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dezmont

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« Reply #195 on: <06-30-20/1759:24> »
cyberpunk as a genre is political at it's heart, no doubt.

IMHO it's mostly about how rampant, over-abundant technology and late stage capitalism dehumanizes people and tears apart communities.

Taken together you can boil it down to capitalism and technology destroy humanity (physically and metaphorically).

In this milieu I am totally fine with the core conceits that:

> installing invasive tech into your body dehumanizes you (essence)
> the fantasy races all have built-in limits to their capabilities, some of which make them greater than humans and some of which make them lesser (attribute variances)
> some people are special/ born lucky (awakened vs mundane)
> transhumanism (metahumanity is changing as it becomes more intimately integrated with technology)

I don't have the same reservations/ beliefs that Dezzmont does on these topics.

I consider them good as they drive conflict, and every good story needs conflict at it's core.

Racism, political divisiveness, downtrodden, corporate overlords, societal collapse, alternate communities.

These are all memes that are important to my cyberpunk experience.

This is a far more modern take on Cyberpunk created mostly through cyberpunk gaming, and doesn't have much to do with the origins of the genre. While it is ok for genres to evolve, maybe lets not evolve them to these kinda gross places (As augmentation and body modification become more and more likely to be a short term reality, and the concepts relating to real world things like transitioning and prosthetics, its really tone deaf to navel gaze in this manner).

An exploration of foundational cyberpunk literature and film and the idea of technology as a 'destructive' force.

The Sprawl Trillogy: Explicitly pro-transhumanism, though it notes society isn't currently set up to support it. The Sprawl does note some people are self destructive through technology, but it is far more anti-society than anti-technology, and has an overt theme of 'technology might replace our shitty society with something good.' Molly Millions, the most cyberized character in the series, is damaged but not because of her cybernetics and is mostly a wreck of a person because of a lack of healthy human connection, and at no point is it implied that her cybernetics make her a worse person. Gibson himself has also outright stated he  hates this view on cyberpunk and calls it 'Aethestetic Cyberpunk' that overfocuses on the technology rather than the society. So we can take that off the list of cyberpunk stories that portray technology as destructive. It repeatedly depicts the internet almost as a 'spirit realm of humanity' trading on ideas of the Noosphere, and literally ends with characters talking about how change is never easy but can lead to good things as long as you accept it, and that the status quo of humanity and society is untenable.

Bladerunner/Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep: A super political story that uses robots to explore the elite and privilege's relationship with labor, by having the police have a large part of their efforts focus on tracking down illegal imigrants robots who look and act and feel identically to humans but who lack the right to be on earth because 'they aren't human' but who society tries to convince that they are because its convenient, and who can only be outed by subtle culturally contextual questions and intense observation. VERY OVERTLY is about how the idea that 'pure humanity' is a bullshit concept and that the robots are just as much people as humans are. Probably one of the more explicit examples of 'You don't get to think your better than someone else just because all your parts are wet' of cyberpunk because that is ALL the plot really is about.

Ghost in the Shell: Literally its biggest theme is that policing other people's bodies is bullshit. Its the most recurring motif, and it uses very human and emotive cyborgs who pose no threat to society to show how hysterical and conservative society can be. Multiple plots are about how repressive it is to police what people do with their bodies both in the original series and in SAC, and it uses the fact that total body replacement exists to explore how even in a world where people could visually change entirely who they are at will, people are still going to be judgemental assholes who pressure and harass and oppress other people. There is an entire fictional species of pure AI who are portrayed as good, helpful, and innocent of many of humanity's problems who primarily exist to have philosophical discussions about what it means to be a person and aid humans using the gifts of their existence. Almost all of the problems of the setting are caused by the extreme inequality of society making terrorists out of people desperate to survive, monsters out of people trying to maintain the status quo, or are a product of fundamentalist thinking about the body.

The Matrix: An exploration of trans identity and how humanity has an innate evilness about it due to its willingness to judge the other, and uses the metaphor of an alternative life in machines as a form of liberation from the crass physical matter you were forced to inhabit against your will.  The lead character is deadnamed repeatedly by the main villain, and a side villain exists who wishes to repress the new knowledge they have about themselves and their physical existence compared to their mental self image. Literally includes a scene in its transmedia of a robot being torn apart by a violent bigoted mob in a manner to deliberately evoke the murder of trans people down to her artificial hair and clothing being violently ripped from her body as she screams "I'm Real!" while crying (Obvious trigger warning for what is essentially an anti-trans lynching and images of genocide, but watch that scene here and tell me that this is about how bad technology is). The machines in this setting, lacking human's ability to hold a grudge and hate to the point their entire history is trying to show how much they love and care about humanity even as they are attacked violently repeatedly, and after they contain humanity they devote themselves to philosophical and spiritual thinking without bias, and are able to instantly forgive the humans once humans develop to the point they can accept they must co-exist with these 'unnaturals.' This only was able to come about because these unnatural people accepted that biochauvanist reactionaries could not be reasoned with and forcefully ended their violence with violence, which was framed as justified and moral and the only realistic path to any lasting peace.

Robocop: A bit more anti-cyborg, sure, because the directors assume if Robocop didn't see his own face in the mirror he would have a psychotic break. Still, the director overtly states a theme of the story is that no matter how much you take away from a person they are still a person in that same interview: Despite being memory wiped and being mostly replaced, Murph was still Murph and still had his soul. It was, thematically, way more about corporations than technology: Almost everything bad in robocop's world was the result of shitty policy decisions, and it was a plot point that the technology they wanted to use to 'replace humans' was not in fact capable of doing that.

Akira: Not really about cybernetics, but still interesting becaus an overt theme was the corrupt xenophobic government and religious zealouts overtly 'othering' anything 'undesirable' or 'impure' was an important plot element. It overtly explores the loss of humanity and while Tetsuo has a cybernetic arm, he doesn't become a big blob monster because of it, he becomes a big blob monster due to the alienation he faces from being different, from the power thrust upon him, and how society treats him. The people doing science do screw some stuff up, but mostly under pressure from the millitary, and the main villainous force is spiritual fundementalism, not science. Also, the Manga more overtly comments on how people's hatered and biases are irrational and they will view mechanistic scientific things like psychic powers as miracles when it is convinient, deluding themselves and ascribing artificial importance to things when life gets stressful.

