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dizzyizzy
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 01:53 AM UTC (Read 21276 times)  
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Borderlands Lead Writer Anthony Burch explains why the franchise is dropping the "midget" terminology (caution: reddit)

I hadn't really given it a thought here (after all, Midget isn't midget, I think is how it's currently justified), but Anthony raises some really good points that we might do well to discuss here. It's important, I think, to read his whole post (as wells as his response to someone protesting the change, but if you want a little blurb to make a snap judgement off of, here's one:

If that means some people throw up their hands and say, "well, it's all a bunch of politically-correct bullshit now," then, okay. But the modicum of irritation you feel at that is probably significantly less intense than the frustration someone might feel when they come home after a long day of work, boot up a videogame to relax, and then have to grit their teeth as the game mocks who they are.


I've had a ton of fun playing as Nigel, but a lot of the laughs I got with him were people's reaction to how disgusting he is. Not just in terms of general cleanliness, but his all-around unattractiveness, a large part of that being his midget body. Reading through Anthony's post was something of a gut check for me.


 
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Boudi
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 03:01 AM UTC  
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Yes. I agree. Honestly, it's an offensive term that has been used cruelly in the past for those with dwarfism. I don't have too much of a problem with the race as a whole, but the term is unneeded, I think.

Swampers, bog-butts, whatever y'all would prefer. I do just think it's a little tweak that, as Dizzy has stated, deserves consideration.


 
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Hairy Mary
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 03:13 AM UTC  
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As somebody who's had a lot of fun playing Squat Hole's inhabitants and who can envision having to spend ages going through the wiki (and a few other places) having to change the word, I have to say that this is a fair point. Which leads onto the next question, what word/name do we replace it with? Any ideas?


 
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Omega
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:08 AM UTC  
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Which leads onto the next questions, what word/name do we replace it with?


I think that wouldn't be very difficult.


There are two secrets to success. The second one is to never reveal all your secrets.
 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:10 AM UTC  
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In Season Three we'll be renaming the Midget race to Squats, and probably giving them some other physical features that help to distance them from actual, real-life human little people.

Y'know, when Season Three gets here.
it was kind of embarrassing and uncomfortable two years ago but i was all like well i'll just change it in s3
by the time s3 rolls around it's gonna be even more uncomfortable and archaic
the world changing fast enough for me to see my own mistakes when they're this fresh is a good thing
the world changes so quickly, and code changes oh so very slowly


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:12 AM UTC  
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IN SHORT WE'LL BE MAKING THEM EVEN MORE DISGUSTING


 
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Count Sessine
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:15 AM UTC  
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I believe the level 1 monster Angry Midget reflects CMJ's original inspiration for including a race of Midgets. They started out (mostly) as poking fun at a certain highly unattractive breed of British hooligan, the Chavs, by shrinking them to miniature size. For players from outside Britain who have never heard of Chavs that part of the joke does fall rather flat. The Island's Midgets are still funny in their own right -- but adding a capital letter doesn't do enough to make it clear we're not ridiculing real midgets. I'm pretty sure he'd be open to changing the name.

(It's not a little tweak, though. I counted by hand the number of monsters I thought were mentioning Midgets and came up with eleven. Then I asked the database. Ha! Nope, I was not even close: there are thirty-five. And that's just monsters. References are woven throughout the game text, not to mention Place descriptions, which would be up to players to fix. It'd be like tracking down references to gold instead of req: doable... but not so small. This, I realized, is why it has not been done already! And why, even if a better name is chosen, propagating it throughout the game is not likely to happen soon. I'm guessing it would be S3.)


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:17 AM UTC  
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Haha, beat you to the punch. Razz


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:18 AM UTC  
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My official stance is: this isn't a matter of if, but when. Do we wait for S3, or do I spend a few weeks changing over all the references and suchlike before S3 - only to scrap the lot when S3 comes around anyway, in eighteen months or two years or never or whatever?


 
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Count Sessine
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:18 AM UTC  
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Quote by: CavemanJoe

Haha, beat you to the punch. Razz

Ninja'd by the Admin! Big Grin


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:20 AM UTC  
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Beat you there too, but man, I pressed Submit and then looked at the page and my reply was before yours. That means we must have hit the button, like, milliseconds apart.


 
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Count Sessine
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:24 AM UTC  
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Okay, so. I'd be open to taking this on as a project to change the references I can change. If players wouldn't mind seeing the change creep gradually over the Island, and sometimes fail to take hold in certain remote (ie, hard-coded) spots.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:26 AM UTC  
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Well it's half two so I'm gonna sleep on it


 
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Clueless
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 07:00 AM UTC  
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Most of my question is.. How much does the term actually matter? Midgets here are clearly not some genetic or biological misfortune, but an entire race, the same as mutants.. Though mutants vary even more widely. I suspect, however, that there are far far far fewer people who could possibly be offended by that term. Ok, my point, if Midgets get changed to Squats, but there is nothing else.. Is there really any difference? It's like making up a new slang term with the same meaning, honestly. Though I do agree the name Midget probably doesn't really help much. I think making the difference between Midgets (or whatever they end up being called) and people with dwarfism clearer is much more important.

I'm not entirely sure how to do that though.. Make them more disgusting? That could be erroneously seen as piling more hate upon people with dwarfism. Come to think of it, that name gives me a thought.. Dwarves are well known in various myths and fantasy, and they are already a race of their own, no questions asked. What if Midgets got renamed to Dwarves? Their surlier disgusting natures could be the Island twist on the norm, though there would probably still be some faint attachment to their fantasy origins. I rather like the lack of that fantasy association right now, but I think it would be a very efficient way to sever association between the Island Midgets and people with dwarfism. Even with the name similarity between Dwarves and dwarfism. I've never heard of people being offended about Dwarves because of that, though I have hardly heard everything.


