A few years back, I successfully petitioned Failbetter to add a Heartless quirk gain to the in-game option to murder a Rubbery Man for the hell of it, simply because they’re a vulnerable minority group and no one would care if you did. What I wrote to FBG at the time was as follows (slightly abridged):
""The Rubbery Men appear to be FL’s stand-in for persecuted minority groups and thus race-relations issues that the game prefers not to engage with directly, roughly akin to the Jews in 1800s Eastern Europe. There’s definitely more to the Rubbery Men than that, but at the very least that’s one of the major thrusts of their narrative. So it hits me in the gut, as a person coming from a marginalized community, that you don’t get any Heartless points for by far the cruelest option I’ve seen in the entire game, an option that’s the rough equivalent of lynchings in the Jim Crow south (which were also frequently economically motivated). The decision to murder a member of a persecuted minority group in cold blood in the name of petty theft, but then not have the game reflect that it says something about who you are as a person, boggles the mind – the game should reflect that you’ve made a Heartless choice, not just neutrally comment on what it does to your ‘external relations’ by decreasing your Connected score.""
At the time, I didn’t realize how small I was dreaming by only asking for a quirk change; it didn’t hit me until the massive wave of happiness and relief I felt when I saw that the option has now, apparently, been removed for good. Don’t get me wrong – Fallen London lets us engage in certain kinds of villainy, and that’s both great fun and good storytelling. But frankly, I’m glad that we can enjoy this fictional world without having to see certain hyper violent structures from the all-too-real world around us replicated within it. I’m glad FL doesn’t offer a "be a rapist" option, and by the same token I’m glad that FL no longer has a "lynch a minority" option.
The flip side of this, of course, is that we’re now starting to get better storytelling around the Rubbery Men themselves, which I’m beyond excited about! After ten years we’re really seeing more of who they are as individual characters, and thus seeing London from their unique perspectives. I always felt like it was so wasted to have them mostly be a one-note, often slapstick, undifferentiated mass. Happy to see that’s finally starting to change.
Edit: Since the thread is now locked, I’ll just send a very hearty Ootharooth in Olivia’s direction. I can’t wait to see what stories you all tell with the Rubberies next![/i] edited by Televangelist on 7/17/2020
I feel you make a good point. Fallen London is a 10-year-old game that’s had significant changes in its writing staff, and the world is a different place than it used to be. Some of the content about sex and imperialism that Failbetter dropped in the past was intended to be funny or cheeky, but discussions on matters of race, gender, sexuality and violence have changed a lot. I think it takes a lot of courage and self-reflection to look at the things you’ve done in the past, decide that you made a mistake and try to make amends for it. One media example that this reminds me of is American comics whose heroes were created as allegories for racial persecution. Creators like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, both of whom faced discrimination as Jews during the early days of Marvel, had good intentions and radical ideas that often didn’t age well. That’s not a cardinal sin, but writers and artists have been building on the progress of creators like Lee and Kirby and trying to make more authentic depictions of marginalized people. Compare Northstar, one of the first superheroes to get an LGBTQ storyine, loudly and publicly outing himself as gay to modern LGBTQ characters in comics. Authors still mess things up, but there’s a perception that we need more portrayals of marginalized people as, well, people.
It’s great that we’re seeing a different side of Rubbery Men nowadays. We haven’t had a lot of Rubbery characters, and even the Entrepreneur was a minor background character before the Election. We had some interesting Rubbery and Fluke lore before, and this is a good direction to take the faction. edited by The Lonely Hunter on 7/15/2020
While I understand your points, I still don’t think we should completely remove “evil/heartless” options from the game. While I personally play a predominantly magnanimous characer, I know there are players out there that want to roleplay a villain. The Rubbery murder option, while needlessly cruel, was still an evil roleplay option and treated as such with the heartless quirk change.
I really don’t think Failbetter will ever completely remove evil/heartless options, like murder and the exploitation of others for your own gain (or for no reason at all), for precisely the reason you outline. However, I doubt that many of those future options will involve issues that are still an ongoing prevalent problem for a lot of people in the real world. You can be evil without being racist or sexist and providing extreme interactions involving those bigoted viewpoints doesn’t really add much to the game world regardless, unless for whatever reason you are adamant about playing a villain that is also a bigot. Murder and violence, as general problems, are completely removed from those other issues because we understand that conflict is a key part of any story and violence isn’t necessarily group specific.
While I understand the Idea behind changing this, I belive that we need to be carefully when changing stuff because it’s “racist”, “sexist” or something else that feels uncomfortable in the present.
Don’t get me wrong, some stuff absolutly feels wrong and it’s good to change it. But by “correcting” the narrative, you don’t make it unhappen that it was there. So it might be the better(?) or at least more honest option to give a hint about the context, in stead of rewriting.
My background while writing this is Orwell’s 1984, especially the Ministry of Truth and the so called Newspeak.
For those that are not familiar with the book: The primary job of the Ministry of Truth is “correcting” information, so that the officials are always right.
