Long gone are the days of struggling to find a good black video game character. Not only are they cool, but it’s awesome to see more game characters of color on the big screen. It’s just refreshing. I grew up in an age where Black people didn’t appear often in video games. If they did, they were over stereotyped, non-important side characters, or characters in fighting games with nothing more than a color swap. In honor of Black History Month, let’s give a shoutout to some of the most awesome Black video game characters that stand out in the world of video games! Let’s go!
12. James Heller – Prototype 2
I know what you did, I know what you’re doing, and I’m here to put an end to it.
James Heller has been through hell and back. After the tragedy of losing his wife and daughter, this man has a vengeance against Alec Mercer who had infected Heller with the virus that changed him. Now left with nothing but the need to seek revenge, James will stop at nothing. Stomping through the streets of New York to find truth into why everything had been taken from him. As a former US Marine Sargent, he’s got the physical means to defend himself, but the Virus corrupts his soul. Dealing with the thin line between good and evil, we can’t really say he’s completely one or the other. All I know is that he’s one guy I would not want to see angry.
11. Sazh Katzroy – Final Fantasy 13
I’m a handsome man, but Lady Luck has never glanced my way.
If I had to pick one guy out of the list to guaranteed have my back, it would be this good sir here. Sazh from Final Fantasy 13 has a heart of gold. When we first meet Sazh, he seems to be a bit out of place. Traveling around with the likes of Lightning and Vanille, it’s interesting to find out more about him. Then we dig into his story and find that everything he’s doing, is fueled by his heart and his unconditional love for his son Dajh. Not only is Sazh a loving father, he is one of the wittiest thinker of the bunch and an amazing airship pilot. Armed with a pair of pistols and his loving Chocobo chick that nests in his hair, Sazh takes wind on an adventure he’ll never forget. He will stop at nothing to protect his son.
10. Augustus “Cole Train” – Gears of War
Whatever the hell that is, that’s a new world record in ugly!
Woo, You can’t stop the Cole Train baby! One of the most lovable characters in the Gears Universe, Cole Train taught me how to have a little fun while being super buff. Being a former Thrashball athlete in his day, he brings a powerful defense force to the field of locus. Bearing strength and cracking many jokes along the way, Cole proves to make a nice companion. Cole’s dedication to the COG shows with every acceptance to a new challenge. Not only has he saved Delta squad on more than one occasion, but he was the only one to survive a major locus attack that killed his previous crew. He kicks butt with not only his physique but hand him a weapon, any weapon and we’re guaranteed to see some major damage.
9. Rochelle – Left 4 Dead 2
When all this is over, you think they’ll call us heroes? We are savin’ humanity, right? I mean, a very small, four-person chunk of it, but still.
Ah yes, while Left 4 Dead happens to be a favorite of gamers everywhere we can’t ever forget Rochelle! Before the apocalypse hit she was a low level associate producer at a news company waiting for her big break. Thinking that the “flu” that was spreading could make her a star, it actually ended being her last piece of coverage. Ro seems like she could have been a super smart, no nonsense chick with a sassy yet classy attitude, but I found her character to be full of heart and a sensible thinker. Rochelle’s spunky attitude keeps the group in positive spirits. And I’m liking it! I remember getting into Xbox Live fights over picking her, because everybody wanted to be the Depeche Mode loving, frying pan slinging champ. We also can’t forget Louis and Coach who were both great heroes in L4D!
8. Jax – Mortal Kombat
Against those metal arms, how could you even think of winning a fist fight? Jax had actually been the first black video game character I remember playing. Beyond the muscle, Jax Bridges really is an intelligent man while he remained one of the highest ranked soldiers in the United States Special Forces. He was first introduced in Mortal Kombat II on a rescue mission to save his partner Sonya Blade from the evil Shao Kahn. After the events took place, in MK3 he prepares for an even tougher battle by installing these cybernetic arm enhancements to ensure that he really packs a punch. Jax Bridges was said to be the perfect soldier and his arm enhancements were still deemed just an extra flashy feature, but still adds to that fear factor.
7. Emmett Graves – Starhawk
Gotta fight fire with fire..
In a world where people lust for the danger more valuable than gold, rift energy, we can only hope that a hero can save us. That guy would be Mr. Emmett Graves, from Starhawk. As a hired gun and mercenary, Emmett is on a hunt to destroy those that threaten remaining humanity. He first came in contact with rift energy from an unfortunate attack by Outlaws that caused his energy experiment to backfire. From having unique regulator gifted to him, the energy only consumed part of him while he still remains somewhat humane. There’s always a fear he could fully turn at any moment, due the mark of the Outsiders. Even if we first see him as a rogue outlaw, he fights hard to save humanity. Even though it wasn’t all in his plan to turn into the good guy, we see him rise to secretly become a hero while taking out many powerful beings along the way.
6. Dudley – Street Fighter
There is a difference between refined strength and uncouth violence.
