If you know me then you know I don’t play a lot of sports games, I don’t have anything against them I just never got into them. If you are a fan of them then I’m sure you’re aware EA just dropped the demo for NBA Live 18. From what I’m seeing online the game’s not perfect but it deserves more of a chance that people are willing to give it. I can’t speak to the validity of that but I have to give EA credit where credit is due. The character customization in this game is something I need other developers to take notes on, specifically the hairstyles.
One of my biggest pet peeves in video games is how poorly represented black hair is. Anytime a game has some sort of character customization in it black people are given the same 3 hairstyles. Long ass dreads, an-over-the top afro, and cornrows. EA managed to put together a wide variety of black people hairstyles in their game that are actually appealing. Sure the game’s based on a sport that’s mostly black and the biggest supporters of the game are black people so it’s only right for them to put that effort into depicting the audience properly. But Imagine how awesome would it be if we could see these kinds of hair options in other game genres like mmo’s and rpg’s. I used to think it was just difficult for developers to design these kinds of hairstyles in their games however I’ve come to realize it’s just a sheer lack of effort and research on their part.
It’s already hard enough for people of color to relate to characters in games because we’ve become so accustomed to playing as Nathan Drake. So when we do get a chance to make a character we want to be able to get as close as possible to ourselves or someone who looks like us, which is hard to do when developers simply don’t care enough to put in some energy to give players more diverse options. Perhaps there’s simply a lack of people of color working in the industry or maybe devs don’t see how frustrating this is for the non-white portion of the gaming community. Either way, I really hope other game developers take notes from NBA Live and include a more varied catalog of hair options in their future games.