Fixing the Past Memory Tourism, Multiraciality, and White Innocence in Video Games

Phillips, Amanda
ROMchip: A Journal of Game Histories

In this article, I argue that the multiracial avatars in memory manipulation games turn the multiracial body into a conduit that offers white players an easy way out of substantive reconciliation by fixing past instances of racial injustice via the mechanic of memory tourism. Multiraciality is often metaphorically positioned close to scenes of racial violence across different forms of media, but video games fix and distribute memories onto playable spaces and objects in such a way that multiracial avatars are often literally placed within scenes of past racial trauma to explore and amend them. Here, fixing the past operates not only as presumed racial reconciliation but also as solidification, closing off the past from further discussion. This process mirrors contemporary approaches to race in popular media, specifically within gaming culture, in which the trouble of difference is so often blamed on an inability to leave the past behind. Through close readings of Assassin’s Creed, Portal II, and Remember Me, I explore how multiracial memory manipulation in video games exposes contemporary anxieties about racial difference like colonial erasure, scientific experimentation, and anti-Blackness, but ultimately returns to a status quo facilitated by the multiracial body’s historical function as a figure for reconciliation.