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Do You Think We Will See a Nintendo Game With a Minority Lead? [roundtable]
 
That is to say, a lead character that isn't white, straight, or cis.

A few Nintendo games let you create your own avatar like Splatoon, Animal Crossing, and the Miis in general but let's step back from those and talk specifically about named characters with their own story and defined character traits.

Has it happened already in some lesser known title? I've been trying to think of characters that aren't white in Nintendo games and so far the only major example I can think of is Ganondorf.

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Posted: 11/02/16, 22:12:59
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@GameDadGrant

I loved your Wii Fit trainer joke.

And I think you bring up good examples of what I'd like to see more of from Nintendo, if they were to give us more prominent minority leads. People bring up Mario and the Punch-Out!! cast, but they're just caricatures, which I don't think do much for diversity. Series like Metroid, Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, and whatever games Nintendo publishes from Western devs, have a better chance of representing characters from various backgrounds in a more respectful way. Or perhaps the word I'm looking for is dignified? Bear Hugger chugging maple syrup isn't disrespectful to Canadians, but it's not a dignified character. He's a joke. Whereas Michael from Eternal Darkness is a firefighter who also happens to be a black Canadian, without his background defining him.
Posted: 11/03/16, 18:51:09
The black dude, Michael Edwards, in Eternal Darkness - he was pretty badass.
Posted: 11/03/16, 19:23:23
This is definitely something we need more of. Fire Emblem is a great place to start (assuming we're using the pre-3DS games' writing as a baseline).

Isn't the protagonist of Ever Oasis middle eastern? I thought that Little Mac was supposed to be Latino in the Wii version, but I could be wrong. For some reason I remember a Fire Emblem character (pre-2012) being implied to be gay in some obscure support conversation, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm remembering it wrong. I had more examples in mind when I first saw this thread, but now I'm drawing a blank.

Stephen said:


Those numbers for gay and trans aren't going to be reliable when you consider that globally the environment for people in the LGBTQ community is incredibly hostile. They are persecuted in more forward thinking societies still with all kinds of stigmas attached to them and in more regressive societies they can be outright killed.

Hell, they're outright killed in progressive societies too.
Posted: 11/03/16, 19:27:40  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 00:27:53
@J.K. Riki

Acknowledging that different groups have different opportunities is not even the slightest bit racist. The fact is that in our society people who aren't part of the majority get treated differently. It's not racism to acknowledge that, it's racism to ignore it and insist that 'no, we don't have any systemic racism and thus no need for the term minority'. One day the word will hopefully be antiquated but it's not even close today. In America there is a not insignificant chance that a goon who has said racist, sexist things and has made xenophobia one of his defining values could become President. And he still has something like 40% of the popular vote. Racism isn't some outdated concept. It still very much exists.
Posted: 11/03/16, 19:36:46  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 19:44:21
I give this thread about 3 more pages before being locked.
Posted: 11/03/16, 19:42:01
Stephen said:
@J.K. Riki it's racism to ignore it and insist that 'no, we don't have any systemic racism and thus no need for the term minority'.

Not agreeing with my opinion about how much racism exists, is racism. Only a racist would disagree with my opinions. You're not a racist, are you Riki?
Posted: 11/03/16, 19:50:21
Stephen said:
Racism isn't some outdated concept. It still very much exists.

Never said it didn't exist. I said calling people minorities is racist, because it is. You're specifically pointing people out based on the color of their skin, straight up. You're saying "We need a video game with a person of this color skin, because that person is different than other human beings." Hey, don't get me wrong, I get what you're saying, but let's not pretend it isn't what it is.

Not to mention in China I'm in the minority. In Japan I'm in the minority. In Canada, even, where they speak French and hate me because I don't! :) Human beings are human beings, until we differentiate folks based on skin color. That's on us.

DapperDave said:

Not agreeing with my opinion about how much racism exists, is racism. Only a racist would disagree with my opinions. You're not a racist, are you Riki?

