Publication: An About Face: Diverse Representation in Games

A lack of racial-ethnic diversity in game characters and limited customization options render in-game self-representation by players of colour fraught. We present a mixed-methods study of what players from different race-ethnicities require to feel digitally represented by in-game characters. Although skin tone emerged as a predominant feature among players from all racial-ethnic groupings, there were significant group differences for more nuanced aspects of representation, including hair texture, style, and colour, facial physiognomy, body shape, personality, and eye colour and dimension. Situated within theories of how race is conveyed, we discuss how developers can support players of colour to feel represented by in-game characters while avoiding stereotyping, tokenism, prototypicality, and high-tech blackface. Our results reinforce player needs for self-representation and suggest that customization options must be more than skin deep.

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Participants

Cale Passmore
University of Saskatchewan
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan

Citation

Passmore, C.J., Mandryk, R.L. 2018. An About Face: Diverse Representation in Games. In Proceedings of the 2018 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY), Melbourne, AUS. 365-380. DOI=10.1145/3242671.3242711.

BibTeX

@inproceedings {541-pxRace_CHIPlay2018_CR_AboutFace,
author= {Cale Passmore and Regan Mandryk},
title= {An About Face: Diverse Representation in Games},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the 2018 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY)},
year= {2018},
address= {Melbourne, AUS},
pages= {365-380}
}