Censorship: Slavery edition

Are you offended by slaves? I’m not… Well let me clarify, I don’t like slavery nor do I think that people should be able to own another person. Slavery is wrong. But I am not offended by a slave; I am not offended by playing a game with slaves and slavery in it. If I did I wouldn’t like playing Puerto Rico.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3076/puerto-rico

But I love Puerto Rico; it is an awesome worker-placement game. But the narrative it presents is one about slavery and how slaves were used to richen people and used to build societies. So if you think about it, it is pretty horrible game. But I won’t stop playing it.

  1. Because it is too much fun to play it.
  2. We shouldn’t shy away from these kinds of topics; instead we should use it as a base for discussion.
  3. Why shouldn’t games be allowed to touch on hot topics?

I will point out that the rules book for Puerto Rico calls the slaves for colonizers (at least in the version I read), to that I say no. They are represented by brown wooden cylinders, you get them by boat and you also get points from having the most of them. Sure, it could be colonizers, but since it is port cities you are building, and the colonizers are put to work in different fields I don’t think it is that plausible. Also slaves were most often used in port cities during the early days of Puerto Rico’s history, when it was still a Spanish colony.

This brings me to the series Tabletop, with Wil Wheaton. When he plays the game Five Tribes on the show he decides that the slave subject in the game shall be “censored”. Instead they call slaves for assistants or/and helpers. He also explains why there are slaves in the game and why he doesn’t like it. Tabletop is also meant to be a “family show” so he could have used that as the reason to not call slaves slaves.

(4:54-5:45)

I don’t think Wil Wheaton is stupid, narrow minded or a “political correctness lover” for doing this. It’s his show and he decides what to do with it, and he also explained his decision. However, if he hadn’t explained himself I might have been more concerned. As I said/wrote in the beginning, slavery is bad, but you shouldn’t scuff it under the rug. We need to be able to discuss things that happened in the past, no matter how cruel or horrible it was. Why? To learn from it and also see how things changed. We are a product of our history. Just think about yourself, you probably have done a few things you aren’t that proud of. You don’t need to tell everyone about the unproud moments in your life but you should try to use them and think about why feel ashamed for/by them. They are a part of you and will shape you as a person.

As a wise person said (L.P. Hartley): “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

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