This started out as a comment on a blogpost by PhilKenSebben, but it became so big I decided to post it as a blog.
I don't know exactly how it is decided what the main character in a video game will be, but the result is indeed often very unimaginative. Settings are often exotic, but the player character usually isn't. Instead they find a reason to get an old world deserter to travel to said location and - at best - be presented in such a way that he appears at least vastly superior to the natives. An explorer, an adventurer, a colonist or mass murderer of both beast and man? Hard to tell.
I imagine people working on big budget games are told what the character should look like based on 'data'. It saddens me to a degree, but it goes far beyond games of course. Personally I don't get why things like skin color, same sex marriage, religion, gender,... are (still) such a point of discussion. You'd think the world would have passed that stage by now, but no.
For some reason I feel like this is a somewhat cyclical thing. Past civilizations and still existing, perhaps semi-isolated cultures have different views on those things, but there is probably not one in which discrimination, for whatever reason, does not exist.
I think it all comes from people's drive to be the superior one. The ubermensch, yes. Although one might not have an inherent problem with others doing something different, looking different etc...they look for the differences and attack those that are different to be able to form (closed) groups in which they tell each other they are right or better. Gender, religion, skin color,...motorcycle brand preference, anything will do to feel superior. That same drive is probably what got the human race where it is now, bringing along good things and plenty of horrible things as well.
I takes a lot reflection to find joy, success and recognition in things, life especially, without having to feel superior to the people around you. It takes a certain willingness, an effort. Not everybody has the capacity, whatever may be the reason, to come to terms with this and some simply give in to their natural urge to feel better.
This is all very complex, because it you take this thought of equality and respecting other people to the extreme, you are no longer able to assign importance to issues. I would have to provide equal empathy to a rich man becoming one of normal wealth as to a man of normal wealth who ends up on the street. Did they not both get 'demoted' in life? What if I threw in a third person: a 3 year old from the middle east who lost her one and only teddy bear when her family was forced to move - again - because it got too dangerous. From my personal perspective these rank as follows from unimportant to important : rich guy, girl, normal guy. You may not share this opinion, which is valid in itself.
Not allowing yourself to prioritize issues means you cannot consider them properly, let alone try to fix them. If we were to treat all people and their issues equally, we would not make any progress. We cannot fix it all at once. We must collectively agree on what is most important to us and try to move that issue forward.
It saddens me deeply to have to realize I personally cannot fix the way things are. I can only try to do the right thing, or what I consider to be the right thing, and try to find some joy in life while doing so. I do feel it is very important to decide for yourself what you stand for and then meet some people who are like-minded, and not the other way around. I'm also convinced it is important to welcome contact with people who are or think different. It keeps you perspective in line, provides impulses and can be though provoking.
There will always be people actively fighting against your personal beliefs, but that should not stop you from who you are. Not everyone has it in them to be the person a the forefront of a movement - whatever the goal - and that is fine. You don't have to be out there, metaphorically fighting for it as long as the actions you carry out in your daily life fall in line with what you believe in, you are doing it right.
Games are one of the many, many ways in which a set of virtues, principles, ideas etc are condensed into a product. A product of society, not the other way around. The fact that people question what goes on in their video games, means they actually question society. Which in turn is wonderful to see, certainly for a medium that is said to your brain!
I feel like it's time to stop rambling now. Allow me to share some random opinions and ideas with you and end this post on that note. Feel free to reply, for I do not hate.
- Racism is wrong.
- Same sex marriage is ok with me, hell it's been legal since 2003 where I live.
- Becoming rich through making the poor sweat and keeping them poor is wrong.
- Rape and other forms of violence against women and men should be taken more seriously.
- Wasting stuff is wrong, but determining what can be considered wasting is very hard.
- The five days on, two days off cycle and obligation-ridden society is stress-inducing and makes you lose creativity and imagination
- Justice is unjust and geared towards the upper echelons of society
- I feel like I'm paying way too much taxes, yet I have enough money to live
- I think it is important to see the enjoyable sides of imperfect things
... and so much more...
Keep on playing, keep on thinking and be yourself!