"Yet Another Generic White Dude" - A legitimate discussion on criticism regarding character design diversity

Pillock

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Dec 29, 2017
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Remember when we all ju
Companies make decisions that bring them most cash. I think they did their research to justify their decisions. Why should companies care about representation if it doesn't bring them more money? Why is this discussion not more in line with this "Yo, this is stupid, if they had minorities included as a main protag the game would sell 20% more, based on this and this...". Everything else is just meaningless IMO, considering we are talking about a consumeristic product. If it brings more money it makes sense, otherwise, CEO's should not care.
Respawn's last game was Apex legends. That game doesn't feature one boring white character.
 

Porky

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Remember when EA/DICE made a Star Wars game with an Indian-American/female lead and this site (along with many others) claimed to make efforts to boycott it? Relishing in the fact that it undersold targets?
 
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Mar 19, 2019
327
People can give their characters whatever sexual, religious, racial or gender identity they want. It doesn't need to "have a reason" to be like that; but alternatively, if there is no reason, narratively, to give the main character a certain identity, there is no room to complain about him not having that identity.

A la, if an MC is gay just because they're gay, that's a-okay.

If there's a narrative/thematic reason for them to be gay, and they're gay, that's great.

If there's a narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, but they're not, there's grounds for complaint.

If there's no narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, there's no room to complain about him not being gay.

A gay, black MC is by default no more interesting (bar just being uncommon for games) than a straight, white MC. How interesting they are is always, ALWAYS, about the writing surrounding them. But I also wouldn't say "there's no reason for them to be gay, black, so don't make them be gay, black" because there's also no reason to make them straight, white, so don't. In cases where there are no narrative/thematic reasons dictating the identity of the MC, the writer can do whatever the Hell they want.
 

Stampy

Member
Oct 27, 2017
72
Like micro transactions that we all love, unquestionably

Can’t criticize them because it brings them the most cash

Also, just assuming white playable characters brings more money is unfounded presumptions based on your personal biases, not anything else but you assuming
It doesn't matter if we hate microtransactions. The most important question is if it brings companies enough money to justify the alienated customers who would refrain from buying the game because of microtransactions. If the calculation strongly favors microtransaction, then, yes, it is a logical decision to include them in a game. Every company is responsible for making those decisions.

I did not presume that white playable character brings more money. I deduced it from how the market behaves. I do not make investigations to make such claims. The companies do. They make surveys asking participants if they would buy a game if a player character looked like this or that. All these samey characters are a result of those surveys and market studies. Like it or not, it is how it is, because it sells more, and developers adapt. And when it will not sell more, then it will be the other way around, but for it to happen, a market must show that it is willing to support with money such claims that diversity matters. Talking on forums means nothing to companies. If companies had market results that showed that games with white characters repeatedly performed worse than those with minorities included, now that would be something worth noting and adjusting their products to. Otherwise, pure fluff.
 
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MarcelRguez

Member
Nov 7, 2018
682
Remember when EA/DICE made a Star Wars game with a black/female lead and this site (along with many others) claimed to make efforts to boycott it? Relishing in the fact that it undersold targets?
This might surprise you, but being in favor of broader representation and being opposed to garbage monetization schemes are not views that are at conflict with each other.

In cases where there are no narrative/thematic reasons dictating the identity of the MC, the writer can do whatever the Hell they want.
And yet, when there's no explicit reason why the character has to be a part of whatever minority, or have whatever sexual orientation, it just so happens that "the writer" usually picks a white straight dude. I wonder if people in this thread have brought up this point already.

Also:
A gay, black MC is by default no more interesting (bar just being uncommon for games) than a straight, white MC.
It's no more interesting, except for the most immediately obvious reason why it's more interesting.
 

Porky

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This might surprise you, but being in favor of broader representation and being opposed to garbage monetization schemes are not views that are at conflict with each other.
They're not. But it does show what matters to certain people when push comes to shove. What "opportunities" for the non-white male protagonist they're willing to squander for the sake of a monetisation scheme that they didn't need to take part in.

This site initiates these enormous, cyclical threads of disdain for the industry's common taste but when the moment to support a minority in a leading role occurs, how much are they willing to sacrifice? Not a lot if history is anything to go by.
 

Baji Boxer

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Oct 27, 2017
5,622
The lead to the single player campaign
People can give their characters whatever sexual, religious, racial or gender identity they want. It doesn't need to "have a reason" to be like that; but alternatively, if there is no reason, narratively, to give the main character a certain identity, there is no room to complain about him not having that identity.

A la, if an MC is gay just because they're gay, that's a-okay.

If there's a narrative/thematic reason for them to be gay, and they're gay, that's great.

If there's a narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, but they're not, there's grounds for complaint.

If there's no narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, there's no room to complain about him not being gay.

