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Subject: The Elephant in the Room? rss

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Jimmy Bob McJimmerson
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Hi all,

This game looks amazing. I would love to get it but I have to say that the theme here is slightly concerning me for ethical reasons. The Roman era with regard to slavery was quite brutal, and trade played a major part of the brutality. The box art for salsa is quite blatant too. Has anyone had a similar issue with this?
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Derry Salewski
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No, probably not.

You trade food, tools, bricks, wine and cloth. Not people.

Basically every game ever is going to bother you if you make connections that tenuous.
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Nick Case
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There was this guy once who refused to play Puerto Rico because of all the brown colonists and the tobacco plantations. That kicked up a serious shit-storm from those who needed to seek out offence at all costs vs those who just thought they were playing a board game.

Deja vu.
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steven smolders
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Do you live in the usa ?
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M. Shanmugasundaram
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soblue No offense specifically to the OP, but there's no helping some people.

Even checkers is all about oppression and calculated genocide. Jumping people, "promotion" to warlord-hood by virtue of getting to some arbitrary endpoint, wiping out an entire culture. It's there.

And the card game War? That's just glorifying aberrant sexual behavior. You can't start the orgy until the numbers match. You can stick a theme on anything.

If you want to find a way to be offended, you can. You always can. You can always just focus on the elephant's tail, or ear, or trunk instead of the whole elephant.

There's a difference between designing a game around how to keep a [insert minority] in their place, and designing a trading game that just happens to include things that were historical staples.

If you want to find the humor in life, you can. It's not always advisable, and not everyone will laugh, but it's humor nonetheless.
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Kelly Bass
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Don't know of anyone having ethical issues with Roman Empire games. There probably are more than just you.
You could pretend it's an abstract.

I recall at least one thread about the Salsa box cover. I just dumped all of my Salsa stuff into the original Concordia box and then threw away the Salsa box. I never plan to sell it, so I don't need the box.
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Peter Hendee
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1. Should this discussion be in RSP?

wolverine1977 wrote:
Do you live in the usa ?

2. The U.S. seems, to me, to have a high level of sensitivity to possibly offending others by actions that are not intended to be offensive. How silly does that appear to observers in other countries?

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Jimmy Bob McJimmerson
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You can say what you like, i'm not here to offend, I was merely asking a question. I have many games and haven't had this problem. I think what got me was the cover art for salsa, and the fact that it's labelled as peaceful. I have no problem with many themes but when they touch on real history, that kind of bothers me. So none of you have ever had any moral issues playing any type of game? As for the checkers example, sorry but that's going to far, i'm talking about history depicted in games not depicting what you want from any game.
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Jared
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The gameplay is great and it focuses on goods like cloth, wine, etc and establishing trade routes. Certainly, the time period wasn't all roses for humanity but there are always people making good choices. You could just as easily imagine you are a humanitarian merchant empire, ahead of the curve.
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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chockle wrote:
I recall at least one thread about the Salsa box cover. I just dumped all of my Salsa stuff into the original Concordia box and then threw away the Salsa box. I never plan to sell it, so I don't need the box.

But with all of the existing expansions, there's now more Concordia than will fit in either box alone. It takes both to house my collection--both ugly boxes full of a beautiful game.
 
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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R3DSH1FT wrote:
The gameplay is great and it focuses on goods like cloth, wine, etc and establishing trade routes.

Yeah, it's not about acquiring and managing slaves, it's about recruiting professionals and cozening officials! As the player, you construct a delicate economic network. You don't actually turn the wheels of production; that's the job of the tyrannous prefects on whom you rely.

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Mathias M
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Kryptom wrote:
You can say what you like, i'm not here to offend, I was merely asking a question. I have many games and haven't had this problem. I think what got me was the cover art for salsa, and the fact that it's labelled as peaceful. I have no problem with many themes but when they touch on real history, that kind of bothers me. So none of you have ever had any moral issues playing any type of game? As for the checkers example, sorry but that's going to far, i'm talking about history depicted in games not depicting what you want from any game.


I actually apreciate, that the games of Mac Gerdts try to depict history in an respectfull and serious manner. That is better than some fantasy world, were everything is okay, because it is just orcs behing killed.

Then there are those people who don't play wargames, because of war, but play games were coundless fantasy creatures are killed for questionable reasons.

As others said before: It is a game, find fun in it or not.
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Jimmy Bob McJimmerson
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But how can I find fun in it when knowing the history of what happened? It's a bit of a moral dilemma on my part and I can't help that. It's also why I could never play Mombasa. I play games to get away from the madness, not to be reminded of it but that's just me, everyone is different. I must look at his other games, he seems to be a great designer!!
 
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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boardmathias wrote:
I actually apreciate, that the games of Mac Gerdts try to depict history in an respectfull and serious manner.

Yeah, ditto that, really.

The literature in the Concordia box dedicates almost as much ink and paper to a sincere review of relevant Roman history as it does to the actual rule set. It's not a whitewashing of the Roman world, but it's also not focused on censuring the ancient culture. I noticed that there's a similar history education in Antike Duellum, and I assume this is par for the course in Gerdts's historical games.

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Jimmy Bob McJimmerson
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What literature comes in the box? This could help me.
 
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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Kryptom wrote:
But how can I find fun in it when knowing the history of what happened? It's a bit of a moral dilemma on my part and I can't help that. It's also why I could never play Mombasa. I play games to get away from the madness, not to be reminded of it but that's just me, everyone is different. I must look at his other games, he seems to be a great designer!!

