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Default Mass Effect 2 - Old Fashioned Prejudices

April 13th, 2010, 16:01
I'm not sure what to make of this, so I'll just turn it over to you. Omega spotted this piece at Rebel Yell that looks at racial diversity and related issues in modern games, using Mass Effect 2 as a example that looks progressive on the surface, but perhaps isn't - or so they argue:
In an interview with gaming industry blog Develop, Raven Software’s Manveer Heir says that “lack of diversity, specifically race but also gender and sexuality, is across the board with in-game characters… How often do we play as the white space marine?”
Going by that criteria, “Mass Effect 2” seems like a fairly progressive, if not outright diverse game. But let’s take a closer look.
The Commander Shepard on the game’s box – the thing that markets the game to the public – is a white male. He actually looks a lot like most other action game (and action movie) protagonists: He’s Heir’s “white space marine.”
More information.

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April 13th, 2010, 16:02
This is why the Masterchief is the best videogame hero ever. He kicks ass and isn't being a racist at the same time.

Now, if only the single player campaigns in his games were a bit better…

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April 13th, 2010, 17:53
I haven't considered Shepherds race since I am not a racist.

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April 13th, 2010, 18:00
Yawn……
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April 13th, 2010, 18:20
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Yawn……
While I don't agree that this topic in general is not worth discussing, I think he absolutely picked the wrong game to make an example of.

The Mass Effect games let you CHOOSE whatever your vision of Cmdr. Shepard happens to be. I play as a black male Cmdr. Shepard and I appreciate that Bioware gives me the flexibility to do so. Furthermore, both games feature strong black characters in prominent roles and #2 even lets you have a romance with one (if a female).

Now go back and replace every instance of "black" with "female" and the accuracy of my statements will not change. Honestly, ME2 is probably the most progressive CRPG I have ever played.

Now as a black CRPG gamer I realize I am a minority within a minority. I don't make too much of a big deal when I am "forced" to play a white character — I focus on the game. However, when given the chance to pick my race, I'll jump at it. I don't care much how the game is marketed as long as the choice is there when I am actually playing it.
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April 13th, 2010, 18:59
I'm not black, nor any shade of brown, but I think Bioware missed a great opportunity in not making the Kelly Chambers character black (or Pakistani/Indian/Asian, but I would have preferred black). If it's rare to have a black male game character, I can't remember the last time I saw a leading black female character. Not to mention, if they had worked that into her background she would have been a much more interesting character, and not the over-excited puppy she came across as in her early dialogue.
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April 13th, 2010, 19:14
I usually don't care much, although I prefer to use not green or blue skin colours, like BG1 allows the player to actually use. I hve played BG1 once with a darker skin colour, too.

What strikes me, personally, is the lack of NPCs with darker kin in most games i know of. I'd think they would be equal to the numbeer of other skin-coloured NPCs in any games, but even in Star Wars, most people are "white"-skinned. Humans, I mean.

From that perspective … Well, Drakensang kind of reflects mediaval Europe … But there actually *are* peoples with a darker skin … The odd thing is only that here are so few in the game …

I think any game just reflects the developing bureau. The philosophies, the team, the skin colours, the languages used, the philosophies, the sexes, the ages, the prejudices … Everything. Imho.

So I'm not that much surprised. even females are in my opinion much too much underrepresented in both teams and in RPGs.

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April 13th, 2010, 19:41
I don't really care if people make games that are diverse. Developers can express themselves however they feel.

I am somewhat offended by the fact that there are sound files for a gay relationship, and they were deliberately not used while leaving the lesbian one in there. It's the same typical male homophobic crap that's in every media.

I'm not happy with the decision, but I can see why they would do it, considering their target audience.

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April 13th, 2010, 19:47
As far as Mass Effect 2, yes you can make the character lool however you want. However, your character will be ass ugly if you don't go with the default as the face morphing tool is much cruder than whatever they used to create their version of "Shepherd". Also, there's the name… that's a stereotypical Anglo-Saxon name. It's the equivalent of having a character named "Abdullah" and then letting people make the character look however you want him/her to look. A more generic name would have been better. And lastly, I didn't think the default male commander shepherd looked "white". I thought he looked latino. Anyway, enough about that. On to the larger issue.

In general, game developers have always made games with their target demographic in mind. That used to be young white male computer nerds. Now it's just about everyone, broadly speaking. Western game companies still target people who live in Western countries, though. As Asian game companies target people who live in Asia. Why no mention of the 2,457 South Korean and Chinese online games that feature nothing but Asian anime characters?

