” We may have a different religion, different language, different coloured skin, but we all belong to one human race.” -Kofi Annan
Needless to say that, video games offer opportunities for players to explore, practice, and re-enforce cultural and social identities. There are lot of things which are predominantly created and played by one racial group that can unintentionally perpetuate racial stereo-types and thus limited choices reflected to preconceived notions of racial bias.
While the world is battling to COVID-19 together, another darker side of the society has popped up. A viral video has shown cops pinning down and found responsible for George Floyd death (caught on camera), the grassroots activism spoke to a long-standing link between police violence against African Americans and environmental justice. Sooner various autopsy reports told Floyd’s death as a homicide caused by cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression. The world condemned and started speaking up for ‘Justice for Floyd’ which further escalated and reflected as the racial conflict of colour ‘Black Lives Matter’ since many believe Floyd is not the only one who faced racial violence and societal injustice.
Soon after many hoisted in support of racial injustice irrespective of the diversity of colour, race, and more. The gaming sector unites in support of ‘Black Life Matters’ and has expressed their thought all over the internet.
Gaming companies in support of the movement
After protests erupted in cities all over the United States in response to the police killing of George Floyd, a large number of studios and other game companies have stepped forward in support of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and other organisations like the NAACP and Color of Change. Companies from all corners of the industry have made contributions while encouraging others to do the same.
- Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online are temporarily being shut down on Thursday to support the Black Lives Matter movement and in memory of George Floyd’s death, Rockstar Games announced this week. The online extensions of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 will be taken offline from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Rockstar Games said.
- Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, who have made a rare show of uniting online on the issue of long overdue racial justice. Sony to delay its PlayStation 5 reveal event from 4June to an undisclosed later date. Depending on the protests’ course and duration, Microsoft may also ultimately push back some of its own Xbox Series X announcements to avoid stealing any of the Black Lives Matter movement’s spotlight and looking insensitive to players.
- Epic Games has postponed Chapter 2 Season 3 of Fortnite once again, this time in light of the ongoing nationwide protests in the US. The live event The Device will be delayed to Monday, 15June, and the Season 3 launch delayed to Wednesday, 17June. Epic posted heartfelt letter on their official blog post addressing the Fortnite community: “Recent events are a heavy reminder of ongoing injustices in society, from the denial of basic human rights to the impact of racism both overt and subtle against people of color. We’re acutely aware of the pain our friends, families, team members, players, and communities are experiencing.We believe in equality and justice, diversity and inclusion, and that these fundamentals are above politics.The team is eager to move Fortnite forward, but we need to balance the Season 3 launch with time for the team to focus on themselves, their families, and their communities.”
- Pokemon Go developer Niantic is donating proceeds from Pokemon Go Fest 2020 ticket sales, committing to a minimum of $5 million, to “Black gaming and AR creators that can live on the Niantic platform” and “US nonprofit organisations that are helping local communities rebuild.” It is also donating $100,000 to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute while also matching employee donations up to another $50,00.
We stand with the Black community & against white supremacy, racism, & police brutality & condemn the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop & countless others. Here’s how we’re committing to change #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/jfYGinhl2e pic.twitter.com/Y0P3f1E2PQ
— Niantic, Inc. (@NianticLabs) June 3, 2020
- EA is donating $1 million to the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and other organizations in the future. It is also double matching any funds people donate through their YourCause program during the month of June.
— Electronic Arts (@EA) June 3, 2020
- Ubisoft is making a $100,000 contribution to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter while encouraging others to donate.
We stand in solidarity with Black team members, players, and the Black community. We are making a $100,000 contribution to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter and encourage those who are able to, to donate. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/KpHZCF6VWx
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) June 2, 2020
- Activision has pushed back the launches of two major seasonal updates for the Call of Duty Season 4 of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone and Season 7 of Call of Duty: Mobile have been delayed in the wake of the movement
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) June 2, 2020
- Humble Bundle has announced a $1 million fund with the sole purpose to help develop games made by black developers. This announcement was made yesterday during Blackout Tuesday, which was a movement designed to highlight and support black creators in all fields. Black creators in film, TV, art, video games, and more were all included in the movement yesterday. Humble Bundle also asked its users to support the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or Race Forward, as these organizations currently can’t be picked as supportable charities through Humble Bundle purchases.
— Humble Bundle (@humble) June 2, 2020
- Bossa Studios, the developer of the Surgeon Simulator series, is also donating $100 for every employee and matching individual employee donations made to Black Lives Matter.
- Twitch can be termed as a rather white platform, with 2018 data showing that 71.5 per cent of streamers and viewers identify as white. Historically, Twitch has struggled on race-related issues, as exemplified by the platform’s problems with racist emotes over the years. Amazon owned Twitch also steps out in support to the movement
Get informed and get involved utilizing the resources we’ve gathered in the thread below: pic.twitter.com/XJeAKTYkrh
— Twitch (@Twitch) June 3, 2020
- Nintendo of America also decided to publish a statement regarding the Black Lives Matter campaign on racial equality
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) June 3, 2020
- Fusebox Games, the developer of Love Island, donated all of its profits made Wednesday, 2June, to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, a U.K. charity that helps disadvantaged youth.
- io is creating a pay-what-you-want Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. When users make a minimum $5 purchase, the funds will be split between the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and ActBlue’s Community Bail Fund. This bundle will be available from 5 to 15 June. The developer of Journey, that game company, is making a $20,000 donation to Black Lives Matter and the NAACP.