A gay, black MC is by default no more interesting (bar just being uncommon for games) than a straight, white MC. How interesting they are is always, ALWAYS, about the writing surrounding them. But I also wouldn't say "there's no reason for them to be gay, black, so don't make them be gay, black" because there's also no reason to make them straight, white, so don't. In cases where there are no narrative/thematic reasons dictating the identity of the MC, the writer can do whatever the Hell they want.
That's true per most individual games, but that doesn't negate an industry problem of lack of representation (though that has improved quite a bit in recent years).

It's a case where you can see a general problem, but can rarely prove any individual creator has consciously contributed to it.

There is also a problem with behind the scenes sexism and racism at the executive level. Some have a belief that their game needs to star a white man because they've decided that's their biggest demographic. There are a lot of decisions that aren't made by creative when it comes to AAA studios working under a big publisher.

There's also favortism for straight white men in the workplace enviroment at some places. THQ Nordic having one of their executives courting white supremecists should be another wakeup call.
 
Mar 19, 2019
327
It's no more interesting, except for the most immediately obvious reason why it's more interesting.
The point is I wouldn't be anymore interested in a game because of the identity of the MC unless it actually mattered. It really worked well in Life is Strange and A Normal Lost Phone, for example, and those two games would've been nowhere near as good without those themes. But I wouldn't give any more or less of a shit about, say, Star Wars if Luke Skywalker were a gay, black transvestite because ultimately that's just people making decisions for their character that they want for their character and, for better or for worse, would likely have no bearing on how the events of the story unfolded (despite the notably extreme example_.

And yet, when there's no explicit reason why the character can't be part of whatever minority, or have whatever sexual orientation, it just so happens that "the writer" usually picks a white straight dude. I wonder if people in this thread have brought up this point already.
Yes, it's true, the writer -- no quotations necessary because they are a writer and them not going out of their way to market their product on representation doesn't make them any less of a writer -- often picks a straight white dude, and it's their right to do so, and there really isn't cause for complaint about the individual product for it. Hell, the majority of people making games are straight, white dudes and many people will instinctively write what they know, because it's easier than to write what you don't know.

It's fair to call attention to the overarching sociopolitical issues that it may be indicative of, but ultimately a game is no more better or worse off for including an MC who isn't a straight, white male without purpose -- it is interesting for the sake of being different and is no more involved or meaningful for that, and representation on those grounds would seem to me disingenuous and intentionally marketing-driven. Individual products do not need to burden the brunt of these complaints. This is just like when people complained about Toothless in the new How To Train Your Dragon movie being in a heterosexual relationship -- there's no reason why he wouldn't be. If he wasn't in one, that's fine, but there's no reason why he wouldn't be in one, and putting Toothless in a gay relationship would've been the most empty, corporate pandering and disingenuous representation you could ask for.

You can ask for more games that demand representation, but altogether, a game not going out of their way to represent minorities is, while, yes, perhaps not-good, isn't really cause for complaint. Especially when, though oftentimes it is, the choice of an MC's identity may be entirely apolitical.
 
Oct 28, 2017
849
I think what you're getting at is that people sometimes conflate "Europe" with "white identity" and people only think about either Western or Northern Europe when they hear that. Entire ethnicities get subordinated to that interpretation, but this is not any different than what happens with terms like "black culture" or "asian culture", they're equally reductive. You have to apply those terms to specific countries, or they don't mean anything by themselves.
Outside of the rejection of other semi-arbitrarily constructed racial categories, what exactly are the markers of 'white identity'? Even the notion of an 'Asian identity' is a little strange. More often than not, it appears to refer to a shared culture within the Asian diaspora rather than within South-East Asia itself. 'Black identity', in many ways, appears as a unique phenomenon insofar as it refers to a specific set of cultural touchstones that emerged out of a shared experience of colonial (and post-colonial) oppression.

There may be historical precedents for applying a 'whiteness' to certain Western European ethnicities (even if I'm not entirely convinced that most people think about themselves in those terms) but it definitely becomes more difficult when dealing with individual Eastern European countries - especially those who were repeatedly conquered and reformed by the Ottomans/Austro-Hungarians/whoever. To take an odd example, Romania doesn't just consist of Romanians - it also consists of ethnically German, Magyar/Hungarian and Romani minorities, none of whom think of themselves in monolithic terms.
 
Oct 31, 2017
4,348
They're not. But it does show what matters to certain people when push comes to shove. What "opportunities" for the non-white male protagonist they're willing to squander for the sake of a monetisation scheme that they didn't need to take part in.

This site initiates these enormous, cyclical threads of disdain for the industry's common taste but when the moment to support a minority in a leading role occurs, how much are they willing to sacrifice? Not a lot if history is anything to go by.
You’re purposely conflating different groups for no reason. The people who want diverse representation in main characters didn’t boycott Battlefront 2.

