Monday, November 16, 2009

#271. Designing Video Games

What are people doing nowadays to occupy their precious time? Well, enough people are cumulatively playing video games to warrant its inclusion as a 5th television network:
"Americans as a whole spend more time playing video games than they do watching the CW television network. And video games -- the real “5th Network” -- may even be closing in on NBC.

According to the data derived from Nielsen’s National People Meter in Q4 2008, usage of console video games (defined as systems connected to users' TVs) accounted for 64 billion minutes in December."
Were Shakespeare alive today, his famous speech from Macbeth might sum up the world that video gamers live in:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing."
— Macbeth
Don't laugh though. Video games represent a massive cottage industry for those in the game, as sales in 2007 were more than $17 billion dollars. So the virtual games being played might be even more meaningless than the life Macbeth was talking about, but they amount to a whole lot of money for the companies designing, distributing and selling the games:

"This holiday season's biggest entertainment blockbuster likely will be a sequel to a popular franchise, with jarring depictions of war and an intricate story of good versus evil. It could easily rake in more than last year's record $155 million opening weekend for "The Dark Knight."

But this blockbuster is not a movie.

It is "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," a video game that Activision Blizzard Inc. is releasing Tuesday. Fans worldwide are expected to spend at least half a billion dollars on the game in the first week.

That would at least match last year's "Grand Theft Auto IV," which was the most successful video game release in history and might have been the top entertainment launch ever."

Well, Call of Duty did $310 million in business its first day out - comparable to major movie openings - shattering every record in the video game industry and proving that this multi-billion dollar industry is just beginning to reach its potential, for it is no brief candle flickering in the wind.

Yet, the video game industry is need of a thorough SBPDL fact-checking exercise, so this week we will look at this multi-billion dollar industry and how Black people embrace this form of entertainment. Let's take a look at a weird Nielsen Entertainment study done on emerging trends in video games and consumers:

"Women, Hispanics and African-Americans are an underserved and emerging market for interactive entertainment;

While Caucasians report spending the most money per month on DVDs,African-Americans and Hispanics report spending more money per month on games and mobile services.

"While this reinforces the industry's traditional targeting towards these groups, women between the ages of 18 to 24 show relatively high entertainment expenditure and time availability, suggesting there are opportunities for publishers to target this consumer," said Emily Della Maggiora, Vice President of Nielsen Interactive Entertainment.

"African American and Hispanic gamers appear to be a potentially lucrative (and currently under-served) consumer target for publishers as these gamers are spending more money to purchasegames and more time to play them compared to total gamers, in general."
Wait, so what is Nielsen saying? Black people consume vast amounts of video games, but could still consume more and more, thereby further enriching the developers and video game companies?

Wait... Black people purchase video games at a greater rate than their white counterparts, yet the video game companies aren't doing enough to actively engage that community? It gets better though, as a study was conducted (tomorrow's entry) that states Black people are vastly underrepresented in video games:
"Imagine a world in which 85 percent of the people are male and 80 percent are white. A world in which women and members of other races are a token presence, with most assuming passive, subsidiary roles.

In "The Virtual Census," a paper just published in the journal New Media & Society, a group of researchers led by Dmitri Williams of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communication analyzed an array of best-selling video games and the characters who populate them. They found that, compared to the demographic makeup of both the gaming community and the nation as a whole, whites and males are strikingly overrepresented in this hugely popular entertainment medium.

The researchers considered the most likely explanation for these findings is a combination of developer demographics (a 2005 survey found 88 percent of game developers are males) and "perceived ideas about game players among marketers" (who tend to think of game players as young white men).

"From a business and marketing viewpoint, game developers (appear to) be missing substantial opportunities for making games for different audiences," they write. "Women, at 38 percent of game players but only 15 percent of characters, are the most underserved. Latinos, who play more per day than whites and form 12.5 percent of the population, are only 2 percent of characters."
What business and marketing opportunities are developers missing, when the video game industry is swimming in cash right now? Black people love to buy video games and play them with the same religious fervor that other races do, regardless of Mario's race.

However, the ability to close the racial learning gap has been identified by Williams - who conducted this study - where he postulated this intoxicating hypothesis:

"Latino children play more video games than white children. And they're really not able to play themselves," Williams said. "For identity formation, that's a problem. And for generating interest in technology, it may place underrepresented groups behind the curve.

