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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 ..

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
phyloxena
Jul. 26th, 2016 05:23 am (UTC)
Tolkien was actually pretty good to orks: as soon as our pov characters get close enough, we see very distinct personalities, names, shapes and manners of speech. Their superiors do treat them as swarming blobs, which goes well with totalitarian Mordor, but we don't need to.
aearwen2
Jul. 26th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC)
Speaking as a dedicated LOTRO player here...

The orcs (and all the other so-called "creeps" in LOTRO) exist and are played by those who enjoy Player vs. Player combat in-game. LOTRO, for the most part, keeps that stuff strictly to a single region - as opposed to other games that have it going on all around one to greater or lesser degrees. In other words, you have to deliberately go after it. Another game I used to play gave benefits and perks to those who would "gank" another player (especially new folks) and kill them for sport.

LOTRO is a very interesting game to play as a Tolkien fan. Discussions in "world chat" can sometimes be entirely about canon issues, whether or not a Silm movie is possible, or whatever. Visually, the game is stunning.

Offered FWIW. Yes. My name is Aearwen and I'm a LOTRO addict.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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