The New Black Face: The Transition of Black One-Dimensional Characters from Film to Video Games
Master of Science
Department or Program
Mass Communication and Media Arts
Lawrence, William N
This paper is about the stereotypical portrayal of black character's in film and how these portrayals transitioned to video games. Video games are a growing medium that continue to evolve as technology advances. As video games have advanced, the characters have become more intricate than the two-dimensional character sprites featured on the earlier Nintendo NES and Atari consoles. Naturally, characters in video games are derived or inspired by actual people and as such display characteristics of different races/ethnic groups. In this paper, I will explore how stereotypical black characters have influenced the way in which characters are developed in video games. This analysis will also explore how these characters, which lack depth and complexity, continue to perpetuate problematic stereotypes about black identity. To complete this analysis, I will use literature that explores the African American cinematic experience, because video games are becoming more like films in that they feature interactive plots and more sophisticated characters. I will explore the portrayal of the black body in many games and my hope is that this paper will challenge future game designers to create three-dimensional characters rather than one-dimensional caricatures. Hence, my hope is that this paper will challenge future game designers to create three-dimensional characters rather than one-dimensional caricatures.