Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Not sure what to make of this

Sorry to get political on a gaming blog, but I need to address this.

Earlier in the year I put out the Chanbara Characters paper minis set on my DrivethruRPG store, Hidden Treasure Books. Now frequent blog readers will know that I'm terrible at self-promotion. It's my Midwesterner background, maybe, or my introversion. If people want what I'm offering, great! I'm happy to provide it. But I don't go posting about them all over the place, all the time here, or in barely semi-relevant comments on others' blogs or forums. If they become relevant, I might bring them up.

Needless to say, I don't check for feedback or reviews as often as I should. The paper minis line has only gotten one review anyway (positive), and all of the feedback about Chanbara was here, aside from one comment on Drivethru asking about the print version when only the PDF was available.

I did check the other day, and found that a guy named David B had posted this:

Customer avatar
David B June 10, 2019 12:33 am Asia/Tokyo
Why did you not give them Japanese skin tones or did you not want to lose the opportunity for some virtue signalling 
I posted a response there, but probably this David character will never check back to see it, since I missed his comment for five months. So David B, if you're reading this and would like to further explain yourself, please feel free to chime in in the comments. 

My response to this was to laugh, honestly. I was pretty up front about the creation process of the paper minis here on the blog. So I'm guessing this guy isn't a regular reader. I'm a pretty poor artist. I never really developed my talent in art. I don't try to create the art myself. I take public domain images and modify them using GIMP. Sometimes that's just cropping out all the background to leave the character. Sometimes, if it's a black and white original, I colorize it. Sometimes I modify them to add weapons/armor or modify the pose a bit. Mostly though, it's selecting the figure I want from the original and deleting the rest. 

Now, with my Basic Adventurers set (see how I did that! Product placement!), I did go to some effort to make sure there were equal male and female figures, and that there were a variety of skin tones depicted. Many years ago, a Filipino friend I was gaming with took a look at my minis and asked me, in all seriousness, "Why are they all white?" And my only answer was that, being white myself, and thinking of Medieval fantasy as typically European-coded, they were all white. Then I stared painting more variety on my minis.
It doesn't hurt me in any way to be more inclusive. And if customers appreciate having some choices for fantasy characters that look more like they do (or a chance to use a figure that very much does NOT look like they do), great! Win-win, right?

With the Chanbara set, though, I was collecting Japanese public domain art, and some vintage photographs (also public domain). I didn't need to colorize anything, as they were already in color. The vintage photos were already colorized. 

The range of skin tones found in the Chanbara Characters set are the range of skin colors depicted by actual Japanese artists of the 17th through 19th centuries. In other words, most of these figures are of Japanese subjects as painted by actual Japanese artists. The rest are photos of Japanese people (colorized by someone other than me).
And this David B person, since his location lists him as Asia/Tokyo and assuming that he really is posting from somewhere in Asia, should realize that East Asian peoples actually do have quite the range of skin tones. I have students here in Korea who are just as pasty white as my Celtic/Germanic-heritage white ass (one who's even paler!) and some who are so dark they could almost pass for African-heritage. And that's not counting the fake tan "ko-gyaru" in Japan. I'm talking about the soccer club boys or track girls who spent a lot of time out in the sun. 

So I'm stumped as to why David B, if he is actually in Asia and not just using a VPN to make it look that way, wouldn't know this.

I'm also wondering why he thinks I'm "virtue signalling" by this. Makes me think he's just another one of those incel alt-right asshats on the internet, pissed off that someone, somewhere, is doing things without the express purpose of pissing people off. Or even worse, that he's crypto-fascist and doing his own virtue-signalling to his Aryan brothers on one of the most obscure items for sale on DriveThru. Like I've literally sold 4 copies of this thing. That's all. 
Now that sounds pretty bad. And I don't like to make wild assumptions about people like this. So David B, if you are reading, please prove me wrong in the comments. I'd love to know what your motivation was for posting that comment. Were you actually offended in some way? Are you (needlessly) defending Asian people from some perceived slight? Are you virtue signalling to the Regressive Right? Or did you just feel ripped off because you're one of those 4 people who spent your buck-fifty on this thing and weren't satisfied with it?


  1. Thanks, man. Nothing was spoiled by this guy, but it did feel good to write about it.

  2. Replies
    1. Obviously. The mystery is not why he used the term virtue signalling, it's why he bothered to try and insult me on a z-tier niche within a niche within a niche product, in a way that makes no sense.

      Which is why I posted the insulting assumptions of his motives. To hopefully draw him out and see what fun we might have. :D

  3. The tag Asia/Tokio is not related yo his location but the hour showed. This is, YOUR hour. In my screen you both have a Europe/Berlín tag.
    (My apologies for my poor english)

    1. Thanks for the info, Etheyrn. Now I've got a better idea about this joker. Probably just a troll who has no idea what Japanese people's skin tones are like, and offended by the fact that not everyone in the world fits his limited viewpoint.