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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 04:37 PM UTC  
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I'm open to suggestions.


 
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Daedalus
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 05:26 PM UTC  
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Stepping out of a long-term lurk to hesitate about posting a thought. (It isn't my strongest introduction ever, is it?)

I think it's highly commendable that the issue has been raised, and that CMJ has voiced his commitment to a fix, and that Sessine has voiced a commitment to implement it sooner than later.

My reservation is that changing the name probably wont fix the problem. It is highly 'envisionable' (yes it's a real word) that a new arrival will read the physical description and the characterisation, and think: "Oh that's nice, they gave (M/m)idgets a new name."

The problem isn't the name. It's the tying together of a discrete physiological set (in this case "short and squat") with a set of negative personality qualities (criminal, violent, obscene). It's still just prejudice by genotype. Try putting a different set of physical identifiers in there (gender, skin colour, polydactylism) and tie your favourite derogatory description to it. Doesn't work as a comedic device, does it? It isn't the name, it's the connection that matters.

What irks me is that I feel like I'm raining on a really good parade. I don't have a solution. I do think that the change to other-than-midget as a noun is worth doing though, even if it's only ad interim. Then again, I may be over-thinking the issue. (It's happened before.)

My only hopefully useful input is to dig up a thought from a comedian (whose name I wish I could remember) that I heard being interviewed several years ago. Asked about where he draws the line regarding mocking people, he said something like:

"What people are is generally off-limits. The choices that they make is entirely fair game."


I want to reiterate that I applaud that the conversation is happening at all. In many places it wouldn't.


The lunatics are taking over the asylum! Come with?
 
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dizzyizzy
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 05:26 PM UTC  
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I liked Boudicca's "Swampers", that was one worth considering, I think.


 
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Denealus
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 05:30 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+Sessine

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.



Depending on how game these people are to participate in it, I think the issue is more with the fact that people are getting tossed rather than any particular name.

Which brings up the other point, I'm not sure the name matters so much. No matter what you call them, it's still people of smaller-than-normal stature being kicked around and the butt of everyone's jokes. Midget might have a bad connotation with the name, but I think as long as you have "this is the tiny race who's treated as little disgusting chav thieves who get kicked around by all the other races," it's still going to kind of be the same thing. So the more you go into them having a unique culture and less of a stereotype, the less it will feel "this is making fun of people with dwarfisms." My two cents.


 
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CavemanJoe
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 05:38 PM UTC  
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So... full-size chavs, then?


 
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Docenspiel
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 06:48 PM UTC  
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If shortness goes (which it could, since the core part of Midgets is their abrasiveness, low intelligence and general unsavoriness, not their height), there should be some other physical factor that unifies them as a Race and not just a bunch of annoying, disgusting Humans. Which opens up another can of worms, as just about anything given to them could be seen as an insult towards some group of people that aren't the chavs.
The best idea I can come up with is making them ugly fish people (which could still probably be construed as an insult towards some nationalities that're known for fishing industries like Greece or something).


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dizzyizzy
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 08:07 PM UTC  
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There's a disgusting Doggymorph monster in the jungle already. That would be fun to play, chasing Kittymorphs, barking at the jets dropping off contestants, trying to get the watcher to play fetch with that really really cool ball you saw her catch out of the sky that one time...


 
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Count Sessine
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 11:12 PM UTC  
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Quote by: dizzyizzy

There's a disgusting Doggymorph monster in the jungle already. That would be fun to play, chasing Kittymorphs, barking at the jets dropping off contestants, trying to get the watcher to play fetch with that really really cool ball you saw her catch out of the sky that one time...

Hah, oh yes... let's go all out to offend DOG lovers, woohoo! there certainly aren't very many of those in the world...! Mr. Green No, but seriously, the Doggymorph monster is a dog seen from the point of view of someone who really really does not like dogs. The only reason it's like that, making the 'you' character find this doggy-thing disgusting, is that it's, y'know, a monster -- which means the game kind of needs to give you some excuse to fight it.

