Blacks in Gaming



  • For Black History Month, this column discusses the role of blacks in tabletop role-playing games.

  • The essay employs the term black rather than African-American or Africa because most fantasy settings do not have an America or an Africa, even if they do include black people.

  • Race is an important part of character creation, though there it usually refers to what should be called different species (elves, orcs, humans, etc.) and there is no real mechanical difference between blacks and whites.

  • The default assumption of both the text and art of most RGP games is the characters are white.

  • White Wolf Games are transgressive and progressive, making an effort to include blacks in the text and art of their games.

  • Some fantasy versions of Africa do exist, though your mileage may vary as to the quality and results.

  • RPGS lag behind other areas of society – such as business, sports and politics – in terms of including blacks. This will change only when fans make it change.



Links;





February is Black History Month in the United States, a month designated to acknowledge accomplishments of black men and women in all occupations, from sports to business to science to politics and so forth. However, the presence of blacks in gaming is thin on the ground, so to speak.




In this column, I will discuss the issue and while a conclusion is reached, this is a podcast column and not a comprehensive study of the subject.




Black People in Gaming


Yes, this post is a hyperlink to elsewhere but the essay is 12 pages and 3,500 words long.


But here is the short version, while black's constitute above 12% of the U.S. population, the appear in less than 1% of the art depictions of humans in the core D&D books in the past.


Here D&D 5E/Next Challenge; make at least 10% of the humans depicted black. Not all art must depict humaniods and not all humaniods must be human, but of the humans 10% should be black.


If not, then why not?


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While admirable, there is an issue with implementing some of this; namely the fact that color defines race for some D&D fantasy species.  It is a classic D&D trope that black elves are drow.  A black dragonborn? That's just a dragonborn with black dragon heritage.  A black dwarf, halfling, or gnome?  Probably a duegar or derro. 

The idea that color defines type is a whole 'nother discussion in and of itself, but outside of your normal humans there's really no good way to use skin color in art without tripping over preconceived notions.  That said, I'm all for more variety in my artwork.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

If not, then why not?



There really isn't a good reason and overall I agree with you because it's not going to hurt anyone but I'm going to play the devil's advocate for the sake of discussion:


1. Not everywhere the game is sold is America. Many people around the world take offense whenever Americanisms are forced on them regardless of what the Americanism is. So this point has nothing to do with it being a issue of Blacks, just the issue of "keep your America out of my internationally marketed game".

2. You wouldn't be expecting there to be 10% Blacks or even 10% Whites in a game about Samurai. Why should a game focused primarily on European mythology be forced to conform to this when the theoretical Samurai game isn't? That would itself be a racist double standard.

3. Geography of the settings. Look at a map of Toril, tell me one place where people would have high melatonin levels that races with skin live. You can't, there is almost no equatorial land on Toril and what little there is is inhabited by races without skin.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
Well, congratulations. You've now inspired a tribe of redneck orcs who think elves have "purdy mouths" in one of my settings. I hope you're happy with yourself. Wink

Back to the topic, I think the solution, rather than regimenting a bean-counting system. Is just to get those crazy marketing execs out of the art department. The only thing that happened with the way Redgar turned out is that some of my white male friends who like to play fighters came to the conclusion that "WotC hates fighters." As to what race said people usually played, it was Half-Orc.

For that matter regimenting artwork requirements will lead to things like Redgar again but with races. I say let the art department do as they please. Artists tend to produce better and more varied stuff when they aren't under guidelines. Maybe that's just my opinion. YMMV.

Also, as SantaClaws mentioned, there are problems with not everyone having the same racial population percentages as America, etc...

On a side note, I don't think treating the characters as being all-White in the really old stuff is fair unless the pictures were in colour. A lot of that old artwork consisted of monochrome line-art. When there's only white background and black lines defining everyone, I think it makes a lousy sample for an argument on skin colour. I mean, yes, technically their skin was white, but so were their clothes, the flora, the fauna, etc... It's not really appropriate to the argument and reaks of "Seeing it because one is looking for it."

