CJ from Grand Theft Auto, San Andreas is a character which displays the complicated nature of race in gaming. Grand Theft Auto is a game which parodies and simulates gang and criminal activity into a sandbox style video game. CJ, a black man, is the main playable character of his game, allowing players to take control of the black body to steal cars, assault people, and defy the police. While it would be easy to say CJ is a stereotypical and harmfully portrayed character, he comes with layers within gameplay. Not only does he perform the same behavior committed by white characters in the past he does so with a new added depth to his character showing additionally emotion and at times care for his friends throughout the game. Additionally, CJ is a beloved character within the black gaming community and San Andreas is often noted as the best in the series. However, while the game was intended to be parody, what happens when it is taken seriously by its players? CJ while beloved was in turn yet another black violent character, while previous white GTA characters had white valiant and heroic counterparts all throughout gaming, CJ did not. In this way CJ while being loved still worked to cement stereotypes for players and gamers and became a sort of go to for black game character until more nuanced characters like Aveline de Grandpré from Assassin’s Creed made their appearance.
A picture of CJ from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, taken from Google.