Com-cast Ep. 34: Playing the Race Card


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Composed by: Grant Kelly


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Playing the Race Card

  • Did people take games like Resident Evil out of context?
  • Where do we stand with depictions of race and sexual orientation in gaming?
  • Is the industry as a whole working towards more fair and meaningful representation?
Milleniummaster18's picture

Umm... is it just me, or are some sound issues happening within this episode (for example, Alex's voice jumping around from one side (speaker) to the other and the guest's sound being extremely low at times)?

Whiplash's picture


Yeah, we had some technical issues on Wifred's end, where his audio didn't record for him, so he had to rerecord his lines with our audio being the source of the conversations. As for the other one, I can't really comment on that, since I didn't edit the podcast.

RAM's picture

Sorry about the issues, I also didn't edit this one but I can say, beyond some of the issues of bringing on a guest Simon and I recorded our audio locally on one mic, so that may contribute to some of the sound issues. I'm pretty sure I know what to do to fix this, so look forward to everything being back to normal in the next episode.

Solifluktion's picture

Steve Cortez is the man. 

I feel like any kind of discrimination would result in a huge backlash for the publishers. While if think it's a good thing that games are getting more and more "tolerant" I can't shake the feeling that in many cases it's just a matter of expediency for the developer and less a sign of changing attitudes. However if the endresult is a more open society I can live with that. Sometimes you've got to fake it before you make it.

OmegaZero's picture

Woah, MM18 isnt joking about the sound suddenly jumping from stereo to right-only or left-only every now and then. It's not just Alex, either. It's a pretty minor issue but kinda off-putting. Maybe mix to mono in the future? And take your phone off the table; I can hear it vibrate while Alex is talking about that weird Spanish DS game.

Also, I apologize for the long comment on Ep33.

Onto the actual content of Ep34...
Firstly, Alex needs to be shot for his taste in cars (and his subsequent love affair with destroying them). I suggest he play the 2005 game Juiced, in which damaging the car you race costs your character money.
Secondly, on homosexual characters in videogames. You guys are totally correct - while Bill is gay, that fact does not play into the game at all. It's a tiny little detail and no attention is drawn to it (although Ellie does lampshade this by finding a gay porn magazine in Bill's hideout). Make of that what you will. On the other hand, in the DLC Left Behind (warning: spoilers), it is revealed that Ellie is bisexual or possibly lesbian. You can bring that to the forefront as much as you want by reading into Ellie's relationship with Riley, just as you can choose to romance any number of non-heterosexual characters in BioWare's games. It's up to the player to notice or utilize those facts as they wish.
I think games would sell just as well with different protagonists, not just the bland white het male we've gotten in every game previously. Part of the reason the bland white het male games sell so well is largely due to the fact that there aren't any other options. I don't know how many copies of Mass Effect were sold, but I remember seeing statistics somewhere saying 30% of the characters created were female. 30% of LARGE is still quite a bit, so there's definitely interest at the very least. I would really love to be a market analyst in the event that Call of Duty 79: Tom Clancy's Advanced Warfighter 3: Halofall Battle features a female campaign protagonist. I'm also interested to see how many Ghosts players run female multiplayer characters. Similarly, I can only think of one game (Telltale's Walking Dead) released in the previous few years where the (singular) protagonist is black. Again, I can only think of one recent game (Metro) where Russia/China/the Middle East isn't inherently evil. While I'm sure there are more, the fact that I can only come up with one of each says a lot of our current games market. At least we're inching our way towards gender equality, but racial diversity for NA releases is nonexistent.

Solifluktion's picture


As far as I know one of the console exclusive CoDs had you play as a female russian sniper. I might be mistaken though. (also in that case the Russians were the good guys).

disgruntledavians's picture



It was in a spinoff, Finest Hour, which was available on Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox. You played as a sniper named Tanya Pavelovn, which is a reference to Enemy at the Gates. Additionally, in CoD 2, in the Russian missions, you did have a woman amongst your ranks, randomly generated name, the only one I have seen to date fight in the entire main series if I'm not mistaken. 

darthskeletor's picture

At this point, it's not just about doing what's right, although of course that is really important. But we'd be kidding ourselves if businesses thought that way. Rather, as you guys mentioned, it's becoming important just from sheer business. To be honest, the adolescent heterosexual white male market is reaching saturation. Any sane business would not be so hung up on only reaching one community.

The purchasing power of the gay community is huge, and Hispanics are 32% more likely to consider video games their main source of entertainment. Also, FFVII's portrayal of Barrett Wallace will live in my mind as one of the worst portrayals of minorities of all time. He was the only black character and therefore had to speak ridiculous ebonics. Nobody else, just him. Also, Ubisoft was totally off the mark at E3 with their comment that putting women in would have been too hard and taken too long. "Extra work" hasn't stopped them from delaying almost all of their games this past year. 

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