Comments on

The First 11 Black Videogame Stars

Original entry posted: Mon Feb 12 15:47:05 2007

Josh @ Mon Feb 12 10:47:05 2007 EST

Interesting list - although I think the "must play" clause is a big bogus (and the list even tacks them on at the end). That's more of a genre concept that anything else and is kinda like saying Street Fighter didn't portay any white people. I can think of two ... Blade from Eternal Champions and the Foxy Brown A-Like from Wayward ... that would have been in there. Unreal Tournament has always had a a black cast too.

Thomas @ Mon Feb 12 11:07:46 2007 EST

Well, when I wrote about this in the Escapist, I pointed out that for Street Fighter and other fighting games, minorities are part of an ensemble cast. In doing so, they don't get the same amount of development that a "must-play" character gets. They may also be "tokens" or stereotypes used to distinguish the character. I am not sure how we should feel about Black characters that show up in Blaxploitation costume--is that a step forward? Do designers fully understand the context that they're evoking when they bring up Foxy Brown, for example?

The reason that a "must-play" requirement is useful is because it sets up a way identify a protagonist. I'm not sure it's the best way. I think you could argue that in several games, including Half-Life, the protagonist is not the player but someone else (Alyx Vance, for example) that the player follows. But you have to start somewhere.

Unreal Tournament does deserve credit for its cast, as do many games where the player can customize skin tone and appearance. In fact, it's been good about that since the first Unreal.

Josh @ Mon Feb 12 12:43:03 2007 EST

Big was supposed to be "bit" there...drat.

I agree - although I think it unfairly sets aside a wide number of genres and formats and puts the focus pretty squarely on the adventure and FPS genre. And the FPS genre is pretty protaganistic vacant to begin - Half-Life being an excellent, if not the pinnacle, of the example. In fact, Gordon could be black were it not for a scant couple of reference shots (the cover, like one photo in both games). Since there is nothing to define Freeman as a person, there's nothing to define him with a race.

But no, I don't think developers are entirely concious of making minority characters in general and yeah ... the relegation to secondary or background character is far too common.

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