Choosing your ethnicity

In designing my game, I aim to be as inclusive as humanly possible (as most of us do). But there seems to be a fine line between inclusive and simply going overboard.

My game is set in Britain and we have people here of every possible background. Whilst the player’s nationality will be forced British, ethnicity, of course, should be customisable.

This can be a sensitive subject, and I’d like as many opinions on the matter as I can get.

This is what I have so far:

  • White
  • Black
  • Mixed-race
  • Hispanic
  • East Asian (China/Korea etc.)
  • West Asian (Iran/Israel etc.)
  • South Asian (India/Pakistan etc.)
  • Indigenous American
  • Indigenous Australian

In terms of my game, ethnicity will only have an effect on flavour text. It does not affect stats or story in any way.

Here are my questions for you:

  1. Do you find any of the above options offensive? If so, why?
  2. Do you feel that you would be able to choose an option which accurately reflects your ethnicity from the above? If not, how would you describe your ethnicity?
  3. Do you think there should be more or fewer options?
  4. Would it be considered ‘overboard’ to add an *input_text to fully customise this option?
  5. Do you think there should be an option to allow players to bi-pass this question? If so, how would you do it?
  6. Is there a better way to phrase the options listed above? E.g. ‘Caucasian’ not ‘White’, or ‘Native American’ not ‘Indigenous American’. Is this a personal preference or is it offensive?

Once again, all input is greatly appreciated. Let us all be respectful of each other’s opinions.

Thanks in advance.


Generally the first question when this comes up:
If it has no impact at all/just flavortext, why have it in?
Sure, to some it is important, but judging by similar questions (cant find the thread), people are also a bit alienated if it then has no impact at all.
And writing the impact can easily… screw things up.


With Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven @JimD has been as consciously trying to be as inclusive as he could but even with help, doing too much, still ends up being too much.

What you have listed is quite a lot and, speaking from my experience, you will be spending a lot of time making sure that all “flavors” in the text is addressed and especially when there are time-crunches you might find yourself not addressing everything as much as you wish.

I would rethink what you want to accomplish with depth of flavoring text because you could be spending your writing and development time focused on more productive and important features and mechanics.


Race is an artificial and arbitrary concept. You can never truly be inclusive of every single race.

You group all Europeans and modern North Americans as white and yet I’d argue that the difference between French and Russians are as prominent as that between Germans and Turks.

You group all Africans as black but I’d challenge you to find any Moroccans who would accept being under the same umbrella terms with Somalians or Nigerians.

All I’m saying is that the very act of trying to classify people by race instead of nationalities or allegiances is counter-productive


Thanks for your response @MeltingPenguins. With that being said, do you find setting the player’s appearance (in any way) is kind of pointless?

Thanks for your response @Eiwynn. I love Zombie Exodus and Safe Haven. I recently completed the second instalment!

For me, I am just starting out learning to use CS. So it is helpful to hear from someone with experience what is likely to be too much work without much long-term benefit.

1 Like

Interesting, I’m also making a game that has a lot of it in the UK, and just like you, I added ethnicity options too. I’d be interesting in seeing how this goes from here as I could add the suggestions to my game as well.

One difference I have is that at some points I do pretend to have the MC ethnicity be referenced (sometimes even negatively), so I’d say it’s an option I’d like the player to be satisfied with.

In my game I also added mixed race as an option but it works a little differently from here; the player can select one race, then the game asks if he is of mixed race, and he can pick the second one.

As posted above, some said that if it doesn’t make all that difference maybe it shouldn’t be included, but I differ; for some people it is important to be able to select it so that they can really cement their character in their imagination of the game, as they could not imagine such an aspect if it were not defined in the game.

A fair point being brought up here; if you don’t mind spending more time to do it, I don’t see a problem in it. If you are going for a faster release for your game I’d agree with @Eiwynn.

However, using multireplace function you can easily make different reactions of an NPC based on all of the listed ethnicities, if you want to.

Yeah I also agree here, and I have a feeling my game has that problem too. However people can provide feedback and improve it so that it hopefully may cover these vast possibilities.

1- Nope.
2- Yes.
3- I think they are all okay.
4- I don’t think it’s necessary, I think these options cover everything?
5- For char creation mechanics that aren’t really that important, you could leave an option to be skippable. In my game for example I made it so that at one point the player can upload his profile picture for a registration; he can skip or do it (he can then select eye color, hairstyle and hair color).
6- Yes for the Indigenous American I’d suggest being more clear that the option refers to both North American Natives and Central/South America Natives (like Mayas, Incas etc).


