The Color of Mayhem, in a Wave of ‘Urban’ Games

The Color of Mayhem, in a Wave of ‘Urban’ Games (this’ll be behind a registration in a day or so).

I should start by noting that I am white.

But Esther Iverem, editor and film critic for, a Washington-based Web site offering black opinion on cultural and political matters, said she worried about the effects of games like earlier versions of Grand Theft Auto on black youngsters, including her 11-year-old son. “These games don’t teach them anything about respect, tolerance and responsibility,” Ms. Iverem said, but are instead “validating a much-too-accepted stereotype, an accepted caricature.”

I certainly agree with Ms Iverem, but I don’t see it having anything to do with race. The protagonist of these games, who is an evil, brutal scumbag, is white, after all.

The article faults some games for having black enemies, others for having black protagonists, and still others for having black athletes.

So I wonder in what capacity they’d like to see people of color in these games? It seems to me game developers are in a no-win situation. If they make all characters white, then they’re being prejudiced. If they put black characters in the games, then they’re promoting stereotypes because the characters are doing violent things or playing sports.

But all the games they mention are either violent or sports games. The NBA Street game they mention features superstar basketball players, many of whom happen to be black. As to the violent games…THEY’RE VIOLENT GAMES. If you want to fault them for that, sure, I’m with you. But to say they promote stereotypes that black people are violent is ludicrous. Everyone in these games is violent, regardless of color!

I’m just not getting the arguments here. .. can anyone explain it?

3 thoughts on “The Color of Mayhem, in a Wave of ‘Urban’ Games

  1. Not very deep thoughts but my opinion goes like this; people today seem to be having trouble taking responsiblitiy for themselves, up to and including establishing thier own identity. So more and more we see things broken down into groups and sub-groups and sub-sub-groups based on everything and anything. The media just makes it worse becasue it is always easier to describe a sterotype in 5 seconds than it is to explain a person. Combine these things and you end up with situations like this.

    So videogames become this generations rock-and-roll; the evil demon that is going to turn otherwise angles into demented pyschopaths. I don’t think it was true then and I don’t think it is true now.

    Though I wonder what kind of warped pysche you have when I see the list of games that you play Jaded . . .


    (ps For the record, I am also considered White – whatever the heck that means)

  2. Very good points, Jaded. Context is important when speaking of matters like this. Small nit here: argument has only one ‘e’. 🙂

    And for the record, I agree with Chaz – personal responsibility is so sorely lacking these days it makes me shudder.

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