Writer Criticizes Perceived Racial Stereotyping in Games

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

In part two of his article, Jones offers comments from Eileen Espejo of Children Now’s Children and the Media Program:

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.

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  1. 0
    Kingsirmixalots says:

    Also….I am African Asian American and I find issues in they way people are presented in every way. You watch MTV you get one perception, BET, another…. those are just examples of of channels that present people…Ethnics groups. Its is probably impossible to escape it. People present themselves they want to. I personally present myself the way I want to be perceived at a given time in a given day during a certain year. I don’t give a damn who sees me and what their opinion is unless it really matters that much. I just like to be me.

  2. 0
    Kingsirmixalots says:

    In my opinion a little game as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas can influence children’s minds. Many older gamers understand that this game is based off the 90s and CJ revenging his mother death. True gamers play for the story and don’t focus on all the stereotyping issues. We play the game for the game. Well at least I do, I play for gameplay, if its fun, and the story. Children, if they manage to get a hold of many mature rated games, don’t fully comprehend what is going on. They just play the game and think its so cool and THEY DO absorb what they are watching… there kids. I remember so many things as a child that never made sense to me but I would repeat or copy because people where laughing around me. Out of context.. Ace Venture Pet Detective how many people remember watching that as a young child. I watched it and didn’t understand half the damn movie but I went to school and all us little kids talked about it and re enacted many parts of it laughing because it was so eww or haha. That movie was very inappropriate for children but hey that was the past. I have to write a paper about stereotyping in games and its true alittle can effect alot of people. I just finished reading an article on CBC news about Asian stereotyping. The researcher explained how Asians are depicted as crazy Kung Fu masters or ninjas who woop everyones ass. No games don’t always have to have a white villain but the problem is their is more stuff portraying white people as good. It outweighs itself in my opinion. Same with movies so what do you expect. The lack of diversity in different ethnic heroes or even their representation overall can change anyones opinion. I love video games and truthfully this is the first time i really analyzed the racial issues of video games.

    My points is older gamers understand video games we play for story content, gameplay, and fun. Children usually think everything is cool and amazingly fun and will base their opinions on what they see. Mature people will not going into a racial tangent but a child would without even knowing. The only way to end racial stereotyping is for parents and older people to restrict what their children watch or play.

  3. 0
    Daniel says:

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article Writer Criticizes Perceived Racial Stereotyping in Games, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  4. 0
    Melvin says:

    I would have to agree on multiple levels with RJ’s assertion. As an African American gamer, it appears obvious that the ontology of whiteness dominates videogames. It would be fallacious to assume that institutional racism and individual stereotyping wouldn’t be perpetuated in this form of entertainment on any level. But what do we as Americans expect from the institution that created the institution of slavery, disenfranchisement, Jim Crow, segregation, and many other forms of injustices towards people of color? These ideas are the double helix that continue to perpetuate racism and stereotyping in entertainment; here, video games. No one wants to engage in intelligent discussions about racism in videogames, as if the big purple elephant is not in the room. Maybe the misrepresentation of certain ethnicities can shift once people of color can get into positions that would allow/force such a change.

  5. 0
    BobbytheKnight says:

    Do you guys even read before you post? He did not call it racist .
    “why should Black people have a problem playing as a White character?” Did he say that there is a problem with black kids playing games with whites? NO he did not, he just said it would be good to have some black role models as well.
    “He’s just stirring up attention and trouble.” Yeah that is what they said about King as well. This dude is trying to get more African Americans to go in to creating games. He is not danming the white man in this at all. He is not staying they should stop the sell of GTA.

    and Italians have Mario.

  6. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    The landscape has changed significantly, and there are actually plenty of representations of black characters. More over, representations of black characters as effected by the intellectual property and design input of black designers, artists, and talent. 25 to Life, True Crime: NY, Bulletproof, the extensive Football and Basketball library of all systems, Crackdown etc. There was a game indevelopment by Snoop and John Singleton, which was eventually cancelled (fom previews, I suspect that poor gameplay and retreading of old territory was a factor).

    I’m not sure that more black producers and developers will help, if the content that is being created and approved remains in high demand.

    Maybe this goes back to Cosby’s statements about family? Maybe a paradigm shift from the values of the African American home and community culture need to change before black developer presence can make a difference.

  7. 0
    AnonAmbientLight says:

    *rubs head hard*

    I dont think he knows wtf he is talking about. Why is he bashing video games when there are more real problems out there? What about rap artists? Most if not ALL of their songs portray a black man as a down on his luck criminal.

