The Power of Play Response – Joanna

I think the most interesting conundrum articulated in this piece was how to balance the pressures and expectations of players/consumers with a responsibility by game creators to be more racially and culturally representative and more thoughtful about choices around race and gender.

To me, there were two big ideas about the way that youth relate to race through video games articulated by the piece: 1. that there are not enough minority groups represented in video games and 2. that those games which show big groups of people of color in very over-simplified and misleading terms. I felt like the author focused on the later more in relation to the focus groups for GTA: SA, but I actually found evidence of the way that the former is shaping young minds more disturbing.

Quotes like: “#4: I’d like a white or Italian guy. I’m black but for some reason, I don’t like playing video games as black people. Playing as a white guy makes the game feel more normal…” (157) speak to the way that white-washing has so drastically affected our perception of not who we are, but who we want to be. As an Asian American who grew up in the U.S. I definitely identify with this as most of the media that I consumed growing up featured blond haired, blue eyed white girls/women as the female protagonist. Compared to showing groups of black men as gang members, I feel like this is more insidious. Playing GTA, I understand that it is intended to be over the top in its representation of being a chauvinist, hyper “masculine,” gangster; however, it is not evident that the intent of many video games is to project whiteness as neutral or as connected to being the hero/protagonist of a story. That white characters remain front and center with people of color serving as their side-kicks and human props to me is much more dangerous than outrageous shows of hyperbolic urban culture.

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