Very Brief Thoughts on the Fireside Sci-Fi Diversity Study


“If I was a gay Peruvian, I’d want to be thought of as a good author. Not a Gay Peruvian author. I don’t want to only get published when a Caring Liberal needs to trot out their show pony so they can brag at a WorldCon party about how super not racist they are. Don’t let some jackass editor stick you in a box.” – Larry Correia

I don’t know how much I want to wade into the latest kerfuffle on diversity issues in SFF publishing, but I think the above quote by Larry pretty much sums up my feelings on the matter.

Every once in awhile, I will bring up that I’m Cuban, but mostly in a tongue-in-cheek way to downplay how little importance that is in my day to day life and make fun of identity politics. I’m pretty sure Cirsova is not nor will be thought of as a Latin publication.

Cirsova is open to anyone writing crazy-go-nuts over-the-top high-octane seat-of-your-pants action fantasy and science fiction. Okay, so all of it’s not Philip Jose Farmer or Gardner F. Fox levels of crazy-go-nuts, but we do aim for awesome. In doing so, we may achieve some degree of what I call “accidental diversity”; if you’re legitimately looking for a wide range of awesome things, you’ll probably end up with pretty diverse range of contributors. I won’t single anybody out and won’t ante up any diversity tokens, though, because I feel like that would be a disservice to our contributors, all of whom are awesome.

Pre-Orders for Issues 3 & 4 start later this week. Drop some green, shekels, pounds, lira, ducats, whatever (I’m sure Kickstarter can convert a diverse range of payments) to keep Cirsova open to anyone with a solid story to tell.

Kuhraaayzee Search Terms and #Gamessowhite

It’s a shame that WordPress can’t log search terms from a lot of the most popular search engines; I’m always fascinated by some of the stuff that lands people at Cirsova, and there’s almost certainly a goldmine of weird in those thousands of “Unknown Search Terms”

The people who showed up on my blog looking for the following things probably left disappointed:

“up scurts of kameo the video game chrarter”
“Varg Vikernes Height”
“marie cachet height”
“peter pan nude”
“disney peter pan and wendy naked”
“giant boobs”
“bare butts peter pan”
“dracula’s dick”
“killing fantasies about women blogs”
“very edgy fantasies”
“nude character on gauntlet dark legacy”
“disney peter pan her buttock the”
“cat santa doesn’t exist”
“few examples of fantancy with your boyfriend”

I kind of wish I had time yesterday to rant about #gamessowhite and how cartoonishly stupid and false its base assertion is. It might end up being a flash in the pan, but I would not be surprised if major news outlets try to make hay out of it. From what I gather, it started off with some polemic on Polygon which claimed “straight white men are predominantly the main character in games” with no citation other than a link to a bunch of pictures of guys from games that I am unable to identify.

There is this strange notion that video games are oppressively dominated by white people and there’s just no diversity anywhere to be found in games. A lot of this assertion seems to be revolving around an attempt to stir up negative press for the Witcher games. I don’t know much about them and they’re not on my radar as far as games I want to play, but I think that Slavs have dealt with enough crap over the course of human history that you’d have to be some kind of an asshole to try to foist white guilt on them.

Are games dominated by white protagonists? I got to thinking about some of the games I’ve got and have played in fairly recent memory:

Morrowind – Pick your race!
Oblivion – Pick your race!
Kameo – Ambiguously light brown elf girl
Guardian Legend – Racially ambiguous battle-Gynoid
Q*Bert – Don’t know what he is, but I can tell you it’s not white!
Gauntlet Legends – Ensemble including women and non-white characters
Futurama – Play as a ginger, a cyclopean woman, a robot, and a jewish lobster man.
Xenogears – Stars a chinese man; diverse ensemble cast.
Parasite Eve – Aya Brea is white, but she’s a woman. Her partner’s basically Danny Glover, but that’s a rabbit hole we don’t need to go down.
King of Fighters 95-2003 – Well over half of the characters, if not 3/4 of them, are Asian, a few are hispanic, and at least one off the top of my head is black.
Street Fighter 1,2, and Alpha 1-3 – Again, diverse ensemble cast; some have pointed out that out of the first two games, there were only 4 “white” characters each. 1:Joe, Eagle, Birdie, Ken; 2:Ken, Zangief, Guile, and Vega (if you count hispanic as white)
Reboot – Enzo is green
Baldur’s Gate:DA – Human and Dwarf are caucasian, the elf lady is ambiguously shaded but could be called white maybe?
Norse by Norsewest – Okay, the viking dudes are pretty white.
GTA San Andreas – Play as Black man
Arkham Asylum/City – Play as Batman

Maybe my game shelf isn’t particularly representative, especially on account of how behind the times a lot of my tastes are, but it’s not like Madden is the sole balancing factor for diversity in video games.

