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Race In Games

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HI everybody!

There's no surprise that race is an issue in the video game industry. There is a major lack of non-white video game heroes. In many games there is a major lack of multiple races. Look at Nintendo. Please name me one black Nintendo hero? I doubt you can.

Recently The Walking Dead Video Game made progress. The main hero is African American. You don't see this in everyday video games. He is portrayed very well.

I'm making a RPG game. I am adding multiple races into the game's world. Do you think this can attract more potential buyers?

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Black (or African American for the politically correct) video game characters
[url="http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/ryonslaught/black-video-game-characters/46-69288/"]http://www.giantbomb...cters/46-69288/[/url]
[url="http://richiebranson.com/2012/black-video-game-characters/"]http://richiebranson...ame-characters/[/url]
[url="http://voices.yahoo.com/black-history-gaming-5-popular-african-american-7805770.html"]http://voices.yahoo....an-7805770.html[/url]

I am not even going to try and track Japanese characters as this list is probably incredibly large.

Do I think we could use more characters of all types and distinctions? Absolutely but I am more personally upset by the absence of native pygmys in video games or eskimos or so many other unrepresented sectors of humanity that raising race as an issue for one genotype strikes me as bleedingly arrogant. No offense intended but some taken.

As to the idea of multiple races in an RPG or MMOs. Yes it is a definite selling point that can work. With specific regard to black races...there are already a number of MMO's out there that already have this though I will admit there does seem less flowthrough of a black race [i]as opposed to individual characters[/i] into the RPG genre...not withstanding the lack of flowthrough for many other racial genotypes for that matter.

Please don't misinterpret me as being against you in the ideas you raise. I agree with you in part. I just think your point is much smaller and less encompassing than it should be. I wish you the best of luck in making your game [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]


Edit: for some reason read RPG as MMO - editing to cover Edited by Stormynature

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I think alot of it depends on making the character likable in their own way without putting in things like race and not wanting to look racist when they make a non-white character.

I'd recommend thinking of a decent character concept like say... mad scientist or action hero or whatever and just add the race in as an afterthought. After all, writing for the character and designing their abilities should be like 90% of what they are and what they look like is just a matter of artwork.

Think of it like how Samus Aran was, first all we saw was a baddass space mercenary in powered armor. Then we saw that she was a woman and then it was all "Okay, she's a baddass space mercenary and a woman, [i]deal with it[/i]." Just don't make that their defining characteristic... or if you do find yourself unwittingly starting to [url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Flanderization"]flanderize [/url]them and bring one aspect of their character to the forfront above all else... have a spare trait on hand to run with instead. Maybe your character likes to collect guns or bullets or booze or something. Or they have a martyrlike need to put themselves between innocent bystanders and whatever horrible monster they are fighting... or they constantly wear a gas mask during a zombie apocolypse and cite that as the reason they haven't been reduced to a mindless walking corpse.

The hero and another character make their way into a hospital after escaping the zombies, the hero removes his gas mask to reveal he's black.

Hero: Man, that was starting to chaff.

Guy: Yeah... why do you wear that?

Hero: Why, because we're in a freaking zombie apocolypse! You think just because those things aren't biting you that it means you're safe? There's a million rotting corpses out there and they are either walking around biting people or bleeding into the streets... I'd set them on fire but that could set the whole city ablaze and we'd be sending zombie ash off to who knows where. Even if this isn't a virus there's still enough disease in a corpse to ruin your day.

*Hero puts his mask on*

Hero: Lets see about getting some more of these to give to survivors... and maybe some water purication. Don't drink the water around here and be very wary of anything that might feed on corpses.


So, my recommendation is if you want to have a non-white character is to give them a likable (or at least memorable) personality and then have race be secondary or a non-issue. I don't think race alone is going to be attracting any buyers so much as the game concept is, and it could push people away if they think its an obvious marketing ploy.

Plus... I think you can get away more with a badly done white character than a badly done black character. If Jar Jar binks had been named 'Steve' and talked in a sort of midwest accent then people might have disliked him but they wouldn't have accused him of being a racist stereotype (or maybe they would, who knows?).

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Also, remember that Japan is pretty much racially homogenous, there are next to no black people in Japan because the Japanese people are white skinned and live on an island nation where immigration was quite limited ( I think the only dark-skinned people they could have come across would be indigenous australians and possible africans who either traveled eastward from Africa with the British or westward from the United States.

So one big reason why Nintendo has such a lack of black characters is that they are a Japanese based company and it's just not a common skin tone around there. I think actully that most japanese people have black hair (despite all the anime where it comes in blue or red or whatever) and that blonde hair is really uncommon and was commonly accosiated with western visiters.

