Lunchtime Discussion: Nationalities

What do Cockney Helghast, Russian psychos, posh English criminal masterminds, African Zombies and Serbian leaders have in common?…They’re not American. Please do not mistake this for a anti-American rant; you would be very wrong to do so, but surely you have noticed how very little of the games we play feature American bad guys or [insert other nationality here] heroes?

Of course there are games where every character, including the bad guys, are American e.g inFamous, so you can’t really get upset at them. Of course there are games when there has been a British lead e.g Tomb Raider, but these are few and far between and Grand Theft Auto is the only series that I can think of at this time whereby you take charge of a character whose nationality is anything other than American or British (please prove me wrong, this is what the discussions are for, after all!). Even in Japanese games such as Final Fantasy, are the characters Japanese? From the images and footage I’ve witnessed, they all look western to me. Games based on actual historic events can be excused for obvious reasons, but why are the majority of games so narrow minded when it comes to the portrayal of Heroes and Villains?

Some may argue that developers need to create games and characters that appeal to the mass market and therefore they tend to be of western nationality. This is an argument that any sane person would find insulting. I’m not going to not play a game just because the lead character might have a foreign accent or different coloured skin. It all comes down to the quality of the game, doesn’t it?

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The lack of racial diversity within games is actually a little disturbing in this day and age. The portrayal of American heroes in almost every game is annoying, the stereotyping of quintessentially English characters as criminal masterminds is tired, the image of a Russian leading copious amounts of intellectually challenged henchmen is ancient and the lack of a protagonist with an ethnic background is ridiculous.

Do you notice these character traits and would playing a character from a distant country put you off the gameplay?

Just in case anyone thinks I’m writing this because I have an agenda, I’m white and British.

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