269: Praise Diversity, Address Inequality

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unabomberman:

That is a way to approach the argument, but by that same token I could say that Howard is white and society makes no more assumptions about him at face value than it does about Sheldon, Leonard, or Penny; and by contrast it would do so about Raj. That's teh sticking point here: society's view towards the other.

I could also say that I'm a mexican that tends towards the white spectrum and if you looked at me you migt be inclined to say that I might very well be a tanned white guy from, say, Spain, and I for sure wouldn't get treated much differently than my perceived pasty brethren. I would get Sheldon treatment, not Raj treatment (though on a trip to Arisona I already got myself a "spic" call once so who knows).

I think it's fairly safe to say that discrimination against Jewish people is still measurable. But if it's pure skin color you wish, we can do that too:

The Big Bang Theory, by the numbers:
White 4, 80% (Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Howard)
Indian 1, 20% (Raj)

The United States, by the numbers:
White 75%
Indian less than 4.4% (considered part of the Asian ethnic group)

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_American

AceCalhoon:

Smokescreen:

That said; I think it's a pretty short-sighted reason to keep things as is.

I'm not championing it as The Way Things Should Be. I'm pointing out that, the way I see it, an intense focus on race has led to a situation where the easiest course of action is to avoid the topic altogether.

Oh, it wasn't my intention to say that you /were/ championing The Way Things Should Be and if it came across that way, I apologize.

I agree that it is easier to avoid the topic because those who attempt it will, more often than not, be vilified rather than praised but I don't think changes come about without the kinds of discussion brought about by this issue of the Escapist giving a platform to jump off and talk about it.

That pretty much seals it. At least for the core group.

I don't know if there are other characters appearing somewhere around the show that are intelligent representations of minorities, but the point remains that there is not enough of it. Not the producers fault though, but it is a sign of what needs to be addressed by the minorites ourselves. The street goes both ways.

In many ways, Battlestar Galactica did a good competent job on this front and didn't make too much fuzz about it. Hopefully as we move forward these issues can be addressed more and more.

unabomberman:
That pretty much seals it. At least for the core group.

I don't know if there are other characters appearing somewhere around the show that are intelligent representations of minorities, but the point remains that there is not enough of it.

I may be misinterpreting what you're saying here, but I think you may want to look at the numbers again. The Big Bang Theory is literally as close to the realistic numbers for white/non-white cast members as it could possibly be, given a five member cast size.

I think the issue of race should always be open to discussion. I don't think anything should be automatically decried as racist, however. We need to actually consider the issue before we decided if something is a problem or not. And while something should not be automatically decried as racist without consideration, a person who mentions that something might be racist should not be automatically shouted down as being a member of the PC police. Sometimes political correctness goes too far and does nothing but stifle free expression. And sometimes the people who declare that anyone who wants to talk about racism is PC are stifling free expression and preventing a serious and important issue from being discussed.

Let people speak. Voice your own concerns, but don't tell people that they're speaking up "too much." There is no such things as too much discussion or too much expression.

And for the record, I believe that lack of diversity in games is a problem. I'm always baffled by how much that and racial stereotypes show up in American games. I can understand in a Japanese-made game that there might be a black guy with a half-fro who fights by unnecessarily shooting his guns behind his back and harmonica music plays whenever the cut scene is focussed on him, but I expect better from American-made games. Is there a lack of diversity in the industry? It's like some developers have never met a black person.

Georgie_Leech:
Although I agree that there remains a distressing amount of racism in society, I disagree with your call to constantly question the race of characters in games, questioning the reason why each character is which culture. Although that would cut down on the (obnoxious) stereotypes, it also screams the message "Race is a big deal!!!" which goes against everything that multi-cultural society teaches, which is that race is not a defining feature. It would force an even greater degree of political corectness on all of us, and would do very little to combat the actual issue: The racists, sexists, etc. in real life.

Race will stop being a big deal in video games (and in other venues) when racial representation is more in line with Real Life and racial stereotypes are not the majority of that representation.

The videogame industry is an INDUSTRY. It is concerned with the demographics of its consumer base, not the national demographics. I get the impression that a lot of people think that the racial aspect of a character is just decided by chance, or the whim of the designer. If videogame companies are like any other companies I can assure you they have done many studies and focus groups to determine how to maximize their sales to their target audience. If you want more black characters then you need a larger black consumer-base. It's that simple. You might say that it's racist that whites prefer to play as whites, but its a commonly accepted rule in psychology that all people prefer people that look similar to them, even to the point that one looks for similar facial traits in potential mates. Is that racist? Well, it's certainly a form of implicit, unconscious bias, but it can only qualify as racism if hatred is removed from the definition. A positive preference of something is not tantamount to contempt of everything else.

