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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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@Mr_Mustache

Regardless of who is the champ and who wins the fight it is Rocky's story. He is the protagonist. Having minority characters present isn't a substitute for having stories where it is about them.
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:27:51  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 00:29:55
@Zero

Well, first he has to train a(nother boring white) Tommy Gun-type character.

@Stephen

So, the young, up and coming white guy loses to the 'minority' in the end, and that means nothing. Got it.

What about a young, up and coming black guy losing to a white guy in the end? Terrible, right?


Which would YOU prefer?
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:31:13  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 00:32:37
Shadowlink said:
I'm sure we can all agree that the *ultimate* end goal is to get to a point where no-one will point out those differences, simply because we'll be part of a world where we don't have to. Where acceptance at all levels of all differences is the default, and these superficial differences become truly and universally irrelevant.

I don't agree with this at all, and neither do most of the marginalized people I speak to regularly. In my experience most people don't want their differences completely ignored, because whatever we are composed of us a part of us. Think of a game like Never Alone, developed in conjunction with the Iņupiat and in large part revolving around their culture. Do you think they want that ignored? Nah, they're giving us a part of who they are to experience, and they hope we will enjoy that.

Do you really think people want their differences to be considered irrelevant? We like to feel interesting and unique.

Mr_Mustache said:
What about a young, up and coming black guy losing to a white guy in the end? Terrible, right?

BIG OBVIOUS SPOILERS OF THE MOVIE CREED: Dude that's almost literally the plot of Creed, except he loses to a half white / half black guy.
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:32:45  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 00:46:42
@Zero

Thanks, now I don't have to watch it.
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:42:29
@Mr_Mustache

The story is a triumphant one because it shows that Rocky is capable and that he can hang with the best in the world. The fact that he ultimately loses doesn't matter because by making it so close he has already won. That story would resonate regardless of the racial make-up I think but ultimately nothing exists in a vacuum.

I hate you Zero.
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:44:08  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 00:44:41
@Mr_Mustache I SPOILER QUOTED IT FOR A REASON, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN NOT TO LOOK IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE YET!
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:45:56
Zero said:
@DapperDave I'm not sure how you are defining intelligent here but I've read many articles written by adults as well. I don't keep track of names.

Do you read articles trying to understand an opposing argument? Or are you linked to them from sources within your own bubble that point them out to their audience and are like "check out what this dumbass said over here on this other website"? You know the kind I'm talking about right?

...but my question is why do SO MANY COMMON PEOPLE have such energy about this, so Twitter people having so much energy about this are perfectly valid people to question since they're a large part of what spurred on me wondering this to begin with..

I tried to answer but I can elaborate.if you want to be more specific. I don't know exactly what people or what argument it is.
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:45:57
@DapperDave I didn't say I don't understand the arguments, I said I don't understand the energy. It feels very overblown to me, which usually suggests something deeper behind the surface arguments. But it's tough to get to that deeper thing sometimes. I'm not going to play amateur psychologist on people, if they say it's because X, that's all I have.

As for your specific view, you started talking about self-segregation on college campuses, when my question was specifically about the opposition a lot of white people seem to have to non-white people saying things like "diversity in media matters to me" and the weird energy I see in response to that. And in response to JKR you stated that you don't mind a small nudge, so it seems like you're not even opposed to people taking that viewpoint? So yeah you can clarify your position more if you want but keep in mind I'm specifically just talking about this very bizarre thing I see a lot where a non-white person makes a statement about say... well my example above, wanting to see more and better Asian representation or something... and then receives massive, often very angry backlash for it.

And yes, I see this a lot, often for relatively innocuous statements that aren't even criticizing any specific piece of media, just generally asking for better representation. It's a very hot button issue for a lot of people.
Posted: 11/04/16, 00:54:29  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 01:09:48
Zero said:
So yeah you can clarify your position more if you want but keep in mind I'm specifically just talking about this very bizarre thing I see a lot where a non-white person makes a statement about say... well my example above, wanting to see more and better Asian representation or something... and then receives massive backlash for it..

This is really a long, long conversation and I'm trying to think of how to best approach it. But I think when people get riled up about the an innocuous suggestion like "Asians need better representation" they're not reacting to the suggestion at all anymore, but the person they imagine is behind it and what else this person might believe. In other words, there's a ton of baggage at this point. I bet if we could rewind back five years and someone made the same suggestion, people would be fine with it.