Did San Andreas and AC: Origins have the same reception as Battlefront 2? No, because they weren’t developed around micro-transactions.
 

MarcelRguez

Member
Nov 7, 2018
682
They're not. But it does show what matters to certain people when push comes to shove. What "opportunities" for the non-white male protagonist they're willing to squander for the sake of a monetisation scheme that they didn't need to take part in.

This site initiates these enormous, cyclical threads of disdain for the industry's common taste but when the moment to support a minority in a leading role occurs, how much are they willing to sacrifice? Not a lot if history is anything to go by.
I'm not seeing it. People didn't boycott BFII because cut-content DLC or because it made you pay for cosmetics. Those are the kind of monetization schemes you can opt out from. The conversation around this game escalated way, way beyond that. If this was, say, Mankind Divided, and Mankind Divided had a minority lead, then maybe I could see your point, but not for a multiplayer-oriented online shooter in which the single-player mode feels like an add-on, sorry.



The point is I wouldn't be anymore interested in a game because of the identity of the MC unless it actually mattered.
And my point is that you're not the arbiter of what's 'interesting', and this is not about you. It's about other being able to see themselves in media.

Yes, it's true, the writer -- no quotations necessary because they are a writer and them not going out of their way to market their product on representation doesn't make them any less of a writer
Quotations necessary because the writer of the game might not have any input whatsoever on the ethnicity and gender of the main lead. From all we know, that might come from higher up.

You can ask for more games that demand representation, but altogether, a game not going out of their way to represent minorities is, while, yes, perhaps not-good, isn't really cause for complaint. Especially when, though oftentimes it is, the choice of an MC's identity may be entirely apolitical.
Don't divorce the conversation from its context. It's not about 'a' game, it's about the first story-driven Star Wars game since ages ago, after the new trilogy and adjacent media established new standards in the franchise. The context surrounding it is what makes this case particularly egregious.
 

Blindy

Member
Nov 16, 2017
1,450
Character diversity doesn't matter too much to me, it doesn't make me buy a game. Don't get me wrong, would I like to play something like a Hindu or Egyptian setting? Absolutely. I think there is a saturation of Japanese style AAA games ala Sekiro and Ghost of Tsuhima and Nioh/NiOh 2 yeah and it gets a bit draining on how far they can go with this setting and yes I can admit that there is a whole bunch of American settings filled with the same tropes and what not but at the same time, if that is the ambition of the creators then who am I to gripe? As long as the game is good and fun and worth the money and time investment, I am happy.

The character designs don't really matter much to me at all. Sometimes I even lose sight of how they look as I am purely focused on the task and surroundings.

Lee Everett could be black or white or Hindu or Hispanic or Native American and it would not have mattered on how much I enjoyed TWDS1 and get the same empathy and connection that I did with he and Clementine. All because the writing was so darn good and it was a great experience/ride.
 

Gotdatmoney

Member
Oct 28, 2017
7,930
This is just like when people complained about Toothless in the new How To Train Your Dragon movie being in a heterosexual relationship -- there's no reason why he wouldn't be. If he wasn't in one, that's fine, but there's no reason why he wouldn't be in one, and putting Toothless in a gay relationship would've been the most empty, corporate pandering and disingenuous representation you could ask for.
Eh why would putting him in a gay relationship be corporate pandering? Who are you to decide that?

You're whole post is really this thin veiled, "its cool for stuff to never change because why should they change?"
 
Oct 30, 2017
251
I feel like the hate "white people" inflict on "white people" usually stems from culture, not as much from race. Remember, the word 'ethnicity' encompasses a wide variety of identitary traits. These types of discrimination can't be considered the same due to that alone, "race" is the factor that causes the stronger rejection of others.

I think what you're getting at is that people sometimes conflate "Europe" with "white identity" and people only think about either Western or Northern Europe when they hear that. Entire ethnicities get subordinated to that interpretation, but this is not any different than what happens with terms like "black culture" or "asian culture", they're equally reductive. You have to apply those terms to specific countries, or they don't mean anything by themselves.
I actually don't know where to begin with this whole topic:

First of all, growing up in Germany, the word "race" is not used here, if you talk about "race" in Germany or organize people into "races" there is a high probability that people will think you are straight up Nazi, as "Rassentheorie" was a main driver in the Nazi propaganda to differentiate themselves from Slavs, Africans, whatever. I somewhat understand why Americans use this term, but I cringe every time I read it as I grew up with the premise that "races" don't exist and only Nazis speak in those terms.


Second thing, growing up as someone from the Balkans you are going to get shit from Germans for your ethnicity, therefore skin color was never the main motivator for me why people will hate on others as much as the area where you come from, or the sole reason that you are not "from their country". Turks for example are easier to differentiate and get more shit (largest minority here + they are muslim) and black people would probably get the most shit, but there are just not much black people in comparison to Balkan / Turks / Arabs / Eastern Europe people.

