Ethnic Diversity in Video Games

As I expand my gaming library, I’ve come across a unsettling trend in blockbuster video games. It would seem that a lot of games often feature white protagonists. Take for example, the Gears of War series, the only black character, Augustus Cole, is a token black sidekick character. Throughout the game he serves as a comic relief, often diffusing intense situations with comical comments. In the Final Fantasy Series, there are only two black characters, Barret Wallace and Sazh Katzro. In both case they serve as a secondary character not as a main character.

The lack of a strong black character in major titles is a bit alarming to me. More often than not the black characters seem to be a comical foil or fit a prejudiced cookie cutter formula. Game developers need to develop a more racially equal landscape of games. For Ubisoft, the Assassin’s Creed series could serve a great example of exploring other cultures. In AC: Ascendence, a short film, Ezio Auditore comes in contact with the Chinese Assassins. This was widely speculated to be the focus of the next AC game, unfortunately they’ve decided to focus on France. I look forward to games that focus with a strong multiethnic lead character.


One thought on “Ethnic Diversity in Video Games”

  1. The article below cites a study which found that African American characters makeup only 10% of video game characters, most of them gangsters and athletes, while only 3% of characters are Hispanic. Meanwhile, another study shows that African Americans and Hispanics between 18 and 49 play video games more than their white counterparts. I wonder how much of this is due to the inaccurate stereotype that gaming is a dominantly white phenomenon. Culturally, video games are still thought of as a ‘nerdy white boy’ kind of activity and this may be responsible for the shocking disparity in race of video game characters. Though you also have to wonder about the intentions, biases and diversity of game developers. They presumably have better knowledge of their demographic than anyone else, so it is shocking that they continue to produce games which lack even the semblance of diversity.

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