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Do You Care About Race in Games?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-talking-about-fast-moving-cars dept.

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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Of course I do! (5, Funny)

Lane.exe (672783) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986152)

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? :)

Race, race, race (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986332)

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:Of course I do! (0, Offtopic)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986410)

In MajorMUD, I loved Half-Ogre Mages. They had TONS of HPs for a mage. All you had to do was max out the INT and and Health and you were set! Well, until they *fix* it. I haven't played MajorMUD probably 7ish years.

Does anyone actually still play MajorMUD?

Re:Of course I do! (0, Offtopic)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986550)

Does anyone actually still play MajorMUD?

Not since they changed the name to Everquest...

Re:Of course I do! (0, Offtopic)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986734)

Ha! I haven't played Everquest in 3-4 year either!

Re:Of course I do! (1, Insightful)

jfinke (68409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986570)

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:Of course I do! (2, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986604)

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:Of course I do! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986674)

Ever heard of "the human race?" Yeah. Same deal.

Re:Of course I do! (2, Insightful)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987026)

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 stuck.

Re:Of course I do! (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987262)

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:Of course I do! (2, Insightful)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987440)

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.

Re:Of course I do! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986606)

Sprite high-mage of Chaos FTW. I love my glass cannons. *hug*

Re:Of course I do! (2, Funny)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986746)

So, I would wager your own race is Munchkin, is that it?

Re:Of course I do! (2, Interesting)

nottestuser (166818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987100)

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.

Title? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986180)

Anyone else read the title as "Do you care about Racing games?" something we've seen lots of lately, and lets face it, who DOES care?

Vapid - Look it up (3, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 7 years ago | (#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".

What does (1)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986232)

a character from Johnny Quest have to do with gaming? Are they making a game based on the series? Which series, the old or the new? Although Race Bannon was a cool character...

Re:What does (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986928)

What does a character from Johnny Quest have to do with gaming?

Well, if you're playing as Haji, they always stop you at the airport.

All my favorite lifeforms... (1)

Bob Cat - NYMPHS (313647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986260)

are silicon-based.

Re:All my favorite lifeforms... (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986300)

I knew there was a reason we get along.

Re:All my favorite lifeforms... (2, Funny)

Markus_UW (892365) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986578)

Yeah, those hortas from TOS episode 26 - The Devil in the Dark, are pretty sweet...

Re:All my favorite lifeforms... (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987796)

Long live the Chenjesu (at least until the Ur-Quan show up and they merge with the Mmrnmhrm to form the Chmmr).

This is an issue because....? (2, Interesting)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986280)

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.


Re:This is an issue because....? (4, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986590)

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.

Re:This is an issue because....? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987808)

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 is going to list a stack of games, but that isn't the point. For the majority of games, it doesn't matter at all.

Re:This is an issue because....? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987218)

Asians get a bonus to mana regeneration.

What, you didn't know?

I'm definately racist (2, Funny)

unborracho (108756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986282)

I kill Nightelves in WOW all the time. I would never dream of killing an orc.

Re:I'm definately racist (5, Interesting)

Venerable Vegetable (1003177) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Another racially ambiguous character (2, Interesting)

abaddononion (1004472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986302)

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 traits, both physically and in attitude, and I think Kratos's personality is a lot stronger than it would have been if they hadnt borrowed those traits. But I have to admit, if Kratos had been modeled after Ice-T or something, I probably wouldnt enjoy the game nearly as much.

Personally, I get tired of the whole racism debate. Ive always felt this way about japanese games. I dont like it when the characters are DECIDELY Japanese. I liked Cloud (from FFVII) a lot more back when it was unclear what he was rather than now, when he has been remade into a more clearly japanese appearance. Really, unless race is a specific issue in a game's plot, I think it should be left out as much as possible, so Im all for the racial ambiguity thing.

Goddamn bishounen. (0, Offtopic)

CelticWhisper (601755) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986610)

I liked Cloud (from FFVII) a lot more back when it was unclear what he was

You mean when you could conceivably imagine that he was, in fact, a man?

rather than now, when he has been remade into a more clearly japanese appearance.


Re:Another racially ambiguous character (4, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Another racially ambiguous character (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987292)

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?

