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Subject: Slaves in boardgames? rss

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Alex Kamin
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Hi guys!

I've got a question about designing a game with slaves in it. Do You feel it is ok to use them or even that word?

In plus I can say my "slaves" are European and a game is taking place in III century Europe, so there is no race slavery.

In minus, I have normal workers - payed, and slaves - not payed, only bought for more money.

In Puerto Rico there are no slaves but colonists, but everyone knows who they are that's why my question appeared. I don't have a feeling about it, I don't mind if there are slaves or not, but what will my possible future clients say?

Thanks.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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As long as it is done tactfully. Also it be could used carefully as a teaching aid. History is history. Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery has slaves in it but it is not insulting because the Romans didn't enslave by race but by whomever was conquered.
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Jacob Schoberg
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I don't think using slaves is innately a bad idea, but if done incorrectly it can lead to quite a bit of backlash.

i.e. Freedom: The Underground Railroad handles slaves in a historically accurate and respectful manner

On the other hand, Five Tribes received quite a bit of backlash for having 'slave' cards, to the point that they reprinted it with them renamed.
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Michael Russell
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Most if not all great civilizations had slaves. It just part of how things were. People worry too much about this PC crap.
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David
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Quote:
People worry too much about this PC crap


Translation:
Quote:
I want the ability to say whatever I want whenever I want and not be called on it. For example, my first reaction when someone brings up slavery is to flat out excuse it by pointing out that "most if not all great civilizations had slaves".


OP: of course it's a sensitive topic, especially here in the US, because the legacy of that oppression lives on to this day. The reason that Five Tribes got so much flack is that they could have used any other currency and the game would have been exactly the same. In fact, they did change it and it did stay exactly the same.

Would you design a game where murder is rewarded/used as a resource or some other game mechanic? How about rape? Child abuse? Slavery is all those things and then some. Don't do it.
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Mikolaj Witkowski
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ScoobyG wrote:
Quote:
People worry too much about this PC crap


Translation:
Quote:
I want the ability to say whatever I want whenever I want and not be called on it. For example, my first reaction when someone brings up slavery is to flat out excuse it by pointing out that "most if not all great civilizations had slaves".


OP: of course it's a sensitive topic, especially here in the US, because the legacy of that oppression lives on to this day. The reason that Five Tribes got so much flack is that they could have used any other currency and the game would have been exactly the same. In fact, they did change it and it did stay exactly the same.

Would you design a game where murder is rewarded/used as a resource or some other game mechanic? How about rape? Child abuse? Slavery is all those things and then some. Don't do it.

Come on! At least half of games are about killing and it is rewarded. It's a silly argument. As for the rest - slavery was historically important, whole societies and empires were built using it. Same as war, it was a huge part of our history whatever we think of it. Child abuse never played such a role.

OP: I have no problem with depicting slavery in a historical context. From my experience most Europeans are going to be fine with it, US market is another cup of tea.
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John Burt
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If you want to sell the game in the US, then leave out the slaves.
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
If you want to sell the game in the US, then leave out the slaves.


And nipples..
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Everett
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ironhelm wrote:
Most if not all great civilizations had slaves. It just part of how things were. People worry too much about this PC crap.

ironhelm wrote:
Most if not all great civilizations had slaves. It just part of how things were. People worry too much about this PC crap.



Yeah, I agree. Why should we shy away from history? Just because slavery was evil and despicable doesn't change that it happened. So if your game is historical, then, yes, by all means please feel free. If it isn't historical though, I would avoid it. Leads to a lot of backlash sometimes, and really isn't very culturally sensitive.


ScoobyG wrote:
Quote:
People worry too much about this PC crap


Translation:
Quote:
I want the ability to say whatever I want whenever I want and not be called on it. For example, my first reaction when someone brings up slavery is to flat out excuse it by pointing out that "most if not all great civilizations had slaves".




I do love how anyone who speaks out against the PC stuff is immediately seen as a racist. He's just making a point man! It is possible for a human to be annoyed by this without being racist. Its called not liking being stereotyped. It sucks to be a non-racist non-sexist white guy these days, because everyone expects you to hate people. What if I dont want to hate people? What then?


Tariff wrote:
Quote:
If you want to sell the game in the US, then leave out the slaves.


And nipples..


But, but, but...

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Tomáš Sládek
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Slavery just a concept to be abstracted like any other, but some Americans can't deal with their own history and hence everyone else's history has the potential to offend them as well. So yeah, I for one cheer for slavery to stop being a touchy subject - in many games we play, the worst crime ever is a commonplace activity and we all recognize it's just a game - but if you don't go around it on tiptoes in your game, there will be Americans upset about it, just like the pointless shit with Five Tribes, where certain people raged over a completely thematic point, and it doesn't matter it has nothing to do with their culture or history, it's personal anyway.

Books and movies and even computer games deal with slavery and they do just fine. And don't use the usual argument of "but slavery in books and movies is ok because it's not you doing it while in games you're the bad guy, so difference" - plenty of people cheer for one or another character from Spartacus. Ramsay Bolton had his fans as well.


Quote:
People worry too much about this PC crap


+1
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Everett
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Wait, so that makes me a bad person for having my Ghouls slaughter those poor Halflings?
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David
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borsook wrote:
Come on! At least half of games are about killing and it is rewarded. It's a silly argument.


