Video games keep failing to represent Middle Eastern and South Asian identities

Earlier this year, after a Kansas man shot two Indian immigrants, he headed to an Applebee's and told his bartender he had killed two Iranian men. Since 9/11, Sikhs have been increasingly the target of hate crimes because they're often mistaken for Muslim. In 2015, 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats atually voted in a poll to bomb Agrabah — the fictional city from Aladdin. It would be easy to point to the xenophobic scare tactics of Fox News, the alt-right and our current president as the
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The Practice of Reclaiming Bad Representation

Relating to a fictional character can have a significant impact on how you engage with a story. You might laugh at a character making mistakes you’ve made or get emotional for an on-screen relationship that feels familiar. If you can see yourself in another person — real or otherwise, you can empathize easier. For a lot of folks, though, finding a character to actually relate to or feel represented by, can be a challenge. If you’re not white, male, cisgender, straight or from a western country,
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Why Nintendo Is So Important to Queer Folks

Before last year, the only games I played were on a Nintendo platform. In fact, since I got a Nintendo 64 when I was five, I’ve only ever kept up consistently with Nintendo consoles and handheld devices. When I was younger, that decision was mostly based on the fact that Nintendo was the home of Pokémon and Zelda, but as I got older, my reasoning became a bit more serious. I’ve found that Nintendo has been the primary choice for a lot of queer gamers through the years. In the more toxic parts o
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Buffy, Sailor Moon and Queering Media

It seems nowadays that, in our post-Glee world, that every TV show has at least one queer character — no matter how poorly written. However, it wasn’t too long ago that queer folks were fighting for any crumb of representation, finding their only solace in Will & Grace and the sexual tension between Xena and Gabrielle. Many young queer people became devoted to specific media, not because it was necessarily meant for them, but because they had elements that they related to as marginalized people
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On Western Queerness and the Idea of “Chosen Family”

One of the most famous moments in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory is when Roxxxy Andrews has a breakdown on stage and talks about her childhood, where she was left by her mother at a bus stop. In response, RuPaul said, “We, as gay people, get to choose our families…I am your family, we are family here.” It’s a touching sentiment and a phrase that’s become somewhat of a mantra in gay culture. However, as someone who isn’t fully American, I’ve often questioned this phrase in how it pertains to non-We
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'Overwatch' gets a lot right about diversity, but totally fails with Symmetra

Since its release in May, Overwatch, Blizzard's massively popular competitive first-person shooter, has paved the way for diversity and representation in the gaming world. To the dismay of angry Gamergaters who rail against political correctness, Overwatch features playable characters who are queer, nonwhite and non-male. Fifteen countries (and the moon) are represented in the hero roster. The game routinely makes headlines for, well, "getting it right" in a way similar titles never seem to emul
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JonTron's racism explained — from one Iranian-American to another on the Persian New Year

Jon "JonTron" Jafari, the YouTube gaming personality who ignited the internet over a series of racist, anti-immigration tweets and comments this week, is half-Persian himself and the son of two immigrants. Whether I want to admit it or not, JonTron and I actually have a lot more in common than I initially thought. We are both Iranian, yes — but also, we both grew up in southern California, currently live in New York and, obviously, are very into video games. On paper, we could be best friends.
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'Zelda: Breath of the Wild' satisfies my anxiety in ways that other adventure games can't

When I was in fourth grade, my best friend Jennifer and I made matching RuneScape accounts. We were in her kitchen, sitting side by side on her dad's two laptops, when we entered Tutorial Island as ninjaboy1570 and ninjagirl01 —actually, it was ninjaboy and ningagirl because she didn't know how to spell, but the sentiment remains the same. For those who don't know, RuneScape was an mass multiplayer online roleplaying game that was first released in 2001 but reached peak popularity between 2005
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Princess Daisy has been treated like a second-class character for long enough

Before Super Smash Bros. 4 was released in 2014, I had a conversation with my friend about which Nintendo characters we’d like to see in the game: reach choices like Skull Kid from Majora’s Mask and favorite veteran characters like Pichu from Pokémon. Then I mentioned Princess Daisy from the Mario universe. How cool would Smash 4 be if Daisy, my favorite character in Mario Tennis and Mario Party, were in it? My friend gave me a slightly condescending smile. “Yeah, but that would never happen,”
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‘PUBG’ is the only streaming game I watch — and it might be the future of video game design

I’ve never really understood why so many people enjoy watching other players stream video games. Or rather, I didn’t understand it until recently, when I discovered PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. One of my favorite games, Overwatch, is also pretty big in the streaming community, but those videos have never held my interest. Then I started watching Polygon’s streams. First, it was just for a laugh, but my interest quickly evolved into so much more. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is the only stre
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Where is Efi Oladele, the genius African child inventor of 'Overwatch'?

In late March, Overwatch added Orisa as its 24th playable character — the third it's added since the game launched in May 2016. While Orisa has brought a lot to Overwatch in terms of gameplay (everyone really wanted a new tank), she also has an interesting origin story that's unfortunately fallen by the wayside. In February 2017, Blizzard introduced us to an 11-year-old African girl named Efi Oladele via an in-universe announcement that she had won a genius grant from the Adawe Foundation. For
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Video games keep failing to represent Middle Eastern and South Asian identities

Earlier this year, after a Kansas man shot two Indian immigrants, he headed to an Applebee's and told his bartender he had killed two Iranian men. Since 9/11, Sikhs have been increasingly the target of hate crimes because they're often mistaken for Muslim. In 2015, 30% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats atually voted in a poll to bomb Agrabah — the fictional city from Aladdin. It would be easy to point to the xenophobic scare tactics of Fox News, the alt-right and our current president as the