We Haven't Covered 'Kingdom Come: Deliverance.' Let's Talk About Why

While I understand your anger, I think this conversation was important to have for the Waypoint crew. Especially, as they mention, with other games coming out that are a little less hateful ideologically but still problematic. I think this type of conversation helps them figure out their own thoughts on games that are potentially just a little misogynistic, or centrist, or transphobic. But they actually can’t ignore every single game that has issues surrounding it, otherwise they’d never cover any big games and sadly, with the nature of their job, they need to cover big releases for monetary reasons.

While I think they don’t really come to a satisfying conclusion with this podcast, I am glad that they’re being open about refusing to touch Kingdom Come and I’m glad they’ll always have a record of exactly why they’re not touching it.

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As someone who has been out of the loop on the game other than looking at it on steam and glancing at a few reviews I’m glad they covered it.

I wish I had time to just read everything going on in the industry but I don’t and I don’t make it a habit to go out of my way to find out who’s being shitty this week.

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So which is it? Is it worthwhile to talk about how bad the game is or is it not?

Okay well actually it’s at its ugliest in New Vegas where you can just roleplay an intricately-written fascist but that’s its own contentious can of worms and this is already a derail.

Not to derail your derail but New Vegas may give the player the option to be an evil or amoral monster and join the Legion, but that doesn’t mean that the game doesn’t have an opinion on the matter. Doing so alienates every friend and ally the Courier has, locks out massive portions of the game, and furthermore they made an entire DLC storyline about the path of destruction and misery, whether witting or unwitting, that a videogame PC leaves behind them. Like, yeah, you can play a murderous asshole. It’s a role playing game, and asshole is one of the options.

While I get your point about games that play the “both sides” bullshit, New Vegas doesn’t do that. New Vegas has the option to play as an evil fucker while recognizing that you’re playing an evil fucker.

This is like 90% me standing up for Chris Avellone, my game designer husband.

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I haven’t listened to the podcast or bought this game. Personally, my politics are quite left. But I also care deeply about history, how it’s discussed and depicted.

As someone who loves history and who loves games, if I were going to make a historically authentic game set in Bohemia in the early 15th Century, including people of color as NPCs certainly wouldn’t make my top 100 priorities. That in and of itself doesn’t make me or this game “hateful.” Likewise, I wouldn’t put white European NPC’s in a RPG set in the kingdom of Benin in the 15th Century, not at least until the Portugese arrived (1484)

Yes, I understand that if the creator of Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a racist and/or a misogynist IRL, there’s an understandable desire to try to dismiss the game by finding evidence of his racism or misogyny in the game. And there may indeed be some warped, inaccurate alt-right agenda driven stuff in the game. But this cannot be the fact that there are no black NPC’s in the game, because black people were extremely rare in rural Bohemia circa 1404. Also the description above of women in the Middle Ages rings true – as unfortunate and unpleasant as it is. Is our alt-right co-creator wickedly amusing himself by writing those lines? Perhaps, but that’s not in the text. Patriarchy was a thing back then, but so were frequent cholera epidemics and the bubonic plague.

Last, I deeply disagree with Blindside and Gaius Marius above-- history is not all relative/someone’s fantasy. So yes, we can make games about the past and make genuine efforts that are valuable in depicting what scholars believe the past was actually like in our games. We don’t need to superimpose present sensibilities in games set in the distant past, or twist history into fantasy because the historical consensus is often deeply unsettling. I hope we’re more resilient than that, anyway.

If considerable effort went into researching time and place by the developers, that should count for something, unless the research can be shown to have been hijacked by a present day ideological or political agenda. Can it? I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet. Not here, anyway.

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I would suggest listening to the podcast for context and a better understanding of the tenor of the creative mind behind this game, because you are providing them a good faith argument that in my opinion they have not earned.