Furthermore, I come from a region that had a bloody civil war because people wanted to have their own identities (Slovenians, Bosnians, Croats, Serbs, etc.), that's why they are going to identify with their country, people and culture more than anything. Brushing us together as "Caucasians" or in the same vein as Northern Europeans or Americans is fucking stupid.


That said, a lot of Croats are far too nationalistic because of this, will fucking hate on other Balkan people, Germans and be "racist" against muslims (don't know how you call it if you discriminate against other religions), basically everything that doesn't fit into their culture. You probably also read about how Eastern Europeans are shitting on LGBTQ people because of their religious believes.


So, welcome to Europe, where everyone hates everyone for everything. Thank God we have the European Union.


Therefore: Playing as some random american soldier for the millionth time is nothing I care about either and him being white doesn't mean shit to me, regarding to this sentence: "You take it so for granted that you will see your race in media that now you can move onto wanted to see people from even your specific country on top of that. Honestly, that sounds like the very definition of white privilege to me." This sentence is just as bland as the character on the front page.
 
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Yurinka

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Oct 30, 2017
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MarcelRguez

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Nov 7, 2018
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Outside of the rejection of other semi-arbitrarily constructed racial categories, what exactly are the markers of 'white identity'? Even the notion of an 'Asian identity' is a little strange. More often than not, it appears to refer to a shared culture within the Asian diaspora rather than within South-East Asia itself. 'Black identity', in many ways, appears as a unique phenomenon insofar as it refers to a specific set of cultural touchstones that emerged out of a shared experience of colonial (and post-colonial) oppression.

There may be historical precedents for applying a 'whiteness' to certain Western European ethnicities (even if I'm not entirely convinced that most people think about themselves in those terms) but it definitely becomes more difficult when dealing with individual Eastern European countries - especially those who were repeatedly conquered and reformed by the Ottomans/Austro-Hungarians/whoever. To take an odd example, Romania doesn't just consist of Romanians - it also consists of ethnically German, Magyar/Hungarian and Romani minorities, none of whom think of themselves in monolithic terms.
If you're asking me, personally, I have no idea. I guess the most widespread interpretation might be that of anglo-saxon whiteness due to the global expansion of the British Empire, but, beyond that, everything else starts to sound like white supremacist propaganda to me. As a Western European myself, I don't know much about how Eastern Europeans see themselves as, but I do know that my ignorance in this topic is not uncommon, and that it exists by design.

Therefore: Playing as some random american soldier for the millionth time is nothing I care about either and him being white doesn't mean shit to me, regarding to this sentence: "You take it so for granted that you will see your race in media that now you can move onto wanted to see people from even your specific country on top of that. Honestly, that sounds like the very definition of white privilege to me." This sentence is just as bland as the character on the front page.
Look, I empathize with everything you're saying (your experience isn't that removed from my own, either), and it's not like I disagree, even. The thing is, what that person said might not apply to your case, but it is true for other "white-passing/perceived" ethnicities. I agree that using terms as all-encompassing as white race remove a lot of nuance from the conversation, and that it's wrong to conflate ethnicity with nationality.
 

Swenhir

Member
Oct 28, 2017
503
People can give their characters whatever sexual, religious, racial or gender identity they want. It doesn't need to "have a reason" to be like that; but alternatively, if there is no reason, narratively, to give the main character a certain identity, there is no room to complain about him not having that identity.

A la, if an MC is gay just because they're gay, that's a-okay.

If there's a narrative/thematic reason for them to be gay, and they're gay, that's great.

If there's a narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, but they're not, there's grounds for complaint.

If there's no narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, there's no room to complain about him not being gay.

A gay, black MC is by default no more interesting (bar just being uncommon for games) than a straight, white MC. How interesting they are is always, ALWAYS, about the writing surrounding them. But I also wouldn't say "there's no reason for them to be gay, black, so don't make them be gay, black" because there's also no reason to make them straight, white, so don't. In cases where there are no narrative/thematic reasons dictating the identity of the MC, the writer can do whatever the Hell they want.
What you said. The best example I can find is Nilin from Remember Me. She's the main protagonist of a gorgeous, refreshing cyberpunk adventure who also happens to be black and a woman. And it doesn't have the slightest bearing on the story. What you focus on as a player is the experience. She just happens to be that skin color and gender. The game plays to those elements in that that's who she is and the writing acknowledges that but it doesn't bear any specific meaning pertaining to those either. It's just - yeah, that's who the protagonist is. Why not?

I was stunned by the fact that the reality that she was such an underrepresented type of character in games came to me as a complete afterthought, way behind how much I had loved the world, art direction and story. I hadn't noticed. The fact that ts was so frictionless while the character herself had such a personality and... well, character was a testament to your point and Dontnod's writing ability that they further demonstrated down the line.

