269: The Pasty White Person Is King

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aldowyn:
You also have to address whether it affects sales. How many people don't buy Dragon Age or Fable because they can't play as a non-Caucasian? Many people would just deal with it as a fact of life, just as they deal with the fact that most movies are white-washed as well, and often with less to no justification.

Relatively few people will go on a deliberate crusade about it -- the kind of people who mounted the "racebending" awareness campaign over the movie Avatar exhibit a level of motivation that isn't common -- but I would expect it to affect purchasing patterns anyway. Put it this way, I don't think people like me, who started out as fantasy fans but eventually wrote off most of the genre output (because of all sorts of factors, but industry-wide racial cluelessness is in there) are much of a rarity.

The gaming industry doesn't keep statistics that reflect ethnicity or any of this kind of decision-making as far as I know, so they would have no way of knowing or measuring any of this. On the other hand, it's hard to avoid noticing that the over-18 female gamer market is now larger than the teen male market that's traditionally been the core of the gaming industry. Though developers have been slow to react to that change.

Sidenote:

This study offers that whites and Asians are over-represented in games, but the other races are under-represented. Do with that as you choose.

http://nms.sagepub.com/content/11/5/815.full.pdf+html

-- Chuck

aldowyn:

The only reasons I can come up with for the emergence of the female PC as opposed to the black, asian, etc. PC are A: That the developers are specifically targeting the female demographic, and don't think they need to do anything for the non-Caucasian demographics, or B: Gender is just a wider, more obvious classification.

Or C: male gamers like to stare at totty. E.g. lara croft.

Oblivion did this right 5 yeears ago.

This article was written in a tone that's similar to the dude who rattles off a bunch of racist jokes, and then tells everyone he isn't a racist.

Makes it kind of hard to take you seriously dude. Which is a shame, because this is a topic that needs to be explored more thoroughly, and with maturity. The latter of which you severely lack in this piece.

FloodOne:
This article was written in a tone that's similar to the dude who rattles off a bunch of racist jokes, and then tells everyone he isn't a racist.

I can't make any sense of this complaint. What about his "tone" is supposed to be similar to this?

Continuity:

aldowyn:

The only reasons I can come up with for the emergence of the female PC as opposed to the black, asian, etc. PC are A: That the developers are specifically targeting the female demographic, and don't think they need to do anything for the non-Caucasian demographics, or B: Gender is just a wider, more obvious classification.

Or C: male gamers like to stare at totty. E.g. lara croft.

well... yeah, but I decided not to say that.

Chuck Wendig:
The Pasty White Person Is King

Why do we need more non-white characters when so many games allow you to create an avatar that looks like any race or color? Chuck Wendig experiments with some modern character creators and finds out that isn't exactly true.

Read Full Article

personally i am more bothered about the fact that you can create child molesters than the fact that you cannot create dark skinned people in some lame western rpgs.

I'm black but I find the overuse of the word pasty a bit unnecessary...
Caucasian doesn't equal pasty...there are distinct differences among people of the SAME ethnic group...really I think this article should be more about the depth of immersion that a player can experience if the protagonist was able to look more like them as INDIVIDUALS.

A point to consider.

Another article written on the Escapist by Fintan Monaghan may have a counter point. I won't go through the whole article on "The New Face of Japanese Games" but I would like to point to a very specific quote.

Fintan Monagha:
While the number of Caucasian characters was still overestimated, Asians were found to be more lo identify characters as Asian, while Caucasians were more likely to say the characters were Caucasian. This seems to suggest that anime characters are, to at least some extent, ciphers upon which the beholder imposes their own interpretation, a process Dr. Lu refers to as "Own Race Projection." These results echo Scott McCloud in Understanding Comics, where he states that cartoon images are a vacuum upon which the reader imposes their own identity.

This may be part of the problem for any objective commentator, their own race may be forcing them to see everything as something of theirs, or latching onto any small characteristic that they are able to relate to. Of course, if one is looking for these things, as the writer for this article was, they'll always be able to find them.

