The History of Black Video Game Characters

For Black History Month 2019, we wanted to explore the evolution of Black characters in video games, from the earliest days of the medium to modern heroes in “Assassins Creed,” “Watch Dogs,” “Mafia 3,” “Uncharted,” “Far Cry: New Dawn,” “Apex Legends,” and more. When it comes to Black video game characters, we’ve come a long way since the early days, when gamers and nerds of color had few icons of their own to look up to. Black video games were few and far between in the early days, and for those hoping to see themselves represented, African American and Black characters in video games were mostly limited to sports titles and stereotypes.

Things are slowly changing as the social justice movement has made great strides in movies, comics, and other fields in 2019. But Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo still have a long way to go when it comes to equality, and no, Punchout isn’t going to cut it. Games need more Black characters, and Black gamer icons like Sonicfox and Reggie Fils-Aime, but more importantly, the entire industry needs to step up and hire more video game developers of color from the top down. Throughout the history of gaming, Black gamers and Black characters have existed on the periphery for far too long, and now that race is at the forefront of our cultural consciousness, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the contributions that Black and African American gamers have made to the art form.

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