"Willful ignorance and willful lack of sensitivity?" Really? So in order to be completely absolved of racism you have to have a PhD in anthropology? That's absurd. I'm willfully ignorant of all sorts of cultures because I don't have the time or energy to devote to studying them. If I glean a stereotype from a culture without knowing the basis for that stereotype then I must be racist right? As long as I don't think that ALL Scots wear kilts, play the bagpipes and eat Haggis, I don't think it's racist to associate Scots with kilts bagpipes and haggis. Only a complete moron would think that some stereotype is necessarily true about every person who belongs to that group without exception.

As for sensitivity: why on god's green earth would hypersensitivity be a good thing? Everyone always has to step on egg-shells because you never know who you might offend. It seems obvious to me that we should be working in the exact opposite direction. As long as no one discriminates against anyone in an official capacity (i.e. denies them a job, a place at a restaurant, or a seat on a bus) then racism should be treated as an opinion. Granted a potentially extreme and offensive opinion, but an opinion nonetheless. If someone voices such an opinion publicly then it provides cause to review any official decisions they may have made that regards race, just as an outspoken right-wing fanatic who turns down an application from a woman who is pro-choice better have a good explanation for doing so lest he risk litigation.

Aside from official decisions we should, as a society, try to DE-sensitize race. After all, why would a racial slur be more insulting than a personalized insult that actually applies to you. If someone calls me an inbred redneck trailer-trash cracker, I'm more liable to laugh at their hyperbole than to take umbrage. But if someone says something personal about me or my family member (that somehow applies), then I'm probably going to respond in kind. The goal is to make everyone hypersensitive is tantamount to censorship. If people are hypersensitive then they will be easily offended, yet the goal is supposedly to make sure that no one is offended. The only way to accomplish that goal is to make sure no one ever says anything that could remotely be construed as offensive. Does it stop at race? Maybe I'm offended by Christianity's claims that anyone who isn't Christian spends eternity in hell. Guess they'll have to take that part out of their sermons. "If you're a good Christian you'll go to heaven." "What if I'm not Christian?" "Errr... You'll... go to... heaven?" "So what's the point of being Christian?" "Ummmmmmm..."

Sure if everyone was knowledgeable about and had respect for everyone's race/culture then no one will ever say anything offensive. Oh wait... What if they point out how one culture is inferior to another in a certain objective respect? Say for instance the minimal scientific achievements of the cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, or those of other undeveloped parts of the world. Objective historical facts can't be racist; that would make reality itself racist, which is absurd. The only answer is to say that all cultures are equal overall. However, no one can seem to give a set of criteria on which to judge this equality. You could say they're culturally equal, but that is a question-begging sophistry as the equality of the CULTURES is the very thing in question. Diversity is the most hopeful answer to this question as diversity does have a positive aesthetic value. But to say that all cultures are equal qua diversity is merely to say that they are equal by means of being different. However, equality can ONLY be measured between DIFFERENT things, for to say something is equal to itself is, of course, a meaningless tautology. Thus if being different makes things equal then equality applies to everything, you are even entitled to claim 3=7!

A great deal of people talk about equality and inequality in a vague manner that seems to confound equality of opportunity with actual equality in traits. The goal of the civil rights movement is the former, the goal of hard-line communism is the latter. People are not equal in the latter sense. Some people are smarter than others, some are stronger, some faster, some more congenial. This is a fact of life. The purpose of equality of opportunity is to ensure that people rise in society based upon the attributes that are relevant to success, and not by arbitrary discrimination and favoritism. The very basis for society and life in general is the inequality of traits, for without it there could be no lifeforms beyond simple protozoa, and there could be no way to determine who should be responsible for what in a society. One of the primary reasons why communism fails is that it doesn't provide an incentive for superior individuals to do anything different than their inferiors. If a professor is paid the same as a janitor then why go to college?

