It’s February, and you know what that means. Happy Black History Month! At The Honey POP Gaming, we have decided to run down our top five best Black video game characters to celebrate the accomplishments this community has contributed to every facet of the medium and beyond. The standards for the list are simple. Firstly, the characters in question will have had to provide a culturally significant performance in their respective games. We will also give the game the character first appeared in and the year of its release. Above all, we aim to uplift these Black characters because representation matters, after all.
First Appearance: Final Fantasy 7 (1997)
Debuting in the original Final Fantasy 7, Barrett is the hot-headed leader of AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist organization. Working as a foil to the corrupt Shinra, a company abusing “Mako” as a source of power, which directly kills the planet, Barrett and his ragtag allies look to bring this evil down to save the environment. Barrett represents a dismissal of the “Black father” stereotype, making him a shoo-in for a spot as one of the best Black video game characters ever. His powerful bond with his daughter is a real tear-jerker. Lastly, he’s also quite the fighter as his gun arm allows for him to be effective from long range. We recommend you keep him (and Yuffie) on your team in both the OG FF7 and Remake.
Check out Final Fantasy 7: Remake here.
First Appearance: Mortal Kombat X (2015)
Muscling through her first bout in Mortal Kombat X, NRS brought us the Special Forces agent Jax Briggs’ daughter. Her name? Jacqui Briggs. Jax wanted a different life for his daughter, a life that didn’t include the horrors of mortal combat. Jacqui defied her father and joined the military group against his wishes. A badass in her own right, Jacqui finds herself on this list for being the very first Black woman in the Mortal Kombat franchise, genuinely deserving of being one of the best Black video game characters of all time. Fun fact: Jacqui was considered to be one of the best characters in MK11 at one point!
Check out Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate here.
First Appearance: Tekken 3 (1997)
C’mon, you knew the homie Eddy was coming! How could one make the best Black video game characters list without mentioning the Gawd? With a unique fighting style and equally flashy attire, Eddy quickly became a Tekken staple and changed the game forever. Gordo is an afro-Brazillian fighter with a focus on the capoeira style. Since his debut, his story has centered around besting Kazuya in battle as he progresses to avenge his slain parents.
Furthermore, with Tekken 5, Eddy has teamed up with his Master’s granddaughter, Christie Monteiro, searching for a remedy for his unknown ailment. Lastly, the dude is just freaking sick! Just look at the guy. How many fighting characters you know can drip like this?
Check out Tekken 7 here.
First Appearance: Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall DLC (2013)
Billie Lurk is the literal embodiment of “representation matters.” Firstly, she’s Black. Secondly, she’s bisexual. Thirdly, she’s disabled. Fourthly, she’s middle-aged (by the time she’s playable). Lastly, Billie is a mighty and resourceful woman. All the makings to be considered one of the best Black video game characters ever. She’s always been in the core portion of the franchise, serving as Daud’s apprentice, an ally to Emily as Lurk controls the Dreadful Whale, and even becoming the star of Death of the Outsider and her own game. Reticent and blunt, Billie defies the stereotypes of all the various communities that she identifies with, and we love that for her.
Check out Dishonored: The Complete Collection here.
First Appearance: Apex Legends (2019)
With the popularity of the FPS and BR genres at an all-time high, how could we ignore the sheer impact Apex Legends has in the representation department? Apex Legends included two Black women in the core roster of the game for free. When most BR/FPS characters were straight, white men, this was a breath of fresh air. One of those two Black women was the medic, Lifeline. Lifeline is the de facto support character utilizing abilities that heal and revive her teammates. Her inclusion in Apex Legends has sparked countless amounts of cosplays from every corner of the gaming community, giving Black girls (and boys) someone they can identify within their favorite BR game. Lifeline is more than deserving of being one of the best Black video game characters ever!
Check out Apex Legends here.
So who is your favorite black video game character? Or maybe you have your own top five? Feel free to speak your mind by commenting below or hitting us with a tweet @TheHoneyPOP. And please, please, please remember that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Be open to new stories, cultures, and perspectives that are wholly different than your own. That is one of the many ways you can become an ally. Let’s discuss Black culture every month, not just in February.
Happy Black History Month! Until next time.
Featured Image Source: Emily Defoor/ The Honey POP