Diversity in Video Games

Diversity has changed drastically in the past ten years in nearly every medium except video games. Most of these changes in media occurred through the wave of Obama, modern feminists, and the advent of social media.  As such, we have seen movies like Moonlight – prominent Black LGBT, TV shows like Orange is the New Black, and rapid rise in women authors’ success (though literature was centuries ahead with diversity in the first place). Still, video games remain stagnant with few exceptions.  Much of this is due to most of the gamer base being white straight men who tend to have a lot of biases and claim victimhood whenever a game tries to go away from their norm and be progressive.

 

With diversity in video games progress has been slow in gender, sexuality and race. As such, the video game examples of diversity are few and far in between.

 

In regards to gender, Metroid was revolutionary in a secret ending in which the hardened space marine, Samus Aran, was a woman all along.  Samus would remain the figurehead for a strong woman video game protagonist for years. Women would vary in representation from a secondary protagonist like Claire Redfield in Resident Evil 2 to damsels in distress in many JRPGs. It was often difficult for women to be leads outside of create-a-character options. These options for the create-a-character to be woman only really became prominent in the 2000s. Overall, video games with women on the cover tend to be a hard sell until very recently. 

The best example of this is Horizon Zero Dawn, a game with a badass woman on the cover, a 3rd person open world game, and most importantly a brand new IP (intellectual property).   However, not only did Horizon Zero Dawn get great scores but it also sold well from a brand new game concept featuring a woman prominently. What else is fascinating with Horizon Zero Dawn, is how the main protagonist, Aloy, never gets into romance with any men, meets several other strong women of several ethnic backgrounds and remains a highly skilled warrior throughout.  While one may think the lack of romance means that Aloy can’t be a strong woman and married, I find that it progresses in a different direction in that she needs no man for her prowess.

 

Sexuality coming to prominence is probably the slowest aspect of video games to be modernized. Many times homosexuality is often still seen as a joke from two random NPCs in Persona 5 to the village people NPCs in GTA Vice City who are flat one note jokes. More recently some queer characters have come to prominence but there are almost no instances of queer characters in older games.  One of the only prominent ones, who happened to be transgender, was Poison and it wasn’t known until years later and she’s someone you beat up – essentially gay bashing.  Other instances early on are lesbian or gay question marks that are implicit but not explicit or the characters a bisexual shoe-ins (usually women).   The only other large example of queer characters is many of Bioware’s RPGs that have create-a-characters. In Bioware’s RPGs many characters can be gay, lesbian, bisexual and pansexual (transcending other fantasy or sci-fi races). Arguably the most progressive in the Mass Effect series as you could potentially date several men, women and different races in the trilogy.

In recent times, the most prominent queer character would be The Last of Us’ Ellie who will be as of Last of Us 2 featured heavily on the cover of the game (she’s also on the first, but it’s not known before playing how her sexuality and importance is). She’s an active lesbian and features heavily/being playable in both games. As such, she is the most successful queer character to be playable and to feature on a game cover. However, sexuality and queer character representation is the least represented in video games and outside of Ellie and the progress of Bioware (recently even having a transgender character for romance) there aren’t many that aren’t bigoted jokes.

 

Race is one of the most discussed aspects of video game culture because of how heated the debates can be. In the past sports games were some of the only appearances of non-white or Japanese characters. Furthermore, recent times feature a toxic online atmosphere of gaming where young white kids yell and have names like niggerlife and you’reanigger for the laughs. While there is nothing funny about that; there are far more people who play online around the world than ever before.

As such, this becomes in essence an oxymoron in that yes a guy from India can challenge a woman from Brasil; however, so too can I guy from Arkansas throw racial epithets at them both.

While online still has a lot of work to be done in its bigotry, the changing landscape of protagonists through the years is an important one.  There are several non-white protagonists in games as of late. There’s Native American protagonist, Delsin Rowe, the growing amount of Black protagonists (CJ, Lincoln Clay, Marcus from Watch Dogs 2), mixed race people (Alyx Vance, Jade of Beyond Good and Evil), East Asian – Noriko, Arab (Bayek) and even Indian (Chloe of Uncharted).  There are still missing perspectives overall though, as there are few Latinx protagonists, the smallest amount represented overall in gaming.  Furthermore, the experience of the dark-skinned Black woman is only appearing now with Sharla in Beyond Good and Evil 2.  Much is this is due to a growing community of gamers of color both men and women around the world who are proclaiming their perspectives need to be met. Worlds of white are often seen as limited, diverse casts like the randomized races of Horizon Zero Dawn’s characters or the in depth discussions of ethnic groups in Red Dead Redemption 2, make for progress in a world with a main white character. Even a game with particular European setting featuring white characters – in alignment with its location – gets called out. As such, the world is playing and the world would like to see themselves.

