A graduate from the University of British Columbia has published his honours thesis on racism in games, claiming that negative representations of ethnic minorities are far too widespread.
23 year-old Robert Parungao spent around 100 hours playing Kung Fu, Warcraft 3, Shadow Warrior and Grand Theft Auto 3, analysing the storylines and characters in the games for around eight months as part of his Sociology degree.
"Parents, government and media watchdog groups have protested the widespread violence and sexism in videogames, but the blatant racism has gone largely unnoticed," Parungao said.
"Film and television come under greater critical scrutiny so civil rights and minority groups can voice their concerns and effect some change. But videogames have generally been seen as kids’ toys. There aren't the same mechanisms or critical forums to encourage game designers to evolve."
Parungao criticised GTA for featuring "non-white characters who are mainly triad members, Yakuza gangsters, latino gangs or black hoods.
"These stock characters are seen in a lot of games and function as narrative obstacles to be overcome, mastered or ultimately blown to smithereens by the white hero."
Parungao went on to claim that game developers "like to use a mix and match grab bag of Asian stereotypes that are often nonsensical", such as the villain in Shadow Warrior, who "goes by a Chinese name, Lo Wang.
"But when he fires his rocket launcher at his enemies, he screams: 'Just like Hiroshima.'"
Parungao concluded: "I hope to continue looking into ways to improve videogames because they’re fun and I’d like to see them turn into positive media instead of negative ones."