Bottom line is that I'm perfectly fine with game companies targeting the people they expect to sell their games to, as long as they offer a choice when it comes to player character. I can rationalize a backstory for myself to explain how I might have ended up in virtually any environment. What I can't do is rationalize for myself a backstory that explain how I am not me. An example of that would be a game where the main player character is obviously gay. I did play a game like that once, and the campy voice acting for my character was really a major turn off that resulted in me not playing the game for very long, despite it being a generally decent game otherwise. And before anyone objects to me characterizing the voice acting that way, there was a lot more going on with the story line and character interaction that made it pretty clear the main character was gay.

That's really not cool. It's not cool even if the developers did believe most of their customers were gay, which I don't think is the case. I think one or more of the developers was gay and thought that'd be pretty fun to make a game with a gay character.

And finally, not everyone wants to play a character that corresponds to their own alter0-ego. That's what I do, but the fact that in any given online game right now you'll find over 50% of the characters to be female when the stats indicate less than 10% of the players are female is pretty good evidence a lot of players are comfortable with some pretty large "virtual" identity shifts.
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April 13th, 2010, 20:09
I'm a white male and I can't say I've ever cared whether my avatar corresponds with that. In fact, when given the choice I actively choose something as far from my ID as possible, whether it's race, sex, age, # of arms etc.. As far as this topic is concerned all games are role-playing games. I see it as the opportunity to assume an identity other than my own and to play that role. I don't play games and say to myself.. "I'm playing ME, here; this is ME killing these goblins. This is how *I* would cast magic missile in this situation, etc." I'd never play an animated version of myself in a game, it'd be ridiculous.
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April 13th, 2010, 20:31
Originally Posted by DogInARocket View Post
I don't play games and say to myself.. "I'm playing ME, here; this is ME killing these goblins. This is how *I* would cast magic missile in this situation, etc." I'd never play an animated version of myself in a game, it'd be ridiculous.
Is it more ridiculous than making a conscious decision that the character you are playing is NOT me? That's NOT me doing all these things? lol

Well, as somebody who has been playing RPGs since before there were computer versions I can testify to the fact that's pretty unusual. People always tended to create and play characters that roughly corresponded to their own personalities. I personally think the trend towards moving away from that in recent years is mainly because people aren't even playing RPGs anymore, they are just playing games that call themselves that.

To each his own, though. Which is what this discussion is really all about
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April 13th, 2010, 21:43
Originally Posted by CraigCWB View Post
People always tended to create and play characters that roughly corresponded to their own personalities.
Indubitably. When it comes to different people, however, you may have to take varying degrees of "detachment" into account. Some like ROLE-playing, others prefer role-PLAYING.

I always tend to play more along the lines of how I, personally, would act if I were in the shoes of the character I'm playing. Others don't care about this sort of "acting out" too much and just play along, or in other words they think more of how their character would act, not how they would act as their character. And then there are gamers who are even more detached and play, say, as a total jackass because they think it's funny. That's normally just … playing, nothing to do with roles.

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April 13th, 2010, 21:46
Originally Posted by CraigCWB View Post
Is it more ridiculous than making a conscious decision that the character you are playing is NOT me? That's NOT me doing all these things? lol

Well, as somebody who has been playing RPGs since before there were computer versions I can testify to the fact that's pretty unusual. People always tended to create and play characters that roughly corresponded to their own personalities. I personally think the trend towards moving away from that in recent years is mainly because people aren't even playing RPGs anymore, they are just playing games that call themselves that.

To each his own, though. Which is what this discussion is really all about
All I was saying was ridiculous (to me) was the idea of a literal computer representation of myself in a game setting, not the inner dialogue stuff of the preceding sentence.

I'll defer to your stated credentials and accept what you say is the majority. I don't mind being unusual.
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April 13th, 2010, 22:48
Arhu, that was a great synopsis of some of the different "releplaying' philosophies

Originally Posted by DogInARocket View Post
All I was saying was ridiculous (to me) was the idea of a literal computer representation of myself in a game setting, not the inner dialogue stuff of the preceding sentence.

I'll defer to your stated credentials and accept what you say is the majority. I don't mind being unusual.
Oh, I'm not in the majority anymore. Far from it. I was talking about the old days. I'm totally baffled by what I see people doing in online RPGs these days.
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April 13th, 2010, 22:54
Originally Posted by Arhu View Post
Indubitably. When it comes to different people, however, you may have to take varying degrees of "detachment" into account. Some like ROLE-playing, others prefer role-PLAYING.

I always tend to play more along the lines of how I, personally, would act if I were in the shoes of the character I'm playing. Others don't care about this sort of "acting out" too much and just play along, or in other words they think more of how their character would act, not how they would act as their character. And then there are gamers who are even more detached and play, say, as a total jackass because they think it's funny. That's normally just … playing, nothing to do with roles.
Then there are those who play a female character simply because they like to look at a female derričre.
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April 14th, 2010, 05:12
Originally Posted by Foreigner View Post
I'm not black, nor any shade of brown, but I think Bioware missed a great opportunity in not making the Kelly Chambers character black (or Pakistani/Indian/Asian, but I would have preferred black). If it's rare to have a black male game character, I can't remember the last time I saw a leading black female character.
You're right. Black females are exceptionally rare in these type of games. Hell in ANY games. When the designers are thinking of love interests in particular, they stick to what they are familiar with. The kind of women they lust after.