I guess what I'm saying is that when people talk about representation and identity in games there's this fear of being unsubtly bonked over the head and talked down to like a child. Remember Me was a powerful demonstration that it doesn't have to be and a starting point to do it right, in my opinion.

That, and I'll take any excuse to gush about this game :p.
 
Oct 30, 2017
251
Look, I empathize with everything you're saying (your experience isn't that removed from my own, either), and it's not like I disagree, even. The thing is, what that person said might not apply to your case, but it is true for other "white-passing/perceived" ethnicities. I agree that using terms as all-encompassing as white race remove a lot of nuance from the conversation, and that it's wrong to conflate ethnicity with nationality.
I agree with that anyway, there are billions of people living in Africa and Asia who are far too underrepresented in media given their population size.

Furthermore, I still don't understand why executives care that much about who the main character is (movies and games), I bet my ass that 80% of mainstream people (not talking about right-wing edgelord gamers) don't care who or what the character is, they just take whatever they get as long as it's entertaining, therefore go wild.

The character on the front page is just as boring as it gets.
 

10k

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,267
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Star Wars has dozens of alien races and genders and the Respawn chose a white male protagonist played by Gotham's The Joker.

That's one of two complaints about the game so far.

The other is no gameplay being shown off.
 

MarcelRguez

Member
Nov 7, 2018
682
Furthermore, I still don't understand why executives care that much about who the main character is (movies and games), I bet my ass that 80% of mainstream people (not talking about right-wing edgelord gamers) don't care who or what the character is, they just take whatever they get as long as it's entertaining, therefore go wild.
Yeah, I can't help but think of that as well when I see how popular Fortnite and other games with a diverse roster are. It's clear that not having a default white character hasn't scared away the white majority, so what's the issue?
 

IvorB

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,639
Yeah, but being "white" is not our main differentiator. That's not a "additional point".

Bosnia for example can be a wild mix of darker muslim bosnians who look like turks and white as hell croatians.

People in Europe will hate on other "white" people just as on Black people if it fits their xenophobia / racism, because nation / ethnicity comes first.

That said, all of this "identification" stuff is stupid if it's used to shit on other groups.


That was not a direct comparison between Croatians and e.g. Black people, as it wasn't even the main point of my post.


Dude, I don't identify with the "white race", you don't get it?
It's nice that you have the privilege to not even think about your race or "identify with it" as you say. In a perfect world everyone could live like that. People that never see anyone who looks like them in media or face discrimination for their race don't think this "identification stuff is stupid". They have no choice but to think about their race and how it affects them. That's why I said your perspective comes from a position of innate privilege.
 

alexiswrite

Member
Oct 27, 2017
458
I actually don't know where to begin with this whole topic:

First of all, growing up in Germany, the word "race" is not used here, if you talk about "race" in Germany or organize people into "races" there is a high probability that people will think you are straight up Nazi, as "Rassentheorie" was a main driver in the Nazi propaganda to differentiate themselves from Slavs, Africans, whatever. I somewhat understand why Americans use this term, but I cringe every time I read it as I grew up with the premise that "races" don't exist and only Nazis speak in those terms.


Second thing, growing up as someone from the Balkans you are going to get shit from Germans for your ethnicity, therefore skin color was never the main motivator for me why people will hate on others as much as the area where you come from, or the sole reason that you are not "from their country". Turks for example are easier to differentiate and get more shit (largest minority here + they are muslim) and black people would probably get the most shit, but there are just not much black people in comparison to Balkan / Turks / Arabs / Eastern Europe people.

Furthermore, I come from a region that had a bloody civil war because people wanted to have their own identities (Slovenians, Bosnians, Croats, Serbs, etc.), that's why they are going to identify with their country, people and culture more than anything. Brushing us together as "Caucasians" or in the same vein as Northern Europeans or Americans is fucking stupid.


That said, a lot of Croats are far too nationalistic because of this, will fucking hate on other Balkan people, Germans and be "racist" against muslims (don't know how you call it if you discriminate against other religions), basically everything that doesn't fit into their culture. You probably also read about how Eastern Europeans are shitting on LGBTQ people because of their religious believes.


So, welcome to Europe, where everyone hates everyone for everything. Thank God we have the European Union.


Therefore: Playing as some random american soldier for the millionth time is nothing I care about either and him being white doesn't mean shit to me, regarding to this sentence: "You take it so for granted that you will see your race in media that now you can move onto wanted to see people from even your specific country on top of that. Honestly, that sounds like the very definition of white privilege to me." This sentence is just as bland as the character on the front page.
I don't disagree most of what you're saying, but I feel like you're missing the way different Identities can be activated, based on different circumstances. For black people not in Africa, the racial part of our identity is constantly under attack. That's why it's so activated, in the US and in Europe. For white people in Europe, like you, who may have had other parts of your identity under attack, those national parts of your identity may be way more activated than your racial identity. This is completely fine and normal. However, I think you should recognise, that to black people (in both the US and Europe) the part of European white people's identity that interacts with them is primarily race and not nationality. That's why Black people across Europe can still really resonate with something like Black Panther. And, that's why the framing of these conversations as Americacentric is troubling to me, because it ignores all the POC in Europe who certainly don't feel that way.
 

