10 video game characters who haven’t aged well


When it comes to inclusiveness, video games have come a very long way in a relatively short period of time. Ten years ago, the idea of ​​a big budget game like The Last of Us Part II to focus so prominently on the stories of two female characters would have been almost unthinkable. This is something worth celebrating, although there is still work to be done.

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As attitudes about what’s appropriate and what isn’t have changed, it’s hard to forget some of the ghosts from the gaming past that continue to haunt the industry. In the 90s, sexism and racial stereotypes were quite common in video games, with many characters falling far below the standards gamers expect today. It’s worth remembering that many of these examples are from another era, and back then most gamers may not have been seen as problematic. Looking back, however, there are plenty of video game characters that are best left buried in the past.

ten Jynx (Pokémon)

Jynx's original design from the Pokemon anime

This one gets pretty high profile, but in the defense of developer Game Freak, steps have long been taken to rectify the issue. While they can fix their mistake, they can’t undo it. The original design of the Psychic Ice Pokémon Jynx was heavily criticized for its jet-black skin, huge lips, and bulging eyes, which many quickly compared to features commonly associated with a black face.

Jynx has caused so much controversy that Warner Bros. decided to censor or delete all episodes of the anime that she appeared in, and Game Freak was forced to change her skin color to blue in games. Interestingly, these changes were initially only made in the Western versions of the games, although over time the Japanese versions followed suit.


9 Tom Johnson (Shenmue)

Tom Johnson of Shenmue

With the possible exception of Mark, none of the Westerners found in the first Shenmue game are portrayed in a very flattering light. They are thugs, drunks and gang members. Then there’s Tom, who many people thought of as a walking caricature of an African American. These people would be wrong though. It’s not that Tom’s character isn’t problematic, it’s just that Tom isn’t walking anywhere. He dances – continuously.

Tom can usually be found walking to the beat of the music in front of his hot dog truck. That in itself doesn’t really have to be a problem, but when his shift is over and it’s time to get home, he continues to dance around Yokosuka even without the music. Combine that with his Jamaican accent – despite being from New York – and his girlfriend named “Honey” and you’ve got a character dancing precariously along the line between what’s and isn’t acceptable.

8 Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)

An early conception of Tomb Raider's Lara Croft

It’s always great to see developers strive to provide equal and fair representation in video games. For this reason, the years 1996 Grave robber should have been a cause for celebration. After all, back in those days, it was incredibly rare to find a big budget game with a female main protagonist. Unfortunately, Lara’s original design was not very cheerful.

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Its original design was not about empowering women and making them feel like they had a place in the game. It was about attracting young men and boys with a protagonist whose defining characteristic was her literal figure in the game. hourglass, especially the top half. Thankfully, Lara’s curves have leveled out a bit over time and in her current iteration, she’s certainly a character worth celebrating. The Crystal Dynamics team deserves a lot of credit for this.

seven Gay Tony (Grand Theft Auto)

Grand Theft Auto Gay Tony

Many characters found in the Grand Theft Auto the games serve as parodies with which Rockstar is able to poke fun at the prejudices found in real life. While this is sometimes a great way to highlight some of the issues in our company, it shouldn’t give the company carte blanche when it comes to showcasing certain groups.

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Some might argue that Gay Tony was designed to challenge some of the preconceptions surrounding homosexuals, but by centering the DLC around this character and being on the nose when it came to naming him, Rockstar took a leap of faith. line. It would not be acceptable to place adjectives like “black” or “trans” before a person’s name and so should the same apply to “gay”.

6 Lo Wang (shadow warrior)

Lo Wang from Shadow Warrior 2

Sometimes there is a very fine line between nervousness and racism. Most tend to avoid all of this together to avoid committing unnecessary offense. The one who conceived Shadow warrior‘s Lo Wang fell quite firmly on the wrong side. That it is a Chinese man playing the role of a Japanese samurai is perhaps excusable. What is not excusable, however, are the things that come out of this character’s mouth, and neither his broken English, unresponsive to offense.

Almost everything Lo Wang says is race-insensitive, with some of the most incriminated phrases being, “Looks like Lo Wang has to cut down on his sushi” and “Just like Hiroshima / Nagasaki / Pearl Harbor.” “

5 The Oil Man (Megaman)

The Japanese version of Oil Man from the Mega Man series

Unlike many western countries, the attitude towards blackface in Japan can be a bit more relaxed at times. This could explain how Oil Man was born. First appearing as one of two new bosses added to the 2006 PSP remake of the original mega man game – titled Mega Man Under Power— Oil Man is one of the most visually offensive characters in video games.

Fortunately, Capcom America’s localization team immediately spotted the character’s potential to offend. In the western versions of the game, its color scheme was changed to blue and it was given a less prominent position on the game’s cover.

4 Letitita (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Letitia de Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Letitia is a character written straight out of the big book of stereotypes. Accordingly, anyone who wishes to see a classic example of the offensive “sassy black woman” trope need look no further than Deus ex human revolution.

Some might try to defend this character by pointing out that there are black women with these manners, but whether that is true or not, it completely misses criticism. For every person who conforms to a stereotype, there are hundreds and thousands of people who don’t. When a developer chooses to portray one of the only black characters in their game in this way, they are doing themselves and their players a disservice.

3 Dhalsim (street fighter)

Dhalsim from the Street Fighter series

the street fighter The series features some of the best fighting games ever. Unfortunately, it also exhibits some of the worst racial stereotypes in the game. Almost every early character in the series has the potential to offend, although it is perhaps Dhalsim who best represents that point.

A skinny Indian with flexible limbs and a collar made of shrunken skulls is not allowed to serve as the sole representation of the game for the Indian people. He not only demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Indian culture, but also a blatant lack of empathy for the people he caricatures. As with most potentially offensive content found in video games of this era, it seems unlikely that there was any malicious intent behind Dhalsim’s design, but lack of intent doesn’t always excuse offense. .

2 Poison (Final Fight)

Poison from the Final Fight series (in Street Fighter 5)

During the conception of the years 1989 Final fight, the developers wanted to include a sexy female character to appeal to a male audience. Sadly, they were also concerned about the reaction of a Western audience to beating a woman in a video game. Their solution? Make Poison a “new,” Japanese word for someone who is not binary.

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The fact that the designers therefore felt it was okay to let players beat non-binary individuals certainly has the potential to offend. Worse yet, the character would later be redesigned as transgender, which could be seen as just as problematic. The localization team seemed to agree with this view as they did in the North American release of the early Final fight games, Poison and her Roxie palette swap have been replaced with two male characters.

1 Kung Pow (Clay Fighter 63⅓)

Clay Fighter's Kung Pow

“Would you like to add soy sauce with that?” And “Young Egg Foo!” are just two of the incredibly racist lines uttered by Clay fighter‘s Kung Pow. With a set of moves named after Chinese food and an overly exaggerated horse tooth hanging out of ignorance in front of his mouth, this character and the game he’s featured in are pretty much guaranteed to offend any sane person who plays this.

Thankfully, there hasn’t been a new entry in the series in over two decades, and a lot has changed since the game’s first release, but Kung Pow truly represents the worst of gaming’s past.

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