So, devs are crapped on for cultural appropriation when they include stuff outside of their culture, they’re crapped on as bigots when they don’t include stuff outside of their culture, and actual diversity in video games is shoved under the rug because it goes against the “everything is racist/sexist” narrative. The issue with Rust (where devs updated to make character’s appearances random) is cited as proof that white people can’t stand the idea of playing a non-white character; to me, though, it seems more like people don’t like having the choice of character taken away and… wait a minute… You’re mad because people have said that they’d rather play as a character that looked like them while bitching about how players can’t play as characters that looked like them? Great job there, you goddamn stooges!

If you are so racist that you can’t stand playing as a white guy, there are plenty of other great games to choose from.  Those of us who aren’t grievance mongers who escaped into reality from some editorial page cartoon have been enjoying a wide range of diverse video game characters for years.

And for the record, I’m not black, but playing as Carl Johnson in San Andreas was awesome, and I’ve never heard of anyone who complained that they had to play as a black guy in a GTA game.


Batman & the Outsiders, Sentinels of the Multiverse and Superdiversity (image heavy)

So, I think I’ve got a fancrush on Halo. She loves video games and her favorite movie is Wrath of Khan*: she has made Katana take her to see it over and over to the point of exasperation.


Her taste in sci-fi makes up for her taste in clothing.

One of the things that has been pretty cool about the Outsiders is it captures the kind of diversity that you hear people always asking for, but it never really makes a big deal out of it. It never smacks you in the face and is all “Look, this team has a black guy and women on it and one of the women is Asian!**” And this was over 30 years ago! If DC or Marvel did something like this now, you can bet you’d see a million PR stories out there about how finally comics were starting to show diversity, and “Hey, look at all these colored folk*** to make you white nerds feel better about yourselves!”

But anyway, I was thinking about that because I got to play Sentinels of the Multiverse over the weekend. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes in that it clicked in my mind that I’d heard of this before: some blog had been complaining about the racist and sexist character designs. If we lived in the real world, the game would be praised for its wide range of diverse characters who are an homage to comic book cheese; feminists would praise the fact that in this game several badass heroes are female and Wealthy-Stealth-Fighter-With-Computers-and-Gadgets-Who-Is-Legally-Distinct-From-Batman is a woman****. Unfortunately, since we live in the evil mirror universe (don’t try to tell me we don’t, I’ve seen the beards on you guys!) people complain that the ethnically diverse cast are stereotypical and that the women don’t represent a diverse enough range of body types (because they’re all variants of athletic and fit).

There are DOZENS of characters in SotM, but here are a few examples stolen from the wiki.

Black Iron Man isn't good enough for you people.

Black Iron Man isn’t good enough for you people.

Someone complained that Ra is a white guy, but with a name like Dr. Washington he's probably a lighter skinned black man.

Someone complained that Ra is a white guy, but with a name like Dr. Washington he’s probably a lighter skinned black man.

Redeemer Fanatic

Unacceptable body type!

And just to be clear, Fanatic is non-white.

And just to be clear, Fanatic is non-white.

Yay, Wraith!

Yay, Wraith!

Oh, noes! D:  #genderequalityisatwoedgedsword

Oh, noes! D:

Okay, Visionary IS kind of weird looking; you can make a character chesty or go for the Hartman Hips, but doing both just ends up looking kind of off.

Okay, Visionary IS kind of weird looking; you can make a character chesty or go for the Hartman Hips, but doing both just ends up looking kind of off.

So, in conclusion, check out Batman and the Outsiders and check out Sentinels of the Multiverse, because they are both awesome.

If people are serious about “improving” things, they ought to support stuff like this and say “look at all the things these did right; here are some things that can be done better next time.”  When all of the criticism comes out as “LOOK AT HOW BAD YOU’VE DONE!”, the message becomes that you shouldn’t even try.

*:Which Star Trek movie is not specified, but at the time, Search for Spock had not come out yet and Wrath of Khan had been out for a little over a year, but was almost certainly still showing in discount theaters.  Batman & the Outsiders issue 6 came out January 1984.

**: Sure it relevant in her origin story that Tatsu is from Japan, but I think that’s something that is sometime relevant for, y’know, most Japanese people.

***: Because what is ‘Persons of Color’ but a way to say ‘colored folk’ while trying to sound high fallutin’?

****: Wraith is seriously a pretty awesome character; I’d probably read comics starring her.