I wouldn't disagree with the observation that other ethnicities are unevenly represented in video games, but the problem is greatly exaggerated. For a good example of this, look at the controversy that Left 4 Dead 2 caused when they had black zombies. Of course it is realistic that zombies in New Orleans would be both black and white, but for some reason people protested this, saying it was racist (and Valve did a great job in both games in representing blacks as good people as well. Look at Lewis, he's the most normal one on the team ignoring his Pillz).

Basically what I'm saying is that maybe our own biases force us to exagerate this problem. I'll be happy when we get to the true post-racial world, where we don't look at race anymore. Not because it's improper, but because it doesn't matter. To truly move past means we add someone into a game because we like them, and don't look at our NPCs, PC, or just people in general based on their skin.

Plinglebob:
I'm going to sound like typical BNP racist [...]

Even in current times, the UK is still 90% white and the majority of those that arn't are mainly in the larger cities. In the countryside (or even some of the larger towns) the percentage of people of an ethnic minority drops to ridiculously low levels

That's a bit of a misrepresentation of statistics - the UK is 90% white because the towns and villages have a ridiculously low proportion of brown people. Which means that the cities have a significantly higher percentage.

Manchester, for example, is 80% white. The (densely populated) district of Manchester I live in is only 35% white, and most of those are immigrants (Irish or Eastern European).

Does that mean you can conceivably create a simulation of the UK which only features white people? Yes it does. But it also means that you can conceivably create an ethnically diverse simulation of the UK without it feeling 'wrong'.

And of course, fantasy games aren't a simulation of the UK anyway.

Del-Toro:
Why is white the dominant colour for medieval fantasy characters? If you want to argue that there were other races with a significant population in Europe at the time, then fine, argue that. The problem is that as far as I know none of them were knights, and I highly doubt that lords and kings let them fight in their armies, and they weren't exactly meshed in with native britons.

It's easy to think that black people weren't well-integrated into medieval British society - especially when you look at the problems with integration we've had in the 19th and 20th centuries.

That probably wasn't the case, though.

There's a fair bit of evidence that numbers of black people existed in Britain from pretty early on (probably dating back to the Roman conquest) - they're included on tapestries (sometimes wearing important clothes and armour, and carrying important props - they're not there as peasantry), there are some in stained glass and so on.

But there's not a lot of mention in historical texts. Which either means there weren't any black people to write about (unlikely, considering they appear in several pieces of artwork), or the chroniclers of the day didn't think it was worth mentioning - in other words, they didn't make a big deal about the colour of their skin. When we do identify a black historical figure, it's because he has an obviously 'black' surname (like John Blackmore of York). So we don't notice anyone who had a British name.

We probably need to bear in mind that any foreigner who came over here (of any skin colour) was probably pretty well off, educated and may well have been noble (or Roman). All stuff that was far more important in medieval times than anything else.

(aroundabout the time of Elizabeth I, there begin to be reports in London complaining about too many 'blackamoors' and their having too much influence on city politics - but that's relatively recent)

-

As for the article - I agree wholeheartedly; I don't think it's explicit racism on the part of developers, but I do think it's a level of laziness (or something) which should really be addressed.

It can't be that expensive - not in games when you already have character customisation options - to allow people to make characters who actually look like different ethnicities, rather than white people painted a different colour.

As some others have said, voices are a similar problem - although I don't think that should necessarily be tied to ethnicity as much (accents are very much a cultural thing - black people don't all sound like black americans, for example), but it would be nice if there was a variety of voices matching characters of differing builds (i.e. if I design a big guy, I'd like him to have a matching voice)

U mad bro?

Seriously though. Here are some notable non-white characters in video games:
Zack, Left for Dead
Sazh Katzroy, FF13
Jackson Briggs, Mortal Combat 2 and later
Barret Wallace and Tifa Lockhart, FF7
Jade, Beyond Good and Evil
The entire cast of Jade Empire, which fits the setting
Dean Shepard, Medal of Valor
Nearly the entire cast of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and much of the other games
Agent, in Crackdown
Zasalamel, Soul Caliber 3
Eric Brooks, in Blade
Wil Smith in Bad Boys
50 Cent, Blood in the Sand
Niobe, Morpheus and Commander Locke, The Matrix
Faith, Mirror's Edge
Half the cast of Tekken
Mace Windu, in Star Wars: Episodes 1-3
Afro Samurai
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Most of the cast of the Street Fighter games
Most of the cast of Dead or Alive
Alyx Vance, Half Life

Click this link for a link to a list of more black characters from video games http://wikibin.org/articles/list-of-black-characters-in-videogames.html .

