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arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

Racial Identity and video games

Posted on 2006.10.29 at 15:01
Tags: ,
The one online game I play, Guild Wars, recently hit expansion 3 - a titled called 'Nightfall' set in a mythical place modeled on themes of North Africa and Africa - and thereby featuring a mix of Arabic and African themes. Right out of the gate, one of the first things to happen is that players are giving an 'NPC Hero' joining them who is dark skinned black man, so no matter what you do, you can't "avoid the darkies" on this one [1].

Character creation however, features a full range of skin tones and a curious thing is popping up in the game - online players, at least in the North American servers, are predominantly making very light skinned and pale haired characters.

That's kicked off some discussion in a few of the forum communities for the game over what is driving this and whether or not it is a sign of ingrained racism, such as seen in one complaint of 'what's with all the ghetto hairstyles in character creation?'.

This is countered by such claims as 'its just a game' or 'but people want to play what is beautiful' or 'people want to play characters like themselves'. The last would be credible if not for the second expansion, which took place in a fantasy Asia, having players choose mostly Asian looking characters.

That backdrop brings me to the topic...

Video games are becoming the 'dolls' of the modern age. One the one hand they are what we play with and form notions out of, on the other hand when they allow for choice do they reveal certain traits in society that we otherwise try to claim no longer exist?

Is it 'just a game?' or is this important?

Do games like 'Grand Theft Auto' reinforce negative racial stereotypes in the same way TV is often accused of doing? Could games like 'Nightfall' counter this, or merely serve to show how strongly ingrained it is, or is it just a trivial waste of time to care about this?

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[1] - On the other hand, is this black hero joining you as a 'sidekick' an example of the 'magical black man' dynamic in operation? Would it help or hinder that analysis if I said that he does so at an equal power level to your 'PC' character.

See also:

sensitive thread: ethnicity and Nightfall
Chapter 4 - Home Theme

- Both topics where breaching this 'issue' met with very negative reactions of 'race-denial'.

arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

New art - been a while

Posted on 2006.08.08 at 09:01
The two below feature nudity, to see them you need to be logged into deviant art with an account that allows you to view such:
Space Vixens
-Done in response to a challenge by that name, I took the phrase literally. :)
Quick Furry - Carrara version
- I redid this one in 'Carrara' as a test of the application.

And for general view, click the thumbnails to see in full:

arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

Short link to "How to Suppress Discussions of Racism"

Posted on 2006.08.08 at 08:55
Everyone should drop on over to this and give it a good read: How to Suppress Discussions of Racism

My comment to it:

I think half this list has been used at me on one occaision or another...

Another tactic that 'works' is to ban the person who complains of racism for 'violating the TOS' by posting political or racist comments... but ignoring whoever or whatever they where complaining about... That method is favored on 'rpg boards'.

arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

Hexagon 2 (vertex modeler) released

Posted on 2006.04.28 at 21:18
Just in case you've been under a rock... Daz3d bought out eovia's Hexagon and Carrara product lines and staff, and has just cut the price of Hexagon from around $270 to $32 (cost of a club membership plus 2 - download only version, but for Mac and PC).

That gives people looking to get into modeling (and not just rendering), but unable to afford most of this stuff (32 is a wee bit less than the 5000 Maya goes for), and unable to figure out blender ( :) ), a line in on the game.

It's also PO'd a lot of older eovia customers who bought into pricey pre-orders and are getting 'voucher coupons' in trade... I would have been one of them if I hadn't been too broke to get in on the pre-order...

Grabbed me a copy, no time to use it right now, but figure it's a good idea to get in on this before they change their minds...

The essay below is inwork. I have just pasted in a message I sent to the 'roleplayers of color' yahoo group. I will probably come back and edit is a little later on.

Hermetic wrote:
>> arcady's When purity prevails ... [evil triumphs] 3D art piece.
> We continue to recreate the power structures, prejudices,
> oppression and injustices of the cultures we inhabit, despite the fact that
> in fantasy we COULD imagine anything.
> In my dissertation of women in gaming, that's essentially the central point
> of one chapter on sexism in gaming. While we could imagine things
> differently, we continue to repeat the same and then wonder why things
> don't really change.
> While, I think the same could definitely be said for the experiences of
> racism in gaming as I continue to learn about through this group.

