Character Creation in JRPGs still limited, specifically for blacks avatars



It's 2015 and the Japanese video game market is still spoiling it's western gamers with brand new JRPG releases which is evident when looking at all the new rpgs and re-releases coming to the PS4, Stream and Nintendo 3DS.

In fact JRPG titles have been going strong for a very long time, but let's take a closer look at the games with character creation, which often try to cater to a wider audience by allowing the player to create their own avatar which the player can in most ways can identify with by cosmetic standards.



After many years of experimenting with character creation in Japanese games over the years, we're found certain trouble creating an avatar in which best represents ourselves or just just any normal looking ( black African / African American) character.

In more recent times we've seen many western RPGS include a more diverse set of options which extend to facial features and hairstyles commonly reflected in black culture. ( i.e Mass effect/Destiny/Dragon Age Inquisition), but more often than not they are usually just sports titles with a tacked on character creator mode.



Let's not play this off with the usual "it doesn't matter", "what about my race" or "Japan isn't used to black people" comment trope which often rears it's ugly head when discussing this type of issue in video games, as we feel this should be addressed since video games are becoming more diverse and games with character creation should give you major freedom into regard of how you want to look and not limit your experience.

And let's also not claim that Japan doesn't know how to do aesthetically pleasing black people because many previous games have proven this notion wrong..





Take Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U, it's character creation looked promising upon arrival but again like many lackluster character creations in recent years it's slightly disappointed us as we see how blacks are portrayed.




Specifically our issues with Xenoblade Chronicles X are...


  1.  Hairstyles are locked to specific character types
  2.  Hairstyles are very limited, where's the dreadlocks, high/low fades or ridiculously big afros? Not everyone can get down with cornrows.
  3.  Character types that are not the typical Anime Style (first 6) appear more realistic, yet appear aged. In many MMO games you can select an appearance and age, yet all the ethnic looking types appear middle aged.

Youtuber KoKuTanLufi further explained it in his video highlighting his issues with Xenoblade Chronicle X's character creation.




With regards to hairstyles in games, at minimum, we'd like to see hairstyles such as:

ethnic hairstyles in video games



black natural hairstyles

Remember back when some games only allowed you to change the skin colour of your avatar from pale to peachy colour, so in that regard things have gotten better but there needs to be more effort put in rather than games developers just treating the whole thing as an afterthought.

Three good examples of decent character creation in JRPGS for black avatars are Phantasy Star Online 2, Dark Soul II and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (barely). A more better example would be the Perfect World which was surely ahead of it's time.  We're quite sure character creation in games (especially JRPGS) will never be flawless, but we're hoping for them to have a wider variety of options in the near future that better represent people of all races and backgrounds.



So while we've looked at the problem, what's the solution? Well that's pretty easy to identify but it's just up to the game developers to take note so that they can provide a more diverse experience for players who want to their avatars to look like them.

The Solution


Ethnic hairstyles - A variety of ethnic hairstyles for both genders would benefit players who simply don't want straight hair. Afros, hi fades, twists, braids, dreadlocks, fro hawk and curly hair are all popular types of hairstyles that should game developers should consider including in their character creation.

Facial Features - Facial features are very important when creating a character and umbiguously black African features are a must if avatars are to distinguish themselves from their lighter counterparts. And while some JRPGS do allow players to choose from slightly influenced black features, it usually ends up making the character older which again isn't cool. These features shouldn't increase the age of your avatar.

Skin tone - Well things are sort of improving in this area but it can still be an issue in some games with the most recent offenders being Bloodborne and Dragon Ball Z Xenoverse, the solution? Well there either should be a variety of different colours to choose from or preferably a slider which covers realistic human skin tones.

Body type - Well you could say this goes beyond the topic or is beyond what's available today but if the 2011 MMORPG Body & Soul can achieve this feat then it shouldn't be far out of reach for gamers today. Imagine if you could give your black female the thickalicious body type and big booty she was destined for?~

Research - Getting some actual black people/other minorities and getting feedback or taking their advice on what hairstyles or facial features to add would be the best solution, or better yet search engines are your best friend. It doesn't take even a minute to google relevant information.




Conclusion 


While JRPG can be the biggest offenders in treating black avatars as an afterthought it's not to say they are the only ones as many games outside of Japan also could take note and apply the above advice to their character creation, thus allowing players to create more diverse characters without feeling limited or held back.

27 comments:

  1. Thank you highlighting and addressing this problem. I feel this issue has to be discussed at it is a valid point especially since character creation is creating a character for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Forceatowulf12/05/2015, 17:15

    Making Black characters in games, male or female, has always felt so much more of a chore in my experience. I don't understand the science behind it, but it's always been the case for me.