There are hundreds of other references, but you get the idea. I realize you need to make a living too, but if you're going to write about an opinion and try to sound controversial about it, at least write with rhetoric that holds up to scrutiny.

Seriously... what?

You don't want your avatar to 'just be a white guy with a new coat of paint'? What the hell do you want, bad accents on Asians? How about a black guy sounding like Samual L. Jackson? Maybe we could get some Hispanic gangsters?

The minute you try to go to such great lengths to explicitly say "This is MY avatar's race and HE or SHE is BLACK or (insert other minority)" by creating stereotypical identifiers like cliché voicing or behaviour is when you take being PC a bit too far. I'm all for equality, but come on mate. It's not like we've got minstrels running around in our games as the only representations of non-whites. Just look at the heroic Sergeant Johnson from Halo, or Sergeant Foley from Call of Duty, who made a stalwart team leader that the player looked up to as the more experienced soldier.

And if you try to defend it by saying that you don't want your black guy sounding like a caricature, then all you're effectively doing is going right back to where you started. A pasty white guy with a new coat of paint. Because that's all you're ultimately doing when you're deciding between avatars of different 'races', unless you plan on getting eugenics involved in character customisation to determine 'what's black enough'.

Lord_Gremlin:
Wow, I actually want to shoot the author of this article.

Gralian:
What the hell do you want, bad accents on Asians? How about a black guy sounding like Samual L. Jackson? Maybe we could get some Hispanic gangsters?

Horben:
U mad bro?

Damn. It figures I'd have to leave just when the defensive nerdrage is starting to get good.

BobDobolina:

Lord_Gremlin:
Wow, I actually want to shoot the author of this article.

Gralian:
What the hell do you want, bad accents on Asians? How about a black guy sounding like Samual L. Jackson? Maybe we could get some Hispanic gangsters?

Horben:
U mad bro?

Damn. It figures I'd have to leave just when the defensive nerdrage is starting to get good.

Excuse me?

I was trying to point out that, while the author decried that all character customisation seemed to allow him to do was change what colour the skin was without becoming objectively 'African' or 'Asian', that is all you can effectively do to show any significant difference in race. You either make them into obvious caricatures (Like Cole Train from Gears of War) or you go along with the subtle differences you make in character customisation. If you want a fully realised diversified character you need to look at central characters like Sergeant Foley, because they are designed from the ground up. Characters made and played by the player have to range the gambit and so the developers can't hope to put all their eggs in one basket, and as the player base is predominantly white caucasian, that is where character customisation leads to. On a realistic level, you can't really physically do anything but colour a character's skin tone.

Obviously I do not know the author of this article, but it seems to me that he is just trying to get attention for his articles like some poor self conscious teenage girl. It's a bit pathetic really. Grow up. His next article will doubtless be him running around screaming "FIRE!"

Since there is a discussion here however, I feel I do have something to add. Now, to be fair, one of my parents was black, the other is white. But, basically in the eyes of society, I am "black". And as a "black" person, I find your article to be terribly condescending. I don't need your "pasty" ass defending my right to be in games. Corporations make video games, for a profit. All they care about is making their money. A good way to make money is (largely germanic) inspired high fantasy in an English medieval setting. Tolkien really started a trend in case you missed out on that.

You mentioned Moors? Hahaha. First of all, its not like there were Moors sitting on every street corner in merry old England. What, you watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves one day and saw Morgan Freeman and sat up in alarm saying "AHA! I KNEW THERE WAS BLACK PEOPLE IN MEDIEVAL ENGLAND! I shall write an article!". Clearly, you have no idea what you are talking about when you keep saying "but but but the Moors! The Moors man, THE MOORS!" Because your belief that there was some even minsicule population of moors living in England is just the acme of stupidity. Your reply to this is, "but, why does fantasy have to be based on reality?" BECAUSE IT SELLS GAMES YOU FOOL. Now, I am all for some really creative fantasy setting created with no regard toward reality, but that would be impossible. Everyone is the sum of their experiences and the easiest way to create a fantasy world that is accessible by others is to build off of a stereotype everyone knows and understands. In this case, it happens to be medieval England. It's been used as a blueprint for countless games, tv shows, movies, books, and you name it. As long as corporations still care to make money, the merry old england stereotype will be replayed countless times.

