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Do You Care About Race in Games? 322

There were several pieces up this past weekend, and a resulting lively dialogue, about the role that race plays in videogames. Game|Life talks very cogently on the subject, which got kick-started by a post on the microscopiq site highlighting important black game characters. The article asks "Jade Is Black?", highlighting the role that racial ambiguity can have in making a player empathize with a title's protagonist. Writes Kohler: "Video games put the control of the main character into the player's hands. They ask us to become the character. It's easier for anybody to identify with Jade because Jade can stand in for anything. Ellis wants more black characters in video games, and Jade, if we go by the layout of his article, is his number-one favorite. It is quite possible that he felt a stronger connection with Jade than with other game characters who are definitely black. What does that say about the power of racial ambiguity? " So, do you care about race in videogames? If so, how so?
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Do You Care About Race in Games?

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  • by Lane.exe ( 672783 ) * on Monday February 12, 2007 @02:59PM (#17986152) Homepage
    Different races get different stat bonuses! When I want to make a good warrior, I go with a Dwarf. When it's a mage I need, I go for some sort of Elf. Jeez, was this question really necessary? :)
    • When I want to make a good warrior, I go with a Dwarf. When it's a mage I need, I go for some sort of Elf.
      What do you use when you need a car(riage) driver that can make deliveries go fast?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jfinke ( 68409 )
      The funny thing is (and I don't play RPGs) is that was the first thing that popped into my head after reading the headline. Different races have different powers. It did not dawn on me that we were talking black vs. white (and why are no other races mentioned in the intro?).

      I guess this shows I don't care about race in the games. I just play whichever character gives me the advantage.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Aren't "dwarves" and "elves" technically different species? Why is every other fantasy role-playing game guide calling them "races"? To me, "race" implies intra-species variations. Unless dwarves and elves really are the same species?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Thansal ( 999464 )
        Well, dependso n the universe.

        If you can get halbreeds I would say they are a race and not a species, if you can't, then they probably are different. And if you can get a Human/Dwarf or a Human/Elf, but not a Dwarf/Elf, then what are they? (Take Shadowrun, I would call orcs/trolls/dwarves the same race as humans, after all they did come from them, however elves are probably different)

        We use race because it is the term we are all familiar with, and some of the big names way back when used the term and it st
        • We have similar examples in the real world. A liger (lion/tiger), mule (donkey/horse), or zorse (zebra/horse) are viable animals. However, they're also sterile thus making the parent animals different species still.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Johnny5000 ( 451029 )
          And if you can get a Human/Dwarf or a Human/Elf, but not a Dwarf/Elf, then what are they?

          There are examples in nature where Species A and Species B can interbreed, and Species B and Species C can interbreed, but Species A and Species C cannot- apparently they have diverged too far apart.

          So I suppose the humans, dwarves, and elves could share a common ancestor, be different species, and have some limited ability to interbreed.
          • by arete ( 170676 ) <areteslashdot2@ x i g . net> on Monday February 12, 2007 @05:08PM (#17988124) Homepage
            Biologically, speciation is a tough subject that's more convoluted than that. For instance, sometimes they can interbreed, but won't. Sometimes the SAME species won't interbreed - and sometimes they won't interbreed with individuals born too far away from them, but without any kind of clear boundary, just a spectrum where eventually they are "too" different - even though they're the same species. In plenty of examples, what's a species is contested. Considering the breeding issues and lack of popular hybrids, your traditional fantasy "races" are probably not the same species.

            But that is SO not the point. The question is why do we call them races. Which I'd say we do in new games because we did in older games, because D&D did, because Science Fiction writers did, because Tolkien did - because stories have for time immemorial, before genetics existed. Personally, I believe the reason for that is that as far back as we have histories, travelers found different people, and they were all humans or at LEAST very close to it. (I'll add that in for arguments about co-existing Neanderthals and hobbits.) And that's where the definition of race comes from - another people with another society, but recognizeable as people.

