Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 taking a firm political & progressive stance, standing for LGBT rights & mental illness representation

Dusk Golem

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Oct 25, 2017
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I thought this deserved it's own thread:

https://www.vg247.com/2019/03/21/vampire-the-masquerade-bloodlines-2-political-character-creator/
While the demo of the early stages of the game I saw hinted at conflict and the politics of warring clans, Clooney says it’s central to Bloodlines 2 that the writers (who include Brian Mitsoda, narrative designer on the original game) are actively taking a political stance in this sequel, with its themes of art versus commerce and technological advances versus tradition.
“One of the reasons why that particular conflict attracted us so much was because it’s an inherently political conversation but it’s one of the few ones where it’s hard to… there are valid approaches. The world has to move forward, right?” says Clooney.
“It is a political game but I think it’s one of those few opportunities that gives us the chance to let people make their own political statement in a way that’s not cheap. I don’t believe you can look at both sides of a political argument without understanding both sides. It’s easy to say this is good and this is bad. But it’s definitely taking some political stances on what we think are right and wrong. In terms of the main conflict what is interesting is it’s one of those truly balanced issues.”
It’s not just politics where Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 takes a progressive approach. The character creator, which players get to use twice – once at the start to define your human aspects and then a second time later in the game to flesh out your vampire – goes way beyond basic male and female models. Body type, gender pronouns, employment history and fashion can all be toyed with for a very modular build.
“We’re interested in providing a very robust roleplaying experience for the player with something were they can really identify with their character by fine tuning and providing lots of options for them to do that,” says Rachel Leiker, UX/UI designer at Hardsuit Labs.
“In the first game you start out by picking the clan. With Bloodlines 2 because you’re starting as a ‘thin blood’ we give you some backgrounds to what your human self was before being embraced. They don’t so much have a direct influence on gameplay, there are a few minor influences like dialogue options, but we were really interested in following the progression and having the roleplay experience for the player to get a handle on that side of the game before they get a handle on the political clan-oriented side of it. The gamplay becomes very different later in the game [because you’ve chosen a clan]. You grow into it and consciously choose your clan after you’ve explored them. So it’s an informed decision.”
https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2019/03/22/vampire-the-masquerade-bloodlines-2-preview/
It’s still called the Masquerade, so if you eat someone in public or turn into a bat in front of a bar you’ll get in trouble not only with the police, but also some beefier supernatural watchdogs. The humanity system returns, so killing innocents brings you closer to the inner beast. It’s first person, but yeah, you can customise your character (including choosing pronouns separately from your body type) and this time you can choose a human background that might affect how you approach problems or talk to people. The two examples I was given were cop and coroner, but if you want a basic start, with no bonuses, you can be a barista, which Mitsoda described as the default class in Seattle.
https://kotaku.com/vampire-the-masquerade-bloodlines-is-getting-a-sequel-1833479366
The World of Darkness can be fraught at times. The original game traded in careless depictions of sex work and some tired writing about mental illnesses like disassociative identity disorder. You could play as a member of the mentally-addled but prophecy-gifted Malkavian clan, with altered dialogue that, while humorous, danced a fine line in terms of taste. There was even some racial stereotyping for good measure. Meanwhile, White Wolf’s management of the World of Darkness setting has not been without controversy. Last November, the Paradox subsidiary drew criticism for using the real-life persecution and murder of Chechnya’s LGBTQA population as a plot-point in the setting’s vampiric politicking. Paradox fully integrated White Wolf after this incident. When asked about their approach to the setting, the team outlined how they wanted to handle the World of Darkness in 2019.
“It was very of its time,” Ellison said of the first game. “It approached certain topics differently. How we look at stuff has matured since then.”
“It’s fifteen years later and things have changed,” Mitsoda said. “We have to be very sensitive about how we handle things like mental illness and that was a concern for us and for Paradox, in how we can make a mature story but if we do anything, we do our homework and make sure that we are punching up and not punching down.”
“We talk about these issues constantly,” Ellison added. “Because we care about including people, we want them to feel powerful and sexy, and we don’t want them to feel like it’s not for them.”
Sorry for all the quotes, but I wanted to represent everything they wanted to say on this.

