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BG 25 – Mass Effect 2 and Racial Essentialism

March 3, 2010

Futurismic have my twenty fifth Blasphemous Geometries column entitled “Mass Effect 2 and Racial Essentialism”.

It’s quite a long piece as it is looking at, in my opinion, quite a broad problem with the way that works of genre engage with race and racism.  Namely that by using relationships between different species to represent relationships between different races, religions, cultures and nationalities, works of genre are legitimising not only the idea that there are real differences between these social groups, but also the idea that it makes sense to infer something about someone based upon the colour of their skin or the kind of religious service they choose to attend.

3 Comments
  1. March 15, 2010 2:29 pm

    Interesting column. Just wondering: I haven’t played WOW, but doesn’t it play with some of these ideas by having the Orc chief, Thrall realizing that the ‘old ways’ of the Orcs of violence and bloodshed were actually demon-inspired, and that actually they’re more well-rounded as a people (or something?) and that they can live in peace with humans etc.

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  2. March 15, 2010 3:46 pm

    Hi IZ :-)

    That would certainly constitute a shift away from the traditional way of seeing races in a fantasy setting (namely that different races have different inbred psychologies) as it suggests that orcs are only evil because they’ve been instructed to be evil.

    I haven’t played WOW in that much depth though (only maybe 40 or 50 hours haha) and am not familiar with the character or the plot line you mention. So I can’t really comment in any real depth.

    Glad you liked the column though.

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