World Games, Diversity, Outrage, and The Witcher 3

the witcher 3 06-07-15-1

Soon after its release, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt became the center of a controversy related to the idea of racial and ethnic diversity in video games. (editor’s note: In case you missed it – read our review for the game here.)

It’s true – the game has absolutely no people of color, every human in there is white. Some of the voices criticizing Witcher for the lack of diversity accuse the developers of a prejudiced and myopic worldview while others understand that there might be other reasons behind it (like the fact that, according to the 2011 census, 97.1% of people living in Poland are ethnic Poles and that the only statistically significant non-European minorities are Vietnamese and Amenians) but still see it as another game about white people in the industry filled with games about white people.

I propose an alternative solution. We should, just like the latter group, look at the wider context of a modern gaming world. Instead of reducing the issue to a simple ‘white’ and ‘non-white’ dichotomy (which is much less important in the countries with no history of slavery or worldwide conquest) though, we should look at Witcher as another game within the emerging trend of ‘world games’: video games rooted in the developer’s local culture, history and ethnicity.

The Rise of World Games

Never Alone, a game about Native Alaskan culture
Never Alone, a game about Native Alaskan culture

The concept of world games gained mainstream recognition after the release of Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa), a two-player cinematic platformer set in the world of Native Alaskan mythology and heavily inspired by a mythological concept of a neverending snowstorm (Kunuuksaayuka). The game had an explicit educational value with live-action documentary footage about the lives of Inupiaq people.

Survival horror game DreadOut took a slightly different approach to the idea of making a game based on a local folklore. Instead of directly retelling the myths, it transported them into the modern setting. It’s a game not unlike Fatal Frame, only with ghosts from Indonesian legends. The educational aspect is still present though as DreadOut contains an encyclopedia of ghosts, which allows the players to learn the myths they were based on.

Upcoming action-RPG Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a Cameroonian game often described as ‘African fantasy’. Its developers have an ambitious idea of creating a new genre they call kiro’o. Kiro’o is supposed to blend African traditions, myths and stories with modern fantasy to give people all over the world a chance to experience those stories in an accessible, easy to understand way.

None of those games can be really called diverse. Never Alone is an Alaskan game, DreadOut is an Indonesian one, while Aurion will probably keep its focus entirely on West Africa. Still, those games work in favor of diversity in the wider context by allowing gamers to experience different culture through their favorite medium.

The Witcher 3: A Quintessential Polish Game

The Witcher 3 as a game about Polish culture
The Witcher 3 as a game about Polish culture

While The Witcher 3 is neither explicitly educational nor set in a world of Slavic myths, it is an undeniably Polish game. It’s not just that it’s made in Poland – it’s rooted deeply in Polish culture. While it may not be obvious in the translation, many of the monsters you encounter in the game are taken directly from myths and legends. Utopiec (‘drowner’) which attacks people who swim in lakes and rivers, poroniec (‘botchling’) which is a ghost of an unborn child that can be turned into a helpful spirit if you bury it under the threshold, leszy (‘lechen’) which guards the forests – those are all creatures described by Slavic oral tradition. If, like me, you came from the region known as Holy Cross Mountains, you’ve heard legends of witch sabbaths on Łysa Góra (Bald Mountain) – and if you played The Witcher 3, you were given a chance to climb a fictionalized version of Bald Mountain and even fight against the witches.

Witcher takes influence from Lord of the Rings but it also has missions inspired directly by classic works of Polish literature – Forefather’s Eve quest is not only based on an actual pagan ritual but also on a play by one of the most celebrated Polish poets. And if you’re not the kind of person who reads XIX century poetry, you can always appreciate the fact that at one point the game alludes to internet culture by having two dwarves talk about fishing while directly quoting a (sadly not available in English) popular copypasta. Those references can elude foreigners but they’re obvious to Polish gamers. The same goes for the audiovisual aspect of the game: everything from floral patterns on the walls of village houses to the folk songs that play when you enter combat is either Polish or more generally Slavic (some of the songs are, for example, Croatian or Bulgarian).

