Welcome, Poweteers, to a brand new original column where we explore the top (and bottom) 5 items we think are relevant to any of a variety of topics that span the imagination. Sit back, read, and respond!

The late Don Cornelius, the creator and the longtime host of the legendary Soul Train, the show which revolutionized black music television. Can anyone do the same for gaming?

This month is Black history Month, which is the 28 (or 29 if its a leap year) days out of the year to recognize the achievements and contributions Black Americans have made towards science, sociology, history, civics, and entertainment. That last one is especially important, as our people have made many advancements in the field of entertainment, and I’m not just talking about Spike Lee and Tyler Perry either. Since before the days of Motown, we have made unprecedented contributions to movies, books, television, video games, and even pop culture in general. Within this legacy is an untapped well of potential for video game companies looking to create the next big gaming hit. There have been attempts to tap into this well before, although with limited success, as seen in this week’s Maximum Letdown. Don’t get me wrong, I love EA’s Def jam fighters and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, but they don’t even begin to scratch the surface to what decades of movies, music, and literature can contribute to video-gaming, and don’t even mention crappy ‘thugsploitation’ games like 25 to Life and 187 Ride or Die. This list features 5 properties that are either created by Black Americans, or feature Black Americans in leading roles. I even give suggestions to what platforms they can be released on, as well as possible pre-order bonuses/downloadable content. Hey, if they can make games out of Desperate Housewives, then they can make games out of anything.

1. The Wire (Xbox 360, PC, PS3)
Prominent Black Actors involved: Wood Harris, Idris Elba, Michael Williams, Andre Royo, Lance Reddick, Method Man
Concept: This 5-season show, hailed by fans and critics as the best show on television, centered primarily around the Baltimore Police Department’s uphill battle against Baltimore’s drug kingpins. It also took a look at the middle class work force, the failing school system, and a sensationalist media, examing the roles they play in society.
The Game: The show can’t be pigeonholed into one genre, so why should the game be? At its heart, The Wire is X-Com with cops and drug dealers in place of UFOs. As one of the BPD’s several divisions (Western, Eastern, Homicide, Major Crimes, Port), you conduct investigations, set up stake outs, pay informants, and question witnesses in an effort to squeeze funding from the mayor and get on Judge Phelan’s good side curtail the city’s rising crime rate. Once you’ve got enough evidence to bring in the arrest, you hit the streets in a tactical RPG-style mode. Each department has it’s own set of officers, so if you’re in Major Crimes, you can hit the streets as Freamon, Greggs, or McNulty. If you’re tired of being the good guy, you can take over the city as one of it’s drug kingpins. Take control of Avon Barksdale, Stringer Bell, Proposition Joe, Marlo Stansfield, or even Nicki Sobotka as you take over Baltimore corner by corner, making alliances, conducting power plays, and keeping off the police radar. Of course, if neither of those guys strikes your fancy, you can also raise hell as Omar, and rob all of Baltimore’s drug kingpins blind. The action would be conducted on an overhead map, but it would make use of everything from Condemned-style investigations, to tactical RPG for battle. The game’s campaign mode would feature scenarios based on all 5 seasons of the show, so players can either do things as they are done on the show, or make their own path. What if Marlo decided to join Barksdale? What if Stringer Bell survived the end of season 3? What if Omar decided to wreak havoc on the Greek’s men? What if Burrell and Rawls allowed Colvin to continue Hamsterdam after it was discovered? What if it was Burrell and Rawls themselves who started Hamsterdam? The possibilities are endless. A scenario creator would allow players to create all new campaigns as well, and players can play through a tutorial prequel season and unlock a secret sixth season. An online persistent multiplayer metagame could see players logging in around the world to take control of Baltimore. Maybe a facebook game could be used to unlock characters and items for the main game.
Preorder Bonus: Ziggy Sobotka! Participate in heists gone wrong! Put pics of your ding dong on your co-worker’s computer! Train ducks to drink whiskey! Who would want to stop, (or even participate in) the Baltimore drug trade when you can do this instead?

