Why we need more “dangerous” embodiments

While comparing the differences in bodily motions of the white plantation owner and the black slave, I wasn’t sure if I was bringing my own set of expectations or if the difference in movement was intended in the game. The white plantation owner was clearly taller than the black slave, but I wasn’t able to figure out if the white plantation owner walked more “proudly” with his head held high than the black slave, who at first glance, seemed to keep her head slightly lower. It seemed like I had brought in my own set of expectations about the plantation owner and the black slave which drastically shaped my playing experience.

This brings me to two points: the importance of process-based projects and the need for more embodiments despite the “dangerous” nature. If the project was process-based and had a narrative of what was based on historical evidence and what was interpreted when designing the characters, I would be able to better distinguish what my own expectations were and adjust accordingly to perceptions that are more historically authentic. This is especially important for potential players of the game who might have very skewed ideas and biases of what a black slave or white plantation owner looked like. Grounding these embodiments with historically accurate accounts can be very dangerous, but we should not let the “dangerous” nature of these embodiments turn us away from making them. It is imperative that we expose people’s own expectations, just as it did with me, and make them confront and question these perceptions. As a result, people may have more well-informed thoughts and perspectives on controversial histories like slavery and get a more accurate depiction of what actually happened during that time.

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