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While I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t looked up the citations, medievalpoc cites the following:

For a more detailed explanation of the ethnic makeup of Bohemia during/immediately preceding this era and the influx of settlers (called “proto-colonization by some historians, but it’s really kind of not), check out Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c. 900-c. 1300 by Nora Berend, Przemysław Urbańczyk, Przemysław Wiszewski, Chapter 5: Society and Economy (p. 250), and Chapter 7: New developments of the 13th Century (The Mongol Invasion; p. 244).
There’s also East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500 by Jean W Sedlar, Chapter 13: Ethnicity and Nationalism (p. 401) to read more about the integration of the Turkic-speaking Cumans into the overall identity of the region. Keep in mind, however, that many of these distinctions do not reflect “race” as we think of it or have it now, but denote religious and/or ethnic affiliations. Which is not the same as race. It does however, show just how diverse and well-traveled the general population was at that time, and how much immigration to the area there was: from Italy, Greece, Germany, Turkey, and Central/South Asia.

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I am not even close to being a medieval scholar but the line about “only widows could pursue craftsman trades if studied with a journeyman” is either flat out lying or eliding that the tradeswork that women did through the Middle Ages wasn’t a craft or a trade, despite things like brewing being absolutely something most women in a lot of parts of Europe did in the 1400s. It wasn’t until the 1500-1600s that men (outside of monasteries) took it up as an “actual craft” and business and made it more prestige.

Source: https://www.amazon.com/Ale-Beer-Brewsters-England-Changing/dp/0195126505
Written a feminist historian.

History is absolutely a relative subject given the orator.

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But this cannot be the fact that there are no black NPC’s in the game, because black people were extremely rare in rural Bohemia circa 1404.

This is incredibly difficult to know for any certainty because in the early 15th century the concept of race would be pretty much exclusively defined by what we now call “nationality” rather than something like skin color. In any case, an accurate representation of Luxembourg-dyanasty-era Bohemia would certainly include people of many differing nationalities, not least of which would be descendants of the Mongols, to say nothing of people who had migrated north from the Eastern Roman Empire during its decline.

Bohemia was right at the geographic heart of the HRE and as such saw tremendous amounts of trade from all over the world. Especially due to the silver mines in the area.

I’m always very suspicious of any attempt to treat the “Medeival Era” as some sort of monolithic block anyway.

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Also the choice to make a game in a presumed “ethno-homogenous” area of very small dimensions is not random.

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For additional context: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/gaming/reddit-tumblr-medieval-video-game-poc/

I’d also recommend reading MedievalPOC’s full post that the Daily Dot article talks about (and the follow-up).

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But it is funny in a sort of way, because Bohemia, broadly, was one of the areas depopulated by migrations around the Early Empire era of Rome, and later filled in by folks from a few major ethnic groups - a 9th century study of the area (Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii) says it’s principally populated by four different tribes. By the early 15th these had been more-or-less welded together into what we’d now probably call “Czechs” but most white supremacists think that European populations were way more static than they actually were.

Since the game apparently takes place over about 9 square kilometers in 1404, people who are recognizably African or something probably should be somewhat uncommon, but so should everyone else. That was a massively depopulated area - roughly 40% of the population of Germany died off between ~1350 and ~1420.

In any case, as always with a game, “historical accuracy” is simply a cover for their own ethno-supremacist beliefs. FATAL was billed as “the most historically accurate” RPG ever made by its glue-sniffing writers, after all. (if you look up FATAL, CW: Everything)

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you see i just happened to use my immense funding to craft an intricate simulation of a specific long past time in european history i didn’t live in being the ideal world where blacks happen to not exist and women are subservient and i’m only a loser because of other white dudes and my dad owning me but then my dad gets owned and i save my gf from other white dudes take that dad

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Exactly! One of the things that is mind-numbingly frustrating about the defenses for this game (and other similar discussions) is the pretension that, like, these elements just exist because they do, not because they were deliberate choices by the people overseeing the game’s conception.

And, like discovering the historical ambiguity about race and skin color that the other co-founder of the studio admitted to finding and still choosing to say “oops all whites” is a deliberate choice. These aren’t defaults or non-decisions, and there’s plenty of glaring evidence as to why they are likely actively malicious and ideological driven choices.

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I dunno, I guess I’ve just been disillusioned by how much Caesar Did Nothing Wrong sentiment floats around out there, or even just people that get really enthusiastic about how smart the fascist leader talks, the same way i squint at leftist educators that still publicly recommend reading Mein Kampf under the assumption that whomever they’re recommending it to will just intuit how not to absorb any of the literal propaganda.