I thought it might be worth bringing this all up, and curious what Era thinks of the developer's stance on all of this.
 

vestan

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Dec 28, 2017
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Thanks for posting this. Really glad to see Mitsoda, Ellison and the rest of the creative crew doubling down on this especially considering many developers in the biz have turned a blind eye to this kind of thing.

Bloodlines 2 is going to be something special.
 

dreamfall

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Oct 25, 2017
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I love this - thanks for highlighting their special care and attention for LGBTQ identities and mental illness. Everything sounds so promising, this is a dream come true.
 

JCG

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Oct 25, 2017
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It seems to be quite good, especially the character creator as described with all those options for further roleplaying as well as providing greater inclusivity...though the "making a political statement" part seems to reiterate that the decisions about where to stand and what that ultimately means will be left up to player choice, at least based on the way the response was worded.

It'll be interesting to see how that sort of choice is balanced and how it all comes together, taking into account the progressive stance of the creators. Vampires are often very queer, in a certain sense, but they are also often rather oppressive towards humans and not necessarily reflecting much respect for free will.
 

Vibranium

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Oct 28, 2017
899
I think it sounds awesome, I hope the execution goes well. Paradox and Hardsuit have a good shot at getting industry writing buzz and being a positive influence if they can pull it off. I love it when games explore mental illness and letting others feel free to represent themselves is important.
 

EatChildren

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Oct 27, 2017
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I think outright cutting and nullifying the concept of "madness" as a narrative and lore device is an unnecessary hardline sensitivity, but I don't read it so much as that as taking a more sensitive approach to the presentation of these traits, such as refraining from bad punch-lines and resentment.

Malkavians literally hearing voices and that being an aspect of their clan, and the lore connotations associated with that, would be disappointing to cut. And I don't think they will.

The rest is excellent to hear, though. The usual suspects have already predictably started whining about SJWs taking over Vampire and ruining it and other such garbage. It's such an odd extension of nerd culture. The goth/punk nerd scene is outrageously queer and sexually adventurous. It always has been. The blurring of gender and sexuality lines has been a trademark of Vampire since forever.
 
May 26, 2018
3,859
I think outright cutting and nullifying the concept of "madness" as a narrative and lore device is an unnecessary hardline sensitivity, but I don't read it so much as that as taking a more sensitive approach to the presentation of these traits, such as refraining from bad punch-lines and resentment.

Malkavians literally hearing voices and that being an aspect of their clan, and the lore connotations associated with that, would be disappointing to cut. And I don't think they will.
The most interesting solution I have heard to this date is that mental illness is not what Malkavians experience. Mental illness is not a power. Derangements and mental illness kind of look like each other, but someone who already has a condition as a mortal human will pick up completely different things as a Malkavian while retaining what they had before.
 

cinch

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Feb 17, 2019
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It was already a day one purchase for me, and this is just delicious icing on the cake. CD Projekt take note.
 

Zubz

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Oct 25, 2017
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no
The most interesting solution I have heard to this date is that mental illness is not what Malkavians experience. Mental illness is not a power. Derangements and mental illness kind of look like each other, but someone who already has a condition as a mortal human will pick up completely different things as a Malkavian while retaining what they had before.
I think I like this explanation.
 

EatChildren

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Oct 27, 2017
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The most interesting solution I have heard to this date is that mental illness is not what Malkavians experience. Mental illness is not a power. Derangements and mental illness kind of look like each other, but someone who already has a condition as a mortal human will pick up completely different things as a Malkavian while retaining what they had before.
That's how I'd like to look at it, and kind of like I had anyway. For me it's as simple as Malks having insight and hearing voice, and being driven to derangement because of that, rather than being the power of mental illness.

Will be interesting to see what they do.
 

NoblesseOblige

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Oct 25, 2017
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During the stream it was mentioned that Bloodlines 2 was in development alongside 5th Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. So I think it might be relevant when discussing politics and identity to link this excerpt from the book:

 
May 26, 2018
3,859
That's how I'd like to look at it, and kind of like I had anyway. For me it's as simple as Malks having insight and hearing voice, and being driven to derangement because of that, rather than being the power of mental illness.

