Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#31 Post by Deji » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:37 am

@LondonIvy: I was commissioned to draw black people twice, and it was pretty interesting to paint dark skin like that, to be honest C:
I doubt, again, that by my own free will I'll create characters in my own stories that belong to different ethnicities, mostly because I'm not familiar with them and it would feel weird ^^;
I could, like you said, try to stretch my limits, do some research and draw some for the sake of it, even if I end up not doing anything with them.
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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#32 Post by Elenakiara » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:42 am

Oh wow! There are so many posts now! xDD Thank you everyone for sharing your views on this issue! :3

I'm glad that this has potentially made us all think a little more about the characters in our VNs! ;)
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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#33 Post by SusanTheCat » Mon Feb 21, 2011 10:53 am

My worry is that I won't portray a different culture properly. That I'll either make them Oreos or 2D stereotypes.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#34 Post by okonomiyaki » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:30 pm

Auro-Cyanide wrote: Awww, I can't have an Australian ethnicity? What ethnicity do I have then? Poor generational Australians, we don't get much labelling. Or culture. Or historical background. Or much of anything.
This sounds like "poor cultureless white people" to me, and is really offensive considering they invaded millions of other countries and that caused a lot of white people in certain countries to have such a blended, homogenous culture. The point that Kinou was making was OBVIOUSLY that the country you are nationalized in does not necessarily have any connection to your genetic makeup. My family has lived in one country for a few generations...we're still not ethnically related to this country. The Koreans who have lived in Japan for several generations and may not even know a word of Korean anymore aren't suddenly Japanese. They're still Korean ethnically, and Japanese nationally. My old boss was about 95% Japanese ethnically and Brazilian nationally. Barely knows a word of Japanese (and in fact I was hired to teach her), speaks Portuguese and English. My old English teacher was ethnically 100% Chinese, but nationally from TRINIDAD. Her family lived in Trinidad for generations. She has a Caribbean accent and knows zero Chinese. Trinidadian nationally, but ethnically she's about as far removed from the country as you can get.

And because this needs to be said.

Comments like "I never thought of it" and "I'm afraid to do it" are why games are white-washed. Suck up your fear of "doing it wrong" and just make them BROWN and from some imaginary race of people that you made up. That's not doing it wrong or right, but it is inclusive without having to deal with the fear of getting someone's culture wrong. Might you do it wrong? Yes. You absolutely might. But the people who are just glad to see someone like that in a game that they're interested in and who are grateful will far, far, far outweigh the people who are angry. Are there no brown-skinned people in any of your countries? What's wrong with just making a person who happens to be brown in your own culture? Anything can cause a darker skin color, a great great grandmother's skin color can fly across generations of pale skinned people and give a baby golden brown skin. Even normally lighter skinned people can have very clearly brown skin; my little brother is EXTREMELY dark for our culture, and I've even seen black people lighter-skinned than he is, but you don't even see people with his color in games or on TV.

The best way to do it? Just make a bunch of characters, write out their stories in advance, draw them, and then pick a couple at random and give them brown skin. Problem solved, and since the story is already written, there's no room to worry about it. I urge everyone to try it, even if just to give a tiny bit of something to the young ladies and gentlemen who will never see anyone like themselves in video games they like.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#35 Post by papillon » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:55 pm

The best way to do it? Just make a bunch of characters, write out their stories in advance, draw them, and then pick a couple at random and give them brown skin. Problem solved, and since the story is already written, there's no room to worry about it. I urge everyone to try it, even if just to give a tiny bit of something to the young ladies and gentlemen who will never see anyone like themselves in video games they like.
You will still get flack for this, though.

That's not necessarily a deterrent - as a creator you're probably going to get flack for absolutely everything you do, including things you couldn't possibly have imagined. "Your story is secretly a defense of the gold standard!" "... Uh, what?"

