fereldanwench: (Hawke - Rhiannon - Unamused)
[personal profile] fereldanwench
This was prompted by [personal profile] sarasa_cat's question on Tumblr, but I figured it'd be easier to talk about here without character limits and losing conversation amidst reblogging.

I really don't know a whole lot about the overall world-building in the franchise, and how I've come to enjoy the game has minimized my exposure to a lot of it (which I'll elaborate on in a minute). [personal profile] theharlotofferelden brought up how a lot of the races are presented, and through my limited exposure in game and a little curious Googling, I picked up that for the available human races, it breaks down approximately like so:

  • The Imperials are sort of a nebulous Roman counterpart.
  • The Nords are like a (surprise, surprise) Nordic or Scandinavian people.
  • The Bretons are supposed to correspond with people in Celtic regions
  • The Redguards would be akin to a North African or Middle Eastern people.

    The CC will tell you a little about the defining physical characteristics of each race, like the Nords being fair-haired and the Redguards having dark complexions, but I don't think you're limited by any those, so you could feasibly make a black Nord or a pale Redguard. (I think--I have a mega CC overhaul installed, and I don't know if that changes anything.) I don't think the Breton or Imperial description mentions anything one way or another.

    The non-human races have some really overt coding, like the Khajiit (cat people) with the Romani. There are a few different variety of elves, and I read some speculation that they were supposed to be generically coded as east Asian, but I haven't encountered them enough to say for sure.

    I've only played as a Nord and an Imperial, so I don't know how much the player gets hit over the head with racism if they choose another race, but I would imagine it's pretty rough for any of the non-human races. I know dark elves in particular are treated like shit in Windhelm--They're basically sectioned off like in an alienage. But within the greater scope of Tamriel on the whole, I don't think they're subjugated all over in a similar way that elves are in DA? One of the most notable Imperial leaders is a dark elf, and when you get to Solitude, they're just as rich (and classist) as the human nobility. It seems like where ever there's a stronger Imperial influence over a Nord one, they aren't treated any differently.

    The Dragonborn storyline is intertwined with the Nords versus the Empire storyline, which essentially makes you pick a side (unless you get some mods to separate them or get rid of them entirely). It's a fucked decision either way. The Empire is basically coming in here with their soldiers and banning the Nords' religions and way of life, and I mean... It's an Empire. No good comes from that. But the leader of the Nords' rebellion, Ulfric, promotes that whole "keep Skyrim for the Nords thing" that is really blatantly racist but not really challenged. Did Bethesda even consider the implications of an Anglo group of people trying to "purify" their lands of outsider influences??? It doesn't seem like it.

    So... Yes. There is probably a lot about these dynamics that would make someone rage quit, especially if they go into it wanting to play the main storyline or if they want to play a PC who isn't an Imperial or Nord. The first Dragonborn I made did end up siding with the Stormcloaks, but I became very uncomfortable with that decision and ended up dropping her entirely after that point.

    But there are so many mods available that can drastically change the gameplay and the PC's storyline that I think it could still be very enjoyable depending on what you're looking for. There are mods that do away with the Dragonborn plot entirely and let you choose your own path completely--One of the PCs I have right now came from a group of bandits and is now weaseling her way into the Thieves Guild. The other one is desperately trying to get into the Mages College but doesn't have the skills yet. The thief might become an actual Dragonborn at some point, but right now I'm just having fun traveling the world. Neither will get involved in the war decision.

    With both I've gotten way more into the exploration of the world and the small, fetchy quests than the big, overarching plot. Mods like Campfire, iNeed, and Frostfall turn wandering Skyrim into something with purpose and consequence. Ingrid got hypothermia trying to camp in the middle of a blizzard, and her companion had to bring her to a nearby inn to recuperate--That was awesome. Having to make sure there's enough inventory space for food and drink, and making sure they get sleep once a day turns it more into a survival simulation in a fantasy setting than an open world RPG with a mediocre premise.

    And I think that approach has made it a lot more fun for me. There's definitely no way to avoid the off-handed comments from NPCs or separate the world entirely from the war that's embedded in it, but I think there are so many mods available that most people could probably find a way to tweak the game to make it more palatable to their entertainment desires.
  • Date: 2016-11-21 10:46 pm (UTC)
    theharlotofferelden: Kalas (Default)
    From: [personal profile] theharlotofferelden
    The Imperials are sort of a nebulous Roman counterpart.
    The Nords are like a (surprise, surprise) Nordic or Scandinavian people.
    The Bretons are supposed to correspond with people in Celtic regions
    The Redguards would be akin to a North African or Middle Eastern people.


    I think the reason I wrote that there were 2 POC races in my post on tumblr is b/c I thought that Bretons in Oblivion looked vaguely asian/east asian. But yo if there were ever a warning sign that a game might be racist, it's the fact that there's 3 races that are basically all white. Foisting RL oppression on fantasy races while erasing other RL races is seriously wtf.

    I mean, I don't mind fantasy races, but they don't give them enough to do, which is a shame b/c it's not as if they're working with nothing.

