RACE AND GENDER IN GAMES

Posts

author=Yellow Magic
I can understand the reasoning behind this idea...but at the same time I don't think 'brown' is a good way to describe a race. For example, I'm brown, but I'm of South Asian descent, not African.

Yeah, I don't usually like "brown" as a racial descriptor unless, but I was using the language Unity used in the original post you quoted. which was originally a reference to the tv tropes thing of ambiguously brown in case anyone wondered.

I got nothing against "ethnic minority" either, I just generalllyyyy try to separate when i'm talking about race, ethnicty, or nationality...since they can sometimes be the same, but sometimes different. And I do share karins_soulkeeper's sentiment of "we're not non-white, you're non-colored".

I end up using "PoC" in the rest of this post, which yeah I'm still not the biggest fan of, but out of the options that have come up if I'm talking about fictional stuff it's...idk, I personally mind it the least despite not being a fan.

But I don't fault you for sticking with ethnic minority here! super fine, your business. While I don't like colored, I don't know why liberty made a comment about how "jumping down people's throats for using it is kinda silly". I never said "how DARE you use this term", just that I personally don't like it b/c of the associations i have. didn't really see other people besides you and bulmabriefs in one post talking about it, either.

That's how terminology goes sometimes!

author=Sated
It is ridiculous that a black actor being cast to play a black character causes problems, but why doesn't the "specified as xyz in the books" statement apply to James Bond?

Here’s a shorter, “take my word for it and I’m really only discussing race” answer: The vast majority of protagonists, major characters, and creators (whether that’s directors or writers or whoever) are white. Because of this, there are different implications and effects to taking a character that is white or assumed to be white and interpreting/casting them as PoC, and taking a character who is already a PoC or assumed to be PoC and interpreting/casting them as white. In the first scenario, you’re taking a little bit of water out of an ocean. In the second, you’re taking a little bit of water out of a desert. (Yes, I know you shouldn’t drink saltwater)

If you want to be pedantic about it, yeah, you could take the most literal approach and say “if a character is specified as X in the source material, this is the only valid interpretation”. I value being practical over being pedantic, so I don’t look at it like that.

I think there are (sometimes) practical advantages to re-interpreting white characters into other races. Not in every case, but I’m not gonna yell at someone who thinks Harry Potter is a more interesting character if he’s Indian. (tiny bit of expansion: I think it’s more important to see creators from diverse backgrounds, rather than strictly focusing on characters, and I do think that making new characters is overall better than just redoing old ones. But this is supposed to be a “short” answer so i’ll leave it at that)

There are also important difference to account for between re-interpretations of existing characters from media that goes out to a large audience, vs. small-scale Media Creation like indie game dev which doesn’t have as much influence or distance between creators and fans.

I question the need of some people to cling to white characters when 1) alternate interpretations do nothing to the source material, 2) they’re under no obligation to watch/read/play alternate interpretations and can always go back to other ones if they prefer, and 3) they have plenty of other characters they can stubbornly claim as “always and forever white, no exceptions”.

It would hurt nothing to have a movie, book, or whatever where James Bond wasn’t white. I don’t give a fuck what the books say one way or the other. However, insisting that roles envisioned as white should always remain white contributes to a longstanding, widespread pattern where the only “acceptable” roles for other races are stereotypes or minor ones, if they exist at all.

The potential problems created by rethinking a white role as something else are much less severe.

Alternatively: if you believe the “starting point” for how various races are represented is equal, and that all statements apply equally to different contexts despite history and circumstance, then yes. Yes it does sound like because James Bond may be specified as white in the books, he should always be white in adaptations of the books.

But there are huge differences in how various races are represented in media. The starting point is not equal, and so the end results of seemingly equivalent actions (like casting an actor against how a role is specified) are also different.

I know even this “short” answer got long, but im gonna thump that line of “I can be precise in topic, clear on my point, or brief, and only 2 of those”.
I think at least part of it is how people interpret characters in their head, though.

For example, speaking of James Bond, my girlfriend isn't a fan of Daniel Craig being cast as James Bond, because he doesn't fit the description of the original James Bond as described in the books; "slim build; a three-inch long, thin vertical scar on his right cheek; blue-grey eyes; a "cruel" mouth; short, black hair, a comma of which falls on his forehead'. In regards to how she digests plots, any deviation from this is 'alternate interpretation' Bond at best and not 'actual' Bond, a sort of 'canon' she has in her head. Not a bad Bond, maybe even a great Bond, but not the 'true' Bond.

