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#1 Edited by tardcast (21 posts) -
GameOverCast Topic of the week this week is as thus:
Do game developers and the industry as a whole need to grow up when it comes to its approach to ethnic and gender diversity?

Points to think about:
-Of the thousands of games out there, how many non Caucasian white leads can you think of?
-How many black leads can you think of, male or especially female?
-Compared to other media, i.e TV and Film, how far behind is the game industry?
-Even Japanese games are populated by western looking males and females, why?
-Is it due to the nationality of the devs? Key demographics? Target audience? Ignorance?
-Is Gender diversity also lacking?
-Even in games that allow you to customize your character, the default is usually white Caucasian male.
-I'm not even talking the ethnic background even having an impact on the character itself, just why are the people that i am playing as pretty much always white?

Its not quite racism, but it aint ok. In almost ANY other industry this would be a surely be an issue?

P.s as always if yu have time in between bigger better podcasts(ala Giantombcast) give the GameOverCast  a listen, its funny, and its heavily inspired by the giantbombcast (minus swedish sweets)and the quiz is always worth a laugh, this week its video game films... 
#2 Posted by Hamz (6845 posts) -

 So true...
#3 Posted by CitizenKane (10501 posts) -
@Hamz: That is so awesome because it is so true.  Same with movies.
#4 Edited by TheMustacheHero (6654 posts) -

Because it's usually the race of the people who are playing/buying the game?
 
I mean who wants to play a game where the lead protagonist is a red-haired black woman? :P (Oh God, what if Rochelle starred in her own game @_@)

#5 Posted by msavo (7522 posts) -
@Hamz: That is the best picture. 
#6 Edited by CL60 (16906 posts) -

Only game I can think of off the top of my head where the main character is black is San Andreas. 
 
@TheMustacheHero said:

" Because it's usually the race of the people who are playing/buying the game? ) "
People who aren't white don't play video games?
#7 Posted by Jaytow (673 posts) -

To be honest this doesnt bother me.
 
If somebody wants to make their character a different colour then they can do so. Simple, really.
 If not then who cares? I don't think this is a big deal at all.

#8 Posted by Ryax (4630 posts) -
@CL60 said:
" Only game I can think of off the top of my head where the main character is black is San Andreas. 
 
@TheMustacheHero said:
" Because it's usually the race of the people who are playing/buying the game? ) "
People who aren't white don't play video games? "
he didnt mean it like that. lets not turn this into a race thing. 
#9 Posted by tardcast (21 posts) -

Haha, awesome pic.

#10 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4282 posts) -
@CL60 said:
" Only game I can think of off the top of my head where the main character is black is San Andreas. 
 
@TheMustacheHero said:
" Because it's usually the race of the people who are playing/buying the game? ) "
People who aren't white don't play video games? "
That's essentially what he's saying. 
 
Also, Turok. Yeah I know he hasn't been particularly "cool" since the early part of the decade, but to a kid on an Indian Reservation, it's not like we had many heroes to look up to. 
 
And Turok was fucking bad ass. 
 
Also, the reason for videogame protagonists being white dudes stems from people writing what they know. It's a lot harder to put yourself in the shoes of another gender or race, so they just write what they do know about, and go from there. The few exceptions are guys like CJ Johnson or Jade from BG&E. Those are a lot more rare than people think, though.
#11 Posted by empfeix (774 posts) -

It's just a demographic thing.  I am sure if they thought a big fat old guy would sell they would do it.

#12 Posted by Wes899 (2102 posts) -
@empfeix said:
" It's just a demographic thing.  I am sure if they thought a big fat old guy would sell they would do it. "
This. They want to be as broad as possible.
#13 Posted by Prolix (188 posts) -

Glad to see it.  Last thing I want to watch for 10 hours, is the back of a black guys head or the ass of a fat plaid wearing bull dyke.  
 
Not to mention how Italians, Irish, Russian and all other European immigrants are treating in modern movies and games.  They are no more "White," than I am an albino crab cake.  Your retarded is you think a Russian mobster is "white" or an Italian American is corn bread.  
 
Just ask Scorsese.  The fact that you agree and give out sweeping generalizations on white people, only proves your ignorance and racist patterns.   
 
Grow Up Giant Bomb and 4/10 to OP for taking advantage of this sites impulsive and ignorant nature.  
 
