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That One NPC

Why So Whitewashed?

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Why is RM so whitewashed? And I'm not just talking about the RTP... Over and above that, the community artists don't even create ethnic resources. I am well aware of the few ethnic facesets and sprite sheets, but how many even get emotion sets? None, because they seem to be extras for ethnic towns and cities...

 

 

Like why? lol

 

 

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I'd say it is likely that the artists are creating what they know, or are expanding on the rtp. It can be hard to make ethnic characters that are not offensive or just look like a ethnic colored white person. I've personally added in some more ethnic characters into my personal sprite sets, but it is a lot harder than using the 'standard' color that the game comes with. 

Modern People MV.png

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I have my own theories as well.

 

I think a lot of it ties into the industry standard created by Japan. It's just what's familiar and expected of RPGs, even anime. Ethnic characters are a rarity.

 

 

It's really frustrating for me because the characters are the most important part of any RPG in my opinion. I would love to be able to create characters from all walks of life, all ethnic and cultural themes. But available resources make this very difficult. I don't feel good about having 17 out of 22 Caucasian characters in my project, but unless I use generated faces, I have no other choice.

 

 

I'm just surprised Enterbrain hasn't done anything about this yet. The titles actually seem to be more whitewashed since 2k3.

 

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You know, I know this is months old by this point, but I wanted to say: Remember that 90% of people in Japan are of a single ethnicity and many of them have extremely limited interaction with those from other ethnic groups. I think there is not a huge push for equal representation, and I get the feeling that a lot of Japanese people don't really think this is a big deal. Plus, if you really think about it, the characters in the RTP are actually not necessarily 'Caucasian' as much as they are anime characters. It may seem strange, but a good number of characters drawn with anime-style art are actually supposed to be Japanese or otherwise Asian. I won't say anime-style art is aracial, because it's definitely not, but it is a bit more abstract then a lot of people give it credit for.

 

So here is the real question: What exactly would you need to create an ethnic character? Just different skin colors? It's not that hard to recolor images I think. But that can be kind of lazy and might even come uncomfortably close to 'blackface' to some people. And I don't think you can expect every ethnicity to be fairly represented anyway. You could still try in your game of course, and I am all for that. I just don't think Enterbrain finds it a big problem or worth solving.

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@Kayzee, is unfortunately, very much pinpoint accurate; Japan is definitely tight-knit in its' societal presentation and has been since the end of the Feudal/Medieval era. Sure, there's local 'melting pots' here and there where cultures are intermingling, but that's about as common as 'purple ribbon' bars/clubs in most of America (trans-friendly/inclusive; some places have more bars and clubs like this like Colorado and Nevada). Oh, and speaking of 'purple ribbon', that's still considered a 'taboo' thing in Japan, though usually not persecuted.

Anyway, point is, if it isn't something that people want, well, it isn't going to happen (usually-sometimes there are things that happen anyway regardless of whether it was wanted or not).

 

However, I do agree; there should be at least an attempt to have more variety, and try to be tasteful to boot. Not always easily done, but not impossible...I'd think, anyway...lol

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Japan's culture is why we don't see characters from other races or skin tones in the RPG Maker RTP. Japan create characters with skin tones related to Japanese people and Europeans. As PhoenixSoul said Japan's social presentation is the medieval era with Japanese features. White developers and Japanese developers relate to the characters in the RTP.

 

However, I think the RPG Maker can do a much better job at representing other racial groups by offering more skin tones in the RTP. The RPG Maker is a global product, and people from all races use the program. They should consider those users as well because they are customers. One or two battlers with a darker skin tone with features to a different race should be included in a future update.

 

They've released new battlers and graphics at the official store. Are there any new packs with a variety of skin tones or racial groups?

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@FranklinX Wild Steam does have some variance in skin tone, though the very dark skin is not present. However, one could argue that the theme is steampunk and dirt-laden, rather than differences in UV exposure (and wouldn't be wrong).

Other than Wild Steam, I'm not currently aware of/don't recall any other graphics packs that do incorporate different skin tones. I could be wrong; the number of DLC for VX Ace alone is massive, so it is possible I may of missed some things.

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@PhoenixSoul

 

Thanks for letting me know about VX's Wild Steam. I don't recall any other VX pack including any skin tones. I'll take a look when I have time.

 

One thing that I forgot to mention is the lack of racial groups or skin colors put minority developers like myself at a financial disadvantage. It forces us to purchase custom resources or use the not so perfect generator. As a black man, I like creating characters that represent me and friends. The majority of characters in my game are white, but there are other characters with different skin tones to create realism.