Moving on. As someone of mixed race, and someone whose entire living family is white...I also find your belief that the family has to be the same skin tone as the player is also very archaic (and offensive). You mention how in dragon age:

"Okay, yes, you can change the skin tone, but they still appear to have largely Caucasian features - further, your character's family is still white, suggesting that this is a genetic deviation like albinoism rather than an emblem of true racial heritage."

Why is "true racial heritage" so important to you? And furthermore what exactly do you mean by "Caucasian features". This is the kind of stuff that genuinely does upset me. Do black people in your perfect game all have wide noses with bones through them or something? And What is wrong with a game having a mixed family? Growing up I had a white dad and mom, and two white sisters. My dad wasnt my real father of course, but neither of us ever made that distinction. And what about all the people adopted out there who don't look like their parents? Why is that so "wrong" as to warrant remark from you in your article.

I know when you wrote this article you intentionally went out of your way to not come off sounding racist in any way at all. I can almost feel the effort as I read your words. However, your vocabulary and talking points all point to the fact you are a phony. You are just trying to hijack a hot topic like race to advance yourself. I only hope whoever you are trying to impress realizes this.

You ought to try Silent Storm, a bit older than your examples, sure, but it had a very interesting character generation system. It did allow for some strange things, you could play a black nazi elite soldier, but changing your race actually changed your race, not just the texture colour, it was also a slider, so you could play a character of mixed heritage. And since sex was determined by a slider as well, you could play a male character with feminine features, or the other way around. I haven't seen any later game do it better. Multiple choice of voices too.

But yeah, I agree completely, and I've been saying the same for years. And for that matter, written scripts and settings for years, but I still don't have a big enough budget to compete with the titles in your article, so I can't really change the perception yet.

freboi:
I know when you wrote this article you intentionally went out of your way to not come off sounding racist in any way at all. I can almost feel the effort as I read your words. However, your vocabulary and talking points all point to the fact you are a phony. You are just trying to hijack a hot topic like race to advance yourself. I only hope whoever you are trying to impress realizes this.

The man wants to play something other than a white dude in his RPGs. It's not motivated by race, it's motivated by the lack of choice. Your indignant moral outrage is your own construction, buddy.

chuckwendig:
Sidenote:

This study offers that whites and Asians are over-represented in games, but the other races are under-represented. Do with that as you choose.

http://nms.sagepub.com/content/11/5/815.full.pdf+html

-- Chuck

I choose to rebutt by saying this might have something to do with the fact that the industry is just predominantly Asians and Caucasians. I really don't see how this is necessarily a problem. Perhaps you could encourage more Latinos and African-Americans to enter game design careers? It would seem to me that would be more constructive than just ranting about a misperception of "whitewashing".

It's not that we don't want them on board, they just aren't applying.

freboi:
extreme snip

Erm...I'm going to have to answer to this response and please understand I'm not trying to start an all out argument here. You're basically claiming the the author's point is almost completely insensitive and flame worthy. Looking in the situation of people like you and me it kinda is. For other people though he speaks very close to how they feel about the race issue in games.

You back up the argument that since much medieval fantasy is based off LOTR that it wouldn't be right to add people that technically weren't common during the times. This can't be backed up because the games in and of themselves are so unlike the time and even tolkien's original stories that they don't have to follow the lore completely. Hell, look at oblivion. You can't tell me that doesn't have its roots in LOTR yet they recreated the world so all sorts of races are in it with no problems to the overall setting. If they want to be completely correct then they would have to stick to something more along the Witcher. Only male soldiers and warriors should be seen and most people shouldn't be able to get combat training or even a proper education. The majority would be peasants.

Now, if you're going for an extremely realistic portrayal of the time then yes darker skinned people in an ancient more northern European setting would be more scarce. No developer really ever does that though. For now the common fantasy games sell just fine, but I know plenty of people no longer buying for the simple reason that the setting and its staple races get old. Maybe game developers don't want to take chances anymore since so much money goes into production but all great and profitable series came from taking a chance. Who's to say making a game protagonist of another race means auto failure?

