People on Twitter are using the #GamesSoWhite hashtag to start conversations about whiteness as "default" in video games and fantasy in general, particularly the idea that while dragons and super-weapons are usually embraced with an easy suspension of disbelief, the presence of people of color in these worlds is "just not historically accurate".
Tanya DePass, creator of the #INeedDiverseGames Twitter hashtag and Tumblr community, is just one of the people who's led this conversation—she did a great piece here at Offworld on the "historical accuracy" argument as regards her favorite franchise, Dragon Age, and spoke to Arthur Chu at Salon about her diversity activism: "It's more common to see a blue hedgehog than a person of color as a protagonist in a game," she said. "And it wears on you."
Conversation around the Salon piece was where I first started seeing the #GamesSoWhite hashtag crop up, but it's seeing some revival today:
#gamessowhite we can play with 718 diverse pokemon but one diverse trainer is too much.
— ⚡Garnet's Shades⚡ (@RocknLox) June 4, 2015
#GamesSoWhite including a character that isn't white and isn't a stereotype – that's "unrealistic/disingenuous/pushing an agenda/propaganda"
— Sophie Houlden (@S0phieH) June 4, 2015
#gamessowhite Fallout 4 has customizable characters and still went with default white male for cinematic trailer.
— Espi Kvlt (@EspiKvlt) June 4, 2015
#gamessowhite that "historical accuracy there were no black people in Europe but dragons oh yeah totally" is an excuse gamedevs give
— [AgentFoxButts] Alex (@desertfox899) June 4, 2015
One catalyst for the renewed discussion seems to have been Tauriq Moosa's great new piece about race in games, particularly a troubling double standard that exists: Players given no choice but to play a black avatar are being "forced" for political reasons, but people of color who argue they rarely have choices except to play as a white person are met with hostility.
Moosa has since been fielding abuse on social media:
#GamesSoWhite I am getting more hatred for wanting more skin colours in a fantasy game than I did writing about the death penalty.
— Tauriq Moosa (@tauriqmoosa) June 4, 2015
A quick check of the hashtag shows all kinds of the most predictable arguments: If you don't like it, don't play it; people who care what color they play as are the real racists; minorities who want diversity are the real attackers, wanting to talk about it makes you the real problem, you're "forcing quotas", or "stifling expression", things like that.
You probably need a strong stomach to peruse the tag, which, as usual, demonstrates why it's necessary.
#GamesSoWhite I gotta block almost 20K eggs and trolls for just talking about diversity in gaming.
— Covert Spider (@cypheroftyr) June 4, 2015