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D&D & Racism I: Fictional Races & Racism

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Wizards of the Coast(WotC), who own Dungeons & Dragons, recently issued a statement on diversity. As would be expected, the responses were divided along ideological lines. As to why you should listen to what I have to say about the matter, I will begin by establishing my relevant credentials. I have been a gamer for about 40 years and have written professionally for over 30 years. I have a doctorate in philosophy, have taught ethics and aesthetics for decades and have numerous professional publications. As such, I can justly be considered an expert on the matter. The statement made by WotC has three main aspects. The first addresses race in the real world. The second addresses the portrayal of fictional races, such as orcs and drow, within the game. The third addresses racism from the real world within the game, with the example of how a Romani-like people were portrayed in the Curse of Strahd. In this essay I will focus on the in-game issues. Before getting to the in-game issues, I need to pre-empt some of the obvious fallacies. While it is tempting to make use of straw man attacks and hyperbole, WotC is obviously not preventing gamers from doing as they wish in their own games—if you want to portray orcs as always evil, you can do that. The only change is in what WotC will be doing when it creates its content. As such, the only sort of censorship issue that can be raised here is self-censorship. There have, of course, been ad hominem attacks on folks at WotC that take their alleged motivations to be relevant to the correctness of their claims. In some cases, the attacks are that WotC is just cynically engaged in “woke marketing” to sell more product. While this could be smart capitalism, it proves nothing about the correctness of their position. In other cases, the folks at WotC have been attacked for being liberals making things soft and safe for the dainty snowflakes. This is also just an ad hominem and proves nothing—one must engage with the actual. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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