It’s also important to note that Witcher is not just inspired by Polish culture – it’s also influencing it as Sapkowski’s books are the most popular works of Polish fantasy literature. Video game adaptations were planned since before the books were finished and a movie based on the books attracted some pretty well-known actors despite the fact that it was a total disappointment. When CD Projekt RED announced the first game, it generated so much hype (despite that at the time the state of both Polish game industry and adaptations of Sapkowski’s books were pretty bad) that even of Poland’s biggest metal bands made a song about it (with video containing clips from game’s trailer). Speaking of bands, there was a band named after a relatively minor character from the books that got popular enough for CDPR to notice them and have them play all the folk songs you hear in The Witcher 3.


Ostatnie Życzenie (Last Wish), a Witcher short story collection
Ostatnie Życzenie (Last Wish), a Witcher short story collection

It’s easy to pass judgement based on superficial qualities but it takes a lot more effort to suppress the initial outrage and actually learn about the things you criticize. Books and video games from Witcher series (despite being a fantasy story filled with elves, dwarves, dragons, wizards, sword fights and other elements of ‘standard fantasy setting’), if approached with an open mind, can be a starting point for those who wish to learn about Poland – from medieval legends to modern popular culture.

For those willing to do some research, they don’t blend in with dozens of other fantasy games but stand out from the crowd by exploring culture no other games (aside from an obscure DOS strategy game) focused on.

Further reading

, , ,


I play games (I have a preference for old, weird and difficult ones but that's not the rule) and write articles about them that are sometimes a bit too long. Sometimes I also do things other than gaming, I swear.

  1. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    June 7, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    LOVE this piece! I hope we can do more features like this..

  2. DeusEx
    June 7, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I’d say if the ‘underrepresented’ minorities and cultures want to be in games, then how about they make their own games?

    Wouldn’t making their games for them be considered cultural appropriation? I think there’s quite a bit of cognitive dissonance on display.

  3. rupok
    June 7, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    I hope CDPR and any dev listen to their actual fans and don’t ever insert fucking token characters like bioware. It will be the day I stop buying their games entirely. If a place, setting or storyline calls for a specific type character then thats fine, what is not fine is needing every game to incorporate some type of checklist for races,sex,etc. Bioware games nowadays feel exactly like that. That kind of thing is the most racist and sexist than anything else these sjw’s complain about. Its mindboggling how many of these sjw’s are the actual racists and don’t think otherwise. They fail to grasp that putting all european culture together as “white people” is the most racist thing ever. Its basically saying all asian culture or black culture is the same thing.

    Its like saying If I made a game about japan, china before any imperialism took place by europeans, i would have to put a black or white guy in there. Like wtf…

  4. Kengofu
    June 7, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    First of all, as a minority who plays video games, most of us don’t give a crusty shit about who’s represented in what games. In fact, we didn’t even see this as a problem. You know who does care about that? The annoying white people that run Polygon, Kotaku, and various games media outlets. I can guarantee that myself and the various other minorities that I know who actually play video games; we don’t care in the slightest.

  5. Muten
    June 7, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    To be fair, your life must be pretty good if you are worring about mongoloid/negroid people in medieval fantasy.

  6. rupok
    June 7, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    actual minorites don’t care. Its fucking whale betalord sjw’s who are actually white thinking they should be the ones speaking for minorities. Look at all these hipster conventions about “representation in games” or other similar minority movements, its all white hipsters thinking they are the gods to bring the little minorities representation.

    I am an indian guy. Never once did i care if some guy in a video game was a minority or not. And never once did I think I would only identify with characters if they were the same race as me. It doesn’t matter, we are all human. People who only think about race and other thing at all times are the actual racists.

  7. Wonderkarp
    June 7, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Its a good piece. I try not to read editorials but this one was pretty awesome.

