Why are all Sci-fi/Space RPs Xenophobic?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Clirkus, Jul 21, 2015.

  1. So there I was, looking for an interstellar space adventure, casually submitting a character when BAM "Your alien isn't human enough."

    Um, excuse me?

    Hi, my name is Clirkus and for a long time I've wanted to roleplay an Andalite character. For those of you who don't know, Andalites are semi-humanoid centaur-like aliens from the Animorphs series, and they are really cool. Simple enough to grasp, right? A quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know about them. They're not OP, they have recognizable features and feelings, they have species-specific characteristics and all in all they're very feasible.

    But apparently even in a roleplay where you're encouraged to play aliens, they're simply "too alien". This isn't just about Andalites, this is about all alien species who fall outside the narrow-minded idea that you can only be an "alien" if it has human physiology and maybe a face tattoo or different colored skin. Don't get me wrong, I'm not attacking anyone who wants to play a humanoid alien with different colored skin and a face tattoo, I'm just pissed that the only acceptable aliens must in essence, look human and I think that just defeats the purpose of having aliens in a space RP for multiple reasons.

    1) Allowing aliens to exist at all opens a huge door in the world-building aspect of the game. Say you're visiting another planet and get attacked by a monster BUT that monster has to closely resemble an Earth animal (maybe a cow with green fur?). Wow, how lame would that be? No, you want big scary alien monsters with lots of arms and teeth and eyes and purple goo, not some green cow. So why can't that principle apply to creating an alien character too?

    2) It's not as if playing a non-humanoid alien would be stretching the limits of your imagination (and duh, roleplay is all about imagination). I'm not asking for a god-tier omniscient entity made of a ball of energy. I'm asking for a carbon-based biological life form with physical limitations and unique character quirks that doesn't need to conform to human physical standards. Plus, if you choose a pre-existing race from a movie or sci-fi show, all the better because you have pictures or fan art you can use as references.

    3) "Functionality" *shudders* I've heard the functionality argument one too many times. "It's just not functional." For starters, that's total BS. It's science-fiction. Functionality is not the point (besides, I've seen pictures of your cushy and comfortably large live-in spaceship interiors) the point is having an epic space adventure. Having a non-humanoid character is not a handicap, it's an opportunity to try something new.

    (I'd like to point out that I have explained my super-valid logical points and still been turned down)

    And just to be extra clear I'm talking about outer space roleplays that allow and even encourage players to make alien characters (y'know, as long as they're not too alien because they just can't wrap their narrow-xenophobic minds around it) I'm not talking about outer-space roleplays that ask for an exclusively human cast or where humans are the only sentient race.

    So what's the deal? I thought science fiction was supposed to be the pioneer of diversity and equality. I can't be the only one who thinks this. I can't be the only one who wants to play a non-human alien and have it be just as accepted as the human-with-a-face-tattoo-alien.

    I don't know, maybe I just missed all the really creative non-xenophobic space roleplays, but I mean I've really looked.
  2. While I've never had to deal with a similar situation personally I do see where you're coming from. Very few people move away from the Star Trek/Mass Effect trope of the alien's being humans with a few different characteristics or cliches. Star Wars does this too.

    The biggest reasoning would probably be familiarity. People might not be as flexible as you and willing to try handling a different set of character interactions. They can't relate to the alien race in some way that's obvious (muh calibrations-bird-man, green-female-with-boobs, non-humanoid that basically is human) or from a TV series, movie, or video game.

    So yeah, familiarity.
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  3. Late response but I'm posting partly to set precedent.

    Please do not air drama in public or diss on other members or their RPs; it's not very nice, and the GM of the RP you are complaining about could easily read this thread and be hurt or pissed off by it :(

    If you need to vent, it's okay, but try to do it ambiguously without naming (or heavily alluding to) names or instances if at all possible; like

    "Aw man I hate when my aliens get rejected for not being anthropomorphic enough. Anyone else in on this frustration? Here's why I like non-anthro aliens..."
    "Once again my alien is rejected because "you need to make it more human-like", I just wanted to add some creativity to the RP and this is the thanks I get; let me explain why there's nothing wrong with nonhuman aliens"

    You see how one discusses the issue while the other rants about an incidence? We frown on the second version here, and the first is more conducive to an actual discussion, anyway

    For clarity; no one's in trouble, I totally get feeling frustrated and unheard and needing to vent, but I just thought I'd put this out there.


