Throughout video game history, Black characters have made their mark as iconic and influential figures. Some of the most notable Black video game characters include:
- Marcus Fenix (Gears of War, 2006)
- Kratos (God of War, 2005)
- Adéwalé (Assasin’s Creed, 2012)
- Carl “CJ” Johnson (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, 2004)
- Lee Everett (The Walking Dead, 2012)
- Senna (League of Legends, 2013)
These characters have left their mark on the gaming industry and helped shape the representation of Black characters in video games. In this article, you will discover the history of Black video game characters, the upheavals, the transitions, and suggestions.
Coding Blackness: The Evolution of Black Video Game Characters
The portrayal of Black characters in video games has evolved significantly throughout time. In early video games, Black characters only played supporting roles or were completely absent from the narrative. However, as the industry has grown and evolved, Black characters have increasingly taken on leading roles and become central figures in many popular video games.
The 1981 arcade game “Defender” has one of the first instances of Black characters in a video game. In this game, players controlled a spaceship and had to defend their planet against waves of enemy attackers. One of the enemies players had to defeat was a group of Black humanoid aliens known as the “Mutants.” While this game predates the widespread use of characters with distinct personalities, the Mutants are an early example of Black characters in video games.
As video games became more advanced and featured more complex characters, Black characters began to take on more prominent roles. One of the earliest examples of this was “Kratos,” the main character of the famous God of War series. Kratos, voiced by actor Terrence C. Carson, is a Spartan warrior on a quest for vengeance against the Greek gods. Kratos is a complex and fully realized character who is not defined by his race but by his motivations and actions.
However, his transition has been challenging. Despite the growing presence of Black characters in video games, there have been instances where Black characters have been poorly represented or subjected to negative stereotypes. These issues have led to criticism and calls for more excellent representation and inclusivity in the gaming industry.
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Stereotypes Exist in Gaming Too
One of the most common stereotypes that have plagued black characters in video games is the “gangsta” stereotype, which portrays Black characters as being involved in criminal activity or violent and aggressive. Numerous well-known video games, such as “Saints Row” and “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” have all contributed to the perpetuation of this stereotype.
Another stereotype used to portray Black characters in video games is the “magical negro” stereotype, which shows Black characters as possessing supernatural powers or abilities that they use to help white characters. This stereotype has appeared in games such as “Mass Effect” and “Dishonored,” where Black characters are portrayed as wise, enlightened, and subservient to white characters.
Black Video Game Characters Are Coming Into A ‘Positive’ Spotlight
Black characters have also had it good despite the stereotypes that plagued their video game characterization. These characters have been able to break free from the constraints of negative stereotypes and have become fully realized, complex characters in their own right.
One example of a liberated fictional Black video game character is “Marcus Fenix” from Gears of War. Marcus is a solid and capable character who can take on any challenge that comes his way. He is not defined by negative stereotypes but is a fully realized character with his motivations and desires.
Another example of a liberated fictional Black video game character is “Samus Aran” from the Metroid series. Samus is a mighty and skilled bounty hunter who can take on any challenge that comes her way. She is a fully realized character well-known and admired for her skills and abilities. And she is not limited by her race or gender.
In conclusion, Black characters have played a significant role in the history of video games. Despite Black characters being subjects of poor representation or negative stereotypes, Black characters have been portrayed positively and empowering.
As the gaming industry continues to evolve, developers must strive for better representation and inclusivity in their games. And to create complex and fully realized black characters who can break free from the constraints of racial exclusion. I foresee an improved gaming scene for Black characters with better representation and less bias.
Read Also: What It’s Really Like Being Black In Tech
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