            And while fantasys certainly contain exaggerations... if I stood next to Andre the Giant (when he was alive) he'd certainly seem like a giant, as would basically any football player. A race of people with an average height that was less than a foot taller or shorter than my personal height would certainly make a difference - this joke has been played in every American-visits-Japan story I've heard. Something as simple as a helmet with a bull's horns could account for a minotaur in low light. etc. Except the ears, Elves are just intelligent, agile, long lived people. The vast majority of fantasy and science fiction races don't push the limits of what an intelligent nonhuman species might be - they are all people with certain things exaggerated and certain things suppressed - exaggerated in the way everything else is in fantasy.

            I can't believe I'm posting in this thread.

        • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
          That's what used to crack me up about Star Trek. They always kept talking about how Vulcans, Klingons, humans, etc. were different species. But then they could apparently produce fertile offspring together--making them the SAME species, just different varieties.

          And, yes, I have no life.


      • by misleb ( 129952 )
        Well, in some fantasy you can have hybrids which implies that they are the same species. But I think they are called "races" because you are meant to see them as different human races. Fantasy races are an exageration of certain real world racial stereotypes with some extras thrown in to make it not so obvious. "Humans" in fantasy being white Europeans, of course, because after all, most fantasy that we are familar with is made by ethnocentric white people. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JFMulder ( 59706 )
      So, I would wager your own race is Munchkin, is that it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nottestuser ( 166818 )
      I'm reminded of South Park season 4, episode 8 "Chef Goes Nanners". You missed the question and in the process answered it better than anyone could have hoped for.
  • Vapid - Look it up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:01PM (#17986186)
    That pretty much sums up this article. We play the character we're given. We kill the characters we're expected to kill. If it's fun, the game is "good". If it's not fun, the game is "bad".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think you've hit the nail on the head.

      I had more fun playing the GLA and China in C&C Generals than I did the US, despite them being stereotypical and "evil", in a fashion. They had units I could devise more "fun" strategies with, instead of just rushing to aircraft and bombing the hell out of everything.
      • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2007 @01:35AM (#17993644)
        You know, I hate political correctness as much as anyone, but I've honestly got to wonder: am I the only person who found Starcraft to be offensively racist? The SCV pilot is the only black unit, he's the lowest on the totem pole, and he's a dumb, nose-picking, menial laborer of a negro. Short of having him pick cotton instead of mine crystals, I have a hard time imagining how Blizzard could have possibly made a game which was more backwards, stereotypical and offensive towards black people.

        But what about the expansion pack? They had that black Ghost! He's no stupid menial laborer. So that's a positive portrayal of black people, right? Whatsisface, Duran... traitorous, backstabbing, double agent Duran. OK, nevermind. I'm not saying we need the Supreme Court to order a quota in video games or anything, but would it have fucking killed Blizzard to have a single, positive portrayal of a minority?

    • by RajivSLK ( 398494 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @10:00PM (#17991748)
      Vapid - Look it up

      Why would I have to look it up? Do you think you are the only one who knows what "Vapid" means? I'm willing to bet most people here don't need to look it up.
  • I don't care about race in real life, so why should I care about it in-game?

    Having said that, when one thinks about different races in a game having different stats, I would venture to guess that the large number of these references to "race" are actually references to "species"; to use a popular example, a Tauren is different from a Troll in much different ways than a [African(-American)|Chinese|Japanese|Native-Americ an] is different from a Caucasian.


    • by honkycat ( 249849 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:25PM (#17986590) Homepage Journal
      I don't particularly care about it in real life (beyond a small amount at a subconscious level -- I would love to ditch this, but it's hard). However, I do find it easier to relate to a character who looks like me. That is, I'm most comfortable playing a Caucasian male character. It's easier to get into that character than others. For this reason, I think it'd be nice to be able to define your own character's qualities, but that's not always sensible in a game.

      As for other characters, I find I don't really care about their races other than disliking obvious "affirmative action" approaches where the NPC cast is a rainbow of races, obviously only to be PC. I'd rather have consistency between races and storyline. That's the most important thing -- basically, race should not be a distracting feature.
      • That is, I'm most comfortable playing a Caucasian male character. It's easier to get into that character than others. For this reason, I think it'd be nice to be able to define your own character's qualities, but that's not always sensible in a game.

        Why not?

