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Old 03-14-2012, 11:23 PM   #1
emtilt
 
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Stereotypes in Rochard? (Would love to hear a developer chime in)

**This post has very mild spoilers in that it reveals some second-act characters and a bit of their roles.**

I just recently finished the game, and one thing stuck out as very peculiar. The use of stereotypes for humor seemed downright bizarre to me, and, to an extent, it seemed in poor taste.

For example, the Space Police bad guys have about as stereotypical a gay, effeminate lisp as could be imagined. I imagine this would seem somewhat offensive to any gay gamers out there, as they are forced to play as someone who is essentially characterized as a bit of a redneck who must kill of the absurdly stereotyped gay guys. Similarly, Native Americans are portrayed in a style that's sort of a throwback to the racist characterizations of old Hollywood films. They where feathers all the time (even in space!), are "in tune" with the spirits of nature (whatever that means), and run casinos (and even accidentally gamble away priceless pieces of culture to the white man!).

The plot even has a little of the "knight saves princess" trope when it comes to women. Skyler always needs saving by Rochard. It's mild enough that I normally wouldn't have commented on it, but, taken in context with the rest of the characterizations, it stands out a little more.

I looked quite hard for some sort of reading of the narrative that used these facets of the design to convey theme or meaning, but I couldn't really find any. Did I miss something? Was there a purpose to these characterizations? I mean, as a straight, white, male these still really stood out to me - I can't imagine how it would seem to a member of one of the groups that were stereotyped that way.

Last edited by emtilt: 03-14-2012 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 09:52 AM   #2
xenit
 
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The simple but parodical story borrows a lot of clichés and exaggerated stereotypes from 80's sci-fi/comedies, which may not always be politically correct, but it is no way meant to be taken seriously.

For the Space Police, the character profile hinted uniform fetishism (which is quite common in sci-fi) and the SP voiceovers exaggerated the character to the direction people may find disturbing. We honestly think the voice acting is somewhat embarrassing and the criticism is justified. On the other hand, we think the presentation of the other characters are within the safety margin.

That said, there is no special purpose on these characterizations. It's a game where the real fun lies in the game mechanics.

Jan / Recoil Games

Last edited by xenit: 03-15-2012 at 09:56 AM. Reason: signed
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:50 PM   #3
emtilt
 
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It's interesting that you guys were unsatisfied with the voice acting. Do you mind if I asked how that happened? Was it a funding issue that didn't allow you to do it as you wanted? Or was it the script itself that you found unsatisfactory? Also, how did the writing and voice acting design choices happen in relation to the rest of development? I.e., did you have a gameplay idea, and then write a script to present it, or did it go the other way around? Were the game developers involved in the writing/acting, or were they two separate processes? (That's a lot of questions about the inner workings of your studio - feel free not to answer them if you don't want!)

I can see that elements of uniform fetishism are being used for humor, but I still find that an odd rationale, because it seems to be used as a gag alone and you directly associate it with a negative stereotype of a particular community. By extension, you project not only the negative connotations of the stereotype onto that community as a whole, but also the negative implications of the fetishism you are mocking. Such an association isn't inherently necessary for making the joke, either. (See, for one example, Scorsese's The Departed. It can be quite easily be read as a fetishism of authority as an assertion of masculinity arising from simultaneous homosexual and homophobic tendencies, yet at no point are the stereotypes of any of the associated communities invoked to make those points.) Similar points can be made about the satirization of older films in general. If, for example, one wishes to parody the negative aspects of a particular title or movement, it must somehow be transparent to the audience that you are portraying such choices in a negative light, rather than adopting their viewpoint. I don't see how this was done in Rochard, but if you feel I've missed something, I'm very interested.

I understand the gameplay-over-story mentality, but, still, it was put in the game, so it's fair to comment on. It is additionally relevant because, for some people (like, perhaps, members of one of the stereotyped groups), it could potentially stand out so much as to impact their experience of the gameplay in general.

In any case, please don't take this as a comment on the game play elements of the game. I'm only commenting on this one particular aspect, because it seems like a topic worth discussing. And you get major props as a developer for being willing to talk about these things with your customers!

Last edited by emtilt: 03-15-2012 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 03-15-2012, 05:20 PM   #4
xenit
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emtilt View Post
It's interesting that you guys were unsatisfied with the voice acting. Do you mind if I asked how that happened? Was it a funding issue that didn't allow you to do it as you wanted? Or was it the script itself that you found unsatisfactory? Also, how did the writing and voice acting design choices happen in relation to the rest of development? I.e., did you have a gameplay idea, and then write a script to present it, or did it go the other way around? Were the game developers involved in the writing/acting, or were they two separate processes? (That's a lot of questions about the inner workings of your studio - feel free not to answer them if you don't want!)
In short, we exceeded the budget considerably. Also, the priority was to get the game out in time, which eventually did not happen due to some technical issues and the PSN breach in April.

