5 Offensive Stereotypes Reinforced by Video Games That Need to End

Video games are a fun pastime that almost anyone can take part in. However, there are elements to video games that reinforce negative stereotypes about women of all races and minorities. There have been Internet critics like Anita Sarkeesian who spoke volumes about the dangers of video games and how people are perceived in the stories. With that being said, there are positive Black characters out there. But stereotypes, for the most part, drive the narratives of many games such as Grand Theft Auto.


Black-Aggressive Stereotype

In a lot of video games, Black characters have the meanest faces and tend to be viewed as the most aggressive and violent, even if they are doing the exact same thing as whites. According to Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, “Playing a violent video game as a black character reinforces harmful stereotypes that blacks are violent.” In his study, he learned that white players saw Black people to be more violent.

In the first of two experiments, 126 white university students, 60 percent of them men, played the action game Saints Row 2. Some were given a white avatar, the others a Black avatar. Some players had a violent goal, and others a nonviolent one.

Researchers found that the volunteers who played with the violent goal as a Black character “showed stronger explicit negative attitudes toward blacks” compared to volunteers who pursued the violent goal with the white character.

8 Replies to “5 Offensive Stereotypes Reinforced by Video Games That Need to End”

  1. The Redguards are not too "stupid" to use magick. This person clearly has never played the game and is basing their entire criticism off of heresay and only refers to a negative stat that is unfortunately named in ONE game. In-universe, the Redguards in fact prefer to use elemental magick(Destruction) whenever on the offensive but do not like Conjuration(summoning) magick, which I imagine was the reason some idiot decided it should have a penalty.

    They have one of the most extensive histories in the game, are the same race that forced a treaty with the Aldmeri Dominion after a brutal war, and the same race that broke off from the Empire when that wimp of an emperor Titus Mede signed the White-Gold Concordat. They're so well-respected – despite what racist idiots say – that they even had a game based off of them with a badass hero named Cyrus. Clearly not as "stupid" and irrelevant as the writer makes them seem. As a black man, you can't imagine how happy I am to see us represented in a world that isn't based on Medieval Europe or Tolkien by default, and not as tokenized characters!

    There are other parts of the article where they miss the mark – must not've played San Andreas before – that also bother me. I think talking about depictions of sexism and objectification is where a more appropriate criticism of GTA should be.

    I think the underlying problem with some of these choices is that we can't control how people will respond. The very culture in which these games are made has a greater influence on how people are represented and by looking solely at games – the symptom – rather than the problem – the media – it will only provide temporary changes. We need more diverse writers, developers, focus groups, even journalists, so that we don't have to hope someone nonwhite will have an important side role. We shouldn't have to literally count the number of the positives or realistic ones.

  2. Dude, stay away for games. Everyone is stereotyped in video games. Video games have the most diverse casting in all of media. The games you chose are piss poor examples of stereotyping. Everyone in GTA is a aggresive criminal or thug. Always has, it's kinda their thing. The Elder Scrolls, not Skyrim as you probably think the series is, has such a diverse group of races, each one of them with their highs and their lows. If anything, it's the Nords, based off of the Scandinavians, that lack magic proficiency. Saints Row is a ratchet GTA where you can run around beating people with a purple dildo. The cast ranges from light to dark. But please, let's get angry that some people in a study played black characters like most people play these games anyways.

    Let's ignore how character creation has allowed for people to choose their own race in the most popular games. And let's just ignore games like the Tomb Raider, with a woman lead character and her racially, culturally diverse grew. Let's ignore how Mass Effect and Dragon Age have the options to make you character gay or lesbian. Or that Final Fantasy XIV allows same-sex marriage. Speaking of Final Fantasy, Barrett..if you play video games, you know who Barrett is.

    It seems like you had nothing else to write about, and just this threw this trash analysis together. Almost like you are bitching for bitchings sake. You can continue to be a little "blerd" and separate yourself, but in the future, let the real nerds handle the analysis and go back to rescuing the princess from the dinosaur turtle.

  3. Bruh, I totally stopped taking them seriously after he said Redguards were "stupid".

  4. Well put,I have making the point about Redguard's low base level INT for years (since Morrowind).. There is a much defense in the defense of video games which is probably ts based on overall negative perceptions attached to gaming publicly ( Medias War on Gaming).and though i disagree with the "Violent video games , make violent players" idea I appreciate you placing emphasis on this particular aspect of gaming. Good work.

  5. Levon DeMarquis Valle it's crazy though that not giving a class enough INT is now seen as racist. Next we're gonna hear about how the Black Mages in Final Fantasy are just midgets in black face.

  6. People who write stuff like this make me like being black less… i hate African-Americans who find the smallest stuff to gripe about when there are major issues going on… dude no one cares about your gripe with GTA (you mad bro????) if you have a problem with it, then stop playing games and read or something… One thing I hate about the internet, every person has the opportunity to believe their insignificant opinion is valid…

  7. I think there is some merit in this piece. As one of the commenters below points out the fact that more non-blacks tend to view blacks as being violent, but that's only because they've been educated on how violent every one else of non-black/brown ethnicities can be. News, and television shows the faces of blacks commiting crimes but seldom show whites doing the exact same things or worse. Lastly to Alex Montolio in all of his examples he is obviously focusing on the stereotypes not video gaming as a whole. I do agree that pointing out the positives characters of race and the strong leads with depth that are women and so on would be nice but that really is another conversation. This is clearly pointing out the troupes and saying hey this has got to change or at least there needs to be more balance as to not fall into reinforcing the negative.

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