But it would be unfair of me to withhold the answer from the philosophically uninitiated. It is quite simply that the equality that multiculturalists claim is not an objective or descriptive equality, but a prescriptive equality. Their real claim is simply that culture is a matter of taste, and diversity is important insomuch as it allows as many pallets to be catered to as possible. What they're really saying is that you may not like a culture, but that is your taste, and you have no more of a claim to objectivity as anyone else. Sure, certain cultures may be scientifically backward, but scientific achievement is only one criterion by which to judge a culture. In essence, the racist or chauvinist is likened to the irascible fellow in the art gallery who keeps shouting, "a painting of a soup can isn't art!" To which the rest of the people in the gallery reply, "so say you."

Society is sick in western Europe and USA. Stop being so butthurt about black people, or yellow people or whatever. If you want equality, treat everybody equally.

That was a great article, and it tackles the point well. I'd dare to say that of all the articles in this issue this is the one that best treats the issue.

So I'll reply. Should we speak up on this perceived racism?

It's a case by case basis, really. RE5 brought up a lot of criticism. But for the Japanese developers, this problem just didn't exist, because for them, it wasn't a game about a white guy shooting black guys. Nope, not a game about a human shooting zombies either. It was a game about a foreigner shooting foreigners.

Likewise, why are there no black Little Sisters? There are no blonde ones, either. It's part of the character design - notice how they look similar to The Ring's Samara. For some reason people find a soaked prepubescent[1] girl with long black hair and pale white skin scary. So is it racism? I wouldn't say it is.

And then there are cases like GoW's Cole, and San Andreas' C.J. who was mentioned in the comments. They are pretty borderline cases, especially Cole, who know mostly from second hand accounts since I found GoW absurdly drab. Cole appears to be a one-dimensional 'tuff guy' steretotypical black character who can only shout and act macho. This seems to be the standard for the series, though. I'd say that if Cole didn't act like that he'd be the black equivalent of The Girl - the female character that is better than all the guys only because making the girl awesome is a marginally better solution for a character whose primary characteristic is 'female' (a bad decision on itself) than any other female stereotype. C.J. fares a little better, he manages to be a character of his own despite coming up from the most stereotypical black setting possible, starting out as a 'gangsta' but eventually forging his own path, only to later be confronted with his on hoods. Although earlier GTA's stories are spoiled by the much better (or at least much more sophisticated) story of IV, C.J. is above the videogame character curve and is not just a black guy but rather a character who, amongst other things, is black.

This case-by-case thing is not as easy as it may look. Nintendo made Jynx purple so it doesn't look like a racial caricature. Was a racial caricature intended at first? Is if racism if you end up with something that looks like a racial caricature? To what extent can not knowing, or refusing to aknowledge, such things actually be seen as contributing to racism?

And the real problem is that most main characters are white. It's something that movies, currently as well estabilished as a cultural landmark as books and already with a row of giants to draw inspiration from, still struggle with. Videogames will still do so.

Although maybe if we had noticed this earlier - if we had asked developers why so rarely are our guys in the game not Generic White Dudes - maybe we'd have had more diversity, back when doing something risky in a game was not financial suicide, back when there was room to experiment, back when games weren't expecting billions of dollars in profit just to make even. Maybe you are right - we need to speak up on this, but more importantly, we should have spoke up before, now there is too little, too late, too much inertia to overcome. Diversity in games shall increase as acceptance does in real life, or likewise fail to. We'll see.

[1] I had to look up how this word is spelled. Bloody hell, Chrome has a built-in spellcheck, so why is it that whenever I need to actually know how a word is mispelled I'm on Firefox instead?

Ok, let me pick up on one point here.

Question: just how often do you "see" the "face" of a game? Unless, as has been pointed out by a few other comments here, you customize it yourself?

If there weren't a few pictures of Jack from "Bioshock" in flashbacks of photographs and on a wall, nobody would know if he was white or Brazillian. "Half Life" and sequel are told exclusively from the point of view of the protagonist from the very start - if it wasn't for the cover art you wouldn't even know what he looked like. What if Valve had just decided to leave his appearance as a mystery? As for games like "Doom" and "Halo", well, the hero is some guy in a spacesuit. To the best of my recollection he never appears, not even in the game's artwork.

AceCalhoon:

unabomberman:
That pretty much seals it. At least for the core group.

I don't know if there are other characters appearing somewhere around the show that are intelligent representations of minorities, but the point remains that there is not enough of it.