    If im not mistaken most games have white people in them. If anything we should flip it around and say its negatively effecting white people. I’m not a racist and i had alot of fun playing GTA: san andras but it just seems like this guy is looking for attention. He is willing and ready to jump on the band wagon when it suits him but he doesnt persue other aveneus, such as rap artist. etc etc.

  8. 0
    arcadius ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m black, and I couldn’t disagree with this guy more. It’s always annoying to hear other black people use situation like this as an example of racism.

    If CJ was British you wouldn’t hear him complaining.

    If CJ was Canadian you wouldn’t hear him complaining.

    If CJ was a titmouse you… well that one doesn’t make sense, I just like saying titmouse.

  9. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As a Japanese-American, this kind of complaining always pisses me off. On a relative scale, unless the game is specifically set in an Asian backdrop, Asians are not exactly flooding the games market either, whether as villains or protagonists. Difference is, you don’t see us worrying about racism, we just make/enjoy the games and earn a living. When was the last time you saw a press release soapboxing about anti-Asian problems in entertainment?

    Personally, my decision on whether to play games is based on how fun they are. If Carl Johnson was Carl Nakayama instead, it wouldn’t change my enjoyment of GTA: SA one way or another. The “problem” of racial profiling in video games only exists in the minds of a few overly sensitive individuals. Just my opinion.

  10. 0
    Soldatlouis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ZippyDSMlee : did I make too many spelling faults ? Or was my post hard too understand ? If so, my apologize. Sometimes, I have the bad habit to think in French and translate my thoughts “litterally” in English.

  11. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m glad he’s writing something.

    I’m surprised there was particular uproar from public figures, positive or negative, when San Andreas came out. He’s on the right street, but knocking on the wrong door.

    50 Cent BulletProof. Come on. I mean, its the height of all the things wrong with a majority of black images in video games. its violent, it’s shallow, it lacks in content or character complexity, and the game is subpar.

    I would wish for him, or another “outsider” critic to sit down and play the first hour of gameplay from Bullet Proof and GTA: SA. its two very different experiences, and two very clearly different ways of handling the subject matter

  12. 0
    Soldatlouis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Argh ! A part of a sentence is missing. Sorry.

    In second paragraph, I wanted to say : “(…) even though he says **that the video game industry is all about money** (and unfortunately, it’s partially true) (…)”

  13. 0
    squigs says:

    @Dorkmaster Flek

    I think he has the right argument but a bad example. GTA:Vice City had a white player character, but was pretty heavy handed with the cultural stereotypes and, while there are a few counter examples, it is unusual to see a black hero protaganist in a game.

  14. 0
    Picho ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Why do we not complain that white people are much more often the bad guy then other races though?

    Tony hawk underground, metal gear solid, final fantasy, gta, time crises, house of the dead, oh the list goes on and on.

  15. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    GTA1 dude. GTA2 dude. GTA3 dude. GTA: Vice City dude. Postal dude. 98% of the cast of Carmageddon. Manhunt dude. Doomguy.

    There is racism in games, but there is also an overwhelming majority of white males in the popular violent roles. CJ in San Andreas is the only black protagonist I can think of in a violent title, and he does what he does to clean up the city… in his own somewhat illegal way.

    I agree that there is a noticable tendency to stereotype in gaming. The lead is a white male with American attributes. A slender female with a western European edge appears as the love interest. The bad guy has grey hair and an eastern European accent. There’s a large black guy (who loves his family, so he does) as the sidekick. Then if you need a little variety, an oriental woman will sex by in a split cheongsam and become a minor villain or misleading love interest or both. The Hispanic guy will die by the end of the third cutscene.

  16. 0
    Volcanman says:

    ///In my experience, if a black or latino character doesn’t act in a bling bling, basket ball and thuggery stereotype, the character is accused of being too white. //


    And that same statement can be made in real life as well. Few times have I ever seen any black or latino person acting in a different manner than a stereotypical way

  17. 0
    Verbinator ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    While the claim that 80% of video game programmers are white is not only probably true (and low-balled to boot if my own anecdotal experience is taken into consideration), it’s also irrelevant.

    I haven’t noticed where my non-Caucasian game developer coworkers have brough the “‘hood,” or the “barrio” or the stereotypical lifestyles associated with those ethnic backgrounds to work. They’re talented guys who also happen to be non-white or have Hispanic surnames. We share similar values, interests and passions. They are no less geeky, no less nerdy than the rest of us in the studio. All of which, would no doubt, tend to invalidate any sort of “value” associated with their heritage in the eyes of racially motivated critics.