        Unless the color of your character's skin is somehow central to the plot line, it shouldn't matter.

        Off the top of my head, I can't think of too many games where skin color would be a significant factor that could not be scripted around.

        I'm sure someone i

        • Battlefield 1942 wouldn't be very realistic if you could pick a Chinese woman character to be one of the German soldiers... :) But for all of these FPS games that take place in the future, there certainly is no harm in letting you customize your character. Ditto any fantasy game. Historical-themed games would lose their historical nature if you could put races in unauthentic situations.
          • by troll ( 593289 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @05:57PM (#17988846) Journal
            Really, any game based on an event with a preset construct of races involved. WW2 games like you said are a good example.
            Even some of the new instances in WoW make it so Night Elves turn into Humans to fit the storyline of going back in time to save thrall in a part of the game that Elves didn't exist in.
            What about a basketball game where you can make Kobe Bryant a 5" skinny white guy? Just doesn't fit.

            Likewise, how realistic would a game based on a tv show or movie be if you could customize a predefined character? (Nevermind the fact that these games tend to suck anyways)
      • In games I usually play with a darker skin for the simple reason that white skins generally just don't look too good. (am I the only one who in NWN1 had all females with light skin look like they had a 5 o'clock shadow)

        I also often play a female, for no other reason then that I prefer the look.

        But what I mainly play is "me". For instance I rarely take the romance options for the female character I play because either they are stupid or as a hetero male that is a bit to close to being gay and we can't have

    • Asians get a bonus to mana regeneration.

      What, you didn't know?

  • by unborracho ( 108756 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {arokys.nek}> on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:06PM (#17986282) Homepage
    I kill Nightelves in WOW all the time. I would never dream of killing an orc.
    • by Venerable Vegetable ( 1003177 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:12PM (#17987338)
      I played a racist character in Everquest for a while, which to my surprise genuinly upset people.

      I played a dark elf and would not team with any of the light races, except in some cases when they clearly were evil. But even then, I would act racist to for example ogres and trolls, making clear that I despised them and considered them inferior, while in contrast being moderately respectful to other dark elves.

      Almost every day someone would send me a private message complaining about my racist attitude, and many a dwarf was surprised to get a friendly reply which explained that I was roleplaying.

      I thought it was rather strange that even though we were playing characters, and I am obviously not a dwarf-hating dark elf in real life, a lot of people couldn't accept racism in the game. Maybe it means that there is something good in humanity. Or maybe just something silly.

      But to answer the question, do I care about race in games, I'd say: no, except when my character has stereotypical attitude or dialog. But that's not strictly related to race. I find it very hard to indentify with a character if he keeps talking in a way that I would not.
      • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @06:15PM (#17989058) Journal
        That was you? Damn - I still feel unloved because of how you treated me at first.
        Here I was a regular white guy (human) trying to hang with the bad guys and you darkies were all 'you can't camp orcs with us because you aren't evil enough' - I thought to myself, shit, I dig up dead bodies and prop them up around the campfire so I don't have to eat dinner alone and I'm not evil enough to hang with you because my skin is white? How much more evil could you possibly be?

        Lucky for me I was a LOT more evil than that - made me an honorary citizen of the Nek city and everything.
        After that it wasn't so much a matter of skin color as it was 'come on necro, share the camp - we don't care if you can solo the whole camp or not.'

        (I didn't get my taste of REAL racism until I went to the dwarf island. Those motherfuckers HATED me - I wasn't afraid of any of the monsters, but the dwarf milk-vendor-lady would put a beat-down on my necro ass that would have made a DRAGON proud.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by miyako ( 632510 )
        I think that part of the problem is that almost nobody actually roleplays in MMOs to any extent. Most of the MMOs that I've played are more like IRC with avatars, and there is the expectation that people, by and large, act as though the avatar is a conduit for the actual player, rather than the player taking the role of the character. That's actually one of the reasons that I don't like MMORPGs (second on the list, just under the fact that I don't like subscription based games- not because of the cost, bu
  • This reminds of me of Kratos, from God of War. I know that he's "spartan", and all, but from the way they designed the character, both in appearance and voice, I always thought he seemed more like a black guy than a white guy. And since his skin was covered in ash to make him perma-pale, it made it even harder to be sure, for lots of the game. At least, in my opinion. Maybe others dont agree.