Edited by FranklinX

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Even the pale porcelain/albino types don't look quite right, @FranklinX (yeah I'm porcelain pale myself). They actually look like someone just took the fair, western Europe type of skin and boosted the contrast by 40%. However, in all due fairness, very pale skin tones are really hard to reproduce in digital or even standard artistic form. I know; I can't even get it right with makeup (I volunteer at a dressing service in my hometown - I mostly do makeup and hair). 

Point is, most devs don't really consider the darker skinned people, or to put it simply, they think inside the 'straight white male' box, that never really existed in the first place, always just an assumption, and that has led us to this posted topic, more or less. Most of the Japanese people don't really know much about other cultures, their various people and their attributes, as previously discussed, so any inclusion of said other cultures and such is most of the time borderline inaccurate and possibly bad.

The case with RPGMaker is pretty much the same.

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I sort of touched on this before, but is skin tone really all you need to represent a race? Not that I mind more skin tone options, but I kinda feel like it's a red herring when it comes to representation.

 

The funny thing is that, biologically speaking, dividing humans into races isn't meaningful. Genetically, human beings are human beings and if you trace back the generations it isn't long before almost everyone is related to almost everyone else. That isn't to say 'race' isn't a meaningful concept over all, but it has little to do with biology. In fact, the relationship between race and genetic traits like skin and hair color are the exact opposite of what many people expect. It's just that a group of people that might identify with a particular set of traits will tend to accept more people with those traits inside the group then people without them.

 

What's my point? My point is that race is really about culture. It isn't just or even mainly about the color of someone's skin, but what defines their cultural identity. So, yeah, having more options for skin color is great and all, but I kinda feel that without actually respecting and attempting to represent a race's culture it sort of rings hollow for me. I feel like there is much more to proper representation then that, and it's really tricky to do in a generic way that isn't a stereotype.

 

Not that that means it shouldn't be attempted... I am all for more options! I just think it's probobly a better idea to maybe do something like... Maybe have different graphics packs for different peoples/cultures around the world? Like having different replacement graphics for PCs/NPCs based on their role and the cultural representation of that role. I can see that backfiring too though unless they are very respectful. I donno, just my thoughts.

Edited by Kayzee

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3 minutes ago, Kayzee said:

I sort of touched on this before, but is skin tone really all you need to represent a race? Not that I mind more skin tone options, but I kinda feel like it's a red herring when it comes to representation.

 

The funny thing is that, biologically speaking, dividing humans into races isn't meaningful. Genetically, human beings are human beings and if you trace back the generations it isn't long before almost everyone is related to almost everyone else. That isn't to say 'race' isn't a meaningful concept over all, but it has little to do with biology. In fact, the relationship between race and genetic traits like skin and hair color are the exact opposite of what many people expect. A group of people that might identify with a particular set of traits will tend to accept people with those traits inside the group then people without them.

 

What's my point? My point is that race is really about culture. It isn't just or even mainly about the color of someone's skin, but what defines their cultural identity. So, yeah, having more options for skin color is great and all, but I kinda feel that without actually respecting and attempting to represent a race's culture it sort of rings hollow for me. I feel like there is much more to proper representation then that, and it's really tricky to do in a generic way that isn't a stereotype.

 

Not that that means it shouldn't be attempted... I am all for more options! I just think it's probobly a better idea to maybe do something like... Maybe have different graphics packs for different peoples/cultures around the world? I can see that backfiring too though unless they are very respectful. I donno, just my thoughts.

 

I like your approach on this subject. A resource pack with different styles to represent different cultures is very much needed. I feel the RTP lacks a variety of styles for games with multiple countries and cultures. The only graphics with different styles are sometimes the hero graphics with characters wearing different clothes and hairstyles from different cultures.

 

I would like a RTP or pack with different cultures such as Country Z knight and Country B knight having different style armors and emblems. I think many RPG Maker games suffers from the lack of culture in different countries in games. We have all seen the same red flag with the gold symbol at every castle. It makes the game look more generic than it should. 

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@Kayzee I agree; skin tone isn't everything but it would be a rocket jump forward in progress towards resource diversity.

 

I looked into this recently; there's over one hundred skin tone and skin tone variants. Imagine just having a quarter of that as resource material.