I may be misinterpreting what you're saying here, but I think you may want to look at the numbers again. The Big Bang Theory is literally as close to the realistic numbers for white/non-white cast members as it could possibly be, given a five member cast size.

Yes. But my point was about stereotypes, which leaves me thinking I must have done a poor job at explaining myself. Sorry for that.

My original point was that as far as stereotypes of educated people go, there is a vast majority of white exponents. The Big Bang Theory is just another one of the same shows that does the same thing.

And what is that thing? Permeate the status quo into society via entertainment even when they have no hidden political agenda or even the slightest of mean intentions. I'm, in a way, asking for those that own the means of production to do minorities a solid, kinda how JJ Abrams did with his new spy show that might suck balls where both leads are not white.

Though, yes, I do acknowledge that it should be up to minorities to also get those shows done themselves and self represent themselves. The same goes for videogames.

One thing that struck me was the comment along the lines of "Why aren't there any non-white little sisters."

My immediate response to that was "Well.. why should there be?" I don't think the game developers need to be able to supply reasons for their characters race, gender or appearance beyond that's how I imagined him/her/it in my head. What I'm saying is the argument of 'racism by ommission' is silly

I would answer this question "("I know it's a fantasy world, but why aren't there any non-white Little Sisters in BioShock?") " thusly...the games characters were drawn from a time where black people were heavily oppressed and the vast majority of powerful people in the western world were white.

How would little sisters who were black show up? Strange mutations?

Seriously?

Empty hyperbole. Think about the game time and setting. I know there were many rich people of colour in 1920,30,40,50's US, but I am unsure how many achieved real power and would be accepted by a power elite that would set up an underground base.

unabomberman:

And what is that thing? Permeate the status quo into society via entertainment even when they have no hidden political agenda or even the slightest of mean intentions. I'm, in a way, asking for those that own the means of production to do minorities a solid, kinda how JJ Abrams did with his new spy show that might suck balls where both leads are not white.

But... If anything, The Big Bang Theory should be precisely the kind of thing you would see in a fair society. It has exactly the mix of white/non-white that it's supposed to. The only status quo that it's permeating into society is the truth.

unabomberman:

Though, yes, I do acknowledge that it should be up to minorities to also get those shows done themselves and self represent themselves. The same goes for videogames.

But, yeah. This is pretty much where I sit on the issue. The interesting question to me is, "why aren't they?" But it's a question that is very rarely asked.

AceCalhoon:

unabomberman:

And what is that thing? Permeate the status quo into society via entertainment even when they have no hidden political agenda or even the slightest of mean intentions. I'm, in a way, asking for those that own the means of production to do minorities a solid, kinda how JJ Abrams did with his new spy show that might suck balls where both leads are not white.

But... If anything, The Big Bang Theory should be precisely the kind of thing you would see in a fair society. It has exactly the mix of white/non-white that it's supposed to. The only status quo that it's permeating into society is the truth.

unabomberman:

Though, yes, I do acknowledge that it should be up to minorities to also get those shows done themselves and self represent themselves. The same goes for videogames.

But, yeah. This is pretty much where I sit on the issue. The interesting question to me is, "why aren't they?" But it's a question that is very rarely asked.

"Why aren't they?"

That question is easily answered: Who owns the majority of the means of production?

Well what do you expect man? They tried to put black people in games - look at Resident Evil 5! But then everyone complained like - "That's racist!! You shoot black people!!!" So now they don't put black people in games anymore, what did you think would happen?

Just imagine if the protagonist in a New-gen shooter game was black! I'm sure everyone would complain like - "This game is racist!! It depicts black people shooting White people!!" Hell, why don't we just have the game's power-ups be chicken and watermelons then? To increase your magic, you have to complete a stealth mission where you sneak onto a farm and eat X amount of chickens and f*** X amount of cows.

The point is, most of the development staff for western games are always white, anti-social guys who grew up terrified of talking to girls and had a huge collection of legos and NES games in their basements. Naturally, they just make the kinds of protagonists that they relate to - white, muscle-headed, machinegun wielding men. Most of them are inspired by action heros like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis. Besides, anytime they put a black person in a game, SOMEBODY always complains about the race depictions, so why should they even try anymore?

So, I'm trying to understand what the point of this article was. Is it about the fact that the author wants more characters who are half black and half Mexican? Was this article really just an oblique way of asking for that? Or was there another point to all this rambling? If there was, I'm not seeing it.

