Where are all the Black People?

Within games and gaming communities alike, there is an overwhelming lack of diversity: Fantasy games like Dragon Age or Final Fantasy have a surprising lack of black and brown people aside from the few used as plot points. The addition of female soldiers in Call of Duty: WW2 had male fans in an uproar about historical accuracy—what, were women not invented in World War 2? Assassin’s Creed Odyssey let you be gay, and again, many male fans were quick to jump on the historical accuracy bandwagon and claim that no one was gay in Ancient Greece and Rome.

The few games that have an abundance of black and brown people that know of are Madden2K, and FIFAAnd even then, there aren’t that many women or lgbt representation.

Why does this matter? Because these are fantasy games and should include all races, genders, and orientations without compromising the overall gameplay experience.


Many games that claim to be “woke” in the current political climate tend to use the collective experiences of minorities/POC while not placing them within the story. Many games with morality matrices rely heavily on slavery narratives, and oppressor-oppressed narratives and conveniently leave out the people they’re about.

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Detroit: Become Human’s main characters (from left to right): Connor, Markus, and Kara

Detroit: Become Human strives to be a game that delves into heavy social commentary dealing with civil rights and freedom from second-class citizenry/slavery (for androids) and borrows speeches and ideas from notable black activists like Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and President Obama, and applies them to three relatively white-passing androids, inserting black characters as plot points to serve as connections to the real world. It is objectively a slap in the face to black history, to have civil rights be at the forefront of an honesty beautiful  game, but have so few black people in one of the blackest cities in the United States.

The game relies heavily on black culture and iconography as character quirks for the whole game: it’s set in Detroit (a city that is 83% black) in 2038 with the music and background art of the game are borrow heavily from black culture and are meant only to inspire feelings of hope and resilience for the androids’ liberation movement. However the writer, David Cage, denies any political motives for the game considering Detroit’s actual political and racial history (like the race riots of 1943 and 1967). A game like this that can be considered a “high culture” cultural production that gloss over suffering with stoic nobility, historical memories become more marketable, more palatable, and less illuminating. It’s dehumanizing as a black person, and it’s commodifying the “it was 400 years ago, get over it” argument into a pretty game with conventionally attractive characters with a sob story for people to fawn over.

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One of the many murals illustrating black people in D:BH

“There are many groups of people today who can feel the same and feel segregated for different reasons…so I wouldn’t connect this to the civil rights [movement]” —David Cage

The images in "Detroit: Become Human" are simultaneously hyper political and yet treated apolitically
Really?

I take no issue with wanting to put social commentary into cultural productions: it’s an effective way to synthesize the world around us and allows others a glimpse into individual and collective grievances that shape human experiences, but it’s a bad idea to do it like this and then ignore black people.

However, I am glad it is a game like this that allows the player to be emotionally invested and explore different open-ended storylines within one game, rather than it being something like Grand Theft Auto that exaggerates negative stereotypes of black people and lets players vicariously live the exciting and dangerous lives of black men who flagrantly break the law and use extreme violence to “solve” the problem. There’s already enough negative stereotypes of black people in the real world and real-world consequences of people acting on those stereotypes. I don’t want to see them in my video games—they’re supposed to be an escape from all that.

Get woke.

-Ishah Blasio

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Hey! No running near the pool! -300 points!

by Calvin Patimeteeporn

The debate of over play and games have raised quite a debate in class, with arguments ranging from rules of games being the main construct of the definition of game to random inclusions of Newton’s laws of gravity. About 90% of the time when we talk about play v.s. games we bring up one defining factor of games: rules. While this is a huge part of the gaming as it basically provides the structure of games, we cannot define anything with rules as a game as we have done for quite some time.

Almost everything has rules, from basic etiquette to swimming pools, yet none of these can be considered as a “game”. This is, of course, the reason why we must narrow down our definition and stop subjecting life as a game simply because we “obey the laws of gravity” (This is for you Tyler). So, while rules play a part in gaming we must also consider another trait of games and not play: a removal of the individual from reality and into a gamespace.

A swimming pool, although filled with rules, is not a game as it does not actually transfer the user to another virtual realm. The pool doesn’t take the user into a fantasy world where there is an objective, goal, or conflict, it instead just gives you a hole with water and rules. Hardly a game. Thus, we can’t consider the difference between play and games as simply rules, but rather the transportation of the user.

For instance, games such as Grand Theft Auto take gamers into a different world with different rules. A player in Liberty City in the game are subjected to different rules and privileges that normally wouldn’t be socially acceptable in real life, a key difference between games, play, and life.

granny
“In hindsight, I can see why this may have possibly been a bad idea”

That being said, I conclude that play and games are, indeed, different, but the difference between them are not just rules but rather an inclusion of a gamespace as well. A classroom has rules but it is obviously not a game (or play for that matter). Thus, these arguments of life being a game or trampoline also being a game due to the laws of the universe, can be refuted as neither of which bring the user to a gamespace.