Video Games Starring People of Color

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AKTANE

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Hi everyone, I'm a brown guy, specifically I am from India, born there, though I am American now.

Anyways - playing Uncharted Lost Legacy was really neat because I got to play as a brown woman, even though she is Australian basically. I can relate!

I recently got Watchdogs for free on Uplay (PC) and it has been cool to play as a person of color there too. The game itself seems OK but not great.

Although I played GTAV, I felt Franklin got the short end of the character arcs there, kind of felt like he was a prop, or utilizing his black friends for shock value. Either way, it was neat that he was there.

This isn't a knock on any games, and i'm not talking about games that have nondescript characters, like a racing game, or a "character creator" game, I play a brown woman in Forza Horizon as well, I really relate to her, she's rad, and rich (even though I despise wealth disparity) and is out here kicking ass and taking pink slips.

Anyways, can you all recommend me some games starring people of color? I find I really relate and it heightens my experience greatly because I feel warm and fuzzy and represented. Sure, I can relate to other characters too ( I liked how Geralt always felt like an outcast and people both hated and feared him typically but also needed his help), but I WANT to play more games representing minorities

What about Indivisible?

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hermes

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Not as many as I would like:

  • Assassins Creed Origin
  • Mafia 3
  • Remember Me
  • The Walking Dead
  • Guacamelee

I guess if you expand the search to "people of color", the list grows to games like Yakuza or Sleeping Dogs. Not counting games where you can customize the appearance of your character (Saints Row, Mass Effect), or where the characters are generated from a set of variables (X-Com, Broforce)...

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hatking

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Sadly there's still not a ton of representation in this industry. Not a lot of POC player characters, fewer women of color leads, and (really depressing) even fewer who are actually voiced by women of color.

I'd definitely recommend giving Watch_Dogs 2 another shot, it's one of my favorite games of the generation. As the game progresses and becomes more personal with the characters around the player, it subverts a lot of expectations and handles them (mostly) pretty gracefully.

Mafia 3 is solid. I wish it spoke to me more than it did. It kind of feels like it's pulling punches. It's an open world thing in the classical sense. If you really miss old GTA games, you'll probably have a good enough time here. I wish they did more with Lincoln Clay.

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bigsocrates

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There are a fair number of games that star Native American protagonists.

Delsin in Infamous Second Son

Conor from Assassin's Creed III is half Native American.

Tommy from the original Prey is Native American.

Prototype 2's protagonist is black.

Jade from Beyond Good and Evil is ambiguous but doesn't appear to be white.

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fourthline

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Unfortunately all the games are going to be about the "struggle." So hesitantly recommend AC: Liberation and Mafia 3. I think Watchdogs 2 is probably the best game for a black character that doesn't feel like a token character or a "mansplaining" (or whatever the race equivalent is to a development staff that would be vastly non-black telling stories about the black experience).

ACIII is a bad game but the character pulled me through and i'm hoping through due diligence it wasn't the usual suspects developing the game and driving down to a reservation for an interview or 3.

Far Cry 4 has interesting character.

Origins is okay but has some awful gatekeeping that holds the story hostage.

I guess Ubisoft is where you should go for diversity (see my Far Cry 5 review**)

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hatking

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@bigsocrates: Worth mentioning Delsin Rowe is voiced by the prolific white man, Troy Baker.

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cornfed40

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50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

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Atlas

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Crusader Kings II is always the answer, as there is huge potential for playing as non-white characters/dynasties. Start a tiny nation in West Africa, or Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea), and set out on quest to take over whole continent, then turn your sights on Europe. Re-create the Maurya Empire in India, or roleplay as Genghis Khan, or bring back the Persian Empire of antiquity. Stop the Reconquista in Iberia before it really gets going and secure the peninsula as a Muslim fortress in southwest Europe.

My ethnic makeup is English, Polish, Irish, Welsh, and a tiny bit Norwegian, so I'm as white as a bed sheet. But it would be cool if more games had BAME characters (I don't know if people know the term BAME outside of the UK, but it stands for Black Asian Minority Ethnic, and is used as a generic term to refer to non-white people), in the same way it would be cool if there were fewer protagonists who are white, thirty-something males. I like to use games that have character creation tools to create BAME characters, gives me a chance to think outside the box and enhance roleplay a bit - is a black man more likely to support the cause of the Railroad in Fallout 4, for example?