A sympathetic dog-like character can be very fun to play -- I've seen it done extremely well. (I've heard rumours that in S3 there might be a more general *morph race which could cover all the cat-, dog-, fox-, coyote-, lion-, panther-, snake-, spider-, beetle-, fish-, ostrich-, and other-creature-people... that players are already playing anyway.) But that wouldn't be a substitute for Midgets.

So. What are the parameters? Personality-wise, Midgets are chavs. Physically, they're great at fighting, slow at traveling, and not human any more. Hmm. And... if we're going to monsters for inspiration, the Panthzer is the Island's all-time favourite monster. Here's a crazy thought: We talk about Midgets being 'tank' characters -- what if they literally were half-tank? (Or, since they live in swamplands, I suppose they'd have to be amphibian. 'Swampers' could work with that.)

Edit: We know that Improbability can do this -- there are kittybikes. And how do you make a half-vehicle race disgusting? Well... perhaps one question to ask is, what do they use for fuel?


 
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dizzyizzy
 Sunday, April 20 2014 @ 11:27 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+Sessine

Quote by: dizzyizzy

There's a disgusting Doggymorph monster in the jungle already. That would be fun to play, chasing Kittymorphs, barking at the jets dropping off contestants, trying to get the watcher to play fetch with that really really cool ball you saw her catch out of the sky that one time...

Hah, oh yes... let's go all out to offend DOG lovers, woohoo! there certainly aren't very many of those in the world...! Mr. Green No, but seriously, the Doggymorph monster is a dog seen from the point of view of someone who really really does not like dogs. The only reason it's like that, making the 'you' character find this doggy-thing disgusting, is that it's, y'know, a monster -- which means the game kind of needs to give you some excuse to fight it.



Better change New Pittsburgh's name, too, lest we offend a yinzer... Razz

Dog lovers aren't some widely-discriminated against group, like little people. That's where jokes cross lines. Something that makes fun of little people is kicking a group while they're down. Something that makes fun of dog lovers isn't quite the same.


 
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Kew
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 12:17 AM UTC  
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Quote by: dizzyizzy

Dog lovers aren't some widely-discriminated against group, like little people. That's where jokes cross lines. Something that makes fun of little people is kicking a group while they're down. Something that makes fun of dog lovers isn't quite the same.



This here, yes. It's sort of like Crazy Audrey makes fun of crazy cat ladies. I feel like there are a lot of cat lovers on the Island, but no one is really offended by her.

I love that this conversation is happening. I think that the race does need to be more distinguished from humans. I think within the game, it's put into their horribly disgusting culture, their speech, and general hairiness which a lot of players just flat out drop in roleplaying.


Wouldn't it be loverly?
 
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Docenspiel
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 12:22 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+Sessine

(Or, since they live in swamplands, I suppose they'd have to be amphibian. 'Swampers' could work with that.)


Her bulbous eyes stare you down in what is supposed to be a lusty manner, but the way they bulge out of her head do little to excite you. The left one flitting over to the corner to look at the flies hitting the smoke-caked windows doesn't help either. "Loik wut yuz see, luv?" the hooker questions, webbed hands slowly rubbing their way down the nightie stuck to her, from sweat or slime you can't tell. You're about to say no, you don't enjoy the sight of her green-and-brown mottled form, from the few strands of sweat-slicked hair atop her neckless head to her distressingly bowlegged thighs. But the words catch in your throat as hers expands, a massive pouch birthing from the patch of skin between her mouth and her cleavage, followed by a deep, echoing bellow.

She doesn't have time to yell any vulgarities at you before you're out the door and screaming out of town.


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Count Sessine
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 12:57 AM UTC  
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Hahahaha! You know, I was thinking of Swampers being amphibious vehicles, but...!

We already have Mutants filling the 'eww, physically repulsive, can't stand to look at them' slot. Maybe the Midget-replacement race shouldn't be made more disgusting after all. Rude, sure. Unsanitary, sure. Thieving, most certainly -- somebody has to be robbing all those fallen contestants of their req. But they're sturdy fighters. I think players might enjoy playing them more if it was emphasized that they're the sort you really want to have on your side in a fight. (Especially if it's a bar brawl.)



