The next step is a South Asian character without an accent. That would be ground-breaking.
When it comes to South Asian characters in video games who aren’t cannon fodder it is an extremely short list.
So short in fact that a top 5 list was all DESIblitz could muster.
South Asian game characters are a particular absentee in terms of being represented in video games, especially westernised Asians.
DESIblitz presents some of the most commonly known South Asian characters in video games.
Dhalsim ~ Street Fighter
Street Fighter’s memorable Dhalsim is everyone’s favourite brown fire-breathing, levitating, teleporting Stretch Armstrong.
The name Dhalsim was formed from a menu of an Indian restaurant in Osaka near Capcom’s company headquarters. Dhal is lentils and Shim is Hyacinth beans.
The developer took some stereotypical Indian tropes and made a very compelling backstory out of them.
The character first appeared canonically in Street Fighter 2.
A husband, father, yogi and devout pacifist; Dhalsim had no intention of participating in the World Warrior tournament as it would go against his beliefs.
However, his poverty stricken village was in dire straits. Many were starving and the skulls around his neck are those of the children who died of starvation and serve as a reminder to why he is fighting.
He retired from fighting after the second World Warrior tournament in Street Fighter 2 but returned in Street Fighter IV to aid his village once more.
At Paris Games Week, Dhalsim was revealed as a character in the latest Street Fighter 5.
Great Tiger ~ Punch-Out!!
The Great Tiger, aka The Champion of India, first graced our presence in the 1985 game Super Punch-Out!! and then again in 1987 in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!
In the latter the athlete, hailing from Mumbai, was the #1 ranked competitors in the Major Circuit.
His uppercuts have frustrated players for decades resulting in numerous online threads on just how to defeat him.
And in the relatively recent Wii U release of Punch Out the Great Tiger’s turban flashes different colours depending on what move he’s about to make.
Reggie ~ The Walking Dead: The Game Season 2
Comedian and X-Files fanatic Kumail Nanjiani voiced Reggie in Telltale’s second season of episodic zombie goodness.
Reggie was the balding, one-armed and much needed comedic relief of the dark and dreary world of the Walking Dead.
And for someone who’d lost a limb and was basically living life as a prisoner, he was a surprisingly optimistic; a very rare personality trait in this series.
Even though, SPOILER ALERT, his performance is a short lived one, the brief time we spent with the character was a nice injection of positivity.
This meant it only hurt more when it came to the characters grizzly end; classic Walking Dead.
Lakshmi Bai and Devi Nayar ~ The Order 1886
Lakshmi and Devi, mother and daughter, were leaders of a rebellion and play a vital role in the plot progression of The Order 1886.
They revealed a conspiracy, helped hunt vampires and aid in the infiltration of the United India Company headquarters in Mayfair exposing Jack the Ripper in the process.
It was certainly unexpected to see two strong female characters of Indian descent in a video game; they even spoke Hindi in some cut scenes.
The South Asian pair were assertive, competent and just as much an equal as the game’s protagonist, Sir Galahad in both intelligence and physicality.
Henry Green (Jayadeep Mir) ~ Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Green, also known under the alias of ‘the Ghost,’ was the leader of the Brotherhood of Assassins in London and served as the Frye twins’ guide in Syndicate.
His extensive knowledge of the inner workings of London society and network of connections throughout the city were very handy.
However, Green was more than just a provider of missions as he played a significant role in the game’s narrative and he most notably saved the Fryes from the game’s antagonist, Crawford Starrick, in the final chapter.
Green removed Starrick of the Shrouds of Eden which were cloths that provided the villain with regenerative healing abilities allowing the twins to end him.
Evie Frye and Henry Green became quite enamoured with each other and began a relationship after the death of Starrick.
And if you collect all of the pressed flowers around the map, a cut scene is unlocked that depicts Henry proposing to Evie and she said yes.
This is a rare example of an Indian gaming character being involved in an interracial relationship, which is refreshing to see.
Green’s backstory is expanded on in the novel Assassin’s Creed: Underworld and it is utterly fascinating. It elaborates on his relationship with his father, his training as an assassin and just how he ended up in Victorian England.
South Asians are a demographic that is woefully underrepresented in video games so this list was quite a difficult one to compile.
But the last two characters on the list are from very recent productions, which gives some hope for the future that South Asians will become more represented in video games.
The next step is a South Asian video game character without an accent; that would be ground-breaking.