Hm. Well, I don't think there are any known historical contexts that are free of social culpability. (And it doesn't seem to matter to you if that's not the actual focus of the game.) But I think Gerdts is even grittier when he postulates an imagined near-future scenario in Imperial 2030. The real-world implications of events in that game are downright terrifying.
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Carthoris Pyramidos
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Kryptom wrote:
What literature comes in the box? This could help me.

The historical booklet is on the Geek E here.
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Jimmy Bob McJimmerson
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Thank you for your help. I don't know how to reply directly to your comment as I'm kind of new to the site. I think I have to get it, he's done a good job documenting some of the history and I appreciate that. If it plays on my mind too much, i'll just sell it and if I get salsa i'll just throw the box away. The dilemma of it all Thanks again!!
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As others have pointed out, it seems we've weirdly twisted the sense of what is appropriate and what is not. History is full of bad stuff. Every era is. Today is. And if we want to find something offensive, we can find it almost anywhere and anything if we try hard enough.

If Concordia is offensive, so is every game about Rome. About Britain. About US. And - hells - about hobbits.

Concordia is fine. Every game is - no matter the theme - as long as the designer approaches the theme in a respectful manner. Or as art and creative expression. Or whatever they want as a freedom of expression.

It is your choice whether to buy this and play this. You are free to ignore anything you don't like. Don't make the decision for others though. I think it is a great game in theme and mechanisms, even though I'm well aware of realities of history.

Elephant in the room? No.
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Carthoris wrote:
Kryptom wrote:
But how can I find fun in it when knowing the history of what happened? It's a bit of a moral dilemma on my part and I can't help that. It's also why I could never play Mombasa. I play games to get away from the madness, not to be reminded of it but that's just me, everyone is different. I must look at his other games, he seems to be a great designer!!

Hm. Well, I don't think there are any known historical contexts that are free of social culpability.

This.

Any historical game will be a minefield of morality, and I'll assume any wargame will be a massive issue. Euros and Ameritrash with any theme on them at all will also prove problematic. I would be hard pressed to be able to not find some moral issue in any game.

For example, it's fair play in Agricola to block vital choices and force your neighbours to starve. Istanbul features what I'm sure were really pleasant prison experiences in the late Middle Ages. Troyes is about exploiting peasant workers. Railroad Revolution, and every other train game set in North America, is about taking land away from the original occupants and driving them off of their land. And Endeavor actually features slaves as a possible part of your economic engine.

Perhaps themeless abstracts are a place to look for your gaming?

Concordia is a very good game, btw.
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Jimmy Bob McJimmerson
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I wasn't trying to find offense, but when there is a box that depicts 2 traders having a jolly old time while slaves are toiling for them in the background, then that just hits me in the face. The art is as subtle as a sledgehammer. I was afraid that the game could be whitewashing history, and I think I have every right as a human to question that art and the theme behind the game. Of course it could get ridiculous so I wanted to avoid that and have a decent conversation. I will try it tho and then see how I feel.
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alan beaumont
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Elephant in the Room or Mammoth Misunderstanding?
Kryptom wrote:
This game looks amazing. I would love to get it but I have to say that the theme here is slightly concerning me for ethical reasons. The Roman era with regard to slavery was quite brutal...
Some fun facts then.

Every ancient economy had slavery, so you can't play anything themed around those times if you are determined to be troubled in this way. Come to think of it slavery wasn't even illegal anywhere in Europe until the 19th Century, when the British created it as a crime, so there is plenty more to worry about long after the event.

'Modern' mores of race don't apply. Black or white or mixed race masters owned black and white slaves. Example: Near Hadrian's Wall a north African chap had married a local girl (ex slave) and is buried there.

Roman slaves could earn their freedom by buying themselves out(!) or they could be freed by a master impressed by faithful service or simply out of generosity in a will. Once freed a slave was free, so not the 'modern' model at all.

If this sort of thing bothers you I assume you carefully research the companies from which you source goods, because you might find their employees are working in conditions inferior to those of many ancient slaves despite their nominal freedom. You could try to actually do something about that rather than worrying about the suffering, or otherwise, of people up to 2,000 years dead.


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Alexandre Santos
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Kryptom wrote:
Hi all,

This game looks amazing. I would love to get it but I have to say that the theme here is slightly concerning me for ethical reasons. The Roman era with regard to slavery was quite brutal, and trade played a major part of the brutality. The box art for salsa is quite blatant too. Has anyone had a similar issue with this?


To answer your question, I don't have a similar issue with the point you mention.

The connection you make, although correct, is so general as to basically mean that playing anything with a Roman theme will be an issue to you. Of course, same goes for all ancient themes (the Chinese central power also depended on forced labor to build infrastructure, etc.

As others have mentioned such general connections will make it hard to play much of any game in the past or present, save some future/alternative utopia (I recommend Ginkgopolis).

Otherwise abstracts are a safer choice.
 
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Jimmy Bob McJimmerson
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Alan, have you read my comments? Obviously not. Who wants to be determined to be troubled, are you serious? You've just painted a very rosy picture about slavery in ancient times in 3 sentences ending nicely with Britain creating it as a crime. Sorry but Britain is no angel, actually quite the opposite. You have assumed right that I carefully choose what I buy and consume but let's not fool ourselves here, we all could be doing a better job with that seen that most of these games are produced in China.
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Alexandre Santos
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Kryptom wrote:
we all could be doing a better job with that seen that most of these games are produced in China.


Actually, I think there's more of an argument to question oneself about playing a game produced in questionable working conditions, from materials sourced in an unsustainable manner.

Not that I know of any specific regarding Concordia in those terms.
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