Dichotomies — people of color as ”evil/liberal”

This is my first post and this isn’t exactly going to be a wordpress of huge essays — this is just a space for me to lament whenever I feel like it. Even if that includes short excerpts on what I feel are problematic aspects of popular culture.

Over the many years, there has already a lot of research on the misrepresentations of women in video games. In the past, Dietz (1998) summarised that of the female characters present, they were “damsels in distress”, “visions of beauty” or “evil/obstacles”.

Those dichotomies are just more ”convenient” for people to try and justify their unconscious bias. Women as ”evil/obstacles” dichotomy in gaming also reminds me of the people of color as ”evil/liberal” dichotomy. Furthermore, the evil part of the ”evil/liberal” dichotomy that people of color have been put in — often include obstacles. People of color as evil or ‘savage’ obstacles for the sake of realization of white gaze in video games.

In the game Bioshock Infinite ( first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, published by 2K Games), its concept of white privilege also revolves around that trope. It adds the ”liberal” element of white guilt to a game that had the potential to give more attention to the issues of racism faced by people of color. The white-passing protagonist, Booker DeWitt, had to face and battle his ”other” self,  Zachary Comstock.

“There’s already a fight, DeWitt. Only question is, whose side are you on? Comstock is the god of the white man, the rich man, the pitiless man. But if you believe in common folk, then join the Vox. If you believe in the righteous folk, then join the Vox.” – Daisy Fitzroy                   

Bioshock Infinite had the potential to be an amazing game, especially as it covered on themes of time travel and alternate universes. However, those themes in their entirety revolved around white guilt — around DeWitt’s guilt and his ”heroic” actions in trying to stop Comstock.

The game, in a certain moment, portrayed Daisy as less than human compared to the white teenager, Elizabeth who had to kill Daisy to prevent the murder of Jeremiah Fink’s son. And afterwards, Daisy Fitzroy’s story simply took a back seat next to DeWitt and Elizabeth’s. During that moment, the audience is invited to believe that Daisy could be evil — and yet more so, she is simply an obstacle although she has endured racism, injustices next to Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth.

Although gaming culture has made several changes over the years, it is still predominantly very white-centered.

References:

Dietz, T. L. (1998). An examination of violence and gender role portrayals in video games: Implications for gender socialization and aggressive behavior.Sex roles, 38(5-6), 425-442.

Bioshock Infinite 2013, Irrational Games

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