  8. blackice85
    June 7, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Yeah, it’s pretty shallow to think you can only identify with people who have the same color of skin.

  9. Dr. Evil's Brother's Evil Twin
    Dr. Evil's Brother's Evil Twin
    June 7, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Want better diversity in gaming, then stop fucking hamfisting it in and let it happen naturally. Same with comics and tv. These people have made mountains out of molehills just because it’s the hip new thing to be offended about.

  10. rupok
    June 7, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    representation to them doesn’t mean cool new games about different cultures entering the industry,

    To them Its about how many races and “identities” they can check off a checklist in every single game to make token characters. Look at bioware games now, we have black guy here,a gay guy here, a trans here for no reason, o look a hispanic lady!

    Thats what they want as opposed to more asian devs making games about asian culture(japanse korean imperialism), indian devs making games about the history of raja’s and the many wars relating to conflict between muslims and hindu. So many cultures left to explore. The sjw’s don’t care about that stuff, its just how many token characters can we fit into this game without any context?

  11. DeusEx
    June 7, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Sorry, friend. But you’re not allowed to identify with any game other than Far Cry 4. Dems the brakes.

  12. rupok
    June 7, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    can confirm.

  13. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    June 7, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    It’s partially hilarious but mostly disgusting and insulting how people force their culture and their values on games released in entirely different countries. You see this the most with Japanese games since that’s easily the largest video game development scene besides maybe the US itself, but as this article proved it happens elsewhere as well.

    I think people sometimes forget that not everything happens in a bubble around them. I live in kentucky, I don’t expect the average person I meet online to know or care about what I’m talking about when I start ranting about all the verbal arguments people have here over which college basketball team is better. The entire world isn’t San Francisco or Seattle or New York City or Tokyo or whatever.

    I enjoy games like Akiba’s Trip and Yakuza not just because of their gameplay or writing, but because they’re little windows into what another culture is like. If I made a game that showed what life is like in a small town in a flyover state you’d probably see some random, racist NPC’s. That isn’t me pushing my anti-whatever agenda, it’d be me showing the kinds of people that live here. That’s life. If you have a problem with that I’d think you’d care more about changing the actual people than the fake ones in a video game.

  14. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    June 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Yeah honestly adding in token black characters or token gay characters or what not just seems even worse than not having them at all.

    I mean, it’s not like black people didn’t exist in olden times in Japan. Look up Yasuke for example. It’s just that there’s a point where it stops being “a character that is this race or gender” and “a character that only exists to have a character of this race or gender in the game.”

  15. rupok
    June 7, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    exactly. If there is context to the character there is no issue what gender,race or whatever they are. My problem lies with how they want every character presented to be some different race or whatever to fill in that checklist of token characters.

  16. Nani Sore
    Nani Sore
    June 7, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Im a black guy …you have to accept that there will be people that get offended by black zombies in Resident Evil 5…yeah nuff said. There is no reasoning with these people.
    That said to me it seems more like a American thing.

  17. Cred
    June 7, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    great article, this really is a much more logical and open minded perspective towards the subject, one that isn’t blinded by the usual biases that fill the discussion

    videogames as a global media should take a globalized perspective, not only as if US was the center of the world, all countries and people have culture, and games ARE culture
    so it’s only reasonable to see games as the result of people’s culture

    and it’s really a cool thing, there are south american studios doing very south american games, indonesian studios doing indonesian games, polish studios doing polish games and so on, it is quite stupid to expect people from all over the world to bend backwards to please whatever political whims come from one specific group of people which usually tends to be white middle class US people complaining that foreign games don’t fit into their particular political correctness without caring about the context

    this isn’t an argument against diversity
    it’s an argument in favour of it, allowing people from different countries to make games that are true to themselves is diversity in culture

  18. Cred
    June 7, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    I liked that it was short but with a very good point

  19. Ricardo Lima
    Ricardo Lima
    June 7, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Has driven journalism gotten all the clearer? Facts don’t matter to these people only what they want and their ideology. They will rewrite historym, anything to get their way.