All in all though, more Black people (and other groups for that matter) in D&D human art is fine by me. Variety is the spice of life. Smile

And just to repeat myself, I've said it before and I'll say it again, we should have more group art in D&D. I think it'd solve a lot of these problems as having more people in the picture would likely cause the artists to subconsciously vary the characters more just to get the extra variety in.
This is a great issue, but I think there might be some equivocation over whether this is a game world problem or a mechanics problem.

If it's a game world problem, then it's no problem.  We'll just write up a new game world to cater to ultrarealists, low fantasy types, and people who want more social commentary built into their settings.  The fact is that we can make up new races and cultures all day, regardless of what the classic tropes have been or how much we've invested in our current game worlds.

However, if it's a mechanics problem, that's a horse of a different color, and we might be looking for something more complex than a simple negative modifier to indicate the role of race in our games' social interactions.
This is tangenital, but I wanted to throw it in. There was a study done a few years agon on several MMOs, of which Guildwars was one. The findings of the study boiled down to "This game has an option to play dark skinned characters. No one uses this option. People are racist."

But the actuall reason behind this escaped the researchers. You see when it launched the black characters in Guildwars were really ugly. They hadn't given these characters different faces or bone structures, so it was just a white man's body with a matte black skin draped over it. So it wasn't that people didn't want to play a black character but that they didn't want to play an ugly, unatural looking, black character.

Later on when they released the expansion set in Elona (Africa) and along with it attractive, natural looking, black people with appropriate bone structure and rich skintones. Boom - black characters everywhere
most current campaign settings are based on medival europe, most mideval europeans might never have seen a black or asian person.

in the video colum world of darkness is mentioned but world of darkness plays in a time closer to ours where it is common for people of difrent skin collors mingel.
but ofcourse in a fantasy world long range travel might have developed earlyer and there might be more mingling of people of difrent skin color might happen.

the stero types are often based on history, if you ask a artist to make a drawing of a knight he will draw a white male, as historicly knights where a european phenomenon during a time when european culture was very male dominated.

part of this is due to lack of knowlage, many of us can imagine mideval europe.
but if you ask what was happening during that same time in history  in places like africa and america and asia  it gets a lot harder.

also if you ask people about great historical civilisations the most probeble awnsers would be:
the Egyptian,greek,roman, celtic and germanic tribes, moving a bit later in the time line and people would almost exlusivly name european civilisations.
many of us just know so littel about what went on in the rest of the world, part of the reason for this being that there is not much written history of the other cultures that survived.

I would like to see campaigns based on the mytoligy and history of other cultures.


I would like to see campaigns based on the mytoligy and history of other cultures.



Indeed. Let's bring back The Known World/Mystara! Smile

While admirable, there is an issue with implementing some of this; namely the fact that color defines race for some D&D fantasy species.  It is a classic D&D trope that black elves are drow.  A black dragonborn? That's just a dragonborn with black dragon heritage.  A black dwarf, halfling, or gnome?  Probably a duegar or derro. 

The idea that color defines type is a whole 'nother discussion in and of itself, but outside of your normal humans there's really no good way to use skin color in art without tripping over preconceived notions.  That said, I'm all for more variety in my artwork.



Although, in some sense, it is silly, I like the fact that Hercules and Xena had ethnically mixed casts, particularly the extras. In a logical sense it is silly because there just wouldn't have been such ethnic diversity, but it was pretty cool at the same time. I like that in my D&D games. If it is at all plausible for diversity, there should be.
And drow happen to be black (as in the color). In my first 3e game, they were known as "white elves", because the game was set in a mythic Africa, and the "normal" elves had dark brown skin and black to reddish brown hair. The drow also had dark brown skin, but shocking white hair.  
3. Geography of the settings. Look at a map of Toril, tell me one place where people would have high melatonin levels that races with skin live. You can't, there is almost no equatorial land on Toril and what little there is is inhabited by races without skin.



