The duality of being black in play spaces

evannarcisse, Black Panther author and narrative design consultant with a resume that boasts hits like Spiderman: Miles Morales and the War for Wakanda downloadable content for marvel avengershe continues to navigate the complex role race plays in the work he’s hired to do, especially when it comes to black characters.

“I think there’s an aspect to some of these disclosure cases where people just assume there’s some kind of monolithic, homogenized black experience that I’m instinctively in touch with and can fall back on at any time,” says Narcisse. We talked about the work of Du Bois and the ways in which the phenomenon of double consciousness acted as a precursor to what we now think of as intersectionality. We also talk about tokenism in the video game industry and how often Black creators, actors, developers, and the like are sought out to highlight a particular Black experience that ends up being treated with little variety.

“We know that one of the things that makes video games unique is the ability to embody a character [and] control their actions, which results in a self-identifying feedback loop that is really strong,” Narcisse says of Zoom. He strives to follow one of his most important rules of character creation: treat your character like a real person. Allowing diverse characters in the digital space to flourish, with depth and dimension, is one of the ways Narcisse deals with identity, race, and belonging in video game narratives.

This understanding allows us to present black characters as more than just soldiers, thugs, or barely humanized weapons for the player to wield with impunity. Such portrayal allows players to empathize with fully realized characters in ways that potentially prompt them to address their own implicit racial biases. Ozioma Akagha, whose voice acting skills span multiple iconic roles, such as Shuri in Marvel’s What I …? series and Alyx Vance from Half Life: Alyxexplains the importance of being able to see oneself in a certain role.

“When I see roles like Julianna [Blake] in deadly loop and Hana [Cole] in gears of war 5, I’m like—look at this! We exist in this fantasy world. So I get excited about it, and I go for it.” While the number of women in video games has risen steadily in recent years, the appearance of black women in leading roles is still rare. “The world tells black people what it’s like to be black, but I like how in the roles that I’ve been lucky enough to have… it’s a person going through a human experience in a human world, and that’s what it is.” being black,” he said. she says she.

Akagha isn’t the only voice actor who appreciates the flexibility that video games allow for the growth of black characters. Noveen Crumbie, who played Nicole Olivia Wheaton in my loft and Solari Sentinel in Legends of Runeterraand who plays fan favorite Layla Ellison in Arkane Studios Austin’s upcoming vampire shooter. red fall, says her close relationship with her voice agent helps her land the right parts. They “email me for specific roles that they think I’ll be a good fit for,” Crumbie says in a Zoom call. “Lately I’ve been seeing auditions where he will state in the specs ‘seeking primarily black people for this role,’ which is really cool to see. Now these clients are really paying attention and looking for the right people for these roles.”

Leave a Comment