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Can you kindly cut it out with this stuff?


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#1 Meh

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:40

The entire time I've spent in Europolis, the politics of the Dreamfall world has gotten a lot of attention. Which would be just fine, if it wasn't handled in an extremely heavy-handed way.

 

So far, there appear to be three parties; two of them led by white men and one led by a middle-eastern-ish (judging only by the political ads; haven't met her yet) woman. Nothing wrong with that - except the portrayal of them is very, very obviously being used a soapbox for current real politics. One of the parties is portrayed as blatantly racist and more or less every single time it gets mentioned, it's to call it and anyone supporting it bigots and racists. All the NPC conversations that I have found that mention that party have been about this. The other one, which I haven't heard much about except that they're conservative, is led by Dieter Gross. Looking at the political ads that are found everywhere in Europolis, Zoë describes him as a "boring old white dude". "Describes" isn't really the right word here. "Insults" is better, in the context it's used. She's using "white dude" as both an insult and as criticism. That's racism and sexism. No matter what mental gymnastics you use to justify it, it's racist and sexist. Imagine if it had been a white male character criticising a female party leader with "boring young black woman". The media would have had a field day with it and you'd never hear the end of how the game is racist and sexist. Double standards and hypocrisy are the only terms that accurately describe this.

 

No matter how you try to dress it up or twist it, using someone's sex or ethnicity as criticism and an insult is sexism and racism.

 

If you're going to have politics, please do a better job of it. When I backed this game, it was not because I wanted heavy-handed political propaganda. I was hoping that you would at the very least be professional enough to not use the game as a soapbox for current real-world politics. The TLJ and Dreamfall series has clearly been left-leaning from the start, which is just fine (I would consider myself left-leaning as well) but this time around, it's reached the point where the entire fictional world clearly was made to be used for strawman arguments against the parties the writer(s) don't agree with. It's unprofessional, tactless and insulting.

 

Now, I'd like to add a disclaimer here: I haven't finished the episode yet. The terrible performance (and frankly, seeing all this political soapboxing) in Europolis made me take a break for it in the hopes of a patch that fixes the performance. It is possible that the game turns around and shows that Zoë and others were wrong and that one shouldn't make use of strawman arguments. If this is what happens, you have my respect. Unfortunately, I don't expect this to be the case. But I hope that my expectations are wrong in this case.


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#2 Vainamoinen

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 12:13

So far, there appear to be three parties; two of them led by white men and one led by a middle-eastern-ish (judging only by the political ads; haven't met her yet) woman.

Four parties, two led by white men, two led by women (we haven't really 'seen' any yet, only going by the names).
 

Nothing wrong with that - except the portrayal of them is very, very obviously being used a soapbox for current real politics.

To me, it appears quite like an exaggerated political spectrum rather than 'real politics'.
 

All the NPC conversations that I have found that mention that party have been about this.

There seems to be a Konstantin supporter at the top of the stairs northwest of Sonnenschein Plaza.
 

The other one, which I haven't heard much about except that they're conservative, is led by Dieter Gross. Looking at the political ads that are found everywhere in Europolis, Zoë describes him as a "boring old white dude". "Describes" isn't really the right word here. "Insults" is better, in the context it's used.

Where I'm coming from, that's essentially what you do with the people in power, particularly if they're running your country into the ground.
 

She's using "white dude" as both an insult and as criticism. That's racism and sexism.

And old; don't forget the "old" as Zoë is pretty white herself.
 

No matter what mental gymnastics you use to justify it, it's racist and sexist.

"White" is racist and "dude" is sexist? Okay. ;)
 

Imagine if it had been a white male character criticising a female party leader with "boring young black woman".

The "boring" would have been the insult, but possibly not the "young" or the "black". Also, reverse sexism never makes for good examples...
 

When I backed this game, it was not because I wanted heavy-handed political propaganda.

