to talk about just skin color. We had no colonies; during the period of blooming european trade post the dark ages we have been under partition by the neighboring powers. So it's not like we were an attractive immigration destination. There was no Africans-in-chains slavery like in the US. Racial tensions are pretty much nonexistent both nowadays and historically (unlike cultural/ethnic tensions).

Of course I'm not arguing that nowadays we should somehow condemn non-whites as 'unpolish'. That's absurd. But historically, they just weren't here.

It's kind of funny. It might be difficult for someone like a US citizen to understand that the fact that there are no black people in our history is not because we are trying to erase them, or because we think they are subhuman, or because we are the Polish KKK or something. They just weren't here. I follow US news to a degree and here there simply is nothing comparable to the racial tension that they have.

Also, I'd resist the urge to conclude that a history of slavery or colonialism is a prerequisite for racism. Ireland, for example, has no such history and yet Black Africans are the most likely ethnic group to face discrimination. Just to be clear, I have no specific knowledge of Poland when it comes to race, so it could very well be as you describe!

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#43 Posted by GalacticPunt (1458 posts) -

Five Star Thread! This is a Polish studio riffing on the world created by a Polish author, steeped in Polish folklore. Those who are trying to reduce its uniquely Polish flavor down to "yet another game all about white people" are embarrassing themselves.

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#44 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

@planetfunksquad said:

Yo, this was a good read. The other thread here actually opened my eyes a bit to this point of view and I'm glad of it, because I really was overlooking this aspect of it. However I'm still not sure how I feel about the way some etnicities ARE represented in the Witcher. The Elves are obviously meant as a stand in for another race (I'm guessing Romani?) and that begs the question why that culture had to be represented as a fictional species instead of an actual race of humans. This is a larger problem in fantasy literature granted, but I'd like the opinion of a native Pole on the subject. My great grandmother was Romanichal (UK based Romani basically) and it feels weird to me.

Do you know why sci-fi and fantasy authors use elves and other humanoid races as a "stand-in" for real cultures and ethnicities? Because you as a reader can put anything you want on it. In a way, the Elves in the Witcher stand in for all oppressed classes, cultures, and ethnicities throughout the ages; for you they represent Romani, for me, Native Americans. It depends on what you connect with, and what your personal stake is in the case. By using fictional races writers can also talk about issues dealing with race openly and without readers attaching their personal baggage onto the subject. It may even get readers to connect certain dots and see things in their world in a different context. On the whole, it's a safer way to explore a subject that, in the western world, is often seen as taboo.

At least, that's my take on the matter.

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#45 Posted by imsh_pl (4207 posts) -

Also, I'd resist the urge to conclude that a history of slavery or colonialism is a prerequisite for racism. Ireland, for example, has no such history and yet Black Africans are the most likely ethnic group to face discrimination. Just to be clear, I have no specific knowledge of Poland when it comes to race, so it could very well be as you describe!

I brought up the lack of slavery not as an equivalent of no racial tension, but as an explanation for why there historically have been almost no black people in Poland. Of course, this doesn't mean that Poles can't be racist. Every country has bigots who are bigots for no reason (that is to say all of them), and Poland is no exception. It just means that racial tension hasn't been part of our history not because we didn't have slavery, but because we had no other races. Now, ethic tension, national tension, or religious tension are different matters entirely.

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#46 Edited by cLoudForest (90 posts) -

@planetfunksquad said:

Yo, this was a good read. The other thread here actually opened my eyes a bit to this point of view and I'm glad of it, because I really was overlooking this aspect of it. However I'm still not sure how I feel about the way some etnicities ARE represented in the Witcher. The Elves are obviously meant as a stand in for another race (I'm guessing Romani?) and that begs the question why that culture had to be represented as a fictional species instead of an actual race of humans.

Disclaimer: I'm not Polish so I can't respond to the question you raised.

