Up at Sociological Images, they’ve posted about children’s attitude towards skin color and how they associate positive or negative attributes with various skin color. They included several videos from CNN that you should watch before continuing reading on how it relate to gamers.
So, those kids you saw gave some eye-brow raising answers to the black skinned figures like that girl pointed the black figure as the dumb child. Consider this, that girl’s answer may not be a statistically representative response or in other words, troll-worthy material. Sure, the news media’s purpose is to clearly deliver the point about skin color attitudes among children and they’re doing a trolling job. But still, maybe most of the children don’t have a clear answer or just shrugged their shoulders. Another thing, I’m not knee-deep into the media-racial research literature and this is a quick post to deliver my thoughts on this matter.
How does this relate to gamers? Character creation choice is the first thought I had and the questions following are: how often players create black characters or avatars? What sort of personality would their avatar follow (e.g. in Mass Effect)? Would players follow certain racial stereotypes in MMOs or RPGs? What sort of character stats would they give to their non-white characters? What skin color those kids would pick if they were asked to create a video game character and to complicate things, what narrative role (i.e. hero, villain, goofy sidekick, etc.) would look like? What kind of reaction would it be when facing a non-white video game character or avatar?
I have some theories deriving from those videos like most player-created video game characters are often white like it’s some kind of default skin. Probably because when people imagine a hero, their mental image would be someone with light skin because of the cultural prescriptions attributed to them as some of the children’s responses attest to. Another theory is that players are less likely to feel the need to consider diversity in contrast to game developers. A possible vector is that players are less likely to receive feedback on their character’s skin color than developers do. In other words, developers are more conscious of creating video game characters than gamers because the attention they get (i.e. Resident Evil 5). A third thought is that they are more inclined to create characters based on themselves, although this might true for their first character in a game, but what about subsequent playthroughs or multiple characters in the case of MMOs? I’m sorry, I’m in my stream of consciousness mode.
I don’t know if any of my thoughts hold any weight, I just liked to dump it before my memory goes. Here are some links of interest (that I skimmed):
- Chimerical Avatars @ Boing Boing.
- Minority Report: The Non-White Gamer’s Experience
- Why are Black Game Characters are Failing the Audience?