A recurring, core motif of cyberpunk ISN'T that technology is unnatural. It is that technology is a (potentially) liberating force, but society is inherently corrupting and damaging.

Again, the idea that 'cybernetics eat your soul' is so notable as to being exclusive to cyberpunk TABLETOP that it shows up on the TVtropes page, in literary anaylsises of cyberpunk, and is explicitly noted by Gibson as being 'shitty aethestetic cyberpunk.' It is the exact opposite message Cyberpunk media tends to have.

Fantasy races having built in differences is a thing unique to SR, and while it really isn't good even in a pure fantasy setting (Again, people were noting Tolkien's works were kinda sorta really racist in the freaking 60's before the freaking Civil Rights act was signed, and D&D has overtly admitted it was never a good idea), it is especially not good when the metatypes are coded for real world races (You know, the orks orks with their grilled tusks and orksploitated musical genres being coopted by humans and elves and their yertzed out cars with the spinny rims who can't get good education, are attacked by men with pointy white hoods and robes and who are routinely harassed by the police) it is... borderline unconscionable. Like... sorry... no Adlzing, we should never go back to lowering mental maxes on what are, when we say the quiet part out loud, stand ins for black people, lets not. Lets hardcore not.

As for conflict: Body policing and mechanical racism don't drive conflict at all. The setting ALREADY assumes that Orks and Trolls are mentally equal and saying otherwise is racism, it is just that the MECHANICS don't back it up. It actually makes the conflict STRONGER to note that Humanis propiganda about 'dumb violent orks' is incorrect, rather than letting, as one friend put it, 'Humanis write the metatype section in chargen.'

Conflict in Cyberpunk doesn't come from the technology, it comes from society's injustice intersecting with the 'neutral' power of technology. I highly doubt anyone has ever written a plot in SR about how evil and spiritually polluted that person who gave themselves a cyberarm and cosmetic modifications was, but people DO write about how vile corpoations like Renraku are who exploit and enslave technological entities and push body and racial purity ideas are.

A good plot about bigotry should, inherently, acknowledge biggotry is illogical and not really based in reality, rather than try to justify its origins by making the bigotry true.
« Last Edit: <06-30-20/1939:05> by dezmont »

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« Reply #196 on: <06-30-20/1806:11> »
Right, So my point that I was trying to make without coming out and directly saying it was that current writers of Shadowrun should avoid many current political issues.
And the reason for this is very simple, They are too polarizing. No matter what you write, you WILL end up pissing someone off.

And, I suggest many people stop reading here, as the next bit is probably going to piss a LOT of people off...

A few posts back, you were looking for a term to describe the current "post 9/11" era. Might I suggest that since aboiut 2012, we have been living in the "Social Media" era? I think this is very much to the point (for all points for this entire issue you seem to want to continue on) as this was when Social Media really caught on, and has exploded with Facebook, Twitter, snapchat, tik tok... not to mention the ones that have fallen off a cliff (tumblr, Myspace) or those used by those of the "wrong opinion".
Since, 2012 these apps have exploded in popularity. To the point that they now weld an amazing amount of power. (Ask CNN, they are kept alive reporting on Trump's tweets...) But, the problem with Social Media is, that while it can reach a lot of people with its message, that message is not always factual (again, Trump's tweets..)
For the last five years, Social Media has been the driver of much of the North America/European political narrative.

The problem here, is that this is a vacuum. And it has been made into a vacuum by the very users of Social Media. Which is at the very heart of why I say the current writers should stay away from. Every. Single. Point. You, Dezmont, said was picked right from Twitter, and what the wonderful people of Twitter feel is important.... Which in no way reflects what many people feel is important, or even what they are concerned about.
So lets look at Social Media shall we?
Twitter is one the largest, and the most political. It has a 145 million users worldwide. It has 30 million users in the United States. Of its users, 10% generate 90% of the traffic (Blue check marks).
Even by the United States metrics, the opinions expressed on Twitter are only carried by less that 10% of the population. (30 million users, 360 million Americans... 300,000 active posters generating 90% of the traffic...)
(My personal opinion is, if America banned Social Media, I think a lot of your current Social unrest would disappear. Or, If Americans just ignored it, a  lot of your social unrest would disappear)
Now, I could pull out all sorts of links and search engine reports and what not, but I have a feeling much of it would be dismissed using veiled and jargonistic language.


Now, If you want a little world view what isn't about milk and cookies.....
Nothing in your  last 3 posts reflects in any way, the realities of where I am currently... And I can not tell where I am currently, as what I am about to say could get me arrested! (Because I don't have the same freedoms you do, even to tell the truth!)

*Corruption here is an issue, everything here is done through greasing hands. I give the nice smiling policeman a crisp $5 Canadian bill every week... Because I don't I will be arrested. (already happened, twice.)
I can't get the parts to install into the pump to pull fresh water from the aquifer for the town with out paying off the harbormaster.
And of course the city's zoning minister held us up for weeks (until we paid a bribe) over missing permits for the water treatment system HIS OWN GOVERNMENT IS PAYING FOR!
*Prejudice is a way of life here. My skin color means I automatically at fault, for any offense... But thankfully, my skin color just means I pay ridiculous fines.... Having the wrong dialectic accent gets you beaten. Or just killed.
*Sexism is not an issue. Not when women are not allowed to be seen. After all, when the only people of value are the males in a society, it can't have sexism, can it??

I can tell you what the people here are concerned about; They want water that isn't diseased, they want to be able to go to work with out getting shot. They want the terrorism to stop. They want to send their children to school without fear of it being firebombed, and this child shot while trying escape the flames...
They are tired of those "fighting for a better tomorrow" raping, and beating their Daughters, and killing their Sons. They want to know that the money they have in their pocket today will be able to buy food tomorrow: Because many times it hasn't. Many of them want a return of only 15 years ago.... When they were happy, prosperous and  free.
(Can you guess where I am yet?)

But then again, None of these people will ever play shadowrun, or even visit these Forums... Many don't have electricity.  If it  wasn't banned for their content...
But, thanks to Covid, and the international shutdown, This city will probably have to wait 18 months more before they get clean water.

