Black Stereotypes in Gaming: New Games, Same Characters

Muaz from Twinfinite writes:"As a black gamer, I’ve gotten used to playing as a 30-something grizzled, scruffy white guy; unless, of course, the game has a character creator option like Saints Row and Mass Effect, or takes place in a historical setting a la the Assassin’s Creed series. While all people of color are shamefully underrepresented, the bigger crime to me is the predictable stereotyping that goes on, especially when it comes to black characters. A game that features a black character will, without fail, fall into one of these categories."

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Eonjay1493d ago

I would like to see some variety myself. And not just Black guys. I want to see black chicks, Asian chicks, white chicks, Hispanic guys... and chicks.

sweetSWAGGER1493d ago

With women, you're not going to see as many stereotypes because they're supposed to be desirable for the player (yes, games are still doing that for some reason). So usually,they'll just have a different skin tone but act just like your usual female character in a video game. If they were scary,ugly, over-the-top, and animalisitc like their male counterparts, it just wouldn't work as wank material.

Baccra171493d ago

I would like to see variety too. I would rather have variety than having a token-black-pc character shoved in for the sake of being pc.

Anthotis1493d ago

And here we have an example of black entitlement.

Developers should be free to create games however they see fit, and if you have a problem with that, you should avoid games which offend your delicate sensibilities, and/or create games yourself which cater to your own (no doubt)ethnocentric demands.

Alternatively, you can do what the rest of us evil white folk are told to do, and that's bury your racial consciousness deep down, and enjoy games for what they are, because race is supposed to be of no importance.

mayberry1493d ago

I agree with the article writer also, and no one is calling white people "evil", just because some want to see a more diverse character template. I, and millions of others love black people and white people and samoan...etc...

Eonjay1493d ago (Edited 1493d ago )

No. The article is talking about the characterization of black guys in games. It is correct. I can't see how you are offended by this.

MikeEaton1493d ago

Thank you for proving Muaz's point with your comment.

GT671493d ago (Edited 1493d ago )

from Anthotis

"you can do what the rest of us evil white folks are told to do."

the question is anthotis : who is teaching you to be evil?? parents?? grandparents?? members of the illuminati??? someone or some group had to teach you all this for you to bury racism deep down in consciousness.

people of color has never taugh anyone to hate or be evil towards any race of color for no reason-what-so-ever. to dis-like because the skin is darker and you hate that person only for that reason that is silly and crazy. dont kno why im getting disagree's im a man of color and i get the experience daily in life becuz of my color.

sweetSWAGGER1493d ago

I agree with you to an extent, but I think you're missing the point. I, too, am of the mindset that an artist should be allowed to design and create whatever they please, be it offensive or not. Whether or not I agree with their work is beside the point, it's called artistic expression.

HOWEVER, like the issue of sexism, racial stereotyping in video games is a problem that needs to be addressed and resolved before we can go back to having big, scary, screaming black men in video games again.

The industry has to prove that race and sex aren't important before we can indulge in these cartoonish stereotypes. The fact that the industry still thinks it has to cater to sad, lonely white teenage boys has proven to me that we still have a bit to go.

This isn't some exclusive club anymore. Games are maturing, and these issues are just growing pains.

thecastroregime1493d ago (Edited 1493d ago )

I'm assuming if an article pops up about the lack of female diversity in games, you and your boobs avatar would similarly claim female entitlement.

There's an unequal representation of black figures in games. I don't think anyone is arguing that it needs to be equal across racial profiles, but the writer of this article is very correct when he states that just about all black characters in games fall into one of those categories. Yes the overtone is that there should be more black characters in games, but if you really think this is about black entitlement and the persecution of white people's views, then you are just as idsanty said.

edit @ gt67: I was replying to the initial post that Anthotis made. This post is not for you at all.

GT671493d ago

was not speaking of me being batshit crazy he was talking to ANTHOTIS as i was too.

ITPython1493d ago

As a gamer, I couldn't care less what the color, or gender, of the character I was playing. If the game is fun and I enjoy it, then who cares.

