Saint’s Row Character Creation by Games Journalist Jeffrey Rousseau

Saint’s Row Character Creation includes Curly Kinky Natural Hair

Let’s clarify this Saint’s Row reboot is a toned-down version of the original game. It’s the same mission, same weapons, and same mechanics. Many people will revisit this game for the graphics, nostalgia of the shenanigans, and character customization tool.

Now, this is why I’m here. I’ve always heard about Saint’s Row and how people described it being a version of Grand Theft Auto. Surprisingly to everyone else, I’m not into GTA so I’m thinking, why would I be into Saint’s Row? An excellent question to ask, until the reveal of the character customization — that thing has more range than Beyonce!

Over the years, especially in Cyberpunk 2077, we see the character creation tool getting more complex and more inclusive. This means more skin tones, more facial features, body structures, and even the inclusion of prosthetic limbs. It’s nice and a bit eerie to characters in video games who look like real people. Like oh crap, that zombie looks just like my uncle. I don’t want to bash my uncle’s head in or maybe you do. I don’t know your family life.

The more graphics are mimicking real life the more we’ll see sponsorships between high fashion brands — like Balenciaga in Fornite and Gucci in Roblox. Or like seeing Michael Jackson I mean Muzan Kibutsuji in Skyrim, Baldur’s Gate 3, or Monster Hunter. There is never any shortage of people to model characters after, Shaggy, Waluigi, Dumbledore, or Sephiroth. As the quality of visuals in video games rises I notice we’re still fighting this uphill battle with curly kinky hair and darker skin tones.

Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis is a great example of character customization that has 50 shades of White and about six shades of Black.

This is what my character looks like after picking a darker shade.

Junae’s Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis Character

I usually default to wearing a helmet in games when I can’t find a hairstyle that I like. Which is why I was so excited about playing Saint’s Row for the first time. The draw for me and every other curly-headed nerd is the hairstyles.

The details of the braids! Do you know how hard it is to do stitch braids in real life? It takes a long time!

Carl from The Simpsons doing a chef’s kiss

I can literally smell the fresh braiding hair being dipped into hot water to hold the ends, and the mousse spread atop the braids for the extra hold.

Or looking at the puffs and the details of the curls. It’s like we’re living in the future. I have always said, if they can animate water or straight hair under water, they can animate some curls! And look, Saint’s Row did it.

The custom character appreciation goes beyond hair, look at the variety and diversity in the skin tones. Nothing looks, ashy, greasy, or green. The browns are browns with various undertones that really show the likeness of BIPOC gamers.

This is so important when it comes to getting more people to play or indulge in a game, inclusion. Seeing yourself being a delinquent in a game throwing bombs, running over people, and being a high crime functioning boss is the ultimate version of inclusion.

I was really excited to highlight this feature because while there are many reviews out there none of them are talking about the nuance of detailing Black hairstyles — that’s a huge deal. The development team took the time to research Black hairstyles, recreate them, and make them look authentic. Many other games have recreated Black curly hairstyles. Showing the various versions of an afro or half up and half down ‘do. Rarely do they show 4b/c curls they usually show a variety of 3a-4a curls. For example, a twist out or Bantu knot hairdo or some wand curls.

Chart by BlackHairInformation.com

My goal for every article is to speak to the developers when they do something as incredulous and capture the essence of Black hair. I got very close to being able to talk to someone on the team. The resistance I was met with was, my publication isn’t big enough to be able to speak to a dev or an artist. This is unfortunate because this isn’t something an IGN, Polygon, or Kotaku would hone in on because they’re not great at speaking to BIPOC. They miss the mark and are under fire every now and then. I would gladly publish topics that center on BIPOC gamers on bigger platforms but they’re just not that interested. Honestly, for Deep Silver Volition to publish this game with the idea of inclusivity but then shut down a Black journalist who is trying to bring more attention to a place in the industry where we were included is disappointing.

You can’t win them all, I think including Black hair is a great step in the right direction and I’ll take it.

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Junae Benne

Junae Benne

Junae Benne, first of her name, player of video games, voice of justice and equality, writer of literature & memes.