I think that's a big chunk of it at this point but I'll try to answer by throwing out some theories:

They might think like some of us do about how it's sometimes counter-intuitive to try to end racism with more racism
They might see the suggestion as an attempt to dismantle meritocracy
People react very strongly to perceived unfairness. They may think it's unfair to give people special treatment based on race
Edit: Oh yeah, I forgot that people hate it when other people pretend to be self-righteous. That's a big one.

I'll write more on this and I'll give my personal position too eventually. To be continued.
Posted: 11/04/16, 01:17:29  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 01:29:39
Zero said:
Shadowlink said:
I'm sure we can all agree that the *ultimate* end goal is to get to a point where no-one will point out those differences, simply because we'll be part of a world where we don't have to. Where acceptance at all levels of all differences is the default, and these superficial differences become truly and universally irrelevant.

I don't agree with this at all, and neither do most of the marginalized people I speak to regularly. In my experience most people don't want their differences completely ignored, because whatever we are composed of us a part of us. Think of a game like Never Alone, developed in conjunction with the Iņupiat and in large part revolving around their culture. Do you think they want that ignored? Nah, they're giving us a part of who they are to experience, and they hope we will enjoy that.

Do you really think people want their differences to be considered irrelevant? We like to feel interesting and unique.

I think we're talking about different things here. I'm referring specifically to superficial things like skin colour or gender, or sexuality. You're referring to culture.
I mean should I be 'proud' that I have white skin? Or that I'm male? Or that I like girls? Do people really want me to share that with them? Are those interesting things that I should be promoting about myself? I think we know the answer to that.

Similarly I think an ideal world is one where we don't have to end up saying things like 'Wow what an great game, and it had a black main character too!' That sort of thing should absolutely be irrelevant IMO.

Culture is a very different thing, and I'm all for that being portrayed *and* talked about. And yes, culture can be and is in many cases tied up with specific racial identities. But the defining traits of that culture shouldn't be skin colour. It should be the culture itself. Does that make sense?
Posted: 11/04/16, 01:21:17
@Shadowlink

It's not about needing to share those things about yourself and be proud of them but rather not being afraid to be who you are. Being straight in a heterosexual-dominated society doesn't take bravery. The reason gay pride parades and things of that nature exist is because they are marginalized and are put upon but do not let that stop them from being themselves. It's about people coming together and saying 'it's totally fine that people are gay and the bravery to face society as it is worth celebrating'. In an alternate world where gay and straight were treated as equals across history then there probably wouldn't need to be a pride parade. Humans differ from each other in many ways that we pay literally no attention to. We don't even think about some people having attached vs. non attached earlobes for example.
Posted: 11/04/16, 01:33:34  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 01:35:01
@DapperDave That could be the case, certainly in video games everything has taken on a lot more energy in the last few years. And it's pretty clear that some people view almost any issues as being connected to a larger "culture war", which is where I suspect a lot of the energy comes from when it is hard to explain on its own terms.

I don't get your comment "end racism with more racism" though? I'm not sure how suggesting that a marginalized people who have been mistreated with under-representation and stereotypes in media deserve to essentially have fair and equal treatment with white people could be perceived as fighting racism with more racism?

@Shadowlink That makes sense more or less, but one thing that I try to remember is that skin color / appearance does matter to many marginalized people in the sense that those things have often been used against them by a dominant culture and thus it becomes a pretty central part of the culture sometimes. Whether it revolves around trying to negate / minimize certain "racial" features to fit in, or promoting radical acceptance of those same features contrary to mainstream standards. Etc. I watched a documentary on black women and their hair once and man... there is so much more going on there than I ever imagined.
Posted: 11/04/16, 01:41:16  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 01:42:53
Stephen said:
@Shadowlink
In an alternate world where gay and straight were treated as equals across history then there probably wouldn't need to be a pride parade. .

Now you're getting it. This is what I'm saying we should be aiming for. Ok, not the historical part obviously, that boat has sailed. But can't we aim for a future where that equality exists, and yes, that parade is no longer a necessity?

That's really the crux of the matter here- Do the things we're discussing contribute to the 'normalisation' of these groups, or do they serve only to highlight differences that shouldn't matter and undermine efforts to achieve that?