 

@FranklinX Red flag, gold symbol. Sounds like the USSR or China flag. Definitely bland. I once came across some pixel art flags, and the one for Nepal was well done. Don't bother trying to find them; they've since vanished from Photof*ckerbucket...(and don't even get me started on that dumpster fire lolz)

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I think that there for sure is an artistic merit to having more skin tone options regardless of if you are actually trying to represent race or not. There has never been a doubt in my mind about that. I just think that if actually representing race is your goal there needs to be more to it.

 

As for skin tone as a purely visual flare, my game uses a character creation system that uses graphics based on the RPG Maker VX Ace character generator graphics. I added support for multiple skin tones a while ago, but it only currently supports the normal 4 that the character generator graphics uses. I did have an interesting idea for how I might be able to support tons more without needing a bunch of extra graphics though: What if I used scripting to blend them together? Might be worth a shot sometime.

 

 

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most the time is because some artists have a hard-time getting the skin tone right. I tend to try and draw my characters with medium skin tone, but drawing someone with an ethnic background is quite difficult to get right. You have to study faces of other backgrounds to understand their facial features and what not, its not just about their skin tones, as other races have different eyes, jawbones, cheeks, lips, noses etc.

 

drawing a person from a white background is much easier than someone of an ethnic background.

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That is a good think to keep in mind for sure, but as I said before, the characters in the RTP are actually not necessarily 'Caucasian' as much as they are anime characters. I think a lot of the art in RPG Maker games is stylized in a way where those kind of differences in the facial features of characters become a lot more subtle and easy to miss if it's even accounted for at all.

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1 hour ago, Kayzee said:

That is a good think to keep in mind for sure, but as I said before, the characters in the RTP are actually not necessarily 'Caucasian' as much as they are anime characters. I think a lot of the art in RPG Maker games is stylized in a way where those kind of differences in the facial features of characters become a lot more subtle and easy to miss if it's even accounted for at all.

The OP was not talking rtp more on the lines of community artists.

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Well, he said not just the RTP, so I am pretty sure that included the RTP too. Though really I should have said 'RTP-style artwork' because being part of the actual RTP is kind of irrelevant. Now of course, not all community artists will make RTP-style stuff, but if you are looking for resources you pretty much want a consistent style at least. Also, I have been vague about exactly what RTP I am talking about, but I think they all kind of share a generally stylistic anime look. Though if you have or are an artist making everything custom just for your game there is much less reason to fall into any preexisting style then it's a much different situation, but I don't think that was what t6he OP was talking about.

 

Really my question comes down to this: How much stylistic freedom can an artist take before in clashes badly with the rest of the graphics? How much do they need to really express some of the vast differences that people in real life have in their facial features? Though I admit when I was asking myself these questions I was mostly thinking of character sprites and not facesets. Facesets tend to be a lot more diverse and gives artists a lot more room to work with. I think it's still a relevant question for facesets, but not as much.

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FTR: Most Caucasian people had reddish skin, and very square jaws, but that is speaking of how they were long ago. A lot of that similar demographic, at least by appearance (because culturally the Caucasians are far different than what became of them) are what some call 'rednecks', and live along the Gulf Coasts of North America. It's not really related, but kinda is.
tl;dr Using the term 'Caucasian' for a person with pale to fair-ish skin tones is far beyond incorrect. Yet, it's the 'National Standard'. My middle fingers to that. I'm not Caucasian, you idiots.

Anyway, I tend to want to have diversity in the characters in my game, and for the case of custom characters, to allow the player to have some control over said diversity.

 

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Well I for one am kinda happy that white people use incorrect terminology for themselves. It's only fair since they use incorrect terminology for everyone else too. :P I mean calling Native Americans 'Indians' is a good example, but I know there are others.

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@Kayzee To be fair, the misnomer is the result of early cartographers not realizing that there was more landmass than they knew of. However, the misnomer became habitual, and that is the fault of settlers, not the cartographers. Also, the misnomer is not used globally; only in America does this occur...

But yeah, it's all dumb. Skin tone and characteristics don't make a race.

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On 9/16/2019 at 11:25 PM, PhoenixSoul said:

Skin tone and characteristics don't make a race.

 

I do feel like these genetic features are an interesting, important part of human culture. If you look at creatures with varying species, it's very endearing to see all the unique evolution chains that make varieties of the same life form. It's who we are on a cosmic level; how we evolved based on our lifestyles and environment. I feel like that is special, and important, more-so in ways than cultures that evolve and change at breakneck speeds. By no means am I trying to downplay history and culture, that's really what shapes that genetic code into real people, I'm just advocating for a more open mindset. Nowadays racial topics of virtually any kind have become so sensitive that a sort of "Race doesn't exist/matter/EVER get talked open openly because someone could get offended" mentality has developed. I think this is leading down the wrong road. I think we should strive for a world where it's okay to be unapologeticly different asf, not a world where we stuff any part of ourselves away to be more neutral and unified.

