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"The Future is... European?" Topic

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Action Log

22 Dec 2011 12:18 p.m. PST
by The Editor

  • Crossposted to SFRPG board

1,044 hits since 22 Dec 2011
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo The Editor The Editor of TMP Fezian22 Dec 2011 12:17 p.m. PST

One reviewer of Imperium Chronicles, a sci-fi space RPG, criticizes the game background for only including European star-empires:

There is no way that the Indians, Chinese, Arabs, or Africans are going to live in a single human empire without reshaping it their way. As there is no evidence of their political philosophies or cultures in the Imperium as described, they are either simply absent or make up a tiny and/or unimportant minority of the human population (*cough*).

Even Second Edition D&D got past such provincialism, back in the 1990s!

I have no particular gripe regarding Medieval Europe in Space! as a RPG setting, but I do dislike treating 9/10ths of humanity as nonexistent.

Do you agree that all sci-fi space RPGs must include a representative mix of all of Earth's nations?

Personal logo The Editor The Editor of TMP Fezian22 Dec 2011 12:19 p.m. PST

The same reviewer opines:

Once upon a time, sci-fi was about a realistic attempt to See the Future. Now, with The Future looking dark for the West (but great for China, India, and even Africa) it's about the bizarre attempt to recreate a comforting, blinkered version of the Past.

RudyNelson22 Dec 2011 12:23 p.m. PST

If the historical thread for a futuristic universe is Earth base, then yes all cultures need to be included.

A future with non-European political/economic/military blocs developing should be envisioned.

That was one of the things I found interesting about 'Firefly' was that the dominant language cultures were Chinese and not only English.

kyotebluer than blue Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 12:32 p.m. PST


Hevy Phyzx Inactive Member22 Dec 2011 12:36 p.m. PST

I cry a resounding "YES!". The future of humanity is likely to be as varied as it is currently on our home planet. I concur with RudyNelson with regard to one of the reason I so love the "Firefly" stories.

Additionally, in the Matix vision of "Zion" is one that is far more "pigmented" than many current SF games have in them. Even though this is not a "Space SF" situation, it is still a future vision of how humanity will proceed beyond our current cultural society.

SF games should really reflect the idea that it is as likely for China to reach the stars as it is for Russia, the European Union, or the U.S. Our own culture here in the U.S. has as varied a racial background as any so a "Euro-centric" racial make-up of a spacefaring culture is difficult to fathom.

Andy Welkley
"Your Phrendlee Hevy Phyzx T-chrr"

Personal logo richarDISNEY of the RDGC Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 12:40 p.m. PST

Of course!
Have you never played Reich Star?
I love this game…

Space Monkey22 Dec 2011 12:57 p.m. PST

In a plausible future, yeah… lots of different Earth cultures in attendance (if not actually driving the bus).
But I don't demand that all scifi RPGs be plausible…

Also, those scenes of Zion in The Matrix made it seem like the place was just one big dance club… where anyone less photogenic or over 40 had been locked out. So, no less prejudiced in it's assumptions than Star Wars.

Lentulus22 Dec 2011 1:03 p.m. PST

must include a representative mix of all of Earth's nations?

Must is one of "those" words. I think it would be more reasonable, and done right (not easy. China and India for example are not exactly ethnically homogenous no matter how they look from outside)it would be fun, but how much of the market would really recognize the potential?

European star-empires:

Based on quick glance around the streets of London or Paris, how mono-ethnic is such a future likely to be?

coryfromMissoula Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 1:24 p.m. PST

I've been running a sci fi RPG lately and have tried to show diverse ethnicities settling the stars. The players have no problems with that but respond to non Eurocentric names with rather silly nick names and try to deal with NPCs whose names are familiar. Not racism really, just trying to follow familiar paths.

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 1:26 p.m. PST

A Chinese future empire would currently seem to be the most likely option anyway.

Having said that, a European or American based based universe is more understandable to European or American gamers, and as such makes more sense for games designers. After all, they each game is only designed for one out of endless possible futures, might as well use the one people would prefer to game.

punkrabbitt returns22 Dec 2011 1:32 p.m. PST

China and India are the future in space. Euro-descendants will be a minority.