Oh I'm definitely racist, I know myself well enough at least. I was brought up racist. Human beings tend to be, because we live in that world. Do I fight it, this trained-response inside me? Yeah, I fight it, everyday, but to believe I wasn't raised to see skin color differently would be living in a delusion. I have to look at what was put into me by the world and try my darnest to rid myself of it, because it's not who I want to be. From where I'm sitting the folks who don't even believe they have a fight to fight are in the toughest place of all. (I am also judgemental, greedy, selfish, prideful, lazy, spiteful, and uncaring, if we're working on a "List of Why I'm Super Broken and Need Grace to Fix Me." This life is a battle against my horrible self. I am, as I've mentioned in the past, the worst.)

I'm also married to "a minority." And when visiting her family, I'M the one who gets to experience the racism! It's pretty awful, and gives me a great insight into how it feels and why it should be fought.
Posted: 11/03/16, 19:54:53  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:04:16
No, JKR, acknowledging someone's skin color isn't racist. You need to acknowledge it, and to acknowledge how it affects their experiences, if you are to understand and fight systemic racism.

"Hey, we're all human" doesn't help to understand or fight the voter suppression tactics employed in North Carolina. You have to acknowledge black neighborhoods are being targeted specifically.

"Hey, we're all human" doesn't help to understand or fight the lack of representation in movies, TV shows, etc. You have to acknowledge that minorities aren't being represented in media proportionally to how much of the population they make up. And that minority actors often have to accept playing stereotypes when every other role seems to be default go to whites.

The answer to systemic racism isn't "color-blindness".
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:07:13
Guillaume said:


The answer to systemic racism isn't "color-blindness".

Agree to disagree then. Let's see how your system works out. At the moment, I'm not getting a great deal of hope from the current strategy, only more and more division, but hey, who knows. Stranger things have happened.

When I am in situations where my race is being held against me, I do not want to be singled out. I want it to STOP. I want to be treated like everyone else, not put in a spotlight and announced "Look this person is white in a country full of Asians! Treat him nicely!" That's just my experience, though. From inside it.

I wish you all the best, honestly. I don't think your method will work, but if it does, great. In all sincerity.
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:11:48  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:13:54
I'm all for treating people like everyone else.

That means taking them seriously, listening to their problems without downplaying them, like I would with any other friend or family member.

It just so happens that some people's problem is having to deal with racism.
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:18:02
@Guillaume

You can't treat people like everyone else if you're personally categorizing them as "minorities." You just straight up can't. YOU'VE set them apart and are treating them differently.

EDIT: And I'll end there, because this is one of those things you either see as it is or you don't. Nothing I say is going to convince you, most likely. I've said what I can say about it, and as I wrote before, if your current system works I'm extremely glad. I don't see the evidence of it working, and it's not how I like to be treated when I'm in those situations, but if it works, cool beans. I hope you use it to eradicate racism. I fear, however, it will be like Dave said sarcastically before deleting his post, "Let's solve the problem by grouping people together by race and making it their most defining trait."
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:22:40  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:26:05
Guillaume said:
"Hey, we're all human" doesn't help to understand or fight the lack of representation in movies, TV shows, etc. You have to acknowledge that minorities aren't being represented in media proportionally to how much of the population they make up..

Serious question. Don't you ever think that considering race as a 'group' that needs to be 'represented' sends a message that your race is a significant factor in your identity? And if so, how does that help end racism?

J.K. Riki said:
Dave said sarcastically before deleting his post,

I have so many feelings about this that I am spinning trying to decide how to approach it. But I think I've settled on just asking some sincere questions and hoping to learn how other people think.
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:27:41  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:35:38
@DapperDave

It is racism to suggest that there is no problem. All lives matter vs. black lives matter for example. If one group is being oppressed in some form and you say that the current system is fine, then yeah, you're racist. You might be an unwitting cog in a racist machine but ultimately you're supporting a system that is discriminatory.

@J.K. Riki

You're taking minority to mean a slight for any person of colour.