Anyone else care to cherry pick?

#14 Posted by obcdexter (531 posts) -

Also: If I craft a work of fiction and decide to give the lead role to a white Caucasian male, I give the lead role to a f'n white Caucasian male.

#15 Posted by salad10203 (654 posts) -

Prolix: WHAT? I can't tell if you are racist or just confused. 

#16 Posted by Gargantuan (1877 posts) -

The Limbo dude is black.

#17 Posted by Bellum (2944 posts) -
@tardcast said:
"Even Japanese games are populated by western looking males and females, why?"
 
This is actually just because of the ambiguity of the characters in Japanese games. They don't look particularly western to the Japanese. 
 
Other than that, yes, there is a serious lack of diversity in our games. Particularly racial diversity, but when women are present they often either have minor roles or are explicitly there for the sex appeal. GTA is a notable aversion, but even then the races are stereotyped. Not out of racism, just parody, but excluding GTA:SA, I can't think of the last time I played a non-white in a game.
#18 Posted by KaosAngel (13765 posts) -

Why we ain't got no Arab heroes?

#19 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4282 posts) -
@Prolix said:
" Glad to see it.  Last thing I want to watch for 10 hours, is the back of a black guys head or the ass of a fat plaid wearing bull dyke.    Not to mention how Italians, Irish, Russian and all other European immigrants are treating in modern movies and games.  They are no more "White," than I am an albino crab cake.  Your retarded is you think a Russian mobster is "white" or an Italian American is corn bread.    Just ask Scorsese.  The fact that you agree and give out sweeping generalizations on white people, only proves your ignorance and racist patterns.     Grow Up Giant Bomb and 4/10 to OP for taking advantage of this sites impulsive and ignorant nature.    Anyone else care to cherry pick? "
 
There are only three races on this planet, everything else is a subset of that race. They are: 
 
Caucasian 
Mongoloid 
Negroid
#20 Posted by Kr3lian (310 posts) -
@Prolix said:
" Glad to see it.  Last thing I want to watch for 10 hours, is the back of a black guys head or the ass of a fat plaid wearing bull dyke.    Not to mention how Italians, Irish, Russian and all other European immigrants are treating in modern movies and games.  They are no more "White," than I am an albino crab cake.  Your retarded is you think a Russian mobster is "white" or an Italian American is corn bread.    Just ask Scorsese.  The fact that you agree and give out sweeping generalizations on white people, only proves your ignorance and racist patterns.     Grow Up Giant Bomb and 4/10 to OP for taking advantage of this sites impulsive and ignorant nature.    Anyone else care to cherry pick? "
 
I feel so sorry for you, for reasons you couldn't even begin to understand.
#21 Posted by Borodin (416 posts) -

Personally it doesn't bother me that much (but then again, I'm a white male) - I mean I'm the one playing the game, when I pick a female avatar/character, it doesn't change the way I associate with or feel about the character, I'm at the controls, I impose myself on the character not the other way around.  Plus to defend developers, it's easy to be seen as furthering stereotypes when you actively try and diversify for the "sake of it" - as a parallel look at the idea of the 'obligatory black guy' in TV and film, that's fucked up, but how can you escape that? It's as much to do with people's perceptions as it's to do with the actual casting.     

#22 Posted by salad10203 (654 posts) -
@borodin said:
" Personally it doesn't bother me that much (but then again, I'm a white male) - I mean I'm the one playing the game, when I pick a female avatar/character, it doesn't change the way I associate with or feel about the character, I'm at the controls, I impose myself on the character not the other way around.  Plus to defend developers, it's easy to be seen as furthering stereotypes when you actively try and diversify for the "sake of it" - as a parallel look at the idea of the 'obligatory black guy' in TV and film, that's fucked up, but how can you escape that? It's as much to do with people's perceptions as it's to do with the actual casting.      "
A character's race is the last thing I think of, even if I had different races at the protagonist, I dont think I would've remembered because it doesn't affect the game at all.
#23 Edited by ProfessorEss (7123 posts) -

I wonder if a lot of dev teams are a little afraid to go with anything but the white male.
 
You could make a 50 hour game and if one tiny line of dialogue, or one of the character's actions gets taken the wrong way you could easily end up with a real shit storm on your hands. Meanwhile, you got pretty much free reign when it comes to writing a white male character.
 