    I thought it was a nice touch, though, all-in-all. I mean, there's a bit of "badassness" to certain black character
    • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:38PM (#17986812)
      Kratos' race was utterly irrelevant because he was such a nuclear badass motherfucker! ;-) When you're pulling off the heads of giant minotaurs with your bare hands, no one gives a crap about race.

      I don't get the controversy either. I'm a big white guy who has been happy playing as a black guy in GTA:San Andreas, as a female fairy in Kameo, as a wolf in Okami (and the new Zelda), as a ...whatever in Ratchet & Klank, as a Dark Elf in Oblivion, and so on. Lara Croft anyone?

      The whole point of videogaming for me is to escape to another reality.
    • by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:08PM (#17987292) Journal
      Now you're just being racist! (cough hack etc. etc.)

      Why is it such a big issue if a guy is black, white or green? We here so much bitching about "Black characters are so rare" but no one even comaplsin there are no olive skinned people do they? Life is not made up of 3 colours (Black, white and Asian), it is made up of billions of different varients which go from deathly pale (Slashdot readers mostly) to coal black.

      So why don't we whine how some other minority is ignored instead of all this "OMG NO BLACK GUYS!!" thing?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 )
        Race isn't about pigmentation. It doesn't have any strictly biological rationale at all. Rather, it's produced by the intersection of some genetic characteristics with history, culture, and society. It was used to legitimate slavery in the US for decades, and then to justify the creation of a two-tiered society in much of the US after the Civil War. That experience created a common culture based on a "myth" - that of (biological) race - but the cultures and communities created by it are quite real. And the
    • This reminds of me of Kratos, from God of War. I know that he's "spartan", and all, but from the way they designed the character, both in appearance and voice, I always thought he seemed more like a black guy than a white guy. And since his skin was covered in ash to make him perma-pale, it made it even harder to be sure, for lots of the game. At least, in my opinion. Maybe others dont agree.

      I'm not sure where you get that; he didn't sound or act "black" to me at all. If anything, Kratos' stereotype was "pr

    • by Danse ( 1026 )
      Wow. That was painful to read. Especially that last page.
    • Seriously, though. Maybe the author's change had to do something with changing to a a character type that no longer wonders around showing off her nipples through netting. That probably makes a difference in the likelihood of people coming up to chat with a stranger.
  • I find in GoW there's occasional shit talking that sometimes degrades to racial remarks, either about the character model picked or picking on a players speech pattern. For the most part it is just stupid cunts to be ignored anyways, but it does show that race can have rather direct and immediate impact, particularly in multiplayer games.

    So far the greatest way I've found to diffuse any tensions -- at least in Gears of War -- is to bring up the obvious issue at hand: dont be afraid of or pick on another ra
  • FF8 makes up for FF7 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mprx ( 82435 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:13PM (#17986382)
    I'd agree that Barret of FF7 is a poorly implemented stereotype, but FF8 has one of the best black characters in any game with Kiros. Although he's only playable in the Laguna flashback scenes, he's smart and capable, and most importantly does not "play the race card" or in any way call attention to his race. His scenes were some of the best parts of the game.
    • by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:03PM (#17987200) Journal
      Barret is NOT stupid. Will people pleas get a clue about the Japanese culture before they start pointing the race card around? More often than not it's the translation which adds "blackness" to a character rather than the original Japanese script.

      Barret acts no different than a lot of white anime characters. I've seen more money hungry brutes coloured white than I have black infact.

      Take Gaido from Super robot taisen Original generation. In Japanese he speaks normally and doesn't stand out at all, yet in the Atlus translation he has a jamacian accent. Absolutely no reason for this other than Atlus decided it.