Aftermath

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,756


Whilst your at it ^^ Go back and buy her game - Battlefront 2 if you haven’t there is still time and it’s reasonably priced, play her campaign.

Tell all your friends to buy it too, I did.
 

Yukari

Member
Mar 28, 2018
3,373
Thailand
Star Wars has dozens of alien races and genders and the Respawn chose a white male protagonist played by Gotham's The Joker.

That's one of two complaints about the game so far.

The other is no gameplay being shown off.
Blame Lucasfilm Story Group.
They would told Respawn to change MC race if they think Lead Character in game should be Alien Race.
 

The Albatross

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,687
I prefer seeing more diverse stories told through diverse characters. Variety is the spice of life. In general, I think you'll get more diverse storytelling when you feature more diverse characters. OF course, there's always exceptions: Franklin in GTAV was a person of color, but his story was by far the most generic story of the three main characters in that game. But, I think Franklin is the exception here, and Rockstar showed a lot of growth with story telling in RDRII. I found the stories of the PoC and minority characters in Dutch's gang to be as interesting or more interesting than most of the other characters.

I do think we need to wait until the dust settles on a new game before determining if the character is generic or not, or if the game is not representative of diverse storytelling, just based on how they look in a trailer, reveal, or when the game first launches.

For instance, a major thread popped up when RDRII was revealed putting Arthur into the "Generic white guy" category, and then dismissing the game as being more of the same. And yet, after playing it, RDRII is one of the best examples of diverse storytelling as you can get... Authentic, never cheesy, not a cop-out, doesn't just have a PoC or minority character for the sake of one and them having them just have a generic story (I see Franklin from GTAV in this way). Charles Smith, a character with a native American mother and black civil war soldier father, is one of my favorite characters of any game in years; Tilly Jackson, a black character, has a great personal storyline; Sadie Adler, while not a PoC is an assertive woman outlaw and it's not just a copout, being a woman is integral to her storyline in a way that very few games ever try to address in that way. In an industry where so many minority characters are more or less caricatures of real people, Red Dead Redemption II does it better than any other game. WIth Charles Smith, RDRII does what a lot of minority characters in even other industries like books, movies, and TV shows, don't do well. So many movies, TV shows, etc., make the native American characters as just "noble Indians," removing their flaws and making them like supernatural ubermensch, with very few genuine, human interests and characteristics. RDRII Doesn't do this, it's among the best of any mainstream entertainment medium.

There was a vocal minority who criticized Rockstar for Arthur's design prior to RDR2 coming out, criticizing him as generic... White, with coifed hair, not grizzled, handsome, which they found boring. But, the character was anything but boring; was anything but a cleancut handsome man, especially as the story progressives, and he has real depth. I think it's fair to wait for the games to come out before judging them, because if we brought back that thread about RDR2, all of the people harshly judging the game before it came out would be embarrassingly wrong.
 
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WrenchNinja

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,892
Canada
RDR2's protagonist still looks like a generic white dude though. Whether he's deeper than he looks doesn't really matter to me, Ive already been through a million white cowboy stories lamenting their life already. I don't really care if the NPCs are interesting PoCs, when they're supporting characters in another white Cowboy's story.
 

RPGamer

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,432
User Banned (1 month): Characterizing inclusivity efforts as extremism, dismissing concerns surrounding representation, previous severe infractions
Asked this in the other thread, but this looks like a more appropriate place for it. Is the representation argument primarily stemming from US citizens, or is this a global criticism of all media?
It's a more western thing (not racism, that is a worldwide thing). I don't think Bollywood, african or asian movies are asked the same questions for their movies, most places don't allow for massive immigration from all around the world anyway and/or are not attractive for immigrants enough. I don't think you will find many african movies with white or asian protagonists (aside from South Africa and that probably has already changed), or Bollywood movies, or chinese or japanese (that are not anime) or Pakistan movies that feature white or black protagonists etc. The bigger part of the world is more focused on its own people.


I agree with that anyway, there are billions of people living in Africa and Asia who are far too underrepresented in media given their population size.

Furthermore, I still don't understand why executives care that much about who the main character is (movies and games), I bet my ass that 80% of mainstream people (not talking about right-wing edgelord gamers) don't care who or what the character is, they just take whatever they get as long as it's entertaining, therefore go wild.

The character on the front page is just as boring as it gets.
Asia has their own versions of Hollywood, there are also african movies (not as many as in India for example, but they exist), only the west wants to provide movies and media for the whole world. For the US it should be normal to include black and asian people anyway, they are part of that country since hundreds of years.

