Edit -1 - Excerpt From Posts Announcing My Semi-retirement From This Thread
(...) as things are now I've more or less said my piece and made all the points I can reasonably make (unless something changes significantly with regards to the discourse in this thread). As such I'm (...) stepping back from this thread for a bit and seeing if anyone steps foreward to take my place in leading the conversation (though I still might pop in now and again to respond to a particularily interesting comment).
Part of the reason why I'm trying to put some distance between myself and this thread is that I feel that my objections to this event have dominated the conversation for too long and I would like to step aside to give others who share some of my sentiments a chance to make their own voices heard. My objective, since the reopening of this thread, has always been to inspire others to speak. If that doesn't happen, then I have clearly overestimated the reach of my message in this community and cannot in good conscience continue to bother all of you in the pursuit of my own comfort.
Edit 0 - Original Post Preserved For Reference
I love this game, but I feel very disapointed in it in light of the decision to include an event glorifying the United States, especially at this particular time. While to some symbols like the fifty tar US flag and Uncle Sam might seem harmless, to me and many others they are painful icons of conquest, oppression, exploitation, hate and murder. The US's extensive history and ongoing actions of genocide and human rights violations in addition to its authoritarian and racist government and head of state should speak for themselves as to why this is.
I hope that in the future SEGA will be sensitive to the fact that the continent of North America includes countries other than the US, such as Canada, Mexico and Carribean states, which have been and continue to be the victims of direct and indirect abuses by the US. Furthermore, within these countries as well as the US itself are members, descendants or relatives of groups of people who have been targetted and continue to be targetted by the US for oppression, exploitation and genocide.
I don't expect SEGA to do anything about it now, though I would like an apology and the removal of these items with explicitly US iconography from the game, I think it would be a good idea to avoid the use of the flags and symbols of real world nations and organizations in the future given their complex and often problematic histories, except when called for by in-universe conditions such as in Episode 4.
Edit 1: Except Of Follow-Up Post For Less Inflammatory Conversation
... I myself have made some insensitive comments ... but I'd like us to remember what we're all working towards here. We all want to feel included, welcomed, acknowledged and be able to enjoy this game together.
For some of us this event makes us feel included, welcomed and acknowledged. For others, it does the opposite. I don't want to take away those feelings from the first group, but I hope the people in the first group can acknowledge the feelings of those in the second group.
... I'll admit that I could have framed [my first post] more diplomatically, but I didn't expect this thread or my account to survive past the first page so I took a hard line stance in the hopes of sending a message. While the words written therein do represent my heart of hearts, I am also open to dialogue and compromise. When you start negotiating, it's a bad tactic to ask for less than what you actually expect ot get, and a good tactic to ask for more. I don't realisticly expect this event or these symbols to be removed, but what middle ground can we find between those who do want them in the game and those who don't?
I'm not sure where this will all lead, but for now I'm satisfied that we're having this dialogue.
Edit 2: Excerpt From Post Drawing A Distinction Between The US Nation And The American People
... I'd like to apologize to you and everyone else if I gave you the impression that I think all people from the US are bad. I actually feel quite the opposite! To the best of my knowledge, no single group of people on this Earth has done more to fight US imperialism than the American people, as paradoxical as that may seem. Furthermore the American people are also harmed (albeit less so than their foreign targets) by US imperialism, so I consider us all victims here. It is strictly the imperialistic foreign policy, the government, and (as a very distant third) the institution of the nation state of the US and their associated symbols that I take issue with. To avoid such confusion in the future, I will be using the term US exclusively to refer to the nation and the term American exclusively to refer to the people who live there.
Edit 3: Excerpt of Post For Clarification Of Objective
(...) I would like to clarify my stance on what should be done with these symbols. While I said that I personally would like to have the event changed and/or the symbols removed so that I can play the game without having to see them, I would not want the event changed and/or symbols removed unless there was a substantial segment of the community that supported such an alteration. To do so would be an act of idealogical and iconographic imperialism that would be a feat of great hypocricy, not to mention being in opposition to my personal values.
(...) When I ask "could we not have done this differently" or some variation there of, it's not a rhetorical question, it's me trying to find viable alternatives to see if there are any accpetable compromises. Would a "Freedom Day," an Independence Day in all but name and specific imagery be acceptable? If not and it specificly had to be the actual Independence Day, would different symbols be accpetable?