      Is Gaido a black steriotype or is it just a shitty translation? Maybe if we discussed Bo Bo Bo we'd have issues, but Barret isn't one of them.
  • Jade is black? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zero_DgZ ( 1047348 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:15PM (#17986420)
    That's sort of a stupid question, isn't it? Of course it has to be "black." Because none of the other minorities have ever mattered since 1960, right? Let's think about this: Her name is Jade. She picks the pen name "Shauni." She has almond shaped eyes and black spiky hair. Jade is Asian, you idiots.
    • by Sciros ( 986030 )
      100% agreed. She has a somewhat dark complexion but so do most SE Asian people.
    • I always thought she was white, but now that I think about it, she could be asian. But there's no way she's black.
    • Re:Jade is black? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:16PM (#17987376) Homepage
      I always thought of her as Asian, but it is ambiguous as all the characters are rendered iconically. I don't think it's intended to really be ambiguous, since some other characters have well defined races (like the Spanish computer), just more like superflous back story that is neither denied nor explicitly fleshed out. Given that her uncle is a pig and half her orphans are other animal-people, I don't think it's supposed to be important, but it probably is all designed to make the characters easier to relate to.

      What is important though is that Jade is a strong female minority lead character. Even more rare she is a bad-ass, but neither a sex-bombshell nor a raging murderous psychopath like most "strong" female leads. She's compassionate, thoughtful, basically peace-loving, but also carries around a can o' whoop-ass that she will open when needed. Really, more characters like her is not a bad thing.

      Anyway, there is some but not as much insight in the article as they wanted. Nevertheless I just want to talk more about Jade, one of my favority protagonists in video games this century, from one of my favorite games this century. Beyond Good and Evil was released in the same year as Wind Waker, and as much as I liked that installment BGE was a better Zelda in almost every way. The cell shading was done better (and ditched for the water, where more realistic graphics were used thank god). The dungeons were just as spralling and intricate, but also felt more like a single structure rather than a series of disconnected rooms. The mechanics from stealth to fighting to puzzle solving were more fun. The story was more interesting, as were the characters. Jade in particular was very memorable. The game was unfortunately short, but they just let it be short but satisfying instead of padding the game out with annoyance. Loved that game.
  • Compare modern games, especially MMORPGS and the like. Every character can choose their own looks within set parameters. I've yet to see too many 'black' characters in races that have those skintone options in WoW (Humans, Dwarves, and to a lesser extent Blood Elves) created by the users themselves. Perhaps part of the reasoning for having less black main characters are that the players themselves choose not to play those characters; they have less appeal.
    • by HBI ( 604924 )

      I'm reminded of something myself and PreviouslySeen experienced back in single-player game days. Specifically Ultima Underworld. UW allowed a degree of char customization but much less than today.

      One of the faces looked exactly like the local PC users group president did. We called him "El Presidente" because of his Hispanic ancestry and because in general he wasn't the most likeable person. A little imperious if I remember right. So immediately my (and maybe PreviouslySeen's too) UW chars bec
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Helios1182 ( 629010 )
      Maybe the players design their characters to resemble themselves in some way. In the USA roughly 13% of the population is black, and only 4% Asian. Of course you would then have to figure out the racial distribution of the actual players of the game to make a real comparison.
  • by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:17PM (#17986458)
    Let's see if I can recall. Nazis and Red USSR communists are always evil. Vietam asians are generally bad. Japan WWII is bad, but afterward is good. China WWI & WWII is good and after WWII is neutral. France is never bad per se, but seeing as we were settled from England; well of course France or "the French" will always be slanted negatively. England is typically the good ole mother country except any games based from the Civil War backwards. Whenever we fight the English, we fight against evil unjust monarchs. Ever since the Desert Storm and/or Desert Shield, any nameless Middle East dictator has been a safe villian for the US or good military to invade and beat up. Now a days, its also Islam or unnamed "bad" muslims for the sake of our religious terror war. Oh, let's not forget any aliens. All aliens are always evil and must be destoried before they take over. Einstein is always the good German Allied Scientist. You can always tell who the good guys are based solely on which side Einstein is on.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:18PM (#17986478)
    The author is missing several key black characters I remember along the way, some from the 1980's. MIKE TYSON from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. The black player from Smash TV. (I don't remember ever fighting over who got to play who.) MICHAEL JORDAN from Jordan vs. Bird. (Believe me, no one wasn't buying this game to play as Bird.) JAX from Mortal Kombat.
  • I usually pick a black character - they're harder to see in the shadows!
    • I usually pick a black character - they're harder to see in the shadows!

