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DAR Games: Black Characters In Gaming

By @Peagle05

The gaming world has seen its fair share of Black characters, though obviously not as many as we’d all like to see. This past weekend though saw the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, a major superhero movie with a predominantly Black cast. With the release and historic success of the movie, we thought it’d be a good time to look at games with playable Black protagonists starting with a pretty popular franchise. 

*GTA: San Andreas (The Entire Game)

-The first game in this massively popular franchise to feature a Black main character, Rockstar went all out and focused squarely on Black culture. While the game hasn’t aged well in terms of some of its elements, the fact is, it was never offensive to play. It felt genuine and not forced in the slightest. It’s no surprise why this tends to pop up on a lot of Black gamers' favorite games list, it was just flat out cool to see at a time where there weren’t a whole lot of Black main characters, let alone a whole cast.

GTA 5 (Franklin Clinton)

-The second time we saw a Black protagonist in GTA, this time, Rockstar grew from their experience with San Andreas and made Franklin more 3-dimensional and a far more relatable character. What made him probably the best character in the game was that he was he least cartoonish of the 3 main protagonists and the one with a more gripping emotional arc. Quiet as it’s kept, Rockstar has done a pretty decent job with Black characters.

Mafia 3 (Lincoln Clay)

-The Mafia series, while a solid franchise in its own right, is basically looked at as a poor man’s GTA. The release of 3 saw not just a Black protagonist but unlike GTA 5, Lincoln was the star of the show and not just one of a group of characters. What made this choice even more striking is the game was set in the South in 1968. That’s a TOUCHY time period to not only set a game but set one with a Black protagonist. And honestly, Hangar 13 and 2K did a pretty good job of walking the line between historically accurate as far as environment and opportunity to handle some of that shit. Including a great mission involving the KKK that I won’t spoil here. Even more impressive was that Lincoln was not just some kid, he was a war vet, respected and loved among his community and a powerful and cunning character. There was no weakness in him. I encourage anyone that hasn’t played this game to give it a shot, you’ll be surprised.

Mass Effect (Commander Shepard) 

-Yes, it’s an RPG and the default setting for this character is white, but that’s the reason I picked this and the next game. It’s a role playing game and the *DEFAULT* setting is white. So it can be changed. So yes, your Shepard can be Black and your Shepard can be the first Black Spectre and save the galaxy and your decisions are his/her decisions and the entire time you’re playing you’re seeing a black face. And that’s just awesome.

*Skyrim (Redguard)

-So I’m just gonna straight up throw in the description of the Redguard people in this game.

The most naturally talented warriors in Tamriel, the dark-skinned Redguards of Hammerfell seem born to battle. However, their pride and fierce independence of spirit makes them more suitable as scouts or skirmishers, or as free ranging heroes and adventurers, than as rank and file soldiers. In addition to their cultural affinities for many weapon and armor styles, Redguards are also blessed with hardy constitutions and fleetness of foot.

So basically, they’re awesome. Moving on.

*Mortal Kombat (Jax)

-The big guy with the metal arms, and one of the most popular MK characters in the series, Jax was not only a fairly easy to use character, he was a powerhouse. A skilled Jax user can rip through their opponent to the point of rage quitting. This was one of the first Black characters I was introduced to when I played MK 3 and he’s always been one of my mains in any MK game since.

*Prototype 2 (James Heller)

-I can’t understand why more people didn’t play this game and its predecessor but these were awesome open world adventures that made you feel like a super powered badass. None more so than James Heller, the protagonist of the second game. After losing his family to the viral outbreak that was caused by the first game’s protagonist-turned-villain Alex Mercer, Heller is infected by Mercer and gains his own set of powers. What follows is Heller tracking down the people responsible for the loss of his family. The story in the game was much better than the first and having a Black protagonist made it all the more fun.

Those are just a few of the Black characters in gaming. I wanted to focus more on those that were main characters or playable. Just to give you a sense of how things have gone in gaming. There's a lot out here but there’s still WAY more that can be done on that front. Here’s hoping we see even more of our people headlining these games.


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