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Wed, Oct. 23rd, 2013, 09:16 am
Race in Pokémon X and Y.

So there were three black people in Pokémon Black and White: Lenora, Iris, and Marshal. (Maybe Alder was supposed to be Native American, but maybe I'm not going to go there.) Aside from those three characters, everyone else in the entire game was either white or Japanese, depending on how you interpret the default light-skinned anime person.

In Pokémon X and Y, Grant and possibly Olympia are the only named non-white characters, but just about anyone else, from the player to the NPCs in the towns and cities to the other trainers that ambush you in the "wild" areas, can be one of three races: default light-skinned anime person, definitely white, or a sort of pan-POC race that could be anything from black to Hispanic.

This configuration does three things, I think. First, it sets up "white" (as coded by light blond hair, pale blue eyes, and slightly pinkish skin) as the only definite race. Second, it literally sets up "default light-skinned anime person" as the default, which is interesting in that "default light-skinned anime person" is clearly not the same as "white." Perhaps, in America and Europe, white people see Asian people as POC; but, in this game made in Japan, Asians are totally "white" in the sense that they're the default race: You look are a stick figure (in this case, the "default light-skinned anime person" protagonist) and see a Japanese/Korean/"Asian" person. Third, whereas Grant is definitely of African or Caribbean descent (as coded by his dark skin and afro-textured hair), the "pan-POC" race erases racial difference more than it emphasizes it. The "pan-POC" race could be interpreted as Indian, or as Middle Eastern, or as Pacific Islander – or as mixed race (but probably not "Asian").

I don't want to make value judgments about the implications of this configuration, and I don't want to problematize my own interpretation of these races in light of different theories of resistant reading, but I do want to say that the games make it totally natural for people of different races to be everywhere and in every profession without any sort of racial stereotyping or any mention of race at all. Even areas that are meant to be stereotypically French, such as Aquacorde Town and Laverre City, have the same mixture of races as the more cosmopolitan areas.

Also, as I'm playing the new Pokémon game, it's really starting to bother me how other Japanese games (such as FFXIII) have like two black people. Is it really so hard to have racial diversity in a game filled with tons of NPCs? I'm not going to say that FFXII handled racial diversity in the best or most politically correct manner, but at least it managed to populate its world with several different races who mixed freely in all but one of the game's large urban areas, and that was awesome! Racial diversity is also part of what makes MMORPGs interesting and fun, you know? I feel like someone needs to send a memo to Japanese companies like Square Enix and Namco Bandai.

Wed, Oct. 23rd, 2013 08:57 pm (UTC)

"But racial diversity didn't poll well!"
"Did you poll any non-white people?"

FFXIV has done all kinds of good things for their diversity, including the expansion of their catgirl race from XI to include catboys (hooray for equal-opportunity fanservice!). Another curiosity is that while there is a slider to control breast size in character creation, it defaults to the mid-low end and the top end isn't very large.

Fri, Oct. 25th, 2013 02:27 pm (UTC)

I'm going to link you to some things, ymmv, caveat emptor, ect.

I never played FFXI because reading this review made me hate Square Enix: http://socksmakepeoplesexy.net/index.php?a=ff11

I'm not playing FFXIV because my job is draining my will to live, but I'm following the game on this Let's Play blog: http://livvyplaysfinalfantasy.tumblr.com/

Also, you once asked me the what's not to love about FFIV, and I assume the question was rhetorical, but basically, what she said: http://japaneseliterature.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/feminism-and-final-fantasy-part-two/

Sun, Oct. 27th, 2013 01:59 am (UTC)

They really did listen to all the loud complaints about FFXI. It's actually rather astonishing how well they listened.
Crafting was something you had to do a ton in FFXI and it was slow and boring and horrible. Crafting in FFXIV is kind of time-consuming, but way faster and I find it - like, the crafting process itself - pretty interesting.
The stuff I've seen about FATE Groups is either
1) something that only happens on the second or later class you're trying to get from 40-50 (that would make sense to me - You could actually run out of decent quests, because you did them all as your first class, and maybe FATE Groups are a good way to powerlevel?)
2) People who are nostalgic for the party-finding bullshit of FFXI.
Seriously, in-game I have seen nothing that indicates that a FATE Group is actually a good idea, particularly with a random group.

And that's probably the biggest thing XIV did. The 2-4 player group that gets together and does their thing, maybe does quests one of them has? That doesn't happen all that much, but it doesn't need to. The only time you need a party is for dungeons, and the game has a party-forming system (Light Party = 1 tank, 1 healer, 2 dps) by which you say you're looking for a party for a dungeon. You can select up to 5 dungeons you'd be interested in visiting at once and whichever has the rest of a party available first will invite you.
And then once you're queued in the system, you wait.
Except unlike XI you don't have to just sit there. You can keep questing. You can do missions while you wait for the system to find a tank for that dungeon you want to visit.
I assume the waits will get longer when it's a "Large Party" mission instead of a "Light Party," for everyone but tanks (tanks have the hardest job but from what I've seen and been told by folks in my guild they NEVER have to wait for missions), but compare:
FFXI: You hit level 8 and you need parties to deal with quests and finding parties can literally take hours of just shouting in town. That is, unless you want to grind hares forever.
FFXIV: I am level 36 and I have not needed a party once outside of a dungeon. I have spent a total of about an hour waiting for dungeon parties to form up in the last 60+ hours of gameplay and for all of it I was still playing the game.