I am a proud African-American male I’m in my late 20’s and I’ve been gaming since I was old enough to pick up a controller. I champion for women of color in television, film, radio and even on magazine covers but I realized recently that I don’t care if they’re in my video games. In fact I prefer that they aren’t.
That may sound shocking to some, perhaps even a tad off putting but it’s the honest truth. I do not care for black women or even various “women of color” in my games. I put “women of color” in quotations because last I checked the skin tones of white women were indeed a color, but I digress.
The answer to this is complex in many ways but at the same time relatively simple: I find video games to be a fantasy; an escape. That’s not to say that in life I don’t prefer the aesthetic of Caucasian women but I am not always surrounded by them. When I turn on a game console or fire up my PC I am trying to transport myself into another world, a more entertaining and in some ways aesthetically pleasing one.
I don’t find most non-Caucasian women aesthetically pleasing; particularly black women. They just don’t do it for me, and to be perfectly frank whenever they are a significant part of a video game I can feel my interest in the product wain. It’s not just due to their lack of personal beauty to my own eyes it also has to do with how women of color are generally written in video games.
While Asian women tend to buck the trend, most women of color in games are either bland or over the top—there is nothing in between. They just are never very fun characters to play and or interact with.
Take Sheva for instance, from the popular Resident Evil series. She was brought in as a character to appease people when a white protagonist found himself in Africa for a storyline. This is all good and well, but Sheva, despite a bodacious rack and supple ass, is not very interesting. She’s sexy by default due to the rest of the female population being mutated zombies. But there is no real sexual interest in her, at least not for me. And SPOILER ALERT—after a while I could feel myself counting the minutes until Jill Valentine, the sexy, confident and wildly popular white female protagonist came onto the scene.
Once Jill arrived, Sheva became the 3rd string character, and what little interest I had in her faded away. I know I cannot be the only person who felt this. I don’t say this to be mean, or even to suggest she could have been better written. It’s a Resident Evil game, and one where the hero punches a boulder to advance. This is not a world where script and logic have to be married to one another, but it didn’t make logical sense that I would care about Sheva once Jill was fully in the picture.
There aren’t many but if there was a video game with a black woman as the main character I’m pretty confident I wouldn’t buy it, unless critics were screaming it was the best game ever. And even then I wouldn’t trust it. The video game industry doesn’t know how to write black female characters well, and I don’t care if they ever learn how to. That’s not why I buy their products.
Name one black female character from video games that anybody really likes or cares about. I’m including black men such as myself in that challenge. Alyx Vance from the Half-Life series is probably the only one anyone can remotely name, and I know plenty of folks who are not a fan of her character.
When I turn on my copy of Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball as a black man I want to oogle Tina Armstrong, Helena Douglas and Christie. It’s why I love Tomb Raider and the sex mini games in God of War. White women are just more appealing in video games, because when we enter a fantasy world that’s what we want—fantasy. And sometimes as a black male that fantasy is a bunch of sexy white women; jumping, fighting and bouncing around.
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