I just feel it doesn’t do enough to truly criticize the player if they do choose that path, because frankly, the whole way we get invested in RPGs and how they feel obligated to end satisfyingly doesn’t really allow for the kind of nihilistic emptiness that that path should thoroughly have. Plus there’s not really great roads of response to that path, fascism seems to be the only grand political philosophy the game’s willing to dig into, whereas the “No Gods, No Masters” ending fundamentally misunderstands anarchism in most its forms and there’s no really strong leftist faction to side with otherwise.

I feel you on the Caesar Did Nothing Wrong bullshit, but that’s not really the game’s fault. Caesar is intelligent and articulate, but still a monster who is blind to his own problems and who has several deliciously ironic deaths depending on your actions.

Like I said, you lose all your friends if you go that way. I don’t think Boone will even talk to you to say “you done fucked up,” he just opens fire on you as soon as he sees you. Which probably means you die instantly, because Boone is a fuckin’ killing machine.

I think I’m a little more optimistic about the NCR and Courier!Independent Vegas than you are. I’ll drop the derail from here, I just had to push back on the concept of New Vegas not having a stance. None of the options are truly good, because it’s Fallout, but some are definitely way worse than others.

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Obsidian does this a lot. If they had enough time to actually finish KOTOR 2, the dark side path would have had your brainwashed party members, who’ve you’ve been influencing through the force subconsciously, becoming very open about how much they hate each other and killing each other off in your absence. A lot of their games tend to make a point that the player character may not be a good person, and that will reflect onto you, thus why Tyranny is designed in such a way to teach a lesson about fascism by making the player experience conforming to fascist norms while trying to fight it from the inside.

They still fuck up a lot, but their intents are at least critical.

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oh god don’t even get me started on the brilliance of KOTOR2 I can go all day

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the RPS review digs in a little (ctrl-f for “It’s not a story that has much time for women.”, it’ll be the three paragraphs following that) but not really with enough teeth that i’d want.

i would have hoped that the trend of putting personal politics into your reviews, seemingly kicked off in the mainstream by everyone saying that it’s fun to kill nazis in last year’s Wolfenstein 2, would’ve had more momentum, but i guess we’re not quite there yet.

i mean, why not? like other people pointed out, there’s tons of people out there who have no idea what this game or the lead dev are like because it takes some time looking beyond the surface of “wow cool plate armour” to figure out all the bad shit around it. no-platforming probably works better when it’s a game like Hatred which wears its shit on its sleeve proudly, but in cases like KCD i think it’s worth talking about it. it’s especially worth talking about because the game is popular despite the gg shit, despite the white nationalism shit.

you mention “this thing is popular therefore we must cover it” like it’s a rake that they keep stepping on accidentally. the unfortunate reality is that talking about The Big Thing This Week is generally what gets sites like this their hits (on a slight tangent, giantbomb’s skyrim daedric quest guide is still their most popular youtube video by a very ide margin), and in situations like this using The Big Thing as a springboard to talk about larger issues in gamedev and games coverage is probably decently productive in terms of shaping public discourse, on top of adding another voice to the small list of sites saying “yo this shit sucks”.

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I couldn’t disagree more. The cat’s out of the bag on coverage of this game in the broader games journalism world. It’s popular, it’s successful, and it’s receiving coverage. If other sites are not doing an adequate job of talking about the history of this game’s development and interrogating this game’s themes, then the argument for Waypoint to talk about those things only becomes stronger.

And writers who were upset by that logic pushed back and pointed out the narrative elements that were fundamentally awful, and the general perception of that game is much different in 2018 than it was in 2012.

There’s a difference between giving terrible people and ideas a platform and arguing against those people and ideas. Silence is not the same as a denouncement.

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One thought that came up while I was listening to the podcast was “why is there still so much of a distinction being made between critiquing a game from a consumer perspective and critiquing it as piece of art?”

A few years ago, I might’ve understood this differenciation, but in today’s climate, I want to know who the people are that made the game. I want to know more about the conditions under which this game was produced. I want to know how the developers think about present day issues. I want to know how their work deals with these problems. This is part of my purchasing decision and I assume it is to a lot of people.

This isn’t really a critique on the Waypoint staff, because you are talking about this, but more of a general complaint how videogame criticism in general still seems to treat this stuff.

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