<captain OBVIOUS=""> Because the demographic consists mostly of white men who like to project themselves onto blank characters. Not to mention the North American continent is generally saturated in the idea of Eurocentricism, and most people don't notice because it's the norm. Also, people don't take too kindly to stuff that's too different. </captain>
I can understand where your argument is coming from. However, there are plenty of games with strong leads characters aren't white/male/etc.: Lee Everett: The Walking Dead Page: Fable III (while not a lead character, her personality was strong and she was a major female role in the series) Faith: Mirror's Edge The Elder Scrolls lets you create your own character. That's super not rascist/sexist.
One game, though, I have a problem with, is CoD. Every guy is basically white, and women are not represented in the military. Even in the Black Ops 2 trailer, the narrator says "only men can finish the job" It's not that hard to say mankind...
There are a lot of points that can be argued for your argument. It's not just "Yes, games are racist" or "No, they're not"
There's not going to be many games that say "Okay guys let's drop our guns and play tag." The major reason being that a game like that isn't really marketable. Games like Halo, Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, and Mass Effect are marketed for their action.
Faith, from Mirror's Edge, was a runner (kind of like the bike people from Premium Rush) in a city with tight government control. She's willing to risk her life to prove her sister's innocence (a sister who is a police officer in this tight government) for a murder she didn't commit. For me, Faith is one of the strongest female characters I've ever seen in a game.
A lot of JRPG characters are supposed to be Japanese themselves, though, aren't they? The fact that they're read as white by gamers like a lot of the time, though, does speak wonders about our society's racial bias. I'm not much of an JRPG person, so don't quote me on anything I say regarding them, but yeah.
But yeah, the whole grizzled-brunette-white-man-hero in western video games does get tiring. I've learned to royally not care, though. A game wins me over because of its story and how its characters act, not how they look. I relate to people, not appearances.
If you're looking for a non-white character who isn't stereotypical, indulge in aforementioned JRPGS. In Western video gaming, I highly recommend the Walking Dead Game series. The main character, Lee Everett, is a black man who used to teach at a Georgian University (pretty sure it was some sort of history???) He's a very well-developed character, and the series as a whole is wonderfully done. Didn't win all those awards at the VGA for nothing.
(The fact that that's the only game off the top of my head with an established black man as the protagonist is... a bit disconcerting, yeah.)
As for female characters, there's plenty of games with female characters as protagonists, and I can tell you for a fact that Fem!Shep is far more popular that Man!Shep.
Uh, if you actually read that you'd understand that she meant that it's the people who categorize a videogame character as "white" the ones who are racists. If an asian saw a character he will say it's an asian, but to you, since the character doesn't have cliche "asian features", he's white.
Well, I guess it is Japanese games that you're listing, and Japanese media for some reason has been known to learn more towards white male heroes. In Western games, it's still there (not so much the racism, but the sexism) as most women are over-sexualised. There's not many black people or women in the game production field, which probably explains quite a bit. A lot of companies now are scared to make a black character from fear they'll get shit from it.
Having white characters isn't racist at all. In fact, many of the instances have them white to avoid racism. I've been collaborating with several aboriginals in creating a game based around the dreamtime. The project will take years because there are insane amount of things that could cause offense. Simple things like looking into another persons eyes is a sign of disrespect. In fact a mini map will not exist for this project for the sake of respecting the culture; aboriginals know where they are going by learning the lay of the land. Some still hold onto the fact that when the pregnant mother moves around the child learns the world through her eyes. (not in those exact words but a brief concept to it) All up race is a hard one to tackle, but many games have black characters and even black main characters. Sure they are mostly shooting games but non the less still valid.
As far as most games being primarily female characters, I think you need to expand your game range.
Another main fact though you need to consider is the developers themselves. Most game developers are Asian or white, and typically male. This is the biggest contributing factor to White/Asian males being the primary leads in games. Since this is their gender and race - creating movements, character design, dialogue and story is generally much easier with less risk of accidental insult.
fact number three, white people where used more commonly in older generations due to contrast against the BG pallet range. On many old systems - modes typically required one set colour per tile, which was typically black. With this, white was easily one of the most idealistic choices for a main character. "White" can also be mutated with hue range while still looking aesthetically pleasing and unique, while dark skin was much more difficult and was much heavily restricted with colour limitations. (fools who say old game designers didn't care about graphics are idiots. Just look at the masterpiece that is Seiken Densetsu 3) Even now browns can get lost quite easily within the terrain without careful concentration on the colour pallets. Its the same reason red is a popular colour for main characters - because it stands out against the natural greens of nature.