2. Red Tails (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PC, 3DS, PSP Vita)
Prominent Black Actors involved: Cuba Gooding Junior, Tristan Wilds, Terrance Howard, Ne-Yo, Nate Parker
Concept: George Lucas’s (yes, that George Lucas) look at the Tuskegee Airmen, the famous all-black fighter squadron of World War II.
The Game: While I’m tempted to put this as a flight simulator, methinks it would be much better received as an arcade-style flying game. Can you say Crimson Skies meets Desert Strike? The game’s single player campaign would cast players as a new recruit, and take them through some of the Tuskegee Airman’s actual missions. The multiplayer component could feature customizable planes and rank-based rewards. Players can play in either regular death match, or take part in adversarial modes which place players on the opposing sides of the Airman’s missions. A museum mode could contain facts and pictures about the group.
Preorder-Bonus: Since George Lucas was behind the film, why not have a crossover with his big sci-fi franchise, Star Wars? Players who preorder the game get access to the Rebel Alliance’s X-Wing and Y-Wing for multiplayer! Sure it’s cheesy as hell, but who doesn’t want to shoot down Nazi aircraft as Luke Skywalker?

3. The Boondocks(Xbox Live Arcade, WiiWare, PSN, DsiShop, PC)
Prominent Black Actors Involved: Regina King, John Witherspoon, Samuel L Jackson, Charlie Murphy
Concept: Based on the newspaper cartoon strip of the same name, Boondocks depicts the misadventures of brothers Huey and Riley Freeman, along with their grandfather Robert. While the show courted controversy due to its liberal use of the N-word, it gained critical acclaim for its satirical commentary of everything from George Bush to BET to homophobia in hip hop. Even Barack Obama catches a few hot ones during the show’s third season.
The Game: A classic beat-em-up in the style of the Scott Pilgrim game. Take control of Huey, Riley, or Robert Freeman, along with their neighbors Tom, Sarah, and Jasmine DuBios as they tear up Woodcrest Illinois in either local or online co-op for up to six players. The game’s levels will pit players against junkies, rappers, the military, BET network execs, churchgoers, Hurricane Katrina Refugees, police officers, and anyone else. Uncle Ruckus serves as a mid-boss, with each level of the game featuring him in one of his different jobs. As for the bosses? None other than series staples such as Ed Wuncler, Gin Rummy, Stinkmeaner, The Killer Kung-Fu Wolf-Bitch, Jack Flowers, and Oprah to name a few. You can even take control of the bosses in a multiplayer mode reminiscent of classic beat-em-ups of Double Dragon.
Pre-Order bonus: Players who preorder the game get access to Bushido Brown, Otis”Thugnificant” Jackson, and Riley’s art teacher.

4. In The Heat of the Night (Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PC)
Prominent Black Actors Involved: Sidney Portier (film) Howard Rollins (TV)
Concept: Based on the Novel of the same name, which spawned a movie and a TV series, In the Heat of the Night was an early crime thriller that explored complex topics such as racism, aids, and rape. After arriving back in his hometown of Sparta Mississippi to attend his mother’s funeral during the midst of the civil rights era, Detective Virgil Tibbs is encouraged to join the local police force to both help them solve a murder and improve the racial image of the police department.
The Game: Make this a follow-up of sorts to L.A. Noire. Instead of the handholding however, players, in the role of Virgil Tibbs, will have to rely on their own instinct to solve cases. You’ll have to uncover evidence on your own and draw conclusions. The cases will be a mixture of all new cases, as well as ones inspired by the TV show, the movie, and it’s sequels. Multiple endings can give this game replay value.
Preorder Bonuses: How about some exclusive cases, and a digital copy of the original movie?

5. Motown Superstar: The Temptations (Xbox 360, Wii, PS3)
Prominent Black Actors Involved: This isn’t based on a movie, but there was a movie based on the lives and career of the Temptations.
The Game: What better way to revitalize the stagnant music genre than to feature one of classic R&B’s most influential labels? And what better introduction to said label than the group that is almost synomous with the label, the Temptations? Up to players can take control of each member of the temps, singing their parts in each song. A campaign mode takes players through the group’s career in a documentary style format, while an ‘arcade’ mode lets players take the role of one of the Temptations as they go through their individual career. A competitive online multiplayer mode pits Otis’s William’s Temptations against David Ruffin’s Temptations for supremacy. You can even unlock later group members such as Barrington Henderson, Damon Harris, and Bruce Williamson and form your own line ups. Want Davin Ruffin with the crew when they were known as Otis Williams and the Distants? It can happen. Future installments of Motown Superstar would include Diana Ross and the Supremes, Tammi Terrell, and The Jackson 5.
Preorder Bonus: A Songpack featuring songs from ex-Temptations members Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin! Featuring hits such as “Blood Donors Needed” and “Keep On Truckin”, players can even use these in the main game!