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Subject: Does the game's theme bother anyone? rss

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Drew Olds
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I was wondering what people thought about the theme to this game.

Is it ok to make a lighthearted game about such a dark subject matter?

Does anyone feel that they dealt with it maturely?

Or is it in poor taste?
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Caleb Bunch
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As someone who used to serve the underprivileged people in Brasil who live in favelas, I found this theme to be unusual. Before living there and learning the state of those people, I don't think I could've understood their hardship with genuine sympathy. I think that North Americans and Europeans are often insulated from poverty.

All that to say, this theme is a turn off for me because I don't think it was used to bring awareness to the plight of those people. Instead it seems to trivialize it. I am sensitive to that.

However, I do not think it would be right of me to push my personal feelings about this theme onto others who do not share those same convictions. I doubt that most people that will ever play this game have actually encountered a real favela. They may not even know what it is.

I have not played the game. For those who have played it, does it include anything in the rules that explains what favelas are or to speak to the humanitarian crisis of squatting in South America?

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Scott M.
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Does not bother me one bit...
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James C
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atraangelis wrote:
Does not bother me one bit...


Agree. Also isn’t this game very abstract?
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Ori Avtalion
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There is a sense of the game exotifying the living conditions in favelas.

Going by the theme as it's presented in the game, something else bothered me:

According to the designer, the game is inspired by the Favela Painting project, which (from what I can gather from videos) funds projects to assist communities to paint buildings, and raise awareness to their conditions. The painting process also improves the integrity of the building. There are several videos online showing their efforts, and the artists behind it did a few TED talks.

Their funds seem to come from donations and crowdfunding.

The rulebook (which you can read yourself), however, isn't quite about that. The thematic premise is that there's a council that decides who will oversee the project and gain the "contract" - it now becomes a capitalist venture, rather than an art project.
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Game Player
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The theme is pasted on. The game is totally abstract, so in that sense I don't worry about it.
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Drew Olds
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Personally, seeing the word "Favelas" in that happy font in bright friendly colors irks me.

Favela means ghetto or slum. Since I speak and read Portuguese, it isn't any different to me. I mean, imagine the brightly colored game cover reading "Slums" and you might see how I feel about this (mind, the people in the favelas are generally much worse off than the people in the estates or projects of more developed nations).


As for the Favela Painting project- I'm not totally sure how I feel about it, but I can tell that they're trying to help out. It is a big difference if the project is done by artists trying to raise awareness, and a government committee trying to create a tourist attraction out of their city's slums.
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Ryan Buhr
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Doesn't bother me.
 
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Guillaume Pages
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it does bother me a bit.

How about a game called "Vet" where your goal is to take homeless US veterans and raise their happiness and get them to increase their capital, so they can once again live the America Dream.

Best Vet happiness wins.

From the publisher: This game was conceptualised by seeing all those US vets in the street, hungry and cold, and the effort of those who try to raise them out of poverty and offer them a second chance at life.

Being a ruthless publisher though, we have decided none of the profits will benefit Vets in the US, nor will we use this game to raise the public profile of the risk that homeless vets face.

Wizkids could have use ANY theme (if it is themeless abstract). Who in their organization came up with Favelas? is beyond me. You could have beavers building the best dam, or aliens building the best space station... any theme!

But whatever, who cares about the poor in Brazil or wherever we live, as long as we all get our games for Christmas.
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Andrew Gentry

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Nope, just you.
Why ask that question? If the theme bothers you, don't buy the game.
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Jacob Hayes
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Yeah this theme doesn't bother me at all. I am going to pick the game up at a local store in a few hours. But I also don't care to tiptoe around everything I say at the fear of seeming insensitive or politically incorrect. If a game theme bothers someone, don't buy that game.
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Esther Joey Diamond
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Look it's sadly clear that this is going to descend into the usual BGG thread where some people can't stand that there are some of us who think about politics when we think about games, and they'll accuse us of being PCniks who can't take a joke. But thanks for raising it anyway.

Yes, a game about some council deciding how to "beautify" the Favelas seems pretty gross to me and no way any of my friends would let me put it on the table. Shame cos it seems like it could be a great game. Lucky there are plenty of others on my wishlist.
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Sue Hemberger

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Yeah, just kept me from buying it. Which is a shame because it looks like a game we’d like. If it is just a pasted-on theme, then paste something else on. Don’t create a playscape in which extreme poverty gets treated as if it represents a decorating challenge.
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Andrew Gentry

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Wouldn't it be worse to change the theme now? I applaud the theme! Maybe it will empower people who just want to talk about problems to get out there and actually do something about it. But I doubt it.
 
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Joaquin Lowe
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The theme does bother me - I remember doing a double take when I first heard of it months ago. But the game seems like it could be really great. When I had the chance to buy it secondhand (thereby not supporting WizKids for an insensitive choice of theme - as thin as that might seem a difference) I jumped at it. When I bring this game to the table I will do so through the lens of my own theme - perhaps something involving Q*bert - since is essentially abstract on the table.

Additionally, thank you OP for creating this thread and bringing this to the attention of those amongst our community who may not have heard the term "favelas" before.
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Paul
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It was initially something that bothered me, but the more I've read about the Favela Painting project, the more it feels like the game is celebrating the project rather than trivialising the true nature of the Favelas.
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Thom Goodsell
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I'm another one who finds this pretty repulsive. I lived in favela-riddled neighborhoods in São Paulo, and the idea of a cutesy game about the topic makes me really uncomfortable. I guess if you don't have a connection to the subject matter, maybe it's easy to just ignore it.
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Thom Goodsell
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Tarnop wrote:
It was initially something that bothered me, but the more I've read about the Favela Painting project, the more it feels like the game is celebrating the project rather than trivialising the true nature of the Favelas.