Yes, at the heart of cyber punk there is a political theme, but it is a broad, over reaching concept that touches on general, but stays clear of the specific. 

There is a saying..... And is proving true...

"It was fun, Until Twitter said it wasn't. Now its Problematic, and needs to change"

And, so many things have walked down that path, right into the cold, hard wall of reality...
Gillette
Nike
Marvel
DC
Star Wars
GhostBusters
Vice Media

They all walked the Twitter rope, danced to Twitter's Political tune... All have regretted it...

So I say again.
The writers would do well to stay away from current political trends as they are just too polarizing.
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

dezmont

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« Reply #197 on: <06-30-20/1815:16> »
Stuff

Far as I know, stuff like GITS and The Matrix exploring trans issues pre-dates twitter m8. People were writing about this long before the social media era, and gay liberation and racial liberation pre-dates twitter. The first pride parade happened before THE INTERNET.

If you want to blame it all on social media and snowflakes, be my guest, but when you say 'It was fun until twitter' you are REALLY saying "I wish we can go back to the times when people didn't have a voice to talk about issues they are facing.

Every. Single. Point. You, Dezmont, said was picked right from Twitter

No, it wasn't. It was from my 30 some odd years of existence as a Gay Man in America, with a disability, who was aware of these issues long before twitter existed, who experienced violence based on their sexuality before twitter existed, and who has been studying sociology and mass communication and media (including social media) for some odd 8 years and who has personally talked to people who wrote about this shit in the 80's.

Not from twitter. The fact these issues don't feel real to you is fine, but the fact you believe everyone who has ever faced these issues is disingenuous is not. So why don't you go actually look into the history of these movements rather than imagining that they originated on Twitter. Or don't, it sounds like you got some legitimate shit going on, but your 'analysis' of how representative of the US twitter is was really off. Saying that because 90% of twitter comes from 10% of the userbase doesn't mean that 90% of the user-base disagrees with the 10%, that isn't how statistics work, and in fact a LOT of polling data shows that it very much IS representative of American's views on social issues and it was already reversing hard well before twitter came about).

The US's social issues come not from people being allowed to talk about those issues (That is like saying... oh... I dunno... of the top of my head.... that the problem if a mass plague in the US would be solved by not testing for it...), but due to things like Jerrymandering (The act of redistricting your state so that certain populations have artificially low voting power, for example if 30% of your state is black and you have 6 districts you can take the places black people live, and slice up the district so that they each only make up about 5% of their local election's population despite being 30% of the state's, or you can put them all in one district so they only get one representative out of 6 to artificially lower their power in the house to be only 1/6th of your state's voting power despite them making up about 1/3rd of your population)  and The Electoral College (Some people's votes count way more than others based on where they live, in most elections about 20% of the population's votes 'actually matter' because they live in states that are competitive and could send their votes for the president to either candidate). There is also the issue of the wealth gap (Income is equalizing out among education classes, but because pre-existing wealth allows you to maintain a social class, the fact certain demogrpahics of people in the US haven't been able to do things like mortage their house or sell it to send their kids to college means that equality of access to the ability to rise in social class is unequally divided despite people 'making the same amount of money' because most people don't send kids to college based on income), allowing a non-representative slice of the population to hold disproportionate power and wealth because they can entrench power and write the rules.... which is AGAIN a thing SR historically has talked about!

These are not fake issues. They are like... pretty uncontroversial topics you will learn about in any economics, political science, or sociology course in any US college, even in the more conservative states, because they are... factually existent problems. I literally have talked to a hardcore republican (Small federal powers republican, not 'hates the gays' republican, though, you know, its sad to know he sorta tollerates that in his party) Texas professor about the intersection of social class through a Marxist lens and Social Media, because in academic circles a lot of 'political issues' are not really controversial at all. You literally can't act in the field of sociology on any level (Be it academia, or trying to market products for a corporation to 'lower income' families, to trying to appeal to 'middle class voters') without accepting these realities aren't imagined or fictional: It would be like trying to launch a spaceship without believing in gravity. So even the people who say these issues aren't real who are trying to enact policy, influence mass behavior to buy Shoes or watch Star Wars or whatever, believe in these issues and always have. It has just been about trying to gauge public perception and what people will tolerate.

Disney banned gay dancing at its club till it didn't well before Twitter because Disney saw the way society was blowing and wants to be as appealing to the mainstream consumer as it can, which is why people who want to get a read on this sorta thing watch Disney (for example, it was understood in academic circles that the BLM protests would be publically supported as soon as Star Wars tweeted support of them, because it meant Disney understood that it would make more sense to bet its famously protected image on them being popular by supporting them, rather than doing nothing and pretending nothing is happening, which they did with things like Song of the South).

To put it in perspective: People were writing articles about race and Role Playing Games in, at least on a quick glance at some of my academic databases, 1993, and obviously articles about depictions of race in media and its real world effects go back WAY further (It is... fun to see a professional academic paper include casual slurs in its abstract. Still, good material for a future research topic I suppose!). This isn't some new phenomenon created by twitter, it is just becoming more understood because in the US the group that has the power to decide what messages and stories are told in mass media are White and Rich, while anyone can talk on Twitter.

This doesn't mean Twitter or social media will solve all of societies Ills of course (In fact, Social media companies are notoriously amoral even by the standards of other companies. I have written literally tens of thousands of words exploring the evils of Facebook that make Horizon look tame and made one of my professors state outright when grading it that 'he is now worried about bringing a baby into the world.') and it can amplify bad voices as well as good ones. But when you see voices you haven't heard before talking about problems you haven't heard of before, it is disingenuous to say the least that these voices are inventing problems to feel special when even cursory searching shows that a LOT of people have been talking about it for a LONG time and social media is merely giving them access to a platform.

I can tell you what the people here are concerned about; They want water that isn't diseased, they want to be able to go to work with out getting shot. They want the terrorism to stop. They want to send their children to school without fear of it being firebombed, and this child shot while trying escape the flames...
They are tired of those "fighting for a better tomorrow" raping, and beating their Daughters, and killing their Sons. They want to know that the money they have in their pocket today will be able to buy food tomorrow: Because many times it hasn't. Many of them want a return of only 15 years ago.... When they were happy, prosperous and  free.