Anyway, if you want to include something but are afraid that it's going to trigger too much criticism, try to do at least a little research first to make sure you haven't made any hugely obvious missteps, then do your best, while being aware that your best isn't perfect. Somebody will be unhappy; don't freak out and feel that you're terrible OR get mad at them about it.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#36 Post by LondonIvy » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:01 pm

I would like to note that I don't think that just because a person has darker or lighter or green skin or what-have-you that necessarily defines them as a person or character, as seems to be the assumption with the "I don't want to mess them up..." excuse. Just give a character a different sort of ethnicity from the white people who are so prevelant and move on. It doesn't necessarily mean they become a totally different person because of it. It's naive to say culture doesn't play a little part, but with a VN or something you can get away with simply not showing it. In my experience, people are not black, white or yellow. People are people who JUST SO HAPPEN to have different skin tones. Again, I'm being somewhat naive on purpose here, but the totally opposite opinion "ethnicity defines everything so much that including it could screw everything up" doesn't quite fly. There's also the underlying, insidious assumption that everyone else but white people are ethnic and white people are the standard. That bothers me, yes.

It's as if people said "Yeah, there should be more female characters in media! But I don't wanna screw it up so here's another few hundred male characters that are all the same with no mention of females." Is that silly? Yes. Is it an extreme example? Yes. But it puts it in a context I think people might understand. It's silly in both cases because you exclude large portions of the population and assume that all females and people of certain ethnicities are so similar that they must be written as an ethnicity or sex first, and as a human being second. Characters are characters.

In short, just write them like you would write anyone else. You're probably going to be okay, unless you SPECIFICALLY want to delve into the culture of a group of people. Then do your research.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#37 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:48 pm

okonomiyaki wrote:
Auro-Cyanide wrote: Awww, I can't have an Australian ethnicity? What ethnicity do I have then? Poor generational Australians, we don't get much labelling. Or culture. Or historical background. Or much of anything.
This sounds like "poor cultureless white people" to me, and is really offensive considering they invaded millions of other countries and that caused a lot of white people in certain countries to have such a blended, homogenous culture. The point that Kinou was making was OBVIOUSLY that the country you are nationalized in does not necessarily have any connection to your genetic makeup. My family has lived in one country for a few generations...we're still not ethnically related to this country. The Koreans who have lived in Japan for several generations and may not even know a word of Korean anymore aren't suddenly Japanese. They're still Korean ethnically, and Japanese nationally. My old boss was about 95% Japanese ethnically and Brazilian nationally. Barely knows a word of Japanese (and in fact I was hired to teach her), speaks Portuguese and English. My old English teacher was ethnically 100% Chinese, but nationally from TRINIDAD. Her family lived in Trinidad for generations. She has a Caribbean accent and knows zero Chinese. Trinidadian nationally, but ethnically she's about as far removed from the country as you can get.
Oh yeah, cause I am totally responsible for anything any white person did hundreds of years ago and any psychological discomfort I might feel because I lack a strong background is obviously an illusion because white people have no souls. Also, how would you know if I was white or not, I could have been 10th generational chinese. Also, I was kind of joking.

I think you might have missed my point and I think you are misunderstanding the word ethnicitiy. What you are talking about is almost racial background (which is what most people are talking about here, whether someone is white, black, whatever). Ethnicity is about the culture you identitfy with.

"An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage that is real or assumed- sharing cultural characteristics. This shared heritage may be based upon putative common ancestry, history, kinship, religion, language, shared territory ..."

My point is that ethnicity is not something that can always be discerned through visuals. Ethnicity would have to be revealed in the story. I support this because I think it may make people think about their characters more and the characters will seem more real. How many people have considered if their character is religious, or if they have cultural practices? It could be really interesting.

A lot of generational Australians, of mixed races sometimes, feel a disconnection from culture and ethnic groups. We are exposed to hundreds of cultures and identify with none. It is debatable WHAT Australian culture is, so we are not sure if we connect to it or not. I am half Irish and if I go back a bit, my mother's family also came from the UK. That doesn't mean I feel a connection with the culture. So what am I?

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#38 Post by papillon » Mon Feb 21, 2011 8:00 pm

I think the frustration with "cultureless white people" is that a lot of folks don't recognise the huge amount of their own culture that they're surrounded by, because they take it for granted. This isn't the same as not having a cultural background, this is just not being able to see the outside from the inside. People often don't realise what their own culture is until they are confronted by a comparison, and realise that X thing is not part of their culture, their culture promotes Y thing instead.

(And, of course, culture is complicated and everybody belongs to all sorts of different facets and subgroupings. There are all sorts of bits of culture around you that you recognise as being of your country/background but don't actually identify with; that's the same for people of any background.)

