On changing a name

From this tweet thread:

I’ve been doing some reflection lately on the title of my Bonsai Worlds game. I’ve decided to change it, as I feel that it did leverage / othered a cultural form not my own. And I feel this realization should have come sooner.

I don’t participate in Japanese bonsai culture, even in its more globalized versions. I can’t say I know or can convey bonsai in its specificity, history, and depth. I don’t think it’s OK for me to present something else and still call it bonsai.

I feel there are differences between a) being inspired by, acknowledging & reflecting on bonsai and b) to use “bonsai” prominently in a game title. (a) is an engagement that might open space to be more situated & respectful, while (b) kind of stakes a claim to it.

I can’t change that I did that with the previous version of the game. As I’m now remaking it, I will use this opportunity to act on this reflection before continuing. So, look forward for a different name to the game soon.

I hope making this reflection in public can be useful to other folks making games as well. Thanks! 🌱

Finally, I want to thank Sabine (@enibolas) for their great work on troubling gardening + colonialism + game design (https://enibolas.com/2019/05/27/plantations-of-play-colonial-botany-in-videogames/). It is messing up how I think about this game a lot.

Get Gardenia

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