  18. 0
    John ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yeah, and how many black comics make jokes about race doing the exact same thing this guy complains about. Police your own industry before moving into another.

  19. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I suspect he didn’t do a lot of research. San Andreas is the only actual example he cited. CJ is somewhat less of a villain than most of the other characters. The problem isn’t so much that blacks and latinos are always portrayed as villains as they’re rarely portrayed at all.

    For his comment about millionaire designers, he doesn’t seem to realize how few of these there are. I’m not saying it’s not a great job, but it certainly hasn’t made whitey a wealthy superstar on par with an major athlete, so his expectations are off.

    I also question this study he cites. My main questions was “More likely than what?” I can only think of a handful of games with black female characters and non of them stand out as having exceptional violence done to the. Again, the problem is lack of representation (he’s probably correct about the being largely because of a relative dearth of black designers), not poor representation.

  20. 0
    Gamma says:

    He really didn’t do any reasearch. In San Andreas, CJ might be the “opressed” one, but it’s also the game that portrays the real world more, in the whole GTA series. Plus, the game has anti-drug messages, and the guy’s out, not for power, but to avenge his mother. I’d say it’s a pretty damn good picture, compared to how italians are portrayed in the GTA games, always being huge mobsters, bossed by their own mothers, and killing people left and right to be “made”. What I find quite funny, is that he cites CJ as an example for an “opressed” black person. But the opressor, in this case, Officer Tenpenny, is also black. Where does that leave us?

    But this “opressed minority” thing, happens in movies more often. I’d say it’s just games adjusting to the movie style we see nowadays, with cops, federal forces, gangs and terrorists.
    The only game I can remember where violence is implied on a black woman, is in the beginning of Max Payne 2, in which the cleaners kill a hostage. And that wasn’t very implied, either.

  21. 0
    Dorkmaster Flek says:

    Sounds like he didn’t play the other two GTA games where the protagonists were white criminals instead. They didn’t do the “black gangsta” motif until the third game when the series had an established reputation. Nor do I suspect he played Beyond Good & Evil, where the hero you played as was a brown female. I’m surprised he didn’t mention Bulletproof, since I suspect that game is way worse for racial stereotyping than GTA: San Andreas. Then again, it probably sucked and didn’t sell very well anyway. It’s always easier to go for the popular ones, right?

  22. 0
    point09micron ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    80% of developers are white? I didn’t know there were that many white people living in Japan.

    Also, has this guy ever heard of proofreading? “I plan to discus the subject with both.”

  23. 0
    Zerodash ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    While his knowledge of games is suspect, I am tired of fighting Mexicans in the last few Tom Clancy games (GRAW, GRAW2, RSVegas). What gives, Tom?

  24. 0
    PlayItBogart says:

    You know we can deny what the early 90s was like in Los Angeles mister, but that doesn’t mean that the culture existed.

    So who does he want to be the bad guys in games? White people? Are we then supposed to be outraged because we’re being stereotyped as the bad guys?

    No. Because it’s retarded to bring race into this kind of discussion.

  25. 0
    Konstruct says:

    All San Andreas did was take characters and storylines of popular 90s gangsta films. Got a problem with the game, take it up with the directors and writers of those films.

  26. 0
    point09micron ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I forgot to mention in my previous comment that MTV, VH1, and BET deserve more blame for perpetuating the “it’s cool to be thug life” image than any video game.

  27. 0
    Soldatlouis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well, if Mr. Jones doesn’t know the whole Elder Scrolls Series (there is Morriwind, but also Arena, Daggerfall, Battlespire, Redguard and Oblivion), the best thing to do is to let him know it by writing it.

    Indeed, I plan to write him a nice letter pretty soon.

    And once again, I maintain that although he was a bit misguided, his article was much more open-minded and interesting than usual anti-game rants, who would have say “video games are racist”. Remember “Border Patrol” and Louisiana bill ?

  28. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    See exactly!!!!

    I had no idea about that, because I never played Morrowind. I’m certain that Mr. Jones a) Doesn’t know what a Morrowind is b) had no idea that a dark skinned character, or even a culture, had been cast in a role where intellgence and wisdom are key attributes.

    Come to think about it, what about the Erudites from EQ? I didn’t play extensively, but I remember a portion of them, if not all, being dark skinned.

    Bah. This topic makes me very hot. but alas, I have to work. (in the game industry, btw)

  29. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    No people who are “black” in morrowind or oblivion? Your shitting me right? Redguards? Typically they were =gasp= black. The leader of one of the mages guilds was black.

    And guess what there were white, black, argonian, dark elf, high elf, wood elf, redguard, nords, and human bandits.

