Video games and racism, is the link too tenuous?

By Melissa Talbert June 27, 2020

The developers of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), Wizards of the Coast, realize their content has a tendency towards stereotypes, making it possibly racially insensitive and the characters lack diversity.

The team of developers behind the game is working to change that but many fans of the largest tabletop roleplaying game are furious, believing that because the game is fantasy, with fictitious ethnicities, there should be no issue.

On June 17, the D&D team published an article titled, ‘Diversity And Dungeons & Dragons’.

It discussed their design goals and their failure to meet them over the years.

“Throughout the 50-year history of D&D, some of the people in the game (orcs and drow) have been characterized as monstrous and evil...that’s just not right, and it’s not something we believe in.” According to D&D, what they believe in is depicting “humanity in all its beautiful diversity.”

To help steer them in the right direction, the team is actively listening to gamers.

“We created 5th edition in conversation with the D&D community. It's a conversation that continues to this day. That's at the heart of our work—listening to the community, learning what brings you joy...”

However, some members of the gaming community are sceptical of the changes.

Fans on twitter said: “It is fantasy, of course, it is stereotyped. This is exactly the way it should be...”

“Fictitious species are racist?”

“When the new orcs come out I'm gonna make them straight up racist caricatures of black people. it's going to be deliciously racist out of spite.”

A local player, Mikhail Green, says the game is a classic but he thinks this is tokenism at its best. “Business is business. When Twitter doesn't buy their games they'll come running back (reverting the game to what it was).”

I can’t say if this is a marketing ploy or not but it is a depiction of how seriously representation is taken in gaming— it’s not. 

Dungeons and Dragons contain both stereotypical and aggressive content. Players spend a lot of time playing it. Seeing stereotypical images over and over desensitize players to that type of content. It isn’t alarming either because it isn’t ‘real life’.

Therefore gamers are apprehensive about D&D’s attempts to implement diversity, believing that the change may harm the game.

But what must be understood is that whether or not people are talking about orcs or blacks, or the LGBTQ Community, the practice of buying into stereotypes could very well have deleterious effects.

It is the most subtle forms of prejudice that turn into more serious acts and/or beliefs like racism.

Darren Sammy, a former West Indies captain, brought to light that very fact recently when he learnt that a nickname his teammates in the Indian Premier League called him meant Blackie. He had thought it meant strong.

The realization opened an entire conversation about racism in India. Many in India had become so desensitized about issues of race that they thought Sammy’s reaction was over the top.

It is in this way, that seemingly harmless interactions can become very harmful. But hey, maybe it’s just a game. Maybe the D&D fans are right and adding diversity to a game doesn’t mean that much.

But what if it does?

Lewis Hamilton, for instance, just slammed former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone for saying there wasn’t a race issue in the sport even though there was a clear lack of diversity.

So there is something to be said about subtlety and subliminal messages about prejudice. And there should always be diversity because it shows up the flaws in prejudice, even in the instance where we are talking about fictitious people.

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Related items

  • Verstappen sets early Styrian Grand Prix pace amid weather warnings Verstappen sets early Styrian Grand Prix pace amid weather warnings

    Max Verstappen roared to the fastest time in Friday practice - and it could yet net him pole position for the Styrian Grand Prix.

    The second successive weekend of Formula One racing in Spielberg, Austria, risks being disrupted by wet, stormy weather on Saturday.

    Should third practice and qualifying not take place prior to Sunday's race, then the grid will be arranged based on Friday's times.

    Forecasts of possible flash flooding in the region have not gone unnoticed in the paddock, with reports of drivers being more eager than usual to post quick times in practice.

    The Formula One official website reported Pierre Gasly telling his AlphaTauri team: "If this is quali, we didn't maximise it."

    Verstappen, who won the Austrian Grand Prix last year at this circuit, clearly likes the track and the Red Bull driver's quickest time of one minute and 3.660 seconds set a target no rival could match.