But sadly the ones who preach about racial equality are the ones who are the most focused on skin color. Irony, hypocrisy, reverse racism, call it what you will but our society is only getting worse more divided because of this.

If they want everybody to stop focusing on skin color or racial stereotypes, then they should take their own advice and do the same.

MikeEaton1493d ago

I'm sure that people of all minorities and groups that are discriminated against appreciate you setting them straight that it's all in their minds.


austinwgarcia1493d ago (Edited 1493d ago )

My belief is that the reason developers create their characters as the same grizzled white guy is that their either convinced that nothing else will sell as well and/or scared to try anything new. It's not just in games either, it's in almost every form of entertainment. It is a vestige of a racist society that we still haven't been able to shake off.

So I don't blame developers per say but they haven't put much effort to fix the problem. Should developers be forced to diversify their protagonists? No. But if they realized that people would buy them anyways, I'm sure you would see a lot more of them willing to try.

Btw, can't take anything you say seriously with a picture of boobs as your avatar.

mroahrig1493d ago

You're an insane asshole with dumb insane asshole opinions.

iceman061493d ago

Black entitlement? Because a person wishes to play as a character that he can relate to? No. Entitlement would be demanding that EVERY game MUST feature a black protagonist painted in the ultimate light of good. The author is just asking for a better representation of black people in gaming...aside from the historical tropes that exist now.
The author said NOTHING....NOTHING about being offended. He is simply calling for...wait for it...diversity. He's offering an IDEA. Much like the ideas that are offered to advance genre's of games.
Evil white folk? Delicate sensibilities much!?!? Seriously, it's obvious that the man enjoys gaming since he CHOSE to work in the industry. However it's also obvious, at least to him, that it would be nice to just see a character that happens to be a minority placed in similar situations as his or her white counter parts...minus to stereotypes.

Baccra171493d ago

I don't even see why they're complaining. Since I've been gaming I've ran across only 1, 2 mixed race people. On the other hand, played plenty of games with blacks in them. Time for other races and groups to have chance.

+ Show (9) more repliesLast reply 1493d ago
GT671493d ago (Edited 1493d ago )

un-fortunately this how the system see people of color as: pimps,hoes,prositute,thugs,rob ber's anything negative.
but you'll never ever see a person of color as they really are.last night i was shock to read hundreds of invention such as: the mop,iron board,stoplight,lawnmower,mail box,lunchbox,street light, spark plug,the shoe,refrigerator,air condition so on just about everything we using in modern day 2014 has been invented by a man of color but yet they are stereotype as crooks and thieves the same people who help establish this nation is label as crooks,thieve's,pimps,lier 's.
MARTIN L. KING may had a dream but it will never come to fruition long as none-color people hold the power to choose what they want in video games to them people of color will ALWAYS be what they want them to be STEREOTYPE fools that is SAD!!

Sketchy_Galore1493d ago (Edited 1493d ago )

The grizzled thirty something white guy is a dumb stereotype too, it has more to do with lazy cliche characterization and writing than any kind of racial bias (not saying the author was saying it didn't, just pointing that out) plus if you're a minority in a country's population you're probably just naturally going to wind up as a minority in that country's mainstream cultural output, that's just the way it goes.

Plus complaining about Playboy X is a little silly. He is a good if somewhat simplified example of a type of person that does exist in a culture that is primarily composed of black men. You can complain about the lack of black characters elsewhere in the game but the Thug life type of character does exist and is usually a black male. Just like the Eastern European immigrant involved in Low level organized crime exists and the tight-knit but constantly bickering Irish roughneck family exists. The betrayal also wasn't really problematic when you look at the characters as individuals rather than stand-ins for all black men. They both had a history of being in a gang together but one had been to prison for a long time and come back feeling like he had been forgotten about by people who owed him and the other was a wannabe Mogul who had decided he was gonna reach the top no matter what.

Still, even as a white guy I have to admit the lazy cliche black guy character has probably made me cringe in more games than the sexy hot chick or the swaggering white douche. Usually because the stereotype always feels a little more negative. The black guy does tend to be the big dumb brute who typically handles explosives and other less technical or intricate machinery and I defy you to find me an action game in which the black character does not scream 'Dats whut I'm talking about!' at least once.

