Thinking about our next generation, I can only think of how awful it is going to be for those who are of color to grow up in this society. Like you pointed out, the almost dehumanization of people of color in video games as objects to be destroyed or “the enemy” is something that will affect our society. In today’s society, we (the 18-25 age demographic) tend to think of ourselves as progressive and accepting of all people, but we live in a society where everything is white-washed and people of color are dehumanized. Though we may not be consciously thinking about killing people of color, when it comes to violent video games, subconsciously the people that we target are those of color. I would be curious to see if in a video game that did not openly define the enemy, how many would shoot the person of color because they are seen as “dirty” or “evil”. Another aspect I liked that you hit on was the invisibility of people of color. Not only the fact that people of color are rarely the hero in the game, but the complete lack of characters that are not white. In response to that video, though it was coming off as sarcasm, it does make a valid point that, people of color are stereotyped and discriminated against even in online communities. The fact that I can go into a video game and easily make a character that resembles me slightly, while a person of color is only given two options is disgusting. In addition, when creating the characters in Sims, the darker the skin tone the more distorted their appearance appears to be. The video also makes a great point in showing that even “joking” racism, is still racism and still hurts a population.
Ana dear. Well I know I said some films were hard to find, but it is thanks to you and your “messy ” archive thar I got the education about Latin American Cinemas cult and otherwise.. In the first place.. I’m definitely guilt free about YouTube as a teaching aid…..This is partly because my own archive of VHSs isn’t supported by our systems at Sussex and even the DVD players here are likely to stick mid lecture. But I still have nagging doubts when YouT über becomes my go to research tool. What am I missing?
Like you, I have tried to resist YouTube and, in the past, convinced students not to rely on it. Yet I now find myself, like you, reaching out to it since, in many cases, it is easier to find the needed clip in YouTube than in my own messy archive (was it a DVD? Hopefully not a VHS? An AVI? Where did I save it?). But I too worry that without the contextual cultural AND archival frameworks our research might become more sterile. Great post!
This video was very thought provoking, it mentioned several things that I had not thought about until watching. One thing that I found disturbing was the fact that in Call of Duty the player has 15 different character models for a white soldier, while for black soldiers there are only 2, which look very similar. The society that we live in has brought forth a since that whites receive more choices, not only in life but in video games as well. It is also noteworthy to mention that villains in most games are characters of a different ethnic background. Given these perceptions the children who are enjoying these games will grow up to believe that these ethnicities are “evil” which is a serious issue.
It’s funny you bring up mass effect - my students told me its a game i need to play and they brought all three discs! i dont know where they think i have time to play an entire series!
i want to play these games so i can talk about them. i am too much of a gamer at heart to begin to analyze games that i have not played myself at least the majority of the game. but your take on the post-apocalyptic series is soo interesting and one i didnt consider. yes you discuss this intrusion at a time when who cares! we’re all dead! and im’ guessing their characters aren’t at all racialized.
i wish i knew these games to provide a better analysis to the awesome questions you all are posing. but it gives me something to look forward to for the 2nd edition of the book! lol
I need to play this game! I dont know it as I think I should. And so his character is not reoccuring? He’s gone. wow. I will purchase this game and play it!
I found this post to be very interesting! There are many subjects that aren’t typically thought about, or taken as serious are they should be. This issue is certainly one of them. I know video game creators try to back up racism in games by saying things like “this is the type environment the players want to see their characters in” but why is it that the villain is always one with a darker skin completion? How are children supposed to grow up and not have a skewed opinion about people of a different race when these video games are all they know? This is a serious issue that I believe certainly needs more attention, great post!
These are two great examples that reveal what a Black character could and should look like. I am impressed with their development and their popularity reveal that gamers will play a character that’s not a gangster or buffoon. But where are the others? I struggled coming up with a list of characters that were like Lee and Louis. I couldn’t find them.
So yes these characters exist. Lee appeared in 2012 which was after my data collection phase! And Left 4 dead scared the crap out of me! I couldn’t play it long! But I will make sure to discuss these and others in my next book. But two examples won’t offset the damage that the others do.
I fell in love with this video because it represents the duality that many Black gamers operate within: a calm tranquil gaming experience that is often abruptly interrupted by ignorance. And then after the lash out towards whatever the event was, a return to normalcy.
What’s significant is that many Black gamers normalize these experiences (online) and always assume characters and avatars won’t have any connection to Blackness.
I typically use the secondary definition of punish in examining this phenomenon: to treat someone in an unfairly harsh way; unfairly disadvantage, maltreatment. In this sense, punishment is used to describe the mistreatment of Black characters by not fully developing them, by representing them singularly, etc. Online, punishment is as you stated, implying discipline. Any gamer that deviates from the White male norm is punished. Women are punished. People of color are punished. Sexual minorities are punished. They are punished because they have to endure being limited and relegated to a small aspect of their identity within the space. Even more problematic, they are relegated to the derogatory form of the perceived self: bitch, fag, nigger, etc. Because they ‘sound’ different, they are subject to extreme forms of harassment.
Matt, your observations of the differences between Carl of the show and Carl of the comics are spot on and I’d love to see (or do) a cross-media comparison of both versions of Carl in relation to Clementine. (I’m especially interested in how each media form uses different portrayals of age and gender in relation to “child” characters to evoke what Paul Booth calls “transmedia pathos,” which both links and differentiates each node of the franchise without being bound to the narrative restrictions of transmedia storytelling.) In the context of this post, I felt the comparison to TV Carl was apt because of the way this trailer imposes a particularly cinematic/televisual tool (the flashback to pre-zombie Clementine) to evoke nostalgia for her girlhood innocence at a crucial point in the player’s in-game decision making…a tool that the show could absolutely use in relation to Carl but chooses not to. (Perhaps in part because, beyond certain expectations around character gender, viewers aren’t directly, morally implicated in what Carl does thereafter? A thread worth pursuing further…) But a more nuanced consideration of the similarities between Clem and comics Carl is definitely warranted.
But yes, as far as gameplay goes, a paratext like this one is an overt reminder of how the game’s choice mechanics are consistently undermined by the emotionality of its narrative. One of the most interesting choices one can make “as” Clem is to foreground a feigned girlish innocence to deceive new survivors she meets. If you were to pair this line of performance (and is indeed very much a performance, and a fascinating one at that) with the kind of hard-edged ruthlessness/selfishness Clem can enact later in the season, as I have consistently tried to do, not one of the game’s multiple endings can square with “my” Clementine as I’ve tried to play her. The game pushes me back to an essentially nurturing, still-redeemable girl - not my Clementine at all. (Interestingly the trailer, released just before the final episode of the season, gives away how different its version of Clem is from mine, since it features many of the characters I’ve allowed to die in horrible ways much sooner in the game…)