Not sayin' it's right, just sayin'.

#24 Posted by Scooper (7882 posts) -


#25 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -
@KaosAngel said:

" Why we ain't got no Arab heroes? "

really you want an arab be a video game protagonist ? i dunno about you but im sick as fuck of our people.. 
 
  
 Lets have this guy as the protagonist in GTA V ! :

#26 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -
@KingWilly said:
" @Prolix said:
" Glad to see it.  Last thing I want to watch for 10 hours, is the back of a black guys head or the ass of a fat plaid wearing bull dyke.    Not to mention how Italians, Irish, Russian and all other European immigrants are treating in modern movies and games.  They are no more "White," than I am an albino crab cake.  Your retarded is you think a Russian mobster is "white" or an Italian American is corn bread.    Just ask Scorsese.  The fact that you agree and give out sweeping generalizations on white people, only proves your ignorance and racist patterns.     Grow Up Giant Bomb and 4/10 to OP for taking advantage of this sites impulsive and ignorant nature.    Anyone else care to cherry pick? "
 There are only three races on this planet, everything else is a subset of that race. They are:  Caucasian Mongoloid Negroid "
Really, Andrew Dice Clay? Classic joker, this one.
#27 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -
@Scooper said:
"

"
You understand posting rare exceptions doesn't change reality, right? Its like posting the one black guy at the Tea Party rally. "See guys, diversity". 
#28 Posted by Damien (1384 posts) -

This will end poorly.

#29 Posted by Gargantuan (1877 posts) -
@KaosAngel said:
" Why we ain't got no Arab heroes? "
Isn't Altaïr an arab?
#30 Posted by ry0wn (171 posts) -

I always thought devs stuck to whites because they have the broadest span of places in society (in the areas that most major games are made, i.e. the UK, Japan, and the USA). You can see white people sitting on the corner of a city with all their possessions on their backs, or you can see them as the head of a global corporation. Other races are usually associated with a small range of job choices, and there are usually stereotypes as to which races work where (Middle-Easterners in 7/11, Africans in fast food joints, etc.). It would be odd to a 13 year-old white male to see a middle-aged Arab man at the head of a major science corporation (Half-Life?), but not so odd to see a black man getting involved in drug deals and crime waves (GTA: SA?), because that's how a white society  generalizes other races.
 
I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying it sells, so people do it.

#31 Posted by Sadisticham (278 posts) -

No idea why people insist on discussing this. I mean really does anybody genuinly, honestly care that theres a lot of white lead characters in video games? Is that your first thought when you sit down and play a game? "fuck me another white guy"? Who cares. Don't drag my video games into this overly politically correct world.
 
First that bimbo feminist reviewer on G4 or whatever crying cause Samus isn't a big buff ladyboy and now this. Bleh.

#32 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -
@Sadisticham said:
" No idea why people insist on discussing this. I mean really does anybody genuinly, honestly care that theres a lot of white lead characters in video games? Is that your first thought when you sit down and play a game? "fuck me another white guy"? Who cares. Don't drag my video games into this overly politically correct world.  First that bimbo feminist reviewer on G4 or whatever crying cause Samus isn't a big buff ladyboy and now this. Bleh. "
White guy on the internet what's to know "what's the deal world just get over it world geez".
#33 Posted by Lifestrike (477 posts) -
@Ahmad_Metallic: 
 
please, for christs sake, make it happen!
#34 Posted by Sadisticham (278 posts) -
@ryanwho:  And you bring my skin colour into it. Yawn.
#35 Posted by Suicidal_SNiper (949 posts) -

I don't want to my games to turn into highschool books and government advertisements. Where they cram in as many ethnicities into a picture just so they don't seem racist.

#36 Posted by Gaff (1492 posts) -

Well, on the topic of gender, there's a slight surprise in store for you: 

"As expected, the genres with the highest percentage (of playable female characters: G.) consist of titles often described as casual, such as General Entertainment, Social, and Skill & Chance games. The more core genres, like Action, Sports and Strategy, have a fair representation, while the most hardcore genre, Shooter, has the least.

The games that do not follow the above trend are Role Playing Games, as 80 percent of them have playable female characters. This is not too surprising, since most RPGs allow users to not only play as numerous premade characters, but also customize their own. If anything, I am surprised that the category is not 100 percent, but you can thank Opoona, Baroque, Chocobo’s Dungeon, and Two Worlds for that."  

