In a recent article at Joystiq, white female writer Jessica Conditt set out to prove that the gaming industry is rife with racism against blacks. In the course of an almost three thousand word article, she spoke with several black figures in the industry and drew from a diverse set of statistics, all of which point to one conclusion: there is no systematic problem with racism in the games industry. The only harassment her interviewers report is is being called nasty names on voice chat.
The number of black characters in video games matches their percentage in the general US population. Audiences are willing to pay for games featuring blacks, even strange arthouse games about black women in the 1970s. However, since a core tenant of SJW grievance-mongering is that everything must be racist, she ignores her own evidence in an attempt to portray gaming as the second coming of the Jim Crow south.
Game developer Shawn Allen, for example, says he’s “never experienced outright harassment.” Auriea Harvey, a black woman and co-founder of gaming company Tale of Tales, says she’s “never experienced racially charged harassment as a developer or player.” Developer Dain Saint, when asked about racism in the industry, could only say, “”I’d love to say no, but the frequency with which I’m called a nigger by people while playing Counter-Strike begs to differ.” If some teenagers saying mean things to you over voice chat is the worst racism you’ve encountered in the gaming industry, then it’s a safe assumption that racism simply isn’t a big problem.
Her research shows that the gaming industry is broad enough to encompass even extraordinarily niche arthouse games by minorities. Tale of Tales recently did a kickstarter for their game Sunset, staring a black female housekeeper who walks around a room at dusk. Even this unlikely idea for a game managed to raise over $65,000, $40,000 more than the amount her company was asking for. I would personally rather jump off a tall building than play this game, and I’m sure that most of my readers will agree. By our standards, it doesn’t even qualify as a game, but the existence of a large number of people who want to play Sunset goes against her claims for racism in the industry.
The most damning evidence against her case for an industry plagued by “casual racism”, as she calls it, is a statistic she quotes in the middle of her piece. “In 2008,” she says, “the Pew Research Internet Project reported that 51 percent of black, non-Hispanic Americans played video games, the same ratio as reported for white, non-Hispanic Americans.” In other words, black gamers enjoy video games every bit as much as whites do.
What Black Gamers Want Doesn’t Matter to Her
The question of what kind of games black gamers actually would enjoy is shockingly absent from her article. She quotes any number of statistics about how, for example, so few game characters are black as evidence of systemic discrimination. But the percentages she quotes (between 10.7% and 22%) line up very closely with the percentage of blacks in the US (around 13%). And not one black person is quoted as saying he feels upset with this.
One of our black guest contributors at Reaxxxion has stated, in fact, that he prefers his games to have white female characters. Are black players bothered by playing games with white protagonists? Does a black player feel excluded when he plays Grand Theft Auto 4 as Nico Bellic, and welcomed when he plays as Carl Johnson in San Andreas? We don’t know. Despite this being a central tenet of her article, it appears she never bothered to ask anyone.
With her article, Jessica Conditt joins a long line of racist white liberals who seek to use blacks and other minorities to advance their personal political agendas. She decided to write an article about how the gaming industry was racist, and had her narrative all ready long before she asked for her first quote. The black people she interviewed were nothing more than puppets, who were essentially given prepared lines to speak. She wanted people to talk about racial harassment, and so that’s what they’re quoted on, even if most of them report never experiencing it all. Indeed, this frustration can be felt in the words of one of her interview subjects, who says,
I would love to not be needed to comment on the status of black players and developers in games. I don’t know the last white guy that was asked his opinion on how his race is portrayed in games or treated in the industry, and if he was, I certainly don’t know anyone that’d listen to him as The Representative. To be seen as an individual, instead of a member of The Other – that’s what I’d change.
If you go searching for a specific conclusion, you’ll find a smattering of facts that may show it exists, but Conditt’s argument that there is racism in game development is sorely lacking.