Shit sucks man, and while I have opinions on the issue for sure, its not my place to explain YOUR issues to you, when I don't have a personal stake in them, just as how its mega not your place to tell me how to feel about social issues in the US and your belief they were caused by social media. Like I know my reality pre-twitter better than you and I know it got BETTER, not worse, because of social media pushing for more awareness (As well as lots of other things).

But let me point back to the Fallacy of Relative Privation. Obviously I got it better than most, worse than others, but implying that it is BAD that people are talking about their oppression because other oppression exists is really freaking dumb. Like I said about caring about SR even though the world is bad, caring about SR doesn't 'take away' care about other things. The main cost is not caring, but awareness, but most people who care about SR don't care about it in the sense that it is taking awareness away from the real world, that is more an issue of things like people donating to local charities with small impacts because they are aware of local issues more than donating to international charities that have a larger impact per-dollar because its too abstract, or people, again, not caring about LGBTQ+ or Racial issues because they don't see them in the media.
« Last Edit: <06-30-20/1947:48> by dezmont »

adzling

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« Reply #198 on: <06-30-20/2008:20> »
This is a far more modern take on Cyberpunk created mostly through cyberpunk gaming, and doesn't have much to do with the origins of the genre. While it is ok for genres to evolve, maybe lets not evolve them to these kinda gross places.

An exploration of foundational cyberpunk literature and film and the idea of technology as a 'destructive' force.

The Sprawl Trillogy: Explicitly pro-transhumanism, though it notes society isn't currently set up to support it. The Sprawl does note some people are self destructive through technology, but it is far more anti-society than anti-technology, and has an overt theme of 'technology might replace our shitty society with something good.' Molly Millions, the most cyberized character in the series, is damaged but not because of her cybernetics and is mostly a wreck of a person because of a lack of healthy human connection, and at no point is it implied that her cybernetics make her a worse person. Gibson himself has also outright stated he  hates this view on cyberpunk and calls it 'Aethestetic Cyberpunk' that overfocuses on the technology rather than the society. So we can take that off the list of cyberpunk stories that portray technology as destructive. It repeatedly depicts the internet almost as a 'spirit realm of humanity' trading on ideas of the Noosphere, and literally ends with characters talking about how change is never easy but can lead to good things as long as you accept it, and that the status quo of humanity and society is untenable.

I disagree. Technology is more than just cybernetics.
Case's devolution into the matrix is the personification of "losing oneself to technology". Case eventually spends so much time in the matrix he loses himself to it completely becoming "post human".
Molly (and other characters like the vat-grown ninja in the finale) are far colder and have less human reactions than a normal person would. They act in ways that are inherently less emotional and more mechanistic. They are cogs in the machine, a machine they have no control over.
Other short stories by Gibson firmly put the less augmented, more fallible humans in the role as the main protagonists with assorted cast of more technologically enhanced, less human characters as the opposition.
They are stronger, they are faster, they are richer, but they are less human and so they lose to the protagonist who is less strong, less fast and poorer precisely BECAUSE the protagonist is more human.

Bladerunner/Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep: A super political story that uses robots to explore the elite and privilege's relationship with labor, by having the police have a large part of their efforts focus on tracking down illegal imigrants robots who look and act and feel identically to humans but who lack the right to be on earth because 'they aren't human' but who society tries to convince that they are because its convenient, and who can only be outed by subtle culturally contextual questions and intense observation. VERY OVERTLY is about how the idea that 'pure humanity' is a bullshit concept and that the robots are just as much people as humans are. Probably one of the more explicit examples of 'You don't get to think your better than someone else just because all your parts are wet' of cyberpunk because that is ALL the plot really is about.

Agreed.
However late stage capitalism is the villain in this novel, not technology so much.
Humans have not so much sold themselves at the altar of technology as been totally dominated by the capitalistic forces that control society.
Whereas in Gibson's Sprawl trilogy there is hope for mankind to fight back against their capitalist and technological overlords ("punk" if you will) that is not possible in Bladerunner. All you can do is hide for as long as you can from those in power.

Ghost in the Shell: Literally its biggest theme is that policing other people's bodies is bullshit. Its the most recurring motif, and it uses very human and emotive cyborgs who pose no threat to society to show how hysterical and conservative society can be. Multiple plots are about how repressive it is to police what people do with their bodies both in the original series and in SAC, and it uses the fact that total body replacement exists to explore how even in a world where people could visually change entirely who they are at will, people are still going to be judgemental assholes who pressure and harass and oppress other people. There is an entire fictional species of pure AI who are portrayed as good, helpful, and innocent of many of humanity's problems who primarily exist to have philosophical discussions about what it means to be a person and aid humans using the gifts of their existence. Almost all of the problems of the setting are caused by the extreme inequality of society making terrorists out of people desperate to survive, monsters out of people trying to maintain the status quo, or are a product of fundamentalist thinking about the body.

I think you're completely skipping over the face that the Ghost in the shell is a technological construct open to tampering. Tampering with the very "soul" of the individual Ghost. Once you tamper with the ghost's code then is it the same Ghost as before or something different? How can any Ghost be sure of their own motivations when they could just be the output from some code inserted by a malicious actor? The only real person in Ghost in the Shell is a real person, the Ghosts are constantly wondering what part of their code is "them" and what is "inserted". Technology is literally causing this schism that did not exist before. Technology is at once liberating (you get to live beyond your body) and threatening (who knows whats "you" and what's been implanted by the corp that made you).