  20. Carl B.
    Carl B.
    June 8, 2015 at 2:48 am

    The “Chernobog” rune stones are named after a slavic demon, aren’t they?

    Sadly, you can show this to the guy who started that “Witcher 3 is racist” garbage and they’d still say you’re wrong.

    I hate 2015.

  21. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    June 8, 2015 at 2:53 am

    all the runestones are named after Slavic deities – Chernobog, Veles, Perun etc. completely forgot about that while writing the article though.

  22. TheCynicalReaper
    June 8, 2015 at 2:53 am

    I can’t fucking believe I heard some other mother fucker try to bitch about not having any Arab people starring or appearing in Witcher 3, a game made by, relating to and primarily made for the Slavic people.

    No, I don’t think a game made by the people the Islamic Empire used as rape tissues during centuries of enslavement (among much of the West and Middle East) should be appearing in a game that is inspired by their rich folklore and historical culture.

    I mean hell, according to the books this series kinda sorta takes placed ages ago in OUR world, so any Arab appearing in a Witcher game would just be a herald of one of the most fucked up empires in human history.

  23. Zizal
    June 8, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Americans cultural standards and their social problems don’t mean shit to outsiders. Why should American minority should be treated more special than the thousands of cultures that aren’t represented around the globe. Characters design in Japanese or Korean games sometimes aren’t even based in reality and doesn’t need to represent any race or culture but you will find people trying so hard to link the designs to our world just because the character have a white skin.

  24. Akuma
    June 8, 2015 at 4:32 am

    Seriously people complaining about The Witcher 3 because there is no diversity? Can’t they just open their mind and simply play the game GOTY? I’m glad i started playing in the late 80’s, i’d probably not support video games if i had started these years, with such games communities…

  25. Phelan
    June 8, 2015 at 5:05 am

    “It’s true – the game has absolutely no people of color, every human in there is white. Some of the voices criticizing Witcher
    for the lack of diversity accuse the developers of a prejudiced and
    myopic worldview while others understand that there might be other
    reasons behind it…”

    Those people are morons.

    And sorry if I will sound bit controversial, but those voices comes only from USA. Here in Europe we know our history. Game is set in medival times, it might be fantasy but that’s true IT IS MEDIVAL.

    In Medival Europe there were NO non-white minorities. It’s simple as that. It’s true that Witcher 3 takes a lot from slavic culture, but again the only reason that there are no black character is that it is medival fantasy. So why would anyone expect black character in game set in medival times? It’s stupid!

    Why did I say that those voices comes from USA only? Because in USA people focus on USA history alone. And there from the earliest times there were black and white people living among each other. But that’s XVIII century for god sake! The times we are talking about are closer to X-XII century.

    Back than there were no black people living in Europe. PERIOD.

    We have many folk tales about “black” people but suprisingly we didn’t call “black” as afro-americans but “black” as “chort” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chort). If someone was suspicious (for example from other town, or country speaking not understandbale language) he was often labeled as black. If he was wearing boots , he was often said to have “black feets as chorts”

    Or when he was using some other language “black tongue”


  26. Mr0303
    June 8, 2015 at 6:13 am

    What would happen if we apply their idiotic argument to games like the above mentioned never alone? Why aren’t there any Hispanic people on the north pole? To a normal thinking person the answer is quite obvious, but a typical SJW would go “Yeah, why aren’t there more Hispanic people there.”. Similar to a religious belief the narrative overwrites all common sense.

    Plus the whole representation argument in games is laughable. I’m not represented when I’m playing a small Inuit girl – she is nether my gender, nationality or age group. How about Kratos from God of War – I don’t share his nationality, time period or amazing abs (we do however have the same anger issues). Hell, I’m not even the same species as Crash Bandicoot!

    I’d argue that experiencing something different is the point of gaming. This is why the feminist narrative failed here – there is no need for representation in any given game. This is not politics, or some university driven program – gaming is the freedom of expression for both creators and players.