She feels that she wouldn't be into a black (or anyone else who couldn't fulfill the description above, white or not) James Bond for that very purpose, she doesn't have anything against black characters (and she would be equally pissed if they made Rue white), but in her eyes, there's always a dominant 'canon' that characters have one way or the other, and any deviation from that is sort of a lesser 'alternate'.

I can't really find fault in that, because I, and I'm sure many other people feel the same way about quite a bit of things. Remakes of established works are a good example. For example, I think the remake of Metal Gear Solid 1 is pretty hot garbage, and while the remake can be considered an 'alternate' version, the original version, in my head, is the version. There will always be that divide in my head from the original telling and the remake retelling.

That mindset of how people approach fiction is innate and fundamental, but I don't think anything's wrong with that. However we may feel about the white monopoly on fiction, outside of fluid mediums like comic books, we can't go back and time and change it. For better or worse, the original James Bond will always be a dark haired white guy. Fine, so now that the world and representation in writing and fiction is becoming more diverse, we can create our own, new heroes.

Who's to say that someone won't come up with a brand new, timeless, dark skinned, dark haired British secret agent of their own?
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
25619
FeldschlachtIV
Yeah, I've never heard that about James Bond, either. In the books he was clearly the same person, and a lot of the movies are either reboots, or they imply that the previous James Bonds were exploits by the same agent (sort of similar a 'floating timeline' that comic books have).

Yeah, pretty much everyone involved in the franchise has said this is bogus.

As cool as it would be to see a Idris Elba James Bond, I don't mind that certain characters are 'meant' to be a certain race or ethnicity. That's fine, and considering that race and ethnicity being a huge part of identity, it can be cheap to just swap that just because.

It would be cool to see Elba as Bond, but the simple truth of the matter is, it can't happen. Not only will Elba not do it because he doesn't think a black man should play James Bond, but seriously, the character exemplifies the concept of white entitlement. He's a Scottish nobleman, complete with a coat of arms, whose parents died in a car accident on a ski trip, who went to Oxford entirely based on his family name, and as most noblemen, became an officer in Her Majesty's Royal Navy.

It reminds me of Stan Lee stating that he'd rather have just new, original characters for different ethnicies rather than squeezing minority versions of established characters 'just because'. I can't say I disagree with that.

Yeah, and that's what they were doing, until Disney got into control. Originally, X-23 was an original, unique, totally awesome character. Now, she's Wolverine, because woman, new, other reasons. Thor's no longer "worthy" so now a woman is Thor. Steve Rogers is old so now the Falcon is Captain America. The only two that Marvel is really handling well is the Miles Morales Spiderman (Peter Parker dies and Miles takes on the persona) and Captain Marvel (Mar-Vel passes on his legacy to Carol Danvers.). In the case of Spiderman, a really great story arc ended with Peter Parker's death, and introduced Miles as Spiderman in another really great story arc. In the case of Captain Marvel, a largely obscure character who was well enough known, but never became truly popular dies and hands off his duties to a well known character, Carol Danvers/Marvel Girl, who's been around since at least as long as the X-Men. Everything else is just being shoehorned in pell mell, and it's rightly drawing a lot of criticism.
Wait, wasn't X-23 Wolvie's daughter with Elektra in another timeline/parallel universe? Because I remember that being a thing. Complete with the claws and kick-ass-ness that all that implies.
Nevermind. That was Wild Thing. Very similar character, though.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
25619
Liberty
Wait, wasn't X-23 Wolvie's daughter with Elektra in another timeline/parallel universe? Because I remember that being a thing. Complete with the claws and kick-ass-ness that all that implies.Nevermind. That was Wild Thing. Very similar character, though.


She's Wolverine's clone (because Wolverine's daughter obviously isn't good enough).
You know this means I'm going to have to go dive back into the world of Marvel comics again, don't you? See you next year, all!
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18722
The recent spate of changing characters to represent minorities does seem rather ill-advised and poorly-handled. Like, the recent Fantastic Four movie made Johnny Storm black and kept Susan Storm white, and it's like, 'dude, did you people even try or are you literally just ticking boxes on a checklist?'

Race doesn't need to dominate everything about a character, but it often informs a lot of attributes about a character, especially in comics that often spend a lot of time exploring the character's origin stories. Taking a character who is written and coded as white or male for fifty years, but suddenly making them a different race or gender and saying 'look, you're represented now!" feels really lazy to me.