I just don't think the solution is to complain when thug culture or rasta culture is represented in a game by a black character, that usually just leads to every game having to artificially make sure any character that could possibly be construed as a thug has to be a white guy with blonde hair and blue eyes. I also don't think the solution is to complain that black characters are the minority in any game, because black people are more often than not the minority in the population the game is representing. I think the solution is just better writing all round. If there's a black thug in a game maybe let him act like a thug but if he's a black astronaut or black special tactical unit soldier maybe just maybe don't have him constantly trash talking like Mohammed Ali.

A good example of the way forward would be a character like Lee from The Walking dead. Not only for the fact that he's probably a good example of the majority of the area in which the game is set but mostly for the fact that he's just a human being. He's not even any kind of 'black guy'. Not for one moment do you get the impression that his race was taken into consideration in either a positive or negative way. I never even considered it. As a white male I tend to prefer to play as a white male if given the choice but experiencing that story as Lee is still one of the best experiences I've had in a game in years and I didn't even consider the colour of the skin of the guy I was playing as because he was just so well written that I identified with who he was rather than what he looked like.

sweetSWAGGER1493d ago

I honestly completley forgot that Lee wasn't a white guy. You're right, his skin tone wasn't really taken into consideration. Even though there are a few instances in the story where characters try not to offend him by saying that he knows his way around a city or he's good at breaking into cars or something, but little things like that I can relate with as a black gamer.

Sketchy_Galore1493d ago

I was actually gonna mention those parts of The Walking dead but felt I had already ranted way too long. Maybe it's bigotry on my end but I have to admit when I first saw the character Kenny in The Walking dead with his trucker cap, slightly mulletty hair and big gunfighter tache I just KNEW there was gonna be trouble. It's one of the only times I was aware of the race issue in the game because I expected him to be the typical shamelessly belligerent racist redneck stereotype we see in movies and games and I was fully expecting a fist fight.

When he engaged me as a friend I was pleasantly surprised that he was an individual character and not some cliche stereotype but still, maybe this is my own hang up but I did wonder if this truck driving southern man's man really wouldn't ever even mention race. I forgot about it as the episode wore on but during the second episode when the characters needed to pick a lock and Kenny reluctantly suggested Lee should do it because he's 'Y'know....uh, urban' I thought that was not only hilarious but brilliantly written as it really adds to Kenny's character. He's a decent and intelligent man but you just know he didn't grow up with the most positive influences regarding race relations. Being intelligent he grew up to figure out that stuff was idiocy but there's still a little bit of it in him. He was a real flawed human being and not just some cardboard cutout to progress the story either way.

I did wonder if I would have found that bit as funny if I had had to deal with that stuff in real life but the joke there is clearly based around Kenny's naivety and isn't actually saying anything about Lee and besides, we all deal with being stereotyped to some degree even in regular life. Like I said in my last way too long rant I do think the 'black guy' stereotype in games is a particularly nasty one and carries some sinister undertones I don't think you see in even the female stereotype but I do think the issue itself is lazy characterisation and shallow stereotyping in all types of characters in games.

iceman061493d ago

Your last paragraph is pretty much what the author wants. To just have a character, that happens to be a minority, written in the same way as a white character would probably be the authors dream game. So that, in the end, color becomes less of a factor. Larger than that, for people to understand that the constant stereotypes of black people don't represent the entire scope of the people. (more of an extrapolation)

PrinceOfAllSaiyans1493d ago

Yes we do need more diverse characters in videogames. And in Marvel and DC movies. Marvel is kind of trying but they're failing miserably. And when was the last time a game had a black main character ? I think San Andreas ?

iceman061493d ago

Starhawk in 2012. At least, that's the last one that I have seen.

Somebody1493d ago

Also in 2012, James Heller in Prototype2. In 2013 there's Marlow Briggs.

What about EA's annual sports games? They have tons of black athletes in them.

jetlian1493d ago

James and marlow both have gangster in them his point still stands. Liked both games