Industry of Inclusion

Industry of Inclusion
The Pasty White Person Is King

Chuck Wendig | 31 Aug 2010 12:32
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Live and learn, I suppose.

Onto World of Warcraft.

Oh, hey, look. More white people.

Seems again "human" directly corresponds with "Caucasian." Okay, sure, like in Dragon Age, I can go ahead and change the skin color of these humans, but somehow the characters still look distinctly white - but painted some other color, like that chick from that Bond movie who gets slathered in gold paint and dies.

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What's troubling is that there exists the feeling that the Horde - not necessarily the evil side, but certainly the more monstrous one - is home to the non-white options, with Trolls seeming roughly analogous to West Indian stereotypes, and Taurens fitting under the Native American umbrella. Here, the definition of "Race As Other" is as plain as the nose on a clown's face: bold, red, and honking.

***

Fuck it, I think. Time to leave this White People Planet behind.

In space, I find some small solace.

In Mass Effect 2, I can change the skin tone and features of my Commander Shepard to correspond to someone who is distinctly non-white, yet still very human.

In EVE Online, I don't even know what the hell I'm looking at. These characters are human, but of nebulous race - swarthy, severe, all glistening as if covered in a sheen of oil. I can definitely create someone who looks Asian. The Brutors (a tribe of the Minmatar) are ... dusky of flesh? But not exactly black. (Though the game lets you modify skin tone.) I can't create perfect analogs of those races found here on actual Earth, but at least I feel like I'm looking at a racially diverse group, even if those races are entirely fictionalized. Humanity remains diverse, even if the end result is the product of pure invention.

Comforted in some small way, I head back to Earth, where I hope things have changed after my time away amongst the twinkling not-necessarily-white stars, the red dwarfs, the yellow suns.

***

The world is ruined. Somebody fucked up, and now it's all Fallout 3 outside.

Apparently, the radiation has gone and turned our distinct ethnic differences into a turbid, muddy broth. I boot up the character creator and at first I'm heartened - I have the option to create a character of four different racial makeups: Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American, or Asian. (One wonders why one is listed as "African-American," which specifically designates an American of African heritage, where the other classifications are purely racial, but I suppose that's splitting "politically correct" hairs.)

Then I try it out.

Uh-oh.

Caucasian guy looks like a dirty-cheeked white person.

Asian guy looks like ... a dirty-cheeked white person.

Hispanic guy looks like ... mmm, yes, a dirty-cheeked white person.

The female analogs don't look much better. They look like white people who have had their faces rubbed in ashtrays and were then kicked out into a raging sandstorm.

The best is the African-American character, who actually looks ... well, black. Some ethnic identity remains apparently unmolested by the DNA-scourging radiation that washed over the Capital Wasteland.

***

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