Let’s talk about superhero games for a moment. It’s a pretty big genre. Batman has over 40 games starring him, alone. Superman has 18, Spider-Man has 37, excluding a new game just announced at E3, and Hulk, Deadpool, Thor, and the Flash all can be accounted for in the annals of gaming history as starring in their very own games. There's even Ant-Man Pinball. No kidding, here's the trailer. Now, this is by no means a comprehensive list but that doesn’t really affect the question I am about to ask which is, where are the women? And while I’m at it, where are the people of color?
The answer, nowhere to be found. This isn't to say that no woman or person of color has ever been included in a superhero video game. I'm well aware of the inclusion of a diverse cast of heroes in games like Lego Batman, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Future Fight, Marvel Avengers Academy, other Lego games, Injustice, Marvel vs Capcom, DC Legends. and beyond. And the Catwoman DLC in the Arkham Knight series was A1. But what did all of those games I just listed out have in common? Women and persons of color are not the stars. I mean, hell, Catwoman was reduced to being DLC in Batman's game. It seems rather odd, to say the least.
On one hand, at some point, the argument could have been made that games were reserved for only the most recognizable of heroes. The heroes with the most games were Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, but that doesn't really hold up to scrutiny when you take into account Deadpool and Ant-Man. Furthermore Wonder Woman is one of the most iconic super heroes, period end of story and has never had her own game. So then, what gives? What kind of sense does it make to make a ton of AAA games centered around ultra niche heroes, when Wonder Woman hasn't been given the proper video game treatment? And if we're doing heroes that fit ultra niches, where's the game for Black Panther or Luke Cage?
There's one reason, and that's the belief that those games wouldn't make money. It seems simple but, there's a lot to unpack there. Why does the game industry, and moreover, the world of comics believe that narratives around non-white people or women wouldn't sell? Where's the evidence? I've been searching and I can't find anything compelling. It seems to be based on an archaic notion that women and people of color don't play video games and don't consume "nerdy media". Here is my response, First of all, nearly 50% of gamers are women but, I've beat that drum many times so let's look at some numbers instead, shall we? So far Wonder Woman has done 591.6 million in sales at the box office with her new movie, 3.5 million people watched Luke Cage, 2.7 Million people watched Jessica Jones (putting them both in the top 10 most watched Netflix-Originals), and there are 26.4 Million views on the Black Panther trailer. It seems that folks are interested in stories centering around people who depart the normative figures in entertainment. Not only are they interested, these same people also show out in the box office and streaming services and have been for several years.
What I'm trying to say, is that there's a market for these stories. There are girls and women who want to see women kicking ass in their media and people of color who want the very same. There's no reason why there shouldn't be games that centers characters who look like them, who look like me, especially, with the current demonstrable commercial success of these stories. What's more, we deserve to be able to play the games these heroes could inspire. They'd be amazing. Again, that Catwoman DLC was more enjoyable to me than the game it was in. So, come now, where's my Black Panther game? Where's the Wonder Woman game that should already be on the shelves? We deserve better.