ResiEvalJohn:
Besides, anytime they put a black person in a game, SOMEBODY always complains about the race depictions, so why should they even try anymore?

Also, this.

I think it is time for some perspective. It feels like too many people of non-white origin are chasing windmills for reasons that are unclear to me. There is more than enough obvious racism and inequality in this world. There is loads of injustice going on every day, but people get angry over a video game that was obviously not trying to insult anyone and a lengthy discussion is needed even before one can see something that might be perceived as racism. What happens here is not being angry over racism, people are being angry at the world. This makes no sense.

It feels like people see what they want to see and for some reason cannot accept that they are a minority in most cases. In my daily life I've must've been accused of racism at least a thousand times already, simply because I'm white, blonde and have blue eyes (which is obvious racism), but somehow I don't feel the need to 'defend' my ethnic group. People see what they want to see, while the truth is I don't give a crap about someone's race and neither should you. I think it is one of the most uninteresting things in this world.

As for almost all these games, it is obvious the designers either didn't think about it, or just made the protagonist around their largest focus group. Well boohoo, if you get bothered by that, I'd hate to see what happens when you have to handle a real problem. The actual ignoring of the whole subject is the most obvious statement about the lack of racism anyone can ever make. But then it's not racism what bothers the writer, it is that he is left out. this is something completely different. Yet the tag of these articles all say "racism".

Crying about racism for these silly things will just further help the inflation of the word, which in the long run will help along political racists. Think about the boy that cried wolf too many times...

ReiverCorrupter:

I'm willfully ignorant of all sorts of cultures because I don't have the time or energy to devote to studying them.
...
As for sensitivity: why on god's green earth would hypersensitivity be a good thing? Everyone always has to step on egg-shells because you never know who you might offend. It seems obvious to me that we should be working in the exact opposite direction.
...
Aside from official decisions we should, as a society, try to DE-sensitize race...If people are hypersensitive then they will be easily offended, yet the goal is supposedly to make sure that no one is offended.
...
What if they point out how one culture is inferior to another in a certain objective respect? Say for instance the minimal scientific achievements of the cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, or those of other undeveloped parts of the world. Objective historical facts can't be racist; that would make reality itself racist, which is absurd.

This post was pure gold.

Personally, it's my belief that as long as we continue seeing people as "black" and "white," racism is going to continue. If you continue seeing a separation, we won't be equal; isn't that one concept that came out of segregation-era America? "Separate but equal is not actually equal?" When a black person looks at a while person and thinks, "That's one of THEM, not one of US," that encourages racism. When a white person looks at a black person and thinks the same thing, that does the same. To me, 'racism' is defined as judging individuals by their race, not by their individual qualities. And that's what complaints about "there aren't enough black people in high-class, early-1900s society" in Bioshock or "there are too many black people in Africa" in Resident Evil sound like to me.

I really don't understand the complaints against Resident Evil. We start in videogaming's infancy, as a white male. We kill white zombies. We kill Hispanic zombies. We kill male zombies. We kill female zombies. We kill black zombies. We see good, white survivors. We see good, Hispanic survivors. We see good, black survivors. Is the only way that a game can integrate race to have a black main character? It sounds like having token race characters is in fact the only thing that this series didn't do (to my knowledge; I don't actually like the gameplay in Resident Evil so I've only played a few minutes of them) aside from discard the character that we've been following for a decade and find a new, black one. And if that isn't racism, discarding a character because he's white, then I don't know what is.

unabomberman:

"Why aren't they?"

That question is easily answered: Who owns the majority of the means of production?

Is it your assertion then that producers/publishers are discriminating against minority content authors? In other words, that there are a proportionate number of minority TV shows, movies, and video games being concepted and submitted, but that they are being denied exclusively because of their racial nature?

That's certainly worrying if it's true. And a lot of what's written in articles like this one certainly implies it. But do you have any proof? Or short of proof any evidence, other than "there aren't enough minorities in the media and white people are racist"?

I'd like to start off saying that I found the article fairly poorly written, with a good number of words missing and generally unfocused. That being said, I find that at least black people are represented sometimes. Me, I am a Scandinavian, and my kinsmen in the media all share the following:

We are blonde
We are huge, tall muscular men and huge, matron-like women
We have names like Hanz, Franz or Eric
We are either twin henchmen with great big guns, or savage viking-like berserkers. Either way, we are stupid as shit on toast.
We are either the villain's henchmen, the villain's shock troopers or, rarely, a small side-character you find in a single scene.
We drink mead and ale all the time.