Without wanting to dismiss the specific character of individual experiences of racial prejudice, I think that it's fair to say that bigotry and the experiences of being subjected to it probably exhibit at least some common features across difference races, ethnicities and so forth. So having Elves, Dwarves and other non-humans as "stand-ins" allows The Witcher to tie into established fantasy tropes without being rooted in any specific real-world race. That way the fiction can engage with the subject of bigotry in general without being tied to a particular real-world example and allow different people to project whatever is closest to their experience of discrimination on to it. For many American people the history of African Americans in their country may be most resonant but that might be different depending where you're from and what history you're most familiar with.

For instance, whereas you're thinking that the non-humans represent Romani peoples, I have always thought that The Witcher series deals with the history of anti-semitism in Eastern Europe (there's some very suggestive hints in the first game that probably formed my view, together with my pre-existing awareness of some of that history in Europe in general). I don't think that either of these views is wrong necessarily: it just means that using the construct of non-humans in this fantasy operates in multivalent way depending upon the reader.

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#47 Edited by conmulligan (1701 posts) -

@excast said:

I guess my general feeling is that if it wasn't one thing it would be another.

Perhaps, but that's hardy a good reason not to bring something up. It's like saying that Jeff shouldn't complain about the controls because, even if they weren't quite so shitty, he'd just find something else to complain about. Well, maybe, but so what?

@imsh_pl said:

I'm sure you would agree with me that not all games need to entertain all the social issues such as race, class, sexism, etc. Well, maybe the Witcher 3 could also be one of those games? I see the Witcher as a story that CD Projekt wanted to tell. A tale based on the country's most beloved fantasy author, whom they possible read under their sheets with a flashlight. A nod or even a proper bow towards their culture and history. If any social commentary is in there I feel like it is certainly not the focus of the game.

Sure, but that's not quite what I was getting at. As I mentioned above, there's nothing about The Witcher universe or mythology that rules out different European ethnicities from being a part of the fabric of the Northern Kingdoms. You could include people that resemble the Romani or the Turks without directly dealing with issues of race or class. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that CD Projekt would have no specific objection to tackling that kind of diversity, especially when it's rooted in recorded history. If the only thing that comes from this whole brouhaha is that the next time CD Projekt sits down to write a character, someone in the room thinks to themselves, does this person absolutely have to be Caucasian?, I'd consider that a victory.

I guess my point is: if we want to see stories being told and issues being tackled, criticizing existing stories for not touching on these subjects gets us nowhere. Instead we should incentivize creators. Kickstart interesting games, Greenlight ambitious titles. Maybe CD Projekt isn't interested in adressing the issues black people exclusively face; I don't see this as bad. I don't think they are obliged to. Unless people are glaringly using heated issues to stir up controversy, I think that criticizing a game for not tackling a subject that we would like to be tackled in games serves little purpose.

Obviously I don't agree that criticising games over things like representation serves little purpose, but you're absolutely right about the importance of lifting diverse experiences and creators up, rather than spending all our time tearing things down. I'm sure we could all be a little better in that regard. Unfortunately, such efforts are often dismissed out of hand as inherently ideological or pushing an agenda, but that's neither here nor there.

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#48 Posted by conmulligan (1701 posts) -

@imsh_pl said:

I brought up the lack of slavery not as an equivalent of no racial tension, but as an explanation for why there historically have been almost no black people in Poland.

Ah, thanks for clarifying! Poland sounds very similar to Ireland in that regard; plenty of religious and cultural tension, but not much in the way of actual racism until the late 20th century.

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#49 Posted by DefaultProphet (826 posts) -

The thing that you're not grasping is that white culture is vastly over represented in media. Whether that be slavic, anglo, american, whatever. Every other ethnicity has the same greatly varying cultures and they can't even get much representation for the overarching ethnic group ie: Black, Asian, etc like alone specific subcultures like the Polish culture presented in Witcher. So when somebody says white culture is over-represented, and more specifically white males are overly represented, it's pretty lame to respond "Well this has 3 different white cultures in it, that's diverse!".

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