Presumptions of power and privilege are so ingrained that they get
repeated in our imaginary worlds, often without question, and often in a
light that tries to make them seem more just.

If they were challenged or questioned in imaginary worlds, it would be
an admission that the state of them in our world is -NOT- just 'natural'. It
is very common for assumptions about race, gender, and class to just be
mapped into a fictional world based on a modern revisionist
understanding of how they were in a given ancient period.

One of my favorite responses to challenges of how race and gender are
portrayed is:
"Well, this is an idealized society with simplified morality where it is
just easier to tell good and evil."

But... look at what gets labeled good and evil, or empowered and

It is not simple at all, it is not a black and white morality, not four

My response is typically:

"What does it say about you that your idealized reality is based on
extreme racist norms."

An equally simple morality would be: "everyone is equal and good and
evil are not inborn."

Why is that never chosen? Could it be because the author simply does not
actually believe it to be true. It is actually a pretty complex affair
to build a system of oppression and inequality - and even more complex
to build a dialog that denies any morality to your enemy. These notions
of 'they are born evil savages' and 'women are weaker and need
protection' are not intuitively obvious any more than the opposite
conclusion. They take a lot of indoctrination to get across to people.
Calling them the 'idealized simple model' not only implies they are
somehow 'the natural truth', but it is just plain incorrect.

Anyone who's ever had to sit through a half hour of Barney the Dinosaur
knows it is just as easy to present an idealized world that presents the
opposite conclusion.

And even Pokemon shows a simple clear cut world with idealized
assumptions that does not present an ingrained notion of 'these types of
people are evil'. Even the villains in that, "Team Rocket", are seen as
flawed people rather than really evil - which can allow for a leap in a
more complex drama to examining what such flaws might lead to.

(I won't defend Pokemon on gender - I don't know well enough, but most
anime is very bad on that score so I would want to actually watch it
closely before I said anything there.)


If the claim that this picture of inequality is there in order to make
it 'simpler' is a false claim, then just why is it presented that way?

I think that just comes back to 'power and privilege'. Those with power
and privilege find - even if not consciously aware of such - that it is
very dangerous to question their position.

If a fantasy world present empowered women, that challenges what happens
to women in their real world lives. If it presents a world where races
that are similar to stereotypes of native people, asians, and africans,
but not made evil, not simplified - then it says that their own
history's treatment of the real world equivalents was wrong, and that
maybe, the way it is today is still wrong.

Now, on my renderosity gallery I had to turn off comments after two
posters made humor of the nature of the presentation, but before I did
so I had posted a statement there:

"...most modern people today have bloodlines that have atrocity in them
somewhere. I have ancestors who walked the trail of tears and I have
ancestors who owned slaves (and some of them are the same people btw), I
have ancestors who were invaders in places like Ireland and South
America, and ancestors who were pushed out of their homes in the Amazon
rainforest, etc... More important is that we not excuse our ancestors,
but own up to them, and not let modern people repeat their errors.
Germany for me is one of the shining examples of a place that has owned
up to its past and now works against racial conflict. Not everyone who
errored greatly in that conflict has done so... But, the lesson of
history is not [about being] ashamed of who we were, but to be on alert
for and vigilant about what we might yet become."


In other words, you can admit that people you are descended from were
wrong, and still be yourself good.

So, I would wager that the desire to set up these 'simplified
inequalities' is predicated on an unconscious fear of having an
'idealized world' that challenges their real world positions of power
and privilege over race, class[*], and gender / sex.

[*] I didn't go into class much in this, but look at Batman for a great
example of an 'inverse Robin Hood' - protect the wealthy and middle
class from lower class predators. Think about what that says... and then
consider the dialog present in the 'Super Hero' and 'Modern Action'
genres... Gamer fantasy by contrast, has one of its glaring exceptions
on this issue. If gamer fantasy was really based on 'medieval era
societies' then 90% of the PCs would be serfs - slaves who could not
travel nor own 'Real Property' (as defined in the law - meaning land),
nor be armed with most of the weapons they typically carry, nor keep the
loot they find (the USA was the first western society to let explorers
keep found treasure - until the 1800s it was always the property of the
King or State, this is why the American gold rushes had such a major

Gamer fantasy is able to get over this 'idealized assumption', but
refuses to get over the others... The reasons for that mirror very well
to what is different about the US and other western societies, both in
what we have gotten over that they haven't, as well as what they have
gotten over that we refuse to do so about...

