174: What if the Player is Black?

Brenda Brathwaite

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Great article. I heard Russel Peters, Canadian comedian, do a similar joke. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sshAhLPuV_I this makes me laugh every time I see it, and its so true!!
 

Sparcrypt

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Oct 17, 2007
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Just on the note of character creation.. it's nothing to do with being black, brown, whatever - it's more that these character creation utilities are useless.

I'm about 6 feet tall, white, short brown hair, brown eyes with fairly large shoulders and a solid build. Perfect! You might say, every hero in every game must look exactly like you!

I have never, *never*, been able to get an in game character to look like me. Oh sure, I can pick ones that have the same basic features... but they never look anything like me. The closest I ever got was in fight night round 3, as the boxers all seemed to share my build. But still.. noone was going to look at it and go "Oh hey thats Spar!"

Now.. a friend of mine. Smaller build, darker skin (he's not black/brown, I'm just very white) with otherwise similar features. He can get damn near any custom character to look like him easily. In fact, *I* can get them to look like him.

So yeah... nothing really to do with being black/white/brown/whatever. You're certainly not alone in being unable to bring yourself out in a character.

Now stereotypes... thats another issue I don't have the time to talk on so much, though in general they annoy me, particularly female characters who can't keep thier clothes on.
 

Sparcrypt

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ReverseEngineered said:
In contrast, I'm also fat, like over 50% of the American population. Even for stereotypes that are typically heavy, I've seen very few obese characters. Even worse than the token black man, there's the token fat man -- his entire purpose for being is to be laughed at for his obesity.
Another quick note - I the reason for this is pretty simple. In general, people want to make a character that looks like them.. but cooler. And lets face it: there are few people who want to be fat. Some people might be ok with it, not be that bothered, but if you had a chance to drop all excess weight tomorrow, no strings attached, would you do it?

I personally used to weigh in at 107kgs. In the last 18 months I've dropped down to about 80kgs, so I know what I'm talking about in this regard - even if you're OK with your weight, you still don't WANT it. I guess there are those out there who don't agree with me, but remember things like character customisation have to be aimed at the majority of the target audience.

That said, the option should be there, but I can see why it would be pushed to the back of the developers lists of things to do.
 

SenseOfTumour

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Srtangely enough, I'm a white overweight guy, and the one game that allowed me to look like me, and yet, somehow still kinda cool...was...

Def Jam - Fight for New York.

Weird how a game which is mainly black people, and hanging off of rap culture,if the one to make a fat white guy feel like a hero.

I find a lot of sports games allow you to go black and make it irrelevant however, also another vote for HL2 for having black characters who could have been white, its not part of the story, there's no need for them to do anything 'black', they just are.

Same goes for the Unreal games, white, black, asian, Skaarj, robot, doesn't matter, still gonna take a rocket to the head!

Also, no-one mentioned TF2!

How about this , a black Demoman, and the stereotype is that he's a scottish alcoholic!
 

skakashijutsu

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Feb 26, 2008
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Brenda Brathwaite said:
What if the Player is Black?

Have you ever felt game worlds might be just a little ... whitewashed? Brenda Brathwaite asks the question that all game developers should be asking themselves.

Read Full Article
True dat, true dat. I always feel that the games are extrremely dumb, because I know that no black person on God's green earth would ever do the things the tinted main characters do. Nor do they ever sound like black guys.
 

Drift-Bus

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It was good excpet for the whole "black guy with white hair, blarblarblar white people are the leaders etc"

I've not seen one video game character properly represent me in a video game, and I'm as white as they come.

Stereotypes come about for a reason, so giving a black protaginist corn rows is because they are a part of black culture, and henceforth have become stereotypes.

But really, who cares? I don't mind when someone calls a hypothetical "she" instead of "he", I don't care if a main character is black or white (I don't feel left out if their black), so why should anyone.

By constantly pointing out the problems of being underrepesented in media and pop culture, your just perpetuating the problem. Move on, chill out and get over it. Same for women. Just relax, not every action is pro/anti feminist or minority, sometimes it's just a video game character.
 

Drift-Bus

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As opposed to every asain being a ninja ala Ninja Gaiden, every white guy being a super criminal ala GTA 3, Vice City, Saints Row, every white guy being super human ala Oblivion, or every bear being a antropmorphic adventurer with a samrt bird side kick ala Banjo Kazooie



Really, think about it...
 

Grubnar

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Director Nwabudike Morgan of Morgan Industries.

From the game Alpha Centauri by Firaxis Games. It is basicly Civilication in space.

http://www.firaxis.com/smac/morgan.cfm
 

Majere613

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I always thought that Barret in FFVII was trying to be Mr T, but there you go :)
It's a bit daft to criticise characters like Cole, TJ Combo or Eddie Gordo for being 'quick to use violence' considering the games they're in. All the fighters in a fighting game tend to, er, fight a lot, that's sort of the point.
Interesting that RE5 didn't come up here, plenty of black folk there even if most of them are killer zombies, but Shiva is a playable character. Yes, she's a badass black woman, but again that's sort of necessary if you don't fancy being Zombie Chow (hey, even cute little Rebecca went Rambo as soon as she got her own game).
As always, if you want to see prejudice, you'll find it. Avatar customisation is still coming on in leaps and bounds, and there's also face-capturing (eg Facebreaker) coming in which should help. Likewise, digital voice manipulation/generation should have an impact within the next few years.
 