    Last weekend's race winner Valtteri Bottas outpaced Mercedes team-mate and six-time champion Lewis Hamilton, finishing second in FP2, just 0.043secs behind Verstappen.

    Racing Point duo Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were third and fourth respectively, with McLaren's Carlos Sainz fifth fastest and Hamilton a modest sixth, almost seven tenths of a second behind Verstappen. Perez topped the timesheets in the day's first session.

    Ferrari had a dismal time of it, with Charles Leclerc well off the pace in ninth, over a second behind Verstappen, while team-mate Sebastian Vettel was a lowly 16th, close to two full seconds slower than the man in first place.

    At least they both posted FP2 times, unlike Daniel Ricciardo who clattered his Renault into a tyre wall in the early stages of the session to bring out the red flag. The Australian avoided serious injury and was given the all-clear by medics.

    Lando Norris, meanwhile, faces some disappointment on Sunday, no matter how much or how little track activity there is before the race.

    He was eighth quickest in FP2 but was dealt a three-place grid penalty after overtaking when yellow flags were waved in the opening session.

    The 20-year-old British driver secured a maiden F1 podium last weekend in the Austrian Grand Prix, finishing third, but will have his work cut out to achieve a similar result this time.

  • Hamilton ditched Kaepernick tribute after being told of 'potential consequences' Hamilton ditched Kaepernick tribute after being told of 'potential consequences'

    Lewis Hamilton was warned he faced "potential consequences" if he wore a helmet paying tribute to Colin Kaepernick and therefore abandoned the plan.

    Former NFL quarterback Kaepernick has been a divisive figure in the United States since he kneeled for the national anthem to protest social inequality and police brutality.

    The demonstration has been adopted across the sporting world in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

    Hamilton, Formula One's reigning champion and first black driver, was among those to follow suit as his season started last weekend.

    But the Briton revealed ahead of the Styrian Grand Prix that he had initially planned a display relating to Kaepernick at the sport's American event.

    "I was advised from outside, from someone in the States who was really quite high up, that it wasn't the time for me to be doing so," Hamilton explained.

    "There were potential consequences for me doing it, so that's why they advised me not to do it. I don't remember who else was involved. It's not particularly important.

    "I do still have that helmet that I've done for Colin. And I did speak to Colin about it, who was super supportive.

    "I'm grateful that I was able to do it [take the knee] last weekend, and continue on the great movement I think he initially started [that] so many are continuing on today."

  • Rock climbing and life, oddly similar pursuits Rock climbing and life, oddly similar pursuits

    The other day I stumbled across an article explaining what it’s like to be a competitive rock climber.

    Truly, I didn’t expect to show an ounce of empathy for the experienced rock climber. But with rock climbing having its Olympic debut in 2021, I decided to read it. Now I recognize how relatable rock climbing is for many of us.

    A climbing wall (like the one at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Ocho Rios, St Ann) has coloured holds. The holds of the same colour signify where to place your hands or feet— this defines your climbing route.

    In life, many of us have routes/paths we take to achieve a goal whether big or small.

    Our individual routes/paths are unique. They have varying levels of hardships.

    Similarly, there are three different types of competitive climbing— sport, bouldering and speed. All three take different skill sets. Also, the routes in sport and bouldering competitions are always unique because the holds are placed differently after each competition.

    Naturally, we tend to compare routes/paths to see who’s life is more challenging. In competitive climbing, climbing routes are graded primarily on how complex the route is.

    A complex route is dependent on how difficult the holds are to hold onto, how risky it is to reach each hold and the nature of the climbing wall itself. Holds have varying sizes— some so small it can hardly support a finger.

    While climbing, climbers are bound to fall from the climbing wall because of how strenuous their route is.

    Like them, the paths we take to achieve something in life can be so difficult or unfamiliar that we screw up.

    All in all, rock climbing is oddly similar to life. There are unique paths to follow and along the way are adversities that force us to fall. Take now for instance, there is a pandemic challenging the paths of many like those from the entertainment sector. Many are struggling but it’s important to hang in there.

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.