    Redguards made pretty good mages to.

    Then again it could just be the fact that both the areas were culturally dominated by the imperial and the nords who happen to like pushing other cultures out and forcing imperial values on them.

    Maybe if you had played the game you would have discovered the story line dedicated to the in game slave trade and its effects on morrowind. The game also looks at the internal struggle native cultures have while fighting to keep their identity and surviving in a place dominated by a much more powerful imperial military.

  30. 0
    cyn1c42 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Would Barret Wallace from FF7 be an example or counterexample? (revolutionary tactics and manner of speech but he is a major hero of the game)

  31. 0
    jccalhoun ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’ve not played GTA San Andreas, I’ve not gotten around to finishing Vice City yet, but I think that the criticism that in games made by American and European companies people of African or Latino decent are shown stereotypically is valid.

    Why aren’t there more main characters in games who aren’t white men?

    The reason why people don’t get upset when white people are shown as bad guys is because almost without exception in those cases the hero is also white. How often are both the heroes and the villains black or hispanic? Even if that isn’t the case for every white villain there are a dozen white heroes. Moreover, how often is the white villain given a German or Russian accent? (While there are tons of games where you fight Middle Eastern terrorists, have there been any where you have to fight white militias?)

    Take Elder Scrolls for example. It is a made up world, but are there any humans in the game who aren’t white? (I don’t know I’ve not played Oblivion either. Morrowind bored me. However, the screenshots I’ve seen don’t show any). It isn’t as if it is supposed to be taking place in Europe, so why does everyone seem to be white?

  32. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I went to the source and read the articles. Sadly, the criticisms are thin. It boils down to Mr. Jones saying “What they need to be doing is making them, not playing them!”.

    Its a criticism that goes back to as far as I can remember. Black atheletes should be coaches, black performers should be producers, black workers should be managers. Its been said so often as a criticism, but there’s rarely been anyone actively working on a paradigm shift for the black American culture (which in itself, is a difficult and vague entity to define. Is black culture seperate from poor culture? Is separating from poor culture still considered being too “white” to relate?)

    Again, I’m glad someone is talking about the direction of Black images in games. But at this point, we’ve heard this, beyond being able to appreciate it.

    What *I* want now is for some one to speak informedly and intelligently about games and black people. If Jack Thompson has done one thing right, it was his attempt to get someone to sit down and actually play a game before making a judgment of it. The media in general has played the blanket “Games are bad” card to its limit. Its like if everyone summarized the Godfather serious as “Some Italian guys killed each other.” This complete disregard of the talent and craft of creation keeps us stifled from creative/artistic expansion as an American and Black American culture.

  33. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “50 Cent BulletProof. Come on. I mean, its the height of all the things wrong with a majority of black images in video games. its violent, it’s shallow, it lacks in content or character complexity, and the game is subpar.”

    Fiddy being in a game i ngeneral makes it vcrappy. Hell, I hate 50 cent already. he owns a diamond covered Mercedes, he is no longer “gangsta.”

  34. 0
    Soldatlouis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    We should be indulgent with him. OK, he has some misconceptions, partially because he interviewed people who had misconceptions themselves. But his statistics of 80% white male come from the industry itself, more precisely, an IGDA study.

    And his purpose is certainly not to say that video games are evil or racist : even though he says (and unfortunately, it’s partially true), he considers video games as an art. As he says : “games are an expressive medium. They are an art form, just like movies, theater and literature.” More important : he doesn’t call to video game legislation or ban, instead he calls black people to create games themselves.

    So I find his article much more interesting and open-minded than the positions of many media activists and politicians who would just say “waaah, waaah, video games are racist, the industry is evil, protect our children, boycott, ban, legislate, etc. etc.”

  35. 0
    LisaDM says:

    Unfortunatly, teh game industry does care what color you are. Look at any publishers make up and see who is making the games. Beleive me, its not a lack of people applying either.

  36. 0
    JWFokker says:

    Why are certain ethnicities represented the way they are in video games? Perhaps because these games are based on reality? Maybe when they stop dressing, acting and speaking a certain way, they’ll stop being represented in video games that way. Stereotypes are based on reality, they aren’t just made up for the hell of it. If you don’t believe me, why not listen to Bill Cosby, an actual black guy who has acknowledged the problem with black culture in America. If minorities want to be portrayed differently and more prominently, they should start acting differently and multiply like crazy because all non-white ethnicities in the US combined account for less than 25% of the nation.

    And considering their economic position (avg. household income of 1/2 that of whites and asians), I’d wager that black and hispanic gamers consitute far less than 25% of the gaming market. So what incentive do developers have to appeal to minority gamers considering they account for such a small portion of the market?

