Friday, August 05, 2005

Exactly how did video games become a race issue?

This is one of those time where you just look around and say, "How in the heck did we get here?!?

Apparently there aren't enough minority video game programmers out there. I can honestly say I was unaware of this issue, but I can also say that it was somewhat expected in a country where 75 percent of the population is white.

The writer of this article says that in the wake of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, that a growing number of people believe that there should be more black and hispanic heroes and heroines. In GTA: San Andreas the player of the game controls CJ who is black, and is a gangster in every sense of the word.

That being said, other than San Andreas I don't know of any other games where you play a black guy going around killing everyone you see. But I'm also not into gaming as much as I used to be. Maybe after I get a new HD big screen I'll buy some more.

So, it appears now that people are wanting to see more video game programmers who are minorities. In fact, two gentlemen have started the Urban Video Game Academy so that minorities can learn the basics of programming video games.

I don't have any problem with this, but the article that is linked in the title of this post somewhat paints a picture that white kids have access to all they would ever want to know about programming video games. I can't even fathom how hard it must be to program video games. And if some high school kid asked me where he could get a jump start in learning a little about making video games, I guess I would just have to point him to Urban Video Game Academy. It's the first place I've ever heard of that offered such an education that wasn't a college or university-type institution.

Now video game programming is being made out to be biased and racist in some ways. San Andreas was set in the inner-city and is also based back in the early 90's when gangsta rap was all the rage. So that's what was being done in the game. You do in the game what was being talked about in the music. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was based back in the early to mid 80's in a Miami-like town where everyone was running guns or cocaine. The music is what made these games great. Not that 80's music was about running guns.

What it boils down to is that video game programmers aren't racist. They're geeks. And they didn't go to any Video Game Academy to learn how to program video games. Most of them began to figure it out on their own and learned how to program in college before picking up how to make games later.

There aren't many schools or colleges or universities where you can major in "video game programming". You can probably count them on one hand with a majority of them being on the west coast. Most of them are terribly expensive because they have to have cutting edge computers and equipment for the students to learn with.

And given how expensive they are, this isn't a race issue, it's a money issue and a fanatic issue.

Are you fanatical enough to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to learn how to program video games? Are you willing to spend that money when going to regular college would probably be cheaper? And if so, after going through years of training to be able to program are you going to be creative enough to make a game that I'll want to play?

A person also can't just create a game. It has to be financed almost like a movie and Rockstar Games and id Software aren't just hiring anyone off the street with a "Gaming" degree. None of them have a gaming degree, they just figured out how to do it back before it was able to be done.

Going into video game programming is the geek's equivalent to heading to L.A. to become an actor.

And if gaming was "racist" I think we would have heard a little something about it when GTA: San Andreas hit the streets well over a year ago and not how it might be the greatest game ever made.

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