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Gamers Need to Talk About Race

| 1 Sep 2010 16:00
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Discussions about race and diversity in games will often turn very ugly, very quickly, but we can't go on ignoring the issues and hoping that they will sort themselves out.

For most gamers, a white, male protagonist will feel very comfortable and familiar; it is, after all, what they see every time they look in the mirror. But that's not the case for everyone, and the amount of discussion about diversity in games is almost non-existent, unless something like the Resident Evil 5 controversy forces the issue. In Issue 269 of The Escapist, Jamin Brophy-Warren says that critics and gamers alike must shed their trepidation about discussing these issues, if there's to be any hope starting to resolve them.

I've quietly resented videogames for not including many characters that look like me ... As a critic and a writer, I'm able to discuss the issue in a public forum, but recent experiences have made me question whether such dissention is worth it. When is too much crowing about race in games "too much?" The truth is that it is never too much, and if I want to effect change, it must begin now, through challenging the developers of games through small, pointed examples of inequality and through praising the games that get it right.

Never underestimate the power of small statements. Creating change is about building inertia. It's about taking every small act of unkindness or cultural ignorance and making it public ... People need to be reminded that this kind of behavior still exists and discourages a healthy discussion about race.

The controversy over Resident Evil 5 prompted Capcom to take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again, so it's not impossible to effect change by making enough noise. When questions over race and diversity become common, they stand a much better chance of being answered. To find out more, read Brophy-Warren's article Praise Diversity, Address Inequality.

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