Why Straight White Guys Shouldn't Always Play Games As Themselves

Robert Rath

New member
Oct 8, 2010
522
0
0
Why Straight White Guys Shouldn't Always Play Games As Themselves

Sometimes it is beneficial to play games as a character outside your comfort zone. You might be surprised at the results.

Read Full Article
 
Jan 12, 2012
2,114
0
0
Interesting piece. I'll note that it doesn't apply only to straight white guys; I'm brown and I think about this stuff as well (still straight and male, though). I usually, if given the option, make a female PC in an RPG because I'm interested to see if that opens up any unique paths.

Also, typo on the last page.
Its worth it for a gay teen living in the Bible Belt who can be himself digitally, even tough he has to hide everywhere else.
 

Robert Rath

New member
Oct 8, 2010
522
0
0
I dont know...
I usually dont care whether I am a flying reptile, man, woman, white, black or purple. As long as he/she/it can have a british accent, I am pleased. Or speaks in Vodka. Or can wear badass clothes.
 

Steve Waltz

New member
May 16, 2012
273
0
0
I remember my kick in the face was in Fallout: New Vegas. It was probably my 30th run through the game and I decided to play as a female working for Caesar?s legion, mainly to enjoy the irony. I remember how frustrated I got when I was told to take a hike when I asked to participate in the arena. ?Take a hike. No arena for you! That part of the game is for MALE characters only!? Man, as a straight white male, that knocked those rose-tinted sunglasses right off my face.
 

Westaway

New member
Nov 9, 2009
1,084
0
0
Thunderous Cacophony said:
Interesting piece. I'll note that it doesn't apply only to straight white guys;
Most people who read and write these articles believe only white people can be racist and having a non-white heterosexual male character is somehow virtuous.
 

Burnouts3s3

New member
Jan 20, 2012
746
0
0
An interesting piece. I think there's a delicate balance to be held that we don't let the character's race/gender/sexual orientation be the defining measure of a character.

What I've noticed, and this is only my half-formed idiotic opinion, is that all the traits that make a good character: motivation, backstory, reactions, etc. are gender-neutral.

Also, I never understood the stigma of race-swapping or gender-swapping. It worked for Idris Elba in Thor so I don't see why making a character that was originally a man and making him a woman (like how Bob's Burgers changed Dan to Tina) is a bad thing.
 

CelestDaer

New member
Mar 25, 2013
245
0
0
I actually was doing research on Carmen Sandiego the other day because I started to formulate a movie idea for her, and I never realized she was meant to be latina. Never even crossed my mind. The interesting thing for me was when I stepped back and looked at her background as a whole. She started off as an Agent, and decided that was too easy, so she became a master thief. Let me simplify a bit... She started off on the side of 'good' by Acme's standards, and went 'evil'. She wears red, and pretty much nothing else. Huh... I suddenly noticed way too much symbolism that may or may not have been intentional...
 

tzimize

New member
Mar 1, 2010
2,391
0
0
Westaway said:
Thunderous Cacophony said:
Interesting piece. I'll note that it doesn't apply only to straight white guys;
Most people who read and write these articles believe only white people can be racist and having a non-white heterosexual male character is somehow virtuous.
Truer words...

I dont care what kind of character I'm playing as long as its a good one.

I'd love to see Black Panther on the silver screen. Not because he's black, but because its an interesting character with a potentially exotic and different setting.

I'd love to see a Wonder Woman movie. Not because I want to secretly be a girl, but because I love the character.

If I CAN choose, I will almost always choose to play as something ELSE than a white male, because thats what I am, and I enjoy imagining to be something else. In RPGs I've played females, dwarves, gnomes, elves, aliens...you name it. One of my most interesting characters ever was the Dwarven Princess I played in Dragon Age: Origins. And she was that interesting not because she was female, nor because she was a dwarf, but because of the fantastic intro-quest with the dwarven nobility and the resulting relationships with my/her siblings.

I will respectfully disagree a tiny bit with the article author and repeat myself from similar threads: We dont need more diverse protagonists, we need more INTERESTING protagonists. Interesting characters are not interesting because they are white or black, or a dwarven princess. They are interesting because of the situation they are put in and the experiences they have had/have.
 

Jandau

Smug Platypus
Dec 19, 2008
5,034
0
0
A big thing here is that there's a big difference between games where you play as a predetermined character and games where you get to make your own. There's a world of difference between playing a black dude in Walking Dead and making a black dude in Skyrim or Mass Effect - mainly that in the latter cases, not much changes, if anything at all. It's a cosmetic choice, and nothing else.