Timbo W22 Dec 2011 1:34 p.m. PST

OK, so going on current populations, for eg. a spaceship with 100 people onboard then if its a random mix you'd have

19 Chinese
17 Indians
4 Americans (USA)
3 Indonesians
3 Brazilians
2 Pakistanis
2 Nigerians
2 Russians
2 Bangladeshis
2 Japanese
2 Mexicans
1 Filipino
1 Vietnamese
1 Ethiopian
1 German
1 Egyptian
1 Iranian
1 Turk
1 Thai
1 Congolese
1 French
1 British
1 Italian
1 South African
1 South Korean
1 Burmese
1 Colombian
1 Spaniard
1 Ukrainian
1 Tanzanian
1 Argentinian
1 Pole
1 Algerian
20 Everyone else

britishlinescarlet2 Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 1:38 p.m. PST

The future will consist solely of my clones!


skippy000122 Dec 2011 1:42 p.m. PST

Why not a future where everyone has race, ethnicity and culture mixed up-Firefly didn't go far enough.

VCarter22 Dec 2011 1:45 p.m. PST

The answer to the question is another question. Who builds stuff?

Is there an African or Middle-eastern car company? If a country can build cars today then they could build a commercial air lines next and then starships one day.

You may be able to hitch a ride (as we are doing with the Russians now), but you will need to build your own ships if you want to expand into a star empire.

RTJEBADIA22 Dec 2011 2:12 p.m. PST

I tend to assume (in my own settings and in most settings that don't explicitly have modern earth countries or near future equivalents settling space) that humans, in space, are a big mix of folks from all over Earth. And, usually, there has been a lot of stirring, if you catch my drift.

Hence, people tend to get names from a variety of cultures. Ethnicity is usually pretty much irrelevant (when painting 15mm models i tend to just randomly vary skin tone a bit, it makes everyone look more like an individual, even if in a given group they're all of the same general tone).

Culture is probably pretty much American with some other cultures I know a bit better (for whatever reason) mixed in here and there. I try to get a bit of a feel of cultural mixing, but I'm American, and frankly most of the differences are starting to become fairly minor details even today, and so usually I focus on big things, like differing religions, differing governments, and a couple of cultural traits that might pop up…

but even then, those are based on planet more than Earth cultures, so I get a bit of freedom with where I take things….

Allen5722 Dec 2011 2:14 p.m. PST

Oh bother!

(Sorry guys I got called away and hit enter when I meant to finish my thought after checking on the grandkids.)

The premise that SF is factually based is true of a very small part of the genre. It is fiction. You can hypothisize anything you wish ignoring the reality of current day. Who knows what the future holds. I havent seen one futurist yet who got it right.


Stealth100022 Dec 2011 2:23 p.m. PST

Firefly was pretty muticultral. Ithink we will take out dirrences to new worlds.

ochoin deach Inactive Member22 Dec 2011 2:28 p.m. PST

They covered this in the early 70s:

YouTube link

Personal logo Dropship Horizon Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 Dec 2011 4:21 p.m. PST

As pointed out previously – first, it's a game, not an accurate attempt to predict the future.

Secondly, it's science fiction, so the author can pitch the ethnic/cultural groups any way he pleases to support the fictional setting he has created. He no more needs to include any or every nationality on Earth, any more than he needs to include every possible alien species in the galaxy.

Thirdly, if the core engine of the game is sound and the nationality thing matters to you, change it to suit your personal tastes or requirements.


Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 6:44 p.m. PST

L Sprague de Camp had a series of stories, which I never read, on Brazilians in Space.

Augustus22 Dec 2011 6:58 p.m. PST

Given the current racial mixing, by the time we are ready to go off into other star systems, there is a high likelihood we won't understand ethinicity outside of the occasional racial variation. Assuming we don't get off this world any time soon.

Eventually, there will not be any racial divisions of any great, or easily seen, ordering.

Personal logo J Womack 94 Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 7:14 p.m. PST

John: I read those books. Not bad, but not great. I assume you mean the Bio of a Space tyrant series?

Barring some sort of massive leap forward in space technology, at the rate we are going, ethnic differneces will be much less important by the time we get Out There.

And, for the record, while I agree with the reviewer's outlook for China (and to a lesser degree, India), I don't see Africa taking a great leap into space anytime soon.

Plus, there was Traveller: 2300, with star nations originating in South America and Asia as well as Europe and North America.

But let's get real. Everyone knows Texas will rule the spaceways. We have Chuck Norris. grin

Chrisj22 Dec 2011 7:46 p.m. PST

It's only a game and Sci- Fi to boot so it can be any kind of universe the designer imagines. We already have to consider every ethnic, religious,gender or cultural grouping in real life so please give us a break when we decide to retreat into our mythical gaming universe.