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imhungry

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Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider is more of a standalone expansion but Billie Lurk is a pretty kickass lady. It's first-person though if that makes a difference to you.

Heaven's Vault is a pretty fantastic game if you're looking for a more narrative, adventure style game.

I will never stop recommending Prince of Persia 2008 to anyone who asks for the rest of my life.

It's unfortunate but you'll probably find more examples of black protagonists in the smaller games. Just off the top of my head, Dandara and Neo Cab come to mind.

I'm not American so not incredibly clear on the current state of discourse of what a POC entails but if we're just talking about games where you play as not-white people there's also a bunch of Japanese-developed games starring Japanese characters.

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navster15

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The indie space I find has been a great boon for diverse player characters in kick ass games, so here’s a couple I’ve liked over the years:

Butterfly Soup: A fun visual novel about softball playing Asian-American teens dealing with having crushes and playing ball. The great part that this game takes “Asian” ethnicity seriously, and includes South Asian folks in addition to East Asians, and they talk about their cultures in a naturalistic way.

Battle Chef Brigade: An incredible fusion of cooking show aesthetics, solid 2D castlevania style combat, and match three puzzles. This game stars a brown woman protagonist who wants to be the greatest battle chef there ever was. The art style is suitably gorgeous.

Florence: A lovely little romantic dramedy of a game that stars an East Asian woman named Florence as she meets cute with a South Asian man named Krish. If you happen to be in a relationship, this is a great game to huddle around a phone or tablet and play together.

Raji: An Ancient Epic: This one technically isn’t our yet but I thought I’d throw it on as I just played the demo recently. This is basically PS2 God of War except with Hindu mythos. The game definitely feels like it’s coming from a respectful and informed angle of the religion, and the voice work of the main character Raji (a brown woman) is fantastic. Definitely give this a try once it’s out.

Also shout out the Life is Strange 2, a game that does a good job showing how brown boys are screwed by the American justice system. This one is admittedly a bit more heavy than the other recs, though.

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AKTANE

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Hello everyone - I must say my heart is warmed by these responses. I appreciate you all. I also appreciate that we even gotten nuanced enough to know the difference between the normalization of minorities ( say Uncharted: Lost Legacy) and games about the minority experience and/or struggle (say AC: Liberation or Mafia 3).

I appreciate literally all of these recommendations. I do plan on playing more of these games many of which I started or added during a sale but either forgot I have or haven't played much.

By the way Nadine Ross in Uncharted Lost Legacy was also voiced by a white woman. She is sorry, she didn't know that the character was black until she was hired, and I still think she did the character justice (solid work), but it sucks a black voice actor lost a role there given the under representation in voice acting. That's not okay but I still think it is cool that Naughty Dog is at least trying (with their smaller games ahem Miles Morales...) to star POCs... the right direction...

I really did like AC:Origins, I also think it is rad that they kept Bayek's accent and stuff, it's cool to normalize accents, and before that I liked Far Cry 4 as well. Seems like Ubisoft does have the most sort of "character variance" across their lineup. I've thought about that a lot.

I tried Mafia 3: but I think it just made me too uncomfortable, I know it is a period piece but the rhetoric and mysoginy at some point just overwhelmed me and I felt grimy playing it, my wife usually watches me play games and she felt a little bit like this was going to be the boys club type thing about typical toxic masculinity and I dunno, just kind of not for me. Not condemning it or anything, people should play that game.

Crusader Kings 2: well I know nothing about this game so im totally interested in seeing what it is! also BAME is an interesting new term I just added to my vocab haha.

I will be playing more WatchDogs 2. I completely forgot about Dishonored 2: Death of an Outsider which I own but never beat Dishonored 2, so never got around to it, time to jump ahead!

I'm also okay with playing smaller indie games, in fact I think I prefer it nowadays, especially if the game itself isnt like a 40 hour thing lol.

<3

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AKTANE

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@navster15: Yo these are some COOL ass sounding recommendations, I appreciate you. I'm gonna look some of these up asap. thank you so much.

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ghost_cat

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Faith: Mirror's Edge

Morgan Yu: Prey

Wei Shen: Sleeping Dogs

Ajay Ghale: FC4:

Liu Kang: Mortal Kombat

Chell: Portal 2

Carol Johnson: GTASA

Michael LeRoi: Shadow Man

James Heller: Prototype 2

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Efesell

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Solid recs all around but you did bring up Indivisible and it's rad as hell I would definitely check it out.