The Matrix: An exploration of trans identity and how humanity has an innate evilness about it due to its willingness to judge the other, and uses the metaphor of an alternative life in machines as a form of liberation from the crass physical matter you were forced to inhabit against your will.  The lead character is deadnamed repeatedly by the main villain, and a side villain exists who wishes to repress the new knowledge they have about themselves and their physical existence compared to their mental self image. Literally includes a scene in its transmedia of a robot being torn apart by a violent bigoted mob in a manner to deliberately evoke the murder of trans people down to her artificial hair and clothing being violently ripped from her body as she screams "I'm Real!" while crying (Obvious trigger warning for what is essentially an anti-trans lynching and images of genocide, but watch that scene here and tell me that this is about how bad technology is). The machines in this setting, lacking human's ability to hold a grudge and hate to the point their entire history is trying to show how much they love and care about humanity even as they are attacked violently repeatedly, and after they contain humanity they devote themselves to philosophical and spiritual thinking without bias, and are able to instantly forgive the humans once humans develop to the point they can accept they must co-exist with these 'unnaturals.' This only was able to come about because these unnatural people accepted that biochauvanist reactionaries could not be reasoned with and forcefully ended their violence with violence, which was framed as justified and moral and the only realistic path to any lasting peace.

meh, ok, that's not what I got from the Matrix.
At it's surface it's the embodiment of technology running rampant, creating a literal fake environment (social media anyone?) that becomes more real than the real world.
So real that some people prefer it to the real world even after they know it's an illusion (steak, mmm).
It's the literal ascendency of technology over everything else, community, society, economy, reality, love, hate. It's all meaningless now, playing second fiddle to technology that has overtaken everything and reduced everyone to bit players in an mmo.

Robocop: A bit more anti-cyborg, sure, because the directors assume if Robocop didn't see his own face in the mirror he would have a psychotic break. Still, the director overtly states a theme of the story is that no matter how much you take away from a person they are still a person in that same interview: Despite being memory wiped and being mostly replaced, Murph was still Murph and still had his soul. It was, thematically, way more about corporations than technology: Almost everything bad in robocop's world was the result of shitty policy decisions, and it was a plot point that the technology they wanted to use to 'replace humans' was not in fact capable of doing that.

Robocop has literally lost almost everything, and yet he remains good.
Why?
Because of that small nub of humanity left in him.
He can't relate to people anymore, has a hard time acting normally around people and is always nearly killing people.
The only thing differentiating him from ED-209 is that small nub of humanity left in him.
If that doesn't highlight for you that humanity is important and replacing it all with technology (ed-209) is the bad path then i dont know what would tbh.

Akira: Not really about cybernetics, but still interesting becaus an overt theme was the corrupt xenophobic government and religious zealouts overtly 'othering' anything 'undesirable' or 'impure' was an important plot element. It overtly explores the loss of humanity and while Tetsuo has a cybernetic arm, he doesn't become a big blob monster because of it, he becomes a big blob monster due to the alienation he faces from being different, from the power thrust upon him, and how society treats him. The people doing science do screw some stuff up, but mostly under pressure from the millitary, and the main villainous force is spiritual fundementalism, not science. Also, the Manga more overtly comments on how people's hatered and biases are irrational and they will view mechanistic scientific things like psychic powers as miracles when it is convinient, deluding themselves and ascribing artificial importance to things when life gets stressful.

Akira is not a cyberpunk movie, it's just set in a dystopian world.
The are not themes of technology as a governing or determining force anywhere in the graphic novels or movie.
So no, Akira is not a Cyberpunk movie as much as a movie set in a cyberpunk like dystopia.

A recurring, core motif of cyberpunk ISN'T that technology is unnatural. It is that technology is a (potentially) liberating force, but society is inherently corrupting and damaging.

This is where we disagree.
All books I would classify as cyberpunk combine the concepts of late stage capitalism, dystopia and technology running rampant to the detriment of society and humanity.

Again, the idea that 'cybernetics eat your soul' is so notable as to being exclusive to cyberpunk TABLETOP that it shows up on the TVtropes page, in literary anaylsises of cyberpunk, and is explicitly noted by Gibson as being 'shitty aethestetic cyberpunk.' It is the exact opposite message Cyberpunk media tends to have.

I disagree, see my example above. Gibson has it throughout his books whether he knows it/ agrees with it or not.

Fantasy races having built in differences is a thing unique to SR, and while it really isn't good even in a pure fantasy setting (Again, people were noting Tolkien's works were kinda sorta really racist in the freaking 60's before the freaking Civil Rights act was signed, and D&D has overtly admitted it was never a good idea), it is especially not good when the metatypes are coded for real world races (You know, the orks orks with their grilled tusks and orksploitated musical genres being coopted by humans and elves and their yertzed out cars with the spinny rims who can't get good education, are attacked by men with pointy white hoods and robes and who are routinely harassed by the police) it is... borderline unconscionable. Like... sorry... no Adlzing, we should never go back to lowering mental maxes on what are, when we say the quiet part out loud, stand ins for black people, lets not. Lets hardcore not.

I disagree on all those points.
First there are other games before and since shadowrun that set different attributes for differing races.
So let's put that one down first.
Secondly, I am happy to play out racism in RPGs, it doesn't bother me. It's a reflection of the fucked shit that happens IRL and cyberpunk needs that fucked shit to properly convey a dystopia. I'm big enough to understand that it's a game and that my orc whose being racially judged is happening in a game and not in real life. I totes understand if you can't deal with it and that should be part of your first session zero at any table. But it's a bit cray-cray to declare it verbotten because it's not nice / good/ wholesome. We're dealing with a setting that's inherently not nice/ good / wholesome.

As for conflict: Body policing and mechanical racism don't drive conflict at all. The setting ALREADY assumes that Orks and Trolls are mentally equal and saying otherwise is racism, it is just that the MECHANICS don't back it up. It actually makes the conflict STRONGER to note that Humanis propiganda about 'dumb violent orks' is incorrect, rather than letting, as one friend put it, 'Humanis write the metatype section in chargen.'

Sure they do. You just don't like that conflict. That's ok. I'm not bothered by it because it's not real. IRL it pisses me off mightily but this is a game I play to dive into the deep end of dystopian horror, not to just run around as me in an orc mask.

Conflict in Cyberpunk doesn't come from the technology, it comes from society's injustice intersecting with the 'neutral' power of technology. I highly doubt anyone has ever written a plot in SR about how evil and spiritually polluted that person who gave themselves a cyberarm and cosmetic modifications was, but people DO write about how vile corpoations like Renraku are who exploit and enslave technological entities and push body and racial purity ideas are.

And there you totally skip the true horror of technology.
Fakebook.
That's the horror of our time and likely P2.0 is the true horror of the 6th world.
Technology you stick in your body is just an extension of that.