Edit: Just to be clear, while I like all these burgeoning ideas about how to make this even better, I don't think they should stop us from doing a simple name change first. Changes that call for a major rewrite may have to wait their turn, but at least we can do something now. (Or, now-ish, as the case may be!)


 
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Harris
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 03:35 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Denealus

Depending on how game these people are to participate in it, I think the issue is more with the fact that people are getting tossed rather than any particular name.

Which brings up the other point, I'm not sure the name matters so much. No matter what you call them, it's still people of smaller-than-normal stature being kicked around and the butt of everyone's jokes. Midget might have a bad connotation with the name, but I think as long as you have "this is the tiny race who's treated as little disgusting chav thieves who get kicked around by all the other races," it's still going to kind of be the same thing. So the more you go into them having a unique culture and less of a stereotype, the less it will feel "this is making fun of people with dwarfisms." My two cents.



This.


Really, they're already pretty damned distinct from real midgets in game canon, gameplay, and generally accepted non-canon. It seems like their physiques and their name are the only two sticking points for being kinda squicky.
(Yes, I'm saying their travel penalties are not a sticking point- because only someone who is not paying any attention would miss that the folks who have a hard time traveling great distances can beat monsters to death bare handed. In context, looks not a problem! Plus, it is a fair gameplay trade off for said combat skillz.)


Also, what about the threefold approach of:

1)Incorporating HM's Midget culture into canon. -That is Very distinct from ANY average folk (of any height).
C'monnn.... it's not like there's much in-canon about Midget society as it is!

2)Making them taller, but keeping them very short (say... no more'n 5'2" as a capper?)

3)Changing their name to Arseholes.



"Ain't nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile." -The Grateful Dead
 
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Waverly
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 05:02 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Harris

Quote by: Denealus

Depending on how game these people are to participate in it, I think the issue is more with the fact that people are getting tossed rather than any particular name.

Which brings up the other point, I'm not sure the name matters so much. No matter what you call them, it's still people of smaller-than-normal stature being kicked around and the butt of everyone's jokes. Midget might have a bad connotation with the name, but I think as long as you have "this is the tiny race who's treated as little disgusting chav thieves who get kicked around by all the other races," it's still going to kind of be the same thing. So the more you go into them having a unique culture and less of a stereotype, the less it will feel "this is making fun of people with dwarfisms." My two cents.



This.


Really, they're already pretty damned distinct from real midgets in game canon, gameplay, and generally accepted non-canon. It seems like their physiques and their name are the only two sticking points for being kinda squicky.
(Yes, I'm saying their travel penalties are not a sticking point- because only someone who is not paying any attention would miss that the folks who have a hard time traveling great distances can beat monsters to death bare handed. In context, looks not a problem! Plus, it is a fair gameplay trade off for said combat skillz.)


Also, what about the threefold approach of:

1)Incorporating HM's Midget culture into canon. -That is Very distinct from ANY average folk (of any height).
C'monnn.... it's not like there's much in-canon about Midget society as it is!

2)Making them taller, but keeping them very short (say... no more'n 5'2" as a capper?)

3)Changing their name to Arseholes.




Well, you could go the approach of making a race so muscular and testosterone-y that they are incredibly strong (but tire very easily), crabby, competitive and general slobs because they don't want to expend too much energy. A froggy swamp race is still just a kind of Morph. After all, Tynan's Gym is in Squat Hole, so the bodybuilder theme kind of fits? I think the 'haha you're short' gag is what's offensive here and could be done away with entirely.

For myself, I think of Robot as the most well-conceived race simply because of the new Random Heart idea. It covers a range of possible character concepts, as if the Network had loosely grouped together anyone that fell under a certain gradient scale, even the Robots that aren't contestants. What if our character races went something like this:

Human: well you haven't been here very long, obviously
(Kitty)Morph: you're mostly human, but part some other type of animal's DNA thrown in
Zombie: you're exactly the same as a human, except mostly dead (insert Miracle Max reference here)
Arsehole(the only name I laughed at): still mostly human, but your hormones have been seriously fucked around with and now you can punch things to death
Mutant: oh god why
Robot: if we're using the Biotic Random Heart idea to explain contestant-to-robot transformations and supposing that all the other types of robot were never human, you're partly organic but with a lot of cybernetics thrown in
Joker: whatever other body mutations/modifications you have, you have now become an avatar of the Improbability feedback loop and can turn people's ears into teacups.

