The Sims 4 modder who makes aesthetic options for black characters, and historical representation in Ghost of Tsushima

I used to love character creators. My first few hours with Mass Effect, Fallout 3, and Dragon’s Dogma were consumed by face lifts and haircuts, pulling on a cheekbone here, rounding out a jawbone there. I wanted my hero to look just right. I wanted him to look like me.

But as the years passed, character creation became less of a springboard and more of a roadblock. I’ve been playing too many games to worry about self-expression with my digital avatars, so more often than not, I select the default hero, or one of the first presets I come across, and continue on my way.

As a white dude with green eyes, brown hair, and stubble, default characters usually look like me anyway — but that’s sort of the whole problem. And it’s one that The Sims 4 modder Ebonix has been working to rectify for five years now. She’s created hundreds of aesthetic options for black characters, ranging from cornrows and dreads to stitch braids and goddess locs. Her breakout creation was a dashiki.

“I am self-taught, so if I can do this, I don’t see why any gaming company cannot do this,” Ebonix told us on today’s episode of Speedrun. “Or they cannot hire someone to do what I’m doing, to make people feel represented in their games.”

Earlier this week, we tackled the theme of “character creation” from another angle. Our West Coast correspondent Mari Takahashi sat down with Sucker Punch co-founder Brian Fleming to talk about the historical authenticity—or lack thereof—in Ghost of Tsushima, and how the open-world epic’s characters reflect that conflict. Mari brought her own knowledge of Japanese culture and customs to bear, picking up on details that I, of course, failed to notice throughout 45 hours in the game.

Lastly, we spoke to Lance Reddick — yes, that Lance Reddick — about his work in Destiny and Destiny 2, and how he became the series’ standout voice actor after seven years of Bungie’s loot shooter. Keeping in step with the characters he plays in film and TV, Reddick has evolved Commander Zavala into Destiny’s veritable Space Dad. He’s the staunch leader you don’t want to disappoint. As of this year, he is also the character Reddick has played longer than any other, inching out The Wire’s Cedric Daniels for the top spot. Our chat covered everything from everyday Zavala wisdom to the recent departure of white voice actors from black character roles.

Today marks the end of Speedrun’s third week focused on a central theme, and we’re already working on three more. We’ll be back on Monday to kick off our week about “games for good,” and I’ll be back here on Friday to say hi. Talk to you then.

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