The Daily Grind: Are you concerned about New World’s setting?

    
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When New World was announced back in 2016, the MMO community went to work dissecting everything, from its PvP system to its business model – and yes, we even ruminated on the potential risks of setting a game in a place and point in time with a potentially ugly colonial undertone.

So it’s no great surprise that when mainstream journos got their hands on the game, they’re now getting around to having that same “oh, wow, yeah, that could be bad if not handled well” moment. For example, MOP reader Thurber pointed us to a piece on Polygon arguing that even though Amazon has mixed things up – added a supernatural element, removed indigenous people – the world players are tasked with still looks like colonial America and has zombie-like monsters to defeat, resulting in what the author deems a “sanitized re-enactment of the European colonization of the Americas and elsewhere” – “a manifestation of the great white fantasy of virgin territory and new beginnings” that “treads unwarily into a Heart of Darkness-like country of racist imperialism.”

Yikes. Maybe that goes a bit too far, or maybe not far enough – but either way I wish Amazon had given all of this more thought, since the game mechanics we played were actually pretty fun and this conversation is probably going to keep coming up over and over again and overshadowing the rest, just as it did for core MMORPG players a few years back.

Are you concerned about New World’s setting?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Arsin Halfmoon

Makes you wish they set it in the Amazon instead

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Kevin McCaughey

They should avoid the whole thing by saying it is a different planet, not earth. Problem solved.

Justin Olivetti
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Justin Olivetti

I really love this setting, to be honest. History is always fraught with difficult and sometimes ugly situations, but I don’t see why a new world setting is any worse than feudal Europe, imperial Rome, or any other ancient setting that’s reimagined for a fantasy game.

The wilderness of pre-colonial America and the tech is attractive to me, and I think it’s a good idea to slant it more toward supernatural and fantasy rather than ape realism.

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luxundae

It’s just weird to me that Amazon is bothering to skirt so close to the line on this one. They want a setting where there is a wide open uninhabited continent that *used* to be inhabited, has some interesting relics and structures left over, and ominous clues of a creepy curse that brought the old inhabitants low.

Ok, cool. But they could have literally called it “Old World” and had the story be something along the lines of: A vast empire spanned the old world for a hundred generations. Then, two hundred years ago, it collapsed in paroxysms of disease, civil war, and rumors of a darker threat. Your ancestors managed to flee across the sea and sought refuge among that nations of the new world. But you’ve always been outsiders, feared and not entirely welcome in your new home. Now, at long last, you have secured funding for a grand expedition back to you homeland. What befell the great empire? What treasure remains? Will you be able to build a new home for yourself in … the Old World?

Same general plot, same general tension, far less of a direct call out to European colonialism. *shrug*

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kgptzac

Holy shit, how far Polygon has fallen in chase of controversies and clicks… have we gone thru an entire cycle where, if Polygon’s opinion pieces are supposed to be taken seriously, shall we start once again accuse of certain table top RPG of being demonic worshipping?

The only person who’s fantasizing is the author, who seem to suggest we live in a world where every fictional setting can be interpreted as historically offensive.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

I’m super curious since there’s so much “This is manufactured outrage…” how exactly do people suggest we talk about things like this then? The Polygon piece is a fairly standard fare when it comes to critique and obviously it’s something that we should talk about (judging by the 200+ comments here, and the 400 on the Polygon article). So if we don’t think this is the way to discuss this, how do we propose we talk about the issue?

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PanagiotisLial1

I just think the think the author was bored and had to write something negative on the article you mention. Sure survival games arent my cup of tea, nor I like games with zombies, but lets be serious here, the reasons given sound silly. Technically it seems good but its better to judge at a later time – many games undergo a lot changes near release(see ArcheAge)

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Fenrir Wolf

This is one of those I’m clever because it’s history things that, in reality, is atrociously insensitive.

It’s a topic that should be left well enough alone, and only handled with the utmost care and greatest of respect. As I recall, over 50-60~ million Natives died in the colonisation of what’s now called the United States, it should be granted the respect it deserves. Otherwise it’s just belittling the amount of death and suffering that occurred there.

It’s already unfortunate that American schools don’t quite cover the extent of the abhorrent acts of white humanity that took place, and I feel like this would only serve to further mythologise the whole sordid ordeal. Isn’t the Alt-Right “holohoax” movement bad enough? I don’t know, I’m… not comfortable with this.

We’re unearthing new information on grotesque atrocities all the time, it’s sick. Intentionally shared diseased blankets was a mere speck of how bad it got.

I’m not even American, all that blood isn’t even on my hands. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must feel for those who live there.

Amazon, why?

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GiantsBane

I mean, if we’re going to exclude time periods because of their potential offensive undertones due to history we might as well stay far away from a great many time periods and locations, but because America is in the spotlight all the time our history is the only one that’s ever under a microscope for criticism.

Why should I or anyone else who happens to share the skin tone dubbed as “white” feel bad personally about the atrocities committed by people we’re removed from by a multitude of generations? Assuming we have any relation at all to the individuals in question who acted in a similar manner to the multitudes of conquering empires that came before them in the annals of history?

