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Why are we calling them the five RACES of Tyria when they're obviously different species


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The five "races" aren't genealogically related at all ... so they aren't races like we have human races.

Also when discussing them, we shouldn't be capitalizing the first letter ... human isn't Human, so why are the asura ... Asura ... or Charr ... and I keep seeing this everywhere.

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As other people have said it's standard gaming terminology, like calling a combat-focused group instance a dungeon even if it's actually a cave or temple or factory, or even a forest. Or calling the most difficult enemy inside the 'dungeon' the boss regardless of whether or not they're in charge of the other enemies. Fighting your way into or out of a literal dungeon past the guy/thing running the place is a less common theme for them these days but the names stuck.

I don't know but I suspect the term race was used in fantasy because it sounds less scientific or clinical than species, or possibly because the idea of 'races of man' was familiar as an idea of different kinds of people but calling them different species might make them sound too different and strange and put people off playing the less humanoid ones. Given that (like most things in fantasy) this goes back to Tolkien writing Lord of the Rings I'm going to go with the idea that it just sounded better.

Of course game developers can choose their own names for things if they want to. If I remember correctly we have professions instead of classes in Guild Wars because they wanted to emphasise that this is a set of skills your character has learned and not something they're born knowing how to do, as part of justifying the ability to learn new skills from other people and creatures, and learn (and then change) a secondary profession. But the more things you re-name the more stuff your players have to get used to. If you can call a dungeon a dungeon and instantly convey what that means for gameplay in that area, without anyone worrying that it's not actually used to imprison anyone then you may as well do it and save yourself the hassle of having to explain.

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Keep in mind that it isnt until the last couple of centuries that we associate "race" with actual genetics. Because now we have the technology and biological knowledge for it.

So in a world like Tyria... how much genetics do they know outside of the obvious ~~master race ~~ Asura? None I'd wager. So most people in Tyria would use the original meaning of the word "race": just a group of similar people in terms of their physical appearance. Even for the most similar case with the norn, they are still distinctly different. I mean you know that a norn is a norn because they're not hairy like the charr. Most of them at least.

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Using the word 'race' doesn't imply that they're genealogically related, and I'd argue that, of the two, 'race' is actually more correct than 'species' here. While humans form "the human race", the non-human races of Tyria (or any other fantasy world) are more closely connected to classes of mythological creatures than they are to species of animals. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word 'race' has been used in that context (referring to the races of angels, demigods, giants, satyrs, etc.) continuously since at least 1549. 'Species', on the other hand, is not used in that context at all.

Additionally, 'race' captures the fact that they are distinct cultural groups as well as biological groups. In a fantasy context, the cultural distinctions between races are usually as important as the biological ones. So while 'species' would not be wrong as such, 'race' captures all of the relevant meaning of 'species' and some extra features that 'species' lacks. And as an added bonus, it sounds much less clinical!

Also, can you imagine if they'd chosen to refer to them as 'species'? Then racial skills would be called 'specific skills'! That would be terrible!

(I agree about the capitalisation though.)

@"Dawdler.8521" said:Keep in mind that it isnt until the last couple of centuries that we associate "race" with actual genetics. Because now we have the technology and biological knowledge for it.

So in a world like Tyria... how much genetics do they know outside of the obvious ~~master race ~~ Asura? None I'd wager. So most people in Tyria would use the original meaning of the word "race": just a group of similar people in terms of their physical appearance. Even for the most similar case with the norn, they are still distinctly different. I mean you know that a norn is a norn because they're not hairy like the charr. Most of them at least.

I think this is a really good point. The word 'species' is associated with science that usually doesn't exist in fantasy worlds. Thus it could feel unnatural to use that word, since it wouldn't be used in-world. Of course, in Tyria it's slightly different: scientific words are reserved for use by asura to convey their scientificness.

@Danikat.8537 said:Of course game developers can choose their own names for things if they want to. If I remember correctly we have professions instead of classes in Guild Wars because they wanted to emphasise that this is a set of skills your character has learned and not something they're born knowing how to do, as part of justifying the ability to learn new skills from other people and creatures, and learn (and then change) a secondary profession.

