Earlier this week, a story by Jason Ellis traveled around the intertubes listing 11 black video game stars. The list was tragic, highlighting that black leading characters, especially original intellectual properties, are few and far between. However, the topic of most debate had to do with the appearance of Jade, from Beyond Good and Evil, on the list. Jade was black?
It was the immediate thing we wondered about on our staff. Latina, Asian and "just tan," were terms we came up with. The crew over at Wired apparently had a similar issue. Writing up a column on racially ambiguous characters. Chris Kohler says, "The reaction to Ellis' piece would suggest that Michel Ancel and his team got it perfect with Jade. Because only a few people are suggesting that Jade 'looks' black or 'seems' Asian. They say with conviction that she is black, is Asian, is 'clearly' Latina. Everyone is right, and no one is right."
Half-Life is also master of the racially ambiguous. Alyx Vance could be a mix of anything, her look is truly exotic. Then there is always the question of Gordon Freeman. Not the most stereotypically "white" name, you never actually see him, and other than the box art -- we'd never know. Was making Freeman white, or showing him at all, a last minute marketing decision? It's a fun experiment to take Freeman and just change the pigment of his skin, it's amazing how well it works. The main point is when things are ambiguous, we see what we want to see. Personally, we don't care what race Jade is, we just want to see that girl in a sequel!