  27. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    June 8, 2015 at 6:15 am

    well, this is kind of while I wrote the article. I just decided that rather than get angry about people not knowing things I’m going to explain how it really is

  28. Zizal
    June 8, 2015 at 6:37 am

    I read Arabic forums and there is no one saying why there isn’t any arabs. All these victim Ideologies coming from your region and trying to export it to the other parts of the world. Europe is being destroyed by your puppets and feminist values. You are trying so hard to brainwash our women to think of themselves as victims. If there is someone crying why he isn’t represented, most likely he is living in NA or brainwashed by your ideas .

  29. Omnistrand
    June 8, 2015 at 6:58 am

    But we have to “enlighten” other cultures around the world. Obviously our values and beliefs are the gold standard and the ignorance in Europe and Japan must be rectified!

    Seriously though, it seems like these people can only judge things through their own criteria, disregarding the cultural heritage and values of other people, last I checked this kind of thinking was considered racist by a certain social science, it’s a little thing called “anthropocentrism”. But no, everyone and everything must conform to their worldview, no deviations allowed. In pursuing diversity they kill it.

  30. R353ARCH
    June 8, 2015 at 6:59 am

    /Appeal/ to who you want, but force-insertion of races is just as offensive as it sounds. Like you touched on in the article, Brandon: are we not even allowed to represent our own cultures?

  31. Phelan
    June 8, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Well you wrote about interesting stuff. I don’t deny it.

    But imho you are kinda missing the point. Witcher 3 doesn’t have black characters not because of its polish theme. It doesn’t have black characters because of its medival fantasy setting.

    Lord of The Rings also didn’t have any black characters, right? But than again it’s not because of British culture but because of medival fantasy setting.

    And you are right that it’s good thing to explain… but that’s also what I did. Europe history is a history of white man, in medival times there were no black people traveling across the vast land of Europe. Those would be killed on the spot for a lot of reasons. Even if simple people wouldn’t associate him with devil… others would kill him for having different religion. Those were sad times but… still it is European history.

    But americans tend to focus on their own history. And that’s history of black and white people. They just don’t understand that having black character in medival setting is like… dunno… placing a chariot in racing game…. or giving a medival knight a railgun instead of bow… or playing a chess with a dice. Those two just don’t fit at all with each other. Company which hired botanist to create realistic world, wouldn’t put a black skinned character in their game. It wouldn’t be realistic.

    But racial theme is still included in Witcher 3. It’s simply not black/white issue… people just need to realise that all races other than human are treated with prejudice.

    Again you wrote about really interesting stuff but that doesn’t really match the title of this article. Ok? Telling people that game doesn’t have black characters because it is from Poland can be kinds missleading. It doesn’t have those because of its realistic yet medival fantasy based setting.

  32. Evropi
    June 8, 2015 at 9:17 am

    To some extent that’s true. It would lose a lot of its intertextuality due to its medieval [European] fantasy setting. But I cannot say I’m a big fan of your comment because it is still within the American-led framework of ethnography.

    In America, everyone is an American, but ethnic divisions still come from the colour of your skin. In Europe, it is often more around language. In India, it is more about your religion and language or ethnic group is a much less important factor. Basically, it’s not about black/white but looking at alternate representation of culture.

    Also, the word ‘realistic’ miffs me a bit. You are not speaking of realism, you are speaking of an effective representation of a liminal space. Major difference.

    As the author of the article expertly put it, The Witcher series feels uniquely Polish because it pays homage to its roots in Slavic mythology. The setting is inspired by locations in Poland and Ukraine (I recommend reading the artbooks, they are fascinating reads). When you drop in a black character, it breaks the intertextuality a lot, just as dropping in a spaceship or a mobile phone would.

    At the same time, you don’t want to reference history too much. The Witcher series _constantly_ touches on racism. The dwarves and elves are a mirror to the Jews and other minority ethnic groups that were tolerated by the state, but often in severe conflict with the faithful Christian locals.

