Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

General discussion about the game.
AnonJ
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Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2013 10:18 am

Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby AnonJ » Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:42 am

This game is great. I just got it 5 days ago but already had over 40 hours of gaming time. However there is just one thing that quite bugs me, which is what appears to me the over-emphasis and dubious treatment of "slave" element in the game. Not only do there exist slave traders everywhere, there also exist quite a few storytellings about slaves, such as a dialog which says "Mantis' heavy use of Engi slaves in this mining field" etc. Slavery is a shame of human beings and one of the most horrible and disgusting things we can imagine. Though we haven't totally got rid of it, the bottom line is clear. Even the most controversial of games never touch upon certain topics, for example violence on minors which is impossible in even GTA. Among them is slavery. I understand the moral stance of the protagonist is already quite good enough, "more moral" than many other games, for example it will always save civilian ships from the attack of enemies, instead of looting the civilian ships itself which is not a game option. However I'm still quite disgusted at some options such as "buy a slave", "accept a slave from slave dealers and leave them alone" or "there's a slave field but you decide not to attack it". I understand the game designers probably introduced this mechanism in order to add the chance to gain additional crew members. However there are plenty of other ways to achieve the same end. The depiction of slavery in the game looks like some kind of condonation even acquiescence, which to me is upsetting. I'm not a "moralist" against all things which appear to "immoral" or whatever. For example I enjoy GTA a lot, but that's on the basis of totally knowing its sarcastic nature. I also enjoy RPG games where you can have a choice of "good or evil". However FTL's treatment of the game universe is quite serious, and such depiction to me is inappropriate. There are certain things which can be considered as over the line and this is one of them. Call me censorious, ridiculous or whatever, I don't care. I just want to express my strong feeling on this thing.
cicobuff
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Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:20 pm

Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby cicobuff » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:23 am

Hi,

I hope you're not trolling because I'm going to reply seriously.

1) Slavery exist even today in 2013. Just because you don't see it does not mean it's gone.
2) Google "Human Trafficking" and "Modern Slavery" and expand your mind.
3) Read more about current affairs to find out more about the state of the world

I'll make it even easier for you and let you have a starting point:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contemporary_slavery

Humans, by nature will try to exploit everything they can, even other fellow human beings, so it's perfectly reasonable that slavery can be depicted in a game. And in this game, the designers made it so that you give freedom to the slaves.

Just because we live in nice countries and civil societies where we can take personal liberty and rights for granted does not mean that our media or entertainment should NOT remind us of our dark sides.
HeadHunter
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA

Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby HeadHunter » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:01 am

So, it's okay to blow up a ship full of sentient beings, but it's morally wrong to manumit someone from captivity and offer them employment?

And it's OK to decide that discretion is the better part of valor when refusing to fight giant alien spiders, but morally wrong to choose not to fight a slave ship?

This game - and most of science fiction - will feature themes of alien subjugation, piracy, captivity, and other forms of violence that we do not need to face in our comfortable, secure, insular world. Our modern day society isn't like the wild, uncharted, alien reaches of deep space - but it's absurd to expect that the universe in which FTL is set would be as civilized as the world in which we live.

It's certainly OK if these conditions are reprehensible to you - healthy people would find the concept repugnant. But if it troubles you so much, I'd submit that FTL probably isn't the kind of entertainment that is suitable for you. There is a lot of stuff that's at least as morally ambiguous, not least of which slavery.

Respectfully, if you are looking for a science-fiction game that doesn't confront you with morally troubling issues, I'd recommend Kerbal Space Program, or Universe Sandbox or something.
UltraMantis
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Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby UltraMantis » Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:27 pm

Oh boy, this one could get messy. :D

Btw, when you buy a slave, you free them so they're no longer a slave. Just contractually obliged to serve on the ship until it's mission is complete.

As for GTA, that's a fun game as far as gamplay is concerned, maybe even one of the best. And the way it treats serious subjects casually is certainly enjoyable. Except one. Racism. I know "it's just a game" and when you kill cops or deal drugs or drive a bus collecting passengers before detonating a bomb you had placed on it previously, it's all "a game" and a separate universe. It's not real. And it's fun even though it would in reality be antisocial or destructive behavior.

But racism doesn't enjoy the same treatment, it's still every bit as real wheter it's part of the game or not. The fact it's "just a game" actually makes no diffrence and GTA treats racism as casually as it treats murder. But one is far away from reality and the other is not. Racist slurs may be part of the world the game is mimicking and mocking yet that doesn't justify it at all. In standup comedy or some rap music they are a crutch and a staple BUT there the slurs are part of artistic expression, even if it may be flawed it can be justified. GTA is a game and not art. Where gamers are casually enjoying brutally racist content and having fun doing so, i see a problem that i do not see when gamers are running over cops or setting homeless people on fire. Because those arent cops or people those are pixels and it IS just a game.

