Are Games Blind to Prejudice?

The gaming medium is unique in more ways than one, but judging by most of what I find in mainstream media most of those contribute negatively to society. This ranges from their interactivity causing players to go on killing rampages to their power to command today's youth into morbid obesity. Although it is not unusual to hear games journalists denounce these claims as unfounded or to defend their misunderstood industry, I rarely read about anything declaring that gaming's unique assets may actually be positive. I've written about how video game narrative is the most potent conveyor of ideology in the entertainment sector, and this week I would like to touch upon another positive facet of modern computer games.

Formerly a quirky luxury, character customization has steadily risen in ubiquity and quality since beginning of the decade and a large amount of this generation's releases incorporate this feature. Sometimes this greatly affects the gameplay, such as in Mass Effect, and sometimes is purely aesthetic, like in Guitar Hero. Further evidence of its omnipresence is in NXE, Miis and Home, where even our consoles require some kind of character customization.

Regardless of how it is implemented, I am yet to see a game where gameplay is affected by race or ethnicity.

I can't think of one that significantly distorts the gameplay based on gender either. Now granted, video games' youthful enthusiasm often results in immature representations of race and gender, and it is one of the worst culprits in media stereotyping. Nonetheless, I believe that by allowing players themselves to choose whatever they want to appear as and reacting almost entirely indiscriminately, video games have become the first truly impartial judges of character. Prejudice stems from modifying behavior as a result of shallow character judgment, based on stereotypes created and reinforced by the media. Even films like Crash or Brokeback Mountain have a fixed representation of societal groups, as they lack gaming's "blindness" to personal appearance.

I appreciate that there are plenty more debates and issues surrounding this notion, and I could very well be wrong in my insight for some, as it involves a controversial discourse. Let me now what you think of the idea and any possible expansions upon the thought you may have in the comments below.

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