By – Kyle Osborne
I knew it would come to this. I knew at some point this issue would be forced out into the open, and I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m not going to play it safe or pull any punches. In the land of LoTRO, all races are not equal. I know it’s appalling and I sound like a racist, but please bear with me.
It’s just the truth, a simple matter of fact, not every (or any) young hobbit can fulfill his dream to become the next great Lore-Master. Before you tell me that I’m putting the hobbits down and stifling their dreams, let’s analyze the source, Tolkien’s works. Where in The Fellowship of the Ring does Tolkien comment that hobbits share a love for the history of Middle Earth? If you can find it let me know. From what I read, hobbits rarely care much for their own lore, hate to leave the shire, and care nothing for the history of other races. In their agrarian society this knowledge holds little value. From what Tolkien has written it seems unlikely that a hobbit, or a Dwarf for that matter, would ever consider being a Lore-Master. To save face with any hobbit or dwarf out there I will say that I find the races with more limited class choices to be the most interesting around; men and elves can be pretty boring at times.
Tolkien was intent on creating an interactive and living world, filled with various cultures and a rich social structure between races. Given the fact that they were imitating a master, the game designers of LoTRO did a decent job. As necessary the various free peoples of Middle earth, work together against their common enemies, but thankfully the designers didn’t stop with only these basics. Evidenced as early as the Epic Prologue, there is a tension between the dwarves and the elves that was ever present in the novels. They are quick to consider blaming each other when an elven envoy is kidnapped, even though neither party was to blame. As in the books, the rangers of the north are looked down upon or spoken ill of by others. Their secrecy and isolation makes them suspect for conspiracy. In the game the rangers have their encampment away from others in the North Downs. These are only a couple of examples of the complex social structure of Middle Earth, which was graciously included in LoTRO.
Whether or not they suggest racism, these limitations, characteristics and interactions of the different races of LoTRO help to draw the gamer into the plot and the mechanics of the game. I am willing to admit that when it comes to the representations of Middle Earth, I am a racist. How about you?