Friday, April 11, 2008

Ack! Zombies! or OMG UR TEH RASCIST!!

Today on two other videogame-oriented blogs I regularly read, a firestorm erupted concerning the upcoming Resident Evil 5 video game. For those not aware, the Resident Evil series is a survival-horror style game with you, the player, shooting up lots of zombies as you attempt to survive. The previous installment, Resident Evil 4, was a huge critical and sales success. It took place in Spain, where you, as American super agent Leon Kennedy had to go investigate a town where the President’s daughter had last been seen before disappearing. Turns out the entire town has turned into zombies (what else). I’m usually not a horror fan, but man, this really is one of THE best games of the past few years.

At last year’s E3 Entertainment Expo, a trailer was shown for RE5. This time it's taking place in Africa, or possibly Haiti, and the trailer shows you, a white American dude, shooting up lots of African black-people zombies. There was a minor uproar about this when it first debuted, saying that it could possibly be construed as racist. Recently Newsweek’s N’Gai Croal commented on this trailer, and other parts of the game he had seen in development with the choice quote of “Wow, clearly no one black worked on this game.”

Today this interview with Croal was put up on blogs Joystiq and Kotaku. Well, a shitstorm of comments erupted. Kotaku got over 1,000 comments. Needless to say there was a lot of disagreement over whether the game was actually being racist, or whether N’Gai was just trying to perceive/construe it as being racist.

Personally, I can see what N’Gai is saying. Me, I’m not really offended by the trailer. But someone who isn’t familiar with what Resident Evil is and they turn on the TV and see a commercial for a new game with some white dude shooting up poor looking African villagers? Not a good thought.

I thought an interesting comment from N’Gai was, “What was not funny, but sort of interesting, was that there were so many gamers who could not at all see it (racism). Like literally couldn’t see it. So how could you have a conversation with people who don’t understand what you’re talking about and think that you’re sort of seeing race where nothing exists?”

Reading the comment sections of Joystiq and Kotaku I think this is what most of the commenters missed (just read the first comment on Kotaku to see what I mean). What do you think? Watch the trailer here. Read the interview with N'Gai Croal here.

1 comment:

Little Earl said...

Hmm. It's interesting how defensive some people get when someone suggests they think about something they'd rather not think about. The guy isn't saying, "If you didn't have a problem with that trailer, then you're a racist." He's just expressing how it made him feel and he's wondering how it might make other people feel. Sure, maybe if this guy had a history of crying "racism" then maybe the scorn would be deserved, but it doesn't seem like that's the case. The most thoughtful comments were on the MTV message board:

"Wow, I really feel like people are missing out on a huge point here. It almost feels like no one actually read the article and just assumed it was another race card being played. N’gai is running around, flailing his arms and calling 'RACIST!' at anything remotely portraying Black people.

… right."

"The idea that something is only racist if you look for it, or that we need to stop pointing out racist imagery for it to go away is naive at best, dangerous at worse."