- Games Done Quick has also made a $2,500 donation to Lake Street Council’s “We Love Lake Street,” which is a project supporting the rebuilding of small businesses and nonprofits on Lake Street in Minneapolis. They have also pledged that all the revenue made by Twitch subscriptions and bit donations during the month of June will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
— Games Done Quick (@GamesDoneQuick) June 1, 2020
- Square Enix has pledged $250,000 to support Black Lives Matter and other charities including Showing Up for Racial Justice, the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, Equal Justice Initiative, and Colorlines, and has also promised to match individual employee donations. The Evolution Championship Series, or EVO, has likewise donated $7,500 each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the We Love Lake Street project.
There are mixed results on the demographics of people who play video games. While one study mentions that African American and Hispanic children make up the majority of video game players, a study by Pew Research Center finds that 73.9 per cent of white children play video games compared to 26.1 per cent of non-white children. No matter what is today’s reality gaming industry has always shown the racial diversity through its content or characters.
The idea of portraying different races is not something entirely new in the history of video games. Early games, including some MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, featured multiple playable (fictional) races that the player could choose from at the beginning of the game. Here are our few picks of games and character’s which some or the other way portrayed the diversity of race:
Afro Samurai: Afro Samurai is an action video game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, loosely based on the manga and anime series of the same name. It was announced in the February 2008 issue of Play magazine and released on 27 January 2009. The game was developed by Namco Bandai Games and in North America, it was the first (and would end up being the only) game published under their western label, Surge.
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand is a third-person shooter video game developed by Swordfish Studios and published by THQ for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It serves as the sequel to 50 Cent: Bulletproof, and was released in February 2009. The game centers around a fictional 50 Cent and G-Unit’s concert, set in an unspecified location in Middle East. After the reward payment goes wrong, the group tries to retrieve the stolen skull back from the terrorists.
Rumble Roses XX: Rumble Roses XX is a female professional wrestling fighting game developed by Konami for the Xbox 360 as the sequel to the 2004 PlayStation 2 game Rumble Roses. The game was released by Konami in 2006. On September 2018, Larry Hryb announced that Rumble Roses XX would be playable on Xbox One via backwards compatibility. With the exception of a simple street fighting mode, the bulk of the gameplay focuses on matches which take place in various locales. Matches can be between individual wrestlers, between tag teams of two wrestlers each, or between a wrestler and a team.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a 2004 action-adventure game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It is the seventh title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the followup to the 2002 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It was released in October 2004 for PlayStation 2, and in June 2005 for both Microsoft Windows and Xbox. The game, set within an open world environment that players can explore and interact with at their leisure, focuses on the story of former gangster Carl “CJ” Johnson, who is brought back home by the death of his mother, only to become involved in a long journey that sees him exploring the fictional U.S. state of San Andreas, which is heavily based on California and Nevada. The game features references to many real-life elements of the world, such as its cities, regions, and landmarks, with its plot heavily based on several real-life events in Los Angeles in the early 1990s, including the rivalry between real-life street gangs, the 1980s-early 1990s crack epidemic, the LAPD Rampart scandal, and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Unlike its predecessor, San Andreas brought with it new elements of gameplay that would be later incorporated in future titles, including RPG-style mechanics, customization options with both clothing and vehicle appearances, a vast array of activities and mini-games, and the inclusion of gambling games.
Watch Dogs 2: Watch Dogs 2 is a 2016 action-adventure game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It is the sequel to 2014’s Watch Dogs and was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows. Set within a fictionalized version of the San Francisco Bay Area, the game is played from a third-person perspective and its open world is navigated on-foot or by vehicle. Players control Marcus Holloway, a hacker who works with the hacking group DedSec to take down the city’s advanced surveillance system known as ctOS. There are multiple ways to complete missions, and each successful assignment increases the follower count of DedSec. Cooperative multiplayer allows for competitive one-on-one combat and connecting with other players to neutralize a player who is causing havoc.
In-game heroes of Afro origin
Bangalore, aka Anita Williams, from Apex Legends is a soldier, she is known for playing mind games with the smokescreen to running laps around enemies before bombarding them from space, Bangalore is a formidable opponent and a great choice for the Apex games.Also Ajay Che, better known as Lifeline, is a combat medic, and a support Legend who’s easily one of the MVPs of the Apex games. Her kit has been one of the most useful (not to mention coolest) loadouts in the game: sporting a shielded and shortened revive time, a mobile healing drone, and a whole lot of charisma.
Elena from Street Fighters stands out as she’s the only character that utilises the unique Afro-Brazilian dance-fighting style of Capoeira to clobber her opponents, and it’s built around exclusively using kicks, acrobatics, and healing. It’s a super cool style, a graceful kinetic performance that requires both intense physicality and rhythmic skill to master.
Sgt. Avery Johnson from Halo is the ultimate hype man, the king of inspirational speeches. With just a few words, he can get anyone pumped up to blast some aliens and save planet Earth. Throughout the series, he’s been a bastion of wisdom, grit and perseverance — and inspired others to that same standard.
Lola from Afterparty is a sharp-witted smartypants in overalls who doesn’t have time for anyone’s BS. Before she ended up down below she was an activist fighting for good in the world, and her passion carries over into the Underworld.
Grace Walker from Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is one of the few survivors of the nuclear attack on New York’s few survivors of an atom bomb attack, Grace’s role as a tough-as-nails Resistance leader is one that requires a delicate balance of camaraderie and no-nonsense hardass-ed-ness, a combination absolutely nailed by voice actress Deborah Wilson’s impassioned performance.