    I love it when a space saga RP encounters aliens that aren't just humans with some tentacles or face paint slapped on! I'm a bit awkward when these aliens are player characters, but then, I do one x ones, so it's a different dynamic.
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  4. I realized I am a pervert when I initially read your post as "I love aliens with some tentacles or face paint, a bit awkward as PCs, but I do One x Ones."......

    *cough*... do you?...

    Please don't ban me!!
  5. Lol!
  6. Ah, I see your point. I was a little fired up I guess but the GM I'm referring to was actually on a different forum, otherwise I wouldn't have used them as an example because I don't like hurting people's feelings and I respect their right to do what they want with their RP.

    It just seems like almost every RP where there are aliens, they can't be "too alien". I did find ONE that wasn't like the others.
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  7. I blame Star Trek for most of it. Due partly to budget, and partly because those running things thought audiences couldn't relate to aliens if they didn't LOOK human, nearly every alien seen on Star Trek was a humanoid of some sort. Just slap a prosthetic forehead on an actor, and you've got an alien.

    And of course, similar shows tended to have aliens who were basically human-looking. Aliens who were non-humanoid, especially those who weren't just carnivorous beasts that existed only to eat people, were few and far between.

    So of course some people have been conditioned to expect their aliens to be basically human, just with weird foreheads or unusual skin colors like green or blue or purple.
  8. This makes a lot of sense. I guess I could attribute my open-mindedness to the fact that I've read a lot of sci-fi where there were non-conventionally-humanoid alien races so I'm just used to seeing all that diversity even when the main protagonists are humans. It's like "wow, the author saw a chance to create something unique and it's freaking cool" and then like you said in movies/TV aliens tend to be more or less human in appearance and most people have probably been more exposed to that and less exposed to aliens of different physiology.

    Idk, I guess at the end of the day I'm just kinda sad that everyone can't appreciate or take full creative advantage of the written word when it comes to other species.
  9. Science Fiction is one of my favourite genres. I've been GMing for several years. I can offer some input on this topic. Personally I'll stretch and allow distinctly non-humans (in my current sci-fi RP, I've allowed a tank-AI played by @Goldmarble & a half-alien half-AI hybrid by @Jorick so, I'm flexible) but there are some arguments to be made about putting limitations on aliens. So. Consider me a Devil's Advocate. I'll address the points first and then counter with a few of my own. :ferret:
    Because sometimes aliens are not meant to be anything more than human-like counterparts that become easier to talk about outside of a cultural context. Since Star Trek was brought up, remember these guys? The whole point of their human-like appearance (save for the skin colour) was to show how insane racism really is. The entire point of Alien Nation was to show how horrible racism was with human-like aliens. It even went into concepts like the Ghetto and brought that to an audience that would have otherwise gone on in ignorance of some of these things.

    Sometimes, aliens provide the ability for us to discuss things comfortably that we as a society otherwise couldn't. Kirk kissing green space babes was televised prime time interracial love at a time where the civil rights movement was still fighting hard to get blacks recognized as equal to whites. Then Star Trek later went ahead and had the balls to actually do it.

    Now, I realize that RP's rarely go into such issues, but sometimes, people just want to play as human-like aliens. To play as humans that have special powers or similar. There's nothing wrong with that, really. If there is, there's something equally wrong with playing as mutants then. Still, it should be noted in the OOC, rather than forcing you to discover it later. :ferret:
    The first part was going strong, and then you ran into the underlined part. Sometimes people want original content, and don't want to steal aliens from other sources. I would deny a Klingon or a Wookiee or whatever those aliens from Titan AE were called, because while I don't mind custom alien races, I wouldn't want someone pulling content from other universes into my own. Even if you can see pieces of my universe that I took inspiration from others for (because that's how creating stuff works), I wouldn't want to outright steal from other works, you know? Nor would I want to approve the characters of others who do.

