Diversity and representation matter and, as Catholics, you should care.
If Christ and the Blessed Mother can appear in diverse ways, why get mad when media does too?
The loudest voice in the realm of video games is that of white men and they need to learn to let go with humility and make space for others.
The Catholic Church is comprised of 1.3 billion people across the globe (only 6% of which are in the United States) but the number of video gamers in 2022 is at 2.5 billion. Now, we don’t gatekeep at Fall Damage: gamers are people who play games, whether it’s on a phone, a console, or a computer.
Of those 2.5 billion, 59% are male and 41% are female. Those numbers narrow when it comes to whether or not someone identifies as a “committed gamer,” bringing us to 49% male and 48% female.
But let’s hone in on American statistics because we’re the loudest. Of the 2.5 billion, 210 million gamers are in the United States and 71% are white which is roughly 149 million people. But video games — a global market — overwhelmingly feature male characters (85%) and white characters (81%).
When game developers attempt to break this mold, it’s the majority who rail against them. If a game features a female character or a person of color as the main protagonist, there are cries of “woke-ism” or a “liberal agenda.” Horizon Zero Dawn and the equally brilliant sequel Horizon Forbidden West had people straight up refuse to play it because they did not want to play as a woman. Some have even called the franchise “anti-men.”
And ironically, many complain that they simply can’t relate when the protagonist is female. As if this hasn’t been a struggle for female gamers for decades…
But why should we, as Catholics, care?
Because representation is extremely Catholic. Jesus and Mary were born in the Middle East and historically were not white. But when the Blessed Mother appeared in Mexico, she didn’t look like a Middle Eastern woman — she appeared native. Same for the Marian apparitions in Korea, Rwanda, China, Japan, Vietnam, etc.
Why? She was a woman from Israel, smack dab in the Middle East. Why not appear as she was born? Because representation matters. Being able to identify with someone else and connect on a very basic level matters. So when Mary has appeared across the globe, she’s done so in a way that is relatable — a Middle Eastern woman appearing to a Chichimec peasant is not particularly relatable.
“You can’t compare Marian apparitions to video game characters!”
Why not? Our Catholic faith is meant to inform every aspect of our lives. Love, “the Golden rule",” is meant to be the foundation of every action. This isn’t about politics. Video games are a global form of media just as our faith is a global one.
Assassin’s Creed made good progress with this concept. Originally, there was only a male protagonist but this changed with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Unfortunately, they’re taking a step back with the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, which reverts back to only having a male protagonist. Ubisoft has stated before that female characters are somehow more difficult to animate as the reason, despite numerous other games and studios with much less funding having no difficulty achieving this goal.
Let women have voices in video games. Let people of color have voices. It is time for the loud majority to lift up those voices because their representation matters. If the Mother of God can be diverse, who are we to shun diversity?