@kyros thank you for your take on the issue. Whilst I appreciate that nobody likes to be put into a box, what I was really getting at was ‘skin colour’ not ‘nationality’, as I mentioned that will be forced British. However, that being said, I should probably re-think my use of the word ‘ethnicity’.

Letting people just choose the skin color should be fine since the character will be British regardless.


@GoldenSilver thank you for your input. It sounds like you have found a way to make the ethnicity of your MC matter to the story, without making anything ‘unfair’. GG.

I like your idea regarding that additional ‘mixed-race’ options. If I decide to continue with ethnicity, I think I’ll definitely use that as well.

For me, as a personal preference, I enjoy cementing characteristics and hovering over the stats screen whilst playing CoGs. Perhaps it is an aspect of my Asperger’s! Uploading a picture sounds pretty cool too :smiley:

I look forward to hearing more about your story in the future!

I’m by no means the best person qualified to comment on this, but I’ll just mention a couple things I noticed that occur to me :thinking:

One thing, I’d wonder if “Latino” might fit better than “Hispanic” (or perhaps “Hispanic and/or Latino”) since that way you’d include Brazil :thinking:

The biggest area missing I believe is “Pacific Islander.”

There will always be some small groups left out, or which could be argued… like whether the Ainu are included as “East Asian” or whether the Khoisan are considered “Black,” and I’ve known a Sami woman who did not identify as “White”; just as Sami :thinking:
So it might be a good idea to include “Other” as a category?

Alternatively, just letting the reader choose some physical details like complexion, hair color, hair texture, etc, could get you some material for flavor text without having to ascribe a race to it.

An alternative to skip it and just not get the flavor text might not be a bad idea, either. Many readers love lots of customization (I do), but many do not.


Ah, I didn’t have the choice yet. I do plan on making the MC race be referenced in some moments, but there weren’t many moments in my game yet where the ethnicity was relevant.

1 Like

In case this helps:

1 Like

Well, I’m writing a fantasy story in a fictional place, so I don’t need to worry about the burden to write all real-world ethnicity :stuck_out_tongue:

So, how do I work it in my story is by letting their player set up their physical appearance: skin, hair, body, all that jazz. This way, I can bring the topic of ethnicity from our real-world into my fictional world without having to list all of the possible real-world ethnicities; people can expect what kind of treatment should they pick an overweight body-type, or black skin, or even being bald.

Just two pieces of a cent from me.


@TSSL thank you for commenting. Everyone has an ethnicity, so all are welcome to add their opinion :slight_smile:

I found a lot of value in what you said, such as the difference between ‘Latino’ and ‘Hispanic’. For anyone else interested, I found more info on Wikipedia: Hispanic–Latino naming dispute

Also ‘Pacific Islander’ and ‘Other’ would be good additions if I choose to continue down the ‘ethnicity’ route - thank you. I wonder if a poll could be in order to ascertain whether people would prefer the option to select their ethnicity, or they would rather input physical characteristics as you suggested.

Interesting link @Carlos.R, I’ll be sure to keep it bookmarked!

@Szaal I think physical appearance, like you said, may be the way to go.

1 Like

Nope, but I’m not the best judge as I don’t really pay attention to that.

Mixed race, black and white, mostly black and Euroasian (Russian/Italian(mostly Russian)) white. Though since it’s a British nationality there’d be a disconnect anyway. Plus the white and black are lumped together more than the Asian ethnicities since your citing certain places for them, minus(?) the native Australian. And even then there’s people who don’t look like their ethnicity (ex. an albino) and such.

Meh, at the end of the day not everyone will be included or like certain terms. Just go with what your comfy with.

It would just be customization for the sake of customization at that point, which I don’t care about in a text game.

I mean the question of race already seems weird, but I’d have another person comment on it and have the skip be that they can’t figure it out.

Meh, refer to my answer for Q.1.


Thanks for commenting @Dark_Stalker. You’re right when you say there will be a disconnect when it comes to people’s true nationality (as non-Brits). Based on that, I may be more inclined to consider a simpler ‘complexion’ option rather than ‘ethnicity’.

The reason I specify counties for Asia is because people from different parts of Asia look completely different in terms of their complexion, i.e. a Chinese person looks very different to an Indian person.

That being said, I felt that ‘White’ did not accurately describe a Native American or Native Australian person. That’s where life starts to get more complicated, eh? nervous sweating


I’m just gonna leave this here for anyone whom may find this useful:


Source: Wikipedia (Human Skin Color)

My head went to Aborigines actually. :laughing:

I know I just meant that that could go for everyone.

1 Like