You also complain that by making a "black person" model type it would immediately exclude people like you and me who's features aren't really considered the norm for blacks. You can make a variety of model structure spectrums not labeled as anything in particular and have all skin tones and whatever else completely measured by the maker. Of course this is only for games like mass effect. For others that just rely on a main model your stuck with well... developers tend to stick with the stereotypical images which tend to not look like a lot of people from that group. It's still a difference and difference would probably be more welcome than you think. Please understand I do understand your gripe against specific ethnicity models. This problem annoys me too for several reasons.

Finally, you didn't like the thought that you're character not looking like your family is an issue and making it an issue is being an ass. Again I understand where your coming from. My family is full of mixed people who get mistaken constantly for all sorts of races. It's a common occurrence for us to have kids that don't look like their parents, siblings, or cousins. For people used to not looking like their immediate family there is no issue. However, many people tend to resemble the race of their relatives and to have a game character that looks like no one around in the entire area is well... kind of jarring. To me it's not too big an issue either but as long as you can intelligently reason why it is or isn't means no one is completely wrong.

So to wrap up (an sorry I went on this long) don't take this article as an insult to you. This issue is no issue for you, but it kinda is for others. All I ask is try to see this from a different perspective from someone who would be quite bothered by this.

Sir John the Net Knight:

chuckwendig:
Sidenote:

This study offers that whites and Asians are over-represented in games, but the other races are under-represented. Do with that as you choose.

http://nms.sagepub.com/content/11/5/815.full.pdf+html

-- Chuck

I choose to rebutt by saying this might have something to do with the fact that the industry is just predominantly Asians and Caucasians. I really don't see how this is necessarily a problem. Perhaps you could encourage more Latinos and African-Americans to enter game design careers? It would seem to me that would be more constructive than just ranting about a misperception of "whitewashing".

It's not that we don't want them on board, they just aren't applying.

I don't necessarily think a few blacks or latinos on any game developing project would automatically equal more diverse games. If the heads of your project have already decided on this theme with a more typical looking protagonist I seriously doubt huge changes would occur just because a couple people would like to see their own less seen races more represented. If the majority of my team wants pizza but I want gyros what are we going to end up getting?

The only way this will change is if more developers are willing to experiment and represent a character that isn't their race. That's not impossible to do it just takes the will to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar and work with those whose culture your representing. Unfortunately many developers are too lazy to even try to do this. Even more so do it properly.

Meh..sound and fury signifying almost nothing.

This feels like Escapists obligatory weekly "lets create an article and see if we can court some controversy".

I like that you looked at many different games, but I think the focus is short sighted. Course that could be because I am a demonic white male...oppressor of all others!

Nocturnal Gentleman:
I don't necessarily think a few blacks or latinos on any game developing project would automatically equal more diverse games. If the heads of your project have already decided on this theme with a more typical looking protagonist I seriously doubt huge changes would occur just because a couple people would like to see their own less seen races more represented. If the majority of my team wants pizza but I want gyros what are we going to end up getting?

The only way this will change is if more developers are willing to experiment and represent a character that isn't their race. That's not impossible to do it just takes the will to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar and work with those whose culture your representing. Unfortunately many developers are too lazy to even try to do this. Even more so do it properly.

Now my thought in this is what would be the motivation for them to do this? Other than some government agency or watchdog group beating their door down demanding forced diversity in everything. I can't think of one story ever written that could be made better by shoehorning racial diversity into it.

If people are that upset by a lack of ethnicity in games set in Medieval Europe or some other setting where racial diversity would only be there out of shoehorning, then they should just not buy the game. Frankly, I think they would be missing out many enjoyable experiences for a rather shallow reason, but it's their choice to make.

Again, I fail to see how any of this implies racism or prejudice.

Sir John the Net Knight:

Nocturnal Gentleman:
I don't necessarily think a few blacks or latinos on any game developing project would automatically equal more diverse games. If the heads of your project have already decided on this theme with a more typical looking protagonist I seriously doubt huge changes would occur just because a couple people would like to see their own less seen races more represented. If the majority of my team wants pizza but I want gyros what are we going to end up getting?

