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Subject: Colonizing in an ideal world? rss

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J. Turpin
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Last week, I've played my first game of Puerto Rico. I loved it instantly, and I've rarely seen a better game-system.

But there is one thing bothering me a bit. And it is a thing that not only counts for this game, but also for other boardgames about colonization.

Somehow, all of them manage to set up very happy, peacefull, creative and enlighted scenario's.

At the same time, all colonization games have a historical connection. In our real world San Juan was built as well and used as a colony, for example.

Of course this relation is not much more than a associative relation. Gamers need understandable and inspiring surroundings to play in, and an historical surrounding can easily trigger this.

Still, I think that too many colonization games offer a world that is too perfect, while in our reality, there is nothing perfect about colonization. Colonization games never deal with the dark side of historical colonization.

For example, the 'people' who settle in your little San Juan are named 'colonists'. But in the historical reality, the people in town might indeed have been european settlers, but the people working on the plantations were locals and african slaves, both forced to work by the europeans.

Donot get me wrong, I fully understand that games represent a different world, and often a nicer world. Still I think most colonization games have a blind spot for bad things, and especially for slavery.

Jouke
 
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Scott Russell
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
New World and Conquistador didn't portray a perfect world colonizing/conquering. IIRC, it was pretty easy to get a party wiped out by disease or natives. Now Outpost does present a pretty ideal situation for colonization.

As to the whole slavery in PR issue, if you want to do something constructive, buy all your clothes and shoes from a company that doesn't use child labor (if you can find one). Technically, it's not slavery, but if you can work at one place on their terms or starve, it's not a lot different. We can't change PR in the 1600's, but there is a lot of possibility to do good here and now.
 
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John Richert
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
I guess the question is how do you want this subject to be portrayed? PR is a game that is meant to be played for fun, it is not a social commentary.

If there was a game that portrayed things as they actually were, would anyone play it? Also, the game company would be villified in the press for producing a game about slavery, which could affect sales of their other products.

I was actually surprised that the Europa Universalis II computer game did not get more press about it's inclusion of some territories with slaves as the primary resource. While correct historically, I was surprised there was no group that complained about it.
 
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Phil Walker
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
Warhammer (#24082),

To whom does one complain about history? Billy Connolly sued God, but I don't know how I lodge a subpoena with the Most High.

I also own EU2, and was not offended in the slightest by the presence of slaves. I found it quite refreshing - in fact, I'd have been quite surprised to see that it didn't contain any reference to the driving force behind the colonisation economies! Sidenote: no-one has really heard of EU2, so that probably explains the lack of complaint

In a sense, I don't mind how a game portrays history. If it chooses to idealise it, well, that's their prerogative. If it chooses to take the realistic route, that too is fine.

All I ask is that, if tackling sensitive themes, they do so carefully and in a way which does not glamourise them.
 
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J. Turpin
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
Warhammer (#24082),


I guess everyone is right in this discussion. In the first place, I was just wondering what other people thought about the question. I donot whish the game to change much either, because it is perfect as it is.

Although, rethorically, my friends and I use the word 'slave' now instead of 'colonist'. When the player who choses the mayor forgets to fill the 'colonyship' we tend to say: 'donot to forget to order new slaves for next year'.

I think it is impossible to make a game that portrays things they way they were. The past is gone, and whatever we say or write about it now, it is always a reconstruction, which might look like, but will never actually be that historical past.

There are boardgames which are both fun and a social commentary. Think about Kremlin or Junta for example. At the moment I'm working on a game about the Paris Commune (1871) which will also have a social context. And wouldn'it be nice to develop a game about presidential elections in the US?

Actually, the first time I was aware of a lack of slavery was when I played Sid Meiers classic computer game Colonization. Meier claims to have developed a historical game. But there was absolutely nothing historical about colonization, since the slaves were completely missing.

Since I wrote my coment I played PR three times. I still think it is great, although the end sometimes feels a bit unnatural and comes all of a sudden - and way too soon.Are there players who add extra slaves, i mean colonists, or VP's to extend the game?

Happy Christmas to you all,

Jouke
 
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Nicholas Jost
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
Thorfin (#24169),

As for the Sid Meir comment, Colonization was very "New England" themed. While New England did have slaves, to presume they were a major part of the local economy (*not* the import economy) is a wee bit extreme. New England didn't have crops that made slavery really worthwhile and the farms tended to be smaller. This allowed the later North-South social friction to ferment. After all, having house servants was one thing and field hands was quite another(1).

(1) Should be read with sarcasm in mind.
 
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Erik Tholén
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
Thorfin (#23985),
Take a look at an old article "Dark side of Puerto Rico" http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/5056. There is a idea about how to make the game more "real". It´s dirty and perhaps more accurate than the ordinary PR.
 
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
i actually had a friend who was bothered by the "colonists", but i think that was just another excuse she had for not liking the game, when the real reason was that she doesn't like when we play heavier more intense and competitive games, and pr definitely exemplifies that.

for me, the question is moot. although the looks of a game are important, the theme is ultimately irrelevant in comparison with the mechanics. that is the trademark of german boardgames, and why i enjoy them so much.

i have in the last year designed a boardgame, which i am in the process of making a beta version of. the funny thing is that i don't even have a theme yet.
 
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Chad Urso McDaniel
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
Thorfin (#23985),

My wife (who is very sensitive to themes of games and prefers abstracts) was offended by the colonist terminology doubly so because it was a historical lie.

I can easily ignore the theme in games, but I often wonder why it wasn't themed as something more abstract like "Island economy development"
 
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Miguel de la Casa
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Re:Colonizing in an ideal world?
chadm (#29346),

Can your wife watch the tv news at all?
 
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