Instead of the current US flag, would not the Betty Ross flag of the original thirteen colonies, an image more closely linked with the history of this holiday, suffice? Or that yellow flag with the snake? "Don't Tead On Me" is a message that resonates with the spirit of this celebration and is a more universally applicable rejection of oppression. The Flag of the Union from the Civil War period, though I suspect it would be more contraversial domesticly, represents an opposition to slavery which was lacking in the immediate aftermath of US independence and could be seen as completing the ideals associated with this holiday. Instead of Uncle Sam, could we not have had an attire inspired by the Minutemen or the Founding Fathers?
If there is truly no room for compromise and the event that we have now has to be presented exactly as is on this year and all others, could we not have an option to hide the lobby decorations (...) or the outfits and accessories (...)?
I hope I can make it clear that I am not trying to force my will on anyone. I would simply like to enjoy this game with peace of mind. If that is impossible, I can just stop playing for the duration of this event, or longer, if I so choose, but I hope that you can come to see it as a reasonable course of action to voice my objections to the event and request (not demand) a change, even if you don't agree with my feelings.
Edit 4: Excerpt of Post For Clarification Of Discussion
(...) I feel that a bulleted list of my specific issues might be helpful.
This PSO2 Service is for the North American region. I haven't found a list of all the countries that are officially supported by this particular service, but a list of all the counrties considered to be in North America can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_in_North_America . I feel that the game should be welcoming and inclusive by corporate standards (which includes convincing people to play and pay for your game) to as many people within this region as possible within reason. For example, the game is only available in English right now as far as I can tell, so I don't expect them to magically conjure up French, Spanish and Portuguese localizations any time soon to accomodate various group within the region as that would likely be unrealistic considering their budget.
I could get into the fact the having the US Independence Day as the universal holiday of the Americas reinforces the US cultural hegemony over the region which has caused all sorts of problems, but maybe I'll save that for next year. For today, we will pretend that Independence Day is regarded in a universally positive light as a celebration of all humankind's struggle to attain and maintain liberty. I will focus solely on the presence of what I consider troubling symbols of US imperialism, the fifty star flag and Uncle Sam.
As an extension of point the first, for a company being inclusive has two sides: working to bring people (and therefore money) in and avoiding pushing people (and their money) away. Bringing people in is a bit more difficult (and expensive) since it involves things like marketing and supporting other languages. Not pushing people away is usually free, but it may have opportunity costs associated with it. In this particular case, I think it's safe to say that everyone posting here is already "in," so the discussion largely centers around "what would push us away?"
For me, and people like me (who maybe don't even play this game, so I'm effectively only speaking for myself), symbols like the fifty star US flag and Uncle Sam push me/us away. For me, it's not a deal breaker yet, just very disapointing, troubling and uncomfortable, but lots of games are like that for me and I can push those things aside if the rest of the package is worthwhile, which in this case it is (though I think it will be a long time before I spend any more money on the game, if I ever do). If this becomes part of a pattern where enough things build up to push me away, then maybe I'll be out. We already got Police uniforms, Nazi Germany/Imperial Japan look alike uniforms, and a holiday that, and I'm being charitable here, at least evokes nationalist, imperialist and colonialist symbolism. I understand that this is all probably an accident by people who don't get how bad this looks, but, in my opinion, it looks bad. So like I said, I'm still in for now, but decisions like these really make me question it and is a testament to how much I love this game that I'm willing to sort of put up with it.
I would like my fellow community members to ask themselve whether not having this event specifically featuring a US centric Independence Day theme with symbols such as the fifity star flag and Uncle Sam would push you away. You were already "in" before this event happened, and I'd be surprised if there was a substantial cohort of people planning to quit if no such event with this specific imagery materialized. How many of your started playing just for this event? How much have we gained by having it? Have we gained anything by having it? How much we have lost by having it? Have we lost anything by having it other than some random internet person (that's me) being made to feel disapointed/troubled/uncomfortable by it? Maybe some of you will consider that last one a bonus.
As an addendum to the above, its possible given the large American playerbase that the people pushed away by these symbols are an insignificant consideration compared to the population and spending power of the people who are brought in by them. SEGA has the market research and likely knows better than me the cost/benefit profile of these events. I don't really expect anything to happen or for a large entertainment company to suddenly have a moral awakening, I just wanted to voice how I felt as one data point among many. If there are a lot of people like me and something changes, great! If not, oh well.
There are also good symbols in this event! Like I said earlier, history, societies, cultures, nations, they're all very complex and have lots of good and bad elements. I love the Statue of Liberty! I love the Liberty Bell! I love Barbeques, Las Vegas, the Sega Genesis and Diners! I also love the work that went into making this event for us. However, I still stand by my statement that including these politically charged real world elements draws real world issues and conflicts into the game which should serve as a refuge from real world issues (unless we really want PSO2 to become a game focused on making political commentary; I know I sure don't).