Look at a map of Dark Sun, tell me one place where the fair skin people would live. 
3. Geography of the settings. Look at a map of Toril, tell me one place where people would have high melatonin levels that races with skin live. You can't, there is almost no equatorial land on Toril and what little there is is inhabited by races without skin.



Look at a map of Dark Sun, tell me one place where the fair skin people would live. 



Underground. Otherwise you are totally right, thats why I said it should be setting specific. I just used Toril for an example.
In my games players have always been Exceptional individuals, not Exceptions to the internal logic of the game world.
3. Geography of the settings. Look at a map of Toril, tell me one place where people would have high melatonin levels that races with skin live. You can't, there is almost no equatorial land on Toril and what little there is is inhabited by races without skin.



Look at a map of Dark Sun, tell me one place where the fair skin people would live. 



Underground. Otherwise you are totally right, thats why I said it should be setting specific. I just used Toril for an example.


Underground, the traditional home of the Drow?
3. Geography of the settings. Look at a map of Toril, tell me one place where people would have high melatonin levels that races with skin live. You can't, there is almost no equatorial land on Toril and what little there is is inhabited by races without skin.



Look at a map of Dark Sun, tell me one place where the fair skin people would live. 



Underground. Otherwise you are totally right, thats why I said it should be setting specific. I just used Toril for an example.


Underground, the traditional home of the Drow?



You are just being argumentative. He is suggesting using logic over past illogical design choices and you are saying that "no you can't, its already illogical".
most current campaign settings are based on medival europe, most mideval europeans might never have seen a black or asian person.



Most north-western medieval Europeans didn't live on or near trade routes and therefore wouldn't have seen people from very far from their homes, especially in the centuries between the fall of the western Roman empire and the rise of Charlemagne.  But medieval Europeans who had travelled to large cities, especially those around the Mediterranean, would probably have seen sub-saharan Africans.

Hoard: may earn you gp; Horde: may earn you xp.
I'm all for D&D being culturally and ethnically inclusive. While the default assumption may always be medeival European-inspired fantasy, I firmly believe that the core books should also support playing other culturally-inspired fantasy. Even the oldest published D&D setting, Greyhawk, has Arabic-inspired cultures, its own fantasy Africa quasi-analogue and so forth. Diversity makes things more interesting.
most current campaign settings are based on medival europe, most mideval europeans might never have seen a black or asian person.



Most north-western medieval Europeans didn't live on or near trade routes and therefore wouldn't have seen people from very far from their homes, especially in the centuries between the fall of the western Roman empire and the rise of Charlemagne.  But medieval Europeans who had travelled to large cities, especially those around the Mediterranean, would probably have seen sub-saharan Africans.




In Wolfram von Eschenbach's 13th century Parzival, Feirefiz has a Moorish mother and a European father. He is piebald.
Yeah, I don't buy the 'based on Medieval Europe' stuff.  I've played for over 20 years and I think I can remember one game loosely based on that.  I imagine I'm not alone.  That you decide to base your games on that period has nothing to do with the game, IMO.  I mean, unless Elves, Dwarves and Dragons were commonplace there and then.  And, if they were, I've got a beef with my education.  ;)
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[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

Diversity makes things more interesting.


Not all of the time, and it also depends on ones definition of "interesting".
By making everything available, you lessen the mystery and uniqueness of everything.

Also, there is no provable benefit of diversity simply for the sake of diversity.


"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse."- John Stuart Mill “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”― William F. Buckley "The straw in your man is amazing."- Maxperson Original Hipster of the House of Trolls: I was hipster before hipster was cool Resident Hater Mini Hate Machine
Yeah, I don't buy the 'based on Medieval Europe' stuff.  I've played for over 20 years and I think I can remember one game loosely based on that.  I imagine I'm not alone.  That you decide to base your games on that period has nothing to do with the game, IMO.  I mean, unless Elves, Dwarves and Dragons were commonplace there and then.  And, if they were, I've got a beef with my education.  ;)



A) Bringing up homebrew is pointless because we are discussing how the game is presented not how individual groups play. Most published setting quite often are based on western european concepts and while there are exception it is still the rule.