I'm sure there are better ways this sort of thing could be done than just because an executive who doesn't care about the source material says so.
Also, it's a whole other thing to do a re-imagining of a character than just changing the colour of their skin. There's different things that are dealt with by minorities that those of a lighter skin tone don't usually have to deal with, and that can play into an origin story quite a bit. Would Batman be the same kind of character if he were black? For one, his parents very likely would not have been a high-class rich couple of that era (sad to say) and without that slush fund to back him up, he wouldn't have the skills he does. They could retrofit Gotham to be less white-only-high-class, but that'd make all the pasty white nerdboys cry out in desperation.

Sorry, DC, but gotta give Marvel a hand up for having actual cool black and minority superheroes (Storm mah bae~<3) though kudos for Green Lantern (also a bae~<3).

Making more heroes instead of retrofitting makes more sense. Not only do people get the heroes they want and the representation they deserve, but it helps the superhero community seem larger and more robust. Double points!
(This here is why I love the X-Men. They're not all just 'generic white boy from middle America and that cheerleader chick who is cute and blonde'. There is instead 'that Canadian guy who has knives for fists and an Egyptian Princess who controls the weather and this old bald guy who can read your mind and yeah, there's a cute blonde kid from way out south America, but there's also this kid from Africa and cute red-haired cheerleader type who will blow your brains out with her mind and the girl from the country who can suck your life out through a kiss and this Native American dude too, even if he did die that one time (but then who hasn't in comics?) and a Chinese-American girl who can throw sparklers (I liked Jubilee...) and an Aboriginal whose family moved to America and twins with Jewish ancestry and a Greek kick-ass lady (Elektra is hella fine) and a smattering of many other races, including more Native Americans, Africans, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, etc superheroes who help out or hinder during various adventures. Yay Marvel!

And they don't shove it in your face like "LOOK WE DID A RACIAL DIVERSITY!" It's just part of their world that there's different races, so going to Japan, you will see Japanese heroes and villains. It helps to show there's good and bad in every race, across every religion and every sexuality. I mean, Mystique was the original lesbian/bisexual character. No, really. Rogue was raised by she and Destiny as her two mothers and yes, Destiny was confirmed as Mystique's lover. Hella yes to you, Marvel.)
That was a lot to read, Pentagon, so I'm sorry that I have to reply so curtly: If you want equality, then you can't have it both ways.

However, insisting that roles envisioned as white should always remain white contributes to a longstanding, widespread pattern where the only “acceptable” roles for other races are stereotypes or minor ones, if they exist at all.

Not really, because instead of trying to shoehorn a black actor into the role of a white character, people should be writing new characters for black actors to portray. James Bond is a character who should remain white because a lot of his character traits don't work if he doesn't have a similar backstory to the one that he has in the books. Like was said above:

"... the character exemplifies the concept of white entitlement. He's a Scottish nobleman, complete with a coat of arms, whose parents died in a car accident on a ski trip, who went to Oxford entirely based on his family name, and as most noblemen, became an officer in Her Majesty's Royal Navy."

But it's more than that. A lot of his character traits stem from not just white entitlement, but British entitlement. The character grew up in a world were Britain laid claim to a very large part of the world, and was a major player on the world scene, and his character reflects this as the British Empire falls apart post-WW2. This is reflected in Bond's attitude and comments throughout Fleming's books. It wouldn't make any sense for him to be black.
author=piano
Yeah, pretty much everyone involved in the franchise has said this is bogus.


Wait, what I was saying is bogus, or what I was arguing against (the thought that the different James Bonds are different agents) is bogus?
When it comes to changing the skin color of roles, I did this for one of my characters in RPG Maker MV, not only because I felt like having more skin tones (having such distinct traits helps me tell people apart) but also because I had a better selection of skin in general (the only selections VX Ace had were white, pale, tan and black really).
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
25619
Sated
Not really, because instead of trying to shoehorn a black actor into the role of a white character, people should be writing new characters for black actors to portray.


Yes, this exactly! This! I simply cannot fathom why any of these people think that changing the ethnicity and gender of existing established characters is a good idea. Apparently, it's too much to ask that a company that specializes in the creative arts be creative!

FeldschlachtIV
author=piano
Yeah, pretty much everyone involved in the franchise has said this is bogus.
Wait, what I was saying is bogus, or what I was arguing against (the thought that the different James Bonds are different agents) is bogus?


Bond's just one guy. It's not a code name. The theory has been flatly refuted by Bond's creators. Fan theories are fun, but that's all it is; a fan theory.
author=pianom
Bond's just one guy. It's not a code name. The theory has been flatly refuted by Bond's creators. Fan theories are fun, but that's all it is; a fan theory.


