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offending your audience

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drunknmunky
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I was talking to a local designer about a project I was working on and the first thing he tells me is "if you're publishing this you should redo the theme because casting witches as bad guys would offend pagans and a lot of pagans play games"

I blew off this advice as over protective, but it brought up a good question:

When do you worry about offending your audience?

Technically all games will offend someone. Small world could offend shorter people by using dwarves and small. Ticket to ride could offend people who have a fear of trains. Look at the backlash magic the gathering had in its early years for promoting demons!

Where is the line and when do you care?

Kroz1776
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Racism

drunknmunky wrote:
I was talking to a local designer about a project I was working on and the first thing he tells me is "if you're publishing this you should redo the theme because casting witches as bad guys would offend pagans and a lot of pagans play games"

I blew off this advice as over protective, but it brought up a good question:

When do you worry about offending your audience?

Technically all games will offend someone. Small world could offend shorter people by using dwarves and small. Ticket to ride could offend people who have a fear of trains. Look at the backlash magic the gathering had in its early years for promoting demons!

Where is the line and when do you care?

I'd say you should draw the line when it has bigoted/racist things in the game. Smallworld has dwarves, so what? Dwarves are short. That'd be like saying Operation is a bad game because it depicts a sick person and that's just mean. Besides the word Small in the name Smallworld talks more about how the world is small and there's not enough room. Ticket to Ride wouldn't offend people afraid of trains, it'd scare them. Magic the Gathering makes some sense but then again, there are people that have said Pokemon and My Little Pony are of the Devil and will corrupt your children, training them in ways to control demons. (I'm not making that stuff up)

When a game begins to falsely depict a group of people, this is wrong. If I made a game that made it painfully obvious that the designer thinks that all Muslims are suicide bombers and terrorists, that is over the line. That doesn't mean you can't have a game about terrorists, but that you mustn't try to portray all arabs/muslims as extremist terrorists.

If I made a game about witches, I wouldn't worry mainly because in modern culture, they are the bad guys. Some movies and shows are starting to reverse that view. coughharry pottercough cough

In summary, as long as you don't base a game off of a real group of people, make it obvious who that group of people are, and then misrepresent them or insult them, you're ok.

Dralius
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Kroz1776 wrote:If I made a

Kroz1776 wrote:
If I made a game that made it painfully obvious that the designer thinks that all Muslims are suicide bombers and terrorists, that is over the line. That doesn't mean you can't have a game about terrorists, but that you mustn't try to portray all arabs/muslims as extremist terrorists.

Did someone say http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/7605/the-suicide-bomber-card-game

Not only a crappy game but in bad taste.

drunknmunky
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Exactly. Well put. That's how

Exactly. Well put. That's how I was explaining it using extreme example. There are people who take offense to way too many things but they are a minority.

When a game straight up insults a group of people that is bad. When a game includes derrogitory terms, that is bad. But short of that, you play to tastes. If you make a children's game and make sex jokes that's bad but those same sex jokes in an adult game could be great (ie cards against humanity vs. Apples to apples junior)

Context is everything.

Kroz1776
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XD

Dralius wrote:
Kroz1776 wrote:
If I made a game that made it painfully obvious that the designer thinks that all Muslims are suicide bombers and terrorists, that is over the line. That doesn't mean you can't have a game about terrorists, but that you mustn't try to portray all arabs/muslims as extremist terrorists.

Did someone say http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/7605/the-suicide-bomber-card-game

Not only a crappy game but in bad taste.

That's too funny. That's just wrong. I was thinking more of a game where you try and stop a suicide bomber. I'd be ok with that game.

lewpuls
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The only way to avoid

The only way to avoid offending anyone is to do nothing at all. Imagined slights are everywhere in the days of rampant egalitarianism. (Political correctness often amounts to "everyone must be the same".)

To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. --Elbert Hubbard

Kroz1776
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Too True

lewpuls wrote:
The only way to avoid offending anyone is to do nothing at all. Imagined slights are everywhere in the days of rampant egalitarianism. (Political correctness often amounts to "everyone must be the same".)

To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. --Elbert Hubbard

This is all too true. The biggest one that really burns me are the people saying that Black is a racist term. Learn your history people. Who coined the term Black people?

Corsaire
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The more extremes of PC

The more extremes of PC happen with people who don't really understand the group they think they are defending, which often spirals into some surreal oneupsmanship. Almost all of my pagan friends enjoy the "bad witch" vibe, particularly as they truly distinguish themselves as wiccans rather than witches, and see morality as an individual responsibility (but I know more than one of them regularly tie wicked wishes to their yule logs.)

Kroz1776
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o.O

Corsaire wrote:
The more extremes of PC happen with people who don't really understand the group they think they are defending, which often spirals into some surreal oneupsmanship. Almost all of my pagan friends enjoy the "bad witch" vibe, particularly as they truly distinguish themselves as wiccans rather than witches, and see morality as an individual responsibility (but I know more than one of them regularly tie wicked wishes to their yule logs.)

You know multiple Wiccans? I don't know any, this may have something to do with me living in the Heartland of America though.

Corsaire
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Kroz1776 wrote:You know

Kroz1776 wrote:
You know multiple Wiccans? I don't know any, this may have something to do with me living in the Heartland of America though.

Where is the heartland? I grew up in southern Illinois where I met most of my pagan friends (largely at science fiction conventions, but also in college, sci fi clubs, and various gaming groups.) As a non-practicing heathen we get along well, and I tend to gravitate towards folks wearing a pentagram.

Kroz1776
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Midwest

Corsaire wrote:
Kroz1776 wrote:
You know multiple Wiccans? I don't know any, this may have something to do with me living in the Heartland of America though.