"Ironically, they may even be less likely to become game makers themselves, helping to perpetuate the cycle. Many have suggested that games function as crucial gatekeepers for interest in science, technology, engineering and math."

Virtual racism is to blame for minorities poor ability at math, technology and the hard sciences, for playing as white characters, such as the plumbing brother duo Mario and Luigi leaves Black people at a loss for conquering Euclidean Geometry and the Pythagorean Theorem or even basic algebra.

The primary problem for Black people is the complete lack of a designing voice they give in the video games conception from start to finish:
"A 2005 video game industry demographics survey by the International Game Developers Association found that only 2% of game developers across all disciplines are black. Contrast that with the national demographics of the countries that participated in the survey (Australia, Canada, United States, and United Kingdom) who have a combined 9% black population (aggregated from each country's population and demographics data on Wikipedia)."
So wait... less than two percent of video game designers are Black people, and yet it was Black people whose ancestors had their knowledge and wisdom stolen by the Greeks and passed off as their own?

Now, the same people who built the Pyramids are incapable of designing video games to entertain the masses? What happened to all that brain power? Worse, having so few Black designers ensures that video game characters are all white people - yet as the numbers will show, Black people play video games more than white people - and that Black characters (outside of sports games) will be few and far between:

"If Blacks and Latinos are always portrayed as the villains, or as the victims who get killed often and easily, that is code for powerlessness," said Kansas State University psychologist John Murray, who's studied violence and stereotypes in the media for the past 30 years. "These image persist because too few minorities are in the industry. Roughly 80% of video game programmers are white... Some in the industry believe race in games is a serious issue that has been ignored for too long. The video industry claims that educated, young white males create games for other educated, young white males and not minorities.

Regardless, games are an expressive medium. They are an art form, just like movies, theater and literature. We're seeing, to a large extent, that the games that are being designed unconsciously include the biases, opinions and reflections of their creators. And obviously, whites see Blacks and Latinos as criminals and gradually that's how our children see themselves and behave according.

A 2006 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that Black youths between 8 and 18 years old played video and computer games roughly 90 minutes a day - almost 30 minutes more than white youths. And Latinos play about 10 minutes more per day than whites."
Of course Black people don't commit any crime. That is just a figment of white peoples incredible imagination - since white people design all the video games, they must have vivid imaginations - and has nothing to do with reality...

Insightful interviews with video game designers who also happen to be Black people can be found here.

Black people are missing out on a billion dollar industry, for though they consume video games with the love of a Lotus-Eater, for some reason this hasn't translated into a pipeline for gainful employment in the video game designing industry.

Thus, Stuff Black People Don't Like includes designing video games, as Black people will part with their money for the chance at living vicariously through the eyes of Link, Mario and other video game characters, but to design these games is still uncharted terrain for Black people.

Yet another barrier that must be brought down, for life may signify nothing, but it must signify Black people portrayed properly.


mgrub said...

The games that blacks play more than whites are sports games mostly. I doubt they play much else on average unless it hints of their own culture.
They don't relate to Link or other fantasy characters except Sonic or Mario who come off as more mainstream.
Most blacks don't care about creating video games. Just give them imagery of themselves. Sports games do just that, reflecting the real life athletes.
So I think the VG industry does indeed cater to blacks.

Anonymous said...

If one was to disregard the motivation or creativity issues of negroid man they would come to find another 'Hate Fact'.

The video games of today are almost exclusively three dimensional. The spatial understanding required for creating these virtual worlds and characters was not endowed upon negroid man by the DNA gods.

Computer programming is essentially just another form of algebraic equations. If a person has trouble with algebra they have no prospect in programming. What about geometry and trigonometry?

Perhaps the ultimate 'Hate Fact' is the IQ of negroid man and how it compares to the other races. These psychologists that make excuses blaming everyone but the negroid man for his muddle are not helping anyone.

I am neither a psychologist nor have I been compromised by the liberal propaganda that one must endure in a school of psychology. Anyone with half a mind can see that subjecting American (White) children to negroid 'culture' brings the Whites down. Instead, these 'experts' tell us that Whites are bringing negroid man down.

Whites acting as stupid as negros does nothing to make negros any better. When will people wake up and see that pretending to be equal to negroid man just makes them stupid. Today, negroid man is keeping the white man down! WAKE UP!