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Randel said what I would have said about Nintendo being a japanese company.

Also a lot of times its just politically safer to make white characters. This seems counter intuitive but, if you make a white character with a lot of problems and/or you are not the best writer no one claims its a stereotype of white people really, or at least people mostly aren't offended. But if you add a characteristic that fits a stereotype of another gender or race or ethnicity and it was totally accidental or race irrelevant, people will still tear your head off. Of course some people are just racist, but if you make a white character its just less likely to cause you a headache.

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[quote name='Stormynature' timestamp='1343069858' post='4962329']
Do I think we could use more characters of all types and distinctions? Absolutely but I am more personally upset by the absence of native pygmys in video games or eskimos or so many other unrepresented sectors of humanity that raising race as an issue for one genotype strikes me as bleedingly arrogant. No offense intended but some taken.
[/quote]

I did not raise race as an issue for one genotype. I gave one example about African Americans. I also did in FACT acknowledge that many races are not included in video games. How about you read the damn post before calling anyone bleedingly arrogant?

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[quote name='RATED-RKOFRANKLIN' timestamp='1343081413' post='4962379']
I did not raise race as an issue for one genotype. I gave one example about African Americans. I also did in FACT acknowledge that many races are not included in video games. How about you read the damn post before calling anyone bleedingly arrogant?
[/quote]

Have taken to personal mail with you so as to not throw the thread off track

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I think the best way to implement "race" in a game would be to simply use different faces and skin tones combined in the right way. Like, in Skyrim there's a number of facial templates for each race. Here's an idea based off the initial theory of raciality in the late 18th (?) century (which, by the way, is vastly inaccurate in terms of geneology):

Germanic (including scandinavians)
Anglican
Hispanic
Semittic (including ancient egyptians)
Persian (middle-east, india and north africa)
Ethiopian
Mongolian (continental asians)
Malayan (island asians)
Oceanic
Mesoamerican (native americans, aztec, mayas, etc.)

Most race-bucketing systems are inevitably going to me inconclusive though, as there's likely hundreds of distinct ethnicities found on Earth. But at least this system accounts for the most core differences in human looks. That's usually good enough for a computer game, especially with todays graphics. Edited by DrMadolite

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Don't know if it would attract people. For me it would be a plus at least. I do like to have options. I'm still waiting on a game that lets you play as a different species, something non-humanoid. But I fear I'm in a small minority there :(

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[quote name='archlurkerchad' timestamp='1343238121' post='4962996']
I'm still waiting on a game that lets you play as a different species, something non-humanoid.
[/quote]

Sonic the Hedgehog [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]

edit: Actually bad example as Sonic shares some humanoid traits as opposed to being truer to a hedgehog

edit: I instead propose Pacman

edit: hmm Pacman may not classify as a separate species rather than a creation maybe, in which case I propose Freddi Fish

edit: [url="http://www.giantbomb.com/non-humanoid-protagonist/92-2036/"]http://www.giantbomb...gonist/92-2036/[/url]

edit: [quote] Istaria uses the race/class/level paradigm common to many role-playing games, as well as similar mechanics as other massively multiplayer online games. Playable races include[color=#FF0000][i][b] Dragons [/b][/i][/color]in addition to the more conventional biped Human, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, and Half-giant races. Other races are less familiar, but typical of fantasy games: Dryads, Satyrs, Fiends, Saris (a cat-like anthropomorphic humanoid), and Sslik (an asexual non-anthropomorphic reptilian humanoid) [/quote] Edited by Stormynature

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As some others have said, I would much prefer a well-thought out Caucasian character than some guy was tinted black and not given any depth. (Basically those characters who are copy+paste with a different colour).

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I think the flaw here isn't just in character design alone since more fleshed out locations that represent a historically considered culture and help to tie racial/cultural diversity to a location creating visual continuity for a game. This continuity connects players to racial diversity just as much if not more then the central character's race. But level designers need understand/consider cultural diversity just as much as game writers.

Level design is important to gameplay but when exploring the esthetics it has to go beyond what looks cool. Places feel cooler when there is a identifiable historical accuracies that connect the player to the fiction.

In the game Skate, the city was interesting because it looked like Vancouver, San Francisco and Barcelona "San Vanelona". But the characters are a juxtaposition from the cultures that exists in those distinct places, since it was just a bunch of popular skaters. RockStar has probably explored the most north American diversity of anyone but its arguable that they've used too much cliche which can be a slippery slope as well. Like so many elements of good game design, add racial diversity to the game if it matters to the visual or gameplay diversity of the game but make sure the reasoning isn't too shallow and has aspects of continuity across the game as a whole. Edited by Mratthew

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