Here’s a hint to everyone, relax and stop looking at everything under the lens of “how can this offend me or somebody else.”, and you’ll find stress levels decreasing, and general happiness levels rising.

hypefordays
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hypefordays

You assume that High School classes don’t go into particulars of American History in American history classes. When it comes to grotesque things, such things are omitted because these are children we’re talking about. Though they are in full detail with fully available books and higher education. While it isn’t my only degree — or even one I used — I got a masters in Social Sciences History years back and the same can be said of every single country out there. In fact, there are significantly horrific things that everyone is guilty of by proxy, if we go by the logic of “if you exist because you have ancestors, you’re guilty”.

Now, the following could be seen as a mixture of pros and cons for both sides of the supposed argument. But as a whole, History is a beast that people pay little respect to on both sides while they go on their own agenda driven crusades.

When speaking of slavery (in Age of Conan or potentially this game) and how it was in history and the supposed “guilt” of some people over others, one of the biggest groups of slavers that drove slavery were African Americans. They warred with other towns and tribes, kidnapped, did other horrible things that I’ll omit for the same reason as above and were the main sellers of the Slavery industry. They enslaved and sold their people to other races, who then sold in their countries. It was a world-wide industry of which countless countries were involved in.

The hypocrisy of wanting to censor or moderate something after criticizing that they’re censored or moderated during education is beyond belief. That is exactly what I’ve been reading from a lot of people over the years: poppycock that wasn’t thoroughly researched. Emotional dribble that wasn’t thought through. I doubt anyone that is legitimately educated in history wants to censor anything from adults who are serious about their education and want to go into the details of every nation, of every war, of every crusade and genocide and regicide there was.

Changing the facts to appease delicate mindsets who some how think they shouldn’t be changed and taught, but at the same time think they should be changed because they say so is not what history is about. Historians are supposed to have integrity; loosely based games that invent their own worlds have their own rights to do so. But attacking a historical side of it is beyond repulsive to me. We do not change history to suit our needs. That’s what politicians try to do with propaganda. That’s when it truly gets to the point where people aren’t being educated: Because it is being hidden with roses and chocolates and, hey, everyone are friends so let’s not talk about it and tread carefully and just forget it in a few centuries.

NO.

We will NOT forget things that happened. They should be put in the full light of day and allowed in any media, without backlash. This is a part of the world’s history, and we should learn from the past to prevent it form happening again. Not be sorry about it and make it a sensitive topic that we just avoid.

For F’s sake, we’re talking about history several centuries removed. We don’t need people trying to “defend the rights” of people long dead just as they try to defend people that don’t ask for it today which brings said people in the limelight.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I’m more concerned that some people nowadays seem to be lashing out at others while claiming they are under attack, after years and years of having everything on a silver platter compared to others. So now that they are losing their ‘special’ status (That only ever existed in their own minds to begin with, contrary to popular opinion.) they are practically losing their minds and turning into rabid dogs backed into a corner and snapping at every little thing they feel isn’t ‘supportive’ of them.

People talk about ‘moral outrage’ and people being ‘too sensitive’ and then go on rants about how they should be allowed to treat __insert non-favored minority group here__ however they please, and how ‘woe is me’ their life is, while not even bothering to stop and think that their life is probably rosy as hell coming from another person’s viewpoint and what the heck are they griping about for?

I personally don’t like where this specific game is going, because yes, it did give that kind of vibe/feel to it (In reference to the colonialism/imperialism), and also, it’s PvP…so they are implying that ‘Well, if you don’t like it, you can just murder the people you don’t agree with.’ and that seems to be the only way a lot of people have to resolve their differences nowadays.

I recently had to shut off local chat in a game I was playing, because the sheer idiocy that was being typed. It’s like there are gaggles of people who think ‘fun’ is being as dumb as humanly possible to each-other. Yeah, games are about having fun, but not dropping down to the lowest common denominator, and having everyone stoop to your level.

Now, I grant that I tend towards more ‘highbrow’ humor, but every once in awhile I can handle some crass humor. But when you’ve heard it all before and it’s a bunch of people just purposely/intentionally being harmful towards a group/groups, that’s often where I draw the line and call them out on it. (Or lately, since more and more people seem to be wanting to act this way, I’m starting to not bother, because it almost invariably turns into some team effort to be as obnoxious/nasty as possible and the mob mentality turns it into something I’d just rather not bother with…or the old ‘I’m just trolling’ comes out as a way to try and excuse the behavior…) When sanity is drowned out by the flood of insane, it would be insane to try and participate…

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Kevin McCaughey

You would be what I would hope would be a normal, reasonable person. But in this world we have now made for ourselves you are a dying breed.

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Mr Poolaty

Zombies? Maybe a very small amount… for the most part I’m so fucking tired of zombies!!

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I know the feeling. I was looking through Netflix and came across a Korean period piece called Kingdom. I got excited as it was something new to watch. Watched the trailer and you guessed it…zombies. Next…