Editor's Note: Industry of Inclusion

Industry of Inclusion

Nobody likes talking about racial inequality in games, but Greg Tito believes that the alternative is much worse.

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Not a subject that has my particular interest, since most people (read: most people that actually play videogames) don't care at all. Ah well, that doesn't mean the Escapist can't come up with some interesting articles. Be right back, gonna find my Varia Reading Suit.

Err, I mean: gonna get 'clearance' from Adam to wear the damn suit.

I really don't know what to say about the whole 'race' angle brought up in this weeks issue.

I mean, I'm white, OK, no wonder I don't feel underrepresented.
BUT: I'm german, and (rough estimate) 90% of germans in Video Games amount to the "Ze Germahns" nazi enemy stereotype. Given the gist of todays issue, I should be aware of this, and maybe outraged about it, but I simply am not. It's a game, for christs sake. If the protagonist is well-written, I can identiofy with him, even though he's a white, american, gruff-looking, bodybuilding rapper as opposed to me being white, german, and a metalhead, and if he's badly written, nothing will redeem the character, even if they went and inserted exactly ME into the game.

The issue of race in games is that if you make a White American main character, you'll not get in trouble for anything that character does. There's no "Generic White Person" advocacy group. If you make them Nazis, there's (fortunately?) no Nazi advocacy group (well, not that we listen to).

If you make an Italian-American character, you have to be careful not to upset the douchebag Italian-American advocates.

If you make a game with a black character, you have to be careful not to give them a 'prohibited' role, or risk protests from douchebag 'african'-American 'advocates.'

There are plenty of cases of other groups complaining about their racial stereotypes, but many of the other groups (Asians, Arabs, Jews) recognize that protesting often does more harm than good (protesting is free media exposure for the company being protested), while rational criticism of those stereotypes is what encourages change.

It would help a great deal if these people would stop protesting every media portrayal with which they disagree, and instead focused on real injustice. If you're worried about every Italian being perceived as some gun-toting Guido, work to ensure that all the gun-toting Guidos are taken off the street. If you're worried about the portrayal of black men as drug-dealing thugs, work harder to take the drug-dealing thugs off the street.

When society doesn't have to deal with your culture's dregs, they're less likely to portray your culture using them.

This issue reminds me of Resident Evil 5's debut when the player is controlling Chris Redfield and fights against hordes of Africans. Capcom includes a African sidekick but that did little to no damage control.

N'Gai Croal who sparked this controversy, got massive crapstorm of hate messages, much to the likes of Roger Ebert who says that video games are not art.

I really appreciate that The Escapist tackling the whole "race" issue in games. This being the internet, I'm sure you're aware that there will be a lot of comments in the articles whining "oh boo hoo get over it" from people who don't bother to read the article, let alone have to deal with the issue at hand.

Games like GTA IV (see: Niko Bellic) and even Halo 3 (see: The Arbiter or Sgt. Johnson) prove that it's quite possible to include a more colorful cast of characters and give them at least some depth without turning every enemy into faceless cannon fodder whose only words are "атаку!" or "قتله!" before you gun them down in a hail of bullets. It's not a matter of favoring one race or creed or color over another, but about making the writing less crappy. People don't just run out and pull a weapon on someone without a reason, even if that reason is illogical or immoral.

Heck, the last couple of Rainbow Six games were nothing but a shooting gallery with mostly Mexican people taking the place of the ducks. I know Tom Clancy has stopped writing his own stories long ago, but you think they could have at least given a small answer as to why Las Vegas was mysteriously empty of people except for a surprisingly high number of Mexican drug-runners who invaded the city because...they could?

I love that this issue gets attention. As a gamer that happens to be a black male, I long for A) a character creator that doesn't look like a white character type in brown skin and B) a game with a black character default that isn't a gangster.

I understand that character creators rarely make realistic representations of one's identity, and I also realize that having a black protagonist might impede the immersion for many game characters. Also, I have to give credit to games like GTA that present characters that -- while clearly making their way through the ranks of the local criminal hierarchy -- at least appear ambivalent, conflicted, and complex in their decisions.

You can't inject any political issue into games and expect content.

Someone has to be the bad guy, where they are from is simply a matter of plausibility.

Russia is big enough and has history. The Middle East is militant enough. WW2 happened.

They have to have a reason for wanting to kill your character and unless you want to write a whole new war and make it plausible or set it as a fantasy it's easier to use history and past events and current political climate.

It is simply not racism or prejudice, that's why people view this as a non issue.

However when someone from a certain culture writes a character from another culture, with limited knowledge of said culture, accidental prejudice occurs. This isn't depiction. It's merely ignorance or stupidity. Bad writing.

Which is why I believe many people will disagree with this theme (I kinda like it, it makes people think) It's not a race issue but more a bad writing issue and trying to fit the race debacle into the videogames context doesn't really work imo.

Ought you not have called this weeks issue "Get Whitey Out of Gaming?"

I actually thought the Escapist was a little above bitching that people create from what they know. I do not complain that blacks write, paint, sculpt, et cetera blacks.

If you want to see more of some ethnicity in games, write more games with whatever element you desire into it. My job as an artist is to write what I know, and I know my ethnicity, culture, religion, mindset, et cetera better than I know anybody's. It stand to reason you will see that in my art, whatever the medium. I would do other races some bad service in trying to add them into my art, for they would be understood if they say it as caricature; I just don't know them like I know myself.

No, I really do not have an answer for Japan and their apparent love of writing whites, and I don't think anybody really does, either.