Well, I guess I did go into class after all...


arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

Do we need a 'Don't be evil' law?

Posted on 2006.02.01 at 14:43
Consider Google's recent actions and ask yourself what this means for the long term.

China is gaining in power, and lets face it, this is not a natural rise to power - it is happening at the insistence of western nations funding business into that nation, each hoping to gain the largest slice of the pie. That means that we in the west should have an amazing amount of influence on the future of China, so why is it happening the other way around?

What is more central to the founding principles of the USA? Money, or Freedom?

If you were to ask Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft they might say money. So would the average business student in America's universities today, and so would the Chinese government, and actor in this drama which, lets face it - hopes very much to reshape American ideology to be more in line with its own agenda.

An example of that is this recent news item noting that the Chinese consulate in San Francisco tracks the 'loyalty' of American citizens in San Francisco to the communist regime in Beijing...

The pursuit of a fast buck wasn't in the Declaration of Independence, nor the Constitution, nor Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, nor anywhere else in the ideals of our nation. Freedom however, and liberty, practically litter our ideals with constant repetition.

We didn't fight the British in the name of free trade, nor the South to make a buck, and we didn't fight Hitler to increase our stock portfolios. Sure, we have had our failings, but they do not excuse more of them.

So, do we need some form of law in the USA to force our own corporations to obey our laws when acting outside our borders, or at the very least, to condemn them when they abandon the very principles that make us Americans.

Perhaps some kind of business tax on any company that violates a provision of the US Constitution, or at the least, of the Bill of Rights. Or perhaps a tax exemption to those companies that refuse to bow to foreign interests that demand they violate American core principles of what we mean when we say 'an American patriot'.

Lets face it, Google is a traitor to the ideal of America's founding. It may not be a traitor in the legal sense, but it is ethically. It, and many other companies, has chosen to violate the first, the most core, of American ideals in the interests of money.

Something needs to be done to stop that kind of behavior. Something needs to be done before China gets its wish to see us all flying the communist flag outside our homes...

If there was ever a need for a 'House Un-American Activities Committee', Google is it.

arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

My four most recent 3D works

Posted on 2006.01.18 at 00:19
The two below feature nudity, to see them you need to be logged into deviant art with an account that allows you to view such:
The Witch And The Dragon | Quick Furry

And two for general view, click the thumbnails to see in full:

Yes, one of these has been posted to this journal before... But I've kept it because not putting it in here would be a bit of a skip.

Of late I've been working with learning more advanced custom shaping, and growing my knowledge of lighting. The next step for me is to learn full on modeling - no easy task - and I've got a new version of Carrara in the mail for that purpose. During my winter break I sat down to a few tutorials, but now that the semester is back on I probably won't be able to do much with Carrara for a few months beyond my current knowledge base.

I keep intending some more work with male figures in it, but the inspiration just never hits me... As characters and creatures upon which to base an emotional trigger or connection needed for a story or art men just do not link up for me.

This started as a reply to a reply in my last entry, and in fact I've left it there, but it has a role as its own entry as well:

Something else that I just remembered I had wanted to say in my reply but forgot after my own ramblings...

A lot of statistics on race / class and crime or drugs are misrepresented in a manner negative towards the minority position (minority in terms of disproportionately not numbers - blacks in South Africa were a minority for example, as are Arabs in Palestine, women in most of the world, the working class and native people in some Latin American countries - in political and social sciences the term is about power dynamics and not numbers).

In the USA for example, we know that drug use among men is effectively the same across all races, and possibly higher in the upper classes than the lower. As well, 'quality of driving' and drunk driving is likewise the same across race and class. However arrest rates for these items are disporportionately pushed onto minorities, and even beyond that media coverage of them magnifies the issue.

In addition, victimization rates are reported very differently from fact. In fact, the least likely victim of crime is a young white woman. The most likely victim is a young black male (who is not always the most likely perp, despite media). This sometimes reaches blatantly racist dimensions, such as with the Laci Peterson case. She was one of three women who suffered the same fate in the Bay Area during that same month - but she was the only white one. One of the mothers of the others in fact showed up at every press event she could get to, and was often in front of the courthouse, with a sign saying 'what about my daughter' (or something similar).

Another example is the POW Jessica Lynch. She was one of two women being held, but only the Iraqis ever showed the other woman - I guess they figured her life would matter to us as well, but they didn't realize she was black, which makes her less valuable than a dog in the USA...