When the choice of skin colour in a game is purely cosmetic, then it can't really teach me anything about what other people go through, now can it? Same with sexual orientation - if me being gay doesn't bother anyone, then it makes no difference. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying social commentary should be shoehorned into every game, just that there's no point in trying to experience being a different race or whatever if nobody cares about your race in game.

That being said, as a Straight White Male, I enjoy games with protagonists that aren't any of those three things and I do agree we need more of them, if for no other reason than to show what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes for a bit.
 

Robert Rath

New member
Oct 8, 2010
522
0
0
Robert Rath said:
And gay players have a right to have their existence acknowledged in digital worlds.
Stop, stop stop stop. Pass "Start", do not collect income. While this article is one that I find interesting and relevant, that sentence and probably the thought behind it, is based on a false premise.

No one has a "right" to exist in any fiction unless you're specifically making something that goes out of its way to include all genders (and in-betweens), races, religions and sexualities. Then we can have a nice discussion about inclusivity and the people that feel or are genuinly overlooked.

This ongoing wave of political correctness for the sake of being politically correct in pop-culture media and games is out of touch with what's going on. It's not being all-inclusive towards those that have issues in real life, it's being totalitarian towards those who are creating content and its audience as it is. While you can argue that the gaming industry might change to where this is the focus, it's certainly not where it is now and simply saying that it's "wrong" as it is, is steeped in zealotry and false modesty.
While this line of thought may have the moral high ground and good intentions behind it, muscling in on an established audience while accusing anyone who enjoys what they enjoy and the people who create these things of a multitude of things, is not the way to do it.

Do you disagree with that last statement?
Imagine if I wanted to be part of the Ramadan celebration, but I started demanding to be able to eat whatever I wanted at any time and that everyone else should as well. Why not? It's just a culture/religious thing, so if I want to be cleansed by eating, that should be included, otherwise they're discriminating against fat people.
I'm pansexual, so obviously any religion should be inclusive towards me. I'm a man that identifies as a woman, so I should have all the privileges and legal bias that comes along with it, otherwise no one is being inclusive. Also, women's bathrooms should have urinals.

Do I think we could stand to have more unorthodox protagonists and characters? Yes! Not because it's the so-called "right" thing to do, but because variety can be a good thing and having been a hardcore gamer for most of my life, I'd love to play something different.
That being said, I would never pressure a developer to do it, because fiction and content that's in due to demand is worthless compared to something made out of love and desire.

If anyone is about to accuse me of crying man-tears and being scared of losing my comfortable little boys club, then you're first of all a ************* ***** ** **** **** and secondly you're partially right. I am scared. I am legitimately scared of any person that comes to my fanbase and starts firing off demands while they guilt and shame anyone who disagrees, because there's no reasoning with that kind of person.

Now I'm seeing an otherwise fairly objective journalist agreeing to an unjustified premise at the start of his article! Robert! What have they done to you!? Come back to the sane world!
Joking aside, please pick your words carefully. No one here doubts that you feel things should be a bit or even a lot more inclusive, because the gaming community is supposed to be a place where everyone can join and have fun. Your heart is in the right place and I'm sure I'd enjoy talking to you.
The thing is, that the focus is the hobby, not what people suddenly demand to change about it.

The question isn't "Is Assassins Creed a worse game for not including a female protagonist?", it's "Would Assassins Creed benefit from including a female protagonist". The bullshit Ubisoft came with is irrelevant and only of interest to those who are more interested in social justice warfare than the games they love (Yes! Even if you'd like to play as a woman in that game, tough fucking luck! It's not your right, privilege or demand that defines what is or what isn't!). It's basically a tabloid story that serves little purpose, because the internet is already discussing this.

Anyone who comes in and demands this or that, is a killjoy and worthless to the community. You're not the victim, you're the problem. You're not in the right. You're not automatically deserving of respect.
If you want things changed, then change things by leading the way, creating content and start your own fanbase with the people that you exclusively want to be part of it. It is unfathomable, that there is not enough people to start several serious development companies that can take off and start dedicated games for people who feel the need to be hyper-inclusive and politically correct. It's also unthinkable that there aren't enough people to kickstart this.

