Posts Tagged ‘Games’

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(Non) Player Characters of Color: Donald (“Sigint”) Anderson

October 2, 2009

So you’re Snake, the world’s most awesome soldier, and you’re parachuting to the Russian jungle (yeah, don’t ask about that one). You’ve got all kinds of new moves and gear to play with. Guess who holds your hand while you figure it all out? None other than Donald “Sigint” Anderson, the guy who invented half your gear.


Of course, repping men of color as a weapons expert and engineer is impressive–especially considering MGS3 is set in the mid-1960s. But the reason why Donald Anderson gets the Token Minorities nod (and corresponding dap) is because he’s the only person on Snake’s team who thinks that Snake is up to some crazy ass White Boy Shit. While Major Zero has his head up his ass and Para-Medic keeps on blabbing about obscure sci-fi movies, Sigint has some choice words with Snake:

Sigint: Uh, Snake… What are you doing?

Snake: I’m in a box.

Sigint: A cardboard box? Why are you…?

Snake: I dunno. I was just looking at it and I suddenly got this urge to get inside. No, not just an urge – more than that. It was my destiny to be here; in the box.

Sigint: Destiny…?

Snake: Yeah. And then when I put it on, I suddenly got this feeling of inner peace. I can’t put it into words. I feel… safe. Like this is where I was meant to be. Like I’d found the key to true happiness.

Sigint: …

Snake: Does any of that make sense?

Sigint: Not even a little.

Snake: You should come inside the box… Then you’ll know what I mean.

Sigint: Man, I don’t wanna know what you mean! Between you and Para-Medic, is everyone but me that is hooked up with the Major strange!?

Snake: …

Sigint: Yeah, well, anyway, I suppose even that dumb-ass box might make a decent disguise if you wear it inside a building.

Or this:

Sigint: Snake, what’s up? Why are you naked? I know there’s a “NAKED” option under “UNIFORM” that lets you take off the upper part of your uniform. But without a shirt on, your camouflage sucks, and your stamina goes down faster. You don’t get any advantages whatsoever.

Snake: Sure there are.

Sigint: Like what?

Snake: It feels good.

Sigint: …Man, you do whatever you want.

Snake: I will, thanks. Just one question, though.

Sigint: What?

Snake: Is there a way to take off my pants?

Sigint: Say WHAT!?

Snake: My pants, can I…

Sigint: Ah, hell no! This FOX unit is a nut fest!

Sadly, he gets whacked before you even see him in Metal Gear Solid, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any more Sigint. Still, he gets this week’s Token Minorities (Non) Player Character of Color spotlight. Tune in next week for more, or check out last week’s piece on Talim from Soul Calibur.

pat m.

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Player Characters of Color: Talim (Soul Calibur)

September 22, 2009

Since the vast majority of traffic to this blog comes from Google searches for the guys in The 13 Hottest Men of Gaming, In Color, I thought I’d encourage the trend (read: pander to the masses) by giving some dap to the random people of color that show up in video games. We at Token Minorities know that it’s not easy being the only brown character in the instruction manual, guys, but we appreciate the pleasant surprise that comes up when we find you in the middle of your lily-white game world.

The inaugural character for Player Characters of Color is none other than Talim, from the Soul Calibur series.

While it’s no surprise to Token Minorities readers that one of the easiest places to find brown PCs is in fighting games, Talim gets extra dap for being the first Filipina in a video game and the least mindlessly sexified female character in a series that might as well have all their other women characters put the swords down and beat each other with their ballooning bosoms. That hasn’t stopped certain gaming magazines from including her in a swimsuit issue (PSM) or a “Girls of Gaming” spread (Play) – for shame, for shame.

Here’s hoping that she continues to kick colossal amounts of colonial ass with her two arm-blades while managing to wear more clothes than the rest of her female counterparts.

Matchup I’d like to see: Talim vs. Ferdinand Magellan.

pat m.

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Designing Games That Highlight Race

April 22, 2008

I’ve decided to take my own advice and try to bring the Race and Games conversation into a more positive place; having attained my goals of “Ranting About Resident Evil 5 Two Weeks Longer Than Everyone Else”, and “Becoming the Number One Google Search Result For ‘Shooting White People'”, I think this blog could use some more creative thinking.

About a year ago I wrote a short post called “Race and Player Characters” that talked a bit about the need for a player to “project” themselves upon the player-character, and how making characters racially ambiguous a la Jade from Beyond Good and Evil was not the way to do anything other than stunt the growth of a video game’s potential to tell a story.

Frankly, I think making a completely nondescript player character is in most cases lazy writing. To be sure, there are places in games for less detail; the Security Officer in Marathon and Master Chief in Halo (both Bungie titles) are both shrouded in mystery, Crono from Chrono Trigger never speaks, and the Vault Dweller in Fallout gets no details beyond what you write yourself. But the anonymity of the first two becomes a major plot point, the Vault Dweller gets his or her personality from your decisions as a role-player, and Crono’s purpose is basically to highlight the rich characters around him. The thought that characters like JC Denton from Deus Ex (great game, horrible character) are what designers ought to strive for to make a game better, however, is just wrong.

When I think about it, it seems like there are plenty of existing game mechanics that could be used to further explore race and racism, precisely because even in the most vaguely defined player characters, there’s always something that sets them apart – after all, that’s why you’re playing as them and not one of the random schmoes you steamroll in your quest to save the world or whatever. From there, it’s not a stretch to see how existing game dynamics could begin to explore race, gender, and other kinds of axes of stratification.

I’ve been playing The World Ends With You a bit lately, and I’m really digging it, except for the fact that the protagonist is painfully emo (this is what character designers are afraid of, I guess. Good thing the rest of the game is awesome). Instead of walking around and talking to every passer-by like a typical RPG, though, Neku can scan the minds of everyone on-screen and see what people are thinking about, generally yielding things like “XYZ is so cool! Why doesn’t he notice me?” or “I wish I could afford the 300 yen instant noodles!” But what if our “Neku” was a young black man walking through a lily-white neighborhood? I’d love to play – or hell, design – something like that.

I could go on like this forever. A dating sim where you’re a young Asian American man in high school, negotiating the model minority myth and coming to terms with the popular media image of Asian men as impotent. Phoenix Wright and the problems with trying to win over a jury of your “peers” when you’re not-white and everyone else is. An FPS that puts you in the place of a Native American warrior resisting colonization and subjugation. I’d play ’em all. Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments!

pat m.