Depends on the game (1)

Arceliar (895609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986312)

If race is purely cosmetic, then no. If it changes the character's abilities, then yes.

And either way, everybody loves to kill kobolds.

Play the Race Card (1, Insightful)

Intangible Fact (1001781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986318)

Why would it matter unless your some racist punk that takes pride in playing a character that matches your skin tone.

Re:Play the Race Card (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986968)

Why would it matter unless your some racist punk

Yeah! Or, if you're some twit that doesn't know the difference between "your" and "you're" - causing some people to think that maybe it's never about race, but about culture. Some cultures emphasize things (like articulate communication) that are hugely helpful in some pursuits, and others emphasize other things. Obviously your culture doesn't sweat the details of whether or not the people you're bitching to can actually parse your words in a useful way. But, hey, to each their own. Just don't get cranky when people make snap judgements about your character when the equivalent of visual cultural indicators (in this case, the way you communicate) immediately dispose people to thinking less of you. It's not racism, it's culturalism... and (hint, here!) it pretty much always has been. For much of human history, race has been a pretty good indicator of cultural affiliation. Those days are pretty much completely gone now, obviously. So instead, you just watch what people do (or whether they care to differentiate between the possesive "your" and "you're," the contraction of "you are"). Screw skin pigment... do you play characters that match your culture? I'm honestly asking.

Re:Play the Race Card (0, Troll)

Intangible Fact (1001781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987280)

Who the hell do you think your are calling me a twit just because I didn't feel like using a contraction. "You're" the type of person that loves to point out spelling inaccuracies within comments just to make you feel like "you're" a smart guy. To point out my culture just shows how much of a prick your are.

Culture or race has nothing to do with which game I buy. If its fun then I like it. Its fucking stupid to even mention race as being a determining factor in playing a game. Anybody that only plays games that meet their culture should all be lined up and "shot".

*Racism and religion keep us in the dark age*

Re:Play the Race Card (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987406)

Anybody that only plays games that meet their culture should all be lined up and "shot".

Well, I think that takes care of any questions about your culture.

Who the hell do you think your are calling me a twit just because I didn't feel like using a contraction.

Well, since "your" and "you're" don't meaning anything at all like one another, you might as well as have used the word "brick" or "xylophone" instead. I rather think people are twits if they are sitting in front of a globe-spanning network interacting with other people in a complex manner on a range of interesting topics... and they still choose their written words because the word sounds similar to the word they actually mean to be using. I think "twit," actually, is a rather mild term for that sort of thing, especially when the original cognitive disconnect came in the middle of a race-rant. I'm certainly glad that people like you don't have the authority to line people up and shoot them - despite your wishes - because you'd probably shoot Mr. Smyth when you meant to shoot Mr. Smith.

Re:Play the Race Card (1)

Intangible Fact (1001781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987630)

Racism is inevitable. The only why to achieve peace in the world is if everybody looked/thought/acting all in the same manner. It upsets me to know that peace will never be acheived without authority.

Hating someone because they look/act/think different then your is pure ignorance. Any culture that promotes this behavior is crippling humanity.

Re:Play the Race Card (1)

Venerable Vegetable (1003177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987586)

What the? A spelling nazi who is actually racist to people who don't spell correctly?
And even though you don't make a lot of spelling errors, your writing style sucks. You're not part of my culture I suppose.

(It's possessive, not possesive, twit. Rule one from the spelling nazi handbook: spell check. And from your other post: "don't meaning"???)

Re:Play the Race Card (1)

Intangible Fact (1001781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987002)

How was I a troll?

Re:Play the Race Card (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17987296)

Because /. is primarily visited by white Americans.

Re:Play the Race Card (0, Troll)

Intangible Fact (1001781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987372)

Why does it matter that i'm american/white? I'm more of a hybrid you stupid fuck. I'm Indian,Irish,german,black,spanish.

I'm so sick of this american shit talk. Why should I be cornered for being a American. One of these days I hope the world gets over this stupid culture/religion clashing.

a take on second life's color (4, Interesting)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986320)

Re:a take on second life's color (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986780)

Wow. That was painful to read. Especially that last page.

rockstar and racism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986322)

in GTA:SA the nigger (because thats what he essentially was) was potrayed in the worst possible light. look -- nigger hangs with thugs, nigger shoots up place, acts like an asshole...etc.etc.
GTA3 was race neutral and it was fine. i think racism is going to be a huge problem in games. if rockstar and other game publisher demonize blacks as niggers or even whites as street trash or hispanics etc etc its going to be a huge issue eventually. characters in games should be race neutral.