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AKTANE

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@efesell: awesome, thanks family, I know Jan liked it too but I just needed a push to mess with it :)

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DJRebyB

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It hasn't fully released yet, but I've been looking forward to She Dreams Elsewhere. It will launch on Xbox Game Pass and there is a demo on itch.io (maybe steam to, I'm not 100% for sure).

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Relkin

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Justin258

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#19  Edited By Justin258

@imhungry said:

Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider is more of a standalone expansion but Billie Lurk is a pretty kickass lady. It's first-person though if that makes a difference to you.

While we're talking about Arkane, Prey's protagonist seems to be asian or half-asian, I do not where his lineage lies precisely. Their newest game, Deathloop, has as its protagonist a black guy and as its antagonist a black woman. That's gotta be a record of some sort, right?

Subnautica: Below Zero's protagonist is a black woman. Subnautica's protagonist... might be? If you told me he was black, I'd believe you. If you said he was white, I'd believe you too. He is one of the most blank-slate characters I've ever played as, though.

EDIT: I haven't made it very far in, but Pillars of Eternity II has a lot of black people in it. The first game takes place in a colony that became its own nation, sure, but II takes place in a collection of Carribean-esque islands full of varied people and accents and cultures and so on. Course, it's a fantasy game, so it also has a few non-human races. And it's a game where you create a character, not one with a defined protagonist, but I thought it was worth mentioning for the sheer variety in people it shows. Pillars 1 is a game I do recommend, but there are almost no black people in it. You get one party member that is a black person, but she's a Godlike (meaning she has unique physical features that don't exist in the real world, like yellows eyes and a bunch of feathers instead of hair or... something).

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Zelyre

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I really loved Sleeping Dogs. Being Asian, and having been to Hong Kong many years ago, I -really- like this game. Driving or running around hits some nostalgia for me, but the Cantonese that's thrown around really gets to me. I haven't heard it much in my adult life, so hearing it here... it really feels special to me. With Hong Kong the way it is now, I've realized that there's no going back to visit, so it makes Sleeping Dogs kind of my last connection with the city...

Also, as an Asian born in America, Wei's story of being a fish out of water in both his homes is nice. Some games that have POC characters could easily be replaced by another character model and it wouldn't make much of a difference. I feel like that isn't quite the case with Wei Shen, and the reactions and experiences he goes through are very Asian-American.

I also think it goes for like $5 on Steam pretty often. Frosting on the cake for a game I really love are all the Quick Looks featuring best Vinny, Open World Vinny.

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redwing42

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@zelyre: I hadn't really thought about how the Hong Kong in Sleeping Dogs Doesn't really exist any more. That is wild and sad. I thought the game was fantastic, but I also really loved the work that went into creating the city.

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AKTANE

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@zelyre: just wanna say that I love sleeping dogs and have beaten it twice :)

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BrunoTheThird

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#23  Edited By BrunoTheThird

Some great mentions, Heaven's Vault and Walking Dead perhaps having my two modern favourite non-white protagonists ever. It is pretty fucking embarassing how few examples there are... Shit tonnes of side-characters, which is more embarassing. We could probably name over 100 in a flash...

-

Few more:

Broken Age

HL: Alyx

Marc Ecko's Getting Up (genuinely enjoy this game but it's regarded pretty divisively)

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NTM

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@brunothethird: Wow... I was searching on Wikipedia for the name of that game [Marc Ecko's Getting Up] and you had it right there. I hadn't played it but I really wanted to around the time it came out. Since I'm on the Wikipedia page, it's interesting to note that all the way back in February of 2013 they had stated that a new game was in development. I wonder what happened. Also, Jeff reviewed it.

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BrunoTheThird

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@ntm: I had absolutely no idea Jeff liked it. I love the RJD2 soundtrack and yeah, the voice acting is very decent indeed. For some reason I thought he was negative about it on a demo derby or something...? I love it though and always do a yearly google search about a sequel.

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north6

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#26  Edited By north6

@fourthline said:

I guess Ubisoft is where you should go for diversity (see my Far Cry 5 review**)

Can I just say how much that I love that you added asterisks but no footnote? You're the best. I assume this post will be updated later with a link to the far cry 5 review.

