Pardon my getting a bit more serious than usual on the blog today. But it's my blog to write what I like. If you just want stats for giant platypi or ruminations on how to best implement ninja in your games, come back tomorrow. I'll likely be back to that sort of thing.
Satyre posted about exclusion and inclusion of non-whites on his blog. He makes some really good points. Game settings (and as Trey points out in the comments, the source fiction) tends to focus on European styled fantasy and everyone's white these days sci fi. Cross-cultural or multicolored protagonists, and societies in RPGs would seem to be the smart business move. Try to tap into more audiences to earn more revenue.
5stonegames continues the conversation. He points out, rightly I believe, that tabletop gaming tends to be an activity enjoyed primarily by middle-class white folks (at least in the U.S.). People in gaming aren't exclusive toward others, but blacks, Hispanics, Middle-Easterners, etc. just don't tend to be drawn to the hobby in numbers.
My take on all this? I think it would be great if gaming crossed cultural boundaries and resulted in both an increase in revenue for the game companies and a larger player pool for us gamers. But really, I don't know any gamers personally who exclude others. Game companies and fiction writers could do a better job trying to diversify the settings and characters. But I wonder how effective that would be in the end.
Sure, it would have SOME effect. In the 90's, lots of game companies started using 'she' instead of 'he' as the generic neuter pronoun, and there was some increase in female gamers because of that, according to the anecdotal evidence I've read (don't quote me on that, in other words). But gaming is still not the sort of thing women take to as easily as men for some reason.
Likewise, an increase in non-white (or East Asian) protagonists in fantasy and sci fi fiction might make a difference, but because it's already a genre few non-whites are reading already.
I think some things just don't cross cultural lines easily. And there's nothing wrong with that. You don't see many Hispanics at a bluegrass concert. There aren't many non-South Asians into Bollywood films. Sure, there are exceptions. There always are. But it's not something inherently wrong with the hobby nor the fan-base if this is so.
White males tend to dig on fantasy/sci fi, and tabletop games. Non-whites and females to a lesser extent. It might be nice if it were otherwise, but since it's more a case of the non-whites and females being less interested rather than the white males being exclusive, at least in the case of gaming groups, it's not really something we can change easily. And maybe it doesn't really need to change. I don't think bluegrass singers are worried that their audience is mostly white.
Yes, I'm playing Devil's Advocate a bit here. I'd love to see game companies making bigger profits. I'd love to have an easier time forming a game group. If gaming, and fantasy/SF appealed to more people, that would be great. But maybe we just need to face the fact that it could be a cultural thing that appeals to us but not others, and isn't likely to change much in the future.