EDIT: Incidentally, I'm sure many people here would have seen that old South Park episode https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conjoined_Fetus_Lady. I think the message of that episode (as expressed by Nurse Gollum is kind of what I'm trying to get across here.
Posted: 11/04/16, 01:48:01  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 01:51:26
Zero said:

I don't get your comment "end racism with more racism" though? I'm not sure how suggesting that a marginalized people who have been mistreated with under-representation and stereotypes in media deserve to essentially have fair and equal treatment with white people could be perceived as fighting racism with more racism?

Instead of 'racism' I should say 'discrimination'. So the argument is that this group was unfairly discriminated in a negative way so we need to offset it with positive discrimination. So the principle is the same. And people may be against the principle entirely.
Posted: 11/04/16, 01:48:55  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 01:49:15
Hmm. Not sure I can agree with calling this "positive discrimination". We're not talking about reparations or affirmative action or anything like that in this specific context.

Basically it's just people saying "Look, see how you treat white people in media? How about doing that for everyone equally?"

If giving other groups the same consideration that white people get is perceived as "positive discrimination" that should be avoided, it suggests white people are already receiving that "positive discrimination" and THAT should be avoided, but is not being avoided. And how could that issue be rectified if not by working to equalize things?
Posted: 11/04/16, 01:54:00  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 01:56:46
Zero said:
Hmm. Not sure I can agree with calling this "positive discrimination". We're not talking about reparations or affirmative action or anything like that in this specific context.

Basically it's just people saying "Look, see how you treat white people in media? How about doing that for everyone equally?"

If giving other groups the same consideration that white people get is perceived as "positive discrimination" that should be avoided, it suggests white people are already receiving that "positive discrimination" and THAT should be avoided, but is not being avoided. And how could that issue be rectified if not by working to equalize things?

Not bad points. That makes sense. And white people shouldn't get positive discrimination either.

But I think people might be having trouble with this concept of people as groups based on their race. You consider white people as a group and Asian people are another group. You could divide people in other ways like personality types: depressed people, conservative people, extroverted people. Why are these not the groups that we consider? At least they tell you something about the people they are describing.

I get it. It's easy to say this when you're not a member of the race that is underrepresented. But do you see how this focus on race sends a mixed message?

EDIT: And do you really feel 'represented' when you see a white person in media? I don't. I might feel represented when I see a character who has a similar personality and belief system as I do, no matter what color they are.
Posted: 11/04/16, 02:19:36  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 02:21:55
@DapperDave I think we get to feel represented but take it for granted because it is so ubiquitous. The reverse of "do you feel represented by seeing a white person in media?" would probably be "would you feel like you weren't represented if you rarely ever saw white people in media and when you did they were usually cheap stereotypes?" And then combine that with a history of real world systematic discrimination of white people, often involving the very same stereotypes that we saw in media. And yeah, it'd probably feel kind of sucky.

I wonder how many of us here even really go outside of the white-dominated comfort zone for media very often? I'm sure a lot of us do for Asian stuff, especially video games and anime and such. But beyond that? I try to sometimes but to be honest most of what I engage with is primarily dominated by white actors and actresses. I never really have to face what it is like to be outside of that very often.

And here is the thing, us white people (myself included, believe me) love to think we have the thickest skin and none of this matters but we simply don't know. We haven't lived in a world where we're subjecting to what marginalized people have. We can only speculate, but it's very uninformed speculation. I don't think white people would fare any better, on average, than any other group though. Hell, a lot of white people are already worried about losing representation in Western media / culture / etc. even though we're still basically on top by a large degree.

DapperDave said:
You could divide people in other ways like personality types: depressed people, conservative people, extroverted people. Why are these not the groups that we consider?

People do? I don't know if you hang around many depressed people who talk about this kind of stuff, but I know a lot of people I hang around with talk about the representation of depression in media a lot, especially if it deals with people on medication and the strange ways in which media often portrays that. People definitely talk about the lack of conservative representation in media a lot. Extroverts I mean sure, I guess, but I think they get a wide variety of representation.

One of the main reasons race (and gender, for that instance) is different though is that the stereotypes surrounding those categories are often IMMEDIATELY applied to people upon seeing them, and thus the discrimination can be very rampant since it doesn't really require getting to know someone on any level. I can hide my depression and blend in a bit sometimes. Shirley can't hide that she is Asian. I can walk into a shop and make a purchase without the clerk ever knowing I struggle with depression, a black man can't do the same without the clerk knowing he is black and bringing any kind of stereotypes and discrimination they may have into the interaction.

