In recent years, we have seen a growing number of Filipino characters in video games. Some are accurate representations of our culture, while others are just slivers of our identity. Nonetheless, more and more Filipino or Filipino-inspired characters are entering the mainstream, which begs the question: “Are they just a fad, or are they here to stay?”
Back in 2002, a female character named Talim appeared in Soul Calibur II. She is widely regarded as the first Filipino character in the history of video games. In the game, she used a variation of “Eskrima,” or Arnis, a Filipino martial art and national sport.
Since then, Filipino representation in games has only grown in numbers. Tekken, a popular fighting game in the Philippines, also had a Filipino character named after the national hero: Josie Rizal. She was launched along with Tekken 7 in 2015.
Neon from Valorant is the newest Filipino character in the gaming world.
She’s voiced by Filipina voice actress Vanille Velasquez and has been largely popular due to her being a more accurate depiction of a typical Filipino compared to most of her predecessors.
The Philippines boasts about 52.5 million gamers in the nation, signifying that we have a massive gaming community. So, it’s really not surprising for Filipino characters to become more and more popular, as gaming companies feel the need to appease the Filipino gaming community’s need for more Filipino characters.
Now, across pop culture, Filipino people, in general, are moving away from the stigma of being that brown Asian side character and are now starting to take center stage. We, as a people and as a culture, are becoming more and more internationally recognized as more and more pop culture is being taken over by Filipinos in their respective industries.
Due to a larger market for culturally diverse characters, it’s likely that we’re not going to see this growth of Asian and, more specifically, Filipino pop culture go away.
The growing international acceptance and awareness of Filipino culture and traditions is helped a lot by pop culture, especially video games, portraying Filipinos in a positive light. Entering the mainstream media is a step up from just being known for beaches and food.
Don’t get me wrong though, it’s nice that we’re known for beautiful beaches and great food, but it’s also really cool that we, as a people, are becoming more and more well known throughout the globe.
CALVIN CASTILLO, our newest columnist in Palawan News, is a 16-year-old PSU Laboratory Junior High School 10th grade student, whose favorite pastimes are cycling, watching TV shows, movies, comic books, and playing online games.