Related to OP - most Japanese games! Final Fantasy is pretty good.

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Onemanarmyy

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#27  Edited By Onemanarmyy
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Shiftygism

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@zelyre: Such a great game, platted it on PS3, then PS4, and I'm tempted to make an alt account to do it again. Easily the best non-GTA GTA game ever.

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noobsauce

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@imhungry: OMG someone else who loves PoP 2008. I thought I was all alone...

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theonewhoplays

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@noobsauce: It's my favorite PoP after Sands of Time. So chill to play, and I love the character interactions. If it's important to you, just be aware that none of the VAs are POC.

It's almost criminal how many people ignored it because it didn't have a traditional fail state (basically checkpoints but the game never says GAME OVER).

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Shindig

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Far Cry 2 gives you a few options to pick for your merc. It might actually be the first game I've seen where you can play as a Sikh.

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pudking

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Moonwalker on the Genesis.

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Ramone

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NeoCab, not the greatest game in the world but it's got a decent enough story.

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whitegreyblack

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I have not had the opportunity to play it myself yet, but Mulaka is about the culture of the Tarahumara of Mexico. I always thought this one looked really interesting.

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Zelyre

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@north6 said:
@fourthline said:

I guess Ubisoft is where you should go for diversity (see my Far Cry 5 review**)

Related to OP - most Japanese games! Final Fantasy is pretty good.

Not to be combative, but is the FF series -really- a pretty good example of video games -starring- people of color? Granted, I have not played a FF since 12 nor completed one since 10, so I could very well (and hopefully) be mistaken.

Over 14 non-MMO titles (including Tactics), we have... a very small cast of POC that aren't super minor characters? Yufie, Tseng, Barret, and Schaz? I really liked Tseng - from his artwork down to his Chinese name, the dude is without a doubt Asian. He's not some goofy scientist or crazy kung fu dude comedy relief. He gets an actual love interest and it's a two way relationship!

If we reduce it to, "People of color that can join your party on a permanent basis" it's... Yufie, Barret, and Schaz? Over 14 games. I'm not sure about Schaz, but Barret's representation is problematic at best?

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bybeach

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#37  Edited By bybeach

If it hasn't been mention yet. the protagonist of the Suffering (Torque) was Afro American, or as I just read 'mixed'... I need to go see if I can find the box.

It was a pretty good, and dark horror oriented FPS. (But could be played as a third person shooter, which I do not remember doing)

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snaketelegraph

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Most of the obvious ones have been brought up so I scraped my brain for a few that're more under the radar but aren't quite super indie level necessarily (there are a lot of those floating around but not a ton I can vouch for) and came up with a few that I didn't see anyone bring up. (I skipped Japanese games set in Japan with Japanese characters just cause I think those are easy to find and also total fantasy brown people you find in a fair amount of games because that didn't seem like what you were going for. If that's an option I will recommend Gravity Rush cause I can.)

Murder by Number's main character is a WOC, it's a picross game with a story.

In killer7 the main character is black and 4 of the personalities are different variety of POC (it feels slightly weird to point out because it's probably the last thing you think about in that game but it's kinda cool imo).

Trauma Center: New Blood has a WOC as one of the main doctors, and in Trauma Team 4/6 characters are POC.

On the fantasy but inspired by the real world (at least the same wavelength as Indivisible) side:

Severed's main character is a WOC, it feels more like based on a mythos than full on fantasy for some reason?

One of the main characters in Suikoden 3 is from a grasslands tribe and has good motivations, plus a lot of other members end up joining you over time. I know a lot of JRPGs have this kind of thing but I really like how there's variety of the people with how they act, look (some are like, fantasy brown people with blond hair, but others have dark hair), and they have a very defined collective clothing style that's not just feathers and buckskin. (There's also a bunch of other characters inspired by real cultures but he's the only main character of the 3.)

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Sweep

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#39 Sweep  Moderator

Nobody mentioned San Andreas yet?

I think Prototype 2 had a Black protagonist, though I never played that so not sure how meaningful that decision was.

You play as Vin Diesel in that Riddick game, and he's always played up his ethnic ambiguity by being extremely vague about his father. Again, not sure how meaningful that is to anyone.

Enter The Matrix lets you play as Naomi and Ghost. I always liked that game.