I think my ignorance of the project probably contributes to my issues. If the game is really celebrating an uplifting project, maybe I can get behind it. (If the game is donating some of the proceeds to a project that helps residents of the favelas, I can almost certainly get behind it.)
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Henrique Mussoi
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Being from Rio, I do find the theme disturbing, especially after reading the description. Contractors vying to "beautify" favelas for profit? No, I don't want to play a game about that.

Edit: Reminds me of this
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Scott Sims
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The full description of the theme from the rule book reads:

"Congratulations! You are in the running to oversee the
beautification of the iconic Favelas of Rio de Janeiro! These
neighborhoods, highly-stacked and ever-evolving, face many
socio-economic challenges, but have benefitted greatly from
recent beautification and growing artist communities.

The bad news is that the council who will approve the funding
is fickle, constantly returning with different suggestions:
“I think there is too much purple,” “Now there isn’t enough
purple,” “What about yellow? I think yellow is very important,”
and of course, “One thing is certain, we want the widest
variety of colors possible… right?”

If you win the council’s favor it will all be worth it, but it will
require a lot of careful consideration, with a bit of luck over
the course of 3 years. Do you have the patience and tactical
cunning to score this win, or will someone else snatch the
contract out from under you?"


So clearly the game has been inspired by the The Favela Painting Project.. "Art is an unique messenger, crossing borders and building bridges. If implemented in an intelligent way it can be powerful weapon to catalyze social change. This is the main objective of the Favela Painting Foundation, founded by Dutch artists Dre Urhahn and Jeroen Koolhaas."

Considering all this, the theme as it is intended does not bother me. If anything it has raised my awareness of the project and of this game.
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Marc Adamson
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I understand the position of those who are uncomfortable with the game's theme. I realise that favelas arose from extreme poverty and hardship & There are currently real social & economic issues associated- high crime rate, rampant poverty, gangs etc.. But ultimately many people call these favelas home, humans living their lives, raising families, going to work, enjoying time with loved ones, and many are very proud of their neighborhoods- there is a unique culture that has risen from these favelas & if all someone sees when they hear 'favela' is a bunch of poor people that we should pity, to me that's far more distasteful.

Yes I agree it's a far from ideal situation for many living there but there are still positives to be drawn from the place and its people and doing so is not automatically 'glorification of poverty'. It is a subject matter that should be broached with respect but I don't see that 'Favelas' has failed to do so.
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Rafael Ramus
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I'm Brazilian (not from Rio though) and I don't mind it. Also, the idea of people profiting with said project doesn't bother me at all if - and that's the big if - the lives of the people that actually leave there in Rio's Favelas get any better as a result.
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Ronaldo Fatecha
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I`m Brazilian and from Rio, so when I just saw this listed on BGG`s Game night I had to check it out. Seeing the box with the colorful, kid-friendly letters was disturbing enough, but then you read the description for the game and the favelas are described as iconic, ever changing neighborhoods

While that`s technically true, the designers forgot the part that Favelas are iconic because of poverty, violence and crime. Anyone that has ever entered one will tell you it's NOT a happy place full of nice colors. And I don't see any mention of how much the people there have the struggle just to keep leaving and the constant state of fear on and around the places.

Honestly, feels like the whole research the designers did was 30 seconds of Youtube.

On the other side, the fickle council does sounds very much like the corrupt politicians and government officials that you have to deal with the get anything done in Rio, so they made the game double disturbing...
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I'm baffled at all the negative comments in here. But I guess I shouldn't be too surprised these days.

The game is so lightly skinned as to be virtually non-existent. It's totally abstract, and those colorful cubes could be anything you want - including colorful cubes. I think the designers shot themselves in the foot with the theme but not because I'm against it, but rather because they should have known that in this "politically-correct" world we live in, everyone is overly-sensitive. It's literally a game that consists of laying cubes on top of each other. That's it. The theme is totally tacked on, and honestly, this is a great example of why these companies should be a bit less obsessed with tacking on themes when it isn't necessary. Why not just let it be the abstract tile-laying game that it is? Why does it have to have a theme at all? Why do people desperately need a theme to enjoy a game?

Anyways, the game's theme is in no way insensitive to the poverty in that region. I think the designers probably had little clue what they were getting into with this game.

Too bad, because it looks like a cool game, and I enjoyed the recent Gamenight playthrough. I'd have no problem buying it, but then nobody ever accused me of being politically correct.

People getting steamed up about this game should step back, eat a Snickers, and watch this short review on the game. They address the online hate the game has received, and offer some interesting thoughts on it.



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Ori Avtalion
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Rilos, thanks for bringing up Danny and Derek's review. However, I don't think their perspective on the theme necessarily highlights ideas that weren't considered in this thread (and by my own comment above).

I agree that publishers shouldn't paste on themes, but not at all for the ridiculous reason you propose that "everyone is overly-sensitive". Difficult themes can be used, provided they are handled carefully with some thought. Maybe this one done at some point in the process, but it's not reflected in the rulebook, which is the only source of the theme.

I also don't know if it's fair to say the game has received "online hate". I've only encountered a few polite discussions here and on Twitter, and some reviews have discussed the theme. If there's anything horrible I'm missing, please let me know.
 
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