Perfect! Because that's not what you're getting. Remember, the only real power in this game is wielded by WATIcorp, and it doesn't seem like Zoë is of the opinion that politics could do anything against that. Who of the politicians supports the Dreamer, who actually wants to do something against it? I don't think there's a single sentence in Book1 tying one of the politicians to a stance against WATIcorp. Not sure they'd ever risk that regardless of party. Remember that the totalitarian elements in this "democracy" come from the EYE, a police force controlled by the Syndicate and - seemingly - not tied to politics in any way.
 

a soapbox for current real-world politics.

It explicitly isn't. We can make our politicians responsible for totalitarian elements (i.e. total surveillance). It seems to me Europoleans can not.
 

The TLJ and Dreamfall series has clearly been left-leaning from the start

You confuse philantropist with "left-leaning". It's a common mistake, I wonder why.
 

to be used for strawman arguments against the parties the writer(s) don't agree with. It's unprofessional, tactless and insulting.

To call possible analogy in fiction "strawman arguments" means misunderstanding fiction.
 

Now, I'd like to add a disclaimer here: I haven't finished the episode yet.

In this particular case, finishing the entire GAME might actually help.
 

It is possible that the game turns around and shows that Zoë and others were wrong

...in believing that politics could change a damn thing in Europolis. Yes, it's likely that this will happen.


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#3 Ragnar

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 12:59

Perfect! Because that's not what you're getting. Remember, the only real power in this game is wielded by WATIcorp, and it doesn't seem like Zoë is of the opinion that politics could do anything against that. Who of the politicians supports the Dreamer, who actually wants to do something against it? I don't think there's a single sentence in Book1 tying one of the politicians to a stance against WATIcorp. Not sure they'd ever risk that regardless of party. Remember that the totalitarian elements in this "democracy" come from the EYE, a police force controlled by the Syndicate and - seemingly - not tied to politics in any way.

 

You know, I'm SO happy that people are actually discussing this (rather than, you know, performance, length, pace bad language, etc.) because this is an important part of the game's background and universe. And Vainamoinen is 'right' (in as much as there is a right, and obviously without spoiling anything: he is not necessarily right about what's going to transpire in future books). Things are more complex than appearances may suggest. A lot more complex.

 

Also, as Vainamoinen points out, Zoë is hugely ambivalent to the politics in general — and not just the conservative (and ultra-conservative) right-wing white male candidates. She doesn't think the Marxists stand a chance, and she sees Lea Uminska as a compromise between the left and the right. Some people seem to read this as an attack on the right. It's clearly not.

 

Still: does anyone really think that Konstantin Wolf is *worth* defending? He represents a nationalistic, ultra-conservative far right movement hellbent on restoring a Europe that never was; an idealised, white-painted past that harkens back to the ideals of a certain other ultra-nationalistic and ultra-conservative far right movement hellbent on restoring a Europe that never was. I mean, come on, isn't that something we SHOULD be critical of?

 

Regardless, I'm happy to see people talking about this, as long as it stays respectful and polite. Politics are sensitive, and we do respect different points of view — as does the game, and you will learn more about that…if players actually play the game and listen, instead of assuming they're under attack for their convictions.


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#4 Dolmari Gamble

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 15:25

Remember that the totalitarian elements in this "democracy" come from the EYE, a police force controlled by the Syndicate and - seemingly - not tied to politics in any way.

 It seems that politicians in Europolis control precisely as much as they do in real life. Absolutely nothing. Really interesting how all this monkey circus plays out.

To the topicstarter - have you ever heard of projection? Stop seeing insults where there are none.


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#5 Raiden

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 16:43

I don't think there's a single sentence in Book1 tying one of the politicians to a stance against WATIcorp. 

 

There's a conversation that you can overhear between two NPCs, and one says "Konstantin wants to break the grip of the corporations" or something to that effect.