 

            Still, all of this is progress for more diversity in games. As character customization gets larger more options for how well you want someone to match your perspective grows. Furthermore, more and more games feature diverse protagonists in terms of sexuality, gender or race. And if the protagonist isn’t diverse than their world must be, giving way to same sex unions, multidimensional racial characters and women who need no man’s input.   Video Games maybe the medium that is the most behind, but there is progress occurring. When I can shoot an ex-slaver, KKK, and retired confederate soldiers and gain positive honor for it that is a game progress for 2018. Through and through, I could write ad infinitum about this topic, but at the moment this overview seeks to be the beginning of a world of information.

Chaos is a Wheel more than a Ladder - Riots

While I will get to discussing our current state of affairs in the country (August 2017), I will first shed some light on the concept of rioting, chaos and the mania that drives humans. One would say as Littlefinger, from Game of Thrones, might say that Chaos is a Ladder in that it continues to build. However, I think Chaos is a Wheel as often comes back and repeats itself time and time again through history, in evolution, and even in the very existence of entropy. At the same time it's all interconnected as the spokes; for chaos tends to repeat itself as riots are inverse or parallel images, wars will never end, and falling in and out of love is a cycle.

At first, one might think this is presents a portentous outlook on the world that live in, but it is merely fact as human exist to eventually establish order or chaos. It's why we create legal systems, why we have territories and at the same time why we have violence and why we have crime. The internal forces of the mind will always drive a person to certain outcomes based on neurological impulses to situations. Many times this manifests in riots.

At current though, these riots come from the hatred of being relegated to mediocrity and fragile egos. The term race riot has existed in America since its inception as Black people frequently tried to riot against their bondage, against their station in life and constantly against Jim Crow laws, Civil Rights issues and against police brutality. However, most of these were not riots, but protests against an inescapable hell that has existed in America since its inception. While within our heritage we have always been royalty and warriors so to vilify restriction on our bodies is only natural. Many other racial groups haven't protested like we have on this soil even though they were treated in a variety of terrible ways too - internment camps, railroad labor conditions, underpaid immigrants and more. Though they have protested in their own original countries - ranging from the Boxer Rebellion to the Battle for Algiers. All of these protests have been a right to protest and protect for rights and sovereignty of ones own mind and body.  

The current riots are not for that whatsover, they are a sham of a protest and instead a full blown riot to protect the world's greatest abusers - white men. There is nothing they don't have access to, nothing they need to recognize and frankly we don't have sympathy for them. However, they through their own workings in the Alt-right  or Alt-lite(KKK)  have created a racist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia that will no doubt be used to distract from larger government issues and will also create multiple riots in other colleges throughout America. As has been the case in my writing since the beginning of Trump, this is all fueled by the bigotry that he brings and will continue to bring on not only America, but the world.

My hearts go out to those who are not white men and are attempting as they always have been to have their voices heard. This again is what Black people have been stating for years. Why Colin Kaepernick is taking the knee, Why police brutality is real, why racism exists, why as James Baldwin says "To be Black in America, is to be in a constant state of rage," why my reading of Between the World and Me makes me constantly worried for all the Black students I ever taught, and why this riot is as dangerous as the government, business, and education we work under. 

The regime is here to cause chaos. The same chaos from the Atlantic slave trade, the same from creating the Constitution, the same that pushed for the Confederacy, the same that supported the Birth of a Nation's KKK film victories, the same that was excited for lynchings, the same that brought police into Watts, Newark and Detroit, the same that gets off free for incarcerating and killing Black bodies and the same that exists in Charlottesville. Chaos is a Wheel that continues to repeat. 

If you feel that you need to establish any order or protection of your own mind, body and spirit then research and make discoveries as needed. Take your approaches to control chaos, but do it from a base of knowledge about the true history and interactions of the white chaos that has permeated the soil of this country for centuries. 

Colorism in a Multiethnic View

Many people would argue that colorism is essentially racism. However, there are a couple of key differences that separate it from racism. Racism tends to deal with systemic issues while colorism is more based on people but can lead to systems and institutions. Also race deals with an entire set or group of people while colorism can come from factions within race thus making it a different sense of hierarchy. This in turn, lays the context for this writing. 

