Video games are evolving into more and more elaborate forms, but they’re still dominated by white or Asian protagonists. Writing for The Escapist, Chris LaVigne asks, why aren’t other races and cultures being represented in video games?
The argument for more minorities in video games has been made before, notably in a 2003 article by Ernest Adams, but discourse usually concerns the portrayals of black and Hispanic people in games like Grant Theft Auto. What LaVigne advocates is a way for games to reflect today’s high level of globalization.
As an example of what not to do, LaVigne cites the popular game Tomb Raider, which takes place in Peru, yet the native Peruvians are relegated almost entirely to the background and never speak. And with the glut of World War II games like the Call of Duty series, LaVigne wonders why gamers can’t play as “the Filipino soldiers who fought alongside American forces at the Battle of Luzon to free their capitol city, Manila? Why can’t we play as the Rhodesians (now Zimbabweans) who fought with the British military against Axis forces? It was a world war, after all. Why don’t developers see the value of telling these unique stories instead of giving us the same ‘good ol’ boy’ Yankees and ‘stiff upper lip’ Britons that were already clichés when they were first introduced?”
Games like Resident Evil 5 (with African characters and setting) and Prince of Persia are headed in the right direction, according to LaVigne. Hopefully, he writes, developers will stop “babying their audience” and open them up to a genuine representation of the world, digital or otherwise.