Re:rockstar and racism (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987350)

You got modded down probably because you used the dreaded "n" word, but I think your comment is fairly insightful. It's not about what races are portrayed in a game, but in HOW each race is portrayed.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986340)

Personally I think sex is more of a factor in character identification. I know a lot (probably most) don't really care, but when I play games, especially the more immersive 3rd person games, it sometimes impacts my enjoyment of the game that I can't identify more with the character.

Re:hmm (1)

joystickgenie (913297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986996)

So if playing a certain sex of a character influences your identification with the character more then race then shouldn't the sex of playable characters should be ambiguous as well? It would just help with people being able to relate to their characters more if every one, male or female, can think that they share a sex with the character.

Of Course... (1)

Fysiks Wurks (949375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986350)

What is the point of driving a race/stock/rally car if there is no race to win! Unless the point is to steal the cars then its more of a chase senario.

Re:Of Course... (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986946)

When I saw the question I immediately thought of racing as well and had to read a comment to realize what was meant!

I don't know if the reason is I'm not a gamer. I just wanted to understand how racing/chasing could be a factor in non-racing games -

Problems? Diffuse the Issue: Skip to Xenophobia. (1)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986380)

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 race, if you're going to be phobic, be phobic of another god damn species. When someone starts saying "oh look a gook," to the guy that just chose the asian character, "oh look, a mother fucking alien" kinda adds perspective.

FF8 makes up for FF7 (3, Interesting)

Mprx (82435) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:FF8 makes up for FF7 (3, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987200)

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.

It depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986414)

Not wanting to sound prejudice, but I used to choose a black character in HL2 deathmatch because he's harder to spot in the darker areas.

Jade is black? (5, Insightful)

Zero_DgZ (1047348) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Jade is black? (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986658)

100% agreed. She has a somewhat dark complexion but so do most SE Asian people.

Re:Jade is black? (1)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987058)

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? (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987376)

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.

Mountains, Molehills (1)

SiliconJesus (1407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986444)

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.

Re:Mountains, Molehills (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986662)


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 became all named "El Presidente".

Re:Mountains, Molehills (1)

PreviouslySeen (714752) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987306)

If I remember correctly, didnt he "win" when no one else wanted the job?

Re:Mountains, Molehills (1)

HBI (604924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987514)

I think I refused to even run for it :b

Pretty much, yeah.

Races no, nations yes.. (5, Funny)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Missing several black characters... (3, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Missing several black characters... (0, Offtopic)

PennyLoafers (883055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986522)

I agree on the Jordan vs. Bird game. I did buy that game to play as Bird however. Go Celtics! PS - I know the Celts are the worst team in the NBA this year, but back then even the pastiest geeks were fans of the Green.

Re:Missing several black characters... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986656)

Through its various console and arcade ports, Mike Tyson's punch out has had blacks, Indians, East Asians, Mexicans, Jamaicans, Eastern Europeans, and probably some other groups I neglected to mention, oh yeah, French. Now granted none of these characters were "playable"(the only playable character was a little white guy with a stereotyped black coach) and I wouldn't necessarily call all the treatments the various races received respectful but....

In First Person Shooters (2, Funny)

WhitePanther5000 (766529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986502)

I usually pick a black character - they're harder to see in the shadows!

Re:In First Person Shooters (1)

Raynor (925006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986872)

You aren't the only one...

I usually pick race/outfit/etc based upon how much I think it will benefit me...

When was the last time a modern sniper went into battle without facepaint? damn pale faces stick out like a sore thumb (And those sore thumbs are promptly blown away by my sniper rifle :D). I only wish there was a "desert" or "woodland" race. I'd pick them.

Then again i'm also the kinda guy who turns down his graphics because it's easier to see people with low detail settings (movement sticks out more when everything else is just bland rolling blur)

Re:In First Person Shooters (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986988)

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.

Re:In First Person Shooters (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987314)

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.

