To close out Black History Month and open our series on Women’s History Month, USC Games interviewed undergraduate student Amari McClendon (she/her). Below, McClendon shares her thoughts on Black storytelling in the games industry.
Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: Who are you, and what are you passionate about in games?
A: I’m a freshman at IMGD, and I do really like the way that games are very uniquely able to capture every minute nuances of storytelling. To be more specific, I like the unique way that you can explore a story by being able to interact with the world that you’re in. I find that very fascinating.
Q: And either personally or professionally, what does Black History Month mean to you?
A: I think Black History Month provides a good opportunity to look back at certain corners of history and learn more about a lot of Black people who haven’t had their accomplishments celebrated as much—or to learn more about certain figures who do get celebrated.
Q: How do you think your identity as someone who is Black intersects with your other identities, such as a game developer or a girl in games?
A: As a Black person, I really want to see more people who look like me in the space and more games that focus on the Black experience outside of the stereotypical way—where they’re always struggling because they’re Black, they’re in the hood, or they’re underfunded. We’ve seen that story a whole lot and I think it’s time for us to start exploring something new and different.
Q: What kind of representation do you want to see in the future of the games industry?
A: I’d definitely like to see more Black-owned indie companies. To compare it to the comics space, there’s a comic company called Black Sands Entertainment that makes a whole lot of stories that take from African culture and heavily feature a lot of Black people. I’d love to see a lot of indie companies like that in the games space.
Q: Finally, who is one Black hero—either from a game or real life—who inspires you?
A: That is a good question. It might just be recency bias, but over winter break I played Miles Morales—and I really liked the way they handled his story in that it wasn’t just about him being Black. It was about him trying to find his own unique identity as Spider-Man, and his unique position as a Black person helps inform his identity as a hero and how he’s very similar to but subtly different from Peter Parker.