Makers should add more options to reduce racism in video games

Feb. 25, 2013

Shelby Shively
sshively@uccs.edu

With shootings frequenting headlines, the debate over whether or not video games cause violent behavior has been revived.

However, violence is not the only potential side effect of video games. Some video games are obviously racist, like “Grand Theft Auto.” Some are a little more subtle, and one has to take a step back and forget the story just for a minute.

For example, “Resident Evil 5” is a standard zombie-killing game. Pay attention to what’s on the screen, though, and you’ll see your character killing masses of mindless, deceased African villagers.

Other video games are more subtly racist. To see it, one has to look at who’s missing. Take Pokémon as an example.

In “Pokémon Black and White,” only three trainers throughout the game are not white. All three are black. One is a gym leader, one is a dancer and the last one is a basketball player.

In the sequels, “Pokémon Black 2″ and “Pokémon White 2,” the black gym leader has been replaced with a white gym leader.

It is ironic that the title colors for this generation are black and white, considering those are the only two racial groups the games include, but they are still not providing nearly enough representation for non-white races.

The Mass Effect series does not deserve much praise after the way it ended, but it certainly did one thing well when it offered a fully customizable character for players.

Each player could create an avatar that approximated his/her own features or at least his/her own skin tone, hair and eye colors.

There is a significant amount of programming that goes into this feature of the series, so I wouldn’t ask that all video games begin allowing players that level of customization. However, they could all offer a little more.

Three skin colors, all with the option of brown hair and brown eyes, would be an improvement for most games.

Though the Mass Effect series does a beautiful job of allowing players to customize their character, it is still lacking in representing non-white characters throughout the series.

In this age of fully fleshed-out video game worlds, there is no reason that video games can’t include more heroes, more allies, more villains and more random people to chat with of all racial backgrounds.