Americans don't generally even know her name... But her ordeal was the same as Ms. Lynch's.

When Abu Gareb happened, and the perp in that turned out to be a young blond white woman, the nation just couldn't handle it. I've seen so many excuses made for her it makes me sick. If she had been a young black man we would have hanged 'him' faster than the Iraqi's could have if we'd let him loose in the middle of a pack of 'insurgents'.

Finally there is what happened in both Katrina and the Earthquakes and Tidal waves in Asia. In Katrina whenever whites were shown on the news taking things from stores they were called 'desperate survivors getting needed supplies', whenever blacks were shown they were called 'looters' and the feds under Bush went so far as to send in troops -NOT- to help them, but to stop them. Even though in common law what they did in taking those goods is actually legal. There's a section in Tort law on injuring the property of others to save lives or greater property. Of course, black lives don't really have value in the USA so I suppose the right-wing could argue that under that Tort they were not protecting a greater value in saving themselves and therefore it was illegal...

What this reporting did is serve to uphold our notion that the minorities were failing, but the whites were victims. It took a few weeks for that to change in public perception, but even now they are described not as pure victims, but as people who morally and financially failed due to the system letting them down. The key is that they were not really failures, but just normal people - and the system did not let them down, it tried to criminalize and abandon them intentionally.

In the Asian disasters, the Tidal wave hit a spot with many western tourists, and it got great media coverage. The Earthquake hit a spot with few westerners, but in fact mostly remote villages of muslims. We've not had more than cursory media coverage of it. Race and Religious politics ends up playing a role in how the statistics track tragedy.

Liberals spend a lot of time explaining statistics as to why minorities fail - but what they really need to do is start questioning if those statistics are even accurate, if minorities even actually are failing, or failing in that way.

arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

Am I what I do or what I am? Illusion or truth?

Posted on 2005.12.30 at 00:22
Tags: ,
There's a great quote in a Law and Order episode I've just finished watching. It's the ending line:

The character is asked "You're a long way from the prosecutor's office, what happened?"

He replies; "Bill Stone once told me I would have to decide; 'Am I a lawyer who is black, or a black man who is a lawyer?'"

It comes from a character who was formerly one of the regular DAs on the show, and is now making a guest appearance in his current career as a defense attorney. He notes that how "all those years I thought I was the former, now I realize that I was wrong."

Of late I've been writing and thinking a lot on race and class as it has played out in American society and how it still works through so many things we try to deny but refuse to change.

I'm beginning to come to the conclusion that a form of that quote applies to me. I am not a person involved with the law who comes from my background, but a person of my background involving himself with the law.

In Buddhism there is a concept of 'knowingness' - that an enlightened path is one of always being aware and knowing of what is around you. It is important to not focus on what you wish it to be, but what it is.

This same view was rejected in western philosophy when Socrates argued with Thrasymacus.

Socrates asked Thrasymacus the question he had been asking all attending; "what is justice?" (well, in truth, Thrasymacus interfered with his own answer in a debate the others were having).

Thrasymacus' answer was that 'Justice is nothing but the advantage of the stronger'. That can be rephrased as 'justice is what those in power say it is, and no more.'

Socrates then, as written down by Plato, spends an inordinate amount of verbage in the effort of trying to convince us that Thrasymacus is wrong, that justice is a higher ideal.

But to Buddhist notions of enlightenment, Socrates is wrong. Socrates is ignoring the state of 'knowing' what is, and instead focusing on what he wants the world to be. He has become victim to his desires.

Socrates has gone blind.

And in going blind he has managed to convince western thought that the only path to sight is to blind ourselves first - to ignore what is and instead see only what we desire.

Lao Tzu would call this acting rather than being, and note that through such action we increase conflict and deny ourselves harmony with our natural state.

Which brings me back to my Law and Order quote and how it shapes the way I'm beginning to see myself.

I'm beginning to see that I cannot sit here and deny what has shaped me, when it is really at the core of who I am.

In seeing the law, I have to remember what justice really is, not what I want it to be. It is only by placing what is before what is desired that I can have any actual hope of seeing what should be. Blinding myself to what is by instead focusing on what is desired only places what should be out of my grasp.

It is 'eating cake', as Marie Antoinette would have me do. Giving me merely the illusion of justice rather than the reality.