B) It's an issue of virisimilitude. Just because dragons and elves are about doesn't mean all logically consistency gets thrown out the window in world building. Think about this: With dangerous monsters all over the place how often are people other than adventurers, soldiers and caravanner going to be able to travel super far from their home town let alone across a content? Not often enough for cosmopolitan populations that's for sure.
By making everything available, you lessen the mystery and uniqueness of everything.

That argument works for the things that we want to be mysterious and unique in D&D, like aberrations and undead gods, but it doesn't work for this that we don't want to be mysterious and unique in D&D, like people of color. I can't think of a single good reason that we would want people of color to be mysterious in D&D. That just exacerbates the similar problem that we have in real life.

The only good excuse that I can think of is if you're actually deliberately trying to deliver themes and messages in your campaign about racism, ethnocentrism, etc. I've actually done that at times myself, though I typically use non-human races to get that metaphor across...

Also, there is no provable benefit of diversity simply for the sake of diversity.

Not exactly true. Diversity is its own benefit. The benefit to exposure to diversity is that you better learn how to deal with exposure to diversity.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I agree there should be more ethnic diversity amongst humans, the medievil argument doesn't cut it, the amount of sun doesn't cut it either.  I don't think their should be a qouta though, but the art director should make sure different ethnicities are represented in the books. 



I see no problem with this, nor do I see why anyone else would.

We have a magical world where people can teleport from one end of the planet to the other and people ride Dragons.  Geography is pretty much just an inconvience.

I could be a purple human if I want to give my DM a write up of a culture of purple pigmented humans.
One of the main character of 3.5 was black. Ember the monk.



 
I see no problem with this, nor do I see why anyone else would.

We have a magical world where people can teleport from one end of the planet to the other and people ride Dragons.  Geography is pretty much just an inconvience.

I could be a purple human if I want to give my DM a write up of a culture of purple pigmented humans.


Oh, indeed, and as this is a fantasy game, that should be a possibility, at least in some settings.

But it's more important to have at least some credible depiction of something like real non-Europeans (and secondarily, non-Asians) in the game than to create completely 'off-model' humans. After all, no real life purple person is currently being under-represented or stereotyped by their presentation in gaming materials; but there are plenty of non-white gamers and would-be gamers who are.

And yes - thanks to the poster who pointed it out - Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur both have more non-white characters than all the core rule books of 1e and 2e combined. That's right - actual medieval fantasy written by medieval bards and knights was more ethnically diverse than early RPGs. So let's not set a quota, but let's have some more varied and positive representation.

Z.
On old D&D settings and European vs other world cultures, how many can you identify from below: Wink






Also Drow are black because of Lolth's influence. The underground elves who worshipped other deities had either paler or light purplish skin (See "The Shadow Elves"). It's just that said elves have disappeared from D&D fluff overtime as Drow became the generic.
Well, congratulations. You've now inspired a tribe of redneck orcs who think elves have "purdy mouths" in one of my settings. I hope you're happy with yourself.



Yes, I totally am.

Back to the topic, I think the solution, rather than regimenting a bean-counting system. Is just to get those crazy marketing execs out of the art department.



I think it will be easier to accomplish a specific goal than it will be to get "marketing execs out of the art department."
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Refocus

This is not about a specific setting's composition, but about the art in the 5E books. The5E books probably will not describe a specific campaigns setting anyway. Setting dynamics are a different issue. Even discussing "actual" Europe is a setting discussion. However, they will have art and some of that are will depict humans and the challenge is that "at least 10% of the humans in the 5E books should be black."

