Race, gender, and institutionalized power

illuminati pyramid

Earlier today, I read this post on a Facebook page devoted to roleplaying games:

“what is RPGing coming to when we look for the embrace of socialism and political correctness in RPG games. Sounds like a plot for the Progressive Government Movement to take part in our gaming sessions, like the NSA has already does in Warcraft, etc,. Gaming is a chance to get away from it all, not bring real world political drama and bullshit to the game table. Christ why not have the OBAMACARE RPG…where everybody plays a character in a fictional world where Obamacare works, and progressive socialism reigns supreme.”

This was a reply to the question, “Can anyone recommend game systems that embrace politically/socially progressive ideals, such as sexual and racial equality, full acceptance of LGBT characters/players, etc?”

Fortunately, most of the replies were not so, ah… conservative?

However, this made me think about Bulletproof Blues. Just because a setting doesn’t “embrace politically/socially progressive ideals” doesn’t necessarily mean that the game designers are unaware of those ideals or disagree with them. For example, the setting of Bulletproof Blues is a bit darker than our world. The corruption that results from institutionalized power is a theme of the game (not so much as you’d find in a cyberpunk game, and we try not to beat you over the head with it, but it is there). As a result, nearly every CEO and powerful non-superpowered figure is an old white guy. That’s deliberate, not because we (the authors) think that’s how things should be, or even how they are in the real world, but because that’s the kind of world Bulletproof Blues is set in.

In the Kalos Universe, the real divisive issue isn’t race or gender or even money: those are just symptoms. It’s about power. In the Kalos Universe, the first priority of institutionalized power is to preserve itself. The general assumption is that the PCs will put themselves in opposition to this power structure.

You don’t need to use any of this in your own game, of course. It’s your game, and you can play however you like.

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