Cultural identity issues and gaming

Something like that, yeah.

Being born to a British father and a Korean mother while being raised in a Chinese city I felt I didn’t belong to, has led to some well realised identity issues as I’ve gotten older. As a teenager, I more closely associated with my father. I felt and still feel very culturally British, something that my inability to speak Korean has only contributed to. Yet, I’ve always resembled my mother. From an early age, I’ve looked much more Asian than Anglo-Saxon, something that has made the occasional queries from strangers as to whether I am Chinese or even in one extreme case, whether I was adopted, all the more disheartening. (NOTE: Nothing is wrong with either one of those things, I simply feel disheartened for being categorised as something I'm not) Unlike one’s desire to be slimmer or stronger, looking like an ethnicity I don’t ‘feel like’ is something that I’ll never be able to properly change. And that has been a hard pill to swallow.

It was around the same time that I’d been playing “Saints Row 2” though that this issue really became something that preoccupied me. For the majority of my time in the world of Stillwater, I’d been playing as the default character that had been set by the game. I can’t remember whether it was some obsession with the developer’s portrayal of the character or simply creative bankruptcy on my behalf, but for some reason I had chosen to play as someone that just ‘wasn’t me’. Once this occurred to me, I decided to remedy it. After an ungodly amount of time at one of the game’s many plastic surgery clinics, my character had come out looking a lot more like... well, a cross between myself and my father.

As I moved onto other games that featured character creation (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 etc.) I began trying to recreate myself in the way that I’ve always wanted to look, resembling the man that has played the biggest role in my life: my father. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to terms with my appearance and my own cultural identity. I feel confident in my ‘British-ness’ even if I know that my physical appearance may never reflect this and I feel that games have helped me come to this conclusion. Despite this, whenever I return to the world of gaming I’m allowed to look like the man I want. Though that may never be able to extend to the real world, for the time being I’m okay with that.

7 Comments
8 Comments
Posted by applet0n
Something like that, yeah.

Being born to a British father and a Korean mother while being raised in a Chinese city I felt I didn’t belong to, has led to some well realised identity issues as I’ve gotten older. As a teenager, I more closely associated with my father. I felt and still feel very culturally British, something that my inability to speak Korean has only contributed to. Yet, I’ve always resembled my mother. From an early age, I’ve looked much more Asian than Anglo-Saxon, something that has made the occasional queries from strangers as to whether I am Chinese or even in one extreme case, whether I was adopted, all the more disheartening. (NOTE: Nothing is wrong with either one of those things, I simply feel disheartened for being categorised as something I'm not) Unlike one’s desire to be slimmer or stronger, looking like an ethnicity I don’t ‘feel like’ is something that I’ll never be able to properly change. And that has been a hard pill to swallow.

It was around the same time that I’d been playing “Saints Row 2” though that this issue really became something that preoccupied me. For the majority of my time in the world of Stillwater, I’d been playing as the default character that had been set by the game. I can’t remember whether it was some obsession with the developer’s portrayal of the character or simply creative bankruptcy on my behalf, but for some reason I had chosen to play as someone that just ‘wasn’t me’. Once this occurred to me, I decided to remedy it. After an ungodly amount of time at one of the game’s many plastic surgery clinics, my character had come out looking a lot more like... well, a cross between myself and my father.

As I moved onto other games that featured character creation (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 etc.) I began trying to recreate myself in the way that I’ve always wanted to look, resembling the man that has played the biggest role in my life: my father. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to terms with my appearance and my own cultural identity. I feel confident in my ‘British-ness’ even if I know that my physical appearance may never reflect this and I feel that games have helped me come to this conclusion. Despite this, whenever I return to the world of gaming I’m allowed to look like the man I want. Though that may never be able to extend to the real world, for the time being I’m okay with that.

Edited by CaLe

I never make characters that look like me as I would find it very boring. Funny thing is though, I usually make Asian or Black characters even though I'm White. This could tie into the boredom thing.. I find myself boring and white people boring because I am me and white. I'm more interested in things I'm not.

Posted by Brodehouse

I can't say I can relate, I'm French-Irish (so either way I don't have a job!) from Canada and I look appropriate.

If the concern is that people won't be able to understand who you are on the inside just by doing a quick scan of your ethnicity, that's still true. They won't be able to know if you identify as British, if you identify as a gamer, or as a reptile. And they shouldn't. I hope people who see me don't throw croissants, potatoes and hockey pucks at me.

If it really bothers you, maybe buy a bunch of clothing with the Union Jack on it, and cruise around your town acting like a dandy fop.

Posted by Brodehouse
@CaLe
I never make characters that look like me as I would find it very boring. Funny thing is though, I usually make Asian or Black characters even though I'm White. This could tie into the boredom thing.. I find myself boring and white people boring because I am me and white. I'm more interested in things I'm not.
I made (almost accidentally at first) my latest Hawke look like an East-Indian lady, and it was probably my favorite design because I've never seen an Indian lady fighting dragons before.

(2 of my Shepards and 2 of my Hawkes have been black/brown, because I think darker skin gives the impression of a higher quality texture)
Posted by applet0n

@Brodehouse: Hahahah, why do I have an image of a man running from a mob branding croissants, potatoes and hockey pucks?

Anyway. I guess your point is pretty accurate. That being said, I'd say games have helped me in coming to terms with that. It's still a bit of a sensitive issue for me, but I think I'm much better about it than before, and if anything it's only increased my love/appreciation for games.

Posted by deathstriker666

I am born to a French and Italian father to a Japanese mother. I don't consider either race to be a part of my identity and frankly I think that ethnicity is just a trivial distinction that pulls humankind apart. Where are ancestors once roamed as nomadic peoples shouldn't matter in today's global society. While I still don't like to be categorized or be seen as either or, it's not something I would be offended about especially if it was just an honest mistaken and nothing was meant by it.

Posted by applet0n

@deathstriker666: I can respect that opinion, but for me personally it's a pretty sensitive topic. Don't know the specifics of why, but it is.

Edited by Still_I_Cry

I wouldn't worry too much about cultural identity.

Good that you're starting to sort it out though.