When technology restructures society to it's own benefit, like a bloated lampry eel feeding on our body politic, it sure as fuck becomes something to fear.

As we replace more and more of ourselves with non-human and anti-human parts we lose ourselves.

Even if that replacement is only mental frameworks for friendships, i.e. Fakebook.

A good plot about bigotry should, inherently, acknowledge biggotry is illogical and not really based in reality, rather than try to justify its origins by making the bigotry true.

And there you lose the entire plot.
You can be less intelligent and less physically fit and still be just as valuable a person as that PHD marathon runner.

You're familial relationships and the way you carry yourself in the world, how you treat people is what should determine your worth.

Not the size of your IQ.

So therefore when you think less intelligent people are inherently less worthy you are committing the worst act of bigotry possible.

Ergo, just because shadowrun has enshrined racial attribute differences in the mechanics does not mean that it is itself bigoted.

For that to be true it would have to also enshrine that less intelligent people are inherently evil/ bad/ scum.
and it pointedly does the EXACT opposite.
Trolls and orcs are people too and even if they are bigger and less intelligent the still have their own inherent value that some humanist scum cannot attack.
They have their own value that their school grades don't and cannot reflect.

TL:DR cyberpunk worlds are dystopian because of the triumph of $$ and technology over humans/ism. The former are valued more than the latter. No one cares you're a nice person who takes care of their family, the only thing that matters is your bank balance and how cutting edge you are.
« Last Edit: <06-30-20/2014:13> by adzling »

Marcus

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« Reply #199 on: <06-30-20/2011:54> »
Modern Politics isn't important to punk, the classic themes of oppression, Prejudice, Bigotry, Sexism, exploitation, over population, resource competition are and thus by extension are important to Cyberpunk.

If you don't think those concepts are modern political issues (save over-population, which is often used as an eco-facist dog whistle, and its good that SR basically says outright feeding the population is trivial to do), then you have a strange take on modern politics.


The Cyberpunk genre isn't limited to our world or a timeline that is based off our world. You can create cyberpunk story lines, in all sorts of settings. The themes are what's important. Themes are not political topics. Yes theme can be drawn from political topics or vise versa but that shift means a different frame of reference, two different things with different connotations and different meanings and different histories involved with them. The Theme over population is not a dog whistle it can be drawn from the differential equation governing population expansion, the politic topic often is a dog whistle, as employed by Nazis with "Needing Breathing Room" or During the lead up to world war one. Themes are used in story telling. You need to separate politics and story. They are not same thing. Do not confuse them.
 
Just make sure you understand that while we want to represent our heroes with those trait we determine are positive but that can complicated as Anti-heroes are a very common in the genre, Cyberpunk is inherently a dark setting. This means putting themes in that are negative, but we need avoid conflating adding negative themes as supporting them. For Example Prejudice verses meta humans is a nice allegory for racism in SR. But it needs to be done in such a way that it doesn't distracted from the real issues of racism. Another example in SR The line between positively portraying Native American Cultures, and cultural exploitation is also something needs to be considered carefully.

But keep in mind while those example are specific to SR, I could just as easily used ones from Neuromancer or Ghost in the Shell etc etc.

Let me see if I can help color in Reaver point, Dez do you think adding a Meta Human Lives Matter movement to SR would be a good idea?
*Play-by-Post color guide*
Thinking
com
speaking

Reaver

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« Reply #200 on: <06-30-20/2012:19> »
Pulling this out of Shadworun, in an hope to explain my position better.

Lets look at the recent issue that has sprouted up in DnD... Orcs...

(and this was something that kinda whacked me out of left field)

Apparently, "Orcs" are stand ins for minorities.. Particularly Africans!

WELL!! Color me surprised!

Speaking as someone who has spent 15 years working though out Africa, in multiple nations, I see ZERO similarities between Orcs as portrayed in any version of DnD and any African culture I have encountered (and I have encountered a lot, including some very disgusting ones by Western standards).

What I do see in Orcs is a monstrous humanoid, has bares no resemblance to any human culture. Even their physical descriptions make it pretty clear they are not indicative of any actual people or culture.

But, somehow, a green skinned, tusked intelligent monster, is a stand in for a minority?   
Which when you consider pretty much all major cultures have been represented in DnD... If poorly, makes me really wonder...

I'm not a huge fan of whole "Dark skinned human comes from Chult" (or whatever the areas was in FR), or the whole "Calimshan is like the middle east" tropes they worked with.. But, they (meaning other cultures) were there...

And, from a (as you admit) Company stand point it made sense to focus on the more "European themes" of Forgotten Realms as, this was the majority demographic that played their game.

Now, I don't know where this all comes from, and maybe I can't see it because I wasn't brought up in a polarized country with deep racial divisions. And to a vast majority of people, we are like "WTF?! Where did this come from? And how did they get there?!?!?"

For many of us not in the US, nor are US citizens, NOR care what happens in the US (Sorry Americans, I know you like to think it, but you are not the center of the universe!) A lot of this comes off as very insulting, and trampling our cultural views and values.

Its a direct reflection of what a small subset of people think and hold of value, and that can and does bring insult to many more.
Now, This is not to say that those opinions, values, beliefs or ideologies are any more valid than any other set of values, opinions, beliefs, and ideologies. Merely that they are different, and in some cases directly opposite.


Now, lets take that political, in Shadowrun, while trying to be as respectful as we can.

There are Core political issues in SR, yes. They are basically the "agreed" sins of government, that every society can agree on... Corruption, Avarice, Oppression, technological decadence, and so on, you are not going to get much disagreement.

Other issues such as Transhumanism:
[trans·hu·man·ism
/tranzˈhyo͞omənizm/
noun

1.
the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.]

Is actually a setting dichotomy for Shadowrun, and for many cyber dystopian settings, as it it runs counter to the essential tropes of Cyberpunk (corruption of technology).
BUT
Fits very well within game settings like Eclipse Phase, Rifts, or other futuristic settings.

