This morning when I woke up I saw the following heading under my Black Desert Google search…”Black Desert is NOT Black Friendly” blared up at me from my phone. I immediately went to check it out and was greeted with the following originally posted by “MAERZ” an Advanced Member of the Black Desert forum community. My response is listed under the full quote.
Read below to get a better understanding of where the OP is coming from. Its a tough topic with heated opinions with several different arguments and points of view. The main question (tl:dr) question is – do you think your video game should be inclusive of its target market? With Black Desert coming to NA/EU this means branching out to a broader scope of ethnicities.
As you read challenge yourself to answer some questions:
So what do you think? Do you see yourself in the game? Do you prefer to have your characters be as far from your real self as possible? Do you feel affected when others aren’t represented in game…do you even notice? Specially for Black Desert, because of its setting – do you find it odd that there aren’t more characters of color in the game?
Note: The following post depicted this players concern with Black Desert from the perspective of a player in closed beta in the EU/NA version.
Simply being said, Black Desert as a game that offers a robust form of character creator, and a game set in a western setting, is not inclusive to those who are Black.
While the creator of Black Desert is praised for being one of the most ‘robust’ out there (famously starred in an article by Kotaku, which as garnered over 106k views since its making), the creator has been praised for being able to relatively easily make characters that resemble people from famous actors, to normal folk alike. This is not without being said that each of these articles and contests regarding lookalikes include any one Black person. Aside from there not being much demand overall.. there is little, if any support from the creator itself to allow it.
(image via Kotaku)
(Above — Skyforge is a game designed by Russian developers, however, their localization in North America does NOT mean they are afraid of featuring some people of color within their promotions)
All in all, the argument of adding people of color seems to be a silent argument in itself. It’s not a discussion many people like having (especially if you are not of color) but it is a discussion worth adding at all. In a game like Black Desert who seems to feature heavily Western themes and even have a centralized place taking place in a Desert (Valencia), the absence of darker people is questionable. There is often a discussion of lack of representation ESPECIALLY in games where classes are gender locked (ex “I don’t feel comfortable playing a girl as my class! It just doesn’t represent me!”) when people who are NOT of color feel that they cannot find representation in a depiction of a different gender– but at least there is still a platform for them to even be represented at all.
Improvements as stated would simply be adding more NPCs of color where fit (there’s more Asian than there is Black… and the game takes place in a heavily medieval setting.. to a desert) and even allowing players further customization (lips/nose/other facial features) to cater to a different crowd. While I may never play a character in this game who has an identity that is actually of color from default, it would certainly help to add features to encourage further customization. Afterall.. there’s so many contests and even internal player discussion about recreating different looks and faces, but none of these contests even seem to include people of color for lack of obvious reasons beyond the creator doesn’t even allow it.
First let me start by saying thank you. One for creating a thread/topic and numerous posts that represents a problem for those of us choosing to represent “ourselves” in a virtual world with the ultimate character creator. Second I want to thank you for rising above the gutter pulling troll magnets that have tried to bring this topic to its knees.
The topic is real and if you can’t bring yourself to understand it in terms of lineage, then perhaps consider if you were a blonde and there were no blonde choices in a game that toots its horn as having the ultimate character creator. I’m assuming the topic was created in GD to be discussed, to garner whether or not others felt the same where applicable. Wanting something, stating that an aspect of the game feels off (to him) is not a direct threat to you. Our characters are humanesque – shades and hues on people exist guys and that is nothing to be afraid of…simmer down.
I too noticed that the “world” had no one like me as the OP stated (for my beta experience). I certainly saw no one (NPCs) along my journeys unless it was another player created character. I do agree that its somewhat hilarious (in an outrageous sense) that in the “Black Desert” the blackish characters to interact with just happen to not be there. Thank you for the insight on the Valencia area – I look forward to seeing more faces of color when I get there.
Skin tones, facial features, character curvature – matter (to those it matters to). It often represents/helps your connection to the character, it envelopes every single experience we have in the game and lasts forever in screenshots and videos. Regardless of what color you choose in game it is a part of how you choose to represent yourself in game. It matters just as much as attached or detached, pointed or curved ears do on an Elf.
Skin tone is the first thing that I choose on my character in game. It is always a close representation to my own skin tone in real life – Caramel Latte. We generally get one or two darker tones to choose from which usually aren’t human looking or are at the extreme edges of the scale. In BDO I actually was pleased with the range of shades available in the darker tones. On the palate they didn’t exact “look” like a person of colors skin however once you put them on they were indeed. I found several not quite right for me shades and several darker ones but not unpleasant or chalky like some games – I was happy even though I couldn’t do the right shade of Caramel Latte.
What I moved on to next was the face. Here is where I actually ran into the problems. The nose was not something that I could nail down. I initially wrote this off as a problem with “me” and my ability to use the creator. Since then however I have seen a dozen or so similar complaints on the forums about people not being able to lower or widen the nose effectively. I also couldn’t get full, beautiful, pouty sexy lips like my own – however I did find that that was my fault. I’ve seen pics of someone with them so now that I know it can be done, it will be. The odd looking thick Sorceress, I will take on as well but I did run into many that seemingly tried to add a curved rotunda, hips and thighs that just looked awkward.
As a far as a request goes, If you really want me to “enjoy the ultimate, fantasy role-play and discover endless possibilities” in this game then I don’t think this sentiment is too far fetched. I’d appreciate at least one preset per character depicting someone with an enhanced ethic background – save me some time so I can play. If its possible great, if not – hey at least the thought was put out there for discussion.
And for the record, just don’t do anything ArcheAge has ever done and you should be fine. In ArcheAge, they completely removed darker skin tones from the game months after character creation without so much a peep until people began unsubbing and discussing on the forums.
Thanks again OP.
The original thread has since had its title changed and has been moved from General Discussion to the Suggestions section of the Black Desert Online forums. This link should provide you a way to read the pruned and modified commentary as well as add your own position on the matter.