Thoughts on Game Book Art

I’m not going to spend a lot of time weighing in on the latest hubbub stirred up in a pot of Gnome Stew, but did want to note a few things.

Art does set some expectations of implied settings, and not all gamers are going to be comfortable with those implied settings.

Sure, you know what you’re getting into with a lot of games, but by picking up games with art ranging from risque to erotic to pornographic, you’re definitely limiting your gaming group to people who are also okay with that sort of thing being in their system.

I can definitely see the problem with that notorious Exalted cover; Exalted is a great, fun game with lots of good art that hits both the “good anime-esque fantasy art” and the “lots of diversity for diversity mongers” marks. Then when out of nowhere there’s a book with giant cameltoe and huge boobs drawn from a perspective of a prospective cunnilingist, I can see why Exalted fans would collectively face-palm at the realization that THIS IS NOW AND FOREVER WHAT PEOPLE WILL THINK OF WHEN THEY THINK OF THEIR FAVORITE GAME.

So, yeah, I can totally get why people might be all “mrrrr” about that sort of thing, because it’s really not one of those cases of “This game isn’t for you, so don’t buy it”. D20 opened the door to a lot of things with their open license, but it wasn’t Wizards of the Coast putting out core books.

I don’t have a problem with those products existing, but I also don’t tend to play games whose books are going to be full of erotic art or even cheesecake (though I’ll admit that the cover of Tim Brannan’s Eldritch Witchery is pretty hot). And I also understand that unless you know all the players in your group are okay with that sort of thing, you’re not going to find players for your game. It’s one of the reasons why I know that one of my players will never get to run Tekumel even though it’s his favorite thing ever; it’s not that people don’t have an appreciation for deep and highly developed settings and world buildings, but more than likely not everyone wants to play an obscure game with a book full of tits.

 

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