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Racial Divide in Game Designers Addressed

Filed under: Video Game Politics
Posted by Jeremy on August 8, 2005 10:05 AM
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The International Game Developers Assoc. (IGDC) recently released the first demographic data of the US video game industry. The industry breaks down like this: 80.5% white, 2.5% black, 3.5% latino, and 8.5% Asian. The lack of minorities in the gaming industry has drawn the attention of Mario Armstrong, NPR tech host, and two of his colleages. They founded the Urban Video Game Academy. Currently, there are three summer camps in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. Each runs for 5 weeks and is free. The camps hope to address Armstrong's notion that, "The problem with a bunch of white guys creating the games is that the story isn't being created with balance." This is interesting because in the 18-24 year demographic, 17% of gamers are black and 18% are latino. Therefore, there is a large disparity between the make-up of the developers and those playing the games.

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Going further, some would argue that there are few minority characters in games, and if there is a minority character, he/she is usually a thug, wears a lot of bling, and commits violent crimes. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the most obvious example of this; namely a white man's view of the black man's world. However, we must remember that much of GTA: SA's narrative is derived from movies such as Boyz n the Hood, a powerful movie by black filmmaker, John Singleton.

This is obviously a difficult issue as it involves race, ethnicity, educational opportunities, prejudices, biases, etc. I feel that as the gaming population increases and continues to diversify, we'll see more and more minority-owned and operated game studios, in addition to more diversity at the major studios. Much in the same way that BET TV caters to a black audience, so will certain game studios. Already there is aagamer.com, a site dedicated to African American gamers.

Armstrong and his colleagues are doing a great thing with the Urban Video Game Academy and I'm all for diversifying the industry as I feel it will only help to make games more creative and fun to play. Next, we have to work on the gender gap.

Read some articles:
Washington Post
Yahoo News
London Free Press









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