 

I'm pretty sure mankind is doomed no matter what happens at any point in our run at existence, but I see a future where White Christian influence devours everything until we're all just automatons with stories of where our people came from and what they used to be like. 

Edited by That One NPC

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5 hours ago, That One NPC said:

...but I see a future where 'White Christian' influence devours everything until we're all just automatons with stories of where our people came from and what they used to be like. 

 

Oh yes, the so-called 'New World Order', that Orwellian nonsense that people are realizing is starting to happen now.

I can see it myself, though I don't see it being the future with Anarchist acts on the rise. That kind of future, would be a massive imbalance to existence; there's no place for such a thing to exist outside of fiction. Caucasians died out long ago with their mixed remnants living in small tidbits, in the southern portions of North America; the majority of the second American settlers were indeed Saxon, Breton and Welsh.

But it is true; a race is the whole, not the sum of the parts; cultures and skin tone don't make separate races, because...
1) They're the same species
2) They're mortals
3) See 1 and 2

Race is the whole; cultures are what give us individuality, in part.

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13 hours ago, That One NPC said:

 

I do feel like these genetic features are an interesting, important part of human culture. If you look at creatures with varying species, it's very endearing to see all the unique evolution chains that make varieties of the same life form. It's who we are on a cosmic level; how we evolved based on our lifestyles and environment. I feel like that is special, and important, more-so in ways than cultures that evolve and change at breakneck speeds. By no means am I trying to downplay history and culture, that's really what shapes that genetic code into real people, I'm just advocating for a more open mindset. Nowadays racial topics of virtually any kind have become so sensitive that a sort of "Race doesn't exist/matter/EVER get talked open openly because someone could get offended" mentality has developed. I think this is leading down the wrong road. I think we should strive for a world where it's okay to be unapologeticly different asf, not a world where we stuff any part of ourselves away to be more neutral and unified.

 

I'm pretty sure mankind is doomed no matter what happens at any point in our run at existence, but I see a future where White Christian influence devours everything until we're all just automatons with stories of where our people came from and what they used to be like. 

 

Like I said before though: The genetic preferences of a race is also part of it's culture. Cultural/Memetic evolution could be said to be more 'important' then genetic evolution exactly because cultures evolve and change at breakneck speed. Though really, if you ask me there is no real hard separation between the two. Genes inform culture and culture informs genes. Evolution is evolution, the only real difference is the time scales involved.

 

And I totally agree about how we should strive for a world where it's okay to be unapologeticly different. But I also think that also means that people should feel okay with breaking out of the little boxes they put themselves in. Because ultimately the more you define yourself as x, whatever x may be, the more people will pressure you to conform to their image of what x is. If I say something like "race doesn't exist/matter", it's not because I want  people to be more neutral and unified. No, it's the exact opposite: I want people to be able to reject labels and forge their own path without the neutrality and unity of something like race holding them back! As for someone being offended? Ppft. The types of people who are honestly offended by a civil discussion are not worth tiptoeing around. Of course, 'civil' discussions are too rare nowadays. :3

Edited by Kayzee

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My game under development has a few black characters, and I am also working on other races. I wonder how potential players will react. It would be interesting to compare data about downloads between games with characters of many races and games with only white skin characters. I would like to compare data before games with those features.

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You know, I was actually thinking of making one of the fairy characters in my game have dark skin. Yes fairies can have dark skin. Also green or blue or whatever other color of skin they want. At least a good percent of them are shapeshifters after all. Anyway, literally the only reason I was thinking of it was that her name (and her two friends) is a reference to a character in a web novel that happens to be black (her two friends aren't though). Though the thing is... The web novel character is hardly a flattering depiction of a black person, being a pretty demented sadistic bully of a 'superhero' with anger issues (to be fair though, the web novel is pretty clear that it's because of personal issues, there are other much more flattering black characters, and at least a large percentage of the targets of the worst of her anger are a gang of literal nazis). The character I named after the web novel character is also a bit sadistic as well, but much more playfully so, and I only added a touch of sadism to her character after I decided to name the three after the web novel characters. But she was a bit boring before so...

 

For reference, I decided to name them after the web novel characters (mostly, their names are similar but more cutesy) because they are kinda the recurring mini-boss goon squad of my game and ended up having the same hair colors of a trio of bullies in a web novel I like. There personalities are a lot different though.

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