#6 Lee-m

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 17:17

Last night I spent a good while going back to listen to the conversations of everyone I could find talking in Europolis. I find it all very interesting, and in traditional TLJ Forum fashion you start wondering about any potential real identity of at least a few of the candidates.

 

Just because a game, or its characters express a certain type of view, doesnt make the game raciest, ageist, anti white dudes or anything else for that matter. Thats the current state of affairs in Propast. Its called a plot line :) The biggest reason to play any TLJ/Dreamfall game.


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#7 Vainamoinen

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 17:24

anti white dudes


Now here's great signature material. "Dreamfall Chapters is anti white dudes". I want that on a T-shirt. :P


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#8 Lee-m

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 17:28

Now here's great signature material. "Dreamfall Chapters is anti white dudes". I want that on a T-shirt. :P

lol, the best I could do with my limited vocabulary :) Count me in on the t-shirt tho



#9 Ringtail

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 17:30

It's not like TLJ games haven't been reflective of real-world political situations before. The Iraq war is a really, really clear subtext in Dreamfall. It's not as direct as "Azadi=Americans", but it's clear the game's narrative is working through questions like "Is there such a thing as an altruistic military intervention?"

I'd also argue that TLJ is reflective of its time and context. (Keep in mind I'm American, so these comments come from that context.) Back in the late '90s, the USSR was freshly gone, and there was a sense that the old balance of power was gone, and we were floating in this weird space where things hadn't settled out yet, and the 21st century could be really, really good, or really chaotic and bad. And I see TLJ reflecting that.

I also see DFC reflecting the questions I see asked in the news about Europe's situation now, about the good and the bad of greater integration. It's definitely more overt than in previous games. Again, I'm American, so am less qualified to judge on the merits, but I think it's absolutely fantastic that the game tries to engage with real issues like these in a real way. I do agree with V that the game presents an exaggerated view of political parties, but that's okay -- I think that even if a broad brush is used to describe the parties, you can still make valid points. And I trust RTG to do that well.

Lastly, re: "boring old white dudes": again, from an American context - our legislative bodies are super-dominated by older white men. So, I find that statement about as offensive as saying "it's boring that the sky is blue." :)
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#10 Ikon

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 17:59

Personally, I really try to not equate anything that happens in the game to things in the real world. Mostly I'm successful. For instance, I've never thought of the Azadi as an avatar for the Americans. I have to admit, though, that it is hard not think of Europolis as the European Union.

 

On the other hand, I am thinking that it is boring that the sky is blue. It's been blue all my life.... time to redecorate I'm thinking... perhaps a nice paisley pattern?


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#11 khh

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 18:06

On the other hand, I am thinking that it is boring that the sky is blue. It's been blue all my life.... time to redecorate I'm thinking... perhaps a nice paisley pattern?

I know a guy who knows a guy.


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#12 Raiden

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 18:50

The "boring old white guy" comment is interesting, because it does pretty much reflect the "diversity for the sake of diversity" argument that some people have, and those people do tend to be more on the left of the political spectrum.

 

I remember in the UK the Labour party did "all women shortlists" in 1997, as part of a drive to get more women into politics. If you were a man, and you wanted to stand for parliament for that party, then tough luck. No matter how good a candidate you were then sorry, you had the wrong genitalia. Some people thought that was a good thing, and that it's important to have legislature more representative in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. 

 

Some people conversely care just about merit. They believe that someone's gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, age, etc, are wholly irrelevant factors when considering who is best for a job. They want to look at people just as people, and they want the individual who is the most skilled and the most capable, regardless of what physical shell that person comes wrapped up in. That does tend to be a point of view found more on the right. 

 

We can see where Zoe's leanings fall from her comments, so I get why people can read in a political bias from the game, as central characters in fiction often reflect the views of their creators, and the creators in this instance coming from liberal-minded Scandinavia. Personally I'm not concerned, because the game presents a perspective of a fictional world, and you don't have to agree with it, and some of it may feel irksome at times, but it's not trying to ram a viewpoint down your throat in a preachy propagandist fashion, as the political situation in the Dreamfall universe is pretty messed up altogether, whatever way you look at it.