You will never see a Scandinavian as a lead character, and if you do, he will be a viking. I feel that, as far as minorities go, you include all of them, or none of them. Personally, I don't care about race in games, just like I don't care about gender. I can play as all races and all genders, and identify with my character. I think it's more important to look at the game itself and figure out "what fits into the game" than to start crying foul whenever there's not at least 40% blacks or mexicans or brazilians or whathaveyou.

As far as bringing any little issue under public scrutiny, I am quite sure that the majority of people would get bored with it fairly quickly if we brought every little thing under the sun up as a huge, big deal. Pick your battles.

Personally, I don't care what my character looks like, and in the case of character costumizations I'll make a backstory for the character, then make a face that matches, be it black, white, asian or whatever. To me, issues like the RE5 stuff is incredibly stupid, and is based on people's desperate desire to feel victimized. The day I feel race becomes a big deal is the day I start clamoring for realistic portrayals of Swedes, Norwegians and Danes in games.

Wait, last time I checked most gamers I know, don't care what race they are or are shooting at, apart from being coletrain, everyone wants to be coletrain.

Newsflash: No-one cares, the only people who do are the media.

EDIT: Read that in the nicest voice you can :P, it's not meant to sound offensive.

While I must disagree that just because a main character is not a certain race, doesn't mean that the story is racist. However, I've heard online that someone was disgusted that they had to play as an African-American character in one of the Call of Duty's. They also said that, "Main characters should be white and allies be minorities." I must say, I've lost all respect for this person, who was once my closest friend.

I'm Irish. I thought the "town drunk" portrayal of Irish in Red Dead Redemption was hilarious and, while a stereotype doesn't define a whole nationality, I felt that it was rather well-written.

I think as long as the gaming majority consists of white males from the ages of 13 to 25, protagonists will continue to be white. As stated in the article, every gamer likes being able to identify with the character they're playing as, and that typically includes their race.

It sucks. I'm a person of color myself, and I can't tell you how disappointing it was growing up playing Street Fighter II and realizing that if I wanted to play someone who looked like me, my only option was, surprise surprise, an evil, borderline illiterate boxer who once killed someone in the ring and killed one of Dhalsim's elephants by punching it for no reason.

I can't see the situation changing, as long as the community is still dominated by one race. It's becoming more diverse as time goes on, and articles like these really help to raise awareness, but I can't help but feel we've still got a very long road to walk.

geoflo1024:

Anacortian:
"VIDEO GAMES COME FROM JAPAN!" (Moviebob/GAme Overthinker)

How much writing about lack of diversity it too much? I believe in your freedom of speech, and I believe you can say too much all you want. That being said, almost any is too much. Let us tack your arguments about not finding characters of your specific racial mix into other media:

Leonardo De Vinci is a racist, because the Mona Lisa is not my ethnicity.
The Latins were racists for sculpting mostly Latins.
Charley Chaplin is a racist for only portraying white folk.
The Arthurian Legends are racist for not having blacks, Asians, or Mexicans.
...

The problem with this argument, is that Leonardo Da Vinci was from Italy, the Latins are from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, and the Arthurian Legends are from Europe. Each catered to the largely homogenous populations of their respective countries. Charley Chaplin is a product of a time that WAS racist, and therefore this argument is demonstrably fallacious. We live (or at least I do) in the so-called "Melting Pot" of the United States. There is an amalgamation of all races in this country, and it is what defines us as a nation. True, interracial marriages (and presumably births) in this country account for less than five percent of marriages. However, it is not farfetched to expect to see the fifteen percent Hispanic and thirteen percent black population of the United States represented in video games set in the present. Beyond that, as the United States (and indeed the world) continue to intermingle and intermarry, it should be noted that media set in the future should see MUCH more diversity in terms of race and ethnicity.
I'll concede that the author shouldn't expect to see several black/Mexican mixed race characters in video games, but the fact that such a mix is the second most common form of interracial marriage (behind white/Asian), in five to ten years time, this may not be such a farfetched expectation either.
On a more personal note, it is my personal feeling that it is very difficult for the caucasian populace to understand why this is so important to minorities. As a Hispanic, I yearn to see other Hispanics wipe out the alien horde, survive the post-apocalyptic wasteland, and fight his way through the zombies. No doubt anyone on this thread can give me the names of a few games that allow me to see this, to which I will give you several hundreds of games where such a thing is possible only with white male protagonists. Are those five or six games fifteen percent of several hundred? No.