    Now, if this is a fandom RP, or a multiverse RP, that changes the equation entirely. Go for it--but not in an RP centered around an original universe. You could even create a facsimile race, similar, but not the same, that suits your purposes too.
    Aha, taking a pot shot at the wasted space aesthetics of interior Starship design. You know your stuff, I applaud you!

    However, I can actually counter this point too. Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness. There is an argument to be made about the versatility of the human design: How can you manage a joystick or fire a gun without human-like hands? How do you design seats for things that have horse-like backs? Remember that Sci-Fi hardness is measured both in what we understand biologically and in physics. There are some designs that simply function better than others, and generally the ones with both versatility and intelligence can and will succeed. Consistently, this has been human-like designs from what we've seen. While the intelligence of a dolphin is equal to that of an ape, the ape will generally make more tools and use them than the dolphin will--difference in design, creates and destroys technological adaptation ability.

    Which does present the interesting thought that we might encounter intelligent alien races that equal or even surpass our own intelligence, which are incapable of designing and using the tools we take for granted.

    Sometimes, functionality is the point. That's why it's called Science Fiction, not not Future Fantasy. That being said, you can lean on either side (science or fiction) more or less, it's entirely up to you. I tend to mix both in a boiling pot. From what you said about "having an epic space adventure", you probably lean more on the softer side of things. To give an example of what I mean between the two, Alien is fairly hard science fiction. Aside from the titular creature itself, there's no FTL and ships obey several mechanical properties. Crew have to go into cryo to survive long distance travel, guns still work on largely the same properties of guns today. Even the alien itself, aside from having acid for blood, physically works as an oversized parasitic creature which methodically hunts and kills prey--and it's a humanoid in many aspects. We find it entirely impossible to even relate to or communicate with them either--they're so far non-human that coexistence is not practical or feasible. Star Wars, meanwhile, is all about epic space adventures--and has crazy fucking shit in it that makes no sense whatsoever by our current understanding of science. Like a living, conscious planet, capable of FTL. That's fucking awesome--it's also entirely insane to even consider possible by our current understanding of the universe, which makes it entirely soft sci-fi.


    Also keep in mind a couple other points. These are more important, really, cuz' they go over all RP's, regardless of genre.

    #1: The GM's word is law. Everything he or she says about their universe is Word of God and instant canon--even if it's patently stupid. You can question it and challenge it, but at the end of the day, it's their universe. If you don't like it, and nobody is offering what you want in an RP, make your own. That's what I did about Fantasy, and now I have a five year running RP series with several players in it. Remember: If it doesn't exist, and nobody's offering, make it happen yourself. Take the power yourself. Nobody can take away your ability to become a GM if everyone else's options are full of shit from your perspective. :ferret:

    #2: Fiction is whatever you want it to be. I know you already get this, but I'm just reminding you of this point: Just as much as you're entirely right in saying that there's nothing wrong with non-human aliens, other people are just as right in saying that there is something wrong with it. Fiction is an expression of ourselves, and some ideas are more common than others. I don't particularly like anime RP's for instance, but they're goddamn everywhere--I can't tell hundreds of people that what they enjoy is somehow inferior to what I enjoy, even if I find the large majority of them to be schlock-writing at best. There's nothing wrong with you--but there's nothing wrong with the GM who turned you down, either. The only difference in that situation was, he was the GM, and you weren't. Therefore, his word was law.

    Hope that's helpful as a response. Just remember, I played Devil's Advocate here--I actually agree with you that there should be distinctly non-humans in RP's. The main antagonists of my current sci-fi RP are outright shapeshifters, able to ascertain and adapt any form to their needs--insectoid, reptilian, or even humanoid--but my way isn't always the best way for everyone. Neither is yours. :ferret:
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