Stringytank

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Even though he has cornrows, I'd have to say Garth from Fable II somewhat breaks the stereotype. He is very calm, wise, and powerful yet responsible. Next to Theresa, I'd say he's the most intelligent and knowledgeable character in Fable II. Though Fable II can shove it on character creation, as you're forced to be white. It sorta makes sense I guess what with the whole Old-England thing going, but still.
 

G-X

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Nov 5, 2008
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Brenda, why aren't there any black characters in games?
Um, Alyx Vance? The main character (not counting the silent protagonist) of Half-Life 2? Half-black, half-Asian? In a game where the bad guys are all white (or robots, or alien monsters) and the good guys are multi-ethnic? Game of the Year in 2004? No, you must have missed that one.
 

SirCannonFodder

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Nov 23, 2007
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Want a game with strong black characters? Go with the Elder Scrolls series, particularly the spin-off TES Adventures: Redguard [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elder_Scrolls_Adventures:_Redguard] (which happens to feature a black arch-mage, to answer "where are the great and powerful black wizards?" question), whose protagonist, besides helping to force the continent-spanning empire into an armistice with his home nation, manages to trick a god [http://www.imperial-library.info/obscure_text/viveccyrus.shtml] that pretty much specialises in mind-screwingly complex lies and tricks. However, the only thing black about them is skin colour, since the culture is more like a mix of age-of-sail Spain, ancient Carthage, and some general Arabic influence. On the plus side, it's one of only two races (the other being the Dunmer/Dark Elves) that was actually able to join the Empire on their own terms, rather than surrendering/being conquered. Their predecessors, the Yokudans, also managed some impressive feats, such as discovering a sword move that can split the atom.
 

TsunamiWombat

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In the Halflife 2 Mod Insurgency, you can customize your marine to be white black tan or anything in between. Does that count?

Oh, and what about Thunder or Whisper from Fable 2?

It is true though, there's no black hero's. Always white or asian.

PS: OH! Alyx Vance. Everyones darling.
 

babyblues

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Apr 22, 2008
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Err, what about Captain Anderson from Mass Effect? He's black and also a good, strong man who fights for what's right. Cornrow and afro-free, too. He's got a military-style buzzcut.

Or Jolee Bindo from KotOR. He's an irritable old man but also one of the wisest characters with lots of insight, and has a good heart. He does what he believes is right, without bias towards good or evil. He's never really portrayed in a negative light just because of his skin color and has a touching and well-fleshed out backstory. Also, no cornrows or afro. He's bald.

Perhaps that's just BioWare and their fantastic characters, but good black characters do exist. There just aren't that many.

Stringytank said:
Even though he has cornrows, I'd have to say Garth from Fable II somewhat breaks the stereotype. He is very calm, wise, and powerful yet responsible. Next to Theresa, I'd say he's the most intelligent and knowledgeable character in Fable II. Though Fable II can shove it on character creation, as you're forced to be white. It sorta makes sense I guess what with the whole Old-England thing going, but still.
I'd also like to second Garth. He's a cool character that isn't stereotypical at all. And, Stringytank, he's from Samarkand(or however you spell it) in the east. They're reclusive or something so it makes sense that there aren't many fantasy-blacks in Albion. Admittedly, though, it would be pretty cool if you got to pick where you're from.

I sympathize with black gamers somewhat. Being female, it's difficult to find a character that isn't terribly stereotypical: buxom babes wearing juuuuust enough to clothe a baseball. Despite that, it honestly doesn't bother me that much. I can still appreciate a game and its characters if they are interesting and entertaining. While it isn't a bad thing to hope that, some day, there will be more black characters like the examples I mentioned, don't let it stop you from enjoying games. Enjoy the characters for what they are, regardless of sex or race.
 

jemborg

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Oct 10, 2008
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Is it possible at all ,going from the above comments, that black people in America have a more diverse "culture" than just aspiring to abject materialism?
 

Rankao

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Mar 10, 2008
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Technically you need to ignore all of the games that are not of American/African origin because all developers have for reference of blacks is from stereotypes in movies
 

jemborg

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I want to take this opportunity to congratulate my American cousins, on having voted in a "black" President for the first time.
 

Doug

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I have to admit to wondering about this whenever I get access to a character editor (Oblivion, Saints Row 1/2, Fallout 3). Although I'd like to point out in fairness I've never managed to recreate myself in my avatar.

However, I have felt 'the Guilt'. An irrational fear of creating a black/latino/etc avatar uncase it potrays me as racist for having said character (especially for Saint's Row given the possibly of 'You've got a ghetto character shooting stuff'). This, when I normally play single player only, and hence am never judged by it, heh.

I have noticed that the numbers of non-white characters has increased significantly in the last few years (for example, their are quite a few NPCs who are black, including the generics.

As said in the article, I suspect its mostly because most game developers are white and hence don't even think about skin tone and racial features.

EDIT: As for black/non-white character, Eli Vance and his daughter Alyx from Half Life 2 spring to mind for me. Smart guy, alittle world wery (he's an old man in HL2 in a post apocalypse-type world) and his daughter seems to be of mixed race.

Neither have corn rows - Eli goes with a sensable short cut, Alyx with ...well, shortish hair. Neither are 'from da hood'