Are RPGs racist?

Zenobia - Dark elf

Zenobia – Dark elf (Photo credit: JBLivin)

Next time your setting up a character’s race in Skyrim (great game) or some other RPG maybe ask yourself the question, “would this be okay if he was black”? I mean really think about it.

Pick a minority, say Jews, well they of course have bonuses to their barter skills, but then I want to play fighter so I better pick a Black guy, or maybe I’ll play a mage, so I have to go for an Asian – they have bonuses to their intelligence.

It’s really not okay, is it?

Baby orc, baby night elf

Baby orc, baby night elf (Photo credit: Nicole Lee)

If you think about it we’re being real dicks to all of the people of Tamriel and Middle earth. We’re basicly saying all Orcs must be

good at running. What about some poor little Orc that wants to be a mage, are we saying he’ll always be sub-par to an elf?

Maybe the whole fantasy race thing is just a way of getting round what would be rather divisive issue. It might also partly explain why there are very few modern world RPG’s.



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2 responses to “Are RPGs racist?

  1. Boris F

    Good thought there, old friend and controversial too. Think back, whenever you created a RPG chatacter. Did you always pick your profession first and then the race according to the needed attributes? If yes, you missed a lot.
    I didn’t and those characters were the ones I liked to play most. I rember creating a D&D Tiefling Sorcerer. According to the rules, the spells of the sorcerer are cast with the attribute “charisma”. The Tiefling race attributes give a -2 on that attribute. So why would I play such a combination? Because it was fun! And it was fascinating to grow this character and act with certain deficits. Thats why you have some extra points to spare at character creation or at leveling.
    Also if you take a closer look at Skyrim i.e. all races have their pros and cons but within a few levels, they often take a minor effect in how you act, because either you learned to “live” with them by the meaning if accepting and “using” them or you concentrated on other attributes and skills and tried to balance the gaps.
    Take a further step and think about the skill sets and classes. For example think of the jobs you can choose in the WoD settings. They give you certain boni to skills. Law enforcers always know how to shoot (and with every weapon), teachers know everything ( doesn’t matter which subject they are teaching) and doctors can heal any wounds ( so even a radiologist can do surgery). The only difference is the difficulty level. Would you consider this racist?
    Point is: maybe the core systems are kind of controversial but they just give you different points of view to start with. The basic rules aren’t racist, it is the way you act to those rules that makes the difference.

    • Hi sorry I just seen this. Yeah I agree, playing a character is much more fun and I’m not suggesting they change the games or anything. I just thought it would be interesting to see it in another light.

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