Since moving to England I've been chatting with some of my British friends who are bemused at the tendency of some Americans to claim some other country as their cultural heritage, even though they've never been there nor ever known any relative of theirs old enough to have ever been there. My German ancestry affects me, because it influenced certain traditions that were passed down through the family and are definitely not mainstream American - but I'm not German.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#39 Post by sake-bento » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:36 pm

This thread's getting a little hot, guys. I know it's a touchy subject, and I know that it's important to you, but please do your best to keep things civil.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#40 Post by Rie » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:37 am

well...
dunno... (as far as I understand with my poor english) I gues I prefear if the guy is standing out form his culture, bt I have nothing against very sterotypical (as sterotypicly described for certain culture) guy... cause I could change him and make him stand out ! (make him wear neon green jacket!!)

Anyway... It would be a good idea to place a lot of different cultures in a vn game, cause that will make each boy/girl more unique. But before doing something like that it would be better to talk with people of this culture to not make any silly mistakes that can hurt someone.
Eg. I'm from Poland and I live in Uk now. Just after I moved here, people had just no clue about my country ( I mean they knew it exist not like super junior members in first episode of full house) so they taken me very stereotypically (how the hell do youspell it) so the first q wasy 'how much do your parents drink' cause there were a lot of newspaper articles about polish people getting drunk and making mess all around.
So yeah.... remember to ask xD

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#41 Post by okonomiyaki » Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:34 pm

papillon wrote:You will still get flack for this, though.

That's not necessarily a deterrent - as a creator you're probably going to get flack for absolutely everything you do, including things you couldn't possibly have imagined. "Your story is secretly a defense of the gold standard!" "... Uh, what?"
Just like you said, you will always get flack, but sometimes there is no research to be done. If I want to write about a middle class black person in America, they COULD be extremely different from a white middle class person in America, or they could have pretty much the same kind of story. Especially since people want a lot of stories in America, while the idea of a "melting pot" isn't quite correct, other cultures do quickly and easily adapt to "generic Americanism". Several Arabic people I know and have known had quite similar lives to my own. Several Asian people. Several Hispanic people. The idea in itself that non-white people are always vastly different from white people is built in historically racist values. Someone will complain about you only having white people in your games too, so I mean, no matter you do, someone will hate your guts, but why not think of the people who might be grateful? (Like me. I'd be extremely grateful.)
Auro-Cyanide wrote: Oh yeah, cause I am totally responsible for anything any white person did hundreds of years ago and any psychological discomfort I might feel because I lack a strong background is obviously an illusion because white people have no souls. Also, how would you know if I was white or not, I could have been 10th generational chinese. Also, I was kind of joking.
What the hell. This is a prime example of offensive white privilege in all its glory. Where the hell did you get that I was blaming you for "omg things old white people did"? Which, hey, I bet you don't realize, still benefit white people to this very day, and that they still perpetuate by making horrifying comments like the one above. Your psychological discomfort is all in your own personal perception of any background that you think that you lack, and obviously an illusion because it has nothing to do with the conversation at all. And it was a shitty joke, and incredibly offensive, and you should feel bad that you made it instead of getting angry that YOU were offensive to other people.

You used the word ethnicity wrong, and you're trying to defend it incorrectly. It's not exactly rocket science that while you might not necessarily identify with your ethnicity, you might identify with your nationality. That doesn't make your nationality your ethnicity. That just means you identify with something else.

I repeat: Poor cultureless white people. We should all be so damn sad for them, feeling "lost" and "psychological discomfort" in their "lack of strong backgrounds".
papillon wrote:I think the frustration with "cultureless white people" is that a lot of folks don't recognise the huge amount of their own culture that they're surrounded by, because they take it for granted. This isn't the same as not having a cultural background, this is just not being able to see the outside from the inside. People often don't realise what their own culture is until they are confronted by a comparison, and realise that X thing is not part of their culture, their culture promotes Y thing instead.

