A Rant:
Hey tabletop designers/publishers. I’m Chinese. When I designed a game about Chinese-American/Canadian culture with ANOTHER Chinese designer, we *still* hired Chinese consultants to help use with the areas of our own culture that we didn’t feel we could do justice to 1/
So when I see designer diaries like the one that was posted by the designer of Gorinto, I shake my head. The designer shows how lazy his research is - spending an hour on Google does not equate to lived experience. BTW, we don’t play manacala in SEA (my family is from Brunei) 2/
We play congkak. It just amazes me that this designer thought a flippant post about his ignorant misuse of culture was a good idea. Gorinto is loosely based on funeral monuments and tombs that are still in use today in modern Japan... again, a theme he decided on after an hour 3/
or so on Google (his words, not mine). But it seems to be all skin and no meat. No delving into the significance of Gorinto to the culture from which he took it. I’ve read the rule book. I see they had a cultural consultant (a non-Japanese professor of Japanese studies) but 4/
I see very little discussing the cultural relevance of Gorinto; it’s reduced to a thematic element, a trapping. Look, I get it. Westerners think is cool and mysterious and that our cultures are inscrutable. That’s called “Orientalism” - look it up. It might take you even less /5
than an hour or two on Google. This isn’t specifically about Gorinto. I have friends who worked hard to bring this game to the table. I’m just super tired of people using other cultures (not just Asian cultures; that’s just what I can speak to the best) without care, respect 6/
and due diligence. We have a saying in disability culture - “Nothing About Me Without Me” and I think it applies here as well: publishers and designers, please include the people whose cultures you are using in the process sooner than later. Respect their advice and pay them 7/
for their insight. Give them decision making authority regarding elements of the game that hinge on their cultural expertise. I not stopping people from designing games in cultures that fascinate them. I want to play those games, too. I want culture to be applied thoughtfully 8/8
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