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ElSuave

L5R getting heat after SU&SD Review

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I personally don't care for the Banzai chant at all. At Koteis, I would routinely just not participate because, to be quite frank, I found it kind of...stupid.

At Gencon I only participated once I was brought up to the stage on Saturday to lead the chant as Hatamoto. And even then, I still found it a bit...I don't know if cheesy is the right word. But definitely unnecessary.

 

I wouldn't mind it being eliminated entirely, especially if there's a negative context behind it for a lot of people.

 

I think the more concerning bit of the article, based on the comments of the article, is the idea of the art being whitewashed and the whole controversy around cultural appropriation. Looking back through the core set, I really only noticed a hand full of cards that look explicitly whitewashed, such as Fearsome Mystic.

 

It's a shame they put one of the few truly white washed images on the front cover of the game. That really paints a worse picture for the game than, I think, it actually is.

 

As for Cultural Appropriation, it is certainly a buzz term in today's (or at least America's) culture. It's been drilled into our heads that cultural appropriation is any time anyone (mostly white people) does anything that is related to another race or country's culture, and that it's unequivocally bad.

 

The thing I feel a lot of people are missing is that adapting and honoring another's culture is not inherently bad. America is essentially built on cultural absorption, after all.

 

Black people are (generally) not upset that white people are wearing corn rows or braided hair styles. They're upset that they renamed them "boxer braids" and are acting like they discovered this "cool new hairstyle" when various black communities have been doing it for hundreds of years (if not longer). They're annoyed that it's considered a fashion statement for white people but it gets black students in trouble for having extensions in their hair. Oh, but if they wear their hair naturally (Afro style hair) they also get in trouble for having "unprofessional" hair.

 

They aren't upset that big butts and twerking are trendy now (see Kim Kardashian and Iggy Azalea). They're annoyed that, for decades, having a big butt was considered a bad thing until the white people discovered it, paired with hashtags like #whitegirlsdoitbetter to really drive home that, even when white people do something that minorities have been doing for ages, they still "do it better."

 

To me, L5R isn't doing anything like this. They are honoring various Asian cultures by combining them into a fictional universe. They aren't trying to pass Asian culture off as white or even trying to absorb it into the white culture. This is what confuses me most. L5R feels, by definition, not to be cultural appropriation, but it's being faulted for it nonetheless just due to the Race issues going on in America.

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One of the most compelling comments by an Asian artist on the topic of the art direction was the fact if every character inherently looked Asian, all the characters would look the same. This is not to say that all people of a race look the same, its about artists having the freedom to make their characters unique by deviating from stereotypes and cultural/ethnic expectations of the human body. Its important for characters to look unique so the artist didn't want to conform to the concept that his art, which was his artistic expression, had to look realistic or historic. Its a very valid point but I don't disagree with characters maintain a strong aesthetic inherent to the setting being portrayed.

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What I personally don't understand: It is a Fantasy world that is based on feudal Japan, but tries to be distinct by mixing things from the chinese and popculture in it. Why shouldn't this be a setting with asian and white looking characters?

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Just now, Ignithas said:

What I personally don't understand: It is a Fantasy world that is based on feudal Japan, but tries to be distinct by mixing things from the chinese and popculture in it. Why shouldn't this be a setting with asian and white looking characters?

  This one's easy. Rokugan is, by its own terms, intensely xenophobic. To put it in slightly nastier terms, they're astonishingly racist - it's built into the setting. The Unicorn are the primary source of outside influence. They're still distinctly Asian - just Chinese / Mongol in 'Earth terms,' - but 200 years later they're still only grudgingly accepted, if that. This is not, by its own terms, a society that would accept outsiders.

  As to the art, the explanation I've heard from the AEG days (and I get this second or third hand at best, so am happy to accept correction from anyone who known more) is that it's surprisingly hard to get free-lanced Asian looking characters. A lot of artists use friends or neighbors as models, and since they're mostly Americans, their models wind up looking white. Just given the pressures of production, AEG often felt they had no choice but to use the art, and try to find other artists later. Personally I find this to be easily believable, given how many moving pieces there are to creating a game like this.

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1 hour ago, agarrett said:

  This one's easy. Rokugan is, by its own terms, intensely xenophobic. To put it in slightly nastier terms, they're astonishingly racist - it's built into the setting. The Unicorn are the primary source of outside influence. They're still distinctly Asian - just Chinese / Mongol in 'Earth terms,' - but 200 years later they're still only grudgingly accepted, if that. This is not, by its own terms, a society that would accept outsiders.