As for your nationalism vs. racism thoughts i agree as a german without migration background, it's a different situation than in the US and many americans won't find it easy to understand that (as it's hard for many europeans to understand the US racial debattes). I see americans with hispanic background talking against whites that i would deem white in a european context....... A bit off-topic: I love Ex-Yugoslavia states though and if you feel better, as a german you will get some shit there too lol (many stereotypes, not only in croatia, there we are called Svabos). UK or france is much more hostile to germans (some people) though.


For me the whole racial discussion in the US seems a bit counterproductive and even more dividing. As for movies i guess most people (besides extremist minorities) won't care about the race of the protagonist if the movie or game is good and interesting. It's probably different if you change an established characters skincolor and heritage.
 
Oct 27, 2017
14,270
Companies make decisions that bring them most cash. I think they did their research to justify their decisions. Why should companies care about representation if it doesn't bring them more money? Why is this discussion not more in line with this "Yo, this is stupid, if they had minorities included as a main protag the game would sell 20% more, based on this and this...". Everything else is just meaningless IMO, considering we are talking about a consumeristic product. If it brings more money it makes sense, otherwise, CEO's should not care.
Ah yes, the same bullshit excuse that justified only white male leads in movies for decades, but actively ignores minority led movies/series that do well.
 

LinLeigh

Member
Oct 25, 2017
152
People can give their characters whatever sexual, religious, racial or gender identity they want. It doesn't need to "have a reason" to be like that; but alternatively, if there is no reason, narratively, to give the main character a certain identity, there is no room to complain about him not having that identity.

A la, if an MC is gay just because they're gay, that's a-okay.

If there's a narrative/thematic reason for them to be gay, and they're gay, that's great.

If there's a narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, but they're not, there's grounds for complaint.

If there's no narrative/theme that would benefit from them being gay, there's no room to complain about him not being gay.

A gay, black MC is by default no more interesting (bar just being uncommon for games) than a straight, white MC. How interesting they are is always, ALWAYS, about the writing surrounding them. But I also wouldn't say "there's no reason for them to be gay, black, so don't make them be gay, black" because there's also no reason to make them straight, white, so don't. In cases where there are no narrative/thematic reasons dictating the identity of the MC, the writer can do whatever the Hell they want.
I don't actually agree. Growing up a tomboy meant most of my media was centered around white males.

For many years my absolute favourite movie was Bad Girls. Was it better than other movies or even other westerns that I watched around that time? Hell no. Yet as a teenage girl being able to watch a group of women being the leads and kicking ass was more than enough to make the moving more interesting.

In Mass Effect the female lead is far more interesting for me than just the difference in voice acting can explain. Yet the writing is identical.
 

Terrell

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,099
Canada
They're not. But it does show what matters to certain people when push comes to shove. What "opportunities" for the non-white male protagonist they're willing to squander for the sake of a monetisation scheme that they didn't need to take part in.

This site initiates these enormous, cyclical threads of disdain for the industry's common taste but when the moment to support a minority in a leading role occurs, how much are they willing to sacrifice? Not a lot if history is anything to go by.
Let's perform a thought experiment using this logic.

Let's say I'm thirsty. I'm given a drink that's laced with poison. I know it's laced with poison, and I know there were drinks that could have easily been offered without the poison, so I refuse to drink it.

By your logic, I couldn't have possibly been that thirsty if I wasn't willing to risk my health and well-being drinking what was given to me.
I shouldn't be forced to drink poison just to slake my thirst, but apparently, you are of the belief that I MUST, or my thirst wasn't real or important. But my refusing to take a drink doesn't mean that I'm not still thirsty, nor will one single drink end my thirst permanently.

You see how the logic you've presented is total bullshit, right?

To put this logic experiment more in the context of this discussion, by your reasoning, people should be happy to have female protagonists that are overtly sexualized, because they got more women protagonists like they asked for. Guess if people complain about the sexualization, female protagonists weren't all that important to them, by your stated logic.

Hopefully that illustrates why the logic you've presented is bullshit even further within the context of this conversation. One shouldn't be forced to choke down anything they're given for the sake of what they want, especially when that itself sets a precedent that it can keep happening.

The point is I wouldn't be anymore interested in a game because of the identity of the MC unless it actually mattered. It really worked well in Life is Strange and A Normal Lost Phone, for example, and those two games would've been nowhere near as good without those themes. But I wouldn't give any more or less of a shit about, say, Star Wars if Luke Skywalker were a gay, black transvestite because ultimately that's just people making decisions for their character that they want for their character and, for better or for worse, would likely have no bearing on how the events of the story unfolded (despite the notably extreme example_.