First, Latin refers to Rome; it does not refer to America. The Latins (Rome) were a people very distinct from contemporary Italians in both genetics and culture. Latinos (read whatever they are calling themselves: Hispanic maybe) are entirely different and not very Latin on a genetic level-but on a linguistic level through Spain. It's a common mistake.

To the meat of the post: If you want to see more or your given race in video games, stop typing on forums and start typing code.

Has anybody here played World of Warcraft. I would posit that the Orcs, Trolls, and Taurens are decidedly black; Night Elves are Asian(ish); and everything else is (I admit) a wide net of whiteness (Scottish/Germanic, Jewish, feudal, Victorian, Slavic, and Rave Rat). I don't really know what the Goblins are.

Humans can be various colors twixt black and white. I have a Japanese friend (in RL) who managed the Herculean (read Musashian) task of making an Asian out of a human.

My point? WoW is the most inclusive game in the world!

Alliance FTW! (That appears a bit racist in light of the above.)

An interesting article. The biggest problem with it is that is only seeing things in the American context. The black and Hispanic are the big minorities in the US but hardly figure in Germany were the largest non German ethnic group are from Turkey, in France its Arabs, in Japan its Koreans and in the UK its muslims from Pakistan. The games industry can't create game thats going to have some just like me in the world market place. The reality of it the white guy is the lowest common dominator representing the majority of the population in North America and Europe. I wouldn't be surprised in the next 20 years or so if we don't see most of the central characters in games either being Chinese or Indian. If those two nations start buying games they will dwarf all the current gamers put together.

Race Needs To Be Addressed In Games:

Oh sweet Jesus on the Cross. No, it certaintly does not.

Your race doesnt matter. It shouldnt be addressed by other people.
Your gender doesnt matter. It shouldnt be addressed by other people.
Your religion doesnt matter. It shouldnt be addressed by other people.

WHO you are > WHAT you are. Your choices are who you are. Your actions are who you are. Your paint job and your accessories are NOT who you are. If you are relying on your physical features to be adddressed, commented on, cuddled, and made up to be OH so special, then I feel sorry for you.

Now, and ALWAYS.

The last thing video games need, is the utter tripe and fiasco that is "Race Relations" brought into them.

I dont care about the black people in video games, I dont care about the white people. The girls, or the guys.

I care about catching up to the ASSHOLE who stole the crystal from me, and betrayed me, not once, but TWICE, and in the end, is all apologetic about it like "If it happens again, just kill me." Thanks, but that doesnt help me, since now the Villian has ALL THE CRYSTALS.

Thats what matters to a gamer. Period.

Whiskey Echo!!
mythgraven

AceCalhoon:

unabomberman:

"Why aren't they?"

That question is easily answered: Who owns the majority of the means of production?

Is it your assertion then that producers/publishers are discriminating against minority content authors? In other words, that there are a proportionate number of minority TV shows, movies, and video games being concepted and submitted, but that they are being denied exclusively because of their racial nature?

That's certainly worrying if it's true. And a lot of what's written in articles like this one certainly implies it. But do you have any proof? Or short of proof any evidence, other than "there aren't enough minorities in the media and white people are racist"?

Huh?

I haven't called people racist. All I'm saying is that those who own the means of production perpetrate a status quo full of tereotypes of minorities. Some among those people might be racist and some won't, but I'm not implying a generalized intention to defame, put down, or what have you, if that is what you mean.

If they want to do minorities a solid and make a tv show, or movie where they are the protagonists, good; but they should consider before adding a stereotipical depiction of them.

People do what they know, and sometimes lack of a broader picture is part of it.

unabomberman:

...those who own the means of production perpetrate a status quo full of tereotypes of minorities. Some among those people might be racist and some won't, but I'm not implying a generalized intention to defame, put down, or what have you, if that is what you mean.

If they want to do minorities a solid and make a tv show, or movie where they are the protagonists, good; but they should consider before adding a stereotipical depiction of them.

People do what they know, and sometimes lack of a broader picture is part of it.

Yes. This. Thank you.

