The figures on all three of those cards look blatantly Asian to me. I can’t disagree with you more.
I can imagine typical CCG players yelling together “UTZ! Banzai, Banzai!” being very cringeworthy and making me feel weird. I still remember trying L5R like 10 years ago and my opponents being all weird like bowing&making some gestures before match and saying importantly that “you don’t tap cards in this game you bow them”. I felt local L5R scene rivaled MTG with my cringe levels. That’s probably just my weird experience and doesn’t affect the gameplay at all. Still willing to try the LCG but the generic “asianism” theme doesn’t do so much for me. I feel too much has been focused lately on the cultural issues with L5R than discussion about if the game itself is good.
My bigger concern with the game is that core mechanism is still where you draw some cards begging of the turn, play some dudes&enchantments and thrown some spells and bash the dudes against each other. Then add a lot of fiddly mechanisms to the pot. At least the problem with the CCG was that there were too many cards with too many effects on the board. That made the game “complicated” but made it too fiddly for me and not elegant. Also during conflict loser lost all their characters which made snowballing a problem after a bigger battle. I will like the LCG if it focuses more on less cards on the table with less effects and having constantly smaller battles with lesser outcomes. I prefer games where you do constantly smaller choices than a game which is decided by couple of big turn turnarounds. I usually agree with Shut up and sit down reviews and L5R might be missing the fun factor for me.
I was going to stay out of this, because if people want to play L5R then that’s fine. But the whole SU&SD comments debacle and the continuing dogged defence without consideration of others’ viewpoints is deeply irritating, so here’s a list of things that I think you should think about.
On having a war cry to start your tournaments
Look, I get that it’s a tradition and you’ve always done it. I understand that it gets the adrenaline flowing and makes you feel like part of a community, and that it differentiates you from other card games. But let’s leave the context of the words to one side for a moment, and consider the impact of a room full of people, mostly white men, bellowing a war chant at the top of their lungs before sitting down to play a children’s card game.
Now, imagine that you’re a female player, already uncomfortable because you’re in a space full of people you don’t know, already nervous because gaming as a hobby, let’s face it, has a history of treating you badly and making your life just a little bit worse. Or maybe you’re a nervous person anyway, unsure about attending tournaments. Maybe you have other mental health issues or social anxiety. Or maybe you’re somebody playing another card game in the same room.
Do you really think that a big bellow-a-thon is the best way to create a warm, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere? By its very nature it’s exclusionary, aggressive and intimidating. I dare say that, to most of the people doing it, it’s just a fun ritual. But maybe you should also think about the people who aren’t playing your game because they don’t want to be involved in this sort of situation, or the people who are telling you that they are put off by the concept.
On the connotations of the word ‘Banzai’
I know that you think you’re using it in a harmless context. I know that you can point towards a traditional meaning dating back centuries, and believe me I’m not accusing you of supporting Japanese atrocities in mainland Asia.
But that’s the point of language. The meaning and usage of words over time changes. And there have been many, many examples of people explaining just what that word means to them and why it’s so upsetting, both here and in various other corners of the internet.
So when people explain that point to you, do you really think the best response is to tell them that they’re wrong, that they shouldn’t be upset and that you’re going to carry on with the activity that’s causing them a problem? Again, that’s not how you create a warm, welcoming and inclusive environment, but more importantly it’s not how you be a good human being. We don’t get to decide what people will be upset and offended about, but we do get to choose how we react afterwards. If, for some reason, you must have a war cry to start your tournaments could you not change the chant?
On whitewashing of the art
The original L5R had a historical problem with this. The new one appears to have the same problem, though time will tell whether it’s to a greater or lesser degree. You don’t have to look particularly hard to spot it ; there’s a fairly clear example on the box art of the core set. Again, numerous people, including some who worked within FFG at the time, have expressed concern about some of the art that’s being used.
It doesn’t matter to me if the person who produced the art is Asian or not, to be honest, any more than an overtly sexualised picture of a half naked courtier would be better if it was drawn by a woman. Interestingly, a number of people have suggested that many artists aren’t good at drawing Asian style characters because there’s not much call for it in the industry, and this hodge-podge style of western features and colouring in kimonos is the natural result. If that is the case then FFG have a huge opportunity here to help set the standard in the industry in this regard, but they won’t achieve that if everyone buries their head in the sand and pretends that everything is fine.
I’ve played L5R in the past and I may well play it in the future. But there are a lot of very valid concerns that people have about the game, the setting and the community that are off-putting. I haven’t gone in to detail about the way the system reduces proud and varied cultures with centuries of history and tradition in to shallow stereotypes jammed in to a fantasy world, or the fetishisation of Asian culture that permeates the organised play structure and the community.
But the single most off-putting thing is the reaction of the die-hard L5R community to any suggestion that they might not be perfect. You’ve got a great opportunity here; you’ve got a brand new game with loads of company support and a ton of hype. Please don’t waste it by refusing to listen to concerns, or by blindly carrying on with what you’ve always done because it’s ‘traditional’. Take this chance to make your game better, make your community more welcoming, and I guarantee that you’ll end up with more and happier players.
Or carry on shouting Utz Banzai. It’s up to you.
No, Germany actually teaches a lot of World War 2 in school for obvious reasons, altogether something like 3 years in history. You can get your conspiracy theories out of here, thank you very much.
Wow, this Banzai thing is getting pretty heated.
I think of it as another symbol from WW2, that has a long history of peaceful, non-violent use before it was co-opted for a nationalist war in which millions of people died, particularly civilians of occupied countries: the swastika.
The use of the swastika as a symbol of peace long predates its use by the Nazi party in Germany, but if you hold a rally and wave them around a bunch of banners with swastikas on them you will get people upset.