Covert Walrus22 Dec 2011 9:02 p.m. PST

J Womack "Bio" was by Piers Anthony, I think John the OFM was thinking of the Interplaneterias series: Really rathr good, especially with it's "Only Just FTL" drive and some fascinating aliens.

As for me, I think the GZGverse is pretty close to right given FTL developing sometime in the next century or so. However, there are other options; In the cheap-y Spaceways series ( Which I am convinced is written by a great but sadly neglected writer working to pay the bills there is stuff in the books that is too clever by half, like the opening paragraph in which two people discuss an event, and their genders are hidden until the very end entence ), while the humans are physically diverse hair colours are mostly blonde, fair or red, and pale skin is favoured there is a passage where someone is described as Caucasian and the characters are shocked since none of those races survived the Maoist Wars back in the Earth system three centuries earlier.

And the dominant religions are Taoism and Buddhism – the latter being a rich source of common curses . . .

Aapsych2022 Dec 2011 9:19 p.m. PST

I think we're making a lot of demographic assumptions here. Ethnicities are not so clear cut as we might imagine them to be. There are different kinds of Chinese and Indians, certainly Americans, even Ukrainians, etc., etc. When you break it down to mere genes, the pond becomes even more hazy as regards who is going to cooperate with whom at any given time or who's going to compete, violently or otherwise, at any given time. So the possibilities for sci-fi are quite endless.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Dec 2011 9:33 p.m. PST

Lord of Light.
'Nuff said.

Personal logo Lluis of Minairons Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Dec 2011 3:12 a.m. PST

OK, so going on current populations, for eg. a spaceship with 100 people onboard then if its a random mix you'd have

19 Chinese
17 Indians
4 Americans (USA)
3 Indonesians
3 Brazilians
2 Pakistanis
2 Nigerians
2 Russians
2 Bangladeshis
2 Japanese

Well, if we took this same statistics and count the European Union citizens altogether instead of separately, then we'd get not less than 6 out of 100 --not to say about the remnant unspecific 20 ones.

It gives to Europeans a comfortable 3rd position --better a bronze than nothing!

Spectacle Inactive Member23 Dec 2011 3:53 a.m. PST

Cultures come and go. Whoever is the first into space in substantial numbers will probably culturally dominate the space age, as later arrivals will tend to assimilate into the early arrivals.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2011 4:08 a.m. PST

Considering that I have money riding that the next people to land on the Moon are going to speak Mandarin for their first language (and English second), that should tell you where I think the world is headed.

Even Infinity did a better job punting nations into space, with PanO being dominated by the Aussies, Philippines, and Indians; Yu Jing being the return of the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" under different management; a 'new' Islamic culture that's something of the return of the Ottoman Empire; a nation of everyone else's outcasts; and the remains of the US and EU are the backwater of the Sphere.

Each one of those major blocks has several different subcultures, too.

Buff Orpington23 Dec 2011 7:01 a.m. PST

OK, so going on current populations, for eg. a spaceship with 100 people onboard then if its a random mix you'd have

19 Chinese
17 Indians
4 Americans (USA)
3 Indonesians
3 Brazilians
2 Pakistanis
2 Nigerians
2 Russians
2 Bangladeshis
2 Japanese

Well, if we took this same statistics and count the European Union citizens altogether instead of separately, then we'd get not less than 6 out of 100 --not to say about the remnant unspecific 20 ones.

It gives to Europeans a comfortable 3rd position --better a bronze than nothing!

We Brits do better than that, we can grab slots for Indian-British, Bangladeshi-British, Nigerian-British etc. Of course the whole thing will be financed by our future overlords, the Russian/Chinese-British. Strike up the band for a rousing rendition of 'Rule Brittainia' chaps.

PS, none of the above should be taken seriously. Oh, kindly leave us out of the EU total, some things are beyond the pale.

JSchutt23 Dec 2011 7:31 a.m. PST

I would not over think it. Cultures as a rule pass in and out of relevance. Those cultures within "globally mixed free societies" that have some sucess hyper populating will always take the advantage for better or worse. As was once said "every dog has his day"… so anything goes no matter how unlikely it might seem.

Aliens (which include currently nonexistent bacterial mutations) will use us as a foodsource long before then anyway.

Spreewaldgurken Inactive Member23 Dec 2011 11:55 a.m. PST

The whole concept of nationality is on the way out, very fast.

In one more generation the majority of humans will be in constant real-time communication with all other humans and with all knowledge, which is in a constant state of flux.