Shadowlink said:
Do the things we're discussing contribute to the 'normalisation' of these groups, or do they serve only to highlight differences that shouldn't matter and undermine efforts to achieve that?

Hard to say for sure but I think, for instance, stuff like Will & Grace and people like Ellen helped the "cause" a LOT. In America anyway there were all of these stereotypes in the 80s and 90s about gay people that mostly revolved around them being basically over the top sex-craved pervs, and then we finally started getting some better representations. I know correlation is not causation and there could be a variety of reasons for this but the better media started appearing right around the same time people started accepting homosexuality.

Besides, you don't always have to trumpet your differences, it really depends on the context. Like, have you ever watched Ellen's talk show? You wouldn't even know she was a lesbian. But she is, and people know she is, and she's out there being a positive representation of lesbians on mainstream TV, and I think that matters. Generally speaking, I'd say the more exposed people are to a member of *insert some group they have a bias against* that they like, the harder it will be for them to hold onto those prejudices. I know this is how a lot of my own personal prejudices were erased over the years. How much does this apply to fictional characters though? I dunno, hard to say. But it'd be hard to argue that doing it wrong can undermine things without also arguing that doing it right can help.

When people want, for instance, Tomodochi Life to allow for gay relationships ... no one is looking for the game to be like HEY LOOK TWO DUDES CAN GET MARRIED EVERYONE LOOK GAY MARRIAGE ALL UP IN YOUR FACE AND LOOK HOW WEIRD AND DIFFERENT GAYS ARE! Nah, presumably it's just an option in the game and it's nothing really all that radical.
Posted: 11/04/16, 02:46:41  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 03:15:08
@Shadowlink

You're still not. We are the sum of our experiences, environment, and ancestry.

Just because we can agree that gay people should be treated equally now doesn't undo the prejudice many others still show to them. Sometimes in minor ways by mocking their orientation other times with violence. We cannot just be like 'Wow it was bad before but we're all square now!'. Especially when you consider how homophobic society was just a few years earlier. We still get people arguing that they shouldn't be allowed to get married. Until all of those things are dead and buried (and for a long, long time) then we need to acknowledge the struggles different minority groups go through and celebrate their bravery for dealing with flawed society.
Posted: 11/04/16, 02:59:12
Zero said:


Hard to say for sure but I think, for instance, stuff like Will & Grace and people like Ellen helped the "cause" a LOT.

I'd say so too. That's kind of my point though, the creators went in with an aim, and they pulled that off and more power to them. Fast forward a little bit later, and we have stuff like Modern Family where you have a gay couple as part of the main ensemble, and whilst that was noted, the 'media splash' so to speak wasn't nearly as huge. You can pick out quite a few shows these days where gay people form part of the cast, and no-one really bats an eye. It just is what it is.

But then contrast that to something like the Dumbledore reveal a few years ago. Boy did the shit hit the fan then. And I think you can attribute that to the fact that they never made it part of his character in the books, but rather it was an after the fact assertion, which very much took the form of a Big Special Announcement to the world that Dumbledore was gay and wasn't that just super awesome?

In making it a big deal, and singling out that particular character trait when it effectively had zero impact on the story, it sparked the backlash that we saw. And in so doing undermined exactly what JK Rowling thought she was trying to accomplish by making the announcement. And it's the exact wrong way to go about things IMO.

@Stephen

I think you need to let go of the past and draw the line somewhere though. At some point, constantly dredging up how people used to be treated and demanding that be recognized is only re-opening old wounds. It prevents society being able to move forward collectively in a positive way.

Note that this doesn't mean that we don't acknowledge it or ignore it. But rather agreeing at some point that past is the past and we should focus on what is happening in the now.
Posted: 11/04/16, 03:19:16  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 03:24:53
@Shadowlink

But what happened in the past affects where we are now is the point.

Like for example do you really think that black people have the same opportunity in American society? That being enslaved and subsequently treated like second class citizens doesn't still have a very large bearing on the circumstances most African Americans find themselves in? Drawing a line here is just straight up unfair especially when the vast majority of power is still held by the majority.

With LGBTQ people they still face so much strife for just being the way they are. And if your thought is that they shouldn't march when people still want to deny them some very basic things then you need to take a long hard look at which side you're standing on if you still claim that they deserve to be treated equally.
Posted: 11/04/16, 03:40:54  - Edited by 
 on: 11/04/16, 04:20:05
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