A lot of games include some kind of violent actions, but it is always abstracted to some degree and/or the targets are imaginary (demons, zombies, etc). Slavery is a very specific kind of violence perpetrated against a very specific group of people. IN THE REAL WORLD.

Quote:
As for the rest - slavery was historically important, whole societies and empires were built using it. Same as war, it was a huge part of our history whatever we think of it.


So is the holocaust and various other forms of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Would it be okay to use those as a positive mechanic in a design?

Quote:
Child abuse never played such a role.


But of course! That's why we've never needed child labor laws.


I reiterate: OP, find something other than human beings to use as currency in your game.
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Craig Somerton
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Change the naming conventions to delineate the types of workers:

Instead of Slaves, consider Assistants or Acolytes or maybe Interns, each of whom are unpaid.

Whereas Workers or Employees are paid.
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David
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Quote:
lavery just a concept to be abstracted like any other, but some Americans can't deal with their own history and hence everyone else's history has the potential to offend them as well. So yeah, I for one cheer for slavery to stop being a touchy subject


How very sensitive of you to tell people from another country how they should feel about their own culture and history.
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David
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Toenail21 wrote:
Wait, so that makes me a bad person for having my Ghouls slaughter those poor Halflings?


No, because neither of those are real.
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
No, because neither of those are real.


You own Spartacus: A Game of Blood & Treachery, how do you feel about the slaves in that?

Or five tribes?

Puerto Rico?

Seems you own a few slave games..
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Tomáš Sládek
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anomander64 wrote:
Change the naming conventions to delineate the types of workers:

Instead of Slaves, consider Assistants or Acolytes or maybe Interns, each of whom are unpaid.

Whereas Workers or Employees are paid.


Interns in the 3rd century. Yeah.



ScoobyG wrote:


A lot of games include some kind of violent actions, but it is always abstracted to some degree and/or the targets are imaginary (demons, zombies, etc). Slavery is a very specific kind of violence perpetrated against a very specific group of people. IN THE REAL WORLD.

I reiterate: OP, find something other than human beings to use as currency in your game.


That's just flat out false and mixing several things. For one, slavery in games will also be abstracted by the very nature of board games liek any other concept; and mainly - Soldiers are currency. You perpetrate very specific acts of violence against very specific groups of people (either the enemy or even your own units in case of sacrifice) in order to secure the goal.

Human lives as currency is nothing new to board games.

ScoobyG wrote:
Quote:
lavery just a concept to be abstracted like any other, but some Americans can't deal with their own history and hence everyone else's history has the potential to offend them as well. So yeah, I for one cheer for slavery to stop being a touchy subject


How very sensitive of you to tell people from another country how they should feel about their own culture and history.


Actually, I've done the opposite - stated that you (and by extension nobody) have no business censoring the use of anyone else's culture elements and acting on them as if they somehow peronally relate to you, even if done in the name of positivity. Doesn't matter.
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Martin Larouche
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ScoobyG wrote:
Toenail21 wrote:
Wait, so that makes me a bad person for having my Ghouls slaughter those poor Halflings?


No, because neither of those are real.


The slaves in my copy of Five tribes are not either.

meeple
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David
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deedob wrote:
ScoobyG wrote:
Toenail21 wrote:
Wait, so that makes me a bad person for having my Ghouls slaughter those poor Halflings?


No, because neither of those are real.


The slaves in my copy of Five tribes are not either.

meeple


Slavery's not real?
 
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Martin Larouche
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ScoobyG wrote:
deedob wrote:
ScoobyG wrote:
Toenail21 wrote:
Wait, so that makes me a bad person for having my Ghouls slaughter those poor Halflings?


No, because neither of those are real.


The slaves in my copy of Five tribes are not either.

meeple


Slavery's not real?


Last time i opened my box of Five Tribes, no real slave popped out of it.
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
Last time i opened my box of Five Tribes, no real slave popped out of it.


Man...you missed out on the promo slave!
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David
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deedob wrote:
Last time i opened my box of Five Tribes, no real slave popped out of it.


I'm not following. When has anything real ever popped out of a game box? What has that got to do with whether or not mechanics are appropriate or out of line?
 
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Pete Sellers
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ScoobyG wrote:
Quote:
lavery just a concept to be abstracted like any other, but some Americans can't deal with their own history and hence everyone else's history has the potential to offend them as well. So yeah, I for one cheer for slavery to stop being a touchy subject


How very sensitive of you to tell people from another country how they should feel about their own culture and history.


You're doing the exact same thing, albeit from a totally different angle.
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Pete Sellers
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ScoobyG wrote:
Toenail21 wrote:
Wait, so that makes me a bad person for having my Ghouls slaughter those poor Halflings?


No, because neither of those are real.


Nor are the slaves in Five Tribes.
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Greg Porter
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Clearly, no one in this thread who is full of outrage has ever played the Nuclear War card game, where the tagline is "got change for 25 million people?"

Bad Things™ can be an integral part of a game, or simply thrown in gratuitously. Hell, I'm Kickstarting a card game about cannibalism (this mention of it has both qualities). Slavery existed for the vast majority of human history, and slaves were sold and traded. So for either a historical game or one where the setting mirrors historical parameters, it is perfectly reasonable to include them as a commodity.

As long as they are illustrated as lumpy canvas sacks devoid of gender, race, ethnicity or any other distinguishing feature that might cause offense, and you label the cards and the sacks "non-GMO Corn".
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