Let's say straight away that I have a vested interest in this topic. I live in Japan, work as an English-Japanese translator, and am married to a Japanese woman, so I feel that on this (rare) occasion I am reasonably well qualified to comment on the subject. (Let's also say straight away that I detest most anime, am turned off by manga, and view 'traditional' Japanese culture with great skepticism. Just to be clear.)
Anyway, on with the post: I hate the idea of 'Caucasian Adventures'. To a certain degree I can appreciate the sentiment, because I routinely notice racism towards East Asian people in the Western media - the kind of ignorant (not hateful) aren't-those-small-people-with-funny-eyes weird? sort of thing that would be viewed as patently unacceptable if directed towards Black or South Asian people. And I also appreciate how awful games like Legend of the Five Rings are: naff imitations of Japanese society with a thin veneer of cultural accuracy which is actually utterly wrong.
But RPG Pundit is right on the money with both of his main points. First, to quote him directly:
So hey, fuckers, you want to make a REAL statement about how bad all the "oriental adventure" sourcebooks for RPGs have been? MAKE ONE THAT DOESN'T SUCK. Because I have news for you bucky: making what amounts to a bunch of cheap shots while feeling all self-righteous about how non-racist you are is all just a load of bullshit, and doesn't actually do anything of worth.
There's nothing I can add to that except to say 'amen'. Caucasian Adventures comes from that same awful, sophomoric impulse that drives the postmodern/poststructuralist movement generally - endless, masturbatory, self-congratulatory criticism that creates precisely nothing interesting or of lasting value. I mean, I detest Legend of the Five Rings, but its writers can be safe in the knowledge that they've created a fun game that thousands of people have enjoyed playing, whereas all the creators of Caucasian Adventures can feel happy about is the fact that they're morally superior and politically 'right on' - and have a vaguely funny title page.
RPG Pundit's second point is more interesting:
[The creators of CA are] wrong because the "western" version of the Kara-tur type asian-stereotype setting isn't "Caucasian Adventures" with two WASPS lounging around on their yacht; the "caucasian" version of "oriental adventures" is Greyhawk. Its the Forgotten Realms. Its Space:1889, Fulminata or Roma Imperious, its Deadlands and Call of Cthulhu, and any other shitload of RPGs that are "inspired by" medieval or other western historical periods.
Because RPG writers haven't made "Oriental adventures" full of mistakes and occasional stereotypes because they're evil and racist; they've done it just because they didn't give a fuck about historical or anthropological accuracy. Because RPGs aren't about that. RPGs are all about the cheap stereotypes.
I think he's 90% right. Any criticism of sourcebooks like Oriental Adventures (or, say, Al Qadim) falls flat on its face when you consider the fact that RPG settings have played even harder and faster with European culture down the years than they have with any other. Legend of the Five Rings is full to bursting with egregious stereotypes, jarring anachronisms, nonsensical garbage and ham-fisted attempts at the Japanese language. But Greyhawk is even worse! As RPG Pundit says, there is no need for satirical works like 'Caucasian Adventures' because they already exist - they are 90% of the fantasy RPG sourcebooks that have ever been written.
Where I object is when Pundit declares that "RPGs are all about cheap stereotypes". I don't accept that; while cheap stereotypes are fun and easy, I have to say that I partly think role playing is all about acknowledging cliches while at the same time transcending them. Games are generally chock-full of stereotypes - the heroic knight, the silent moody ranger, the rebel without a cause, the hot bisexual vampire-slaying high school girl, the man or woman 'with a past', the bumbling wizard/scientist/clergyman... But at the same time those stereotypes develop into unique personalities very quickly. We start off with a rough sketch because it's quicker and easier that way and we want to get on with the game. But during the course of events the character gets knocked around and battered into something approaching a fully-realised, three-dimensional person, with a history and a personality forged "in fire and blood" (as the saying goes). And that's all to the good.