I just read this article on Gamasutra, and then I realized something bad has been embedded in my gamestyle. As I read through the rant of Mitu Khandaker I gasped. Have I been avoiding games because they don't depict my ethnic background. I thought back on the last memorable game experiences, I found some clues. Scanning further I thought what games have I put off, and why? Yes, some evidence there too. Am I currently playing video games that make a case for my theory. The answer I slowly let sink in was, yes.
A big game from my past was definitely Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Playing as C.J. was comparable to living in a 90's gangsta rap music video. My days consisted of carjackings, shoot outs with the police, hydraulics on my ride, kicking it with "the homies" smoking and drinking brews (in-game). To me it was, what a gangster character would do. It was what I would do if I was a gangster. For those who want to say it was stereotypical. I would agree but would say that satirical would be a more accurate wordage. My memories of GTA:San Andreas were great, and it's easily my favorite GTA. The question now boggling me is, was it enjoyable because the character was black?
Another example that I thought back on was a little more enlightening to recap. This experience spanned over three games. Before I was lent Mass Effect by my good friend theactionfigure. I never really ventured into the Rpg genre of games. Zelda Ocarina of Times was the closest I had came to an rpg beforehand. The first aesthetic aspect of Mass Effect that lured me into the game was that I was able to make my character a black male. I was injected with a power i'd rarely experienced, so when I played I embodied that character because it incarnated me. The fact that Ashley Williams also shared the name of one of my sisters immersed me into the experience too.
I was happy to share this experience with my family. They watch me play the game and cheered for the choices they wanted me to make. The funny thing is when Mass Effect ended and it was time to pick up Mass Effect 2. When character died at the beginning I was sadden. The effects of that made me really examine this game experience, came from my second play through. Weeks before the release of Mass Effect 3 I played through the series again, but this time I made a female character. I did not want to see my guy die at the beginning of ME2 second time around. Plus the theme of the Phoenix rising from the ashes seemed more suitable for a female character at the time. The question from this adventure, did I not want to see the black male die?
First Person Perspective
The next thing I started piecing together. Do I play fps’ because I feel I am the guy? The answer is yes. When I play Battlefield I am that soldier. I am so wrapped up in the experience I feel as if that m16 is my wife. When I am piloting a Atlas D-DC in the Mechwarrior Universe I am myself. Even in the role play of the games universe I designed my characters backstory to parallel my past love life. Each of these experiences are through the first person. So in from my mind, and perspective I am me. No one can tell me otherwise. Even when playing Minecrack I build from my own perspective. With my avatar being a black guy. So the question here is, do I pick fps that allow me to be myself because, I get to be black?
Games I have yet to play
I hear Bioshock Infinite is great. I told myself that I was going to pick it up day one. Till this day i do not own Bioshock as of yet. Am I missing out on this game because the two main characters are white and not black. Do I imagine the game of Bioshock Infinite having an accurate depiction of african americans. Does the game even have blacks in Colombia? I think I have been avoiding Bioshock because of unanswered questions like this. As well as the main character is not who I subconsciously want to be. Other games that fall into this same dilemma are the Witcher 2, Far Cry 3, and Halo 4. While most people who will read this have played these titles, I haven’t. Now I been recommend each of these titles by male and female gamers. Why haven’t I ran out to pick these games up?
I can see my white buddy saying “You’re just bitter” and now I find myself thinking am I bitter...has the lack of character diversity warped my buying habits. Have I subconsciously avoided certain games because of their main character choice. When Splinter Cell comes around will I look at Sam fisher this time around and say he’s not black so i’d rather not play as him this time around.
Bottomline: At E3 I hope to see a new I.P. with a diverse lead character. SUBCONSCIOUSLFY