#13 agirlnamedbob

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 19:50

In my personal opinion, the best fiction that delves into distopia does so to show us things about ourselves more than the world around us. You can use distopia and political landscapes to make heavy handed points about actual political figures/parties/etc. But more often, it explores who we are, how we feel about power, control, corruption, and the fallibility of our own systems and potentially our own values. Among other things. You can draw parallels between the fiction and any number of things because it hits on ideas bigger than any one situation or doctrine. It hits on issues that are broad and recurrent. Which is why some distopias become big canonical pieces of culture. 

 

I don't know where exactly Dreamfall will take all of this, but I found myself navigating the landscape and thinking more about how it made me feel, how it might be making Zoe feel, what that said about me, what it said about her... 

 

Are there going to be shades of the creator's views in the game? Well, duh. You put yourself into anything you make. But...personally I'm having trouble finding where I'm apparently being spoon fed some political message or other. 

 

Obviously, YMMV, but for me this felt more about Zoe's discovery and my own feelings as I navigate this world than a clear "THIS IS BAD, THIS IS GOOD!" sort of deal. 

 

The latter always comes off as forced and poor storytelling, IMHO. I didn't see any of that here. 


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#14 Hitana

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 23:02

Sometimes people have a rather loose mouth.
Zoe is also still young and we have no idea what Dieter Gross' politic is like. Maybe it really is boring and old and meh (I love that Zoe says that word!).
It doesn't have to mean that she's generally racist. That would contradict a lot with her own heritage and while I do know there are (and were) people who live in contradiction to their roots, I don't think Zoe is one of them. But back to the Racism:
I think many of us have found ourselves being loose mouths and saying things that could (and stretch that could real hard) be seen as racist. Doesn't mean we are racist.

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#15 One Neo

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 23:11

One of the parties is portrayed as blatantly racist and more or less every single time it gets mentioned, it's to call it and anyone supporting it bigots and racists. All the NPC conversations that I have found that mention that party have been about this. The other one, which I haven't heard much about except that they're conservative, is led by Dieter Gross. Looking at the political ads that are found everywhere in Europolis, Zoë describes him as a "boring old white dude". "Describes" isn't really the right word here. "Insults" is better, in the context it's used. She's using "white dude" as both an insult and as criticism.

If you're going to have politics, please do a better job of it.

It's a bit annoying I agree but there are four more parts to be made. Maybe we'll see som great political storytelling "progressing" in this game? Remember the saying:

If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart. If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain

That being said, I tend to belive the endning will lean more towards a Star Treks utopian egalitarianism, than a more traditional break-down of society a la Detroit.

But only time will tell...

#16 DumberThanCrow2

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 06:55

I find this interesting, since I'm just as ambivalent toward politics as Ragnar above says Zoe is. Which may be why I feel so neutral about its presence and dynamics in this fictional world.

 

To me, a fictional world which is rich and "alive" must contain politics. I don't interpret them as necessarily a commentary on or analogue of anything happening in the real world, nor the NPCs' positions and attitudes to be necessarily expressions of RTG's own. (Which seem likely to be varied and not particularly uniform anyway, I would imagine.)

 

To me, they're simply representative of the fictional political currents of the game world. Not everything is "trying to say something." (Which isn't to say it isn't or can't be, but it doesn't have to be.) Sometimes things are just contextual set dressing and "texture." A world with some form of politics is more interesting than one without it. That could be all there is to it, and, for my part, that's all I ever took it to be.

 

If there's a more personal message underlying it... I don't particularly care, in all honesty. I appreciate that it's there and am happy to form my own subjective interpretation of the world, as that's ultimately what generates the "experience" I'm having in the game. Not what someone else dictates.