    But I would frankly find Jews being tormented or lynched in the game extremely distasteful and bad for it. 50,000 Jews were massacred during the Khmelnytsky uprising, when the authority of the state broke down almost entirely in its Ukrainian holdings. It is better to allude to the historical context rather than directly speak of these issues, because it would be insensitive and honestly somewhat preachy. Hence the dwarves and elves.

    That’s a problem that could be caused for the Polish understanding of ethnicity. The American framework of ethnicity can also have its issues. Can you imagine the outcry to a sandbox game that featured black slaves, where you can, say, beat them or murder them? You can freely murder a lot of innocent dwarves and elves in The Witcher, but if you replace them with Jews, the effect will be obvious.

    THAT is why games should be ethnically aware.Because if we didn’t have that Polish historical context, we cannot fully appreciate the world that setting is trying to create. But being ethnically aware requires an understanding of historical context, and intertextuality with other works. When you give in to self-congratulating demands to e.g. include more black characters, you lose a lot of what makes your game ethnically aware. I don’t see it as a problem for ‘theme-less’ games, but for games with a strong theme like The Witcher series, it really counts.

    TL;DR: Black/white is a very American-specific framework, the reason it might actually take away from the game is because the game might lose its intertextuality and thus its ethnic identity.

  33. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    June 8, 2015 at 10:30 am

    it’s true that European medieval history is mostly that of white men but the idea that people in medieval times would kill a black man on the spot because they’d associate him with a devil is false though. people who lived in southern Europe had contact with those who lived in northern and western Africa. the relations were often hostile but it was because of religion, not race. white medieval Christians didn’t get along with black medieval Muslims or pagans but they had no problems with black medieval Christians (e.g. Ethiopians).

    generally speaking, racism is more modern than people think. people used to dislike foreigners due to culture, language and ethnicity (also due to nationality but this wasn’t really important in medieval times because borders were pretty fluid back then due to some pretty complex feudal law issues – the vassalage hierarchy combined with inheritance laws could be a real clusterfuck) but the idea that white men are better than Africans or Asians was made up later as a justification of conquering the fuck out of everything

  34. Phelan
    June 8, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Huh… what are we talking about again?

    Ethnic group has nothing to do with language in Europe. I dunno who told you that, but within one country usually there are many ethnic groups which shares the same language (or use dialects of said language). See Basque, Catalans, Scots, Cornish, Bretons etc.

    It can irritate you… but that doesn’t change the fact that we are talking about realism in art (games are also art) and not liminal STATE (not space) which has nothing to do with what we are talking about right now. We are not talking about mythos, ok? We are talking about enviroment of game, and its realistic depiction.

    Did you read what I told? I seriously doubt that. Where did I say that I don’t like historic refferences? Please pinpoint where I said anything like that?

    I just said that game doesn’t have black characters not because of polish culture but because of its medival settings. That’s it. That’s all I did.

    I’m Slav for god sake. I learned quite a lot about anthropology and ethnology in European University.

    You are just writing about something which has zero connection to what have been told in article and what I said.

    I’m talking about black people because it was black people who started complaining about lack of their representation. Not Bretons, not Lemkos, not Punjabs, not Sias. Get it? You wanted to show that you know “something” so hard that you entirely missed the point.

    And if you would care to read “the center of a controversy related to the idea of racial and ethnic diversity in video games”. Do you want to convince me that author of that article didn’t meant RACIAL diversity?

  35. Evropi
    June 8, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Hey hey hey. I don’t know where this anger is coming from. I’m Greek myself, I’m well aware that there is plenty of diversity in Europe that I did not account for, and that i was making generalisations (and was upfront about that). I’m an economist myself (went to a British university), but I know a fair bit about literary criticism and applied it here.

    Again, you seem to be misusing the world realism. There is nothing realistic about magic. Liminality very much applies to the gamer’s experience of being immersed in a fantasy word. I felt your argument was not holistic enough, so don’t take it as an affront, but welcome me helping you out.

