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Like gender and sexuality, race is a topic that is extremely personal to players. We advocate both racial representation and an environment of respectful inclusiveness. For the former, however, it is vital to distinguish the difference between faithfully attempting to explore a perspective versus playing by a perspective that doesn't emanate from the character in question, one that's based on stereotype, misconception, or a general "other"ness.

Ignorant, cruel, and malicious racial stereotypes in anime (such as the wildly accented, afro-wearing black person) are as old as the medium, and these we flatly refuse to reproduce on our game. Where they arise in approved themes, they are expected to be completely rewritten, such that the character is treated with all the dignity they deserve. Themes for which this is impossible are simply inappropriate for our game; any show or manga, for which such racism is fundamentally necessary for the coherency of the story, has no place on Battle Fantasia.

Other than that, characters of all races are welcome, but again, they must be handled with respect and sensitivity. One major concern is cultural appropriation; for example, characters are generally not allowed to mix real-life culture and 'the origin of their magical powers', because it is almost impossible to do this respectfully. Sailor Mars is an outstanding example of a character who is extremely devout, whose faith is always treated with sincerity and respect, but whose magical powers come from a wholly different source. She even fights occasionally with ofuda, charges them with her Marspowers, and that's basically okay, it works, because she isn't literally Magical Girl Miko-chan, she's a devout and mystic teenager who melds the trappings of her faith with being the Reincarnated Princess of Mars. Any character who can be fairly accurately described as The Chinese Magical Girl or The Jewish Magical Girl definitely needs a great deal more put into their design, to round them out into a real person rather than an allegory or stereotype.

Another concern is cultural conflation. Here's a simple example: it is definitely possible to portray a girl of Ainu ethnicity on Battle Fantasia, but attempting to conflate her story with Native Americans is extremely disrespectful to both peoples. It is important to ground one's education about a racial or cultural experience by listening to their own words, not through simple analogy to more familiar territory. This is wonderful, and we encourage it! Education is very necessary -- exploring a different perspective from a different place is an important exercise in compassion, which is rooted in empathy, which in turn is rooted in understanding. It's worth doing, so long as it is nuanced and thoughtful.

Of course, it's impossible to ignore that we are, for the most part, a game of Westerners writing stories set in Japanese culture. While the power of love is culturally universal (perhaps explaining the worldwide success of the magical girl genre), it is incumbent on all of us to be as educated as possible about terms that we use, which is one reason the wiki has assembled articles on keigo (Japanese suffixes), national holidays, and even food. It is our intention to promote education about, and celebration of, Japan, the place that gave us all these wonderful magical girl stories in the first place. However, these are very much works in progress: anyone who has valuable insight into something we're portraying incorrectly or offensively is more than welcome to inform us of our mistake so that we can fix it. It is the right of any of our players of color to express their feelings freely, and the expectation of our playerbase to be respectful, compassionate, and most of all, to listen.

Finally, it's important to understand that the world of Battle Fantasia is a fantasy. It is simply not as racist (or sexist, or queerphobic, or ableist) as reality. Confronting issues of race through sensitive and nuanced storytelling is something that can and should occur, but when it arises, racism should be the exception, not the norm. It's important to allow fictional spaces to exist where people who suffer oppression can go to escape it. And while it may not be realistic to have women of all colors fighting in a glorious sisterhood without so much as a double-take at one another's skin, we are prepared to stand by the statement that girls instantly transforming into magical identities where they fly around blasting lovebeams at personifications of despair by using beautiful, winged wands, advised by talking animals, is more unrealistic. This is fantasy -- and the fantasy of equality is one worth exploring.

STAFF NOTE: This is under construction. If you have any feedback for how we can fix phrasing or improve the overall message, please email it to us at battlefantasiastaff@gmail.com.

For more information, please see Rules, Gender and Sexuality, Disability, Behavior, Genre Conventions, and Rating.