It would be lovely to live in a society where race didn't matter, but we don't, and we won't for as long as discussions of race--and calling out racism, deliberate or otherwise--are stigmatized.

To everyone who doesn't get why they should bother when they don't have to: race-blindness is a manifestation of racial privilege. You only get to have the illusion of a post-racial society if your race doesn't adversely affect your status and participation in that society.

And to everyone saying that if people of color want more non-white video game characters they should just make more video games: media and social representation directly affect options, both perceived and actual. It's a nasty, self-perpetuating cycle, and unless the people already in a position to affect it step the hell up, change is going to be very, very, very slow.

Jarl:
I'd like to start off saying that I found the article fairly poorly written, with a good number of words missing and generally unfocused.

"Jamin Brophy-Warren is the co-founder of Kill Screen, a videogame arts and culture magazine, and his writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, Paris Review, and Los Angeles Times."

Yeah that man obliviously doesn't know how to write an article.

Darktau:

Newsflash: No-one cares, the only people who do are the media.

So gamers are just so fucking apathetic that they cannot ever question what their medium is doing? They cannot talk about games beyond framerate, kill streaks, and how awesome X game looks like? Nothing relatively serious can be told or discussed about games?

It's pretty fucking sad buddy because I thought gamers were mature enough to talk about that stuff. If gamers can't talk seriously about games as something more than an object of entertainment, who will?

ShadowKirby:

Darktau:

Newsflash: No-one cares, the only people who do are the media.

So gamers are just so fucking apathetic that they cannot ever question what their medium is doing? They cannot talk about games beyond framerate, kill streaks, and how awesome X game looks like? Nothing relatively serious can be told or discussed about games?

It's pretty fucking sad buddy because I thought gamers were mature enough to talk about that stuff. If gamers can't talk seriously about games as something more than an object of entertainment, who will?

I think you may have misunderstood me, I was saying that no-one I know views the racial content of a game as a turning point as to whether to buy it or not, or gives it too much thought, gamers are most definitely mature enough to talk about it, I am just saying that the media blows racial themes in games out of proportion.

This is less of an issue within video games and more an issue of our wider popular culture. Video games are by no means the only, or even the main offender.

We've actually taken a step backwards on the portreyal of race. Recent popular television shows abound in which Minorities are token sidekicks, ignorant stereotypes or absent entirely. And it's not just the tat. Popular shows with huge followings(Gossip Girl, Smallville, Sons of Anarchy, Burn Notice) are guilty of racial pigeon-holing. this wasn't always the case. I grew up with TV shows like Sister Sister and Fresh Prince of Bel Air. They were comedies, but dealt with relatable issues of race, gender, class; challenging the audience in the process. When was the last time mainstream culture did that?

Why has this happened? Economics. As popular culture globalizes it is forced to deal with the prejudices of ever more cultures(See the Microsoft Photoshop controversy: http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/2009/08/microsoft-poland-at-least-they-left.html). Studios find it much more profitable to ignore, or even exploit that bigotry.

But global exports are only a small part of it. The cynical explaination is that audiences find it easier to digest culture with out of the box character types; The hansome white hero, the sexy love interest; and the inevitable quirky black sidekick. Because white audiences have more purchasing power than minority audiences, content panders to them.

Forget equality for a second.
Think like an accountant:
Think neglected market.

There are very few games that even grab my attention anymore. Oh so many are dull clones. In particular, most 1st PERSON SHOOTERS LOOK AND SOUND THE SAME. Most MMOs can get thrown in that box too. The only games that tend to grab my attention are in niches I particularly enjoy (I rather like some of those colourful acid trips Nintendo release) or things genuinely different. Different essentially boils down to differences in gameplay mechanics nowadays. Actually, most of the MMOs and FPSs I've even bothered to look twice at have promised different mechanics. None have promised different scenarios.

Forget the racial character slider for a second. I'm an unmarried yet employed, dependant free white dude aged 18-35. I am THE demographic. Want to grab my attention, split your game from the pack? Let me play as someone that isn't an unmarried, employed, dependant-free white dude aged 18-35 and in a scenario that isn't a plot from a Fox news semi-fiction. We get enough of that shit in our entertainment as it is. Something truly different? THAT would get me forking over cold hard cash.

I'm generalising here but aren't most games developers white or asian and thus that has an effect of the character being of those two races due to the designers subconsiously creating an idealised version of themselves. That would be fairly innocent IMHO.

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