generally being a black man in a multicultural america, i'm usually reminded of race everyday. it isn't as bad as many people would expect. however, i've been on this earth for 29 years and 2 weeks and it gives me a chance to analyze certain aspects of culture as i see fit.
so now recently i've been turning my attention towards video games. why? well video games don't have the same standards as movies and tv. video games don't necessarily have to be pc while movie execs and tv producers are questioning everything about the product. there are focus groups for video games but there aren't sponsors. if you put a stereotypical character like cole train from gears of war in a game, you don't have groups protesting the sales of the game at walmart.
(side note: i personally don't find cole train stereotypical as far as race is concerned. he was a football player. most of them act like that.)
so in the past few days i've been pretty much going through a majority of the games i own (and don't own) and have played in the past and decided to write about certain characters. if they were done right. and what could be better done.
barret wallace (final fantasy VII)
who is he?
stereotypical, potty mouthed leader of the eco group AVALANCHE in the city of midgar. and he uses a gun. smh. a gun.
how black is he?
well, since black people curse a lot and use broken english. i suppose he's pretty effing black. i swear at one point i saw him say "i say we go ova tuh duh shinruh towa to take caruh doze deah turks. yessuh, cloud!". also he had a really bad temper, beating the crap out of anyone that opposed him. which is pretty black. but i guess it could be pretty italian of him too. and he HAD A GUN FOR AN ARM. you can't really tell from the terrible polygon graphics but he actually turns it sideways like the real gangstas do. and in advent children, he had cornrows.
but he wasn't all bad was he?
no of course not. you'd suppose he was pretty intelligent, seeing he could recruit people into AVALANCHE to follow his cause. he was also a great protector as evidenced by taking marlene after dyne supposedly died *spoiler alert*. he was a very loyal friend and partner, sacrificing himself for the greater good when needed. AND HE HAD A GUN FOR AN ARM.
how could you make him better?
i'd seem like a fool if i wanted a character changed from a game that was made over ten years ago. i'd like it if he spoke like everyone else. considering he was in a mining town, maybe everybody else talked like that too. (wait...he was the only one that talked like that? well...that's fucked up) but hey, you have to take what you get. although barret is sinfully stereotyped, he's still a great character and there's more to him than the broken english, the cursing and the GUN FOR AN ARM.
blackness accuracy: 5 out of 10 earth wind and fire albums.
although there's a lot of stereotypes throughout, i'd still have to give him a pretty average score. points are definitely knocked off because he didn't die in the story. that's worth about a million blackness points.
staff sergeant griggs (call of duty 4)
who is he?
second in command behind lieutenant vasquez and SAW gunner for the marine force recon. he nearly dies in the *spoiler alert* nuclear explosion in that "unnamed middle eastern country" and joins capt. price's team to find zakhaev.
how black is he?
oh yeah, i'll tell you who he definitely is. he's definitely the hardcore black marine you'd meet in real life like i did when i was in the marine corps. he was about business but knew when to have a laugh. what i like about this character that there's really no big whoop because there's a black character in a game. he's part of a cohesive team brought together to take down a one armed russian with nukes. and isn't that what we all look for in life?
but but...he rapped at the end. isn't that a stereotype?
it seems like a stereotype but not let's get TOO naive here. black people know how to rap better than most white people (eminem, evidence and aesop rock notwithstanding). and yes i know he turned on rap music at one point (sean price, even) but what black person do you know under the age of 30 that doesn't like rap music? i sure as hell don't.
how would you make him better?
i wouldn't do a damn thing. i explained it above. his blackness wasn't put out there for people to pick apart. he wasn't the only person in the game cursing and beating the crap out of people. sure he was the only one rapping but i don't think anybody wants to hear capt. price rapping. which i'm sure will be a hoot.
blackness accuracy: 8 out of 10 fried fish dinners with hot sauce.
this was a perfect black character in a near perfect game. i'd say he's one of the first black supporting characters where i actually enjoyed his performance. and considering the fact that it was played by mark grigsby, the lead designer of the game pretty much explains it. the character nailed it. until he died that is. (the game came out like a year ago, screw your spoiler warning).
well that's it for right now.
i'm going to update with hopefully two black characters a week and if you can think of some for me to grade, let me know. i'm open to suggestions.
thanks for reading.