Honestly, characters like JokerMorphs get teased a lot, but unless you're deliberately overpowering your character to be dickish then why can't it be canon? There is a lovely storytelling flavour to having all the races strictly compartmentalized into stereotypes (Zombies eat brains, Jokers dress immaculately) but if you define the general rule as "races are simply loose categorizations of the most common types of Improbability-induced mutations" then it works rather well for player characters too.

Perhaps the people we see in the town's flavortext are contestants who represent what the Network has deemed a "classic" or "true" representation of the race for marketing purposes, when in reality there is a wide deviation of attributes within each race. If someone wants their character to be small of stature, they can just do it. When someone makes their character impossibly small (i.e., leprechaun-sized) it's often hilarious. But that's a personal choice- and what Custom Races are for.



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Denealus
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 06:18 AM UTC  
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I think short's fine. I kind of like them as a short race by nature. But having another defining feature might take them away from being "small humans." The amphibian thing could be done. Or with scaly bits. Either way, yes. I likes.


 
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Matthew
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 06:41 AM UTC  
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I'd agree that simply doing a ctrl+H of "midget" to "squat" isn't really going to do much. The stereotype is still there, and I guess I never thought about it, not being a midget myself, but after thinking about it I suppose it is pretty offensive. I'd take a less surgical, more amputational route of simply cutting midgets altogether as a gameplay race.

The joke is still gonna be "they're short and fat and that's funny lolololo" so to me it's kind of like making a race that's black and good at basketball, but it's not racist because they're called beep boom bidops (random scat, if that actually means anything racist I didn't mean it I swear). I dunno.

If somebody wants to play a midget as they appear now, they can very easily be mutants, or even just humans who are short. I'd actually roll a few of the races into one, for the sake of variety and enabling creativity. Here's my suggestions:

Humans are humans, if you don't know what a human being is then get out of here, robot overlords, we cannot teach your cold steel hearts what love is
Robot continues to be the most interesting race in flavor and story, at least in my opinion. The entire canon pretty much hinges upon their existence so they have to be a stand apart option.
Jokers included tentatively. They're far too important to the story to just cut. I suppose Jokers would be more of an umbrella that many specimens of various races can fit under, but for the sake of ease they can be their own entity.
Morphs: Kitty, doggy, hawk, dragon, lemur, octopus, platypus, whatevermorph. Term for contestants that are humans crossed with a beast's physiology. Given that the canon for how monsters came to be has changed, this makes a lot of sense that the Chance permeating the island would have this effect on many contestants.
EVERYTHING ELSE can be a Mutant: Kittymorphs are technically mutants. Midgets are technically mutants. A lot of things are technically mutations. A lot of the gameplay perks enjoyed by other races (eating corpses, freakish strength) can be a subset of abilities that you would be able to choose at the start of a Mutant drive kill. Or, hell, maybe you get a different one every day, make them a little more interesting and worth playing, like Jokers.

These are broad categories rather than specific races. It encourages far more creativity than the current system of "if I'm a kittymorph I have to have a tail and whiskers and lovey fuckpounce everything I see".

Midgets: for the reasons above, axe them. Suggesting another trait to give them just makes them dumb and limiting and nobody will want to play them anymore anyway.
Zombies: as a gameplay race, nix them. They are humans (or otherwise) that happen to be dead. This stops nobody from playing a zombie RP-wise, of course.

Don't tie the outposts to represent the races. Seems harder at first, but I think it would be liberating. You can add as many as you want and they no longer have to 'represent' the new race. Need another town? No problem, just plop down whatever you want.

CLEARLY, such changes would have to wait until season 3, as I'm sure it would be impossible to implement on S2.


 
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Waverly
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 07:07 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Matthew



Don't tie the outposts to represent the races. Seems harder at first, but I think it would be liberating. You can add as many as you want and they no longer have to 'represent' the new race. Need another town? No problem, just plop down whatever you want.



