As we watched the film adaptation of “The Colour Purple” today in class, I began to contemplate the presence and portrayal of black people in the media. My media of choice is not television or films (usually), but that oh-so-fun evolution of interactive fiction: the video game. I could immediately go on a long and entirely valid rant about stereotyping in games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas or any of the Def Jam-sponsored games, and I’d probably fill a book just listing the problematic aspects of those games. But what I began to contemplate was the presence and portrayal of black individuals in more plot intensive games. (Yes scholars, many video games do have plots, and many of them are quite compelling.) What I observed is that there are few “normal” black NPCs (non-player characters) in such video games. Any time a black character interacts with the player, they are either an intended source of comic relief, or a source of great wisdom, or even an unstoppable “bad-ass” action hero. But they are never just a person who happens to be black. It seems the script writers draw a blank when it comes to writing this sort of character. “They’re black, what do we do with them?!” “Oh I know I know! Let’s make her an evil cyborg and let’s make him a demi-god in human form.” Fine plot elements, but it just seems worth note that when a black character appears in a game, they’re either comic relief, a villain, or in some other way alienated, othered from the player-character. One might argue that video games aren’t populated by “normal” characters, as the stories necessitate (as any story does) a certain level of abnormality to further the plot, but I just find it fascinating how black characters seem to be given far less range than their light-skinned counterparts. I really had not considered this until recently, but as soon as I thought of it, I found myself struck by just how prevalent this othering was. Even when it places the character in a positive role, they are still othered from the protagonist, never on the same level with them or the player; either they are just a funny sidekick, they are beyond parallel in their martial abilities, their wisdom transcends time itself, they are a sadistic villain, or they aren’t human at all. This, I feel, is an issue that warrants some examination in future academic endeavors.