Can't treat racism that way, it ain't pixels...
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spacecadet13
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Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby spacecadet13 » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:43 pm

Wait, what? So, if a player's in game character is racist/does racist things, that automatically means the player is racist? Or will become racist by sublimating the game's attitudes? But it's ok to have players enjoying ultra violence and sexism, but if they should say or hear the "N word", well that's just bad and totally antisocial and uncool. Don't you think gamers, or people watching a movie, can compartmentalise their actions and thoughts within the game/movie 'universe?' Isn't that the whole fun and point in the escapism of these games, that you can do and say things that you would never even contemplate (or be able to do) in the real world? The racism within GTA and other games IS just pixels. Gosh, if there are aliens out there in space they better hope they never find Earth, 'cause there's a bunch of humans here that have been conditioned by FTL gameplay to regard them as mere opportunities to collect scrap, and we'll be blowing their ships up and boarding them before they can even get out "we come in peace"...(unless they're Mantis-like of course. Then we'll just be blowing them up.)

And the original slavery post is just as freaking ridiculous.
cicobuff
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Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 12:20 pm

Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby cicobuff » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:05 pm

Judging by his response. Which is none. I'll say he's trolling.
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CrashSanders
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Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby CrashSanders » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:34 pm

Troll or not, he's definitely has some butthurt.
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cicobuff
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Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby cicobuff » Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:56 am

CrashSanders wrote:Troll or not, he's definitely has some butthurt.


The thing with trolls is that they derive enjoyment from that.
UltraMantis
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Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby UltraMantis » Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:58 pm

spacecadet13 wrote:The racism within GTA and other games IS just pixels.

No, it is not. Racial stereotypes and racist derogatory slurs are not pixels. And a fair amount of gameplay features just that. You're not likely to walk away from a game and commit murder n mayhem, what about stereotypes? What about the N word? Are you less sensitive to what may be very offensive? Are you indulging in racist behaviour without even thinking it.

Movies and music are not in the same bag. They belong to culture and art, and you are not actively participating or controling them. A personal, biased, fictional story that imitates reality and takes parts of it (including racism in various forms), criticises it or offers a "message" from the author is a completely diffrent thing than a game, and should be judged diffrently.

My issue with GTA is not the racism specifically, but the way it is treated so casually as if it isnt even a thing. And to a lot of folks, it doesn't even appear to be an issue.

spacecadet13 wrote:...it's ok to have players enjoying ultra violence and sexism, but if they should say or hear the "N word", well that's just bad and totally antisocial and uncool. Don't you think gamers, or people watching a movie, can compartmentalise their actions and thoughts within the game/movie 'universe?' ...snip

(hypothetical) So you played some GTA and had fun. You went looking for homeless people and set them on fire. You took pictures of them burning to death. The you stole a bunch of cars and went joyriding until you hopped into your pimp car and went pimpin' them hos. You killed a bunch of cops, ran people over, beat several paramedics to death with a shovel, then changed your mind and used a dildo.

Next day you're hauled into court and tried in front of a jury. They'll give you several life sentences surely. Of all those things you did yesterday ... you actually didn't do any of it. So you are not convicted nor sentenced because none of it really happened.

Let's say you were shouting racist profanity here and there while playing. Did that happen? In reality? Yes, it did. That's the diffrence. If your character is involved in a racist cutscene or dialogue, that's not you, but your actual behavior can be racist even while playing, and there is no disconnect with reality.
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CFIT
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Re: Dubious "Slave" Depiction in the Game Universe

Postby CFIT » Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:16 pm

I'm not going to touch that GTA/Racism thing. Yes, games have taboo topics, but they're usually the ones that can get one arrested or provide enough negative publicity to bankrupt the company. A game where some columnist can talk about doing "violence to minors" is a game no company wants to be associated with.

Freedom and Slavery, on the other hand, are not taboo topics, and many many games, including FTL, give the player has god-like control over the lives and death of simulated beings. So, FTL makes it explicit and in flying your little spaceship through the universe, you discover that there's a distinction between getting the highest score and being the best person; you find yourself freely letting hundreds of strangers die lest you lose a single crewmember. You end up taking slaves as crewmembers to meet your goal.

And you feel uncomfortable trying to save a crumbling Federation from an upstart rebellion when everything around you is founded on slavery and oppression?
Good.

You can play the game by completely ignoring the narrative, but part of the beauty of FTL is the tension between the game mechanics and the narrative description.
See also the treatment by aspiring academic types.

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