The problem is that a lot of the stuff you’re labelling as colonial/imperial is quite easily arguably a human universal, and is found in the myths and stories of cultures across the world, North and South, East and West. You probably can’t find many cultures which don’t have at least some stories like this. I mean Monkey for god’s sake. So when you go to casually label it as inherently colonialist/imperialist, it looks a bit, well, blithe or glib to me. In fact, the one thing that’s missing is that in a lot of cultures, trickery is like, quasi-celebrated, or outright celebrated, trickery is almost never a big thing in games (I mean, Hitman maybe?) and rarely in media in general (only thing I can immediately think of is heist stuff, which is I think so popular in part because it’s one of the few places trickery is acceptable to celebrate - also stuff like Survivor or The Circle, I guess).
It can absolutely manifest in horrifyingly colonialist/imperialist ways, the classic recent-ish example being in the '80s, all the white-person-masters-martial-arts, beats the asian people who came up with them at them stuff. Or the whole massive deal in the 1920-1940s (or even back to the 1800s) of white men going to various cultures and “learning their ways” and becoming their leaders.
But you’re essentially talking about stories of heroes, and heroes tend to be the best at things, and heroes often come from difficult backgrounds, which can involve them being outcasts, foreigners, or underdogs. When they don’t come from difficult backgrounds, it tends to seem obnoxious - when the hero is already a prince (and not a secret prince or whatever), already the best at what he does, and then faces the trials and is confirmed as the best at what he does, it’s hardly a story, it’s not relatable for really anyone (because almost no-one sees their life like that from the inside of their head)
The idea that someone coming into a society and influencing it/changing it is inherently imperialist/colonialist too also seems a little dubious, as does the idea that leaving makes it more imperial/colonial. To the direct contrary, not leaving and staying to tell them what to do is the classical imperial/colonial tale (as told by both people for it and against it). Human culture pretty much operates, and has operated for it’s entire history by people making contact with other people and teaching those people things. To call that basic human trait imperialist or colonialist seems like a reach and half. And with CRPGs specifically, the tend to be the one genre which does sometimes note that the consequences are not always positive (usually in an epilogue).
I’m thinking through myths from all the cultures I’m familiar with and I’m not really coming up with a lot of examples where a culture-hero isn’t the best at something, unless he or she is up against a god, or where they come up against foreign trials and get beaten by the spunky locals or whatever. I can think of plenty where they learn stuff from others, but they then tend to be immediately good at it.
I do agree that it’s easy to fall into a trap on this one, and repeat literally imperialist/colonialist myths/stories, but I’m a bit skeptical that the structure itself is that. I’d suggest it predates that, and merely was an existing story structure utilized by imperialist/colonialist forces after the fact.
The most inherently imperialist/colonialist stuff in RPGs seems to me to more to do with raiding and generally vaguely genocidal behaviour a lot of them feature, together with crushing sapient beings who would are often labelled as “primitive” or “inferior” or whatever, and taking their stuff (plus all the raiding tombs and temples). The whole “gold and experience” thing. Indeed the fact that adventurers are typically not really members of some unified society is what tends to operate as the mental “firewall” that stops people immediately identifying them as raiders and conquerors for a culture/society/nation. I can think of a TT RPG or two where this wasn’t the case, and the adventurers in those cases immediately seemed vile.
For example, in Traveller: The New Era, from the 1990s, we have people described, at one point, I shit you not as “space vikings” (I can’t remember their actual name), who basically go around the universe raiding places, killing “baddies” and spreading “civilization”, and singing songs from the US Marine Corp (!!), and the immediate reaction I had, as a 12-year-old kid in 1990 was “Oh fuck these guys, they sound like right cunts!”. But the game thinks they’re awesome, because it was written by some then 40 or 50-something dude (who’d be 70 or 80 now!) with very different values. But had they just been doing that as individual groups, without this unified structure and ideology behind them? Would I have reacted that way? I dunno. Probably yeah if they were still singing USMC songs but I think it would have been a lot easier to disguise if they were just characterised as individual groups doing it.
I’d agree with this, though I would question, a few hours into the game, if this particular game has ever suggested that we should “respect cultures” or whatever, I mean has it? Is it clashing? Or is it clashing with a preconceived notion you had about it?
I see the game about someone who was outcast, for seemingly shitty reasons, has always been independent and asked questions (and that sort of thing does seem to tend to be genetic, weirdly, unless people have it really pounded into them or out of them culturally), and who hasn’t really demonstrated any personal attachment to respecting cultures (not that given her age and background could we really expect that). Her adoptive father pays lip-service to tradition and generally obeys it himself, but frankly, he’s not exactly stern about it, he’s a bit of a pushover all-round, that’s just how he is. If he wasn’t, he’d have taken the earpiece from Aloy at the very beginning (as I expected him to) and this would be a very different story.
Also re: “white Jesus”, I think they just wanted a redhead and weren’t original enough to think of a look more like say Erin Kellyman. Though it would seem like Kellyman would be a shoe-in to play Aloy in a movie/show, as soon as Falcon and Winter Soldier came out I immediately saw people starting to suggest it (edit: in fact I see as soon as The Rise of Skywalker came out people noticed this).