An article by Brie Sheldon over on Gaming as Women, “Paizo Publishing and Pathfinder-Half-Orc Origins,” focuses on a topic gamers and game makers should spend a bit of time considering or reconsidering. The title highlights both the sensitivity of the topic, the too casually assumed violent origins of members of the half-orc race, and the fact that the arena for this subject is my own backyard. Brie contacted both James Jacobs and I a few months ago, expressing her concerns about the way half-orcs were presented in the Pathfinder RPG. We explained the reasoning that led us along the chosen route, one that highlights the savagery of orcs in a manner that’s ultimately offensive to many players–certainly not our intention. Overall, the back and forth with Brie was great, giving us a distinctly different point of view while we had the opportunity both to expound upon the elements of the classic games we were trying to evoke and reexamine our choices. Ultimately, Brie wrote the article linked above.
The article is honest, in no way flattering, and I think very fair. Both James and my correspondence are extensively quoted with the author highlighting and commenting upon the most noteworthy points. She notes places where we could definitely have been more sensitive, but also places where she thinks we did right. What I love about this, though, is that it’s illustrative of a discussion. It’s not a condemnation, it’s not either party getting on a soapbox, it’s not either party getting overly defensive, it’s a dialogue between gamers who are passionate about the games they play and the types of stories they want to tell. It’s the sort of back and forth that leads to a better generation of games.
I’m linking Brie’s article because–aside from being a fair analysis of one element of the Pathfinder RPG–this discussion deserves to be had and is strengthened by wider participation. Read the article and chime in on the comments section. I want to hear what you like, what you don’t like, what you think we’ve done wrong with Pathfinder’s portrayal of the groups that mean the most to you, and what you think we’ve done right. I want to know that we’re giving the proper amount of weight to matters that concern you and personally affect your enjoyment of a game. I want to know what we can do as game makers to make the games you want to play. I believe this sort of discussion, being open about our intentions, mindful of our missteps, and constructive with our criticism, can only lead to better games and a more inclusive, ultimately stronger gaming community. So lets hear what you think. I’ll certainly be listening.
Many thanks to Brie for getting this article out there, for all her fair consideration, and for continuing a discussion so vital to the evolution of the games that are such important parts of our lives.