On Holding Your Phone

Amongst calls for diversity in gaming we’ve heard these past few months has been an odious argument that sometimes the story calls for a white man. I put my head to it and tried to think about any story where replacing the protagonist with a non-white man causes serious problems to the narrative:

Watch_Dogs is a videogame that came out earlier this year where the central character, Aiden Pierce, is a hacker. He uses his smartphone to access everything on this vast digital network, shuts out the lights, mess with traffic, and all that sort of stuff. Thing is, there’s a cutscene in the promotional materials where cops corner him, and he turns around, with his arms raised, holding a phone. With his phone in his raised hand, he hacks all the lights, startles the cops, then beats them up with the surprise advantage.

And right there, if he was a black man holding a phone (or a gun, or a baton, or nothing) in his hand, they’d have killed him on sight.

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