Wikipedia said:
The differentiation can be based on one or more observable human characteristics, including: ethnicity, race, religion, caste, gender, wealth, health or sexual orientation. Usage of the term is applied to various situations and civilizations within history, despite its popular mis-association with a numerical, statistical minority. In the social sciences, the term "minority" is used to refer to categories of persons who hold fewer positions of social power.

It is not slang for a non-white person. Saying that 'we're all minorities in some places' undermines the issue. It's the classic 'I don't see colour' argument of discussing racism. You acknowledge that you had a racist upbringing which is fantastic because it is that kind of self-awareness that the world needs much more of. Take the next logical step and realize that if you were raised in such a way others were as well. And they hold positions of real power that can affect the lives of people they view as 'the other'. It is not racism to notice that one group is being discriminated against. Hell, we know it isn't because gay people and transgender people are of all skin colours and are definitely discriminated against.

@DapperDave

Race is a significant factor of one's identity because it will affect their development, their opportunity, and in general their station in life. From this shared experience a culture is formed and that can also be a major part of identity.
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:32:50  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:38:18
Stephen said:
@DapperDave
If one group is being oppressed in some form and you say that the current system is fine, then yeah, you're racist.

Well at least you're not mincing words!

So person A can take their best look at the world and person B can take their best look at the world, and if person B doesn't arrive at the same conclusion as person A, then person B is definitely racist. I'm in awe of the arrogance and hubris of person A.

What if someone didn't say the "system" is "fine" but only that "I don't fully agree with your general assessment". Is that still racist?

To put it another way. Let's say you ask three people to give their opinion to rank how much "systemic racism" there is in the world on a scale of 1 to 10.

Person A says 3 out of 10
Person B says 7 out of 10
Person C says 10 out of 10

In this case, which of these people are racist for not agreeing with another's assessment?
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:39:38  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:47:02
@DapperDave

It would greatly depend on what came after.

EDIT: In the world? Anything less than 10/10 would be a hard case to argue considering that genocide exists as a not too distant memory.
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:43:37  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:51:47
DapperDave said:

I have so many feelings about this that I am spinning trying to decide how to approach it. But I think I've settled on just asking some sincere questions and hoping to learn how other people think.

Imagine if we all approached things so wisely! The world would be so much better. Good job. Hopefully some of that will rub off on me.
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:44:10
Why wouldn't your race be a factor in your identity? It can color people's perception of you, their reactions to you. It affects your environment, and your environment affects you. You can decide you're not going to let it define you, absolutely. But it's a part of who you are, and it can change how people interact with you, and you have no control over that.

As for representation, are you saying that the status quo right now, where white people are overrepresented statistically, and white actors can even get roles for historical characters of other ethnicities, is not demonstrative of systemic racism?

How would better representation help? Well first, it would help the minority actors who get passed up for most major roles because white is seen as the default.

Second, better representation helps in general, as media shapes our expectations. We all have an idea of what, say, a programmer looks like. That idea is informed partly by who we see playing programmers on TV, in film, in stock photos. They're usually white or asian men in media. So if they were to meet a black programmer, our reaction is that she doesn't look like a programmer. Which is kind of shitty for her, having to reassert over and over again that yes, she belongs in that field. It might grind her down slowly. It might also prevent a kid from ever considering a career in computers, because he's not seeing anyone who looks like him.

edit - Took me a while to post, I see Stephen already touched on the identity issue.
Posted: 11/03/16, 20:45:55  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 20:50:02
Guillaume said:
Why wouldn't your race be a factor in your identity? It can color people's perception of you, their reactions to you. It affects your environment, and your environment affects you. You can decide you're not going to let it define you, absolutely. But it's a part of who you are, and it can change how people interact with you, and you have no control over that.

You're saying because those who interact with you aren't color-blind, they will interact with you differently and thus your identity becomes different. If only people treated others like their race was insignificant then this wouldn't happen. But, as you already stated, you're against color-blindness.