Without cutting corners, colorism is why this site exist. My multiethnic background has determined much of my lens in analyzing and living in the world around me. From a white suburban upbringing and support from a white mother to a sense of Black history and eventually Black culture. This factor has come up a bit recently from my research into the history OJ with his fictionalized show and documentary. It has also come up recently with the terms of lightskin Black people and their apparent difference from darkskin Black people. These two views started my search, but I'm going to give some of my history before going into discussion.

My own colorism deals from a lack of acceptance from Black children while growing up. There is much more I have written on this but this is probably what turned me off so much from being around Black children when I was growing up. Many times I was seen as not Black enough from being a general kid who group on the suburbs. Some felt this was my lack of struggle (though not being accepted would be its own struggle) or my lightskin which some how gave me the ability to pass into white communities as I was often able to not be seen as Black to them. This would eventually change when I made my bed when BlackLivesMatter and Trayvon Martin came to a head. I often call this moment the catalyst because nearly all white friends from San Diego or my college years fled my life as they learned that I was not to keep my place. Meanwhile, my Black people who had often wondered came back into the fold and I also gained a wealth of new Black allies. Still, both parties had the perceptions of where I should fall, but make no mistake the way my skin color is put me in a space to be treated as a certain way.  I have had a total of thirteen interactions with the police which is probably more than most people will ever have in their lifetime. Five of those encounters were racist which would determine the way I felt about police for quite some time as my first ones were in racism.  Furthermore, I have had to deal with quite a bit of fetishization and microaggressions from white people having lived and white suburbia and many interactions with white women in alternative or kinky lifestyles. Suffice to say, I had no mistake on the color of my skin.

To give another personal historical answer, I experienced and saw this in full force in Brasil as fairer skinned Brasilians are considered of a higher class than darker skinned Brasilians. Their colorism is intriguing because all of them consider themselves of a Brasilian ethnicity, but there are evident hierarchies in their rankings based on color. This offers a view in fractures of people who believe they are on equal footing as a ethnicity or race, but on closer inspection are not due to skin color. 

Fast forward, to today in which there still seem to be divisions within Black people based on the spectrum of color. While, I will admit that I am personally jealous of darker skin because I find it the most beautiful out of any skin tone; however, I still share in a Black experience of discrimination. Granted there are a few people I myself I have met who I feel have assimilated into white culture, this isn't limited to skin tone. As I also know a couple of dark-skinned Black people who have surrounded themselves with white people who give them a perceived appearance of success and appeasement. The reason for this is that many white people absolutely love the feeling as if they have a look into Black culture with a Black friend, are able to date a Black body or can fawn over the abilities of a Black person. Many of these sentiments are showcased in the recent film Get Out (but this writing is not about that film, as you can instead refer to my thread on Facebook) as old white people desiring Black bodies. I think this works with youthful white people as well in a sense of righteousness that they are relate to not only Black people but other ethnicities as well - a Chinese friend, a Latino friend etc...  In a sense, you can say they have upgraded/downgraded their color as many of the OJ Simpson media did because he left his upbringing behind and became "white" in a sense of his activities and who he hung out with which is an absolute contrast to my upbringing. Still these factions create a spectrum of judgment.

Many of my dark-skinned Black friends, primarily women, will judge or make commentary about light skin men or women as if the experience is not the same and can seem bitter, even though I know they are not and simply want to be heard. However, I must reiterate that when I white person or another person in a foreign country sees us they will feel the same way regardless of our many shades of melanin.  On a different note, this doesn't seem to be the case as much with darker skinned Black men though they do judge me at times in thinking that the reason I may not comprehend an issue is due to light skin. Still, I see much of this as ways to break up our sunkissed union considering that we all face the struggle no matter our position. As long as we are of a darker complexion we will face that. 

I'd also like to note that colorism is not just a Black and white issue, but one of nearly any ethnic group. I have seen it frequently in my Latino students back in Los Angeles or NYC in how those of lighter skin often consider themselves white rather than having to have the Latino experience. At the same time, they too face judgment from when they wish to stand with their own heritage who won't accept them based on skin tone. Furthermore, this was also evident in Southeast Asia as there were an alarming amount of skin bleaching products and nearly everyone on TV was of a lighter complexion. Thus, colorism unfortunately transcends all ethnicities and it is detrimental to creating unified fronts, cultures and support systems. Love your fellow man and woman based on the heritage and their culture not on the shade of their skin.

These Olympics were about....

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But then you meet a lady in Laos, who sells sausages for about $1.25 and is simply ecstatic that you chose to speak Lao to her. She is inherently fascinated by you, she wants to know you, try english, be genuine and she averages probably $200 a month and she is so happy. In the reverse, all of us sit here complaining with our smartphones (blessing in disguise to not have one) when we could buy every sausage she has for a day's pay. 

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