The Divnich Tapes: Female Representation In Games Across Genres, Consoles ,  2008  

 As an industry, we still clearly have a bias towards males characters, with 90% of all video games released in the U.S. and Europe on seventh generation consoles having playable male characters. However, that 51% of games this generation have playable female characters is an incredible accomplishment for our industry and reinforces our progress towards serving ever widening demographics. Even when core (Action, Shooter, RPG, etc.) and casual genres are separated, the percentage of core games with playable female characters remain at a respectable level, while the male/female ratio in casual games reaches parity.

 
Of course, the biggest counterpoint to these finding is that these "playable female characters" have absolutely no character and therefore are mainly eye-candy. 
 
@Wes899: Also, about 99.99% of the time the guys writing are well... 30+ males. It's kind of hard to bridge the cross-racial divide without characters turning into blatant stereotypes.
#37 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -
@Sadisticham said:
" @ryanwho:  And you bring my skin colour into it. Yawn. "
I'm certain your entitled lifestyle has more to do with your smug indifference to everything than your skin color. But it so happens, in this thread about ethnic diversity, skin color happens to be relevant. Now I know you're tempted to stick around and let everyone know how bored and indifferent you are and "how amusing, you puppets" and all the other internet loser talking points on your roladex, but I think you'd be better served taking a nap on mom's sofa and letting people who care about the topic talk about it. Sound like a fun plan?
#38 Posted by Jadeskye (4359 posts) -
@Hamz said:
"
 So true...
"
blowin' mah mind! o_o i always prefer to play as a lady. in videogames and otherwise >_>
#39 Posted by Oldirtybearon (4282 posts) -
@Sadisticham said:
" No idea why people insist on discussing this. I mean really does anybody genuinly, honestly care that theres a lot of white lead characters in video games? Is that your first thought when you sit down and play a game? "fuck me another white guy"? Who cares. Don't drag my video games into this overly politically correct world.  First that bimbo feminist reviewer on G4 or whatever crying cause Samus isn't a big buff ladyboy and now this. Bleh. "
It's not that people are "insisting" on this discussion, so much as it is a discussion worthy of note. There is nothing wrong with someone pointing out a trend and other people thinking about it, and then discussing it with civility. The fact that you have a problem with people asking questions (not condemning the medium, mind you) about why the majority of games feature a nondescript white male as the protagonist is kind of worrying to me. No one is trying to take the industry to task for not including more ethnic diversity (except maybe N'Gai...), we're just curious and through discussion, perhaps we will find the reason why. 
  
If you really don't want to partake in the discussion, that's fine. Just go and play your games and have fun.
#40 Posted by Scooper (7882 posts) -
@ryanwho: I'm not saying game's are racialy diverse because of one game. I know games aren't racialy diverse and that's because there's been no uproar or change in political correctness for games because simply not enough people care. If no one really cares or is being vocal about it and it's acceptable to do whatever you like and a business man looks at a chart showing sales of games with white 30 year old men with short hair and a goatee and sees they sell alot then they will just do the same.
 
There are companies that don't go by the drawings, like Valve with HL2, Left 4 dead and Portal all having main characters in them that don't fit into those pre-cut slots.
#41 Posted by MisterMouse (3531 posts) -

I read that as Genes massively lack ethnic and gender diversity.  And yeah it is unfortunately true, but there is a lot more than just games that lack ethnic and gender diversity. Movies, TV shows, news broadcasters, late night show hosts, the list continues.

#42 Posted by hexx462 (506 posts) -
@KingWilly said:
Also, Turok. Yeah I know he hasn't been particularly "cool" since the early part of the decade, but to a kid on an Indian Reservation, it's not like we had many heroes to look up to. 
 
And Turok was fucking bad ass.  Also, the reason for videogame protagonists being white dudes stems from people writing what they know. It's a lot harder to put yourself in the shoes of another gender or race, so they just write what they do know about, and go from there. The few exceptions are guys like CJ Johnson or Jade from BG&E. Those are a lot more rare than people think, though. "
 This.
 