So, I need to become myself as a person who works in the law, and not a person who works in the law that comes from me.

arcady 3d poser vue digital gun chick

Christmas thoughts on racism in fantasy... ;)

Posted on 2005.12.25 at 22:54
Visiting relatives for Christmas in a small break from legal studies.

On the list of gifts was the book 'Wicked', something I had avoided for years due to its connection with 'Oz', but that very same connection switched my interest recently.

Oz was written by Frank Baum, whose earlier writings had been a series of newspaper editorials in the years and months before Wounded Knee advocating the complete eradication of the entire race of 'indian savages'. He was of the opinion that 'we', as in the Americans, would never be able to make peace with so savage a people after what had already come to pass, and so it was best to just finish them off 'now' - in the late 1800s.

So I've had a dim view of the man and his works for the past few years after learning this fact about him. 'Wicked' however, takes his story and flips it - it is the tale from the Witch's point of view, and if I gather correctly she is more of a persecuted figure now rather than an evil woman.

So, that feeds into my own racial sense of justice...

To take the work of an avowed genocidal racist and flip it around, exposing a very different tale. It made 'Wicked' something I wanted to look into.

And that, along with watching my brother play World of Warcraft, reminded me of what it is that bothers me so much about games like 'Dungeons and Dragons' (DnD).

In DnD the default assumption is that the darker the skin of a given race, the closer to pure evil it will be. A cursory flip through DnD's imagery throughout the years will show this. In modern times, it has even begun to apply native American, African, and Asian imagry to the evil races... and the language used to describe such races as Orcs is not just similar, but is a near -exact- match to the language once used by writers like Mr. Baum in the 1800s when the called for the genocide of the native Americans.

Dirty, savage, brutal, uncivilizable people who roam the badlands seeking to kill 'us purer people' and 'rape our women' to create a new race of mongrels.

Well, I am one of those mongrels...

In DnD, I am even given the reduced mental and moral capacity that 19th century and 'modern racists' believed half breeds like myself would have...

Something quite far from the truth I should say...

In DnD in the moral axiom, which DnD players defend as 'simpler for easier gameplay', the top of all evil is possessed by the only truly black skinned race in the game - the Drow, the dark elves.

World of Warcraft got me thinking. It flips the usual DnD dynamic. In World of Warcraft the 'dark skinned elves' are not the evil ones. Rather, they are the holders of the traditional culture, close to the forest and nature, and the other elves broke away by committing sacrilege. In the video game, you never see the other break away elves, but you can find out about them if you to the game maker's website and read the world mythos.

They do show up in the table top RPG, WoW's answer to DnD.

In that game, no race is made presumptively evil for the color of its skin, even the light elves are not evil per se.

This 'simplified morality' DnD players like is actually not simple at all - it is an indoctrination into the core presumption of Anglo-European (and by extension American) racism - that only purity in lightness can be good, and both darker skin and mixed blood are paths to moral degradation and a lack of mental ability.

DnD in fact actually couches itself in the very kind of language once used to back violent racial conflicts committed by Europeans in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

It is hardly innocent and hardly simple...

So... not a light Christmas message...

But, I do have to say that I am glad World of Warcraft is so popular. I can only hope that a new generation of fantasy fans does not have to get a racist-education in order to enjoy fantasy, and that we can finally see the end of this idea that racialism based norms are 'simpler' and better storytelling vehicles.

There's a notion that in World of Warcraft characters spend a lot of time killing off indigenous races. Is this a racist setup for World of Warcraft? I would say both yes and no. Yes, in that it shows the protagonists come from cultures that are racialized. But no, in that it is not a world statement of racism as in DnD.

In DnD the evil races you kill are killed because they deserve to be victims of genocide. They are evil, morally and mentally lesser. Thus in DnD it is the -world- that is racist, not the people. In World of Warcraft, the people are racist and even the main races have race based conflicts, but the races are not morally, soulfully, or mentally bankcrupt. There are no races that are killed because it is morally pure to kill them. Thus in World of Warcraft it is the cultures that are flawed. World of Warcraft thus can support a notion that racism is wrong.

DnD advocates that racial conflict is right and just. Thus DnD's base, default assumptions are racialized and serve to promote racialism based norms. World of Warcraft's presents a world with flawed cultures, but actually shows that the largest of the race wars in its past was wrong. It is making a statement opposite from DnDs.

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