In the ongoing quest to not only preserve human rights, but to expand them to those who struggle under various forms of oppression around the world, video games may not seem very important. But video games, like any other kind of entertainment, can be important tools in spreading positive, or negative, messages.
Diversity in media is important, among the people creating media, the people consuming it, and the characters or places being depicted. Video games are often seen as the domain of young, white, heterosexual men, despite an increasing amount of data that says that those people are far from the main demographic for the medium. But if you look at most of the big budget, mainstream video games out there, they feature a lot of tough looking, white men as the default characters. Even games that allow you to create your own character assume “white male” as the default for commercial purposes.
But a forthcoming game, called Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan, instead features characters, locations, and events drawn from African cultures. A fantasy role-playing game, Aurion is being created by Cameroon based Kiro’o Games, and they have a definite goal when it came to the games design. They wanted to provide a game that gave young Africans around the world a link to their cultures. They wanted to build a setting and write characters that showcased African values and art styles, and introduced players to an Africa other than the depressing vision often shown in charity commercials and documentaries.
And for a role-playing game, or RPG, featuring settings that aren’t inspired by the feudal periods in Europe or Japan is nearly unheard of. Featuring main characters who aren’t white is also pretty rare, but it’s important for players who aren’t white. For gamers of African descent to only see black characters as stereotypical thugs or primitive savages can be depressing, and it feeds into a worldview that as blacks, those gamers are inferior, or unwanted.
Representation is important, and Kiro’o Games knows that, and they’re doing something about it.