Globalization vs Cultural Relevance: On the topic of American Standards of Racial Diversity in Non-American Products


“Because, in fact the problem is not that Witcher 3 has no black characters, it could (as I will speak later on). The problem is how you demand it. How you demand foreign culture to bend over and match your own sensibilities”. This was said by Author Patryk Kowalik in his article Love Letter to Person Who Demands Racial Quotas in Witcher 3. His anger over the topic is best summed up in a latter line “…you’re telling them to change it because it’s not American enough”, a statement he found so important he had to bold it in his article. As this is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while and as this article was something of a more neckbeard-y version of an argument I kind of agree with, I thought now was a good time to do a write up on the topic.
The idea that us Americans might need to take a step back when talking about diversity and look at where the product came from came to me when I saw a post saying that Anime (an animation style from Asia) needed more black characters. The latest information I have on the rascal demographics for asian countries have Japan with 98.5% ethnically Japanese, South Korea being around 96% Korean, and China having 91.60% ethnically Chinese as of 2010 (this info is the oldest and very well may not be representative of the china of 2015, but as of right now this is what I’ve got). Knowing this, the idea that these underrepresented any group of people feels wrong, as they are made by and are perpetrating the culture that made it. Or so I thought.
Something I didn’t know, and something that makes this conversation more complicated, is that most Japanese Anime is made with the knowledge that the medium has an international fan base. The Anime reviewer I learned this from (I forget who it was, sadly) even when on to say that most of the more popular anime titles in the USA are “westernized” so much that they aren’t true reflections of Japanese culture. Armed with this new knowledge we get into the heart of the matter.
The “Witcher” franchise is made by Polish developers, based on Polish novels written by a Polish Author based on Polish folk lore. However, this wasn’t sold to an exclusively Polish audience, and it isn’t made to give outsiders an insight into modern Polish culture. This was another fantasy game sold to the world that ignored the existence of most the worlds population.
When it comes to American products there is no excuse for not adding more diversity. White American’s only make up 20% of the population, yet we are 80% of protagonist in all American media. I have never played a game with a set protagonist that was black. Most of the movies and TV shows I watch have white main characters, and most of those that don’t are based around the idea that not being white sucks. It’s clear to any one paying attention that American media has a race issue. But is it fair to apply these standards to products made in foreign countries by foreign creators that accurately reflect foreign ethic demographics? I don’t have a real answer for this, and I don’t trust anyone who tries to say the do and that’s it’s a simple answer.
But for all of this, here’s a question I think is more important: should the consumer even care? The fact is, if you are the member of an underrepresented group and a game comes out that doesn’t represent you, it’s country of origin doesn’t stop you from being underrepresented.
In the end, I agree that us Americans can be a bit arrogant and can jump the gun in judging non-american’s by our own standards, but I also can’t blame those who are growing tired of asking “why don’t I exist in you’re fantasies, why can’t I also be a hero?”

Polish Ethnic Demographics from  wikipedia.

Polish Ethnic Demographics from wikipedia.

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