Rise of the White Sun - Turn Based, "Politically Incorrect" Game Of Chinese Unification

I agree with you, and I’m certainly not offended either, but others may be, which is why I used the term.

And you’re welcome

I don’t think this should overshadow a very interesting-looking game, but I do want to push back on this idea that using “coolie” is somehow more historically accurate. Sure, a British observer in that era would probably refer to those laborers and water-carriers as “coolies.” But as far as I can tell, the rest of the game is not written in the English vernacular of the time. And you’re not playing as a British observer.

From a quick look at the developer’s Discord, it’s clear that he didn’t intend any offense and didn’t realize that the word has negative connotations. I am mildly offended by the word itself, and wish he would change it, but I’m still glad that he made this interesting game. This is the era that my grandfather grew up in, before becoming a diplomat in the Nationalist government.

I wasn’t aware of this! So does that mean Americans wouldn’t have called Chinese railroad workers “coolies” in the Old West? Because perhaps that accounts for the change in Carson City as well. I might have been making assumptions about political correctness when it was instead a matter of historical accuracy! : )

And you certinly aren’t playing an American :)

Out of curiosity, what term would you replace it with? Tom’s example of “railroad worker” doesn’t apply here.

Support personnel? Shleppers?

Shleppers! Perfect.

Yes, they would have. But I wouldn’t include it in that game. In Carson City, you play as a 21st-century eurogamer.

Term was in use.

They also used “Chinaman” and “Celestials” like in deadwood. This was interesting trivia, they even worked in the long island railroad.

On Friday all trains on the Rockaway branch of the Long Island Railroad were suspended, and yesterday about 120 newly imported Chinamen made their appearance, and were set at work relaying the rails. The pig-tailed Celestials are housed in cars, which keep them company along the tracs [sic], and are fully satisfied with wages at seventy cents a day. The entire road is to be relaid and put in good order. (“Chinamen Working for Seventy Cents a Day,” New York Sun, June 4, 1876, 1)


This reminds me of when I went with my wife (who is Chinese) to the US to get married. We flew into Newark and, since it was her first time traveling in the US, decided to visit the Statue of Liberty. We went Ellis Island first and we discovered that they have a whole wall in the museum dedicated to the Anti-Coolie act and other anti-Chinese immigrant policies. It was presented as tastefully as this kind of racist, xenophobic historical garbage can be, but it was still pretty embarrassing for me.

It’s interesting how language works here. Englishman, Dutchman, Frenchman… totally fine.

Chinaman! Dude, not the proper nomenclature.

Hello, I created this game.

Thank you very much for discussing it!

I can provide some insight into the use of the term “coolie” and other word choices.

Firstly, English is not my native language, so I made similar choices to those a translator might make in order to align with the author’s intentions. Of course, being the author helped me stay true to these intentions.

The intention: To immerse players in 1920’s China. I aimed to make players feel and think like characters from that time and place.

Word choice: In the English translation, I used words from that era and ones commonly found in older academic works.
Hence the natural choice of the word coolie with a widespread use back then.

I didn’t attempt to replicate how Chinese people of that time would have spoken in their dialogues, as that would have required a level of understanding and knowledge beyond my reach.

As you may be aware, Chinese transliteration and translation have evolved significantly since the 20th century. Some translations may seem strange or even poor by today’s standards, but they are still widely used. For example, “running dog” is still in use instead of a more straightforward and accurate translation like “lackey.”

I stuck with “running dog” because it was a more contemporary translation, even though it is now considered less appropriate.

These are the general guidelines I used for the english localisation.

As a rule, and as an (at least formally trained) historian, I think there is a difference between documenting an era or event, and including the vocabulary and phrasing of the participants through primary sources, and commenting on or analyzing that era or event and using the same vocabulary and phrasing in a way where the reader might reasonably think you are normalizing or accepting that discourse.

For instance, in writing about the American South and the era of slavery or Jim Crow, one will of necessity have to include primary source accounts that use certain language to describe and label the Black population, enslaved or free. One does not, however, have to use that same language in the analysis and exposition parts of the work, the ones that are in the author’s own voice. Indeed, unless you are going for some pretty advanced rhetorical and compositional techniques, it’s generally a very bad idea to do so.

Games are of course not historical scholarly articles. The line between the game developer’s voice and the voice of characters or in a way the setting itself is sometimes rather blurry. One has to decide for oneself whether the act of creating a game about a subject replicates the work of the historian, where you can equate the language of characters with primary sources, and thus give them license to speak in historically appropriate if currently unacceptable ways.

Even so, using problematic language in other parts of the game, parts that might correspond with say a historians analysis of some primary sources (in this case, incidental game text, descriptions clearly not emanating from in-game characters, that sort of thing) is, well, problematic, though context is probably everything.

In general, in scholarship or other creative stuff, it comes down to what is your ultimate goal. Does what you include or omit support your conscious intent? Is it necessary for the thing you are making to do its, well, thing? If so, do it and own it, but be prepared to fight :).

It’s called historical baggage. Terms and symbols evoke history and distasteful things most people prefer to forget. Swastika is a bunch of sticks, confederate flag is a piece of cloth.

It’s weird though right?

I feel like younger people are more sensitive to this kind of thing, even though they are the most separated from the actual history.

I think you don’t care because it doesn’t affect you. Same as everything in life. Korean people get all pissed off about the Japanese asahi flag, Americans don’t give a fuck. That’s because it didn’t affect the Americans.

edit: oops brain fart, there was an entire pacific theater in ww2. But no wholesale slaughters of american civilians.

I agree that there has been a change. When I was young a long time ago, words like fuck and shit were absolutely beyond the pale, use them in public and you faced serious blowback. Refer to an ethnic group with a term they’d find insulting, the general public hardly reacted little if at all. Now it’s the other way around.

To me, it seems to be preferable to come down on meanness rather than references to sex and bodily functions. But the underlying problem remains the same – making certain words taboo makes those words useful to people who want to rebel or shock.

Maybe it was just my education, but I never learned very much about Imperial Japan in school, even though we did a lot more fighting of Japan in WW2 than we did fighting the Germans. Now I know about things like the Rape of Nanjing and comfort women and the horrific conditions in POW camps and whatnot, but even so I’ve never been conditioned to associate a flag with that stuff and although I’m sure there are Japanese people who want to go back to that era of their nation, they aren’t strongly associated with resurgent fascist movements in the US itself the way Nazis and Nazi symbology are. So, yeah.

Welcome and thanks for sharing your thoughts and development process! It’s clear that you have been very thoughtful in how you approached your project.

Thank you so much for posting, @MaestroCinetik! As I said before, based on what little I know, I take issue with calling out your game for being “politically incorrect”. But since the original poster didn’t agree with me, he didn’t see fit to change the subject header and in this case, I didn’t feel right changing it for him. But I do appreciate you joining the thread to explain your thought process and I look forward to trying your game as a way to learn more about a time and place unfamiliar to me!

I think it’s less about established inflammatory iconography, more about how people have been socialized differently. I’ll just leave it at that.

And even less about China and this little pocket War Lord era that resulted in Chiang Kai Shek unifying the country.

Reading the wiki article has some interesting tid bits. Apparently “the Mexican silver dollar was the main currency used in China at the time”, and the warlords had funny monikers like “Model Governor”, the “Dogmeat General”, and “General Eighty-Six” boasting about the size of his penis.

The CHP did a good series on the Warlord era. They also did a series that became a DLC for EU4.