I get it though. I think you're saying that because some people will interact with a minority negatively due to their race, then color-blind people who wish to ignore race do nothing to offset this discrimination. So rather than a color-blind attitude, we need to fight to offset the discrimination by giving positive discrimination to people based on race. It's like a balancing act to achieve equality.

Seems a bit untenable. First we have to agree on exactly how much discrimination there is that needs to be offset. Is it 7 out of 10? 9 out of 10? Seems like a hard thing to agree on (but Stephen will claim you are racist if you don't agree with his assessment). Then, we have to agree on the the effectiveness of the positive discrimination as well, which is equally subjective (EDIT: I should also add that such an effort unavoidably infringes on the rights of others) (EDIT EDIT: One more thing, you've just created a system that incentivizes people to promote their perceived negative discrimination in order to reap the benefits of your proposed positive discrimination). Seems like a never ending discussion about race to execute this balancing act.

We all have an idea of what, say, a programmer looks like. That idea is informed partly by who we see playing programmers on TV, in film, in stock photos. They're usually white or asian men in media. So if they were to meet a black programmer, our reaction is that she doesn't look like a programmer. Which is kind of shitty for her, having to reassert over and over again that yes, she' belongs in that field. It might grind her down slowly. It might also prevent a kid from ever considering a career in computers, because he's not seeing anyone who looks like him.

I don't disagree with this since the intent is to show that race is insignificant.
Posted: 11/03/16, 21:05:05  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 21:18:46
Guillaume said:

Second, better representation helps in general, as media shapes our expectations. We all have an idea of what, say, a programmer looks like. That idea is informed partly by who we see playing programmers on TV, in film, in stock photos. They're usually white or asian men in media.

Seeing as how my wife is a programmer, when you say Programmer I think of her. Because... my views of the world are based on reality and not TV shows. As... I think it kind of should be...

Maybe the issue here is that people are basing their view of reality on TV shows? Is that the issue? Seriously, if that's the case, then chalk it up to another time I'm out of touch with the rest of this world of ours. I'd personally think that's straight up insane, but that's just me being all judgmental again. If it is what it is, then yes, making more TV people programmers would help the crazy people change their views of reality based on TV shows. (My vote, however, is to stop the literal craziness that is going on with people basing their reality on TV. That's some whacked out dog doo right there!)
Posted: 11/03/16, 21:14:27
DapperDave said:
You're saying because those who interact with you aren't color-blind, they will interact with you differently and thus your identity becomes different. If only people treated others like their race was insignificant then this wouldn't happen. But, as you already stated, you're against color-blindness.

I get it though. I think you're saying that because some people will interact with a minority negatively due to their race, then color-blind people who wish to ignore race do nothing to offset this discrimination. So rather than a color-blind attitude, we need to fight to offset the discrimination by giving positive discrimination to people based on race. It's like a balancing act to achieve equality.

Seems a bit untenable. First we have to agree on exactly how much discrimination there is that needs to be offset. Is it 7 out of 10? 9 out of 10? Seems like a hard thing to agree on (but Stephen will claim you are racist if you don't agree with his assessment). Then, we have to agree on the the effectiveness of the positive discrimination as well, which is equally subjective. Seems like a never ending discussion about race to execute this balancing act.

I think you basically nailed it with your first two paragraphs, which is really heartening. People on the internet listening to each other!

To address your third paragraph, this game is a really really awesome showcase of how a little bit of "positive discrimination" can improve society. Takes five minutes to play in your browser, check it out.

There's no perfect solution, but I think one thing to shoot for would be, for example, let's make it so that there aren't a ton of black people born in ghettos. There's one concrete thing we can work on crossing off the list. It's not about coddling people of other races, it's about acknowledging, "oh shit, your life really has been pretty different from mine."

I don't think we realistically need to worry about a situation where white people are suddenly being discluded from everything because we're so focused on giving special privileges to people of other ethnicities. And if that does happen in a hundred years, I think those humans will be much smarter about this stuff than we are today.
Posted: 11/03/16, 21:19:39  - Edited by 
 on: 11/03/16, 21:20:30
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