In Black Voice News, writer and comedian Richard O. Jones (left) lays out his concerns about what he sees as racial stereotyping in video games. Says Jones:
Negative video games reinforce poor self-images in Black youth… In the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, players assume the lead character of Carl Johnson, a down-on-his-luck Black criminal who roams city streets stealing cars and helping gang members knock off rivals in drive-by shootings…
Jones includes comments from John Murray, a psychologist at Kansas State University:
If Blacks and Latinos are always portrayed as the villains, or as the victims who get killed often and easily, that is code for powerlessness. These image persist because too few minorities are in the industry. Roughly 80% of video game programmers are white, about four percent of designers are Latino, and less than three percent are Black…
Despite his misgivings about possible bias, Jones hopes to see African-Americans achieve greater representation on the business side of games:
The video game industry is all about money. No one really cares about your skin color or gender if you are a well-trained video game designer… The problem is that our youth and adult players see themselves as players and not designers… unless they’re motivated to get on the business end… they will continue to be portrayed in a negative light and also miss out on a ten billion dollar a year industry
African American females were far more likely to be victims of violence. And African American characters in general were least likely to respond to pain. It’s not representative of the world we live in. We know that children need to see people like themselves in the media. It makes them feel that people of their race are important, it gives them role models, and it tells kids that people of different backgrounds are … valuable.