I have decided that I’m no longer trying to produce anything that borrows artistic, lingual and religious traits from other cultures (than my own). As a North American White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, I am pretty much the very worst kind of creature to do that.
This isn’t out of fear, but respect.
I was undertaking a project that was a fantasy world inspired by Pacific aboriginal cultures (Koru). I thought I was being original and creating greater cultural diversity in a hobby rife with Northern European settings. I was doing my research and everything (or I thought that I was, but it was barely competent and from books and blogs, not people). It’s gross how much I was patting myself on the back.
Such works should only be made either in collaboration with people who are from those ethnic cultures, or wholly by them alone. If there aren’t any game designers from those groups, them maybe these works shouldn’t be made in the first place.
So where to go from here? I’ll be wholly avoiding creating works with analogues of real world indigenous peoples. It sounds racist, but I’m sticking to my own heritage: making an effort to find wonder and pride in my ancestors.
There’s still room for explorations of German, Swedish and Scottish culture and history. The mainstream has created stereotyped caricatures of them, but there’s a lot left to unearth. I have no ethical qualms about this: these are my histories, my people. I will make an effort to learn and find pride in my great-grandparents. There’s a lot to learn that isn’t in pop culture.
I sincerely hope that some day a game will be made inspired by Pacific Aboriginals, but more importantly, made by people from those cultures. If I ever see one in progress, I’ll give them my support from the sidelines.
I have to admit that I am a bit selfishly sad: my passion for Koru was genuine and huge. But it was the wrong project for a person of my identity.