 
However, issues such as Homosexuality, or Transsexuality are issues that come with much loaded baggage for a publisher...
Namely, these very subjects are forbidden subjects in many countries.... (which sadly speaks to the state of the world.) Sometimes carrying sentences that are barbaric. (Ever seen a REAL Stoning? I have....)

I am not saying that these are not real world issues. They are. But they are not issues that a publisher can tread easily or openly without facing LEGAL repercussions.

Some things have to be left to a table to determine what or how to involve and do not need a official "in print" explanation of.


Now. Again.

Its best if writers avoid many current political of the current age, as its just too polarizing. Its best from a marketing point of view to just avoid the entire issue and leave some things to the community/culture/table to decide how it fits.


Now, because it usually comes up.

What do I think on those issues?

The World is a horrible, horrible place. Find love and acceptance where you can.   

Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

Reaver

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« Reply #201 on: <06-30-20/2018:18> »
Let me see if I can help color in Reaver point, Dez do you think adding a Meta Human Lives Matter movement to SR would be a good idea?
There is one.

Mothers Of Metahumans. (MOM)

Although they haven't been used much since 3e.
(although they might have appeared in the adventure that lead up to the Underground joining Seattle Proper, I can't remember, and don't own that one)
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

FastJack

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« Reply #202 on: <06-30-20/2215:27> »
Having just spent five days on another forum going through some crap, I'll give you all a heads up. One misspoke word on the thread about diversity in gaming and how companies may be handling it, and this thread is locked and warnings go out.

That being said, if you can keep personal opinions out of the mix and talk about the diversity in gaming without getting heated, we're good..


(Moderator voice off) That being said, the reasons for orcs being closely associated with people of color is due to descriptions of such races using key words that white supremacists have used in the past to describe people of color. For a quick introduction, check out this from TolkienGateway.net.

markelphoenix

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« Reply #203 on: <06-30-20/2347:44> »
So...I kind of want them to have decent editing, clear rules that are consistent across sections, and a decent meta plot focused around big movers and shakers such as Corps, Dragons, Governments, and Supernatural Entities...that's just me, though. That's where I would like them to focus.

Reaver

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« Reply #204 on: <07-01-20/0010:43> »
So...I kind of want them to have decent editing, clear rules that are consistent across sections, and a decent meta plot focused around big movers and shakers such as Corps, Dragons, Governments, and Supernatural Entities...that's just me, though. That's where I would like them to focus.

THAT,  is something to complain about. :P
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #205 on: <07-01-20/0246:53> »
Yet some people kept complaining about several big plotbooks, nagging that they don't care about the metaplot.
How am I not part of the forum?? O_O I am both active and angry!

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« Reply #206 on: <07-01-20/0424:31> »
To me, talking about the metaplot ( love it or hate it) is just a way of dodging the main issues of a bad game mechanics. No matter how good or bad the background story, if the mechanics are bad the game is not worth playing.

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« Reply #207 on: <07-01-20/0452:06> »
Over all nothing has really changed from where we were at release. The core remains unplayable without a significant number of house rules.

Firing Squad made some limited efforts to address community concerns, but the core problems with the system remain.

So it's simply a question of how much effort you want to put into making 6e playable at your table.

Yep, pretty much this.  If you happen to speak German, Pegasus has put out much better edited versions of the core book, and published more German-exclusive works for 6e than Catalyst has released SR6 books in total.

penllawen

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« Reply #208 on: <07-01-20/0715:04> »
Wow, what a great thread. I am 100% aligned with Dezzmont on everything he said. That said, a few specific things I'd like to touch on:

Part of why SR kinda got grody, at least in my opinion, was because of this shift during 4e where it hit peak post 9/11 cyberpunk. You see this really clear divide between 3e and earlier where the 'Corp Man professional runner' is this character who is despised by other runners due to being an untrustworthy sellout who wouldn't blow up some black ops torture-lab just because it was the right thing to do, to these moral robots who do things as cogs in the machine minimizing collateral damage and political aspirations. And, to be clear, this was probably unavoidable because part of SR's old thesis was 'political terrorism is justified to resist legitimate atrocities' which is.... not a message anyone in 2005 was gunna be down to have in their books.
Huh, this a really interesting angle, and not one I'd considered. I played SR from about 1993-2003, stopped came back a few years ago so I didn't live through this era in the game and didn't have this perspective.

Despite it in theory being as common as women doing this, we don't get any voyeuristic art pieces of scantily clad dudes striking poses in fights. We also don't see anyone with transgressing gender expressions or an androgenous look or anything like this. This is, again, in part because of the necessity to 'de-punkify' SR post 9/11 and have everyone dress in a very unpunk way that mainstream people would still associate with punk (Again, glad that trend died with 6e and the art got way more varied and runners became more vibrant. The rigger on 54 is my fave) but... lets be fair its also because I doubt anyone holding the pursestrings for SR is inclined to ask for a sexy streetsam dude in a revealing outfit or would even know what to specifically ask for, and because its a gaming space and having the cover art for Street Spells be a pseudo-upskirt shot of a woman rather than a man, or having the person on 138 wearing a jacket open with nothing but a bra under it, is an attempt to pander with cheesecake in a way that doesn't actually make sense in SR to do. The setting (outside of areas like Japan or Aztland) don't have double standards, but the writers/artists certainly do.
Cannot agree more. This bothers me a lot.

Look at how the essence rules consistently said garbage things about real world groups for multiple editions no matter how often they tried to patch those issues in, as opposed to just admitting purity language is a fundamentally bad language to every describe a person with. You can never escape understanding issues by just refusing to comment on them, because you always sorta are. ... Do you think trans people are perverting and twisting their bodies or not? You can't be 'neutral' on that issue once you introduce essence as a concept linked to modifying the body.
Yes, exactly!

My interpretation for essence diverges from canon. My own theory is that the mana flow is shaped by people's subconscious, both on an individual level and a mass, collective level. For the latter, it's why conjured spirits and the metaplanes conform to historical myths that metahumanity has. The weight of the collective beliefs of all metahuman kind creates these things in the shape we expect them to take. (This also loosely ties into the idea of Namegivers in Earthdawn, and is somewhat influenced by Terry Pratchett's Discworld books and Neil Gaiman's American Gods. It is the belief that forms the raw power into conscious, living forms, not the other way around.)