Ah, yeah, we're on the same page.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18722
I know it's not this way in the books but I can't watch the movies without seeing them as different guys. Casino Royale even plays up that Bond is a new guy on the scene causing headaches for everyone. (And I know it's 'supposed' to be a reboot, but come on, Judi Dench is still there, it's not a reboot.)
It's a same actor (Judi Dench) as an homage, but it's definitely a reboot at the most. There's absolutely nothing that implies, and I do believe the creators refuted it, that the different James Bonds are actually different people.

The creators comments about the James Bonds being different people are particularly in reference to the movies, because that's the only way the question would come up (because of the different actors).
author=Sated
That was a lot to read, Pentagon, so I'm sorry that I have to reply so curtly: If you want equality, then you can't have it both ways.

I know everything I write ends up absurdly long, but if I'm gonna be running my mouth I try to back it up.

I don’t want equality. (count down to out of context quote in 3...2...1...)

My endgame is not to have media that is exactly equal in every way. I don’t want anything like “the proportion of represented groups matches the proportion of this group in the population”. I want diversity in my media, and if i’m gonna be polemic here for a hot second, I want justice b/c while the politics of media representation are not The Cause I’m willing to die for, I do believe that the way various groups are depicted in media contributes to all kinds of bullshit I wanna see less of. To me, misrepresentation is an injustice, and one of the reasons I advocate so much about representation matters is an attempt to do something about that.

In the grand scheme of like, "doing something about systematic discrimination", there's not much that I can do. I'm only one person, and it's called "systematic" for a reason. Even with the media thing, my audience is always gonna be small-scale media creation because my field is not writing or gam mak or anything creative. And it's not like I'll ever have the chance to like, go talk to Disney and say "I think you do a Bad Job at some things". (Even if I somehow did, it wouldn't change anything).

I've made work that people have found inspiring, and I've had people tell me I was a contributing factor to why they broadened their writing. So while it's not much or very important in the grand scheme, by advocating for More Diversity, it's a small thing I can do with maybe small effects. I am interested in those effects.

This is probably one of the reasons I know I come across as “caring too much” sometimes, but i got some personal stakes here and there are worse things I could care about.

i’m not saying that to argue with you, I’m saying it b/c apparently you think my endgame here is equality in numbers or something? I don’t care if you agree/disagree with how I feel about representation or diversity on this one.

About James Bond: You could keep the entitlement by keeping him a man, or keeping him someone who is wealthy and British. White people don’t have a monopoly on entitlement, but I’m gonna let you in on a secret………..

I don’t care about James Bond. Never liked the series. I’ve been very careful not to really get involved in the “what do the books have to say” line of thought because I’m not talking about James Bond. I'm also not knowledgeable about Bond Canon, so I can't contribute anything there.

Bond was only one example of several so it’s not like I grounded my points in “is James Bond only James Bond if he’s white?” (How many times can I say James Bond before I summon him from who-knows-where)

Stuff I already said but an tucking in here for a “here’s what I’m trying to say in even more cliff notes version” form:


I think there are (sometimes) practical advantages to re-interpreting white characters into other races. Not in every case.

I question the need of some people to cling to white characters when 1) alternate interpretations do nothing to the source material, 2) they’re under no obligation to watch/read/play alternate interpretations and can always go back to other ones if they prefer, and 3) they have plenty of other characters they can stubbornly claim as “always and forever white, no exceptions”.

The potential problems created by rethinking a white role as something else are much less severe.

However, insisting that roles envisioned as white should always remain white contributes to a longstanding, widespread pattern where the only “acceptable” roles for other races are stereotypes or minor ones, if they exist at all.

there are huge differences in how various races are represented in media. The starting point is not equal, and so the end results of seemingly equivalent actions (like casting an actor against how a role is specified) are also different.


BUT WHILE I’M AT IT

"... the character exemplifies the concept of white entitlement. He's a Scottish nobleman, complete with a coat of arms, whose parents died in a car accident on a ski trip, who went to Oxford entirely based on his family name, and as most noblemen, became an officer in Her Majesty's Royal Navy."

