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Gaming While Coloured

As a person of colour (POC, sometimes people instead of person), gaming can be a sometimes frustrating experience. In addition to the usual issues all gamers have, like finding time, and getting schedules to match up, there are other issues. Problems that are coming under increasing scrutiny, and that are becoming a subject of often vitriolic discourse both online and offline.

One of the key issues at hand is that POC are increasing tired of the hackneyed and stereotyped representations of themselves (and by extension, other ethnic groups and minorities) in gaming, and also of the frequent occurrences of racism by omission. As a population that is increasing in size and in consumption of games (both tabletop and video), its understandable that we would like to see ourselves represented a bit more often, and in less negative portrayals and roles.

The larger issue is direct, overt racism within the gaming community. A community that staggers between absolute denial that they as individuals are racist, and attacking anyone who actually points out racism in any form. While not everyone in community is like this, the loudest parts are, and a majority are complicit in their silence. This is reinforced by publishers who, through either intellectual and professional laziness or direct intent, continue to produce material that contains racist messages and acts of racism.

Understanding that a game is racist isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t lessen the experience if you ask why there are no POC or minorities in a game, or why they all seem to be less nuanced or stereotypical. If a person realizes what they’re seeing is racist, they’re less likely to internalize racist ideas or dogma, especially if they already hold those ideas in nascent form. Julius Caesar said “What we wish, we readily believe, and what we ourselves think, we imagine others think also.” Meaning that we believe things that reinforce our own thoughts more readily than things that challenge them, and that we think everyone else who is sensible thinks the same as us.

I can say, with a level of certainty that verges on the unassailable, that we are not living in a “post racism” era. We are living in an era where political correctness has muzzled a lot of effective discussion in the topic. Various media figures have further muddied the waters through the intentional misinterpreting sociological terms such as “privilege”, and by creating ideas like “reverse racism” (there is only racism). [1][2] There are also people who cling to the sociologically discarded idea that somehow only whites can be racist or engage in racism (patently not true). All of these are tools used by people to defend racist ideologies and institutions, and to maintain the unfair status quo we currently live in.

So, what does all this mean? It means that I’m not going to be quiet about it any more. I’m tired of the laziness and institutionalized racism that seems to be running rampant in game producing companies. Recently, I hit the wall of my ability to tolerate racism in gaming. It’s spurred me enough that I’m building a new game world that will be made available here in the future.

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