Jade has a race? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986594)

If you wanna get technical, Jade is an alien. Race doesn't exactly apply.


skymt (968075) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986728)

Please include a warning next time.

I view race the same way... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986640) 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 (4, Interesting)

realityfighter (811522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986678)

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.

Yeah! I love racein games! (4, Funny)

2008 (900939) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986712)

I like fightin games and shootin games and wrestlein games too!

Learn proper english. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17987698)

That's wraslin, you uncultured slob.

Race is one thing (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986726)

The Wired article was interesting in that it talked about race's role in video games, but will there ever be a successful video that has at least a sub-plot dealing with racism? Will the struggle of a character ever be to overcome apartheid? I'm not talking about the metaphorical equivalent where some mermaids fight back against the evil urchins, I'm talking about a real struggle.

I'm in the process writing a game script based off some of the ideas in the book The Power of One. For those unaware, the book takes place during and after World War II in South Africa where there was a lot of racism between the English, Germans, and black Africans (there was also a sequel that dealt very directly with the apartheid). The book deals a lot of racism and discrimination and provided me with some ideas of writing a game. But how well does this translate into a video game? There are a lot of movies and books that deal with this subject, but will it translate well into video games? Is there a problem with the medium, the audience, or has it just not been attempted yet properly?

Color doesn't matter, character type does. (1)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986834)

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 if I want a strong tough battle hardened character, I'll probably take a black guy. (Cole train with out the voice). If I want a cool ninja that's definatly an asian character. If I want a mafioso it's going to have to be white (And italian). But all of these choices are based off ROLE not race.

Do I not like black characters? Well yeah in the end, because most of the time they are so stereotypically black that it's a waste of a good character. But I like Cole Train, I like a lot of the characters outside of the gang in San Andreas (the CRASH unit was hilarious). Do I like asian characters? Well probably but again it's because they are portrayed as ninjas, samurais, and other cool stuff I like.

So the answer to the question is race doesn't matter as long as the developers don't do the stereotypical things with race. It's the same as females in games. As long as you don't make every female like Yuna (FFX she was weak, and then in FFX2 all three females were ditzy airheads) I don't mind playing as one. Lara Croft could have sold as well with out the chest because she was a tough as nails archeologist, and except for Indiana Jones we didn't have many of those.

Re:Color doesn't matter, character type does. (1)

Raynor (925006) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987136)

"So the answer to the question is race doesn't matter as long as the developers don't do the stereotypical things with race."

Great Idea...

"Do I like asian characters? Well probably but again it's because they are portrayed as ninjas, samurais, and other cool stuff I like"
Wait a minute...

Re:Color doesn't matter, character type does. (1)

StreetRodRacer (1062124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987336)

I tend to agree. I think that race in video games should be based on the story line and not about how much publicity a game is going to get because the designers choose one race over another. For example, if the story line is about a White Ninja (insert obscure joke about "Beverly Hills Ninja" with Chris Farley) who is trying to live up to his father's quest to become the best Ninja. Then I would want that character to be White and not another race because the story does not fit the bill.

Re:Color doesn't matter, character type does. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17987478)

"but if I want a strong tough battle hardened character, I'll probably take a black guy"

How is that not racist?

I don't care, but the market does. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986858)

The target market of the PS3 and Wii is middle and upper class Americans, who for the most part are of German descent.

Any attempts at "affirmative action" in game character casting is misguided.

However, I can see the appeal of angry womanizing black men to American kids is pretty strong, so more black male characters might be more successful, as so many rich white kids want to be black so that girls will want them.

More black characters in games might be more successful, as pretending to be an "oppressed", outraged and angry young black man seems to be what the kids want to do these days.

I do not care about race in games, but I think the target youth market does. White is uncool, black is by definition, cool.

Short answer... (1)

Hellpop (451893) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987150)

But I always thought Jade was green?

It is easier to associate with a character if they come from a similar background as yourself, but a good role-player can pick a character that is their polar opposite and play them well.

I'm sure someone, somewhere complained to Bioware that Jade Empire didn't offer enough racial diversity. Lets have a group chuckle at their expense...

Re:Short answer... (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987522)

"I always thought Jade was green?"

I use to to have a tv like that. You do get used to it, but you should probably buy a new tv.