If you, as a person, feel helpless to change anything by doing these things, then request change, don't demand it. Explain what your ideas, wishes and wants would bring to the world of gaming and find others who agree to make a group request.
Be courtious, be patient, be factual and be passionate.
 

Robert Rath

New member
Oct 8, 2010
522
0
0
Smilomaniac said:
Robert Rath said:
And gay players have a right to have their existence acknowledged in digital worlds.
Stop, stop stop stop. Pass "Start", do not collect income. While this article is one that I find interesting and relevant, that sentence and probably the thought behind it, is based on a false premise.

No one has a "right" to exist in any fiction unless you're specifically making something that goes out of its way to include all genders (and in-betweens), races, religions and sexualities. Then we can have a nice discussion about inclusivity and the people that feel or are genuinly overlooked.

This ongoing wave of political correctness for the sake of being politically correct in pop-culture media and games is out of touch with what's going on. It's not being all-inclusive towards those that have issues in real life, it's being totalitarian towards those who are creating content and its audience as it is. While you can argue that the gaming industry might change to where this is the focus, it's certainly not where it is now and simply saying that it's "wrong" as it is, is steeped in zealotry and false modesty.
While this line of thought may have the moral high ground and good intentions behind it, muscling in on an established audience while accusing anyone who enjoys what they enjoy and the people who create these things of a multitude of things, is not the way to do it.

Do you disagree with that last statement?
Imagine if I wanted to be part of the Ramadan celebration, but I started demanding to be able to eat whatever I wanted at any time and that everyone else should as well. Why not? It's just a culture/religious thing, so if I want to be cleansed by eating, that should be included, otherwise they're discriminating against fat people.
I'm pansexual, so obviously any religion should be inclusive towards me. I'm a man that identifies as a woman, so I should have all the privileges and legal bias that comes along with it, otherwise no one is being inclusive. Also, women's bathrooms should have urinals.

Do I think we could stand to have more unorthodox protagonists and characters? Yes! Not because it's the so-called "right" thing to do, but because variety can be a good thing and having been a hardcore gamer for most of my life, I'd love to play something different.
That being said, I would never pressure a developer to do it, because fiction and content that's in due to demand is worthless compared to something made out of love and desire.

If anyone is about to accuse me of crying man-tears and being scared of losing my comfortable little boys club, then you're first of all a ************* ***** ** **** **** and secondly you're partially right. I am scared. I am legitimately scared of any person that comes to my fanbase and starts firing off demands while they guilt and shame anyone who disagrees, because there's no reasoning with that kind of person.

Now I'm seeing an otherwise fairly objective journalist agreeing to an unjustified premise at the start of his article! Robert! What have they done to you!? Come back to the sane world!
Joking aside, please pick your words carefully. No one here doubts that you feel things should be a bit or even a lot more inclusive, because the gaming community is supposed to be a place where everyone can join and have fun. Your heart is in the right place and I'm sure I'd enjoy talking to you.
The thing is, that the focus is the hobby, not what people suddenly demand to change about it.

The question isn't "Is Assassins Creed a worse game for not including a female protagonist?", it's "Would Assassins Creed benefit from including a female protagonist". The bullshit Ubisoft came with is irrelevant and only of interest to those who are more interested in social justice warfare than the games they love (Yes! Even if you'd like to play as a woman in that game, tough fucking luck! It's not your right, privilege or demand that defines what is or what isn't!). It's basically a tabloid story that serves little purpose, because the internet is already discussing this.

Anyone who comes in and demands this or that, is a killjoy and worthless to the community. You're not the victim, you're the problem. You're not in the right. You're not automatically deserving of respect.
If you want things changed, then change things by leading the way, creating content and start your own fanbase with the people that you exclusively want to be part of it. It is unfathomable, that there is not enough people to start several serious development companies that can take off and start dedicated games for people who feel the need to be hyper-inclusive and politically correct. It's also unthinkable that there aren't enough people to kickstart this.

If you, as a person, feel helpless to change anything by doing these things, then request change, don't demand it. Explain what your ideas, wishes and wants would bring to the world of gaming and find others who agree to make a group request.
Be courtious, be patient, be factual and be passionate.
Smilomaniac articulated this far better then I ever had the potential to articulate my feelings.

As a person who has put over a hundred hours into the game you use half your screen shots for I find this piece bordering the offensive side.

I do in fact play games where I am not playing myself.

I in fact demand you point me to a game, where I play as a 31 year old. For this next one, by choice I will add, bisexual male when the whole world disagrees with it having ever been his choice, who is average in appearance and build, who goes on to save the world.

