Invisibility Blues: Help open up the conversation about race in games


#1

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#2

Oh no, not again.

*prepares for gamergate reignition*


#3

I typed out a rambling comment, then realised I don’t actually have anything to add to the discussion…


#4

I’ve always been for race representation in games. When I used to play the SSI gold box AD&D games I always had an elven magic user and dwarven fighter in the party. Heck, sometimes I had a half-elven fighter-MU!


#5

I hope it recognizes that Japanese folks make video games in Japan that get played around the world. Sometimes videos on this subject seem to skip over the huge contribution Japan has made and get very… I dunno, U.S. or Euro-centric in assumptions and whatnot.


#6

I hope they do it.

I hope gamergate reignites.

I hope that this time, we’re better at punishing them.


#7

So you’d like to see more representations of various epicanthic folds? And whatnot?


#8

I think the point @benjaminterry is trying to make is that Japan is very ethnically monolithic. It is also where a lot of video game studios began. So having a mono-culture problem in video games seems like an obvious result.

This doesn’t mean it is fate, or that we shouldn’t fight for proportional representation… I mean, hell, a lot of these games are about imagined worlds, so for verisimilitude you could have any composition of any number of species, races, or anything.

However, we should acknowledge that the proportions the most vocal proponents are fighting for are largely US-centric.

  • A game set in modern Japan, and believing the CIA numbers for ethnicity in Japan, should have 1 in 50 characters be not ethnically Japanese.
  • A game set in the modern US should have 3 in every 10 characters be non-white (Source: 2010 Census)
  • A game set in modern Canada should have 2 in every 10 characters be a visible minority (2011 Census). This is an average, so a game set in modern Toronto should have 1 in every 2 characters be a visible minority but in Sudbury would have 3 in every 100 (just a few more than Japan).

However, even if we leave the underrepresentation issue aside (and we shouldn’t, but I’m simplifying here) we still have the problem of how these representative characters are presented. Stereotypes, caricatures, tokens… so many of these characters are their race first and characters second. Even a web cartoonist can understand how backwards that is.


#9

How about we turn that around: games have focused so much on white straight cis dudes for so many years. Can we have a couple years without them? No matter the exact percentages of the population that are not straight white cis men (which, to be honest, reeks a lot of “they’re few, they’re odd, they don’t matter” - intended or not…)


#10

I take your point, but I’ll add that I haven’t heard anyone calling for the replication of demographic breakdowns by country. The people I’m reading are simply calling for more representations of any character other than the straight, white male whether protagonist or otherwise.


#11

You know who you never see in games?

And the Invisible Man!


#12

Games like Resident Evil 5 or even Zelda will come up in discussions on this subject, games produced in Japan by Japanese people. They sometimes get lumped in with U.S./Euro games when discussing the race issue (not a problem in itself). It’s just that, if Japanese examples are to be used, the frame used to analyze those games must include Japanese culture and race relations. What some may find problematic in Resident Evil 5 is probably going to have some different sources and shades to it than what one might find problematic in a Grand Theft Auto game.


#13

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