Intelligame Reads: What It’s Like to Write About Race and Games

For this month’s Intelligame Reads discussion we dive into Gita Jackson’s article about what it’s like writing about racial issues in gaming. Monday, April 4th, 2019 at 6p Pacific.

Though Black History Month ended last week, discussions around race and gaming know no season. February came with some strong black representation in triple-A gaming: Apex Legends’ surprise release featuring TWO playable black women: Lifeline and Bangalore. Overwatch’s announcement of the Haitian combat medic, Baptiste. Sites like Twitch, Mixer,  and Patreon paid respects in various capacities. But regardless of progress being made, there’s still plenty of fuss that arises when discussing race and gaming.

Gita Jackson, staff writer for Kotaku, published an article earlier this week highlighting the struggles of discussing race and gaming. It’s not just about representation in gaming: it’s about being a curator of that discussion. She, as a black woman, carries many opinions and experiences with her into gaming, but her discussions about race seem to spark a particular resistance. As we move into March and out of the space where black issues are somewhat highlighted, this is a good time to talk about how to proceed post-Black History Month.

 

March Intelligame Reads: What It’s Like to Write About Race and Games

For this month’s discussion, we’ll use Gita’s article, “What It’s Like to Write About Race and Games,” as a springboard for discussion: what is it about discussing race and games that sparks tension? In what ways have discussions about race progressed over time? Where do they still need to go? And how do we have discussions about controversial issues when the internet seems tailor-made to prevent those discussions from ending well?

If you couldn’t tell, I have a vested personal stake in this discussion. I’ve created plenty of discussions around race in games over time, and race is a large lens that I approach the medium with.

Some portrayals thrill me, like Marcus in Watch Dogs 2. Some portrayals outright upset me, like Final Fantasy XIV’s “Forty Acres and a Chocobo” reference. And then there’s plenty of situations that fall in-between: Sazh Katzroy in Final Fantasy XIII, who makes emotional appeals to save his son, but is the game’s obvious pratfall character. Nilin, the half-black protagonist from Remember Me voiced by a white Welsh woman. And then there’s Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers for SNES, which I ADORE, save for Zack’s uncanny resemblance to a monkey in the finale, dancing for the Angel Grove Juice Bar patrons.

I still play through that SNES game multiple times a year, if I’m honest.

Discussions about race in gaming are far more nuanced than “play/don’t play.” We, as people of all races who have these discussions, should have broad understandings of what makes for good representation, as well as how to understand each other in the process. Over the course of our conversation, we’ll discuss not only Gita’s article, but other commentaries about race as well.

 

How to Join the Discussion

We’ll be hosting our Intelligame Reads discussion on Monday, April 4th, at 6p Pacific at twitch.tv/intelligameus. Before the voice chat, you can join the discussion on our Discord server. We’ve got a dedicated channel, #intelligame-reads, but there’s plenty of other great discussion to be had as well.

Our live conversation is open to everyone through our Twitch chat on Monday night. If you support Intelligame on Patreon or subscribe on Twitch, you can access the live voice chat as well! Intelligame Reads creates a chance for all the members of the Intelligame community to share their opinions and learn from each other. I hope you’ll join us as we talk about race, games, and more.

Header image from the Kotaku article, created by Jim Cooke (GMG).

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Intelligame. Lover of story-centric games of all kinds, arcade games, and mobile titles. Mac and Cheese connoisseur.

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