    But nah let's generate another 40 khajit n argonian NPCs who are thieves, smugglers, and drug addicts.
    Edited (b/c i suck at html) Date: 2016-11-21 10:46 pm (UTC)

    Date: 2016-11-23 09:41 am (UTC)
    sarasa_cat: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] sarasa_cat
    ...there's 3 races that are basically all white. Foisting RL oppression on fantasy races while erasing other RL races is seriously wtf.

    Wow. Yeah, is a style of Typical Fantasy Writing(tm) that is really getting old. -__-

    I read your posts on tumblr and everything you said about sexism just makes me want to put more hours into DA2 or DAI.

    All that said, I feel compelled to noodle around in Skyrim as soon as I have time for it.

    Date: 2016-11-24 12:48 am (UTC)
    theharlotofferelden: Kalas (Default)
    From: [personal profile] theharlotofferelden
    After the opening sequence you can do whatever the hell you want, but in the first village the game nudges you towards, there's a woman who says "You're pretty enough, but stay away from my husband." lolwut In that same village you can get caught between two dudes trying to frame each other so they can win the affection of another lady. In the next closest town the narrative pushes you towards, there's a woman being harassed by a male bard.

    In another area, another NPC woman will commiserate with you on how it's hard being a woman in Skyrim, but hey, you keep at it. You'll show those dudes how tough you are and one day they'll respect you. There's plenty of NPC banter about getting women and gold. Lots of "women are so naggy lol amirite" in-jokes.


    idk how I glossed over remembering that, but that shit bugged me too. Like in a vague "this makes me feel angry/uncomfortable" way as opposed to, "I want to punch whoever wrote those lines for the female blacksmith holy shit."

    like, another thing that pissed me off is that during the main questline there's this flashback to the Epic battle between the dragonborn and the Evil Dragon. There's like 5 heroes total and one of them's a brash girl. I was like, cool alright, after the first two guys got chewed up. But then the girl gets it in the worse way because she's extremely arrogant about taking down the dragon n stuff. So she gets chewed up worse than the others.

    and i'm just sitting there like....how the fuck is this interesting to the assholes writing it? why bother including a woman at all if all you're gonna do is let a young male warrior and an old male wizard take the spotlight in stopping the dragon? that shit is so conventional. it's boring. and also just insulting because these other guys don't get it as bad, yet she gets it the worse? and the arrogance she exhibits is very male. which would be fine if it were intentional, but it just comes across as poorly written based on the rest of the writing in the game (and the fact that the writers are male).

    on one hand i feel i'm too involved in this one scene because it's just a flashback, but at the same time...it's in the game, so wtf man.

    Date: 2016-11-27 07:50 am (UTC)
    sarasa_cat: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] sarasa_cat
    For all of Bioware's many weaknesses, the female characters in DA2 and DAI are very refreshing.

    If Skyrim's treatment of women is on par with DAO, I can deal with it without extended fits of eye-rolling. ;)

    Plus, the remastered version looks so pretty. If I'm mostly just wandering around getting lost in the Ultra Pretty, all is good.

    Date: 2016-11-24 12:36 am (UTC)
    theharlotofferelden: Kalas (Default)
    From: [personal profile] theharlotofferelden
    it's worth noodling around in if you buy it on sale @ steam for like $5-$10 as the mods are a real game changer (I like the ones wench mentioned in her post b/c it makes gameplay more immersive/interesting).

    Date: 2016-11-23 09:36 am (UTC)
    sarasa_cat: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] sarasa_cat
    Thanks for moving this over to DW.

    The message I have been hearing loud and clear is Play on the PC and Download All the Good Mods (and possibly ignore the main quest).

    *headdesk* The main Nords-vs-Empire storyline sounds like the worst kind of fantasy writing. It sort of makes me want to troll-play through the main story. ;D

    Google filled me in on how the "ditch the Dragonborn quest" mods work. I like the idea of just dropping into the world somewhere else and creating a character via minor quests+headcanon. Although, I'll probably play the vanilla game for a little bit just to see what it is before installing lots of mods.

    Mods like Campfire, iNeed, and Frostfall sound interesting once I have grown tired of the vanilla game.

    After looking at a bunch of different mods and various "best of" mod lists, the modding community for Skyrim is making me feel a little nostalgic for heavily modded DA:O. I love how the DA:O mod community created so many interesting add-on quests and a few add-on companions in addition to the standard character and armor retexture mods.


    BTW, a minor point from my original question about "racist tropes played straight" -- I see this as different from characters experiencing racism in the story but that might not have been obvious from how I stated it. Racist tropes played straight is what lots of white male SF/F writers tend to do these days: they add racism for the sake of racism (dark and gritty realism) but the script itself never examines it or gives the characters realistic options beyond "it sucks to live in a racist world." On the other hand, other media (usually not written by white male SFF writers) examines racism, parodies racism, exposes racists as laughable ignorant asshats, and/or gives characters realistic options to confront or combat the ignorance that drives racist thinking. So, it is fantasy racism that I'm trying to avoid or at least trying to sniff out so I know what I am getting into but, instead, Typical Fantasy Writing(tm) in which racism is nothing more than Gritty Realism(tm).

    Date: 2016-11-27 07:52 am (UTC)
    sarasa_cat: (Default)
    From: [personal profile] sarasa_cat
    Omfg! School girl uniforms?! Gotta love those crazy modders. ;D

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