Fighting games are awesome! And I don’t just mean from the hadokens and fatalities, but for such variety in characters. It’s difficult to pick just one or two from the list, but one that really sticks out is Dudley. Dudley is a beast, not only is he a proper gentleman with a British accent but he is a slick heavyweight boxer. Mr. Duds, is a charmer with a passion for perfection and roses. The fact that he tends to his rose garden, shows that he’s a sensitive man behind all that brawn. He keeps his demeanor focused on the potential of his challengers, not just strength behind them. Keep it classy.
5. Sheva Alomar – Resident Evil 5
There is so much one person can do. Even a superhero like you Chris.
Sheva is one lady we can depend on when the earth starts being over run by zombies. Starting out as an orphan and being taken in from her hardcore military uncle, Sheva gained a talent for using guns and mastering the art of gun-play. Not only is she intelligent, a dangerous lethal weapon that can master wielding a gun, just being gorgeous happens to be an added plus! This green eyed cutie is the backbone to Chris in Resident Evil 5, more solid than I think even he realizes. Saving them from more than one disastrous situations, as the faithful companion she really pulled through.
4. David Anderson – Mass Effect
When the Reapers come, we must stand side by side. We must fight against them as one. And together we can drive them back into dark space!
Being one of the most honorable men of this list, Admiral Anderson David has done so much in the Mass Effect World. Not only was he the first of his class to complete the N7 marines program, but he remained one of the more calm collective thinkers of the group. Anderson, a human war hero and the original captain of the SS Normandy, really rises above the crowd with his excellence in leadership. From the first ME I‘d always wanted to see what he could be capable of. And In 3, we saw him get down and kick butt! Not only did he stand up to the Locus and look death straight in the fact, but he had been such a lovable character even pass the tough exterior.
3. Alyx Vance – Half Life
A Combine zombie. Zombie Combine. That’s, that’s like a… ah… a Zombine! Right? Heh…
Alyx Vance has been one of my favorite game characters period. Not only is she a super smart hacker, but she really does know how to hold her own with her signature automatic pistol. She is the daughter of Eli Vance, an amazing researcher and physicist. In Half Life, she saved our main hero Gordon Freeman from an attack of Combines. With her goofy personality, she brings a sense of humanity left into a such a dreadful world. She’s one of the strongest female characters in gaming yet and has remained fully clothed and respectable. Her compassion is evenly weighed with her will for science and everything that does matter.
2. Aveline de Grandpre – Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
I stand with those who stand with me. I lure my prey through the guise of a lady. I escape unnoticed through the veil of a slave. And though I may conceal my identity, one thing is certain: commit injustice in this world, and I’ll send you to the next. I am Aveline de Grandpré, I am an Assassin, and I fight for liberation.
Sweet little Aveline, I adore you. While it’s not often that we’re graced with a game that features a black female protagonist, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation does just that. Aveline is an assassin mixed of both African and French descent, in mid 18th century New Orleans. You play as three personas including the Assassin, Lady and Slave personas while digging into the past to create her own liberation. Things important to her: Freedom, ending slave trafficking and fighting for what’s right. She’s a strong woman that will not take no for an answer. Everything Aveline does has such confidence which makes so many of us proud. You go ahead, sistah!
1. Lee Everett – The Walking Dead
We’ve been through more together than you could imagine. Anyone who tries to get between me and her are gonna wind up dead!
Lee Everett represents everything I want to have in a character. Not only is he brave, but he’s a very sensible and strong character. One things that makes me relate to him so much is that in the Walking Dead, we make our own fate for the group. The choices that Lee plays out are our own and best decisions. Lee has been one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever played in a game. He’s got this underlying spirit of wanting to help people, but yet stays very calm and reasonable. He’s always putting on a brave face for Clementine and sometimes even himself. His caring fatherly love and protectiveness of Clementine and the group really builds that moral attachment. At the beginning of the game, we’re seeing Lee being drown off in a patty wagon in handcuffs. None of that no longer matters when you see the compassion that this man has within him in every episode of the game. Lee will do whatever it takes to survive and protect those most important to him. He remains one of the best black video game characters and darn well deserves the number 1 spot!
Even More Worthy Honorable Mentions:
Looking at this list, we’ve come a long way in gaming. I’ve tried to exclude extremely stereotypical picks. I remember the days where it was difficult to even find a Black video game character in anything, from cartoons to TV, to books and even video games. Now we’ve got quite a collection! Race in video games is a topic that I’m hoping to see more in the future. If you’d like to check out an essay I’ve written on Race In The Future of Video Games click here. Let’s hope that we see even more amazing minority characters in gaming, not just Black, but all races in the future. There’s quite a few characters worthy of mention. I could probably add a good 15 more to the list, but trust me, they’re out there.
So what do you think? Who would you also add to this list, and who could be left out in the cold? Who are some of your most & least favorite Black heroes in gaming?
Comment down below!