No (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987182)

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 (2, Informative)

Madpony (935423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987184)

No, I do not.

Oooh THAT Jade (2, Interesting)

fuo (941897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987340)

I guess Jade is a black name, because Jade in MK3 was black too (i think) and looked kinda like her.

Racial Ambiguity and Sci Fi (5, Interesting)

softwaremud (1063330) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Racial Ambiguity and Sci Fi (1)

softwaremud (1063330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987520)

Let me stress that i listed those statements as examples of stereotypes, and am not making value statements

I care. I like it. (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987446)

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 things interesting, if it's appropriate. If the game is set in feudal Japan, cast accordingly. If the game is set in a place like New York City or Philly, let's see some variety.

And if the game is incredibly violent or inappropriate, I don't really care cause the youth shouldn't be playing that anyway IMO :)

An example in Metal Gear Solid (1)

Speck'sBacon (1042490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987450)

In the Metal Gear games, Snake is Anglo-Japanese. I don't remember exactly where I saw it, but I've heard it stated that it was an attempt to give the player an avatar that appealed to audiences in Japan, North America, and Europe. Not that I think it mattered, ultimately. The failure of this type of policy was when they designed Raiden (MGS2's main character) to have broader appeal (adding women to the equation by making him bishounen). This alienated some of the hardcore fans of the series. Sometimes I think overthinking the issue of the player character's race can lead more problems than making the character a non-descript *default* race (e.g. it's not specified or referred to at all).

My Mii looks like me (1)

uglydog (944971) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987572)

Milk chocolate-y.

Just like in real life, it's a little annoying to be surrounded by a lot of whiteness in games. Movies are getting better with it so I'm hoping games will too. Since the characters are easier to change in games, I would have thought games would lose their whiteness before movies, but I guess that's just cuz of the demographics

where it fits best (1)

paltemalte (767772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987574)

I'm going to be completely politically incorrect now and say that I think different races, or slight variations of races, all have their places in games, depending on what game it is, and the environment in the game.

In GTA San Andreas, and the newer Saints Row - the character should be black. Face it; its gangstah-style, white people only look silly trying to do the whole gangster-thing.

Lord of the rings games - white, no matter if you are a human, dwarf or elven. Thats the only real race that fits in the environment. Possible exception if you play orch, then you'd be green-blackish.

GTA Vice City - white _and_ Italian. No other white and nationality could fit better in this game.

Godzilla games - asian.

Then there are games with a more general setting, where the character mostly will be white, because the largest audience is probably white and its easier for us to identify with a character of the same race as ourelves.

Re:where it fits best (1)

softwaremud (1063330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987712)

GTA Vice City: did you ever see the departed? irish mob/mafia if there is enough character and plot development (i.e. if the story doesn't suck) it shouldn't matter what the races are.

... I don't care about the race ... (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987588)

... 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 only because he contrasts oh-so individually with all the Titty-Wonders running around on Khaz'Goroth :-) . ...mmmmh... Now look what you've done ... guess I'm gonna go online tonight and tweak the costume/armour of my sweet Hunter Gal a little more. ... Oh yea Baby, I'm coming ...
*starts singing*
>> World of Warcraft is a feeeeeeling ... wo needs a social liiife ... I'm going to log in ... hop' on the griiii ii iiid ... <<

( [] )

Guild Wars (2, Insightful)

Ashe Tyrael (697937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987696)

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 boards accusing players of being racist, cue other people telling them to shut up, cue allsorts of childish arguments. People were trying to explain that the area of the world in the game would have run the gamut of skin tones, everyone was getting defensive, and the whole thing was descending into an almost farcical "You're all racist because you won't make a black character" "No I'm not, you're the one who's insisting that I do so." and backwards and forwards from there.

Interestingly, I can't remember the same debate happening when Factions (set in ArenaNet's Pesudo-Orient Analogue) came out. maybe it did and I didn't spot it.

Of course, these are games where you select a skin colour for your player-avatar, unlike the one in the OP. However, I'm with Shadowrun on racism in games. "Why worry about the tanned guy on the subway, when that thing over there has hands the size of your head."

Blacks over represented (4, Interesting)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Most of us won't care (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987812)

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.

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