A very brave issue to run. I hope you'll excuse me if I don't read any of the comment threads!

I strongly support any effort to discuss important issues like this withing the games community. Examining the role race plays in peoples lives is fascinating (especially in how it relates to identity).

Anacortian:
Ought you not have called this weeks issue "Get Whitey Out of Gaming?"

I actually thought the Escapist was a little above bitching that people create from what they know. I do not complain that blacks write, paint, sculpt, et cetera blacks.

If you want to see more of some ethnicity in games, write more games with whatever element you desire into it. My job as an artist is to write what I know, and I know my ethnicity, culture, religion, mindset, et cetera better than I know anybody's. It stand to reason you will see that in my art, whatever the medium. I would do other races some bad service in trying to add them into my art, for they would be understood if they say it as caricature; I just don't know them like I know myself.

No, I really do not have an answer for Japan and their apparent love of writing whites, and I don't think anybody really does, either.

While I know it's exaggeration, I don't think anyone is calling for the "ethnic-cleansing" of games, but as a universal medium, I think some are hoping it will be a bit more...well, universal. A game has the propensity to be an international sensation, and while that doesn't obligate it to promote awareness and unity, I think the opportunity to overturn stereotypes and innovate in this way would be difficult for me to pass up. Therefore, it's difficult to understand how a developer can let that slip by.

On that same note, I think blacks making black movies and Southern whites writing Southern fiction differ because of the nature of gaming. Also, I believe many would argue that the ability to artfully portray a representative of a culture/ethnicity/nationality that differs from one's own is a measure of a great artist.

One complaint.. "protests against immigration in the American southwest", I think you missed the part about illegal. I have never seen a protest sign that said "Grant less American Green Cards" The US historically has allowed more LEGAL immigration than the next top 10 countries combined. There are tons of racists out there who like to rally immigration reform as a means to further their racism. But there are also people who believe that a secure US requires for all citizens to have some level of accountability, which in its most basic form, is accounting of your existence.

So do we stand by and ignore the fact that most minorities are forced to play games that do not represent them? Or do we point out that injustice, just like I used to tell my mom that she shouldn't say the N-word?

I think this point has been worded in a very strange way. I don't ignore the fact that "minorities" are "forced" to play games that do not represent them - I don't consider it a fact. For one thing, (and this may just be a semantics issue) nobody is forcing anyone else to play video games. It's a choice, and more importantly it's a thing people choose to do for fun. If someone cannot simply enjoy the game without thinking "Wait just a moment...my character is too pale for me to relate to!" then the problem lies with them, not the game. I relate to and empathise with a character because of their speech, reactions, decisions & interactions; not the colour of their skin. If skin colour truly doesn't make a difference, then what does it matter if the protagonist is black or white? See the character as a character rather than a Great White Oppressor/Token Minority.

Anacortian:
Ought you not have called this weeks issue "Get Whitey Out of Gaming?"

Considering that most games which feature a character creation screen (off the top of my head Fallout 3 - and presumably New Vegas - the Mass Effect series, Oblivion etc) have the option to play as a non-white character, and that plenty of other games (the Halo series, the Gears of War series, etc) have major characters who are not white, I don't think the problem is as great as perceived.

Byrn Stuff:

Anacortian:
Ought you not have called this weeks issue "Get Whitey Out of Gaming?"

I actually thought the Escapist was a little above bitching that people create from what they know. I do not complain that blacks write, paint, sculpt, et cetera blacks.

If you want to see more of some ethnicity in games, write more games with whatever element you desire into it. My job as an artist is to write what I know, and I know my ethnicity, culture, religion, mindset, et cetera better than I know anybody's. It stand to reason you will see that in my art, whatever the medium. I would do other races some bad service in trying to add them into my art, for they would be understood if they say it as caricature; I just don't know them like I know myself.

No, I really do not have an answer for Japan and their apparent love of writing whites, and I don't think anybody really does, either.

While I know it's exaggeration, I don't think anyone is calling for the "ethnic-cleansing" of games, but as a universal medium, I think some are hoping it will be a bit more...well, universal. A game has the propensity to be an international sensation, and while that doesn't obligate it to promote awareness and unity, I think the opportunity to overturn stereotypes and innovate in this way would be difficult for me to pass up. Therefore, it's difficult to understand how a developer can let that slip by.

On that same note, I think blacks making black movies and Southern whites writing Southern fiction differ because of the nature of gaming. Also, I believe many would argue that the ability to artfully portray a representative of a culture/ethnicity/nationality that differs from one's own is a measure of a great artist.

I agree that such a thing is the measure of a great artist, but most artists are good. Not every painter is capable of the Sistine Chapel. If you want them in gaming, how many have you written into a game? None. Then you are par for the course. One. Good for you.

I'm of the mindset that I'm immersed in the game. I am the main character to some extent, and as such the race, sex, creed of said character matters little to me. It's a process of molding the character they present with who I am and how I'd like to play the game. I know for me it doesn't matter what the avatar looks like, so long as the story and gameplay are good.

I would like to thank you and the rest of your editorial staff and your writers for taking on such a huge issue. As a gamer of predominately African descent, I have been disheartened by the lack of positive protagonists of varying ethnic backgrounds in gaming. Bringing this issue to light is just huge.

And to those of you that say it's no big deal, I ask you: When was the last time that someone used an ethnic or racial slur against YOU when you last played a multiplayer match? If you say non-whites need to change and accept and adapt to playing white male characters: why is it not YOU that can change and learn to relate to a non-white character? The sword indeed has two edges.

 

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