I think the point was, why should white-looking be an indication of being an outsider in this fictional culture?  Why couldn't the native culture itself include a mixture of Asian and Caucasian features?

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7 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

I think the point was, why should white-looking be an indication of being an outsider in this fictional culture?  Why couldn't the native culture itself include a mixture of Asian and Caucasian features?

Would we have this problem if all the people were say, Lizard People, or weird humanoid plants?  Is the problem that we are expecting "Japan" when it is in fact a separate world where people could have developed differently?  We say "Magical Samurai" as a point of reference, and I know that the original setting by John Wick pulls strongly from earth history, but this doesn't mean everything has to be.

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24 minutes ago, Mirith said:

Would we have this problem if all the people were say, Lizard People, or weird humanoid plants?  Is the problem that we are expecting "Japan" when it is in fact a separate world where people could have developed differently?  We say "Magical Samurai" as a point of reference, and I know that the original setting by John Wick pulls strongly from earth history, but this doesn't mean everything has to be.

Oh, so now humanoid plants are "weird"?  I suppose you think having all the characters as talking JELLO salads or katana-wielding, robotic furniture would be "weird", too!

Ugh.  Some people can be so closed-minded.

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3 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

Oh, so now humanoid plants are "weird"?  I suppose you think having all the characters as talking JELLO salads or katana-wielding, robotic furniture would be "weird", too!

Ugh.  Some people can be so closed-minded.

I want to see the anime that is robotic furniture wielding katana.  Someone gets started on that.

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2 hours ago, kpsmith said:

This is not to say that all people of a race look the same, its about artists having the freedom to make their characters unique by deviating from stereotypes and cultural/ethnic expectations of the human body.

Characters don't look the same because they are portrayed as Asian. The real issue is that everyone is so conventionally attractive. Take a look at the new Toturi card - just a generic pretty boy. Contrast with O5R portrayals, where Toturi has shrewd hooded eyes, an upturned nose, and pursed lips. Yes, O5R Toturi is not exactly a heartthrob but you could easily pick him out in the art without reference to something more superficial, like a distinctive hairstyle or clothing item.

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3 hours ago, Joe From Cincinnati said:

They are honoring various Asian cultures by combining them into a fictional universe.

Nah, L5R is not about "honoring" Asian culture - it's about using Asian culture as the stepping-off point to a fantasy. That's why armchair intellectuals are so eager to label L5R as textbook orientalism, which for them amounts to badwrongfun no-no racism, a.k.a., a good opportunity to feel righteous and yell at other people. The truth is, we evoke all kinds of cultural references for the sake of fantasy world building. Samurai, vikings, knights, shamans, etc., etc.

3 hours ago, Joe From Cincinnati said:

I personally don't care for the Banzai chant at all. At Koteis, I would routinely just not participate because, to be quite frank, I found it kind of...stupid.

At Gencon I only participated once I was brought up to the stage on Saturday to lead the chant as Hatamoto. And even then, I still found it a bit...I don't know if cheesy is the right word. But definitely unnecessary.

I came to L5R as a RPGer, not a CCGer. L5R offered something I had never seen in any other RPG: a player base completely devoted to in-character immersion. L5R RPGers are bar-none the players most committed to understanding and enacting the setting elements in their gaming. You could argue that is the essence of the IP. So while I understand that you particularly may feel a little shy about the banzai chant, I'm glad you participated as a Hatamoto. 

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5 hours ago, Joe From Cincinnati said:

I personally don't care for the Banzai chant at all. At Koteis, I would routinely just not participate because, to be quite frank, I found it kind of...stupid.

At Gencon I only participated once I was brought up to the stage on Saturday to lead the chant as Hatamoto. And even then, I still found it a bit...I don't know if cheesy is the right word. But definitely unnecessary.

*snipity snip snip*

They aren't upset that big butts and twerking are trendy.......

Oh so you don't like to participate in the Utz/Banzai chant........

How about this one:

Hey hey! Ho ho!

Hat-a-mo-joe has to go!

Hey hey! Ho ho.........

I can make this happen.  Back in line Joe or things are gonna get messy. :P

Also, did no one ever tell you not to trust a big butt and a smile?  

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3 minutes ago, Ishi Tonu said:

Oh so you don't like to participate in the Utz/Banzai chant........

How about this one:

Hey hey! Ho ho!

Hat-a-mo-joe has to go!

Hey hey! Ho ho.........

I can make this happen.  Back in line Joe or things are gonna get messy. :P

Also, did no one ever tell you not to trust a big butt and a smile?  

 

I'd chant that :P.

