A recent study conducted at Ohio State University shows that white players who use black male avatars in violent video games demonstrate increased negative attitudes towards blacks, as well as increased aggression. This finding reveals the impact that negative media portrayals can have towards the public’s opinion of a minority group.
Though video game developers likely have good intentions when deciding to include other races as playable options, depending on the game’s setting, it might instead reinforce existing racial stereotypes. Playing as a black male in a violent video game only adds to the deluge of similar depictions of black males in various forms of media.
Though the increased visibility of racial minorities in entertainment media is typically considered a positive trend, the media tends to over-represent minority groups in specific settings. For instance, Asians in television advertisements are overrepresented in business settings, yet underrepresented in family or social settings. Likewise, the media overwhelmingly depicts blacks in impoverished and violent settings.
The probable solution to this dilemma is to represent racial minorities in different settings that do not play upon existing stereotypes. In relation to video games specifically, developers should consider including multiple race options in video games of all genres. Minority groups will then no longer be typecast into the same roles or settings.
Media portrayals have the power to shift public opinion of an entire group of people. Artists, writers, and creators are responsible for ensuring that their work portrays all people in a way that is fair and honest.