Thursday, December 4, 2014

In a Fertile Land but Plants No Seeds

The Philippines is a country rich with culture- we're a collection of tribes with different cultures, beliefs, and physical appearance. As a non-homogeneous country, we enjoy multiculturalism. And with multiculturalism is a clash of epics, stories, beliefs, and a dazzling array of material culture from an assortment of origins. It's not that hard to find something that isn't Filipino in the Philippines. We're that varied.

Cut to the youth of today: no one really knows much about our culture & history. Aspiring writers pepper classrooms- but most of them write in a setting foreign and influenced by Japan or other countries. Is it the familiarity with their own culture that's driving them away? I've no idea really, and I'll rest it at that. The TRPG scene in the Philippines is no different, but on a micro-scale. We're few and far in between, and with a smaller amount of game designer in our midst, we don't get any home-based games.

The lack of a Filipino setting in TRPG sort of irks me because:

1. I'm a bit hesitant to go through a familiarization phase with settings- of course I read setting-centered lore but read up: A reason why I have a bias for universal systems is that I can just use it for anything that hits me and I don't need to read anything else beforehand.

If we have a game that's set in a largely familiar place; with asuangs & tikbalangs, with kantos & conyos, in ghettos & gigantic malls, we can just go straight to the fun. I've no beef against other settings though: it's fun being in a world that has nothing to do with yours (and that is what I'm after, being an escapist) but I also want to pander and play with the world I live in.

2. As mentioned above, we have a pretty cool setting to play in. As Neil Gaiman said; "This is incredibly fertile ground. Why aren’t you using it?"

3. The multiculturalism of the country becomes more and more Western-centric. Yes, sorry if you don't agree and would mindlessly hate and vehemently curse me, but yes it is. Sit down and look around, what do people want, where do people want to go.

This is about to change when Hari Ragat gets released, but one game isn't enough. More games, more options, more resources- that's what we need. And while progress in the Philippines is rather slow, at least there's progress. I pray to the anitos of better mornings.

Even though no one will probably play it, I'll make games that I want to play- and they will be definitely be set in an oh-so-lovable place that channels this country.