Arts & Entertainment

Video games feature few minority characters, study shows

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USC is out with a new study that shows video games feature few minority characters. And the few that are included are often racial stereotypes. KPCC's Patricia Nazario explains the findings.

Patricia Nazario: Researchers at the USC Annenberg School for Communication looked at sales figures from 2006 and evaluated the top 150 games.

Dmitri Wlliams: For all nine major platforms that are out there - handhelds, PCs and console systems.

Nazario: Professor Dmitri Williams led the research project. He says he produced the Video Game Minority Report because he wanted establish baseline for future studies of what video games do.

Williams: It's hard to say the effect of television is blank when you don't really know what's in television and there's no measurement. But in TV and movies, we do have a pretty good measurement of what's in the content. In games, we didn't have that same sense.

Nazario: Williams says his team zeroed in on key findings: Fewer than 3 percent of video game characters are recognizably Hispanic. They're all background characters that aren't interactive. Ten percent of playable characters are female, even though women now make up 40 percent of video game players. African-Americans do appear in proportion to their real-world numbers, but they're usually in sports games and often appear as rapper or thug stereotypes.