I usually make it a point not to go down this particular road when it comes to blogging. This blog is predominately about visual effects, and my learning process. However, something happened to me not too long ago that hit a nerve. This particular nerve has been hit a few times before, but I never really said anything about it. Now's as good a time as any.
A while ago, I picked up Starhawk, the spiritual successor to Warhawk, the Playstation 3 multiple player. One of the interesting things about Starhawk, the scifi-western multiplayer, flying/shooting/building game, is that the protagonist is a black guy. This isn't the first time that a game had a black protagonist. Prototype's James Heller is the other most recent character that comes to mind.
After a multiplayer match, a few of the players that were on my team and I went to a safe place in the game to talk, discuss what worked and what didn't work. It's important to note that I have never met any of these players before. I couldn't pick them out if I passed them on the street, and they couldn't do the same with me.
Now here's the interesting thing. Here's a picture of my character:
As you can tell, he's black, as am I.
Now, the interesting thing that happened was when one of the players walked up to my character and said, "Holy shit, you're black, haha! Why the hell did you do that?"
My respone, "I'm black in real life as well..."
His response, "Wow, you don't sound black!"
And this is what constantly gets me. It's not the first time that this has happened, and I doubt it will be the last. But it never ceased to bother me.
I've been in many situations where I'd speak to someone on the phone before actually meeting them. It's upon meeting them in person usually looks me right in the face, and asks where they can find Phil Wesson, and is surprised as hell once I tell them that that's me. So why is that? Why is there such surprise with what I sound like, what I look like, and how I portray myself online? I guess the most basic answer is, "What did you expect?"
Like I said, this wasn't the first time that someone was surprised by who I am upon meeting me, but it was the first time that it happened while I was playing a game. When playing anything online, you're bound to find a lot of kids who don't have a filter when it comes to racial slurs and questioning one's sexual preferences. But why is it such a big deal?
Yes, I'm black.
I usually play black character's online
And even if I didn't is there some sort of stigma to doing so? Even if it's a fictional character that you're portraying?