Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Racism in MMO Games

Almost every day I log into an MMO I see racism. Yes, video games have racism. But I'm not talking about real world racism. I'm talking about being racist against other video game races. Show me someone who plays an elf and I'll show you someone who is racist against trolls.

My Gnome wizard in EQ2 hates Frogloks and Kerran, and those horribly annoying Sarnak. Casafin, my Fae berserker constantly makes fun of Arasai and those silly fat Halflings. And does anyone want to see a female Troll or Ogre? Sure there are always exceptions, everyone loves Mooshga. We all know a Froglok caster that tops the DPS list and is nice about it. But that is still racism, disliking an entire race and only making an exception for those that we are close to.

But this sort of racism is okay. Even the game creators say it is, and many NPC's are racist too. Races in video games are very different from each other. An dwarf and an elf are very different. Different cultures, different looks, and often times even different stats. And more importantly, the player chooses what race they want to be. And of course it's not meant to harm, it's just harmless role playing. We don't actually think ill of people that play particular races (except for those people that play those awful Sarnak, right?). Do the characters have a choice in what race they are? So is it right for one of my characters to hate halflings or does it make my character a bad person (except in the situation of Frogloks, they are just so annoyingly hoppy that it's okay to hate them no matter what).

Is this what it was like before I was born, when racism was acceptable? Could someone justify hating an Irish person because of their accent, and it not mean anything personal? Society said it was okay to hate, therefor it was okay. Video game society says it's okay to hate video game races, so it's okay. Right? Now, I understand that video games are obviously different than real life. We don't actually go around killing people of other races in video games (except for that thrill you get from killing a slow moving stupid ogre on the pvp servers, right?). We don't burn crosses on their lawns, and it's not 'real'. It's all make believe, pretend, fiction, role playing... But does it mirror something in us? Is video game racism a reflection of the fact that we can never fully get rid of racism in the real world? Is it a way for us to direct our need for hate? Or is it all just fun and games?

Personally for me, I have reasons for my dislike of races. I am allergic to cats and don't like litterboxes, so kerran remind me of that. Frogloks actually I would like, except their hopping animation I find distracting. Sarnak are just big, and friggin ugly (I'm just not a fan of their particular model being used as a character race). Arasi are fun to make fun of just because of their emo /dance animation. I personally actually have nothing against any race, it's all fun and games to me.

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