(And, of course, culture is complicated and everybody belongs to all sorts of different facets and subgroupings. There are all sorts of bits of culture around you that you recognise as being of your country/background but don't actually identify with; that's the same for people of any background.)
Papillon, I just want to thank you terribly for plain existing right now. This is exactly what I meant. I "have a culture" because my ethnic background is known for keeping parts of their culture even as they move to other cultures, and parts of it are obviously different than the place that I live, which is America right now. When I lived in the country I'm from, it was a normal thing for everyone there, but it was still "cultural" because I lived in America all my early life and therefore it was still "different." However, the people there thought America had a very, very distinct culture and thought their own culture, that I loved, was completely dull and the "norm."

That's just how it rolls. Things that are different are "cultural", and white people in general in countries that were emigrated to like Australia and America*, are used to being considered a "norm". So going outside of that "norm" is a "culture", but they don't realize that...they too are part of that difference, and that IS their culture. And that historically-based-in-racism idea that what they do is the norm and everything else "is a culture" leads them to appropriate other cultures, which is where you get the idea of weeaboos or "magrebophilia" and basically fetishization of things different.

*In general means "on average". It does not refer to every single white person in the universe/these countries, as I'm sure someone will try to conflate.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#42 Post by Aleema » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:23 pm

Holy crap, this thread was about racial tolerance. Specifically, seeing more diverse characters in visual novel games.
okonomiyaki wrote:Poor cultureless white people. We should all be so damn sad for them, feeling "lost" and "psychological discomfort" in their "lack of strong backgrounds".
How about not choosing whether to care for someone based on the color of their skin? No one chooses to be born a certain way, no way we can change it, so you can't fault someone for it.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#43 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:08 pm

okonomiyaki wrote: What the hell. This is a prime example of offensive white privilege in all its glory. Where the hell did you get that I was blaming you for "omg things old white people did"? Which, hey, I bet you don't realize, still benefit white people to this very day, and that they still perpetuate by making horrifying comments like the one above. Your psychological discomfort is all in your own personal perception of any background that you think that you lack, and obviously an illusion because it has nothing to do with the conversation at all. And it was a shitty joke, and incredibly offensive, and you should feel bad that you made it instead of getting angry that YOU were offensive to other people.

You used the word ethnicity wrong, and you're trying to defend it incorrectly. It's not exactly rocket science that while you might not necessarily identify with your ethnicity, you might identify with your nationality. That doesn't make your nationality your ethnicity. That just means you identify with something else.

I repeat: Poor cultureless white people. We should all be so damn sad for them, feeling "lost" and "psychological discomfort" in their "lack of strong backgrounds".
Oi, calm down, you are just being rude now.

My POINT in all of this was that, a) Someone being white doesn't mean they don't react like humans to any stimuli. Plenty of white people have a strong culture (Europe) and some do not. No one can change the past, only deal with the now. I will never apoligies for what happened in the past because I didn't do it. I may feel sorry, but I will never feel guilty. I feel a LACK of cultural identity. How my race excludes me from having these feelings I will never know. All I mentioned was that MAYBE I might feel my culture and thus my ethnicity may be Australian, despite it also being my nationality.
b) race is beside the point. Anyone of any racial or ethnic background sometimes suffer from a bit of an identity crisis when they immigrate, especially when they immigrate to a country like America, Australia or Britain where there is no social norm and different cultures are everywhere. There is a book called 'Does my head look big in this' which is the story about a muslim girl in Australia and her search for her own identity. People who immigrate usually make choices about what culture they follow, their own, or someone else's. They may follow their own because they feel a connection, they may follow someone else's so they feel they belong with their peers, or they may mix. Be second generation this can get even more confusing and you can feel a disconnection with any culture and it can be hard to work out.

And so this all still relates to games, obviously everyone needs to think about the psychological and cultural backgrounds of their characters as they develop them. It obviously makes up a big part of us. Deeper characters will not only lead to richer stories and internal conflict, but give the characters strength to almost write themselves. Might be bit late for this now though >_>
Last edited by Auro-Cyanide on Thu Feb 24, 2011 5:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#44 Post by Elenakiara » Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:38 pm

Oh my, I didn't think that my thread would come to this! ^.^;;

Frankly, I got all of the answers that I wanted and am compiling them now... So, don't get too heated up about this please!! >w<;

Still, I'd like to thank everyone for trying to answer the questions!
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Re: Ethnicities in VNs : A Question! :O

#45 Post by Deji » Thu Feb 24, 2011 12:45 pm

For the artistically inclined, this may be helfpful:
Guide to human types part 1 and part 2
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