If a simple goal of "10% of the humans in the 5E books should be black" is not accomplished then it will be a missed opportunity and not something which can be fixed until 2016 or 2018 when 6E comes out. If various issues of game mechanics are important enough to hash out, art as part of the over all presentation should also be important enough to hash out.
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But here is the short version, while black's constitute above 12% of the U.S. population, the appear in less than 1% of the art depictions of humans in the core D&D books in the past. 

Now you are being US-centric. Where I live there are very few people of African heritage, but 5% of the population has middle eastern heritage. They are also absent from the D&D books.

Anyway; It would be nice to have more skin colors in the books, but I think that it should be done within the limits of the Forgotten Realms campaign. If the Forgotten Realms campaign does not offer enough role models for African Americans then it should be changed.
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
You are getting your Political Correctness in my gaming and I'm not liking it.

I'm Portuguese. We rank 5 to 6th as the largest spoken language. I demand 1 in 6 people speak Portuguese in DDN.

Also, since I'm Portuguese I demand 1 in each X characters be latino.

Oh, wait, we're dealing with fantasy worlds. There is no Portuguese or latino heritage there to speak of.

You want to be black? Asian? Latino? Eastern European? Who is holding you? Find an spot, claim you or your ancestor came from there and run with it.

And don't give that prejudice crap. Don't recall the 3E books but it probably has some variety.

Sure, the previous editions were a product of their times, you can't expect them to conform to today's over sensitivity.

Haven't picked up the 4E books so I don't know what's there but I'd assume there's some degree of variety.

And look at Pathfinder. 3 of the women aren't white. The paladin is pretty much african-american, the cleric is middle-eastern and the sorceress is either mixed race or some fantasy version of american-indian.

Monk if definitively black, any blacker and it would be something like blackface.

Even the default fighter doesn't look completely white, he's the closest to being latino. The ranger is a dwarf eastern-european and the rogue elf if an elf, who knows what those guys look like, I can barely tell if they are male or female most of the time.

I think the only really white dude is the wizard. You want more diversity than that?

(Edited: Forum Disruption)

You want even more variety? In PF's setting (setting, not core rulebook) unless it's specifically stated so everyone is bi. What more do you want?

Not advertising for PF but I'm pretty sure WoTC is looking at it pretty closely and Monte Cook was involved as a consultant.

(Edited: Baiting)
I think more diversity would be interesting and intellectually stimulating. However, a knight in shining armor with black skin only happens in Hollywood. A samurai with white skin only happens in a really bad Tom Cruise movie. Native American monks? Really?

I don’t think the diversity should be just “ethnic”. It should be cultural as well. I would much rather see a black dude in mythical African setting than one wearing full plate armor and riding an elephant (you know, the really bad Hollywood cliché). Europeans aren’t the only ones with myths and legends. If your core book is going to be ethnically diverse, than make sure that medieval Europe is not the assumed default setting.

If the argument is that since 10% of the US population is black then 10% of all knights should have black skin… Not interested in the topic…

As a side note, does anyone remember Nyambe: African Adventures?
As a side note, does anyone remember Nyambe: African Adventures?



I mention Nyambe in the column. And provide a link to it.

10% is a small and specific figure which makes it easier to attain.
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A) Bringing up homebrew is pointless because we are discussing how the game is presented not how individual groups play. Most published setting quite often are based on western european concepts and while there are exception it is still the rule.



You're the one representing things unfairly, homie.  There's two - maybe three - campaign settings that resemble what you suggest the entire game is meant to represent.  Off the top of my head, I can think of Dark Sun, Kara Tur, Al Qadim, Spelljammer, Planescape, Eberron, Gamma World and Mystara that bear little resemblence to the time period and place on Earth that you mention.  As I said, if you decide that you want to present your world that way, that's on you and has little to do with the game itself.

In short, it all depends on who's playing, what they're playing and how they're playing it.  Using 'medieval Europe' as justification for anything, then, doesn't work.  Cuz different folks play different settings different ways and, as I demonstrate above, published settings don't even come close to always presenting the game world in such a fashion.