The only way this will change is if more developers are willing to experiment and represent a character that isn't their race. That's not impossible to do it just takes the will to immerse yourself in the unfamiliar and work with those whose culture your representing. Unfortunately many developers are too lazy to even try to do this. Even more so do it properly.

Now my thought in this is what would be the motivation for them to do this? Other than some government agency or watchdog group beating their door down demanding forced diversity in everything. I can't think of one story ever written that could be made better by shoehorning racial diversity into it.

If people are that upset by a lack of ethnicity in games set in Medieval Europe or some other setting where racial diversity would only be there out of shoehorning, then they should just not buy the game. Frankly, I think they would be missing out many enjoyable experiences for a rather shallow reason, but it's their choice to make.

Again, I fail to see how any of this implies racism or prejudice.

The point of doing this would be to be to relate to gamers that rarely see protagonists they can really relate to. Plus it doesn't have to feel like other races were just thrown in as quota.
Oblivion is a medieval like setting but the other races don't feel strange. Someone else mentioned Guild wars either here or in another article. It covered a fantasy setting spanning representations of several continents. For a more modern setting look at Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. You had all sorts of races in that one. All anyone's saying is it's nice to at least try and give more diversity a shot. The gamer market has people of many cultures, so why act like many don't really exist? Plus it isn't as hard as people make it out to be.
I wouldn't say the lack of other races is because of developer racism but more because they just don't think to try anything different. This person looks like me lets keep sticking with this attitude. If you aren't part of that usual "looks like me" category it gets kinda old seeing no one that looks like you after a while.
It's not rare to sort of project yourself in your games. Why not allow other people to be more able to do this?

Nocturnal Gentleman:
The point of doing this would be to be to relate to gamers that rarely see protagonists they can really relate to. Plus it doesn't have to feel like other races were just thrown in as quota.
Oblivion is a medieval like setting but the other races don't feel strange. Someone else mentioned Guild wars either here or in another article. It covered a fantasy setting spanning representations of several continents. For a more modern setting look at Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. You had all sorts of races in that one. All anyone's saying is it's nice to at least try and give more diversity a shot. The gamer market has people of many cultures, so why act like many don't really exist? Plus it isn't as hard as people make it out to be.
I wouldn't say the lack of other races is because of developer racism but more because they just don't think to try anything different. This person looks like me lets keep sticking with this attitude. If you aren't part of that usual "looks like me" category it gets kinda old seeing no one that looks like you after a while.
It's not rare to sort of project yourself in your games. Why not allow other people to be more able to do this?

Isn't the whole point of social equality that we look beyond things like that? If I relate to a character, it probably doesn't have much to do with their skin color or ethnic background. More often than not a character that is pushed in to a plot to promote some kind of ethnic diversity is simply going to cause more problems then they solve. I say it's better that a character be genuine and likable rather than forcibly inserted and out of place. (Jar Jar, anyone?)

As I stated earlier, most people I know who game don't really care about this. And that generally transcends ethnicity, in my experience. Never had a gamer buddy come up to me and fill my eardrums about how a character generator didn't allow you to be black enough.

Somewhere, someplace, a dev. is looking at this and thinking, "Wow, those guys in marketing did really good."

Aside from my (skewed) belief that the developers don't really control what the default color of the characters are, this article, perhaps written a little in haste, raises points that some refuse to take up or completely ignore due to the whole "race" issue.

It's not hard people. It's just the whole more choice = more immersion.

Sir John the Net Knight:

Nocturnal Gentleman:
The point of doing this would be to be to relate to gamers that rarely see protagonists they can really relate to. Plus it doesn't have to feel like other races were just thrown in as quota.
Oblivion is a medieval like setting but the other races don't feel strange. Someone else mentioned Guild wars either here or in another article. It covered a fantasy setting spanning representations of several continents. For a more modern setting look at Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. You had all sorts of races in that one. All anyone's saying is it's nice to at least try and give more diversity a shot. The gamer market has people of many cultures, so why act like many don't really exist? Plus it isn't as hard as people make it out to be.
I wouldn't say the lack of other races is because of developer racism but more because they just don't think to try anything different. This person looks like me lets keep sticking with this attitude. If you aren't part of that usual "looks like me" category it gets kinda old seeing no one that looks like you after a while.
It's not rare to sort of project yourself in your games. Why not allow other people to be more able to do this?