Already we've lost some of the most basic concepts that have been with humanity for 100,000+ years. For instance, when is the last time you heard somebody say that they were "lost" ? With everybody wired to real-time GPS, that concept has completely disappeared. Soon, everybody will know where everybody else is, at all times, what we're all doing, with whom we're doing it, etc. We'll become a sort of Borg Collective.

Nationality can only last if people still think in terms of borders and separation. But humanity is moving at blinding speed in the opposite direction.

Already a teenager in Ontario has more in common with a teenager in Brazil or India, than she does with her own grandmother, much less with her government.

Already people identify more with brand loyalties than with state loyalties. Everybody professes to hate their government, to not want to be told what to do, to not pay their taxes, etc… And yet everybody passionately loves their particular kind of i-device or tablet or social media software, and is very devoted to their preferred products. People fear and loathe Big Government and resent having to fill out Census forms… and yet they gleefully post every detail of their personal lives on their blogs, Facebook pages, Cloud, etc. – giving more trust and commitment to corporations than they would ever give to a national government.

THOSE are the loyalties that will matter in the future. Government and nationality are on the way out. Corporate and brand loyalty is on the way in. The "Apple Empire" versus the "Facebook Empire," and so on.

Lentulus23 Dec 2011 12:28 p.m. PST

The whole concept of nationality is on the way out, very fast.

I have several friends who were born in Yugoslavia and might disagree with you, even if they wish you were right.

Spreewaldgurken Inactive Member23 Dec 2011 12:32 p.m. PST

I've known plenty of Yugoslavs, too, and all of them had left Yugoslavia and were totally fine with members of other Yugoslav nationalities, as long as they were both on some other, neutral ground, like America or Germany, etc.

And we're talking about humans flying around in space, rather than being rooted to old blood-and-soil rivalries, such as where grandma's bones are buried.

Farstar Inactive Member23 Dec 2011 12:42 p.m. PST

Because there will be new soil-and-blood reasons to fight once the real estate listings go FTL.

Covert Walrus23 Dec 2011 12:57 p.m. PST

"And we're talking about humans flying around in space, rather than being rooted to old blood-and-soil rivalries, such as where grandma's bones are buried"

*Ahem* You clearly have never met a NZ Maori then – far travellers all, yet they maintain a strong connection to their ancestral burial grounds. And I don't see it changing in less than two centuries. . . .

Spreewaldgurken Inactive Member23 Dec 2011 1:10 p.m. PST

You guys are so focused on the present and past, that you don't see the future happening all around you.

Just look at this conversation: this was utterly unthinkable, 20 years ago. Now we take for granted the idea that we can converse with an unlimited number of strangers all across the earth, simultaneously.

The speed with which all the fundamental interactions of humankind are breaking down, and being replaced with this new paradigm, is incredible. We're in the opening stages of a transformation that is way, way bigger than Gutenberg.

The idea of the nation-state is only @200 years old. "Nationality" is not eternal, and it won't be around much longer. The fundamental pre-conditions for it, are all vanishing.

Gattamalata23 Dec 2011 4:01 p.m. PST

For instance, when is the last time you heard somebody say that they were "lost" ? With everybody wired to real-time GPS, that concept has completely disappeared.

All the time, myself included, as not all of us have fancy phones.

Farstar Inactive Member23 Dec 2011 4:09 p.m. PST

I didn't get lost before such things became available, so why should I be getting lost now?

Lentulus23 Dec 2011 4:23 p.m. PST

The idea of the nation-state is only @200 years old.

IMHO, YMMV Nation is a complete construct. But then, people construct things like that.

Us and Them and Them's a threat is a lot older, no matter what the branding. Or the characteristics targeted as making Them different from Us.

An author or designer who could come up with cleavage lines besides Language, Race, Religion, Class or "Nation" (whatever the heck that means) would have a far more interesting book or game setting.

There will be cleavage lines, unless human nature changes.

GarrisonMiniatures Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2011 4:29 p.m. PST

'The idea of the nation-state is only @200 years old.'

Not so.

National identity depends on lots of things. In the name of national identity and religion, the Jews wiped out all the other peoples in parts of Palestine, established a nation, were themselves booted out of that part of Palestine, then 2000 years later reformed as a nation in terms of land and formed the state of Israel. Point is, for 2000 years they kept a sense of identity as a nation when they weren't.

Other religious groups spread out, conquered new territories then basically split into nationslong ethnic lines. Persians and Arabs were part of a Muslim empire, didn't last. It split on national and ethnic grounds. The process is still happening – the Kurds would love their own nation, they are just too weak to achieve it.