    And you want to know why there aren’t more black and hispanic game developers? Because when you compound their fractional portion of the population with their low college attendance and graduation rate (17% for blacks, 11% hispanics), you get a very small number of people who are capable of working in the industry.

    It’s very simple. Blacks and hispanics need to significantly change culturally and become a larger portion of the market if they expect to be more prominently represented in games and represented differently than they are now.

  37. 0
    Hannah ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I did an 8-month co-op work term at a game company, and I didn’t have any black co-workers. Most were either white or East Asian (I think there was a fairly even split), and there was one guy who was probably Indian, judging by his skin colour. However, since I live in Vancouver, this fairly accurately reflects the demographics of the city. I rarely even see black people, so it’d be a little odd if the company was full of them.

    The 80% whites figure does seem a little high, however. I can only assume they aren’t taking into account Japan or South Korea.

    As for why blacks don’t often appear in games, I think this might be an example of art imitating life. If the designers never see black people in roles other than that of the stereotypical gangster (eg. if they live in areas with low black populations or high rates of poverty, as an awful lot of game developers do), they’re less likely to consider a black character unless they’re consciously trying to be inclusive. Unfortunately, if this is the case, I’m not sure what the solution is…

  38. 0
    Hannah ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Oh yeah… this may sound stupid, but here’s a question for black readers: do you feel that a white (or otherwise non-black) dev team is capable of portraying blacks positively and accurately, and is it important to include black culture (whatever that may be in your part of the world) in the depiction of those characters? Like… would it be acceptable to just have a black main character who comes from an upper-middle-class family, has a good education, never worries about racism, and doesn’t even have any stereotypically black interests or pastimes, or would that be “too white”? At what point do you look at a positively-portrayed black character and say “Yes, that represents me” rather than “Hmm, they took a stereotypically white character and changed the skin colour at the last minute”, or does it even matter?

  39. 0
    jccalhoun says:

    Ok, Bad example. I didn’t get very far in Morrowind before I lost interest. However, in my defense I did go to the Elder Scrolls site and IGN and looked at the screenshots and the only humans I saw were white. My mistake.

    Regarding the 80% of developers being white, that has to be in North America. With Japan and Korea cranking out so many games there is no way that the 80% figure can include them.

  40. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    (I do actually work. Seriously . . . )

    I’ll use this example: I don’t know a thing about Alan Wake, aside from that its a mystery game and it looks real pretty. If you reskinned Alan Wake as a black male, and had him as a brooding noir type character, that to me is a step in the right direction.

    If the main character from Indigo Prophecy was black, that would be a step in the right direction.

    If Master Chief lifted hiis visor, and had dark skin, that would be a step in the right direction.

    The character doesn’t even have to attempt to represent a sense of racial awareness. Ideally, I’d like to see more prominent characters of color that are not tied to their cultural truths and stereotypes. In so much that the appearance of a person that can be assigned even some basic physical attribute in comparison to any young person of color, this appearance is a good thing. Better even so if that image isn’t stereotypical.

    Though stereotypes are based in reality, a realistic character does not need to be defined by stereotypes. Gordon Freeman is no less real because he doesn’t touch on his religious values, cultural cuisine, favorite leisure activities, or his ability or inability to “bust-a-move”. He’s interesting either because he’s a complex enough character to carry a FPS (hard right?), or he’s a guy in a messed up situation and that’s good enough.

  41. 0
    Daniel says:

    I don’t think games are racist. In Grand Theft Auto Vice City, the criminal is white. The criminals aren’t always black. In Grand Theft Auto 3, the criminal, Tony Cipriati, is white and I think that some of the cops in those games are black. I don’t think the video game indutry is at all racist.

  42. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m *This* close to starting my own gaming website . . .

    Samus Aran. That’s what I’m getting at. There’s nothing in the course of playing Metroid, aside from ending “goodies” that makes it relevant that Samus is a female. But its the coolest thing, because, when you do your lists of female heroes in gaming, you can put her on the list, and say that she’s a badass, where badassery is not a conventionally positive attribute assigned to women.

    Like that.

  43. 0
    Jythie says:


    IMHO, yes and no. On the one hand, I agree there is quite a bit of ‘dumpy white guys hire dumpy white guys’ syndrome.

