In honor of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I thought I’d highlight some of the best Asian video game characters out there, only to realize that the selection isn’t very large. For an industry that was, in a way, birthed by Asian companies like Nintendo and Sony, there’s surprisingly very few Asian characters in major (or even minor) games.
Professor Dimitri Williams of the University of Southern California did a study back in 2009 about, among other things, the representation of different races in video games. He found that while 80.05% of characters in video games are white, only 5.03% are Asian/Pacific Islander. In 2014, Ross Orlando, a graduate from Ithaca University, looked at the top 10 most highly rated games from 2007 to 2012 and found that Asian characters were only 3% of the games’ protagonists. He even found, perhaps surprisingly, that 75% of the games developed in Japan had white protagonists.
In honor of PAX Prime 2011, happening this weekend, we at GeekGirlCon are taking a gaming-specific twist on this week’s History of Geek. So, with that in mind, we’d like to present: This Week in the History of Video Games.
August 28th 2004 – Penny Arcade hosted the first Penny-Arcade Expo (PAX) at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA. Exhibitors, including Microsoft, Rooster Teeth, and Ubisoft, showcased videos and playable demos of their upcoming projects/releases— like Bungie’s Halo 2 and Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Other events included live-musical performances, panels featuring Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (the creators of Penny-Arcade), and the Omegathon. The first expo boasted 1,337 pre-registered guests: a rather appropriate statistic to begin a very successful convention.
August 26th 2002 – Nintendo released the single-player 3-D platform game Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube in North America. It was the first traditional Mario platform game released since Super Mario 64, and like its predecessor, Sunshine was a commercial success. It sold over 5.5 million units, and was later re-released as one of Nintendo’s Player’s Choice titles in 2003.
August 23rd 2001 – Players joined Dante for the first time as Devil May Cry was released for the PlayStation 2 in Japan. Capcom originally intended Devil May Cry to be the last installment of the Resident Evil series opted out to use backgrounds from previous Resident Evil games as had been precedent. A more dynamic camera system was adopted. A team of developers traveled through Europe using gothic structures as a reference. Capcom still wanted to pursue the game, however it strayed too far from the survival horror genre. Instead of becoming an addition to Resident Evil, it became an independent game. Director Hideki Kamiya rewrote the world as one full of demons and redesigned and renamed the protagonist to create the Dante we know today. Hard to believe this occurred ten years ago, yeah? #FeelinOld