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this thread is a pretty good example of why the l5r community has such a mixed reputation. lot of defensiveness, lot of kneejerk, and a lot of scorn for anything resembling people trying to respect other people. i guess thats pretty par for gaming communities in general, but its always a bummer being reminded that its just as common in l5r, in a community i have a lot of fondness for. 

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Banzai isn't a slur. It's not an offensive term. I'm not scorning anyone for trying to respect people. I'm saying that saying "this chant is offensive because of the Nanking Massacre" is ridiculous. The number of people about to Wiki what I'm saying is just about as much proof as I need. The issues with that terrible incident have nothing to do with what battle cry may or may not have been said, and everything to do with the atrocities committed.

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On 9/8/2017 at 5:27 PM, InquisitorM said:

That's exactly how it works.

No, it's not. You don't have control over telling people whether they should or should not get offended over something. You don't have to agree with them, but that doesn't make them any less insulted.

And I wasn't the one conflating your arguments with ElSuave's original use of "offensive", but if you choose to tie your boat to theirs (with "Nothing is inherently offensive"), that's your call.

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On 9/9/2017 at 10:45 AM, Manchu said:

In which case, he probably should have passed over it altogether ... but it is just so fashionable to have opinions on this sort of thing, I can understand the temptation to tell your readers that you are Sensitive And Progressive whenever possible.

Downgrading concerns about insulting other people by saying it's "just so fashionable" to have them is a pretty petty insult to bring to bear yourself.

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On 9/9/2017 at 11:47 AM, Manchu said:

These are extremely contentious issues. Just casually dropping them at the end of a game review is irresponsible at best. If you want to bring up complicated issues, at least be willing to actually deal with them. Shut Up and Sit Down ought to Put Up or Shut Up.

Shut Up and Sit Down has been Putting Up and Shutting Down misogynists and racists for years in their forums and reviews. Are you familiar with their podcasts, their essays over the years, and their conference speeches? There is a lot there if you want to get into it.

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3 hours ago, Manchu said:

I came to L5R as a RPGer, not a CCGer. L5R offered something I had never seen in any other RPG: a player base completely devoted to in-character immersion. L5R RPGers are bar-none the players most committed to understanding and enacting the setting elements in their gaming. You could argue that is the essence of the IP.

While I'm thrilled you found a very immersive RPG group in L5R, that's hardly IP-driven. I've seen lots of campaign with heavy character immersion in systems ranging from GURPS to 2nd Edition D&D to even TOON. While certain rulessets can encourage it -- it's tough getting a long-lasting Pendragon group going without massive character immersion, for instance, given the dynastic arc of the game -- heavy character immersion can be found in any game where the players are all clicking together wonderfully. Hold on to those groups!

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What does "downgrading" mean?

What I see is a tactic. You say X is problematic. I disagree. You say my disagreement is problematic. Seems like you are the one doing the "downgrading." This is the problem of assuming you have the moral high ground: you are willing to forgive or overlook in yourself what you criticize in others.

What SU&SD said about other issues in other places has no bearing on the entirely superficial, petty, and irresponsible way Quinns mentioned the banzai chant.

The right group can do a great job with just about any system or setting, no question. My separate point is that I have never seen a player base as a whole so committed to immersion as the L5R base.

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31 minutes ago, Gaffa said:

While I'm thrilled you found a very immersive RPG group in L5R, that's hardly IP-driven. I've seen lots of campaign with heavy character immersion in systems ranging from GURPS to 2nd Edition D&D to even TOON. While certain rulessets can encourage it -- it's tough getting a long-lasting Pendragon group going without massive character immersion, for instance, given the dynastic arc of the game -- heavy character immersion can be found in any game where the players are all clicking together wonderfully. Hold on to those groups!

I have to agree with Manchu in that there is no other RPG as immersive as L5R. Why? Its the culture. Social etiquette is baked into the setting. It influenced heavily by Japanese culture that it becomes an experience, unlike every generic fantasy game out there.

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5 minutes ago, kpsmith said:

unlike every generic fantasy game out there

When it comes to "generic fantasy" players tend to assume that the culture is equivalent to their own IRL culture - for whatever reason - apart from a few, often superficial points. With L5R, you have to begin by putting that assumption aside and entering into something that at a very basic level is very different.

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1 hour ago, Gaffa said:

No, it's not. You don't have control over telling people whether they should or should not get offended over something.

I never said that. I said that the thing itself is not inherently offensive. Every individual gets to be offended at whatever they want, but being offended does not make the source offensive.

To be clear: you being offended does not make something offensive.

Try addressing what people actually say, not what words you stuff in their mouths for them. You dishonour yourself with such behaviour.

Edited by InquisitorM

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