      And of course, in women's tennis, I always root against the heterosexual.

      • Very nice.

        Top Secret references are all too rare these days. Most /.ers with a UID as high as yours weren't born when it was released.
  • games as I do IRL. It means jack shit to me. I don't care where you are from, what color you are, what your native langauge is, or what slang you use.

    I care if you are respectful.
  • Invisible Messages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by realityfighter ( 811522 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:29PM (#17986678) Homepage
    For the most part, gamers think of their games as completely hermetic fantasy worlds that don't interact with reality. Of course, in hindsight we see that there are many real world influences on the content of our games - just like when we look back at the Science Fiction of the 1950s and 1960s. So for the most part, people don't see race in games because they're usually treated the same way we treat race in the real world. In 20 years, when we have different opinions and habits with regard to race, a racial message will probably be far more evident.

    On the other hand, when we see a game that approaches race differently from us - for example, the Left Behind game that gives evil/"unsaved" characters Arabic names - we see a clear message. So most people here will claim that, while some games certainly have racial elements, their games don't.
  • by 2008 ( 900939 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @03:31PM (#17986712) Journal
    I like fightin games and shootin games and wrestlein games too!
  • I'll start with my opinion on one game, I don't like CJ from San Andreas, Not because he's black, not because he's from LA, but because he's a stupid idiot who doesn't seem to realize how moronic his friend Ryder is. "We'll rob the goverment" The answer to that is "Stop smoking that shit because you are dumber than the retard down the street". Yet in SA you just go along with his plan.

    I don't care if your character is black, white, or asian. I personally like "white" characters if I had to choose, but
  • I don't particularly care about what race my character in a game is. Though I can see why people could become outraged over "all the dark-skinned races in my fantasy game are evil".
  • No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Madpony ( 935423 )
    No, I do not.
  • Oooh THAT Jade (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fuo ( 941897 )
    I guess Jade is a black name, because Jade in MK3 was black too (i think) and looked kinda like her.
  • by softwaremud ( 1063330 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:15PM (#17987374)

    I think that the ambiguity in "Jade" reflects a change in racial attitudes and also a change in marketing. Many companies are tapping into multiracial and biracial characters because they often appeal to a larger audience.

    Whenever somebody choses a character in a video game and plays that character, I agrue, in some level that they are identifying with that character. I mean you control that character's actions, you die when that character dies etc. so there is at least a little bit of your time and attention and perhaps even emotion invested into that character. Each of these people thought that Jade was a different race/ethnicity because in their mind, their hero character is represented by somebody they are more able to identify with "an arab", "of Eurasian descent", "black", etc. This is positive. Wouldn't you rather chose who your hero's are instead of accepting what somebody tells you who your hero is?

    As a side, I think that there are more racially ambiguous and multiracial characters in sci fi and fantasy because the idea that "mixed" is the future. I think that this can be a bit of a double-edged sword. While think its good to have positive media images of mixed-race people, i think that sci fi can leverages stereotypes create characters.

    Example #1:

    George is stronger than normal humans, but savage and primal because he is half and half human.

    This example is common, and there's not too much wrong with it. But how many people feel that there is a large leap between this first example and this next one:

    Example #2:

    Take something like the Jade character above. Jade does math better than the average character because she's asian and runs faster because she's black. This ties into to stereotypes. 1. Asian people do math well. 2. Black people run fast.

    Hey- for the second example these are both positive stereotypes, why do I bring it up? Positive stereotypes can be just as negative stereotypes. This description degrades the character's performance to a characteristic of race. Maybe the jade character does math well because she has a PhD and runs fast because she ran track and field. This form of stereotyping for multiracial characters is often called "Hybrid Vigor" or "best of both worlds". The flip side of it is "Hybrid Degeneracy" or "worst of both worlds". In the end, video game characters, just like people, and should be judged and evaluated as individuals- not races.