The gameplay idea and scripting was a parallel process. The setting (asteroid mining) influenced on the environment and graphics, while the evolving gameplay contributed to the story. Most of the team concentrated on the actual development of the gameplay and graphics.

In general we were satisfied with the voice actors, esp. on work of Jon St. John. While our protagonist is out of the ordinary macho type, Jon is also the voice of Duke Nukem (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UvGGqW1oDM). Regarding the SP voiceovers, we are not putting the blame on the corresponding voice actor. The creative decision and the intention was to make light humor out of the fetish stereotype appearance. This went quite a bit too far, but there were certain priorities in the production at that time. Later, we considered re-recording the SP voiceovers for the PC/Mac version, but it was not feasible due to the budget and the schedule constraints.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emtilt View Post
I can see that elements of uniform fetishism are being used for humor, but I still find that an odd rationale, because it seems to be used as a gag alone and you directly associate it with a negative stereotype of a particular community. By extension, you project not only the negative connotations of the stereotype onto that community as a whole, but also the negative implications of the fetishism you are mocking. Such an association isn't inherently necessary for making the joke, either. (See, for one example, Scorsese's The Departed. It can be quite easily be read as a fetishism of authority as an assertion of masculinity arising from simultaneous homosexual and homophobic tendencies, yet at no point are the stereotypes of any of the associated communities invoked to make those points.) Similar points can be made about the satirization of older films in general. If, for example, one wishes to parody the negative aspects of a particular title or movement, it must somehow be transparent to the audience that you are portraying such choices in a negative light, rather than adopting their viewpoint. I don't see how this was done in Rochard, but if you feel I've missed something, I'm very interested.
It's hard to say on behalf of the people involved whether there were individual tendencies contributing to the outcome It's also hard to say how much of the particular community are actually offended. The gays I know may not represent the global community, but surely this is something to discuss about (and they are quite explicit verbally).

I'm not too worried about "mocking" the fetishism. These elements are used in comedy and parody all the time. In my eyes, the characters are resembling Village People (and I thought they were cool in the early 80's), which is an openly stereotypical group.

Quote:
Originally Posted by emtilt View Post
I understand the gameplay-over-story mentality, but, still, it was put in the game, so it's fair to comment on. It is additionally relevant because, for some people (like, perhaps, members of one of the stereotyped groups), it could potentially stand out so much as to impact their experience of the gameplay in general.
This is true, although there has been very few complaints on this issue. A certain editor reviewing Rochard blamed us on homophobia and he did not like the gravity gun either. Or anything in the game in general, and there were no other enemies in his game but gays (ok, we should have had more variation in the antagonists).

Certainly the characters are not demonizing or dehumanizing any of the stereotyped groups, even though some of them are villains. That said, the story is supposed to be light-hearted comedy with no intention to offend anyone. In that sense, the game or story may have failed, but there's quite a lot of love and effort put into the game to make it fun.

Jan / Recoil Games

Last edited by xenit: 03-15-2012 at 05:21 PM. Reason: signed
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:02 PM   #5
emtilt
 
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It's very interesting to get your take on it; thanks a lot for providing these insights. While I don't think all of the intentions you describe quite make it through in the final product, they certainly provide more insight into why they ended up as they did.

Anyway, it was really cool of you to respond thoughtfully to all my questions and criticisms!

(And I did have fun with the game, despite my reservations about the decisions regarding characterization!)

Last edited by emtilt: 03-15-2012 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 03-16-2012, 01:47 PM   #6
freibooter
 
 
 
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I'll just leave this here, he said it better than I ever could:
http://imgur.com/EX5v4

I managed to enjoy the story for what it was, and while it certainly was far from the game's strongest features, together with the voice acting it was probably the weakest element in an otherwise very good game, it didn't take away from it either.

While I think that it's quite silly to be offended, especially by something that so clearly and obviously wasn't meant to be offensive by its creator you may also want to consider that the developers are located in Finland, where open discrimination against any of the portrayed groups is almost nonexistent.

Last edited by freibooter: 03-16-2012 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 04-22-2012, 07:36 AM   #7
Assassinador
 
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People only feel offended if/when they want to.

The other replies were pretty long and I didn't read them all, but I don't think anyone mentioned that the Space Police seems to be partially inspired by the character Judge Dredd. Their clothes and helmet are similar and they even have a line where they say "I am the law!". I found that pretty funny. And another thing; Rochard kind of reminded me of the character Graveheart from an old CGI TV show called Shadowraiders. Not physically of course, beacause Graveheart was a muscular ex-soldier, but frequently through the episodes he would say something like "I'm not a hero, I'm just a miner" and Rochard is literally just a miner, but ends up being the hero

Anyway, great game!
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:21 PM   #8
Topshmups
 
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It's a game and meant to be fun.

Who cares if it's not politically correct lighten up and have fun
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