Sometimes I like this fun game called, count the Black people when I go somewhere where I expect there to be very few. I've been playing this for a while in a lot of different places, including countries which are supposed to be homogeneous and let me tell you, I have never counted zero. Black and Brown people are everywhere, even in places we ain't supposed to be since the beginning of time. So how is it that I can play through a video game, based in the world we all live in, with no Black people anywhere? This is the historic core of the problem when talking about Racism in the gaming industry. It really hasn't been about the types of representation Black and Brown people have had in video games cause, flat out, there's just not a lot to talk about. We just don't exist. Complete and total erasure, both, in games coming from eastern developers and, even more concerning, from Western devs as well. I shouldn't be able to play a WWII video game, where you fight as The Allies, and not see a Black Solider and yet, that's the standard. It's also revisionist history. Black folks were there. Black people died there. And it doesn't stop at that.
This refusal to knowledge the existence of Black and Brown folk extends deep into fantasy an sci-fi genres as well. And that, to me, is as concerning, if not more, because it serves as a window into an unsettling truth. When left to envision a world, with few limitations, the industry standard is to envision one devoid of dark skinned people. That is the level of contempt. Not only are we not seen as worth portraying well, we are seen as not worth portraying at all. This is a flavor of racism that's very hard to detect. But play count the Black people next time you play a game and you'll see what I mean.
Up Soon: Black Images in Western Video Games