Sorry, had this debate in my Video Game Studies unit. I could be here for ages. Funnily enough, I was late to said class and I got thrown on the games are racist and sexist side. Needless to say I disagree so much that for the most part I had to BS through my teeth because I Know it's a load of crock. However, if you were to say games are sexist because most heroins where skimpy clothes - I'd kind of pay that. It bugs me in games with armour clad blokes that the women where bikinis.
Anyway I will end on this small note. Men generally speak with actions while women do so with words. Games require actions and lot of it. In this case men typically play the main character because of simple mental frame set required for somebody to go out slaying. That's why all women heroins are always the strong or seductive type and nothing else when the main character, because else they just wouldn't fit the "action" role. I could continue thisby arguing theorists such as Sigmund Freud - but the last time I did so I ended up with women arguing against me with no actual supporting evidence or theories to back up their arguments.
"In fact, many of the instances have them white to avoid racism." That is the VERY definition of Racism. it's so ingrained into your mind you can't even begin to separate yourself from that mindset.
"Anyway I will end on this small note. Men generally speak with actions while women do so with words. Games require actions and lot of it. In this case men typically play the main character because of simple mental frame set required for somebody to go out slaying. That's why all women heroins are always the strong or seductive type and nothing else when the main character, because else they just wouldn't fit the "action" role.
I just want for once a "mother bear" role who had her husband, daughter, son, dogs, cats kidnapped / killed and she goes out to rescue/revenge / avenges them.
Maybe she uses her wiles to seduce them but isn't going to be sexed by them, she's always in control, she ties them up, tortures them. I mean really... is that all that much to ask for? Maybe she doesn't kill anyone, or she CAN'T kill anyone because she'll go to prison.
Not everything has to be about killing and slaying monsters.
Like maybe you have to capture some unruly baby dragons to take to a desperate momma dragon blocking a path? Games CAN be made more challenging, difficult and rewarding if you can't kill.
Point 1 - Racism is making judgements on somebody due to race. What I wrote is not racism at all. Avoiding racism is important unless your familiar with said persons customs. It is a simple concept of ethics. Different cultures have different traditions. Again I'm going to give an aborigional example because working along side them, I'm kind of familiar in their traditions. For example, depiction of a burial ground is quite offensive to the dead. There have been many aborigional documentaries done by non-aborigionals that have caused offense due to recording footage at a burial ground. Unless you have somebody of such an ethic group on your dev team, it is a dangerous risk to go with characters from other cultures.
Point 2 - watch the new tomb raider trailer. ^_^ Seriously though, women rescuing as the mother bear is good, and is used a couple times. Yes I too would like more, but I honestly don't care if the character I'm playing is a chick or a bloke. What difference does it make if the rescuing parent is the mother or father. If the story is written around the mother, then that's fine - but I've also seen some tacked on uses where it may as well have just been a male because it didn't come of as a mother at all. Now a female role stealth game - I'd be into that; alas, stealth games are just like platformers - a struggling breed.
Honestly though, slaying monsters is generally the best go to design. Why? Simple, people like to play the hero. Monsters are evil. Slaying monsters = slaying evil. Simple formula that is successful because it is enjoyable.
Like it or not, adding a race or gender that isn't as commonly used always has to have significance within the story, because it becomes something unusual and needs explanation. Unfortunately something so subtly significant would only serve to complicate a story in which a standard white character would raise no questions. When the character is designed it's usually of the race of the person creating it, unless it being another ethnicity is a key structural part of the story which in some cases it is. Exceptions do exist of course, there are protagonists who are simply another race or gender with no significance to the writing, the question is does that add anything at all? And if it adds nothing, there's no point expecting it to be put in when it's not what comes naturally to those writing it. To give a reverse example take Max Payne 3, the sections in Brazil, him being white is significant there, it separates him from the others. All the other white people in the missions of Brazil have inferred reasons for being there, subtly explained in subtext, meanwhile the common ethnicity in said country require no further explanation.
It doesn't require explanation that the protagonist for GTA:SA is black, there's no how or why he got there, because there's nothing unusual about it in the parts of the US so his race is of little significance. However, Niko who if I remember rightly is Russian, does have an explanation for his being there because it is less common and that uncommon factor is what raises questions.
I'm sure it would be different if more black people and women were developing games, but they aren't. Speaking from personal experience, when I create a character it's just assumed it'll be white unless it has a specific reason to be anything else, that's just what comes naturally to me. There aren't very many blacks in Japan so of course they're not going to think "let's make the main character black, even though it has no real significance other than being for the sake of having another race".
It does exist. But why can't have have different colour skinned heros? Well maybe cause it takes money and time to code a game to do so.
There are games that allow you to play as Either sex or Colour. Like Saints Row. However most games are set in predefined settings, and characters with a back story. For example Sleeping dogs, Sheng Wei being black would make no sense. Also would be impossible to be undercover. Since its not hard to check if a black guy was once a police officer or even a trainee.