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Criticism of racial stereotyping in games


A piece on BlackVoiceNews explores blacks playing and portrayed in video games. The two part piece (1 and 2) by Ricard O. Jones expresses his views on the harm to blacks by racial stereotyping and obsession with gaming. Based on a 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation study that revealed black youth play video games 90 minutes a day, 30 minutes more than white youth, that "it stands to reason that blacks are the most negatively effected" by the game media's portrayal. Jones uses the "poor self-images" from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to illustrate his point. In all fairness though, the first two GTA's had a generic white guy and an Italian mobster stereotype as the anti-hero. The question being: Would it have been better not to have Carl Johnson at all? Take-Two took a bit of a risk using a black protagonist nestled in the Cali gangsta' culture of the early-'90s.

Portrayal of diverse characters in video games is a simple issue of marketing and numbers. Jones states this in the first piece's closer, "The video game industry is all about money. No one really cares about your skin color or gender if you are a well-trained video game designer or illustrator. The problem is that [black] youth and adult players see themselves as players and not designers or illustrators. Therefore unless they're motivated to get on the business end versus the player end of the video game phenomenon they will continue to be portrayed in a negative light and also miss out on a ten billion dollar a year industry."

The impact, influence and potential of minorities will certainly be part of the discussion at the Game Developers Conference's Diversity: The Window of Opportunity headed by Joseph Saulter. A similar session last year pointed to more blatantly offensive games like 25 to Life, which were crass compared to the more refined GTA: San Andreas.

See also: Jade is Latina, Asian, Black ... who knows?

[via GamePolitics]

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