Racial identity and video games
Yesterday I stumbled upon an article entitled The Web is not a post-racial utopia, which concerns a videogame called Rust. It explains that when player enters the world of the game, they are “born” naked and alone. The game consists of surviving the wilderness. I’m guessing it’s like a grown-up version of Minecraft in some sense.
In the initial version of the game, all the players were born bald and white. In a later version, race was handed out randomly. And as you can guess, the complaints came pouring in after the change, as well as a marked increase in racially hostile language.
This is all while blacks and Hispanics play more videogames than whites. They were not complaining about being cast as a white man in the initial version, because it’s so common. Videogame designers are almost all white guys.
I’ll paraphrase from a great interview with one of the newest Star Wars heros John Boyega when I say, I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t have been any complaints if everybody were born a randomly colored alien. White people are okay with being cast as a green alien avatar, but no way they’re going to be cast as a black man. WTF, white people?
Of course, not everyone’s complaining. In fact the reactions are interesting although extreme. They’re thinking of setting up analytics to track the reactions. They’re also thinking of assigning gender and other differences randomly to avatars. And by the way, it looks like they’ve recently been attacked by hackers.
For what it’s worth, I’d love to see men in video games dealing with getting their period. Actually, that’s a great idea. Why not have that as part of the 7th grade ‘Health and Sexuality’ curriculum for both boys and girls? Those who advance to the next level can experience being pregnant and suffering sciatica. Or maybe even hot flashes and menopause, why not?