Will be interesting to see what they do.
Right.

While being a Malkavian gives them powers, like hooking up to a Malkavian psychic internet or changing someone's perspective or telling the future or writing weird messages only other Malkavians can understand, and can make them cool & subversive like out of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, mental illness is still just... a reality of their brain structure.
 
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OP
Dusk Golem

Dusk Golem

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During the stream it was mentioned that Bloodlines 2 was in development alongside 5th Edition of Vampire: The Masquerade. So I think it might be relevant when discussing politics and identity to link this excerpt from the book:

That does shed a lot of light, and worth reading for anyone interested. I also am taking it that part of this is the developers being from Seattle (the west coast in general is fairly progressive standing) and the team's wishes, as well as V5 and what it set into play as well.
 

Thorn

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Oct 25, 2017
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Thread's being shared on the chan's now to shit on the game, just might wanna make you aware to be careful on social media as a result.
 
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OP
Dusk Golem

Dusk Golem

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Oct 25, 2017
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Thread's being shared on the chan's now to shit on the game, just might wanna make you aware to be careful on social media as a result.
I think that's for the best honestly. There was always going to be backlash from some toxic minded people who can't take viewpoints differing from their own. If they're so bothered the game has options for player inclusiveness, that says a lot more about them. And for those who'll shriek like banshees over that, there's many more who I think have more humanist or progressive viewpoints who'll want to support it for that very reason.

It's a game about customization and a "human" (vampire) experience, so being able to roleplay your character will obviously be a big part of it, and including inclusive options I think is only a good thing to any reasonable person. Add to this that Vampires: The Masquerade always has had political topics in the lore of the series and the "council" of vampires, having beings who live in the shadows and underbelly of society does mean they'd be face to face with the worst and the unlucky from modern society, not to even get into their own "vampire politics", which was a big plot point of the original Bloodlines (such as vampires wanting to stay out of sight of humans, which has backlash with some sectors of vampires, plus vampires have a sorta' tiered society).
 

EatChildren

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Oct 27, 2017
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I can guarantee everyone whining "TAKE POLITICS OUT OF MY GAMES" is also unironically an enormous Metal Gear Solid fan.
 

EdibleKnife

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Oct 29, 2017
4,204
Thread's being shared on the chan's now to shit on the game, just might wanna make you aware to be careful on social media as a result.
A hearty 'fuck you' to our guests then. People who think inclusivity and diversity is the death of games should promptly take up another hobby so we can enjoy this one in peace.

White Wolf games were always political.
Those are the same kinds of people who claim to be fans of X-Men while participating in harassment campaigns against "SJWs". They never think critically or empathically so the politics flies right over their heads.

Like was mentioned above, I'm glad the writers of 5th edition made it absolutely blatant about their politics and where they stand so even the ignorant can't avoid it. And I'm glad the devs are taking the exact same stance.
 
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NoblesseOblige

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Oct 25, 2017
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That does shed a lot of light, and worth reading for anyone interested. I also am taking it that part of this is the developers being from Seattle (the west coast in general is fairly progressive standing) and the team's wishes, as well as V5 and what it set into play as well.
It's also a direct response to a bit of controversy that came up during the playtest phase of Vampire 5th edition. Somehow, a writer somewhere snuck in a coded signal to Nazis (It was the number 1488 being represented by dice rolls). It caused concern among the community which led directly to White Wolf making statements, including the excerpt above, opposing fascist ideologies.
 

vestan

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Dec 28, 2017
10,085
huh, this is good, how do I play the first game?
PC only, you can get it here.

GOG: https://www.gog.com/game/vampire_the_masquerade_bloodlines

Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2600/Vampire_The_Masquerade__Bloodlines/

I'd recommend buying the GOG version as it already comes with the Unofficial patch which is basically mandatory for the most optimal experience. If you want to get it on Steam, here's a link to the Unofficial patch.
https://www.moddb.com/mods/vtmb-unofficial-patch