    On the other hand, the numbers are kinda against minorities. In my dept, we have 1 black male, 2-3 white females, and around 400 white males. Put everyone on standard distribution of skill and the top 5% are probably going to be white males. So when this group goes out into the workplace, the bulk of the highly desired positions will generally go to white males. It isn’t that they are superior, or that anyone else is lesser, or that the recruiters are choosing based off sex/race, but that pure numbers are going to push the curve that way. It is also important to remember that while those few minorities do not get those top positions, neither do the other 390 white males. It is also true that if any of the small groups _are_ kick-ass, they will get those top slots too.

    Though I’ll admit they will have that additional barrier mentioned in the first line. I guess what I’m getting at is I find that the second issue is a larger barrier then the perceived effect of the first one.

    Same happens in the game industry…. sure, there are plenty of well qualified people of any given race or gender, but for each of those peeps there are 10 just as qualified dumpy white guys. Put all these people on a curve and statistically the top few are going to be dumpy white guys.

    Unfortunately the only way to ultimate correct this is getting a better cross section in the job pool in the first place, which means getting people interested in these fields at a younger age and get those college numbers up. (I actually used to help in a program who’s goal was just that)

  44. 0
    Hannah ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    That was what I thought, but I keep seeing articles that suggest that minorities want to see representations of both their cultures and skin colours in games. I was asking mostly because I have no idea if that’s how most non-white gamers actually feel or if it’s just the opinion of a few talking heads.

    On the topic of female characters, I will admit that I tend to prefer the badass and/or androgynous gals of gaming, but I’ve seen plenty of other female gamers identify more with Peach.

  45. 0
    GetWellGamers ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I won’t comment on the diverstiy in games, but as far as the industry goes, pretty much everywhere I’ve been/worked at has had a pretty similar ratio of minorities. There are a lot of whites, a lot of asians, a few hispanics, and even fewer blacks.

    Personally, I find it humorous that this guy conviniently forgets about Asians, because many of the industry jobs I’ve worked at have had tons of them in every level of the company, from entry-level to top management. Seems pretty diverse to me- perhaps the outhor is simply saying it’s not diverse enough in his race’s favor?

  46. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    There’s a bunch of schools of thought on that, cross sectioned over socio-economics and generational ideas. A similar debate happened prominently over the The Cosby Show when i was younger. One group of voices finds they don’t identify with or find realistic two working parents in high income jobs (Cosby was a Doctor, his wife a lawyer, in a household of 5 children ranging in age from elementary school to college graduate). The other group found the imagery very important to push to the world at large. One could draw a stereotype that older minorities don’t want any negative images portayed at all, while younger generations want to “keep it real”, in the sense that negative images should not be hidden or underplayed at the expense of optimistic positivity.

    There’s a middle ground in there somewhere that hasn’t quite solidified itself as a significant and persistant voice, I feel.

  47. 0
    grinds says:

    ONE game does not represent a sterotype. Morrowind has black characters – positive or negative is your choice. Ghost recon and Rainbow also have black characters (maybe not the hero – multiplayer). In any case – numerous games have black HEROS (i.e.- positive role model) – as I can recall playing several of them.

  48. 0
    Kincyr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    What about Michael Edwards, the Canadaian firefighter in Eternal Darkness? He’s badass, black, NOT portraied in a negative way, fought ungodly creatures and survives to tell about it.

  49. 0
    bildo says:

    this is funny…CJ is the only black playable character in the GTA games. GTA III and Vice City were both white protagonists. Get a life and stop bringing race into videogames when there is not a problem at all.

  50. 0
    Tubatic ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Whoa whoa whoa.


    Can we stop well short of comparing Mr. Jones to Dr. King? Seriously. Dr. King put some thought and research into the messages he was putting out there. Mr. Jones, as evidenced by the thin research content of his comment has not.

    Dr. King had a dream. Mr. Jones had a tantrum.

  51. 0
    FatherTime89 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I would like to apolgize about the above comment I have realised that he is NOT complaining about the fact that the industry does not discriminate rather he is saying (in a nuthsell) “The videogame industry doesn’t care if your black or white they jsut want good developers, so why don’t we (the black community) learn how to make video games so we can be better off finacially, instead of just playing them all the time.”

    Again sorry for the mix-up.

  52. 0
    FatherTime89 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    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…

    You are black, your enemies can be black (as well as other races) if this is racial then you are an idiot, because after all if it was blacks versus whites (or any other single race) you would undoubtedly call that racial as well, not only that but the vargos are far from helpless in the gang they pack a punch and are the toughest gang (out of three). Besides there are hundreds of games where you plow down white people in the hundreds mark (if there are guard they are usually white and easily subdued).

    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.

    Why are you complaining about this? Do you want preferiental treatment because of your race? Considering that your ancestors fought to rid the world of this isn’t this disgraceful to your race (and racist might I add)?

