Weekend before last at the a Tolkien conference, I got to sit in on an interesting talk on LOTRO, and it was really a sideline that grabbed my attention. We were talking about how in the game you could play as orks if you like, but how they were always dark-skinned (whereas playing as one of the free folk, most characters had white-skinned avatars but you could also choose a darker skin). Ergo Racism.
I actually wanted to dig into something a bit different. Tolkien's orcs aren't just baddies, they're cannon-fodder, pretty well defined by how indistinguishable they are. Playing as an individual orc, just with that fact alone, seems like a pretty big change from Tolkien's world to me. The question is, is this a criticism of the game, or either. Given the reality of war, is separating out from something that treated sentient, oppressed individuals as a blob of others a bad thing? Even as we're talking about fan works that are supposed to be living in that environment?
Would welcome thoughts here ..