B) You are being obtuse, it's an issue of virisimilitude. Just because dragons and elves are about doesn't mean all logically consistency gets thrown out the window in world building. Think about this: With dangerous monsters all over the place how often are people other than adventurers, soldiers and caravanner going to be able to travel super far from their home town let alone across a content? Not often enough for cosmopolitan populations that's for sure.



If we throw out the fact that humans are the only humanoids on the planet, why is it so hard to throw out the fact that all humans presented in the focus area are white?  Seriously, if you can explain away the fact that Elves and Dwarves and Dragons are there, why can't you explain away the fact that where there 'shouldn't' be any black people, there are? 

I mean, it's truly baffling that dragons don't break your focus but black people somehow do.
______________________

DM: Ok, you see a massive red dragon - too big to possibly fly - soaring overhead.  He swoops down upon the city and breathes fire onto the Gnome Quarter, setting it ablaze.

You: Whoa!  Awesome!  We better head that way, guys!

DM: Not seconds after he's torched the Gnome section of town, he heads directly toward the elves!  It looks as though he's preparing to spit fire onto the lithe figures below.

You: Oh no!  Our party member, Legoverisimilitude has family there!  Let's hurry guys!  I cast Expeditious Retreat and Haste on the party!

DM: Good plan, Gimlysimilitude.  Not many Dwarven wizards would think to cast something like that now.  Most would just go straight for something damaging.  Well played, you get extra XP.

Now, as the dragon begins to breathe, he hovers for a second over the Elven Magical College and seems to be targeting the elder mages on the parapets ...

You: No!!  Legoverisimilitude's mom is an instructor there!  She's no doubt part of the defense!  Let's hurry, guys!  I cast Bull's Strength on our fighter - HalfOrcimilitude and tell him to push people out of our way!  Make a hole, dammit!

DM: Good plan.  HalfOrcimilitude is able to clear a path.  Not many folks seem to want to be in his way - even though they're fleeing a dragon.  You're now easily overtaking guards and moving at a speed that leaves passers by in awe.  No man has ever moved that fast in this town before.  You'll be there shortly.

The dragon is about to breathe on the school when suddenly magical lightning cracks and slams into it.  Another bolt and yet another smash into its chest.  A cone of cold followed by another seek to take advantage of the beast's affinity for fire and it falls to the ground - still obviously alive and quite angry - right as you make the scene!

You: This is awesome!  Let's get it, guys!  I start to cast a Cone of Cold myself!

DM: You may want to wait on that, Gimlysimilitude, for there is a heavily armored figure charging the beast.  It appears to be a guardsman.

You: Ok, I'll change that to Magic Missile for now.  What's this guy look like?

DM: Well, this 'guy' is actually a woman.  A black woman with a greata

You (Interrupting): What?!!?  No way!  There's no way in hell some woman would be allowed in the guards and no way in hell she'd be black!  We're in, like, Poland or something!  This is so stupid.  I'm out.  I can't believe you'd make up crap like that.  Totally takes me out of the game.  Worst.  DM.  Evah.
___________________________

So yeah, I really have a massively difficult time understanding your position on this.  ;)
Resident Prophet of the OTTer.

Section Six Soldier

Front Door of the House of Trolls

[b]If you're terribly afraid of your character dying, it may be best if you roleplayed something other than an adventurer.[/b]

D&D developers have generally tried to ignore human ethnicity in many ways.  They are not terribly successful all the time, but for the most part ethnicity is incidental and often, especially in rescent years character depictions are largely of vaguely indeterminate ethnicly.  There's been a general tendancy to prefere game world conflits to focus on questions of good and evil rather than political conflicts between human nations.  

In Greyhawk, the ethnic background of a character is completely incidental, like hair color.  In some other game worlds there are clear cultural regions based loosly on those found here on earth, in 3e FR for instance you could choose regional feats based on your character background, representing common cultural phenomonae.  Aside from the option of choosing a regional feat and adding a starting point for a richer character back story, there's really no game effect.  

