Hello again, one & all. I hope life has treated everyone well since last we spoke. I also hope that you don't mind if I address something that's been bugging me as of late. Nothing too heavy, just an issue that I feel needs to be addressed...
Last week, while I was adding another name to the Malloy List, I ever so slightly touched on the subjects of race & ethnicity by adding choosing Priest Vallon on St. Patrick's Day. In hindsight, not my brightest moment. You see, while just going about my usual KPB duties last week, I noticed that there's a noticeable lack of clarity when it comes to ethnic diversity in games. For the record, I'm not calling any game or studio prejudiced because nothing could be further from the truth. We live & game in an age where multiple cultures are highlighted and celebrated on both sides of the screen. The FGC is, after all, a -global- community. What I'm referring to here is the lack of clear cut definition & inclusion of the more minute (but very relevant) differences within our current diversity.
Ask yourself a question: How many fighting games have Irish characters? How about Haitian? Samoan? Inuit? Portugese? Belgian? Italian? While trying to keep with the spirit of the holiday last week, I found myself hopelessly lost. There are only two confirmed Irish characters in any fighting game: the Williams' sisters from Tekken. (I suppose, if you were really grasping at straws, you could say that Steve Fox has a little Irish in him... but again, that's a stretch.) Granted, there are valid Irish characters in gaming abroad, but it struck me as a little disenheartening. Furthermore, there's really no way of visually identifying them as Irish. On one hand, you could say that's plus since it fosters a sense of individuality that does NOT rely on any form of stereotype or caricature. However, on the other hand, there's a sadly missed opportunity that would allow Irish players to both connect & somewhat identify with a character.
Before anyone flips out and thinks I'm trying to bait an argument about ethnicity, allow me to make something clear: I am an American by birth, but I'm also mixed. My makeup consists of Black, White, Puerto Rican, Irish & Amerind. If you've ever actually seen me in person or onstream, now you know why I look the way I do. It's for this reason that I personally have no "horse in this race" (no pun intended). However, that's just me... one person out of a few million that are also gamers. I don't think it's asking too much that we all get some tangible representation in games.
As to the "why" of this conundrum, I hold two unlikely factors accountable: tourism & history. Although they have very little correlation with each other when it comes to gaming, their connection outside of games is downright intrinsic. Historical context is what helps frame the tourism allure of most locales. The deeper or more significant the context of a location's history, the deeper the desire to visit. It appeals to our natural curiosity towards what we know through secondary sources of information because nothing beats actually seeing it for yourself. As such, when a character is attached to one of these destinations, we automatically begin to form a simple idea of their identity, which leads to forming an opinion of how they would act/carry themselves. Obviously, this is a hit-or-miss practice. Sometimes, we get surprised and other times, well... we get typecast & pigeonholed.
There's still more I want to say, but I don't want this particular Perspective to run on too long. Thankfully, March has five Sundays which will allow me to continue this particular train of thought next week in the Dynamek Perspective - Special Edition.
TO BE CONTINUED...