One of the most profound things I’ve read from a game modder

The following was from a FAQ of a Dungeon Siege mod “Land of Hyperborea”:

Q) Why am I limited in what I can choose for my character’s appearance?
A) If you haven’t played the Single-player game yet, I encourage you to
do so. The answer will probably dawn on you as you are playing.

If you have played the single player game and still don’t
understand why, then you’ve missed one of the more important
messages of the story. T’Vril, your faithful companion throughout
the adventure, a woman who risks her life and literally endures
deep pain for you, her friend (watch the NIS sequences outside
Tir’Malani and Valhalla again), is constantly and repeatedly
attacked throughout the entire story because of either her racial
heritage (Dark Elf), her religious creed (Vox-worshipper), or
both. She is spit upon, trodden upon, and many times she is
spotted by a racial or religious enemy, you have to re-start from
a previous save, and try having her sneak around the bigoted NPC.
And yet, she is not a creature worthy of any of this treatment.
To the contrary, her behavior in the storyline shows that she is
greater than any of the other characters in the entire game, even
the hero. Despite hatred, despite prejudice, despite bigotry,
despite everything – she is your one, true friend.

Yes, I could add different skin colors to farmgirl and farmboy.
However, if I do, does this comprise an open acknowledgement of
cultural and racial heritage in real life, or is it really just a
crutch the player uses to dodge the serious and complex issue of
racial bias that their companion, T’Vril, faces nearly everywhere
in the adventure? To me, as the author of the story, allowing
multiple skin choices for the player somehow takes away from one
of the larger messages of the story – T’Vril is hated everywhere
she goes for her race or creed, or both. And yet, despite the
terrible treatment she gets, she is your one true friend in the
entire adventure.

In real life, people don’t have a choice as to what color their
skin will be – nor, really, do they have any choice in how other
people will treat them because of their racial or cultural
heritage. In LoH, a Dark Elf has two choices – male or female.
The other choices are simply variations in facial appearance and
hairstyle. If you’re born blue, you’re born blue – you have to
deal with how everyone else will treat you.

In the game, T’Vril has no choice about how anyone will treat her.
The world simply is the way it is, and she simply has to deal with
it. Allowing the player an infinite variety of skins for their
character is possible, but mutes a very important message in the
story – those aren’t the choices your companion has available to
her. Only through your courage, strength, compassion and
understanding does she overcome the bigots of her world. And so
it is in the real world, as well.

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