The recent accusations against Quantic Dream founder David Cage do not exist in a vacuum, nor without precedent. He wants to be judged by his work, and indeed if one looks critically at his games, a theme emerges. People of color are reduced to caricatures, invoke harmful stereotypes, and should remain at the margins, if they appear at all. Even if that means literally erasing them from settings where they predominate. This is not the cross-burning of the past or the anger-marching racism so en vogue these days, but the more deeply entrenched racism underlying all of our media institutions.
Diverse representations of black people in media has nothing to do with “political correctness”. It has little to do with fairness, either. This is not a zero-sum game by which black gain equals white loss. What it concerns, most significantly, is the acceptance of this proposal that Black Lives Matter. That Black People Matter. Black representations are a matter of survival. Of casting us as fully-realized human beings with thoughts, feelings, dreams, aspirations, complexity, agency — against a backdrop that explicitly shows and tells us (everyone) that the opposite is true.
Fear Effect is coming back. Have you heard? After the heartbreak of Inferno’s cancellation, and a 15 year wait with no new game in sight, French indie studio Sushee Games is creating Fear Effect: Sedna. Concerned about representations of Inuit peoples in the game, I decided to contact Sushee Games about how they would handle the use of Inuit aesthetic, cultural stories and history.
Sometimes it’s tucked away, hidden just beneath the tongue, or in the sly twist of the mouth…
Anti-blackness is so pervasive that I think media creators aren’t even aware of how they present it on a regular basis. That’s me giving them the benefit of the doubt, in spite of all the evidence that suggests it’s intentional.
I take issue with the very idea that it need be some sort of marketing or political strategy, some sort of acquiescence to irrational demands that someone represent or treat people of color with sensitivity and respect. Yet in the case of Tithe, I am left wondering if that was not exactly the point.
Those of us who are not white, but hope to identify with the characters we play in games the same as anyone, find the industry to be deficient. At best we have had to settle for ethnically ambiguous characters, often in non-Earth settings, which while fulfilling an aesthetic need still leave players wanting for a more substantial connection. When characters of non-European ethnicities are depicted in video games, it is true that they are often stereotypes.