Sexism and Racism in Media

I’m a person that doesn’t believe that sexism or racism should be stripped from games.

I know, I know! But step back and look at it from another perspective. Is it the racism and sexism bothering you? Or is it how it’s handled?

Look at all the books and movies and TV shows that you enjoy, and compare them to the games you enjoy. Now think of the racism or sexism in them. Does it add or detract to the media? Does it serve a purpose? And, I think most importantly, are the characters /aware/ of the sexism and racism of their world?

Bad sexism and racism in media is often a result of the viewpoints of the creators, and is put in as something that just ‘is’. It’s not questioned, it’s not talked about. It just exists.

Then you have other forms of media where racism or sexism provides something vital to the world, something important to the plot, something important to the character development of them becoming who and what they are.

So, of course, it should all be taken in context. It isn’t enough to say ‘you should never have racism in games’ because if we said that about, say, books, we never would have had classics such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. We can’t just paint over an aspect of humanity with such a thick brush and then pretend everything is alright.

The best way to solve social ills is to start dialogues about them, to be able to draw comparisons from media and feel more enlightened because of them. To get people talking and reflecting on how our society is mirrored in fiction, and to see that some things we do are problems.

This is, of course, where diversity is incredibly helpful. Some of the best dialogue occurs when an oppressed person is given a platform to show others what it feels like to be them, and it enables people to better empathize with problems that others might not have even realized were a problem.

What bothers me is inadvertent racism and sexism, such as allowing only Caucasian skin on a customization screen that allows multiple options, or disallowing women from wearing less than a B cup on bodies that can be customized. It ignores female and non-Caucasian player’s desires because of what the developers believe to be their target audience.

This is the racism and sexism that bothers me in games, because it serves no purpose but to be a projection of our own beliefs and takes for granted the idea that other people may have different wants or desires than the developers.

I’ll be speaking more about how racism and sexism can be applied in media, for good and for bad, with a focus on The Elder Scrolls and Forgotten Realms universes, in the coming month.

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