The Communist domino effect – it happened, but then everyone kept their national identities and agendas. I dn't see any signs of Vietnam and China joining forces to become a greater communist entity.

I don't see this changing in future. New nations may be formed, but they will take on the character of their parent cultures. Mexicans speak Spanish, Brazilians speak Portugese. They maintain links with their 'motherlands'. As do, of course, the UK, US, Canada and Australia maintain stronger links than with, say France or Spain. Although the mix in the US makes it a bit more complicated, and immigration can also eventuaslly change the character of a nation a bit.

evilmike25 Dec 2011 4:50 a.m. PST

H.Beam Piper did a pretty good job of mixing up ethnic backgrounds in his classic Terro-Human Future History series (Space Viking, Little Fuzzy, etc).

Personal logo Brigadier General Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2011 9:33 a.m. PST

Don't care if they are included or not as long as the game is good.

billthecat27 Dec 2011 12:46 p.m. PST

Ethnicity is not synonomous with Nationality. One is either genetic or cultural, the other is artificial and based on taxation.

As far the (fiction) of FTL travel/empire is concerned, how will interstellar 'nations' maintain national identity and legislation given the real size of planets and the real diversity of human cultures and desires? Global hegemony hasn't happend yet… interstellar hedgemony will be even more difficult. Which is to say that governments as such have limited scope, and the idea of any interstellar organization definable as such is almost as far fetched as FTL travel itself…

An interstellar currency and language seem more plausible, and these would not be bound by ethnicity or legislation.

Lion in the Stars Supporting Member of TMP27 Dec 2011 1:17 p.m. PST

And based on discussions with several people who have been there, the Afghanis haven't even developed the concept of 'nation' yet, so what do you mean it's on the way out? There literally isn't a concept in their mind for 'tribe-of-tribes'.

Yes, among the first-world nations, the very concept of community is changing very dramatically. I have more in common with you guys online than I do with my parents, but that's not the same as my *national* identity.

An interstellar currency and language seem more plausible, and these would not be bound by ethnicity or legislation.
Language, maybe, since each ship will be the next closest thing to out of communication for a long time. Currency requires some kind of legislation.

RTJEBADIA27 Dec 2011 1:43 p.m. PST

"Global hegemony hasn't happend yet… interstellar hedgemony will be even more difficult."

Once you've made the step to thinking of an entire planet as more or less equivalent to what we think of as a nation today, things kinda flow from there.

Besides, who says every planet is as large and diverse as Earth? Assuming we don't find any Vilani or something, all human worlds will be much, MUCH lower population (and much younger and much less spread out) than Earth is. It will be natural that these colonies would be under a single government.

Earth will probably remain 'balkanized,' though if interplanetary politics become important enough that Earth needs to be able to present a unified face to the various colonies/aliens then you'll see something like a mix of the UN and the coalition of space agencies we have today be the foreign policy world gov't. Circumstances could force Earth to unify, and those circumstances could lead to a permanently unified Earth… certainly, after a certain point, if Earth is the only balkanized planet and other planets are starting to be pretty powerful in their own right (though this would be most likely to happen if there were aliens, not colonies of Earth), Earth will be forced to unify.

billthecat27 Dec 2011 2:44 p.m. PST

The idea of planets as nations is what seems debatable to me. There seems to br a real flaw in this premise given history. A colony being under a single government holds by definition, but a world as a single colony does not. Because we are dealing with fiction, any number of sweeping premises may be invented to justify various interstellar governments, but these must all pass the question of "why?" and "how is this enforced?" I don't want to get into a political debate here, but rather question the possibility of such political entities (interstellar governments) existing in an interstellar setting… there is a lot of space to secede to in space… The American Revolution is one example of what might happen when governments are 'far removed' in time and/or space from their colonies. The basis of the idea is that interstellar politics will resemble global politics, but with much more territory… unless we limit the discussion to there only being a few habitable/valuable planets in the setting/universe, of course. That is, governments compete for resources…
In terms of ethnicities, once removed from Earth, who knows what new cultures may develop. Time is also a factor politically… i.e: why would a self sufficent (?) colony still define itself as Chinese (for example), and pay taxes to a remote Chinese government after one hundred years, except for threat of force? And why would manufacturing and industry be limited to Earth… IMHO, trying to project any 'Earth like order' upon an interstellar (extra-Earth) scenario is stretching it a bit (politically AND culturally)… kinda like the battle of Britain in space, etc… people just relate to it easier, so it makes for accessible fiction… :)
Anyway, all the best.

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