Scottish nobleman, complete with a coat of arms: I’m not inclined to casually research Scottish nobility, but mixed-race families exist (hi) and it’s not the fucking 1500s at the time of the Bond novels, nor are they the kind of “historical fiction” that aims at being 100% “accurate to reality”. It’s not a stretch to say the theoretical Agent PoC here could have a mother who is not white but a father who is, and thus the family name + prestige associated with the name.

whose parents died in a car accident on a ski trip: I’m sorry to inform you that white people aren’t the only ones who go on ski trips or get into car accidents.

who went to Oxford entirely based on his family name: See the above about “if Agent PoC was from a mixed-race family it’s possible to keep the family name, wealth, and prestige”

and as most noblemen, became an officer in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy: There was never formal segregation in the British Royal Navy. Money and prestige, combined with talent, can get you far.

A lot of his character traits stem from not just white entitlement, but British entitlement. British is not a synonym for white. You can have someone who isn’t white and is entitled. My understanding of the Bond series is that it's more about spying and adventures and being aggressively heterosexual??? not being an obnoxious white dude (although I'm sure that happens)

The character grew up in a world were Britain laid claim to a very large part of the world, and was a major player on the world scene, and his character reflects this as the British Empire falls apart post-WW2.

Again,none of that requires being white. just, just to be clear. This is what I mean when I said “It would hurt nothing to have a movie, book, or whatever where James Bond wasn’t white.”

Earlier I said a thing I really want to emphasize:

author = it me
When people end up with a cast that is homogenous in terms of people's backgrounds or identities, it's not an accident and it's not like the creator's hands were tied. If they want to represent a particular group, they can. ("Should they?" is a different question.)

If someone wants to do the diversity or representation thing, they can. If they don't, then they fucking will not no matter what anyone says. And if they feel "forced" to in some weird way, they're gonna do a shit job that no one is happy with.

I would encourage more people to give broader writing a try because it's not the Herculean task it gets made out to be sometimes, and I (generally) feel the potential benefits outweigh the risks.

All this talk about James Bond falls under the “should they?” side for me. I personally don’t care because I don’t like the Bond series, but I will maintain that it wouldn’t hurt anything if they changed it up for an adaptation.
pianotm
The TM is for Totally Magical.
25619
PentagonBuddy
Again,none of that requires being white. just, just to be clear.


Individually, no, none of these points (except Scottish lordship) requires being white. Really this argument about the nuances of a fictional character is stupid, and I elect we stop it because we're already entering the realm of being childish.

This argument is still pertinent, though:
This is what I mean when I said “It would hurt nothing to have a movie, book, or whatever where James Bond wasn’t white.”


You're right. But here's something Idris Elba said: "We don't say 'White Bond', we just say 'Bond', so it suddenly becomes a black man and he's a 'Black Bond'. So I hate that phrase - and it's a rumor that's gotten out of control, basically - but that's all it is. There's no truth in it whatsoever."

And that's the point. This is why you can't have a black man playing Bond. The world will never let a black man just be Bond. Elba is absolutely right. If he takes the roll, he'll be "Black Bond"; a subservient label that implies a "True Bond" and a "White Bond" that is distinct from the "Black Bond". And this is what nobody gets: we don't mean anything by applying such a label, but the man who the label gets applied to is always going to feel second rate, and he's got a good reason to feel that way. The secondary label automatically implies "second class", even if it's not meant to. Nobody likes coming in second place.
I noticed this problem awhile back, and asked artists if they would be interested in providing ethnic face-sets.

I used a dark-skinned character in a fantasy game, named Rahz (see profile pic). He was the main character in Dungeon of Monarchs.

We just released his face-set (and a few other face-sets of characters with dark skin) for free. It was a small kickstarter project that got funded. You can find the discussion and art pack here:

Ethnic Face-sets

This was one way our small community banded together to try to work around the problem. Unfortunately, I don't think the new MX gives us much diversity either... not all of us are artists :(
FLEURET BLANC

-Female = 42%
-Not-White = 42% (doesn't include animals or named characters not shown, but also doesn't include the wide array of "white" nationalities)
-LGBT+ = 00+% (Many characters have no romantic interest, so who is to say if some are gay?)


SOCIAL CATERPILLAR


-Female = 50%
-Not-White = 50%
-LGBT+ = 100% (You can choose sexual preference)


LAST WORD

-Female = 44%
-Not-White = 25% (Includes "of Asian decent"; doesn't include animals)
-LGBT+ = 25% (Only two are canonically gay, although it's never mentioned; doesn't include animals)


AVERAGE in TWELVE TILES

-Female = 45%
-Not-White = 39%
-LGBT+ = 42+%
Um, what? Really? Have you even seen the character editor? You can edit the gradients in that shit however you want! It gives any fucking colour you like!







Literally, any colour.

Also, nice way to advertise the release. Been planning this for a while?