thekernelinyellow, maybe there is a better term than eurofantasy. Let me clarify that it is not intended to represent how Europeans create fantasy material, although it may also do that. It is intended primarily to connote the fantasy worlds that anglophone writers, film-makers, and game designers have about Europe: reimagined pseudo-European worlds, which have a generic character. US-Americans are taught a limited amount of “medieval history” that situates European history as antecedent to the USA. Dave Arneson wanted a medieval fantasy wargame instead of Napoleonic fantasy. “Medieval” meant resorting to European sources, because it’s what he knew. It was not European, but a eurofantasy (fantasy drawing on European stuff). It was a strange blend of things available to young wargamers in the US Midwest around 1972. I suppose this is why OSR gamers have been excited about Gygax’s Appendix N–it shows what those guys were reading, the preexisting eurofantasy.
The eurofantasy was a default because in the USA then, it was scarcely possible to have a serious formal education about cultures outside of Europe (Asia, Africa) until the 1960s, and only in a university, unless one was a full-time specialist. I suspect that it took most European countries at least as long to create these curricula as non-specialist education. These curricula were created specifically to address the global rivalry between the USA and the Soviet Union (“the Cold War”). But Arneson and Gygax grew up in a time when learning history meant learning European history. They were taught that they were Western. Everything else was “exotic.” The term “orientalism” had not been coined. For their fantasy literary sources, it was much more so.
In line with what yochaigal pointed out, the first D&D gamers imagined a white European fantasy world. It unconsciously reflects the social experience of race in the USA at that time. In that experience, white is generic, blank, and uncharacterized. Now that US-American society has changed and is still changing, the fantasy itself, which is rooted in this culture, now shows a discrepancy with how US-American society actually looks and how history is taught in the USA. It’s hard to imagine, but D&D was invented only several years after laws forbidding racial segregation were enforced in the US, and the effects of segregation did not disappear; in 2020 things have changed and more change will come, and the last generation who grew up with segregation as normal is dying off, but still the vestiges of US racial segregation are real and violent. Those who say politics and games cannot be separated are saying the same thing as this from a different point of view.
In another direction: although the eurofantasy was not originally a European fantasy, I think it has been accepted and adopted in many parts of Europe. I have never paid much attention to The Witcher, but it looks to me like a Polish author has created something in a style of fantasy that had its formative development among English speakers, complete with elves and dwarves. I won’t argue with anybody who insists that “Czech fantasy [for example] is an entirely different entity and does not draw on European sources and focus almost entirely on people racialized as white,” because I don’t know about it. Though I’m skeptical. Europeans can correct me if I’m wrong and tell me that D&D in Europe is not about “white people” by default. My impression is that Hungarian gamers, for example, are not basing their fantasies on the Mayans or ancient India, but on medieval central Europe or generic D&D fantasy and Appendix N-derived stuff (generic fantasy), which I call eurofantasy.
When my daughter practices ballet, they use French terms. That’s just part of the history of ballet. D&D comes from the Great Lakes region of the USA among English-speakers who were 99% male at the start (this has been studied) and for whom “white” was both a social reality and was also blank, default, and generic, and for whom the past was a European past.
I also acknowledge that some of this may sound strange or incorrect to non-US-Americans. European populations have their own configurations of nation and race that have proven fractious and violent in different ways. Mine is just one perspective. I think, though, that these historical factors are involved in the politicization of the OSR.