What are people doing nowadays to occupy their precious time? Well, enough people are cumulatively playing video games to warrant its inclusion as a 5th television network:
“Americans as a whole spend more time playing video games than they do watching the CW television network. And video games — the real “5th Network” — may even be closing in on NBC.
According to the data derived from Nielsen’s National People Meter in Q4 2008, usage of console video games (defined as systems connected to users’ TVs) accounted for 64 billion minutes in December.”
Were Shakespeare alive today, his famous speech from Macbeth might sum up the world that video gamers live in:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.” — Macbeth
Don’t laugh though. Video games represent a massive cottage industry for those in the game, as sales in 2007 were more than $17 billion dollars. So the virtual games being played might be even more meaningless than the life Macbeth was talking about, but they amount to a whole lot of money for the companies designing, distributing and selling the games:
“This holiday season’s biggest entertainment blockbuster likely will be a sequel to a popular franchise, with jarring depictions of war and an intricate story of good versus evil. It could easily rake in more than last year’s record $155 million opening weekend for “The Dark Knight.”
But this blockbuster is not a movie.
It is “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” a video game that Activision Blizzard Inc. is releasing Tuesday. Fans worldwide are expected to spend at least half a billion dollars on the game in the first week.
That would at least match last year’s “Grand Theft Auto IV,” which was the most successful video game release in history and might have been the top entertainment launch ever.”
Well, Call of Duty did $310 million in business its first day out – comparable to major movie openings – shattering every record in the video game industry and proving that this multi-billion dollar industry is just beginning to reach its potential, for it is no brief candle flickering in the wind.
Yet, the video game industry is need of a thorough SBPDL fact-checking exercise, so this week we will look at this multi-billion dollar industry and how Black people embrace this form of entertainment. Let’s take a look at a weird Nielsen Entertainment study done on emerging trends in video games and consumers:
“Women, Hispanics and African-Americans are an underserved and emerging market for interactive entertainment;
While Caucasians report spending the most money per month on DVDs,African-Americans and Hispanics report spending more money per month on games and mobile services.
“While this reinforces the industry’s traditional targeting towards these groups, women between the ages of 18 to 24 show relatively high entertainment expenditure and time availability, suggesting there are opportunities for publishers to target this consumer,” said Emily Della Maggiora, Vice President of Nielsen Interactive Entertainment.
“African American and Hispanic gamers appear to be a potentially lucrative (and currently under-served) consumer target for publishers as these gamers are spending more money to purchasegames and more time to play them compared to total gamers, in general.”
Wait, so what is Nielsen saying? Black people consume vast amounts of video games, but could still consume more and more, thereby further enriching the developers and video game companies?
Wait… Black people purchase video games at a greater rate than their white counterparts, yet the video game companies aren’t doing enough to actively engage that community? It gets better though, as a study was conducted (tomorrow’s entry) that states Black people are vastly underrepresented in video games:
“Imagine a world in which 85 percent of the people are male and 80 percent are white. A world in which women and members of other races are a token presence, with most assuming passive, subsidiary roles.
In “The Virtual Census,” a paper just published in the journal New Media & Society, a group of researchers led by Dmitri Williams of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication analyzed an array of best-selling video games and the characters who populate them. They found that, compared to the demographic makeup of both the gaming community and the nation as a whole, whites and males are strikingly overrepresented in this hugely popular entertainment medium.
The researchers considered the most likely explanation for these findings is a combination of developer demographics (a 2005 survey found 88 percent of game developers are males) and “perceived ideas about game players among marketers” (who tend to think of game players as young white men).
“From a business and marketing viewpoint, game developers (appear to) be missing substantial opportunities for making games for different audiences,” they write. “Women, at 38 percent of game players but only 15 percent of characters, are the most underserved. Latinos, who play more per day than whites and form 12.5 percent of the population, are only 2 percent of characters.”
What business and marketing opportunities are developers missing, when the video game industry is swimming in cash right now? Black people love to buy video games and play them with the same religious fervor that other races do, regardless of Mario’s race.
However, the ability to close the racial learning gap has been identified by Williams – who conducted this study – where he postulated this intoxicating hypothesis:
“Latino children play more video games than white children. And they’re really not able to play themselves,” Williams said. “For identity formation, that’s a problem. And for generating interest in technology, it may place underrepresented groups behind the curve.
“Ironically, they may even be less likely to become game makers themselves, helping to perpetuate the cycle. Many have suggested that games function as crucial gatekeepers for interest in science, technology, engineering and math.”
Virtual racism is to blame for minorities poor ability at math, technology and the hard sciences, for playing as white characters, such as the plumbing brother duo Mario and Luigi leaves Black people at a loss for conquering Euclidean Geometry and the Pythagorean Theorem or even basic algebra.
The primary problem for Black people is the complete lack of a designing voice they give in the video games conception from start to finish:
“A 2005 video game industry demographics survey by the International Game Developers Association found that only 2% of game developers across all disciplines are black. Contrast that with the national demographics of the countries that participated in the survey (Australia, Canada, United States, and United Kingdom) who have a combined 9% black population (aggregated from each country’s population and demographics data on Wikipedia).”
So wait… less than two percent of video game designers are Black people, and yet it was Black people whose ancestors had their knowledge and wisdom stolen by the Greeks and passed off as their own?
Now, the same people who built the Pyramids are incapable of designing video games to entertain the masses? What happened to all that brain power? Worse, having so few Black designers ensures that video game characters are all white people – yet as the numbers will show, Black people play video games more than white people – and that Black characters (outside of sports games) will be few and far between:
“If Blacks and Latinos are always portrayed as the villains, or as the victims who get killed often and easily, that is code for powerlessness,” said Kansas State University psychologist John Murray, who’s studied violence and stereotypes in the media for the past 30 years. “These image persist because too few minorities are in the industry. Roughly 80% of video game programmers are white... Some in the industry believe race in games is a serious issue that has been ignored for too long. The video industry claims that educated, young white males create games for other educated, young white males and not minorities.
Regardless, games are an expressive medium. They are an art form, just like movies, theater and literature. We’re seeing, to a large extent, that the games that are being designed unconsciously include the biases, opinions and reflections of their creators. And obviously, whites see Blacks and Latinos as criminals and gradually that’s how our children see themselves and behave according.
A 2006 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that Black youths between 8 and 18 years old played video and computer games roughly 90 minutes a day – almost 30 minutes more than white youths. And Latinos play about 10 minutes more per day than whites.”
Of course Black people don’t commit any crime. That is just a figment of white peoples incredible imagination – since white people design all the video games, they must have vivid imaginations – and has nothing to do with reality…
Insightful interviews with video game designers who also happen to be Black people can be found here.
Black people are missing out on a billion dollar industry, for though they consume video games with the love of a Lotus-Eater, for some reason this hasn’t translated into a pipeline for gainful employment in the video game designing industry.
Thus, Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes designing video games, as Black people will part with their money for the chance at living vicariously through the eyes of Link, Mario and other video game characters, but to design these games is still uncharted terrain for Black people.
Yet another barrier that must be brought down, for life may signify nothing, but it must signify Black people portrayed properly.