I don’t know about you, but I can’t count the hours spent going on quests and exploring the land of Azeroth in this extremely successful PC game by Blizzard. It was a magical place full of different settings and you could build an avatar from the ground up to be just as badass as you felt on the inside. I’m not talking about the real-time strategy (RTS) version, but the massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). As a fantasy / sci-fi author, this was right up my alley. I created a human priest (healer) named Lemnos, and get this, he was black! And gay, if the RP (roleplay) ever led into that line of questioning. It was in this world that I could be the heroic version of myself that I’d always dreamed of. So, when I watched the Warcraft movie, I was happy about how faithful the content stayed to the game, but I felt a bit indifferent about its diversity.
There were two important characters played by people of color (that I could tell): Gorona, played by Paula Patton, and Lady Taria, played by Ruth Negga. I enjoyed these roles, but the problem was that their ethnicities were covered up. Gorona was a green Orc and Lady Taria, the character, was white. Really the only black representation by a lead was with Varis, a human soldier played by Dean Redman, who got five lines. Otherwise, there were a few of us sprinkled in the background as extras, but that was all. Race isn’t the only instance where diversity fell short, however, as I can’t remember seeing any human female soldiers, nor any LGBT characters.
To read that may leave you thinking I’m upset, but that’s not the case. I didn’t go in expecting this to be some great demonstration of different peoples. That’s why I say my reaction is indifference. My lack of a negative emotion towards this may be infuriating to some, as I have witnessed before, but I think I’m just jaded or conditioned not to expect better from Hollywood. I loved the action, special effects, and nostalgia, but it would have been nice to see more different types of humans, much like the game (and others like it) provides.
Role playing videogames where you can build your own character, like Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls or Fallout series, serve as an escape for many of us and allow us to enjoy characters we don’t see often, if at all. For example, when I played BioWare’s Mass Effect, my character was a black female Commander Shepard who kicked alien butt all throughout the trilogy. When have we seen that anywhere else? I would have been a man if my character could hook up with the male lead, but by the time they allowed gay male romance storylines in the third installment, I was already attached to my avatar.
However, gamers know that this medium isn’t perfect; as much as the loud, obnoxious ones online want to pretend it is. To date, there is no game that allows you to create a transgender character. Also, in Fallout 3, the character creation was infuriating because of its defaults. Watch the first eight seconds of the video below. Despite the menu where you choose your avatar’s race being in alphabetical order, the default selection is white. Why not start at the top like a regular menu?! And since we’re alphabetizing, why not make female the first choice? The setting took place in the United States, but there was also no choice to be a Native American.
I could go on and on, but I’ll save it for another post. When it comes to diversity, things are getting better in Hollywood and in videogames, but at a snail’s pace. I’m just going to do what I can to get out more stories with different types of people as the main characters.