  • I like having diversity in video games. I like having more races without having all the stereotypes. I've worked with youth a lot, a very diverse group, and they pretty much all play video games. It'd be cool to me if they could all relate to a great character at some point in their gaming.

    At the same time, I don't want some overly-politically correct game that makes it's roster while celebrating Chrismahanukwanzikah. I just like to see a cast of characters that throws in a bunch of variety to keep th
    • I don't see any point to having different races if they're all going to act the same way. Unless the character is stereotyped in a way that I feel is insulting (which happens more often with whites than anything else), I don't have a problem with it.

      And the people who complain about parallels between fantasy races and real-world cultures (oh noes, the trolls have Jamaican accents!) can sod off. You have to get your material from somewhere.
  • ... as long as my char has nice tits and a super-model body.
    And that doesn't even make me a sexist.
    Being a guy-that-almost-studied-fashion-design a famous phrase comes to mind: "We all dress the women we'd like to have - or, more precisely, would like to be." (from a male Designer ... ' think it was YSL)
    You could very well easyly apply that to WoW:
    We all play the hot Night-Elf chick we'd like to have - or, more precisely, like to be in RL.
    In fact, coming to think about it, I'm playing my male Dwarf Priest o
  • Guild Wars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ashe Tyrael ( 697937 )

    This whole argument recently got started with Guild Wars. Nightfall, the third expansion, was set in an area of the game world that more or less corrsponded to Africa/Egypt/the Middle East, and had the corresponding accents and skin tones. The character generator for the game tends towards sin tones that fit into that area of the game world.

    Now, on launch, the immediate thing that people started whinging about was that the vast majority of player characters weren't black. Cue people putting threads on boa

  • by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @04:45PM (#17987772)
    It's a undisputed fact that Black people are over respresented in media. Black people make up 12.12% of the US populace according to the last census. They make up 20% of all media characters/talking heads in media according to some studies. This occurs because Asians of all sorts are under represented (1% of charcters 5% of the pop). Hispanics as well but not as severely. I do imagine that the quality of this over representation is poor.
  • Because most of us belong to the dominating race of our societies. Race mostly tend to be an (conscious) issue when you belong to another race than the dominating one.

  • I always like to play as a Redguard in TES III: Morrowind (they're the easiest character to get going with, as their special ability is ridiculously powerful). Looks pretty black to me. []

    That aside, I think it's almost funny that the article is so focused on black presence in games...I've never thought about it much, but I have always found it kinda weird that whites are so dominant even though most of my favorite games are from Japan. Still, as a Caucasian myself, I'm happy with it. As other people have
  • by jchenx ( 267053 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @05:26PM (#17988364) Journal
    As an Asian American myself, I would at least like fewer racial stereotypes in games. How many times in games is Asian guy relegated to the "smart side-kick who's good at math and gadgets" or the "obligatory I-know-martial-arts" guy? Or an Asian woman is the "sexy, sleek I-know-martial-arts" girl? Well, I guess you could carry over those same stereotypes into all forms of media (TV and movies as well).
  • I was a little perturbed when GTA: San Andreas brought out a black protagonist. Not because I'm racist or anything, but because the game had previously centered around white Mafiosos. A black character brought all sorts of racial stereotypes with him, which had to be incorporated in the game. I was afraid the game would involve more street-gang type crime, instead of the grandiose organized crime that you saw in the previous games. In the end, they did a good job of fusing the two together though.
  • by MS-06FZ ( 832329 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @07:44PM (#17990178) Homepage Journal
    I love race in games. My favorite right now is Mario Kart DS.
  • Depends on the game (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Monday February 12, 2007 @08:00PM (#17990360) Homepage
    For games where different races represent different starting properties: I'd care only because of those properties.

    For games where different races exist with the purpose of having a more personal experience by means of an avatar: hell yes and not just race either. Kind of pointless to have a customised avatar if you can't even customise these basic differences in appearance.

    For any other game: not at all. I'm no hedgehog, Japanese prince(ss) or Italian plumber either, but that that never stopped me from playing any of those games.

    Applies for nationalities as well, playing some loony state in C&C Red Alert squirmish was more fun than being US/Russia *once* again, while when properties don't matter I'd surely pick a nation I actually like.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder