When you think of jobs that involve writing, most people don’t think of video games. They think of books, magazines, journalism or screenwriting. For the musically inclined, even songwriting is an option. However, video games need someone to write the plot and the characters of the games and I challenge the industry to involve more women and people of color when designing character development, plot and historical accuracy.
The recently released list of top non-serial video games for 2015 includes mostly characters who are male and white. And this is a serious exclusion because a 2014 study showed that violent video games reinforce aggressive and racists actions towards blacks.
Minorities should be displayed more frequently, if not just as frequently, as whites, and not in such stereotypical ways as violent criminals or victims.
At the beginning of this year, Intel announced a $300 million initiative to attract more underrepresented people– women and people of color– to gaming because they know the field does not fairly represent society.
Last fall’s Gamergate aside, (a fireball of a controversy that ended up with death threats against writer Anita Sarkesesian) and follow-up outcry that feminists were banned from editing the Wikipedia site about Gamergate, we still need to pay attention to the scripts in games. And make sure they are fair with characters that are not predictable.
Video game writers must ultimately understand how their writing fits into the bigger world. Video games offer escape, but the brain doesn’t abandon the story completely during gameplay. Researchers are only now discovering that videogames can be good for a player’s brain, and scientists are now saying the storylines and focus may be calming. However, what about muddling people’s perception towards a certain race of people when damaging stereotypes abound?
The Writer’s Guild of America has a section for video games in its annual writing awards. Recently, “Assassin’s Creed” writers were nominated twice for what I consider its rich and historical story. Game designer Tim Schafer recently said in an interview that audiences value narrative and character in video games, which I think adding minorities is essential to achieving
Games are all about stories; games would fall apart without them. It is time for the writers to get real about the stories and start writing for people like all of us.
If video game creators and writers do start creating characters of color for video games, one can expect one thing: Big changes in the way games are marketed, and what I predict will be a growth in the buying habits non-white players.
This will make people of color feel more accepted and less like a stereotype.