Words by Jason Sewald
It’s usually customary to talk about the positive progress that black people have made throughout the ages in all fields known in this world of ours. However, it is also a time to talk about issues that plague us to this day; such as racism, and that’s what this is all about. More specifically; how racism is far from over in the video gaming community.
The first point I want to raise is the lack of black or POC main characters. The industry, at this point, has a stock template of how a video game protagonist should look. If you think of most triple A games that have come out in the past, all the main characters shared a similar vibe, and that being that they were white, middle-aged and a beard. I want to stress that this isn’t inherently a bad thing that needs to be changed, because I understand that most lead developers are white and they create characters that feel most familiar to them, but the problem comes is when there IS a black/POC character. The problem is the outrage and backlash that the developers face, although I should mention that the ones being outraged are a very small percentage, however, they are the most vocal about it usually spewing nasty retorts rather than actually critiquing and the ones that do “critique” their arguments usually fall in the line of “exclusion is bad” but at the same happily state that POC are not needed in the industry. I hope you see the irony in this.
Continuing on, the “outrage” a certain demographic of gamers like to display is very apparent on Twitch and that particular outrage is targeted at Twitches Black History Month celebrations. In short, during February, Twitch shows a ton of black streamers on their home page to promote minority content, and the donations made in each stream goes to a charity that tries to empower black and latino people in the tech industry. Personally, I think that’s a brilliant idea although if I am going to play Devil’s Advocate, I can see why others being upset that they’re being left out. However, that being said, it is only one month, and Twitch is not getting rid of anyone from the homepage to replace it all they are doing is adding more talent on to it on top of doing fantastic charity work so the outrage is, to put it politely, stupid.
Last thing that has me thinking that racism isn’t going nowhere anytime soon is that prominent content creators in the gaming community aren’t shy to throw the odd racial slur here and there. The most notable one is Pewdie Pie. Although he has apologised for it, the fact that he just casually threw it in while playing a game in incredibly heartbreaking and baffling because it really makes you think why? Not only that, but then players in chat rooms would throw out all kinds of slurs for petty reasons such as a loss. Of course, this has been going on for as long as I can remember. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is still very vivid in my mind. Back then I was very confrontational about it and scream into the mic saying all kinds of things but at this point it has me worn down so much that in any game that I enter I automatically have the chat permanently on mute.
With all that being said, it isn’t just racism. The community is still very much homophobic and sexist, however I just highlighted this particular issue because I’ve personally seen and heard it happen but that doesn’t undermine any other form discrimination that others may face. In short we still got a long way to go if we want to make the community truly open and fun for all.