And then there's all the stuff that was announced at E3, like the Spider-man expansion.

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Onemanarmyy

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#40  Edited By Onemanarmyy

@sweep:

ghost_cat did. Just accidently wrote Carol Johnson instead of Carl :)

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kennneth

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Sweep

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#42 Sweep  Moderator

Actually Battlefield V had a few War Stories (their campaign stuff) featuring the Senegalese units of the French Colonial Forces and actually did a great job of demonstrating how their experience differed from that of the white soldiers.

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Shaanyboi

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#43  Edited By Shaanyboi

There are a fair number of games that star Native American protagonists.

Delsin in Infamous Second Son

Conor from Assassin's Creed III is half Native American.

Tommy from the original Prey is Native American.

Prototype 2's protagonist is black.

Jade from Beyond Good and Evil is ambiguous but doesn't appear to be white.

I don't think I'd count something like Infamous Second Son when multiple Native characters are voiced by white people. Hell, Delsin's character model just looks like Troy Baker in brownface.

No Caption Provided

And thus why fights for increased representation don't exclusively mean people in-front of the proverbial camera, but people meaningfully involved and listened to in the creative process.

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hatking

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@shaanyboi: This one has always felt especially gross to me. I think it's because they use his likeness and changed his skin tone. Sucker Punch learned their lesson though. Ghost of Tsushima was cast with care.

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Humanity

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@shaanyboi: while it sure would be great if they got an appropriate voice actor to do the role, Delsin being darker skinned and very much Native American is important representation in the gaming market that so heavily skews towards the Nathan Drakes. The story leans strongly in the direction of young people losing touch with their roots as well. I dont think people should be so readily dismissive just because part of the process didn’t line up, especially when these sort of characters show up so infrequently.

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Shaanyboi

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#46  Edited By Shaanyboi

@humanity said:

@shaanyboi: while it sure would be great if they got an appropriate voice actor to do the role, Delsin being darker skinned and very much Native American is important representation in the gaming market that so heavily skews towards the Nathan Drakes. The story leans strongly in the direction of young people losing touch with their roots as well. I dont think people should be so readily dismissive just because part of the process didn’t line up, especially when these sort of characters show up so infrequently.

It still results in white people telling stories about (or rather in place of) marginalized groups, with no material gains. It sucks, and just modeling it so closely to Troy's face makes it feel so much worse. I'll feel better when we can brush this aside in place of games that do the work to offer Native American characters prominent placement with Native voices (both on-screen and in development) driving those stories. The fact that so few examples exist just makes it all the more damning.

Including Japanese actors in GoT was a low hurdle they thankfully cleared.

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Humanity

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@shaanyboi: I disagree that there are no material gains. Every character, every story, every small foot in the door is working towards normalizing and spreading the inclusion of non-white characters in games. Every time you have a strong, independent female protagonist it is helping shape the next generation of kids playing games towards inclusion. Even if those kids don’t know who is writing the character they see themselves included and that is a huge step in the right direction. Having a story centered around native Americans be written by a Native Americans, voice acted by a Native American and the game designed and directed by someone with deep roots in that history and community is the absolute gold standard - but every small step towards that is always a net positive as opposed to the alternative where Delsin would have been yet another disenfranchised white teen raging against the machine just because.

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SethMode

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#49  Edited By SethMode

@humanity: Um, this is kind of ludicrous. They could have done all of the things you listed but they didn't. Second Son isn't some kind of win just because they decided to make the lead character Native American instead of white, simply because they botched everything else. In some ways, what Second Son does could be argued as WORSE. It's a digital character made to look Native American, given Native American traits, but written and designed by white men and played by a white man.

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ll_Exile_ll

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#50  Edited By ll_Exile_ll

@sethmode: You're getting awfully close to the idea that writers aren't allowed to write characters of a different race than their own, which just furthers issues of representation. Sucker Punch may not have succeeded in representing Native Americans as well as they should, but the fact they chose to have a native main character, even if there weren't any natives on their writing team, is not a bad thing in and of itself. Not every piece of media can have a writing team that ticks every ethnic box, but that shouldn't stop anyone writing any and all kinds of characters.

Ideally, the writers will do their research and have characters with positive and accurate representation, and while Second Son certainly had issues with the casting, I don't think they utterly failed overall.