Anonymous said...

"Latino children play more video games than white children. And they're really not able to play themselves," Williams said. "For identity formation, that's a problem. And for generating interest in technology, it may place underrepresented groups behind the curve."

Kids are able to identify with characters that aren't exactly like themselves so this is hogwash. I also like how the left's solution to every problem always seems involve brainwashing somebody.

Steve said...

The three above comments are right on the money. Blacks usually do not play games other than sports games, they have great difficulty in shooters or games that involve complex problem solving - look up leroy jenkins.

Programing is a pain in the ass, it takes months of code writing working hand in hand with graphic artists and animators and sound techs to get simple movements down, blacks have no such ability to work as a group on these difficult tasks unless a orange ball is involved.

Its not just games but everything else, they whine about a lack of black superheros or black cartoon characters like Cinderella. Never once do they say Im making a character or a hero..they wait for the rest of civilization to create it for them because they are unable.

Anonymous said...

"Ironically, they may even be less likely to become game makers themselves, helping to perpetuate the cycle. Many have suggested that games function as crucial gatekeepers for interest in science, technology, engineering and math."

But they already got through saying that Latinos play video games more than whites, so if games function as crucial gatekeeprs for interest in science, engineering and math then what does that have to do with the race of the character in the game? Seems like they were trying to make a point contrary to the evidence they themselves were providing.

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Anonymous said...

wow all ya'll some one track minded thinkin racist mothafuckas damn, sayin we dont have the mind to be able to do things with math, making games, science, technology, an then ur gonna start callin us negroid an shit sayin we're bringing whites down? ? by what? ! ? ! like honestly there are not really any black superhero's besides like what Spawn but not kid friendly i mean everybody on this planet knows that a company will choose a white comic book over a black/mexican/asian comic any day more than 80 percent of the time an another reason ya'll have it is look at what kinda shit African Americans went through for so long ! ! yu act like we've had all our rights since forever the 50's to be honest with yu wasnt that long ago! ! with how much racism that was going on an most of the comics that yu see now were created in the 30's an shit an back then other races weren't trying to imagine a kind of superhero ! ! I mean come on it was looking for a job, making enough money to support your family, pissed off from not being treated like A HUMAN BEING! ! Me i was brought up to treat everyone equally an show equal RESPECT like sum of you people out there seem to have none for another race or culture an then expect to get respect back? ? ARE YOU FUCKIN CRAZY? ! ? ! ? you dont desurve anything what yu do desurve is to get your ASS KICKED ! ! For all ya'll who sayin that this cat is on point with wats he sayin go back to to the 30's an shit where you belong! ! (An if you suppossively a Christian show me in the bible where it says that your suppossed to treat your fellow man like that it even says in the bible treat everyone equally treat someone the way you would treat yourself) but i'm done wit dis topic peace

Rona Reagan said...

Hey- here's a thought. I am a teenager and I LOVE comic books and video games. I also flatter myself that I am not a racist.

Here's the thing. I hate it when designers try to make some sort of character that's black *just* so that they can have a black character that's a good guy. Not like Lando- he had a job to do other than being the black one. Like the black Green Lantern in the comic books. I couldn't stand him- not because he was black -but because he wasn't the Green Lantern.

So here's my suggestion. Make a character who is black, who is not constantly whining about being underprivileged, and who has really cool powers! Then EVERYONE will want to play your game/read your comic/whatever, and you will have a cool black character!
You can see a bit of this already with Mace Windu from Star Wars. He is a cool character. People like him. They want to imitate him.

P.S. The "Negroid" comments were a bit much. I am not a fan of political correctness but please don't be rude.

P.P.S. About the basketball thing- not true. Some of the smartest people I know are black.

Anonymous said...

Are you unfairly blaming black people (sub-Saharan Africans) for Australian Aborigines' lack of contribution to computer science? Australian Aborigines are the race that is most different from sub-Saharan Africans, so it makes no sense to lump them together.
A significant proportion of Australian Aborigines literally can't count up to 10, and can barely count up to 5 (they call 5 "three two"). So you are doing a disservice to "black" people by including Australian Aborigines who are not related in any way to them, but bring down the average if included. Ironically Aborigines are most closely related to Japanese and Koreans (the relationship is very distant though).