I’m a very dumb person. Maybe my multiple, extended stays in federal and state prisons are to blame, but my poor brain just can’t…do…good…think. In terms of cognitive capacity, I’d say I’m below the average bear.
Because of my inherent lack of intellect, it’s been tough trying to “do school” and “play video games” at the same time. I beat a grand total of around three full games in the last year. However, that didn’t stop my squirrel brain from making profound observations and drawing ingenious connections that sent my brain to overheating.
The three the games I am speaking about are Dark Souls
, El Shaddai
, and God Hand
. All three were great games, and all three were developed by Japanese companies.
However, something more significant they shared was their individual inclusions of “Brown People.” What I mean by the potentially politically incorrect term, “Brown People” is, “People that aren’t White.” The term “White” can also mean many things, but for this blog pretend you are smart and understand that “White” just means a person with low levels of melanin pigment in their skin.
All three games had some inclusion of characters that were specifically not White, or included the choice of many non-White characters. The way each game used said “Brown People” also varied. The way Brown people were represented ranged from positive to negative to downright indistinguishable from using a White character. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Positive: God Hand
While it seems like this game would be the least likely to have positive portrayals of any
group of people, I thought it had a fairly respectable character in one of the main villains, Elvis. One can safely guess that Elvis is meant to be Mexican from his use of luchador-like henchmen, poisonous Chihuahuas, and the appropriate use of the cuss word “mierda.” Despite the fact that those are some egregious stereotypes used to associate him with Mexican culture, they aren’t malicious by any means, and his character probably has the most development out of everyone in the whole game.
Elvis may be a demon, but it is slowly shown that he gains a respect for Gene - the main character - that keeps beating him in fights, instead of growing resentful and bloodthirsty like a typical villain would. It is shown that he may actually resent having to fight Gene in the final showdown with him as both characters seem to develop a playful friendship as they fight each other numerous times. It can also be seen that Elvis seems to have a fairly playful and possibly romantic relationship with one of the other demons, the succubus Sharon. It may not be much development, and it doesn’t seem very deep or original, but it is more than can be said for the other villains of the game, and it is a very surprisingly profound thing to be found in such a “dumb” game.
Indistinguishable: El Shaddai
This game uses the darker-than-the-usual-skin-tone-of-other-videogame-protagonists protagonist, Enoch. He doesn’t talk, and he doesn’t offend. He hardly has any character whatsoever, but it’s rare to see a “Brown Person” play the protagonist in a video game. Even if it’s just a palette swap of what could’ve been a European rendition of biblical figures, it’s still a Brown person. Take it or leave it, I guess.
Negative: Dark Souls
One need only to spend a few minutes in the character creator to see this:
Need I say more…
This isn’t malicious or anything, and it’s not on the same level of Mr. Popo or anything, but this does
look kinda goofy, especially in such a gloomy game like Dark Souls
. I guess it might be a bit racist, but one might say that Japan’s racism is kinda cute since it’s childishly ignorant and silly.
The way your character looks also doesn’t really matter since they are covered in armor anyways…
What should you think about this?
So, the question is whether any of the three representations of brown people are better than the other. My answer: not really.
The point I’m trying to make is that being a little fearless in designing a game can never hurt anybody (unless you are trying to hurt somebody). Including “Brown People” in video games won’t blow up in your face, so long as there is no malicious, hurtful intent in any accidental racism. These three games have prominent Brown characters in them probably due to the fact that they were developed by Japanese companies, and they had less fear of being “politically incorrect” and they aren’t in jail or being ran into bankruptcy (Clover closed, but their geniuses still live on in other companies).
In fact, taking some of that brown from a game’s environment, and putting it on the protagonist may end up making your game more interesting just based off aesthetics. Don’t you want interesting games? No? Oh, okay. What do I know? I am very dumb after all.
My constant incarceration has prevented me from playing many video games since youth, so I am also ignorant. Is it actually uncommon to see “Brown People” anywhere in video games as I think it is? I know Shadows of the Damned
featured Garcia Hotspur, and the new Assassin’s Creed
has a half-Native American protagonist, but are there older games out there I don’t know about? Is this something worth talking about? Are Japanese purposefully racist? So many questions left unanswered! Thanks for reading. All two of you!
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Kyle MacGregor Burleson 1