 

Ultimately, my response is one giant *shrugs* and "Oh neat, this world has its own politics." Nothing more.


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#17 Roxie

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 09:19

It's not uncommon for fiction to reference contemporary world situations, so I kind of expect political subtexts when I read good stuff.  Many really great works of fiction were written with a strong desire to express subversive political stuffs.  Honestly, art is supposed to be critical and even subversive.  It's supposed to make you feel, to think.  At least for me.

 

I do find it interesting that, given we're talking 200 years in the future, Ragnar Tørnquist Games...er...Red Thread Games chose to stick primarily to the political spectrum much of the west has today.  I could totally see a Royal resurgence pushing for the breakup of Europe.  Or a party pushing for a managed economy based on cybernetics, not human bureaucracy.  Of course, the political parties have no real power given everything is controlled by the corporations (and whoever is controlling them).  Even as tiny parties.

 

I also love to see more than two parties.  We've been stuck in a two party system on this side of the water for far too long, and I suspect that system has reached its breaking point (hey, my hometown has a Socialist on city council.  Elected her, and then we raised minimum wage to double the rest of the country.  Will take a number of years to ramp up, though.)

 

As far as what kind of politics gets put in games, well, they're always there if the game has any semblance of a story.  You may have to dig a bit farther, but it's usually pretty clear as far as the beliefs of the game makers.  And there are games spanning a whole range of belief systems.  Buy some you agree with, and buy some that challenge you...



#18 One Neo

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 15:42

I also love to see more than two parties.We've been stuck in a two party system on this side of the water for far too long, and I suspect that system has reached its breaking point

Third parties tend to get crushed fast in real-politics. The two parties in the US are all socialist to the core and stongly defends the socialist welfare-warfare state. There are some exceptions like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, but with a republican party (said to be conservative...) taken over by trotskyites and favouring massive interventions in foreign countries, they tend to get overlocked.

http://theplebrevolt...re-trotskyites/

In reality its us (the common man) against big business interests that have ganged up with politician and banks to favour their interests.

I kind of like the political propaganda in Dreamfall (it creates emotions and feelings) and i am anxious to see what will happen to Zoë and the world around them.

#19 khh

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 16:11

Third parties tend to get crushed fast in real-politics. The two parties in the US are all socialist to the core and stongly defends the socialist welfare-warfare state. There are some exceptions like Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan, but with a republican party (said to be conservative...) taken over by trotskyites and favouring massive interventions in foreign countries, they tend to get overlocked.

Many party politics is absolutely a real, viable option that exists in many countries. Mine, for instance.

 

And both the democrats and the republicans are to the right of what would be considered the centre in Norway, so I highly contest that they are socialist. They're not libertarian, granted, but they're not socialists either. Those are orthogonal axis, not opposing sides of the same one.


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#20 Roxie

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 22:27

I guess it's all relative.  There are certainly people to the right of the general republican party who would call them 'leftist'.

 

Personally, I think 'left' and 'right' are simply ways of defining the 'us vs. them' way of doing things in the US. It's very convenient to have a single group to call 'enemy' as you don't really need to think about the real issues.  The US has taken the whole 'us vs them' thing to an art form, IMHO.

 

Nice thing about multiparty systems is that it promotes compromise, even if it's at the level of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

 

Personally, I think it's important to do your homework to understand the issues facing your society instead of simply going for us vs them labels.  Socialism and Communism became labels of 'the enemy' in the 1950's in the US, and it became popular to label anyone you didn't like as "communist" regardless of their political leanings.  It's still popular to do so.  The funny thing is, it wasn't communism as a political system that everyone was afraid of.  People were afraid of nuclear bombs raining down upon them and it just happened that the USSR was the rival country with nuclear bombs.  At least that's my analysis of the situation.

 

The need for compromise does require one to do a bit more thinking about the issues and ideas of the other folk, which I think moderates stupid fear-based behavior.  And I'm no fan of stupid fear-based behavior.


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