Video games have come A LONG WAY thanks to technological advancements leading to more powerful gaming consoles giving us damn near realistic graphics. But there is one department where games are still lacking: Black hair options for gamers.
When you turn on your favorite video games like Elden Ring, Grand Theft Auto Online, or any title that allows you to create an online avatar, the main goal is to create a character allowing them to see themselves in the game.
While character creation in video games has made some strides, it still is a challenge for Black gamers, specifically when creating Black characters in games. The main issue is not just skin tones (a whole other discussion) but the lack of Black hairstyles and textures options when creating Black characters.
In a recent video essay, “We Need To Fix Black Hair in Video Games” by Kinda Funny Games host and producer Blessing Adeoye Jr., the sad realization that Black gamers do not have many options in character creation is the focus of the 17-minute video.
In the video, Adeoye immediately points out the fact you can always count on developers to give you the afro or cornrows hairstyle option, adding, “Kudos to game devs for actually including cornrows, a hairstyle that can be dated back over 3,000 years to sub-Saharan Africa.”
He continues by asking, “My one question, though, is who is this dude with cornrows that every single video game developer seemingly knows?”
Hell, we want to know too.
The Crown Act Solves The Issue In The Real World. We Still Need A Fix In Gaming
Playing western RPGS or video games with a character creation model can be a tiring and annoying experience for Black gamers who can’t enjoy the simple pleasure of creating a character who looks just like them in the game.
This ongoing problem in the virtual space also extends into the real world, with Black people experiencing hair discrimination in places like the workplace and school, deeming what Black hairstyles are “appropriate.”
Only in the last few years has there been any action to rectify these problems, with a then Democrat-controlled House passing along party lines the Crown Act in 2022 banning discrimination related to hair.
Still, that progress continues to elude the world of gaming with two of 2022’s biggest video games, Elden Ring and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, leaving Black gamers frustrated in both the skin color and hair departments.
Game Developers Have The Technology Now
But it’s not a total loss, and there is some hope to correct this ongoing issue. Adeoye spoke with Del Walker, a senior character artist for Naughty Dog, who formerly worked at Rocksteady Studios and designed the character model for Deadshot in the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League game.
Walker notes that technology made it difficult to bring Black hair into video games perfectly in the past, but now says that is no longer a valid excuse because consoles are so much better now.
He used Spider-Man: Miles Morales as a good example because if you don’t know, Mile’s ceaser haircut in the game is C R I S P Y.
Still, a lot more progress needs to be made, with Walker adding, “Just don’t treat Black hair like an afterthought,” and “It’s an entire spectrum and a realm, and it’s so much untapped cool stuff happening.”
You can watch the entire video below.
Photo: Kinda Funny / The Blessing Show