  53. 0
    F**ked up says:

    I also forgot to note

    When dealing with sterotypes, are the sterotypes being portrayed are extremely different from the facts.

    For example when dealing with a geographical sterotypes, a tv show portrays all people from the south as rednecks and says thats reality then is an arguement.

    GTA does not claim that all Black people act like they are portrayed but I do know some TV shows that proclaim what they show is the truth when they are far from it.

    I hope that made sense.

  54. 0
    F**ked up says:

    I have studied a whole lot about the media and its communcative nature. I have studied issues on race, gender, and geographical biases and I have come to one conclusion.

    When dealing with the topic of race your going to offend someone. No matter how hard you try not to offend someone with racial issues people will take offense.

    When its 2 races of the same color the color that are lefted out will say they are not represented.

    When its 1 race vs another race they will say the race was not portrayed correctly.

    Therefore I have learned when arguing about race/sterotypes its important not to argue about how the races/sterotypes are portrayed but the in pattern of how they are portrayed. The question should be, have the portrails changed over time? or did they not? and Why. I do not see that in his arguement. I see his arguement as being only related to GTA: San Andreas and then generalized using that. He needs more evidence and better examples. And when arguing this point he needs to provide examples that he says were justicely done or what he would like to see, because right now it appears as an arguement just to argue.

    Take middle easterns for example they were usually viewed as terrorist but before 9/11 there were usually considered to be bumbling idiots that could not commit there acts of terror and often associated with humor. (see Back to the Future, True Lies, Hot Shots, etc). But after 9/11 they are now portrayed as evil cynical villians and now are associated with drama shows rather than comedy. They are few that are usually portrayed as struggling with the pressures of living in post 9/11 seen as trying to do the right thing. And now the question is why? what caused the change? (take a guess). (notice this arguement is not about how they are represented but on why their representation has changed)

    I should also note I remember in one of classes watching a show where everything is done by black people and they dealt with the topic of gender segregation and at the conclusion was to have women access some of the time. Then the question was the show trying to communicate about segregation? (of course it one of those questions with no answer)

  55. 0
    thefremen says:

    Millionare game designers? Is he talking about Mark Echo or did Sean “Puffy” Combs take it up as well?

    Russel Simmons actually makes a few mobile games too now that I think about it.

    80% of comedians fail to do research before they write something down. Also, I didn’t laugh once, I would say “Don’t quit your dayjob” but he already has….O.o

  56. 0
    Marshall says:

    Ugh, what a moron. I’m not going to bother with either the study (which probably only tested a few games) or his misguided, mistaken assertion that there are no strong black protagonists or strong female leads. Likewise, the majority of the videogames with “white” protagonists aren’t actually being created by whitey. Japan has an obsession with North American culture, something which bleeds very easily into their games. Most Final Fantasy characters would be considered “white” by the standards he’s using here, but they’re all created by asians.

    “Therefore, since Blacks are the most obsessive players it stands to reason that Blacks are the most negatively effected.”

    Presuming, of course, that videogames negatively effect anyone. Which has not been proven at all by any medical studies, let alone proven conclusively Likewise, would anyone care to guess at the numbers for asians playing videogames? Especially Korean or Japanese youth? I’m willing to bet it beats that 90-minutes a day record stone cold.

    ” I remember seeing young men sleeping outside of stores in order to assure that they didn’t miss an opportunity to purchase a new upgraded versus of some type of video game player or entertainment center.”

    Err, what? I remember people sleeping outside of stores in order to secure a PS3 or a Nintendo Wii at launch, but not a “new upgraded versus of some type of video game player”. That sounds like a poorly done mad lib.

    “there would be as many Black millionaire video game designers and illustrators as there is athletes and music artists”

    All I can think of is… dude. I doubt there are that many millionaire game designers and illustrators in the industry to come up with those sorts of numbers. Quite a few NBA and NFL players pull in enough to qualify for this (let alone all the successful rappers and R&B singers), so seriously, there’s no way this is happening. You could take race totally out of the video game side of that equation and still be dead wrong.

    “Parents and wives should redirect the video players of their household into thinking about being trained to earn money from their passion. They could also be the force that stops the negative images of Blacks and women in video games.”

    This presumes it’s a passion, and not just a way of passing the time. I like video games quite a bit, but the temperment to program one, or creature the artwork for one, is entirely seperate from the temperment to enjoy one.

    “Presently, the video game industry in dominated by White educated males earning a six-figure income off grown men like my Black adult male relatives sitting at home playing with another player in another state.”

