Today I’m going to look at American Heritage and how a major event in its history has played into the way of game design. I’ll be looking at slavery and how it is taboo…
This article is not meant to trivialize the horrors of slavery or to make light of what has been suffered due to its practice, nor am I advocating slavery in anyway shape or form- this is just something I’ve noticed while reading through several gaming books.
In several RPG’s it’s pretty much ANYTHING goes.. except slavery..
The three Campaign Settings I’m going to look at are: Dark Sun, Freeport, Dragon Age
Dark Sun– The world of Athas is a harsh place that has been ravaged by magic and is now an inhospitable wasteland where people must fight daily to survive. Slavery is common in the City States under the sorcerer kings, and slavers roam the wastes nabbing people to sell at the local markets EXCEPT in the city where people start play, Tyr.
The Sorcerer-King Kalak has recently been killed and his regime has been overthrown. Now Tyr is the only Free-City in the world and slavery is outlawed.
Freeport– A Pirate town- liquor is cheap and life is cheaper. You can buy anything in the City of Adventure; sex, weapons, and drugs. There is HARDLY anything illegal in this hedonistic city EXCEPT slavery.
Slavery in Freeport carries the punishment of flogging for the first offense and death on the second. Freeport does have a black market trade of slaves going on in Scurvytown, but it is constantly under attack and is always on the move in the city.
Dragon Age– The nation of Ferelden. Life is hard in this low-fantasy gritty world. People make it by sharp wit and sharp sword. The law is loose and you should be prepared to handle your own disputes. There isn’t even a black market since pretty much everything is legal… EXCEPT slavery. However in the world of Thedas other nations engage in acts of slavery.
That’s what’s interesting to me, these games HAVE slavery except in the areas that focus on player starting and adventuring. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with this, but as a History buff I just find it fascinating how culture leaks into game design.
It isn’t even JUST American culture- the abolishment of slavery was a global endeavor that has shaped our collective histories.
I just find it interesting.
Have you noticed anything in game design that is a reflection of culture?