You can't.

All gamers like to play as a personal portrayal of oneself. We have a genre for that. It's called an MMO.

Demanding all publishers either make more games with more choice characters that specifically cater to what you personally think is right, or adding a character builder on par with MMO Character builders is not only an idiotic request, but borders on the lines of being an asshole.

We don't force Movie Makers, or TV show makers to make a specific cast that caters to you, we hire the best person for the job.

When a game developer makes a character, the person and company was put in charge of doing what was best for the job.

We didn't demand Michael Jackson change his skin color to black after his skin went white. Nor did we demand his skin color be turned back to black, and if you did demand that of him, I'd call you a damned monster. You can argue he looked better before that physical change, but that is no reason to make demands.

You do not have an excuse, or a right, to demand game developers cater to you.

Telltales Walking Dead was amazing, you aren't using this article to tell us to find good games that do not feature straight white characters, you are pushing this on Developers.

By the way, Lee Everett was me. I was the character that was how good a job the game developer did.

Clementine is not Clementine, she is me. That is how good the developer did with the game.

If you think the characters in games need to be diverse I truly pity you as a human being. You never had the ability to enjoy the things and the world around you.

Games need to be better written. The race, skin color, and sexuality literally have no bearing unless you demand they have a presence.

And for that reason you put limitations on yourself through your own views. Just as the world demands I tell them I did not make a choice in being bisexual.

You are discriminating whether you want to see it or not.

No one is going to make a game where a man makes a choice of being bisexual, they will hand wave it as being born that way. That's discrimination. We live in a world where I am unallowed to make a choice. But that's okay because that discrimination is PC and "Scientifically accurate" While science has never made the claim of a full understanding of how the human mind works.
 

Ed130 The Vanguard

(Insert witty quote here)
Sep 10, 2008
3,782
0
0
Rather ironically the character that dragged me the most out of my comfort zone wasn't Lee, because I roll-played as I normally do as a someone trying to do right (it doesn't help that I look 'generically ethnic').

Captain Martin Walker took that honor, even though he is a bog standard TPS/FPS protaganist. It was his story that did it.

Ultimatlu the character is clothing for the player, if you really want to broaden their view focus on the path you are guiding them along, not what colour their shirt is.
 

Lightknight

Mugwamp Supreme
Nov 26, 2008
4,860
0
0
Not sure how playing as a black avatar would be different from playing as a white avatar. Does the black avatar have powers the white avatar doesn't? Sounds a bit racist just to say that it would be meaningful to do this if one point of the article was that you don't even have to use it to educate.

Unless the game somehow educates us on the minority's culture or how other culture's interact with them. Otherwise it would be entirely pointless with no intrinsic difference besides looks. Really, except for in cutscenes I don't even really notice avatars while I'm playing the game anymore than I notice my hands while I'm driving. Avatars are just tools, extensions of oneself that allows interaction within a digital world. As such, I can be a little red rectangle and not bat an eye. So why would being a differently-toned skin color make any impact by itself?

Honest answer, I get that people have to deal with prejudice. I get that people withhold jobs and common niceties based on race, gender, religion, and orientation. I've been held back based on race and gender too and I understand how that feels. Even if I hadn't been I'd have understood the feeling. I honestly do not desire to be dragged into a lesson that many of us already know just because someone thinks I'm ignorant because I'm white, male, or straight. It's the same reason I hate the anti-cigarette ads even though I don't smoke. Yeah, I get it, smoking is bad but you're grossing me out with absolutely no justification to be talking to me, a non-smoker, about quiting. Hell, I want to start smoking just to ease myself after some of those tooth pulling/skin tearing ads.

Then again, maybe this would make a difference for people who focus on race. I mean, you wrote the article in a way that you actually wondered if a character was disagreeing with you because they were a different race. You were literally having racist thoughts about people just because they disagreed with you. How you played the same game I did and focused on race the whole time is interesting. But here's a question, when you play a game as a white character and are in a disagreement with a black character, are you wondering if they're just arguing with you because you're white? To me, they're just 1's and 0's so the thought of them having been raised with prejudices doesn't occur to me, but this is highly fascinating to think of people who do attribute history and other personifications to a digital creation.