Isn't the whole point of social equality that we look beyond things like that? If I relate to a character, it probably doesn't have much to do with their skin color or ethnic background. More often than not a character that is pushed in to a plot to promote some kind of ethnic diversity is simply going to cause more problems then they solve. I say it's better that a character be genuine and likable rather than forcibly inserted and out of place. (Jar Jar, anyone?)

As I stated earlier, most people I know who game don't really care about this. And that generally transcends ethnicity, in my experience. Never had a gamer buddy come up to me and fill my eardrums about how a character generator didn't allow you to be black enough.

My question is if you can look beyond race why would you care if more were represented? If all people are the same then people of all cultures can be used no problem. You would still enjoy the character and someone else would enjoy the character more. You and your friends don't care. Other people do. What is the opposition about? You shouldn't care anyway. Also, as I said before there are examples were there are other cultures but they don't feel forced. It just takes getting a good writer.

Not to mention part of accepting other cultures is sometimes immersing yourself in them. I would love new cultures represented that normally aren't. I feel it would be refreshing. The same old type setting and characters is boring and lazy.

I think this article raised a number of excellent points. There should be a more concerted effort on the part of game developers to allow players more customization when the option is given.
On a related, but not as controversial issue, I always try to create characters who look like myself and am quite upset that I can rarely select "bald" as a hairstyle. In Mass Effect 1 and Fallout 3 which you mentioned, there is no bald hair style, only buzz cut.

Master Chief, the Rookie, and Noble 6 aren't designated as white in the games, just somewhat in the other fiction. And I always liked how there were marines from most walks of life fighting for you, even though some of their comments seemed borderline racist, if not simply stereotypical.

extra skin tones = extra work

I have to say I agree with the article.

It was quite strange as I did not think it would happen, but one of the reasons I took to Mass Effect was due to the fact I could create a South Asian looking character that somewhat resembled me (well... minus the name... I was not too fussed about the voice).

It surprised me. I have a well rounded charcter who was Asian. Even though I did not really like the game I was also quite surprised by the variety of characters you could play in Far Cry 2. You could even be a Mauritian (of South Asian descent)!

Putting fantasy settings aside I think it is important to consider proportionally the under representation and stereotyping of BME (Black Minority Ethnic) groups.

While people may argue that this is a non-issue. What is worry is why is it a non-issue?

The lack of representation could be said about television in the 70s/80s with regards to mainstream television.

I think the issue at the end of the day is blockbuster games appealing to demographics and commercially viable forms of game creation being out of the hands of small groups. The difficulties of creating a successful indie game, etc.

I think it would be interesting to see a group of indie games created from BME groups dealing with issues not dealt with mainstream games. Hopefully, the variety will seep into more mainstream games if proven commercially viable. Then said people working on indie games will get jobs with larger developers, work their way up and then have enough impact to suggest non-traditional game ideas that will not be shut down.

Or maybe the above will not happen and we find there is no need for it.

And damn you Oblivion for not letting me play as a white Redguard! Surely they have a few "pasty" white people in their homeland.

They should just give people choice tbh. I dont want to play a black when I play engineer in BFBC2. Isnt it racist that only blacks can be engineers in the american army and not white-pasties?

Its not necessarily racism. Atleast not in Fables case where the game world takes place in a "Briton-esque" fantasy world.

And devs tend to fail with black characters as well, just look at Gears of War's "Cole-train" and then that ebonic-speaking retard hispanic guy in Killzone 2. Those two are just stereotyped characters that just annoy the hell out of me. Only black guy in gaming history I could stand was Louis from L4D.

Three pages basically saying 'yeah...we should improve character creation by making black people look black etc.'

You mention Fallout 3, and say that the characters look white, no they don't. I've never seen anybody who looked vaguely like those characters. The whole article just seems to point out that character creation should be better, well duh!

Seems like a moot point dressed up to seem more interesting than it is.

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