Yes, it's true, the writer -- no quotations necessary because they are a writer and them not going out of their way to market their product on representation doesn't make them any less of a writer -- often picks a straight white dude, and it's their right to do so, and there really isn't cause for complaint about the individual product for it. Hell, the majority of people making games are straight, white dudes and many people will instinctively write what they know, because it's easier than to write what you don't know.

It's fair to call attention to the overarching sociopolitical issues that it may be indicative of, but ultimately a game is no more better or worse off for including an MC who isn't a straight, white male without purpose -- it is interesting for the sake of being different and is no more involved or meaningful for that, and representation on those grounds would seem to me disingenuous and intentionally marketing-driven. Individual products do not need to burden the brunt of these complaints. This is just like when people complained about Toothless in the new How To Train Your Dragon movie being in a heterosexual relationship -- there's no reason why he wouldn't be. If he wasn't in one, that's fine, but there's no reason why he wouldn't be in one, and putting Toothless in a gay relationship would've been the most empty, corporate pandering and disingenuous representation you could ask for.

You can ask for more games that demand representation, but altogether, a game not going out of their way to represent minorities is, while, yes, perhaps not-good, isn't really cause for complaint. Especially when, though oftentimes it is, the choice of an MC's identity may be entirely apolitical.
So, developers can keep choosing straight white male protagonists over and over and over and we are given no quarter to voice a concern. Got it. Pack it up, folks, the industry is how it is and we have no cause for complaint, since we've been left with no opportunity to voice a concern when an example is presented.

It's a more western thing (not racism, that is a worldwide thing). I don't think Bollywood, african or asian movies are asked the same questions for their movies, most places don't allow for massive immigration from all around the world anyway and/or are not attractive for immigrants enough. I don't think you will find many african movies with white or asian protagonists (aside from South Africa and that probably has already changed), or Bollywood movies, or chinese or japanese (that are not anime) or Pakistan movies that feature white or black protagonists etc. The bigger part of the world is more focused on its own people.
That you had to exclude anime brings up the larger reason why this is the case: without actors to play the part, how can they have a more diverse cast? In the case of Japan, anime (and thus video games) are not bound to the same constraints of having a real person being depicted, and thus you see more diversity in the cast of characters, especially when many of those products are marketed overseas.
And considering how much North American entertainment is exported to those countries as mainstream entertainment, their popular culture features more diversity than their own populations reflect. While the same cannot be said of modern Europe and North America.

And I take issue with the use of the term "extremist minority" for people who advocate for broader representation of women, PoC and LGBTQ persons.
 
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Dalcop

Member
Nov 28, 2017
251
It's nice that you have the privilege to not even think about your race or "identify with it" as you say. In a perfect world everyone could live like that. People that never see anyone who looks like them in media or face discrimination for their race don't think this "identification stuff is stupid". They have no choice but to think about their race and how it affects them. That's why I said your perspective comes from a position of innate privilege.
I think it's unfair to try and dismiss this point of view simply from an assumed place of privilege. I'm black and I don't often see people who specifically look like me in certain media, nor do I feel represented when I do. I've also felt discrimination for my race from all sorts of people, so it's certainly something that's on my mind. But I also don't define myself via that aspect of my identity. I don't think that viewpoint comes from an innate privilege, other than the privilege of not defining myself by my color. It's fine to disagree with the importance of media representation, but it's not exactly fair to say you only disagree because you can't understand the other side, which could easily be said of either party in any discussion.
 
Mar 25, 2019
148
I think developers sell their white/male audience members short by assuming that they wouldn't want to play a game starring a character of another race or gender. It makes me frustrated and sand that developers/publishers have this little faith in their audience to be open-minded. There's always going to be Internet blow-hards. The vast, vast majority of us rational people just tune them out.

That being said, it might make the most sense for developers of these types of high-profile/story-driven games to take the approach of allowing the player to build the main character themselves with whatever traits they wish (race/gender/sex/ethnicity). This is a major component of Skyrim's success, I think!
 

Zambayoshi

Member
Nov 2, 2017
100
Nah, you're framing the argument in a disingenious way. When you say 'ethnicity', you aren't picturing the devs making a choice between different minorities, but makikg the choice of white protagonist vs every other non-white. From a representation perspective, there absolutely is an objective answer to the framing you actually have in mind.

If what you actually want to say is that video game companies don't have the social obligation of catering to minorities, then own it and say it. If that's not your point, then reflect on what you just wrote. Twice.
What I'm saying is that no matter what choice the devs make, there are always people who will complain because they think that [INSERT MINORITY HERE] should have been chosen. White, black, Asian, latino, whatever: the devs can't please everyone. And yes, I was picturing the devs making a choice between different minorities (and also white, which may or may not be a minority in your part of the world). Sorry if you misunderstood me.

Yes, there are always people who will get into the argument that there is a social requirement for devs to choose non-white protagonists to somehow redress historical social injustices and make games 'representative' of real world demographics. I'm not one of those people.