Not ALL Video Game Protagonists!

[Content Note: Lack of diversity across multiple axes.]

Here is a supercut introducing the heroes of 40 different games announced this week at E3 2014 (the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo):

[The video shows clips from 40 different upcoming video games, each featuring male protagonists, virtually all of them white. At the very end of the compilation is a quote from Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser: "The concept of being masculine was so key to this story."]

Dan Solomon, who gets the hat tip, writes, "[S]eemingly every protagonist looks more or less identical to every other protagonist. That is to say: white, male, with usually a few days' growth of beard on their chins, and a glint in their eye that marks them as someone who plays by their own rules in a world that's set up against them."

And he notes that the lack of diversity among the protagonists is not only potentially alienating to women, as well as men of color, but also makes for some boring-ass gameplay.

Which is absolutely right. I want diversity in protagonists and stories in gaming because of the inherent value of diversity, and the personal acknowledgment of seeing people like oneself included in popular media—but, as a person who loves video games, I'm also seriously checked-out at the moment because there are so few major-label games that actually compel me to want to play them by virtue of their inventiveness.

One of the common arguments I hear in response to this complaint is "indie games, though!" and, yeah, absolutely. There is more diversity in indie games, and yay for that.

But the video game industry should be ashamed that something as basic as "female protagonist" is considered so "specialty" that indie game-makers are tasked with and expected to provide that alternative.

It should be an embarrassment to the industry that a wildly technologically innovative and creative medium can imagine the future, conjure the past, and create new worlds and their inhabitants, but still generally considers a non-male, non-white protagonist too radical to seriously contemplate.

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