This does not mean swastikas are banned, but the context in which it is used will be carefully scrutinized. Any context that does not clearly separate the swastika from its wartime past will not be looked upon favorably. Examples of contexts where a swastika is acceptable would be a Buddhist temple, or the Red Swastika Society (basically the Chinese Red Cross…only mostly outside of China – I used to drive by one every day). Outside of these contexts, the swastika quickly becomes a problematic symbol.
Banzai is alarmingly similar the more I investigate it. Regardless of it’s origins, it has been co-opted by the Japanese far-right, who deny many wartime atrocities committed by Japan during WW2. These far-right groups have slowly been becoming more prominent in Japan, but that is another story; the point is the main group within Japan that is known for shouting Banzai also deny or ignore war crimes committed in East Asia during WW2.
I know the context of L5R is far removed from WW2 and its various atrocities, but that is not necessarily clear to casual observers. If people waved around swastika banners at a My Little Pony event, it would be viewed with similar scorn.
My opinion started off as ‘shouting Banzai is kinda weird, but not really offensive’ but as I’ve researched the situation more, I’ve come around to ‘shouting Banzai is somewhere between ignorant and very offensive, and looks really dumb’. Either way, I’m not really interested in joining in n events where Banzai shouts are expected.
Reading through the comments on SUSD and other articles online definitely changed my mind.
My original mindset was:
That’s interesting that the game is robust enough to develop cultural traditions. Chanting banzai is a little weird, but I love the enthusiasm.
Now it is:
Wow, banzai has a lot of ugly history behind it that basically precludes a welcoming environment for people of all backgrounds.
what exact arguments did that?
why judge people that did the chant in the past without meeting them first, take part in a tournament and check on your own if community is welcoming or not?
I want to be clear: I’m not judging people who were chanting. I would have been one of them were I an l5r player. I think they are probably all good people who want to participate in a fun and welcoming game.
Through no fault of their own, they were ignorant of the fact that the banzai chant makes some people feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome. This is understandable given its history. Given the knowledge that the banzai chant is so alienating for some people, I hope the community is able to adapt to be more welcoming, even if it means giving up on a tradition.
should we now await the crusade against wargamers playing nazi german themed models?
i personally think that smokers camping in front of the tournament main site entrance make people feel very unwelcome and uncomfortable. can we do something about it?
Do the wargamers chant “Heil!” at the start of every tournament? If so, then yes, we should await the crusade against them, though I’m surprised that it hasn’t started yet. If not, then no, because it’s a rather different situation.
Where I live, there’s a bylaw that bans smoking within 5 metres of a building entrance. Many other places have similar laws. So even if you can’t get venues to do something about the smokers, government will likely address the problem eventually. Admittedly, they’re more worried about people’s health than about making people feel welcome, but the effect will probably be the same.
how is chanting different from using oppressive symbols in this context?
One is celebratory, the other isn’t. There would be a problem with a historical wargame that idolized nazis or other war criminals.
Also, I’m all for preventing smokers from standing in public entranceways, secondhand smoke has real health effects in addition to the nuisance.
I was looking for a new game to get into after falling out of the Netrunner scene, and it looks like the systems are quite interesting, so it’s a bummer to see that that the theming/flavor of the game brings up a lot of negative emotions.
As an outsider, I agree that the “Banzai” thing is pretty bizarre. I think the communal shout is cool, though - one suggestion I’ve heard is that people could cheer for their clans instead. The faction loyalty is a huge appeal of the game to me anyway.
On the other hand, I just don’t see as many white people as everyone else seems to. I’m honestly trying here, and like, out of the three cards above, Asahina Artisan and Asako Diplomat do not look like white people to me. Akodo Toturi I maybe see the argument, but that’s with the benefit of really looking for it. I’m curious if I’m missing something here. Is it the weird hair colors that are throwing people off? The box cover art I do see, for the record, and I agree that’s unfortunate.
Regardless of the cultural issues around “banzai”, I think think screaming in public is vulgar, disruptive to other people at the convention/store, and shouldn’t be part of any game, tradition or not. 40k players screaming “WAAAAAAAAAGH” were bad enough, and now this?
Gameplay-wise though this is certainly my favorite of the LCGs.
While we’re not considering closing this thread at the moment, I’m going to ask those contributing to this thread to avoid strawman arguments, and derailing comments, particularly with respect to the discussion about cultural appropriation. The fact is that there are those who are genuinely put off taking part by several aspects of L5R, and we should be trying to understand their perspective, not to deny it or minimise it.
For me, the chanting feels cringe worthy, regardless of which words are used. So I see no problem changing it or removing it if people are offended by it. It is always better for a community to be inclusive.
People cosplaying or stays in character is fine, it creates a special atmosphere.
I want to like this post multiple times!
Edit: I was never going to get into the game anyway, but I was totally interested in trying it. After reading the SU&SD review and comments, I am not anymore.
The weird way in which the the theme essentially meshes Asian stereotypes for Western consumption (I don’t mean having an Asian theme itself; that’s cool, I mean the way it is done), in particular the odd culture of pretending to be Honourable Warriors and shouting stuff at tournaments is really off-putting to me – and let’s be clear, this is not only because the players do it, it’s included in FFG’s official Organised Play guidelines for the game!
FFG managed to be inclusive and to depict all sorts of different cultures respectfully in Netrunner, it’s a pity they couldn’t do so in L5R. At least so far.
Can you list a few of these Stereotypes?
Legend of the Five Cringe more like it
Last time I saw Banzai being used was when Tokyo won the olympic bid (around 1:45 in the video):
I was surprised it’s still used, but I’ve barely been exposed to it outside of movies.