On the individual level, you get essence. I do not think of essence as being "humanity" or anything like it. I don't encourage my players to roleplay it that way, and as I type this, I realise I need to houserule it out of the Social Limit. Instead, I think of essence as being a measure of how far your body's template has moved away from what the collective subconscious thinks of as "normal." Cyberware or bioware gives you literal superpowers and makes you into something else, not something better or worse but just different, means your essence decreases as you move further way from the collective subconscious opinion about what a metahuman is.

Edit to add - This is intended to be on a deep, psychological/philisophical level, not on a cosmetic level. Wired reflexes cost more essence than a hulking great big cyberarm, even though they are much less visible, because they move you further away from the metahuman template of "normal."

Cosmetic modifications, prosthetics, and gender reassignment treatments are completely neutral here. They're all perfectly normal. If anything, gender reassignment could increase essence, as it aligns your body closer to your mental image of yourself in a powerful, fundamental way.

Do you think certain minorities are naturally less intellegent, or not? Once you introduce mechanics that measure intelligence objectively (in the real world most attempts to quantify intellegence are... pretty thinly pseudo-scientific systems used to try to justify eugenics or abandoning certain children's educations, so its tricky already) you need to actually state if its true or not which is a pretty big political stance when your setting's metatypes are coded super hard for real world minorities. Doubly so when the genre your in is explicitly a political one, and your game uses political language and is sold partially on being political.

Molly Millions didn't spit instead of crying as some quirky character tic, it is a metaphor for the trauma she faced making her struggle to portray and feel emotions 'correctly' and society was not set up at all to help people like her or stop things like that from happening.
I love that line. Such a visceral image. Such a brutal way to make the metaphor real.

There's a similar one in HardWired, which for all its lurid moments still occasionally has some deep things to say about the dehumanising effects of the future it presents. Sarah, the combat character, puts on her bulletproof jacket and a pair of mirrorshades. "Armour for the body, armour for the soul." Again, we see it is the situation that dehumanises, not Sarah's cyberware.

Bladerunner/Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep: A super political story that uses robots to explore the elite and privilege's relationship with labor, by having the police have a large part of their efforts focus on tracking down illegal imigrants robots...
Slaves, even.
Quote
...who look and act and feel identically to humans but who lack the right to be on earth because 'they aren't human' but who society tries to convince that they are because its convenient, and who can only be outed by subtle culturally contextual questions and intense observation. VERY OVERTLY is about how the idea that 'pure humanity' is a bullshit concept and that the robots are just as much people as humans are. Probably one of the more explicit examples of 'You don't get to think your better than someone else just because all your parts are wet' of cyberpunk because that is ALL the plot really is about.
Specifically for Bladerunner, the whole movie turns around this point. Batty saves Deckard because, facing his end, he sees their shared humanity, and displays mercy. Would Deckard have saved Batty? Probably not. The movie says: judge "humanity" by actions, and realise that Deckard is the lesser being.

Quote
A recurring, core motif of cyberpunk ISN'T that technology is unnatural. It is that technology is a (potentially) liberating force, but society is inherently corrupting and damaging.

Again, the idea that 'cybernetics eat your soul' is so notable as to being exclusive to cyberpunk TABLETOP that it shows up on the TVtropes page, in literary anaylsises of cyberpunk, and is explicitly noted by Gibson as being 'shitty aethestetic cyberpunk.' It is the exact opposite message Cyberpunk media tends to have.
Yup. Perhaps I have this view because I am old, and I came into Shadowrun having already read a bunch of cyberpunk books, but that's exactly how I see it too. Essence (and cyberpsychosis in Cyberpunk 2020) were invented for game balance terms (which I understand) but were, in hindsight, an idea that was not at all aligned with the wider cyberpunk genre.

Maybe it's time for the game to ground-up rethink essence entirely. Drop it, think of something else.

(You know, the orks orks with their grilled tusks and orksploitated musical genres being coopted by humans and elves and their yertzed out cars with the spinny rims who can't get good education, are attacked by men with pointy white hoods and robes and who are routinely harassed by the police) it is... borderline unconscionable. Like... sorry... no Adlzing, we should never go back to lowering mental maxes on what are, when we say the quiet part out loud, stand ins for black people, lets not. Lets hardcore not.

As for conflict: Body policing and mechanical racism don't drive conflict at all. The setting ALREADY assumes that Orks and Trolls are mentally equal and saying otherwise is racism, it is just that the MECHANICS don't back it up. It actually makes the conflict STRONGER to note that Humanis propiganda about 'dumb violent orks' is incorrect, rather than letting, as one friend put it, 'Humanis write the metatype section in chargen.'

That being said, the reasons for orcs being closely associated with people of color is due to descriptions of such races using key words that white supremacists have used in the past to describe people of color. For a quick introduction, check out this from TolkienGateway.net.
This. Another very good read on this is https://jamesmendezhodes.com/blog/2019/6/30/orcs-britons-and-the-martial-race-myth-part-ii-theyre-not-human

Shadowrun, with its modern urban setting, leans into this even harder than fantasy RPGs do. I believe it does it with good intentions, but it's still there, and if not handled carefully by the table, it can head into some pretty icky places. Off the top of my head, there's plenty of stuff in canon that says orcs:

  • reproduce fast, including a high rate of multiple births
  • mature fast, become very large and strong at an unusually young age
  • continue to be large and strong into adulthood
  • speak an incomprehensible language of their own devising
  • are intellectually inferior
  • eat strongly spiced food cooked over primitive live fire
  • like heavily modded ("yerzed out") cars
  • have their own musical subculture that outsiders don't understand

Everything on this list is objectively true in the setting, except for the one about intellectual inferiority in 6e (and let us all be glad that changed.) Everything on this list is also things that racist people in America have repeatedly said about African-Americans. That makes me uncomfortable.

It can be fertile ground for stories, yes. But I'm a white guy playing with other white guys; I feel like those are not my stories to tell, and handling them well would require skills and a life experience I do not have. So I mostly keep well clear of them. I've touched on it, using Humanis as almost cartoonish bad guys. But that's as far as I'd want to go.

« Last Edit: <07-01-20/0741:33> by penllawen »