 
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Hairy Mary
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 12:29 PM UTC  
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Clueless: Have a look at the links that Dizzy supplied in the first post, they're not very long and explain things pretty well I would say.

I believe that the term "midget" is used in a pejorative term for unusually short people or people with dwarfism and as such is likely to wind them up.

Try this as a thought experiment. Take your favorite racial slur and imagine that there's an Island race named that. Give the Island race some superficial similarity to the original and then claim that they're completely different. Capitalise the name to stress this.

Does that sound reasonable to you? It doesn't to me. In fact it sounds pretty outrageous. This is a pretty much similar to what we have now. This is why, I think, we should change the name.


 
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Lea.wolfsfeld
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 12:52 PM UTC  
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When it comes down to it, I think the time and effort spent changing the name could be spent doing something else. If its going to be changed for when S3 rolls around then I don't see the point of causing an upheaval now.

From what I understand there is already a crap ton of work to do and adding more will just make the current projects take longer. But thats just my opinion.


 
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Twosocks Monkey
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 12:52 PM UTC  
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Interesting!

Since we're all going with the idea of not if but when (which I heartily support, honestly the name has always made me uncomfortable) I can vouch for player assisted 'locating the word Midget in canon text' duty. I'd be happy to go through what I have stored of canon text, monsters, etc to help locate words to change.

I don't really think changing it to 'Dwarf' will fix anything. A: It's super fantasy-ish and we're not playing Tolkienized DnD here (I like it just fine, but that's not what we are/what this place is). B: CMJ has chosen a new name already and it sounds perfect.

As for keeping the IDEA of the race close to what it is without being offensive... I mean something is always going to offend somebody. In some ways I really like that we have a race of smaller sized people. When you keep them on the sidelines, as a minority, they end up being a token, someone who is usually mocked or there for laughs like 'mini-me'. Or perhaps the villain like in 'Leprechaun'.

I know Midget isn't currently a favored race on island, but I've seen a lot of people do stuff with it that isn't just 'hey look he's small hurr hurr' and I think that's really valid and good! Just like I think we need more women in fiction, and more people of color in fiction, I think people of different statures, genders, cultures could also do with a boost, and this feels like a step in the right direction.

By having a whole race of smaller statured people, we invite variety, roleplay where people step out of the rules and play all sorts of Midgets*. Which encourages hopefully thinking about what it might be like to be smaller. Empathy, thought-provoking conversations, problem solving, etc.

The race could just use some refinement is all.

And I think that's what we're doing!? Right? Big Grin

-Rose

*For instance: I play a pair of refined Joker Midgets who are fairly unusual, for one because they're Jokers, and for two because they're refined, pre-french revolution FANCY Joker Midgets. Sure it's not pure canon, but it's another twist, and to me feels like expansion.


moooooooooo Visit and help me finish the monster list: goo.gl/rpBGe (Ya'll mostly know me as CLOG, fyi)
 
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dizzyizzy
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 01:54 PM UTC  
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Quote by: CavemanJoe

My official stance is: this isn't a matter of if, but when. Do we wait for S3, or do I spend a few weeks changing over all the references and suchlike before S3 - only to scrap the lot when S3 comes around anyway, in eighteen months or two years or never or whatever?



This is what worries me. We could easily end up leaving this offensive joke at the core of gameplay and going "nah, we'll fix it next season!" until the game dies. I understand why other things can't be changed (i.e., the binary gender system), but if all that's holding back Squats is an annoying bit of find-and-replace, not an inherent problem with the engine, then the change should be made.

Of course, it's easy for me to say that, since I'm not the one actually doing the work.


 
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Count Sessine
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 02:06 PM UTC  
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Another point: google 'Dwarf Tossing'. Apparently in some parts of the world it is considered an amusing low-life bar sport to see how far you can throw a very short person.

Try not to be distracted by the continuing argument over whether this 'sport' should be legal; just notice that in most of those links 'midget' and 'dwarf' crop up as exact synonyms, which means that in those parts of the world, despite the common fantasy usage, there's also a nasty derogatory meaning attached to the word 'dwarf'. Besides... yeah. We'd rather not have dwarves here for the same reason we don't want elves -- this isn't a fantasy game.

For my part, I am totally in favour of renaming our Island race Squats, and I'm ready to put in the work to change every reference I can get at (which isn't everything). It's already part of canon lore in the name Squat Hole. It'll take a while to change the game -- and probably even longer to rewire my aging brain -- but the sooner we start, the sooner it'll be done.

I... do worry about how they can possibly become even more disgusting, but I have faith that CMJ will come up with something!

Edit:

Quote by: Twosocks+Monkey

By having a whole race of smaller statured people, we invite variety, roleplay where people step out of the rules and play all sorts of Midgets*. Which encourages hopefully thinking about what it might be like to be smaller. Empathy, thought-provoking conversations, problem solving, etc.

Not exactly relevant to the Island, as we aren't a D&D game -- but worth a smile anyway: In the webcomic Rusty and Co. the formidable halfling character Stabs always calls taller folk 'twicelings'. It's all in the point of view.


 
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Docenspiel
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 03:36 PM UTC  
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Squat isn't set in stone, is it? Because I don't think it really fits as a replacer for "Midget". "Filthy Squat brothel" just doesn't have the same ring to it. And while it does fit in with Squat Hole, we don't have the robots living in Robotown or the Jokers in Jokerville; Squat Hole seems like it'd lose a bit of its... essence if its inhabitants shared its name.

And Squat just sounds weird when used as a noun.


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