I actually reeeeeaaaaaally disagree with this, because I love the cultures of the various towns and removing entertaining flavortext just to allow fewer player races seems like overkill.

For me, Hairy Mary's Skronky family and the general atmosphere of PRAT best represents 'canon Midgety behavior' as written by players. They write them as cunning (but lacking in common sense), devious, opportunistic, foul-mouthed, crabby but not cruel, with a rude and often sexual sense of humor and a thick accent. To explain their really awful spelling I like to imagine they use the logic of a five-year-old, which is 'things should be spelled like they sound'. Physically they are short, but also incredibly strong and durable, with what I'll call a "don't give a fuck" attitude toward personal habits. Skronky Pot. 'Nuff said.
Also, they have swagger and aside from Jokers, the most panache of any race on the Island (even if it's really crude panache). I would be INCREDIBLY SAD to see this specific and hilarious race axed merely for the sake of simplicity.

So... can't we just take away the 'midget' aspect and give a reason for their behavior? Personally I think the idea of insane-level hormones makes sense, for male and female players. After all, this is the description of Julia: "...a midget of above-average beauty, clean-shaven and close to almost being attractive. "

Clean shaven? So she's ugly and mannish with facial hair because she's a dwarf? That seems incredibly offensive. However, change that to "she's ugly and mannish with facial hair because there's enough Improbably altered hormones floating around in her system to kill an ox" is funny- because it can't happen in real life. You'd die or become very sick if someone injected you with so many steroids, but with Improbability it's possible, just like walking and talking while you're technically dead is still possible.

Also, if you get rid of my zombie town I will cry on you Matthew


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Matthew
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 07:14 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Waverly

I would be INCREDIBLY SAD to see this specific and hilarious race axed merely for the sake of simplicity.[/i]



But that's the point. You're taking a pretty hilarious character concept and saying "the entire race is like this" which is both completely unrealistic and completely dull.

Quote by: Waverly

Also, if you get rid of my zombie town I will cry on you Matthew



I'm not saying zombies should go away completely. They just aren't important enough/too specific to really deserve their own entire gameplay race. There would be absolutely nothing stopping anybody from playing a shambling corpse character if they wanted to.

Make a race able to buy and sell 'points' that they use to get different traits. Mutant would be great for this! Maybe certain bonuses (freakish strength) cost you points to buy, but you can get a crapload more points by getting a huge defense debuff which you can use to buy the ability to eat corpses, etc. So now you have a stupidly strong zombie who can't take a punch.

That would be so goddamn cool you don't even know, Waverly


 
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Waverly
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 07:23 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Matthew
That would be so goddamn cool you don't even know, Waverly



Okay, it is a good idea but nothing would stop you from making that applicable to all races. Didn't CMJ already say something about this? Like, you'll be able to train for points in certain skills, weapons, armor, etc.

If NP goes away I cannot write my zombie things and you know I love my zombie things almost as much as my robot things. I am making such a face at you right now.





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Count Sessine
 Monday, April 21 2014 @ 07:29 AM UTC  
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...I dunno. I'm all right with 'arsehole' being part of the average racial temperament for comic effect, but I'd really rather not see it enshrined as the actual race name. Two reasons: first, we would need to explain to a lot of players forever afterwards the fine linguistic distinction between being an Arsehole and being a Dick. This would be difficult, since I'm not all that sure myself that there is one! Second, it would be unnecessarily limiting to players, making it virtually impossible to roleplay the race (in canon) as anything other than a single stereotype.

I like Waverley's idea of 'races' being a rough Network classification scheme superimposed for marketing purposes upon the wide variety of changes wrought upon contestants by the workings of unbridled Chance.

I also like the notion of [ renamed race ] being extra muscular with Improbable hormone changes -- like it much better than turning them into frogmorphs.

So far the name I've seen that I like best is Swampers. It's not a current pejorative, it fits because that is where they live, it wouldn't be much of a stretch for most existing Midget characters, and it suggests a low, crude culture while leaving room for player creativity.


 
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