Top 10 Black Protagonists in Video Games

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Top 10 Black Protagonists in Video Games

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
These Black protagonists brought new levels of inclusivity and new types of stories to their vide games. For this list, we're taking a look at black protagonists in video games that have long left an impact on us. We're only including those who are the main character in their respective games. Our countdown includes Colt Vahn from "Deathloop" (2021), Carl "CJ" Johnson from "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" (2004), Marcus Holloway from "Watch Dogs 2" (2016), Aveline de Grandpre from "Assassin's Creed III: Liberation" (2012), and more!
Transcript
Script written by Ty Richardson

These Black protagonists brought new levels of inclusivity and new types of stories to their vide games. For this list, we’re taking a look at black protagonists in video games that have long left an impact on us. We're only including those who are the main character in their respective games. Our countdown includes Colt Vahn from "Deathloop" (2021), Carl "CJ" Johnson from "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" (2004), Marcus Holloway from "Watch Dogs 2" (2016), Aveline de Grandpre from "Assassin's Creed III: Liberation" (2012), and more! Did any of these characters make an impact on you? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Lincoln Clay

“Mafia III” (2016)

We get that “Mafia III” may not be everyone’s cup of tea with its tedious checklist of open world tasks. However, the character of Lincoln Clay is arguably the most interesting of the “Mafia” protagonists. The guy is a real family man, willing to do anything for his relatives regardless of the fact that he’s not related by blood. Of course, Lincoln Clay gave us a window into the life of a black person in the late 1960’s, touching upon not just racism, but the way the Black Mafia worked with other criminal families during this time.

#9: Aveline de Grandpré

“Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation” (2012)

Sure, we all fawn over Ezio Auditore da Firenze, but one Assassin that always seems to be forgotten about is Aveline de Grandpré. The first female protagonist to be playable in an “Assassin’s Creed” game, Aveline proves to be just as badass as the rest of Assassins. While searching for her mother, she manages to free the people of New Orleans and drive the Templars out of Louisiana with little to no help. That said, she’s well deserving of the same recognition as our beloved Ezio.

#8: Roland

“Borderlands” series (2009-)

Among the psycho bandits and bizarre planets, you gotta wonder how Roland manages to be the sole straight man of the bunch. (Really, how does he maintain such a stoic look and not crack a smile at the ridiculousness around him?) Despite coming off cold at times, Roland is a soldier we can all strive to be; he’s noble, he’s courageous, and he manages to keep a cool head even when the times get tough. Plus, it’s sweet how he tries to protect Lilith. Their flirting can get a little embarrassing, but…it can be sweet. Sometimes.

#7: Colt Vahn

“Deathloop” (2021)

Speaking of headstrong soldiers, running around and taking out Visionaries as Colt was a major highlight of “Deathloop”. Admittedly, there are times where it feels like he takes a little too long to connect the dots, but we’ll cut him some slack - getting old sucks. Aside from that, his dialogue with some of the characters is incredibly funny, especially when he’s bickering with Julianna. Anytime he thinks up a good comeback, she manages to one-up him in a more humiliating way. It’s alright, Colt - we’ll get back at her and break the loop…eventually.

#6: Marcus Holloway

“Watch_Dogs 2” (2016)

Need something hacked? Marcus Holloway is your man. A tech geek to end all tech geeks, Marcus can turn the most miniscule machine into your worst nightmare. Spying through phones, controlling your own drones from a comfortable distance - the world is practically at Marcus and his cohorts’ fingertips. That’s a terrifying amount of power, and the fact that he manages to bring down a corrupt corporation like Blume gains him extra points. Even without electronics, Marcus holds quite a bit of athletic prowess judging by his parkour skills. Why “Watch Dogs” continued without Marcus is a mystery to us.

#5: Lola

“Afterparty” (2019)

The protagonists on our list have been known for bringing down corrupt leaders and organizations. So, what’s a dead girl like Lola doing to earn such a high spot? Well, the woman has a bit of sass that hits. The way she banters with her friend Milo and meets everyone with sarcasm is hilarious to watch. Oh, and then there’s the whole thing about challenging Satan to a drinking contest. You know, something that any ordinary person who wouldn’t dare to do. The girl’s got spunk! We like spunk. Therefore, we protect Lola at all costs!

#4: Alyx Vance

“Half-Life: Alyx” (2021)

When talking about the characters of “Half-Life”, all eyes go immediately towards Gordon Freeman, but what about dear Alyx Vance? She may have been more of a side character in the main games, but she managed to get the spotlight in the VR game, “Half-Life: Alyx”. Role status aside, Alyx is very much someone who keeps her allies close and will go out of her way to save anyone from the Combine. Even when she’s clearly terrified of the situation, Alyx will keep a lid on it and focus on ways to resolve the issue. That takes a lot of willpower and concentration!

#3: Miles Morales

“Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales” (2020)

Normally, we try not to include comic book characters on lists like this one. However, we feel it’s important to include young Miles Morales on here. Compared to other Spider-Men like Peter Parker, Miles Morales is still fairly new, having debuted in 2011. Before the spin-off to Insomniac’s 2018 “Spider-Man”, Miles had only been a side character and/or unlockable. Taking the spotlight for the first time in a video game, Miles had an interesting story that touches upon imposter syndrome. On top of that, he wielded an interesting assortment of “Venom powers” that made us fight and traverse in new and fun ways!

#2: Carl “CJ” Johnson

“Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” (2004)

Surprisingly, CJ was not welcomed into games as quickly as we remember today. Media outlets were quick to question whether Rockstar was in the right to make a black character the lead role in a game about crime and violence. What resulted was a character that wasn’t exactly all about the life of violence, drugs, and crime. CJ was a man who had come home to mourn his mother and found his hometown in shambles, riddled with drugs and corrupt authorities. There was more to the picture here, and CJ’s development would make him one of the best main characters in gaming history. And a shoutout to the equally awesome Franklin Clinton! (Honestly, better than Michael or Travis could ever be.)

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a couple of Honorable Mentions…

Mr. Grimm, “Twisted Metal” (2012)

This Badass Biker Leader Puts Brotherhood First

Emmett Graves, “Starhawk” (2012)

Dude Can Drop a Freakin’ Bunker On Your Head!

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1: Lee Everett & Clementine

Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” series (2012-19)

The story of Lee and Clementine is still one that hits us right in the feels no matter how many times we play through it. In the first season, we saw the struggle of protecting a kid and helping them understand the sudden turn into the zombie apocalypse. From there, the tale focused solely on Clementine as she grows up in this visceral world, having no real grasp on what society was like before. The two brought forth several interesting and emotional moments that made Telltale’s “The Walking Dead” one of gaming’s most unique stories in history.
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