    Please don’t take my comments as disagreement, I was actually adding to your argument. For example you said “Where did I say that I don’t like historic refferences? Please pinpoint where I said anything like that?”. I know that. I was fleshing out your argument.

    As for blacks complaining, that’s not really true. There is a wide cross-section of people who complained, which ironically consists of mostly white American and British game journalists. All sorts of people complain about representation. Which is irrelevant to point. And for the record, I read both the article (which is fantastic) and your comment. I just felt you are being quite unfair to the author and raising valid points, but without a sufficient theoretical background, that is all. I was not contradicting anything you said in particular.

  36. Phelan
    June 8, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Huh… please don’t.. stop….

    You have some weird image of medival times.

    Western Africa was “discovered” by Europe in XV century. So no they had no connection to people from Western Africa. Actually they were quite sure that it doesn’t exist (I mean region). Remember how Columbus traveled to China and India going West? That’s because nearly entire european world was quite sure that there is no way around Africa to Asia. They were sure that if they would go from Northern Africa to west (even by land) they would reach China.

    And no it wasn’t that easy to meet black person in northern africa back in medival times. You are basing your knowledge about northern africa on the current situation. Look in 10th century Arabs were considering black people as some kinf of less inteligent kind of people living in south of Africa. Read about “Zanj”. Quote from wiki (kinda too lazy to open my books and translate it to english, sorry :P)

    “As for the Zanj, they are people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence.”

    And I said clearly “simple man”. Aye he would associate a black man with a devil. I mean “peasants”. Because they believed in lot of folk tales. Spirits and stuff.

    And no black people didn’t travel to Europe during medival times. Arabs did… because they were the one who acted like a middle man for trade.

    “but the idea that white men are better than Africans or Asians was made
    up later as a justification of conquering the fuck out of everything”

    Who told you that? Can you explain what “barbarian” mean? It’s not new word, it was created in ancient time . And since the begining it had pejorative meaning (though meaning slightly changed)

    Racism is not new. It existed since the begining. You can even read in Bible about that.

  37. Phelan
    June 8, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Ahh… seems that the problem might be language barrier. Sorry.

    I’m saying about realistic enviroment, not about magic. And Witcher 3 has one of the most realistic setting of all games. True there are elves, dwarves, magic and stuff… but everything is written into realistic enviroment.

    “We are not talking about mythos, ok? We are talking about enviroment of game, and its realistic depiction.”

    Can fantasy be realistic? Aye it can. There is also “fabulism” or magical realism in art.

    Aye it might be true, but than again those white journalists are complaining mostly because of lack of black representation.

    And believe me I do have knowledge about ethnography and antropology. One of my favourite book happens to be The Golden Bough and I did had lots of subjects about those during the time of studying in University.

  38. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    June 8, 2015 at 11:35 am

    while the medieval demographics of North Africa were quite different back then than they are now (and even those Moors that some people like talking about weren’t really black – or Arabic for that matter, they were a more closely related to Berbers, a different Semitic nation from North Africa), you’re exaggerating in an opposite direction. once again, read about the history of Ethiopia.

    about West Africa – fair point Europeans didn’t travel there until XV century, kinda mixed it up.

    about racism and barbarians – yeah, the idea of barbarians was completely unrelated to race. it’s the term Romans invented as an insult to people who didn’t speak their language. like I said earlier, people used to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, language and nationality, race came later. black people were barbarians but so were white Europeans from outside of Roman Empire – Germanic people, Gauls, Picts. you’ll find this kind of discrimination all over history but the idea that one race is better than the other is a newer thing, historically people of one race had more reasons to hate on another than to hate other races

  39. Tromboner
    June 8, 2015 at 11:47 am

    The author makes an excellent point; games rooted in a particular culture may not themselves be diverse but they make the medium we all love richer and more diverse. This is to be celebrated. I know nothing of the cultural history of Cameroon, but Aurion could very well be what gets me to learn about a presumably rich set of traditions.