Where is the heartland? I grew up in southern Illinois where I met most of my pagan friends (largely at science fiction conventions, but also in college, sci fi clubs, and various gaming groups.) As a non-practicing heathen we get along well, and I tend to gravitate towards folks wearing a pentagram.

Originally it was used to talk about states that didn't touch an ocean but most recently it has been used to talk about "red" states, more specifically midwestern red states and southern states. Basically the image evoked by the term would be a big red barn with cows grazing in the pasture and wheat/corn growing behind the farm house.

JewellGames
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I grew up in Michigan and

I grew up in Michigan and guess I am sheltered because I have never met anyone of that demographic. Anyway, I highly doubt Witchhunts will dredge up any inkling of offense from anyone, especially with every other offensive theme out there.

I didn't see any backlash at all for Witch Hunt last year.

McTeddy
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I agree with LewPuls on this.

I agree with LewPuls on this. Do your best not to offend people... but shrug it off when some people are offended anyways. If you do end up offending a large group... apologize and learn from the mistake.

One cheesy solution to your specific example is to change them from "Witches" to "Evil Witches". Specifically called them evil at least once early in the rules to allow the mindset that witches aren't evil... but the ones in your game happen to be bad apples.

It won't require any real changes to your game... but it'll paint a different picture in the players head.

drunknmunky
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Yea, My mom is full on

Yea, My mom is full on Wiccan. She has bi monthly meetings and celebrates every Sabbat with a nice guy (a farrier) who passed his druid training not long ago, a gay graphic designer who studies more of the dark realm and the fae, and occasionally a nomadic woman studying shamanism (whenever she happens to be in town).

So this guy telling me to not offend wiccans actually offended me.

drunknmunky
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thanks for that link. lol.

JewellGames wrote:
I grew up in Michigan and guess I am sheltered because I have never met anyone of that demographic. Anyway, I highly doubt Witchhunts will dredge up any inkling of offense from anyone, especially with every other offensive theme out there.

I didn't see any backlash at all for Witch Hunt last year.

thanks for that link. lol. the working title for mine was originally inquisition (used in 2007) then witch hunt (apparently used last year). Time to figure out a new one!

questccg
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Got a name for you...

drunknmunky wrote:
...thanks for that link. lol. the working title for mine was originally inquisition (used in 2007) then witch hunt (apparently used last year). Time to figure out a new one!

How about KEEPING with that original title: "Midnight Inquisition"!

There is NO BGG game with this PLUS the domain name is available at $9.99/yr from GoDaddy (www.midnightinquisition.com)

Kroz1776
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Burns

drunknmunky wrote:
Yea, My mom is full on Wiccan. She has bi monthly meetings and celebrates every Sabbat with a nice guy (a farrier) who passed his druid training not long ago, a gay graphic designer who studies more of the dark realm and the fae, and occasionally a nomadic woman studying shamanism (whenever she happens to be in town).

So this guy telling me to not offend wiccans actually offended me.

Ouch. You know what really burns though, is when people try to tell you what you believe. *rolls eyes*

I get that a LOT.

Up at college I took a world religions course and it was rather enlightening as we looked at all the religions and learned about their beliefs, and then recognized all the good things about each religion even though we don't agree. Some of those oriental religions are pretty neat.

larienna
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Apparently, there was

Apparently, there was recently a bombing in a boston marathon. And a girl decided to dress up as a survivor of the marathon for halloween, the reception was so bad that she even received death threats and lost her job. But it's probably the bomber that should have received the death threaths first.

Anyways, I think time is the issue. If you were to make a game about the planning of september 11 it at most 1 year after the event, people would have been offended, but if you were to release the same game today, people would less be likely to be offended.

Wicca witch is not something actual, so I don't think it would be that offensive. If a group of wicca witch made a huge human sacrifice and you were to made a game about that, you might offend people because it's an hot subject.

Kroz1776
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Still Touchy

9-11 is still a touchy subject. Recently two people dressed up as the twin towers with planes and all. They won a costume contest and a lot of people were outraged. The two people who won said they dressed up that way because they wanted to dress up as a modern horror story.

questccg
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Another possibility

drunknmunky wrote:
...thanks for that link. lol. the working title for mine was originally inquisition (used in 2007) then witch hunt (apparently used last year). Time to figure out a new one!

Another original title would be: "One Minute to Midnight"!

The idea being that at 00:00 (12 Midnight) is the witching hour... And that's when the witches come out to *play*! ;)

So the title is trying to add tension that players only have a little bit of time left before the witching hour! :)

Note: Again no BGG game entry for this title!

devaloki
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drunknmunky wrote:I was

drunknmunky wrote:
I was talking to a local designer about a project I was working on and the first thing he tells me is "if you're publishing this you should redo the theme because casting witches as bad guys would offend pagans and a lot of pagans play games"

I blew off this advice as over protective, but it brought up a good question:

When do you worry about offending your audience?

Technically all games will offend someone. Small world could offend shorter people by using dwarves and small. Ticket to ride could offend people who have a fear of trains. Look at the backlash magic the gathering had in its early years for promoting demons!

Where is the line and when do you care?

Neo-pagans aren't what you have to be worried about, you'd probably have to be more worried about Christians or monotheists in general being offended by games that don't portray God as being an all-good being and possibly an evil one.
But as the other people on the thread have pointed out, as long as you don't make things completely blatant, profane, or attacking any real world things directly you should be fine.

Word Nerd
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Remember Glynda?

Real witches aren't "evil" any more than real Christians are "good"; these are both myths, and they are advanced and supported by the same people. Me? I'm tired of media--including game designers--portraying a false and hateful image of witches, especially when the truth is self-evidently the opposite.

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