Personally, I prefer this approach, Humans should be humans, racial differences between peoples is overwhelmingly superficial in the real world and the game world should reflect this.  In addition, introducing cultural differences that too closely resemble those in the real world is a recipe for over generaizing, sterotyping, and generally pissing people off. 

That being said, the apparent ethnicity of character portrayals could be more inclusive.  It's not an issue of being 'PC', but a way to be more repreasentaive of the true diversity of the players.  Black players shouldn't feel like an after thought.  Oh, and somewhere on the planet are some black people, they come from ...far away, but you can be one if you want.  It's pretty insulting.  I find it kind of funny that some of the same people who are all for morphing an RPG into a wargame, are against greater ethnic diversity in the game world, which would have no significant effect on game play at all.
 
I felt like the art in 3E was a step in the right direction, though they could have done better.  What I've seen of 4e art tends to have far fewer human character images.  I would generally agree that introducing ethnic groups that mirror those in the real world, into demihuman is perhaps going a bit to far although, it might be an interesting experiment, most of the other racial options begin with a base that is clearly caucasian.  It would be nice to see artists get a little more creative.... 
As a side note, does anyone remember Nyambe: African Adventures?



I mention Nyambe in the column. And provide a link to it.

10% is a small and specific figure which makes it easier to attain.



Assuming D&D is marketed for the US only, you could be right, as long as you count only the non-campign specific manuals. Being marketed for a world audience, you would have to change the artwork of each manual to respect each country's own % ratio of each ethnic group, otherwise it would be unfair to them.   

On the other hand, you have to understand, the WotC art department has also to deal with Orcs. They are bullies, and their asking higher % all the time. Someone has to give 
IMAGE(http://www.forum-signatures.com/wizard/Sigs/2010/final1329876348159.jpg)
Hey guys,

This is an interesting topic, but also a potentially sensitive one. Please avoid ascribing motives to other people, don't make assumptions, and don't call each other names.

I've done a little bit of clean up work here, but let's all do our  best to make sure nothing ends up needing conduct action.

Thanks,

Monica
It is a interesting subject, but one that is relatively easy to solve and has been addressed gradually over time. Personally, I think it's a null issue in regards to existance as the basic DnD world is not explained in great detail and is left to the DM to decide what to do with it. Theres no reason why the game can't become mult-cultural but the mult-cultural aspect is not as importent to the game as the multi-racial aspect* and hence the curtral aspect can be described in as little or as much detail as desired.

There could be a asian themed contenent out there, but the DM might rule it as no real sagnifcance to the plot and hence while you know a lot about the other lands in Skyrim, you will never see them over the course of your adventure unless you and the DM both desire to go there. On the other hand, as a priate you could be visiting all the contentants where the mult-cultural is a draw to the adventure as seeing the other race.

Either way, I don't really mind too much as long as the product allows a univerce to be shaped.

*Unless your a elf, where racisum between the high, the wood and the Drow rages on for all eterninity.

Again, the specific challenge is about the art in the 5E/D&D Next books, not about what is going on in other games, not about if it does/was/should represent Europe and other issues.

I am an American and the video is a remake of a strictly podcast version of the same thing composed a year ago. In America February is African American History Month and blacks do constitute 12% of the population. I am not presuming to speak for other nations.

There is a difference between a goal and an objective. Goals are vague, objectives are specific. A laudable goal is "making the next version of the game more inclusive" but without any specifics such a things in difficult to measure. An objective is to "make 10% of the humans depicted in art black" and thus measurable, and thus attainable. Further setting it at 10% is modest, reasonable and easily calculated. All of which makes it easier to reach.

What I am doing here is very calculated.