That's a really cool fact. I think they made a wise choice. To me, 'class' sounds bad in the same way that 'species' would sound bad: overly clinical and academic.

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@Ayakaru.6583 said:That, and how some people refuse to acknowledge that Humans and Norn aren't the same species.I mean, what are the odds that two completely unique species evolve to look identical, with only size as a factor to tell them apart.

I'm not sure what the odds are, but in real life it's not unheard of. It's called covergent evolution, and usually happens because certain forms are better for certain processes. For examples bats and pterosaurs evolved flight independantly and at different times, but the end result looks quite similar. Eyes are another common example - they've evolved independantly in several species, long after they split from their very distant common ancestors, but each group ended up with a similar structure, probably because there's not many ways you can build a functional eye.

Of course the similarity of humans and norn in Tyria is complicated by the fact that humans aren't originally from Tyria, their gods brought them through the Mists from an unnamed world thousands of years before GW1, so it's even more surprising that they look similar. Although that could be a factor in why Tyria was chosen - if the gods knew there was already a similar race living there it's a pretty safe bet it would be habitable for humans too. (We also don't actually know if that story is true - humans also say their gods created Tyria and we know that's not the case because there's a lot of history, like at least one Elder Dragon cycle, which pre-dates the gods arrival.)

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@Ayakaru.6583 said:That, and how some people refuse to acknowledge that Humans and Norn aren't the same species.I mean, what are the odds that two completely unique species evolve to look identical, with only size as a factor to tell them apart.

Humans didn't evolve on Tyria. They're an invasive species brought here by their Gods.

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@Danikat.8537 said:

@"Ayakaru.6583" said:That, and how some people refuse to acknowledge that Humans and Norn aren't the same species.I mean, what are the odds that two completely unique species evolve to look identical, with only size as a factor to tell them apart.

I'm not sure what the odds are, but in real life it's not unheard of. It's called covergent evolution, and usually happens because certain forms are better for certain processes. For examples bats and pterosaurs evolved flight independantly and at different times, but the end result looks quite similar. Eyes are another common example - they've evolved independantly in several species, long after they split from their very distant common ancestors, but each group ended up with a similar structure, probably because there's not many ways you can build a functional eye.

Of course the similarity of humans and norn in Tyria is complicated by the fact that humans aren't originally from Tyria, their gods brought them through the Mists from an unnamed world thousands of years before GW1, so it's even more surprising that they look similar. Although that could be a factor in why Tyria was chosen - if the gods knew there was already a similar race living there it's a pretty safe bet it would be habitable for humans too. (We also don't actually know if that story is true - humans also say their gods created Tyria and we know that's not the case because there's a lot of history, like at least one Elder Dragon cycle, which pre-dates the gods arrival.)Maybe the ancient Norn was actually a highly advanced alien race that looked completely different, then when humans came they took one sip of their beer and said "we need that. Now." and genetically modified themselves to be identical, so they got the hands, tastebuds and belly for it. After a while they've simply forgotten their origins and became snow hippies.

I mean it is rather obvious if you think about it.

But also, the comment doesnt really make sense because Neanderthals. Two different human species met that was so similar we still got their DNA (because of course thats what they did). So the odds here on Earth has been 100%.

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because fantasy authors were really lenient with biology terms (or, considering former ages, authors worked with the terminology before biology even existed as a defined discipline) from the very beginning and it carried over into the whole genre :)

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@Taril.8619 said:Race can refer to major divisions of living creatures.

I.e. The human race.

It isn't explicitly a term for sub-divisions within a species (Though it can also be used that way, such as referring to a persons ethnicity)

@Taril.8619 said:Race can refer to major divisions of living creatures.

I.e. The human race.

It isn't explicitly a term for sub-divisions within a species (Though it can also be used that way, such as referring to a persons ethnicity)

About sums it up.

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