It is a known fact that the sexuality of black women is downplayed by popular media. When they aren't being ignored completely, they are often presented as "bossy", angry, or otherwise a-sexual. Of course there are exceptions, but the general fact remains — if a white guy wants to find out what I already KNOW about black women (that they are sexy and desirable) he's got to do his own legwork.
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April 14th, 2010, 05:35
Surprisingly, only 10 percent of playable characters are women – not even remotely representing real-world population.
But very close to the game player population - at least for action games.

What baffles me is the lack of asian characters. Look at Final Fantasy 13's playable characters: five white, one black. This is a game made in Japan with a huge Japanese audience. The other FF games seem similar. Xenosaga - all white. The Last Remnant had dozens of human characters - almost all white. What's going on here!?

ME2 was definitely not the best pick for a game to examine. You interact with a heck of a lot of 'aliens' that don't fit into any racial classification. Plus it is set well into the future so, if you really want to check for accurate race balance, you have to guess at what the racial mix will be at that time.

Edit: Elkston, want I should play my Tesslah character around more game designers, then?
Last edited by Zloth; April 14th, 2010 at 05:47.
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April 14th, 2010, 09:09
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
What baffles me is the lack of asian characters. Look at Final Fantasy 13's playable characters: five white, one black. This is a game made in Japan with a huge Japanese audience. The other FF games seem similar. Xenosaga - all white. The Last Remnant had dozens of human characters - almost all white. What's going on here!?
There's nothing surprising about that at all. It's not really about race, Japanese gamers simply prefer the anime style characters, which typically look more Caucasian.
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April 14th, 2010, 10:52
Originally Posted by elkston View Post
Now go back and replace every instance of "black" with "female"
Okay.

I play as a female male Cmdr. Shepard and I appreciate that
I am outraged at my inability to play a transvestite Commander Shepard! Out of protest, I will not subscribe to your newsletter!

I'll shut up now. What was the article about again?
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April 14th, 2010, 11:51
Why not play Cats and Dogs, then ?

I mean - if it all doesn't matter, after all …

Seriously, I'd like to see the experiment to play a Unicorn - I'm totally "into" unicorns, they are my far favourite fantasy creatures - but that would be very, very, very difficult, not only because it would mean one would have to "think down" of how to fill that role, but also, because developers and designers would have different approaches as how a Unicorn would be - maybe even differently from country tio country. I'd expect japanese developers seeing them differently than american ones or european ones.

And that leads over to another point: To cultural differences. Not racial ifferences, but cultural ones.

Someone once used the term of "cultural races" within humanity. I think this is an interesting approach. There aren't genes that make people kind of "incomptible" with one nother, but rather there are cultures whoch do it. Lovers from two different cultures always have it quite hard.

I hve never met people from so different cultures, but i once had a deep friendship with a lovable woman from Siberia. She was highly intelligent (she was originally a doctor, actually), and I learned quite a lot about her and her culture. Yet there were some things between us that were just "cultural differences". At a few points we couldn't understand one another, and we had to ask a lot as what meant the ther one. Unfortunately she had a new frind at one point, and after the learning course we were in broke up, our ways parted. I haven't seen her since then, unfortunately.

Germany has the policy to "accept" people who have German ancestors in what's now Russia, for example. These families have been living there for generations (which means for a few hundred ears), and now they come back.

They have grave difficulties with integrating in German society. They might still speak German with an ancient accent, but their culture is different from our current culture. Hence their difficulties to integrate.

We don't see these cultural differences that much in games. Rather between aliens than between humans.


Originally Posted by elkston View Post
Of course there are exceptions, but the general fact remains — if a white guy wants to find out what I already KNOW about black women (that they are sexy and desirable) he's got to do his own legwork.
And perhaps vice versa. I mean, here in Germany i have often the impression as if people rather cose to stick with one another, than to "opn" each group … It' a bit difficult to put down into words.
My impression of the U.S. is that the groups are more open to one another, so to say, because they just live in the same towns for so long. The society often appears to me to be rther "mixed-through" than i know it from here, so to say.


One good thing in becoming older and mture is imho that things like the colours of skin and/or cultures on't matter that much anymore.

Becaue everyone knows, if there was really love striking like a lighning, then it wouldn't care at all.

At one point I began to leave it all behind me. At one point, only the sympathy is important, neither skin colour nor culture.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
Last edited by Alrik Fassbauer; April 14th, 2010 at 12:06.
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