Reviews Blog: thegrumpycelt.blogspot.com/ Image Gallery: grumpy-celt.deviantart.com/gallery/ --- Right, where was I...
I am all for inclusivity in the art but setting a percentage is just silly.  It is like having racial quotas at a job.  As have been pointed out in this thread there has been diversity in earlier editions of D&D and the current one as well as Pathfinder, why set a quota for the new one.

Plus where does it stop

64% white
16% latino
12% black
5% asian
2% mixed race
1% american indian

because that is what the population of the US  roughly breaks down as.

Do you want to see US culture in the books as well will we have hip/hop bards, gangsta rappin' dwarves, halfling girls having quinceaneras, low riding wagons, ect.....

This is a fantasy game let's keep real world concerns out of it.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

Things you should check out because they are cool, like bow-ties and fezzes.

https://app.roll20.net/home  Roll20 great free virtual table top so you can play with old friends who are far away.

http://donjon.bin.sh/  Donjon has random treasure, maps, pick pocket results, etc.. for every edition of D&D.

Do you want to see US culture in the books as well will we have hip/hop bards, gangsta rappin' dwarves, halfling girls having quinceaneras, low riding wagons, ect.....

This is a fantasy game let's keep real world concerns out of it.



You had me at gangsta rappin' dwarves

What about trip hoppin' cowboys?    
IMAGE(http://www.forum-signatures.com/wizard/Sigs/2010/final1329876348159.jpg)

Personally, I prefer this approach, Humans should be humans, racial differences between peoples is overwhelmingly superficial in the real world and the game world should reflect this.  In addition, introducing cultural differences that too closely resemble those in the real world is a recipe for over generaizing, sterotyping, and generally pissing people off.  



I thought the politically correct way to say ‘race’ was ethnicity or ethnic group? An ethnic group is not skin color; it's skin color, it's religion, it's culture, it's traditons, it's mythology, and more. It's not even close to being superficial.

Maybe I'm just a nerd and I like anthropology and sociology. I like the idea of more cultural stereotypes in D&D. D&D is strongly inspired by real world mythology; I think it would be fun to include African and American mythology in D&D.

But how could this possibly piss people off, that I don't understand? This isn't the 19th century anymore, anthropologists don't describe Africans as the Flintstones family anymore... Oh crap, maybe you're right, Hollywood still shows them that way and that's probably going to be the game designer's inspiration...

Maybe it's time for the default setting to break its ties to real world mythology.
Me again.

1st, I'm going to be moving this to D&D Next Story, Flavor, and Art because I feel it fits better there.

2nd, I'm going to weigh in.

I don't really want to get too much into personal details, but I am a person who comes from other than a strictly "white" culture and ethnicity. I personally don't like the idea of strict percentages, because how do you decide what is the right percentage of which ethnic groups to include as your policy? Someone somewhere is likely to feel excluded.

I think a better way is to simply encourage a wide variety of artists to submit artwork for D&D. I think it would also help to include different cultures and mythologies in the settings material, as well as in core. I find different cultures fascinating, and have always included other than just medieval European stuff in my homebrew setting, not out of any sense of multicultural fairness, just because it's more interesting that way   Official stuff from a wide selection of cultures would be hawt, since I don't always have the time to do all the research that I'd like to do.

However, I also think having a black knight in shining armor, or an elf who looks a little Latino is nice too, and there is no real reason not to have it, as long as the art is fantastic. I recall a depiction of a wizard from 2nd edition (I think, can't find it at the moment). It was full color art in a classical style. He was in the sky, fleeing from something, and he was depicted as a person of what we would call in the real world African descent. What stuck out for me wasn't his race, but the beautiful sense of emotion the artist depicted in the face and the motion of the body. I just happen to remember he was black because I can so vividly picture his face, to this very day.  Great artwork can move you.

So, I'm voting for excellent artwork, and a complete openness to both different cultures and ethnicities. Perhaps Wizards could reach out to artists from  different ethnic groups too, because most people tend to depict what they know and the people they know. That may be better than setting up percentages, in my humble opinion.


Monica