I think what you really mean is that ignorant people should put themselves in other people's shoes. That's a good statement. Instead you made it racist, sexist, and whatever you'd call someone who thinks a person doesn't understand something based on orientation. It's a pretty lofty statement to think we would all benefit from that. But, from the words on your article I see your own personal experience was enlightening for you so perhaps you just assumed that it would be meaningful for others too if you weren't racist and it still made you think.
 

UberPubert

New member
Jun 18, 2012
385
0
0
What a nakedly click-baitey way to get across what is otherwise an agreeable point.

Yes, playing as characters who are not like yourself is a great way to explore other perspectives in life. Why is the immediate assumption that straight white guys all have the same perspective, and that playing as anyone - *anyone* - who doesn't fit those labels is going to be significantly different?

Do not allow this man to fool you, straight white men are not a hive mind, we're individuals too. I swear.
 

Darkness665

New member
Dec 21, 2010
193
0
0
Worst case here. Old white guy. Playing video games before there were any PCs even. Ooh. But I played a lot of RPGs before there were video games and Role Played the hell out of them. That experience has colored my decision on character selection ever since. First character is almost always a female (thief/ranger/archer/magician), young and not the main race in the game. Always a secondary race.

Often it really doesn't matter in the game itself. But it matters to me and how I (role-)play the game, RPG or not. Fallout 3, young black girl looking for dad and saving the wasteland. Second choice is a white guy who could be neutral, magician/cleric or a thug. From my personal view leaving the white guy safe zone behind is a major draw of video games. I know how to play a white guy. Been there, done that - forever. Give me something/someone to expand my horizons with. Even if it is my default female thief of some lesser race. Also I never let slavers live, no matter the game, no matter what. I would rather lose than let slavers live.
 

Robert Rath

New member
Oct 8, 2010
522
0
0
"You never truly know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes."

This is a great adage.

However, when you open with "you straight white guys", you imply one demographic, and only one, has a problem.
With, probably unintentional, subtext of "...and the rest of y'all are all the same."

And you lose a lot of the good the message might otherwise have done.
 

Lightknight

Mugwamp Supreme
Nov 26, 2008
4,860
0
0
UberPubert said:
Do not allow this man to fool you, straight white men are not a hive mind, we're individuals too. I swear.
It was good to see you at that male privilege and dominance meeting. Remember, this week's goal is to spread the idea the people of Middle Eastern descent are bad drivers so that more white males can get bus driving jobs this winter. [/joke]
theluckyjosh said:
"You never truly know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes."

This is a great adage.

However, when you open with "you straight white guys", you imply one demographic, and only one, has a problem.
With, probably unintentional, subtext of "...and the rest of y'all are all the same."

And you lose a lot of the good the message might otherwise have done.
Yeah man, you don't know what it's like to be black until you've walked a mile in the shoes of a black character designed by white people... wait a minute...
 

Robert Rath

New member
Oct 8, 2010
522
0
0
Lightknight said:
Yeah man, you don't know what it's like to be black until you've walked a mile in the shoes of a black character designed by white people... wait a minute...
Pretty sure my meaning was clear. :)

Edit: Or perhaps not. If you're coming from the perspective of 'Games don't contain enough experience to be relevant emulators', then sure, I agree. I was replying to what I took to be the overall intent of the article rather than the literal 'make ur skyrim character a black woman, it'll make you a better person '.

I used to MUD quite a bit, free-form roleplay.

Didn't play cross-racial (unless you count aliens/mutants/whatever), but some cross-gender; the interactions with other players were significantly different and enlightening.
 

UberPubert

New member
Jun 18, 2012
385
0
0
Lightknight said:
It was good to see you at that male privilege and dominance meeting. Remember, this week's goal is to spread the idea the people of Middle Eastern descent are bad drivers so that more white males can get bus driving jobs this winter. [/joke]
[joke]Sorry I didn't say hi, I must not have recognized you underneath your white hood (OOPS!)[/joke]
 

Phasmal

Sailor Jupiter Woman
Jun 10, 2011
3,676
0
0
I'm still stunned at the amount of comments in topics like this that think that fair representation is `demanding to be catered to`. Fair enough, those people have made up their minds and I'll not try and change them- they can keep struggling over it.

OT: I like to change up my perspectives every now and again. I do think a lot of people have trouble putting themselves in someone else's shoes.
It's always disappointing when you realize someone is doing a thing just because you are a certain race/gender. It doesn't even have to be a hateful thing, it's just weird. Being able to experience that in a different way in games I think certainly helps to empathize with the character.