    Emphasis mine. Someone needs to write this guy and point out the whole scandal with EA’s employees.

    Most programmers are lucky if they pull in mid to high five figure incomes from programming and art. Major industry figures like project leads might top out in the low six figures, but they’re the exception to the rule. Likewise, top-level executives within a game publishing house might pull in large amounts of money, but that’s a business-related job which won’t have anything to do with knowing how to create a game.

    Yeah, a development house might start up and get lucky. Someone might program the next great online puzzler in his spare time at home and strike it rich. However, the majority of the workers in the field of videogame creation are just like workers anywhere. They’ve got a job they do their work at to earn their living. It’s no more glamorous and high-paying than working in business administration.

  57. 0
    Tyetheczar says:

    I’d like to be the devil’s advocate for a moment oy. I think he’s somewhat right. So don’t get personal on me, oy. I believe that the majority of video game protagonists are usually white. But that’s not because of racism, oy. Having somebody of a different race is more of not having that in mind. In fact, as much as you all don’t want to admit it(or believe me), I bet this is a kind of issue that Aaron McGrudger would address on The Boondocks. For me, I find stereotypes something that can limit creativity, oy.

  58. 0
    CJsDowg says:

    I think some of you guys are missing his point. He said it himself he is not calling it racism, but he calling for more black people to join the industry. like the person that said he only sees black people acting in a stereotype way. If more black people where in the industry. And think about how many black heroes in games.

    Saint’s Row-gang members
    FF7 ( cussed every other word, but was a good father)
    Cole from GoW( many stereotypes)
    Any black preson in a street fighter game.

  59. 0
    F**ked up says:

    ok then lets forget about sterotyping in games lets create a Black redneck character or an have asian as president better yet lets make it an asian female redneck.

    Then of course the reaction will be that this is an atrocity to the rece. Do not depict us in such light.

    the list can go on.

    Black person with russian sterotype
    white person from rural africa
    Middle easterns as the dominate race and controlling the governent.
    asian as the idiot buffoons that cant commit there crimes of terror.
    polynesias as the nerds that cant get a date.
    Native americans as the ones that dont care about nature. Ie they burn everything down and cause pollution

    yeah what the criticism fly when they step out of racial sterotypes.

    when u deal with race it is a losing battle. some one will get offended.
    and it doesnt matter what race is making the game. hell I bet dave chappelle offend black people.

  60. 0
    Brokenscope ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I don’t think anyone mentioned this. Master Chief is a male of unknown race. He is incredibly pale from the amount of time spent in his armor. The main reason we will never see his face is a plot device and it creates that ambiguity.

  61. 0
    Lavarock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    No one made a stink when it was Italians. No one. Now in like the 5th game in the series it focuses on a Black character, and people like Richard Jones start screaming racism.

    What does he want anyway? Taking all Blacks out of games? Hell no; he complains “80% of game developers are White” and that

    “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.”

    (I’ve got news for you, more than 80% of people in game-developing countries are White.) How about we put them in more? Hell no; it would be “portraying violent stereotypes about Blacks.”

    GTA: San Andreas is mostly played by White people, and they don’t have a problem with it, so why should Black people have a problem playing as a White character?

    Also, there is NO REASON a kid of one race should not be able to use an adult of another race as a role model. That’s an extremely racist notion. He’s just stirring up attention and trouble.

  62. 0
    Lavarock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Ah, cross off 80%: There is Japan and South Korea, but that doesn’t change how few Black people there are in gaming countries. Europe is populous though so it might not be that far off 80%. When you count the whole world, the population of Blacks in gaming countries may even be below 3%

  63. 0
    Mark W says:

    I find it all to aggravating to point all my opinions out on the keyboard so i’m giong to keep it simple, plus who feels like reading 10 pages.

    First I am a young (18) yr old black man.
    I have lived in about 3 of America’s top 25 most violent cities.
    Just so you get a picture i’m from Los Angeles, lived in Hartford, CT, and Newark, NJ.
    Currently I live right between Philladelphia, Trenton, NJ and Camden, NJ (rated the most dangerous city in America)

    I’m not even going to argue this mans right of freedom of speech but if you are going to point fingers I suggest you goto those cities portrayed from Rockstar and try to make a change. The game was based on real life events that happen in these cities everyday. I myself was happy to see a black man in GTA because it is important to show some struggles that people go through in these type of cities. The game is based on crime point blank but, pretending you don’t think of the Black and Latino community being brought up in your mind when you think of the subject is what I would define a ignorant individual. John Murry living in Kansas obviously not trying to make a change on what your complaining about I would like to let you know that you are a clown.

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