Let face it — video games are still very much a male-dominated pastime. While there are plenty of girls who love gaming (and are pretty darn good at it, too!), the truth of the matter is that most popular releases cater towards a particular audience, younger white dudes who are probably straight. It's not the case across the board, I know, and thankfully we are making some advances towards creating games that are more inclusive in all areas, from race and gender to even sexuality. Take the news that the newly released Mortal Kombat X features its first gay character. That's awesome and is a sure sign of progress, right?
Fans noticed the detail while playing the game, during an exchange between Raiden and a new character named Kung Jin, who is the cousin of Kung Lao, a character that has been present throughout the Mortal Kombat series. After Kung Jin expresses doubts at Raiden's suggestion that he join the Shaolin Monks like Kung Lao, Raiden assures him that the monks "care about only what is in your heart; not whom your heart desires.” After players brought the exchange up on Twitter, Dominic Cianciolo, cinematic director of NetherRealm Studios (which is behind the Mortal Kombat games), spoke out to confirm their speculations.
While that's completely awesome and cause for celebration — I think we can all agree that video games have a long way to go before they're where they need to be. It'll take time, but I believe we can get there.
Here are 5 things mainstream video games need in order to be even better than they already are.
In most popular video games, violence is a mainstay, if not the central focus altogether. Considering that a lot of games are first person shooters or other fighting games, this is a bigger problem that will take a lot of effort to solve (and sadly, I don't know that it ever will be solved completely). Either way, there has to be a way to tone down much of the unnecessary brutality contained in the games we're playing.
More Strong Female Characters
Sure, we've got games like Tomb Raider and Resident Evil that showcase female heroes, but the sad truth is, men are usually at the forefront when it comes to saving the world. We need to balance the scales a bit more to bring more strong women into starring roles, so girl gamers can identify and be inspired by what they see on screen.
Video Games Should Require More Critical Thinking Skills
Sure, there are plenty of games that take serious strategy in order to beat, but it always comes down to that dreaded default of violence. Mainstream games should work to make their games more thought-provoking and difficult to crack. Come on, I know we can do it!
Asian characters don't all need to be martial arts masters, just like black characters aren't all gangsters that are into crime and white characters aren't all military men or assassins out to save the world from the bad guys. People of color can be (and should be) heroes, too. The old-fashioned (and quite frankly, rather racist) way of thinking has got to go.
I've got a mouth like a sailor, so my issue with the gratuitous foul language isn't so much a personal one as it is one about the kids. Let's face it: whether or not a game is labeled for more mature audiences, younger kids are getting a hold of them and playing them, and while I doubt video games are exposing them to cursing they haven't heard before, why do they need to be bombarded by such words in entertainment? It doesn't add anything to the playability of the game, so we can easily cut it down.
Images: NetherRealm Studios (1); Wifflegif (5)