As a white guy with blue eyes and light brown hair I do not know what it's like to have a lack of identifiable heroes in video games and films. It pisses me off when white males are dismissive of subjects such as this because they simply don't get it. White is the default, and it's the default for two reasons: laziness and marketing, both of which are embarrassing and inexcusable.
#43 Posted by Brodehouse (9370 posts) -

Give it time.  The medium is still young.  Casting minorities or women in the lead role is still a chancy move in regards to sales.  For every Half-Life or Gears (I'll count Dom as a protag), there's a handful of Beyond Good and Evil, Mirror's Edge (a twofer), and Shadow Man.  Remember, it wasn't until recently that casting a black lead in a mainstream movie that didn't make specific mention of his blackitude started happening.
 
What you can look at as a sign of progress is that there are more supporting characters in games that are female or minorities and don't call specific attention to it.  In Dead Space, you play a white male (who wears a helmet for 99% of the game), and the other main characters are a woman and a black man, with no racial or sexual undertones. 

#44 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -
@ChristOnIce: But you understand its a cycle feeding into itself. If something is white dominated none-whites feel this isn't the medium they should enter. So it stays white. If the people there now made more of an effort to accommodate other races, maybe none whites wouldn't go "no I don't want to be a game designer, that's a job for white people". People were homogeneous for hundreds of thousands of years, you can't think after a hundred years of something resembling a melting pot that suddenly people are like "yeah no it wouldn't bother me to be the only hispanic guy in the room at a job". People still lean toward where they know they'll be around some of their own. There have to be incentives to create an ease to the integration process. And when more Indians feel alright going down this career path, you get an Indian hero. Same with any other none-white. If a big company like Sony or MS went "let's try and form a studio from the ground up in India then let them make a game for Indians" you think it would star a white person? No. But the infrastructure isn't there now. The demand is there, just not the infrastructure. And you're right, most nations are homogeneous and will continue to be that way. But having a series of games featuring a single none-white race prominently would be a baby step toward the perception of diversity, even if games continue to individually be racially homogeneous because they're not being made for diversity, just for none-whites. If we do that for long enough, people will naturally become more comfortable with diversity in games and publishers won't shy away from it by default. 
#45 Posted by Sadisticham (278 posts) -
@KingWilly: What an intelligent and well thought out answer. And you didn't even have to guess my skin colour. I'll do just that you make a fair point.
#46 Posted by Sin4profit (2869 posts) -

A: mass target demographic.  and/or   B: Origin of creator.

Online
#47 Posted by SpiralStairs (1020 posts) -
@Prolix said:
" Glad to see it.  Last thing I want to watch for 10 hours, is the back of a black guys head or the ass of a fat plaid wearing bull dyke.    Not to mention how Italians, Irish, Russian and all other European immigrants are treating in modern movies and games.  They are no more "White," than I am an albino crab cake.  Your retarded is you think a Russian mobster is "white" or an Italian American is corn bread.    Just ask Scorsese.  The fact that you agree and give out sweeping generalizations on white people, only proves your ignorance and racist patterns.     Grow Up Giant Bomb and 4/10 to OP for taking advantage of this sites impulsive and ignorant nature.    Anyone else care to cherry pick? "
Your mention of Crab Cake and corn bread made me like this post.
 
good post
#48 Posted by Sadisticham (278 posts) -
@ryanwho said:
" @Sadisticham said:
" @ryanwho:  And you bring my skin colour into it. Yawn. "
I'm certain your entitled lifestyle has more to do with your smug indifference to everything than your skin color. But it so happens, in this thread about ethnic diversity, skin color happens to be relevant. Now I know you're tempted to stick around and let everyone know how bored and indifferent you are and "how amusing, you puppets" and all the other internet loser talking points on your roladex, but I think you'd be better served taking a nap on mom's sofa and letting people who care about the topic talk about it. Sound like a fun plan? "
A whole paragraph this time still basing all those assumptions on nothing but my skin colour. You seem to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder sir. Some might even suspect you of being racist. I'll leave you to it some of us have gotten past silly things like skin colour and moved on i hope you grow out of it someday.
#49 Posted by KaosAngel (13765 posts) -
@Gargantuan said:
" @KaosAngel said:
" Why we ain't got no Arab heroes? "
Isn't Altaïr an arab? "
I stand corrected, forgot about him.
#50 Posted by Gaff (1492 posts) -
@ChristOnIce: @ryanwho: Ehm, guys.... don't go there. I know where you are heading with this and... Eugh.