Entertainment

We need to see black female characters promoted from supporting characters to starring protagonists in video games

Time to be stupid! That’s the Black History. With the hits of Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Ironheart, movies, TV shows and comics have taken great strides in diversity and expression. But what about video games? Well, that’s an entirely different story…

The gaming industry remains at the bottom of the list in terms of diversity and inclusiveness. As it is today, black characters in video games are mostly classified as “support characters” and rely heavily on outdated, one-dimensional stereotypes.

In the opening scene of the first episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, the series’ protagonist, Lee Everett, the black man, sits in the backseat of a police car while a white cop drives it. Yes, it will tell you a lot. At least his modesty warmed him up as the story-driven series progressed. Then comes Jax Briggs from the Mortal Kombat franchise. His huge, bulging biceps and a loud voice are his main attributes.

What I really want to see is black Woman A character promoted from a supporting character to a lead actor. The potential for creative IPs centered on a black female protagonist who walks, speaks, and goes far beyond pixelated stereotypes is staggering.

For black female characters in the video game, they include Jacqui Briggs in Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11, Marlene in Naughty Dog’s masterpiece Last of Us, and Nadine Ross in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: Lost Legacy. The latter two characters are mostly sober characters who have proven to be attractive and nuanced protagonists. But they also desperately needed more screen time. To be an attractive black female character, she must have depth and vulnerability, as well as a very lazily written “strong black female” quality. We have an upcoming death loop from Arkane Studios behind Dishonored 2 that offers a promising look for a black protagonist.

change inside

A character that exhibits more variety is a good thing. The people we play need more than expression as a reason for being. Otherwise, it becomes tokenism. Fans like me will pay close attention not only to the characters, but also to the people who create them. It’s hard to think of so many prominent and respected black developers in the industry today.

The industry needs to know the value of hiring more black developers to provide insights not just for games and characters, but for the industry as a whole. These are people who live and breathe experiences and understand the complexities of telling these essential stories and portraying black characters in a faithful and persuasive way. I really wish there were more black characters that felt serious and authentic in video games. We hope it opens the door for developers to expand the story further and amplify black voices to full volume.

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We need to see black female characters promoted from supporting characters to starring protagonists in video games

What a time to be a blerd! A black nerd, that is. Movies, TV shows, and comics have made huge leaps forward when it comes to diversity and representation, with the mammoth successes of Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Ironheart getting her own comic series. But, video games? Well, that’s a very different story… 
The games industry is still standing right at the back of the queue when it comes to diversity and inclusivity. As it currently stands, black characters in video games are mainly relegated to the ‘minor supporting character’ tier and are over-reliant on outdated, one-dimensional stereotypes. 
Just take a look at the opening scene of the first episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, in which series protagonist Lee Everett, a black man, sits in the back of a police car with a white police officer driving. Yep, that should tell you a lot. At least his humility made me warm to him as the story-driven series progressed, though. Then there’s Jax Briggs in the Mortal Kombat franchise, whose huge bulging biceps and loud demeanour are his primary defining traits. 
What I really want to see is black female characters being promoted from supporting characters to leading ladies. There are heaps of potential for an original IP centring on a black female protagonist, one who is far beyond a walking, talking, pixelated stereotype. 
With regards to black female characters in video games, we’ve had Jacqui Briggs in Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11, Marlene in Naughty Dog’s masterpiece The Last of Us, and Nadine Ross in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. The latter two are both hardened characters who proved to be compelling, nuanced protagonists for the most part. But they were also both in dire need of more screen time. I think that in order to make a captivating black female character, she needs to have depth and vulnerability rather than just the very lazily written ‘strong black woman’ trait. We’ve got the upcoming Deathloop from Arkane Studios, the masterminds behind Dishonored 2, which shows a glimpse of promise with a black female protagonist, though she too appears to be another stone-cold killer. 
Change from within

A character being representative of more diversity is a good thing. The people we play as need far more than just representation as a reason to exist, otherwise, it becomes tokenism. Fans like myself will not only pay close attention to characters, but also the people creating them. I have a hard time thinking of many black developers who are prominent and highly regarded within the industry today. 
The industry needs to recognise the value of bringing on more black developers to bring that insight not only into the games and characters but the industry as a whole. These are people who’ve lived and breathed the experience and understand the complexities in order to tell these much-needed stories and portray black characters in a faithful and enthralling way. I just really hope that there’s more implementation of black characters in video games who feel earnest and authentic. Hopefully, the doors will be flung open for developers to make their stories more inclusive and amplify black voices to the highest volume. 
Find more articles and opinion pieces from Official PlayStation Magazine here, or pick up a OPM subscription to get the magazine delivered straight to your doorstep.

#black #female #characters #promoted #supporting #characters #starring #protagonists #video #games

We need to see black female characters promoted from supporting characters to starring protagonists in video games

What a time to be a blerd! A black nerd, that is. Movies, TV shows, and comics have made huge leaps forward when it comes to diversity and representation, with the mammoth successes of Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Ironheart getting her own comic series. But, video games? Well, that’s a very different story… 
The games industry is still standing right at the back of the queue when it comes to diversity and inclusivity. As it currently stands, black characters in video games are mainly relegated to the ‘minor supporting character’ tier and are over-reliant on outdated, one-dimensional stereotypes. 
Just take a look at the opening scene of the first episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, in which series protagonist Lee Everett, a black man, sits in the back of a police car with a white police officer driving. Yep, that should tell you a lot. At least his humility made me warm to him as the story-driven series progressed, though. Then there’s Jax Briggs in the Mortal Kombat franchise, whose huge bulging biceps and loud demeanour are his primary defining traits. 
What I really want to see is black female characters being promoted from supporting characters to leading ladies. There are heaps of potential for an original IP centring on a black female protagonist, one who is far beyond a walking, talking, pixelated stereotype. 
With regards to black female characters in video games, we’ve had Jacqui Briggs in Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11, Marlene in Naughty Dog’s masterpiece The Last of Us, and Nadine Ross in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. The latter two are both hardened characters who proved to be compelling, nuanced protagonists for the most part. But they were also both in dire need of more screen time. I think that in order to make a captivating black female character, she needs to have depth and vulnerability rather than just the very lazily written ‘strong black woman’ trait. We’ve got the upcoming Deathloop from Arkane Studios, the masterminds behind Dishonored 2, which shows a glimpse of promise with a black female protagonist, though she too appears to be another stone-cold killer. 
Change from within

A character being representative of more diversity is a good thing. The people we play as need far more than just representation as a reason to exist, otherwise, it becomes tokenism. Fans like myself will not only pay close attention to characters, but also the people creating them. I have a hard time thinking of many black developers who are prominent and highly regarded within the industry today. 
The industry needs to recognise the value of bringing on more black developers to bring that insight not only into the games and characters but the industry as a whole. These are people who’ve lived and breathed the experience and understand the complexities in order to tell these much-needed stories and portray black characters in a faithful and enthralling way. I just really hope that there’s more implementation of black characters in video games who feel earnest and authentic. Hopefully, the doors will be flung open for developers to make their stories more inclusive and amplify black voices to the highest volume. 
Find more articles and opinion pieces from Official PlayStation Magazine here, or pick up a OPM subscription to get the magazine delivered straight to your doorstep.

#black #female #characters #promoted #supporting #characters #starring #protagonists #video #games


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