    Unfortunately, because Poland is considered white, their unique perspectives and cultural history are disregarded by writers for sites like Polygon, who seem to assume that the whole world is American in culture and sensibility. Their lack of a well-cultivated worldview is presented clearly when they refer to things such as “Western” or “European” fantasy. Developers should feel free to explore their cultural heritage and local mythologies in games, and we should celebrate the range of voices we get to hear as gamers. Don’t force people to speak with a voice that isn’t theirs.

  40. Phelan
    June 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    1. Since when exactly Ethiopia is part of Northern Africa?

    2. Berbers are caucasian race…. true… that were already fully assimilated with arabs in 10/11 century. Hardly black people.

    3. Nope it was term created by Greeks not Romans. And the target of this term is not “people who speak different language” (though from etymology point it could seem as so). It is closer to jewish Goy which was for all “not us”. In fact even Greeks were calling other Greeks barbarians.

    4. “Some definitions of racism also include discriminatory behaviors and beliefs based on cultural, national, ethnic, caste, or religious

    from wikipedia.

    The reason why this term is used when talking about different ethnic group is simple. There is no other term fitting better. Chauvinism hardly fits here… that’s why majority of people use term “racism”


    So really… let’s end it. You wrote interesting article, I’m just saying that polish culture had nothing to do with the lack of racial/ethnic diversity. That’s all.

    I really do know what I’m talking about. And I don’t try to belittle what you said… nor your person.

    But facts are facts. No point to argue about them, alright?

  41. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    June 8, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    we’re just arguing semantics now though. my point was that racism as in white/black/Asian people are better/worse than others is more modern and before that people discriminated on the basis of ethnicity, language and nationality. you don’t seem to disagree with it. can you think of it as a form of racism? sure, but that isn’t really what I’m talking about here

  42. Deadmoonking
    June 8, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Excellent article; it is both informative for those with open minds and damning for those who cry “diversity” for no other reason than just for the semblance of it.
    Also, Vader is awesome. De Profundis ftw.

  43. Cred
    June 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    americans are convinced they’re the center of the universe

  44. Crizzyeyes
    June 8, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    And most outsiders don’t understand that America is more like a loose collaboration of nations (like the EU) than a nation with a unified culture. Ethnocentrism isn’t a constant from sea to shining sea.

  45. Thanatos2k
    June 8, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    A game about a white guy and a bunch of other white people, and despite the lack of diversity – the game was still amazing for all players and bought by everyone. Funny, that.

  46. TheCynicalReaper
    June 13, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    I understand what you mean but don’t think we’re all like this. I agree, mate, the ones complaining are the SJW/religiopolitical agenda pushers. Cultural Marxism has been putting up a damn hard fight that we need to overcome if we’re not to end up like Sweden’s “Great Feminist Government”.

    Thing is, America is NOT the way its media, its higher government and mewling SanFrans presents it to be. The coastal states are the loudest pains in the ass but the rest of it is still good ol’ USA. The media keeps shoving a false reflection down its throat though, and between MSM lies and extreme liberal groupthink spawning more SJWs to Zerg-out, I can see why you’d think it’s all of us who carry these ideals.

    Just know that like many Arabs are not raping, murdering bombers, most Americans are not infantile, pathetic, double-thinking Cultural Marxists.

  47. Nikopol
    April 19, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Little late to the party, but personally I would love to play some game from Ethiopian developers which explored culture in that part of the world and presents it in a new and unique way. That is what I see as diversity instead of token black guy who is stereotypical comical, big-muscles token character. And yeah, he likes basketball.

    Or what about something like that from China? Chinese culture and folklore dates fucking thousands of years back and is regarded among professionals as one of the most deep folklore on the whole planet. But in name of diversity we get a chinese kung-fu guy instead of exploration of universe of such epic as Romance of Three Kingdoms.

    Well, go figure.