How many original black playable women have there been in the history of gaming?


Believe me if I said around 20?

Jef Rouner of Houston Press has done a bit of research on the amount of original black women playable throughout the history of gaming and found the number to be exceptionally low. Rouner's criteria to count as an original black playable woman excluded games that let you customize skin color, licensed titles, and fighting games.

The fighting genre was specifically excluded as "playability is a factor equally shared by all the characters." To expand upon this, I'd say that many fighting games have characters with barely any personification and act more as a shell for varying fighting styles; the same goes for racing games with selectable characters. That said, the fighting genre has gotten better about personifying characters more recently with games like Injustice and Mortal Kombat having lengthy story modes.

If removing one genre that has mostly generic, personality-lacking characters takes out a majority of the black women, that says a lot.

How many can you name before reading further?

Rouner and commenters compiled the following list:

  1. Sheva Alomar - Resident Evil 5
  2. Shinobu - No More Heroes 2
  3. Purna - Dead Island
  4. Rochelle - Left 4 Dead 2
  5. Aveline de Grandpre - Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
  6. Vella - Broken Age
  7. Nillin - Remember Me
  8. Vivienne - Dragon Age: Inquisition
  9. D'arci Stern - Urban Chaos
  10. Samantha Alexander - Hunter: The Reckoning
  11. Maggie - Evolve
  12. Clementine - The Walking Dead
  13. Jade - Beyond Good and Evil
  14. Fran - Final Fantasy XII
  15. Ma Soupswill - Grabbed by the Ghoulies
  16. Karma - League of Legends
  17. Angela Burns - Sunset
  18. HER - HERventure
  19. Time Traveller - The Cave 

With just 19 notable examples of original playable black women, we still have a long way to go with representation in video games. Most of the characters from the above list are from post-2000, so there is some progress being made but the number is a quite low considering video games have been around for over 40 years.

It should go without saying that the amount of original playable characters who aren't straight, white, fit men is pretty small to begin with, but hopefully this adds some perspective at how underrepresented minorities are in the hobby and art form we love. 

Would you believe there have been only 14 playable black women in gaming? [Houston Press]

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Jed Whitaker
Jed Whitaker   gamer profile



Filed under... #Politics



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