    The most egregious thing about these create a characters is of course the hair options. All I have to do is look at the hair options in an RPG and immediately realize the developers gave zero fucks about Black players. White hair styles, especially women, are always varied and different enough. Black folks? Here's your dreads, afro, and shaved head, have fun.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh man Bloodborne' was so bad for blacks.... I actually think it has to do with a lot of the subsurface scatter research being done on lighter skin tones and it doesn't exactly translate 100%

    ReplyDelete
  4. So true, i cringe at the options which are given to me when i attempt to make a decent black character in most rpg games, but things are improving if a little but most times its not enough

    ReplyDelete
  5. Character creation is important to me as well as a blerd and cosplayer but sometimes i have to end up playing as a female character due to not liking the way my black avatar comes out

    ReplyDelete
  6. Our hair is so unique, I think the only way to do it right would be a slider for each portion of the scalp. Hell, my hair grows in five different patterns. I'm so sick and tired of seeing afros and braids as the standard. I'd rather 4 different types of bald fades than that, usually results in me making a female character.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You know what else sucks? When they previously had options to customize your character but then removing the option in the next game for no reason at all. Making you play as the default white character. I'm looking at you Pokemon. Fuck you gamefreak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used to be salty about this too, but then realized that because OR/AS are remakes of a previous game with the same basic main story, technically they aren't backtracking. The main characters and everything about them including ethnicity were already established back in the originals so a character creator for these specific remakes doesn't make much sense, especially since OR/AS is one of the few games where both parents are present and accounted for.

      Now, they better damn well have character creators with skin tone options and all that going forward for the new non-remake entries (or add customization in the games where both parents are *not* around so there's some leeway), don't get me wrong.

      Delete
    2. Masuda's excuse for no customization in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is as lame as it can get. Video game rule No.339: Customization is always better than no customization. Plain and simple. I mean, just look at all the games nowadays, there's practically none without a certain amount of character customization. This position of his is anything but contemporary.

      Delete
    3. I hope Masuda didn't mean the only games to ever receive customization are Pokemon X and Y. I Want to see future original games(gen 7+) with trainer customization, and not be ONLY Kalos-Exclusive!

      Delete
  8. Preach it, man! This shit ain't limited to JRPG's either it's practically all games with a character creation system. I sure would love hairstyles beyond cornrows (lol what is this the 90's), afro, and low fade.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree, in the vast majority of games its impossible or hard to create a black character.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bloodborne's CC is hilarious at this.

    The black color skin in it appears like it's just basically a white guy that gets splashed with some sort of black paint all over his body or something. It just looks unnatural.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's no black features in the game. Everyone ends up looking like a white or asian with a bad bronze tan. The only way to get it to look even remotely black is to make him bald and cover his face with facial hair and glasses to hide the features.

      Delete
  11. Don't forget about Animal Crossing guys. They won't even let you change skin colors in that game.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I find this very true. When I make a non-white character in most character creation games they end up being a Caucasian caricature with darker skin, even entirely different races can just have some superficial-looking tacked on stuff (hey "catgirl" that looks like a white girl with store-bought ears but is an entirely different race we swear ) which is kind of annoying in a game where different ethnicities are supposed to be a thing. They are better in WRPGs (PoE is a recent bellringer) but not enough in general for me to praise them or anything.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Is it only just JRPGs? I feel like this is the case with any game that has a character creator that I've played in the past. I just want a middle sized fro. Not a super huge fro, not a super short cut, but a middle fro.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yeah I understand how you guys feel. Sure I can make a dark skinned character but they don't really look like they would be black. I've tried several times in Final Fantasy XIV but the lighting just makes it hard to make out their features if they tend to be too dark skinned so I don't even bother. Don't even get me started on Animal Crossing.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I absolutely agree with this sentiment. I like to use character creation to make characters of usually underrepresented demographics, and when games don't provide the tools to do that they are ignoring them all the same as mainstream games with white male protags.

    I get that this is a Japanese game and most Japanese people basically never see a real black person from the day they're born until the day they die, but games are for a global market and these kinds of things need to be considered worldwide.

    Making a white person with a skin color slider is just so ignorant.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Not being able to make a convincing black dude is one of the reasons why I play females nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
  17. On the subject, Black Desert has been hailed for its character editor, but come to think of it I haven't seen one black character come out of it so far. I haven't played it, but I didn't see any in any of the screenshots I've seen or the character creator demonstration videos.

    ReplyDelete
  18. lol, it's not the dark ages anymore, Japan gets plenty of exposure to black people albeit sometimes skewed.

    The character creator is just bad. They would be ok if they had something half as sweet as the Black Desert character creator where you can pretty much create what you want.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Even Dragon Age was bad in this respect. I tried making a black character and it just looked like a white girl with dark skin. The hair options are also geared 90% towards white hair styles

    ReplyDelete
  20. Honestly, the only game with a CAC feature in it that actually made my person feel like a black person was Mass Effect. Seeing my Shepard interact with Anderson actually felt like two brothas having a conversation. My BB black female leaves much to be desired. Still, I find the people getting riled up over those who feel like BB's options are lacking very telling.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Xenoblade Chronicle X's character creator is kinda disappointing for that reason. I assumed all the way to launch that the presets were highly customizable. Its tough being black and trying to make yourself in games. If I can't make myself, I usually go to the polar opposite and end up playing as women.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Something i noticed when attempting to create a black character in many recent games like Bloodborne and DBZ Xenoverse. As large consumers we should be given options like everyone else.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Did you know that that you can make cash by locking premium pages of your blog / site?
    All you need to do is open an account with Mgcash and embed their Content Locking tool.

    ReplyDelete

 

Welcome

Welcome to TheZonegamer blog which is primarily focused on video game culture, the latest games and racially controversial topics within the video game industry. Feel free to join the discussion and community by commenting on and sharing the latest blog articles. Join us and become apart of TheZonegamer community.

Follow by Email

Youtube