To give an example: If the Government announced they will produce 1000 tons of iron in the next year, but in fact they just produced 700 tons. Now it’s the job of the Ministry to “correct” the old messages so that they have andounced before that they will produce 700 tons.
This also happends for all other stuff that doesn’t fit the officials, including romans poems etc.
[quote=Judaspriester]While I understand the Idea behind changing this, I belive that we need to be carefully when changing stuff because it’s "racist", "sexist" or something else that feels uncomfortable in the present.
Don’t get me wrong, some stuff absolutly feels wrong and it’s good to change it. But by "correcting" the narrative, you don’t make it unhappen that it was there. So it might be the better(?) or at least more honest option to give a hint about the context, in stead of rewriting.
My background while writing this is Orwell’s 1984, especially the Ministry of Truth and the so called Newspeak.
For those that are not familiar with the book: The primary job of the Ministry of Truth is "correcting" information, so that the officials are always right.
To give an example: If the Government announced they will produce 1000 tons of iron in the next year, but in fact they just produced 700 tons. Now it’s the job of the Ministry to "correct" the old messages so that they have andounced before that they will produce 700 tons.
This also happends for all other stuff that doesn’t fit the officials, including romans poems etc.[/quote]
We all read 1984 in high school, I don’t think the concept is lost on anyone here.
I’m struggling to see any connection to the current discussion, considering: a) the game literally does exactly what you prefer, explaining that times and circumstances have changed and that the Special Constables have stepped up their protection of the Rubbery Men, rather than pretending that people murdering Rubberies left and right never happened, and b) this is a video game, a work of fiction, and revising fiction is not ‘Orwellian’ in the same way that revising a non-fictional accounting of facts in the real world might be.
Not only this, but Fallen London is, in a way, a living world. It is not a book which, once published, remains static. You can walk around a corner from the progressive, accepting philosophy of current FL and into a lynching. It’s… discordant, to say the least. If a piece in a communal, persistent, and, not least, interactive work of fiction doesn’t fit with the tone the rest of the world is striving for, should it not be changed?
And this is coming from someone with a compulsive dislike of changing or destroying things.
@Televangelist I, sadly, know more than enough people that just know the book by name. If this is different around FL players, it would be good.
Allright, I’ll try then to explain a little better what I wanted to say:
First of all, the reference on the 1984 was meant on the “we change history” stuff in stead of surveilance (what the story is known for).
In the last years, and especially after the last racial discussion started with the death of Floyd in the US, it feels like people try to change the history, or at least make the “unpleasant” parts invisible. In the IT community there are debates about “racist” wordings, Wizzards of the Coast (the company that produces the card game Magic: the Gathering) bans some old cards because of racism, there are discussions about old movies like Gone with the Wind, etc.
To make it short: For me, the current change about rubbery men is fine, since the new version fits into the game. I just feel a little uncomfortable about the total amount (not only in FL) of changes because of “political correctness” these days.
[color=#e53e00] Hello! I genuinely appreciated this post so I don’t want it to degenerate into something inflammatory because I can’t stick around to moderate (and I’d rather be writing). I’d been wanting to remove the Rubbery murder branch for a while, for many reasons - but one being that it’s never really sat well (for me) with the game.
I deleted a bunch of stuff explaining why - as I don’t want to encourage a discussion that could go somewhere our voluntary mods are not equipped to handle. But removing something that isn’t up to the current standards of (e.g.) a game is not (necessarily) hiding the past - it’s improving the present and the future. It’s making something a thing you can be proud to work on, not ashamed of or having to make excuses for. Were companies to remove inappropriate content and pretend it had never been there, that would be a very different thing.
I strongly believe that we should strive to improve ourselves and our work. It is creative fuel, not in any way diminishing.
So, uh, thanks for noticing the change. It was a small one, but an important one (to me).[/color] edited by babelfishwars on 7/17/2020
thanks for taking the time to make a statement.
Maybe you’re right and I drifted to far away from the original topic (changing a small, but for some important, storylet) to what’s going on in the world. And I think some of this stuff going on made me look at this change from a wrong direction. But I’ve got your point and don’t see a reason to discuss this future (or if I really get the felling I have to again, I’ll open a new thead in the offtopic section with a bigger political context).
All in all I really enjoy the work you do. I would really have to think about the last browsergame, that catched my interest for over a year without bigger breaks. So keep on going. ;)
FL is SJW Disneyland. But its advertised as victorian / gothic horror. And some people believe and some time after become disappointed when they dont see white supremacy, gender inequality, sex behavior restrictions and many other things that historically apropriate (and inseparable) for this time period.
[color=#e53e00]I’m back - I choose not to consider SJW a pejorative, because for all that it’s used as mockery, caring about other people doesn’t seem like a bad thing to me. Regardless - I’m shutting this down. I’ve seen this kind of discussion (SJW / how ‘accurate’ a work of fiction must be) many a time and I’ve never seen it end somewhere well. I’d appreciate it if people didn’t restart it, thanks.[/color] edited by babelfishwars on 7/17/2020