It's 2017, many games allow you to play as a Black PC, even in the games with longstanding traditions of pallidness. This is significant, being able to finally play as a character that looks like me in Pokemon and Harvest Moon was a childhood dream made a reality but, that doesn't mean that it's all sunshine and roses. I've talked about the ways that these representations of Black folk are inadequate before but, I want to point out one of the larger inadequacies for a moment, mainly, the lack of attention given to hair.
If you aren't aware, Black people have a lot of holdups about our hair. It's sort of an obsession, but a homegrown one, it has a history rooted in the historical labeling of stereotypically Black features as being ugly and there's no exception made when it comes to hair. If you don't believe me, take a moment, my domain will be up for at least another 10 months, and look up some info on the usage of old school flatirons and perms and the level of pain involved in those processes and consider that Black people have been willing, for decades and even now still, to endure that for the simple purpose of having, temporarily, straightened hair. But, it's not just about beauty. Natural Black hair has had such a level of stigma attached to it that, in the workplace and places of education, Black folk are constantly "encouraged" to straighten their hair or risk tangible ramifications. Just the act of wearing our hair in a way which doesn't involve pain is a luxury won by a decades long fight to view our hair as both beautiful and also professional. So, in other words, hair is serious to us. I spent my childhood and most of my adolescence fighting that battle. So when I say, I love my hair, there's a history behind that and when I say, it is wholly unacceptable that I am unable, typically, when playing a Black character, to also wear my hair natural, know that there is a history there as well.
Games such as The Sims, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Final Fantasy XIV, Stardew Valley, Fantasy Life, Skyrim, Fallout 4, ect all lack a decent option for a Black PC to have natural hair. Some of them flat out lack natural hairstyles, which is awful, as I just explained before but when there is an option, the utter carelessness of some of the texturing is truly astonishing. Take for instance, Pokemon which only has one option for natural hair in Sun and Moon, and it's a bun, which looks nowhere near as well done as the other hair styles. If you want, conceivably, curly hair you also can't wear hats. It makes no sense. And Black men don't even get any options to have kinky hair.
Even a beautiful, graphically intriciate game like Final Fantasy XIV can put effort into every detail in the game. But the texturing on them dreads? Nah. It's really half-assed. In every case that this lack of attention occurs, it sends a message loud and clear, these options were an afterthought. It'd be silly to think that these developers inserted these hair styles, understanding the entire significance of their decision but the takeaway remains the same, Black hair doesn't matter to people. Giving options for a Black players to make their PC look like them, isn't on the developers minds. When they do have a flash of inspiration, the result often looks awful. That's not okay. Black people need more hair options, point blank and there's actually not a whole lot stopping developers from doing it, save for their lack of interest. But if pursued, it'd go a long way for Black gamers.