Left 4 Dead 2 Writer Calls Racism Charges “Utter Insanity”

In mid-July GamePolitics reported on Houston Chronicle game blogger Willie Jefferson’s assertion that video games are increasingly possessed of "racist undertones."

In support of his claim Jefferson mentioned the much-debated Resident Evil 5 as well as the recently-released Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Jefferson also pointed to Valve’s in-development Left 4 Dead 2 (screenshot at left):

I am disturbed by the growing trend of racist undertones that are cropping up in video games.

One of the games that comes to mind is "Left 4 Dead 2." …Set in New Orleans, players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies – with several of them who appear to be African-Americans. When I saw the first trailer for the game, all I could think about was Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath…

In the wake of Jefferson’s charge, a writer for L4D2 has fired back, reports Destructoid:

While visiting Valve this past week, we asked how they felt about the [racism] accusations, and Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek was quite frank with his response.

"Utter insanity," says Faliszek… "There are mixed races of zombies, there are all different races of zombies that you shoot, and since we placed it in New Orleans, that makes it racist? I honestly re-read the [Houston Chronicle] paragraph about five times … but when two of the characters in your game are African-American, it’s a weird thing to be accused of. We’re like, ‘how does this work’?

"… As far as Katrina goes, if you go down to New Orleans, Katrina’s still going on. I mean, it’s messed up, it is crazy that the city is still in the state it’s in, and we treat that with the utmost respect… It’s a place we love, it’s dear to our hearts. We would not cheapen it. It’s not a brick-for-brick representation of New Orleans; it’s a fictional version, and I love that city."

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  1. Vengful_Soldier says:

    Oh wooohooo! Another RE5 spout off….you know what….I’m calling bullsh*t on affirmitive action, the idea of racism and anyone is throwing that word around now. The simple fact of the matter is, you’ll run into every race wherever you go (cept maybe…Antartica) so you’ll see all kinds of zombies. The idea that black zombies is racist is just as retarded as No Child Left Behind and the man who came up with that! Why don’t we just stop thinking about racism, won’t it go away, hell I got this idea from Morgan Freeman, and I freakin’ agree with him. Lets look at these things without the scope of racism and maybe the scope of REALITY…a funny thing THAT WE ALL LIVE IN!

  2. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Meh its only racist because preconceived notions of equality are wut utopian  wet dreams are made up. IE un realistic fantasies.
    And thats the main problem with modern racism people think that since it dose not cover and include everything its racist. 


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  3. mogbert says:

    It’s still racist!

    Sure, it has black zombies and white zombies, and black protagonists and white protagonists… but where are the other minorities? Huh?!?

    For this game not to be racist, it should have zombies of all races and nationalities. The same should be true of the protagonists, at least one for every race and nationality. And they should all be recognizable, but not incorporate any stereotypes. Also, you shouldn’t be shooting zombies of other nationalities, because that would be wrong, and either promoting stereotypes or promoting racism, depending on who is shooting who. You should have a non-violent method of helping the zombies, such as curing them. If you must include violence in the game, it should only be allowed between members of the same types. So the game can become the fun of running around for your life, while trying to find a zombie which is of the same nationality and race as your character (chosen at random) which you would be allowed to shoot… gender too. Wouldn’t want to be promoting violence against women or belittleing the plight of battered husbands.

    This entire post was toungue-in-cheek, and if you could get past the second sentance without seeing that, I’m sorry. I tried very hard to drop all pretences of subtlety towards the end.

  4. Ratros says:

    This reminds me of when Blazing Saddles was considered racist.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  5. LujanD says:

    There are still tribes in Africa, muti is still used in “magic”, they still dress on the slightly bare side in comparison to urban folk, and I’m sorry but the rural communities have yet to start up their suit and BMW factories. 😛

    I’m also sorry that zombies aren’t presented how you obviously want them to be, seeing as you people clearly believe that the word “zombie” equates to “brain eating and blood-drenched whites” but “normal and dignified” blacks.

    Jokes aside, it’s pretty clear that imagination and a little artistic license was likely necessary to achieve the gritty world they wanted and how depicting an accurate culture would have been a total waste of time. If I was a developer and I was creating a world as ridiculous as the RE one, I would only have tenuous links to reality at best to keep with the theme of the game. It’d save me having to research customs, places, etc, and allow me a lot more to work with.

    So, if creating a place in Africa, I’d probably imagine some kind of wierd tribe… for example. 😛

    Then I’d modify certain aspects to suit the kind of zombie I want.

    What did you expect, for them to completely ignore the tribal aspect of Africa? I’m sure that the writers were ecstatic when they discovered that they were working with a setting so far apart from what they knew and it’d be like driving a dagger in their hearts to say, "Okay, you’re working in Africa but I want you to only use their developed cities, and you’re not allowed to use tribes, and your superhuman zombies aren’t allowed to jump at superhuman heights, and all the zombies must be wearing suits, and you’re not allowed to parody Sheva’s secondary outfits by creating an African resemblance (it must be a suit too), and you’re not allowed spears, and you must only work with ficitional areas, and you must research everything you’re using so you can portray it with complete accuracy, and whenever a zombie attacks it must begin with the phrase engarde."

  6. Ratros says:

    To my knowledge there are still tribes in Africa that dress as such (though I admit that I tend to stray away from news and things of such nature other than this site, though I believe I am still correct), so its not that far of a strecth to have a tribe as such, not to mention that the story explains their superhuman ability. 


    As for the alternate suits, you do realize that one for Chris was clubbing clothes?  Bad ones at that?  Maybe I’m blind but I just don’t see the harmful sterotypes in the adaptation of a African tribe and Sheva having an alternate costume for sex appeal.

    I once had a dream about God. In it, he was looking down upon the planet and the havoc we recked and he said unto us, "Damn Kids get off my lawn!"

  7. JDKJ says:


    In a weird way, I don’t think it’s entirely Austin’s fault. I honestly believe that he sometimes unthinkingly repeats at lot of the "code-speak" of the American far-right without perhaps even realizing what the code really means once it is deciphered. For example, Nixon ran for President against the backdrop of violent civil disorder in American inner-cities (some would say "race riots") on a platform of "restoring law and order." Law and order is all well and good, but that wasn’t what Nixon really meant when he said he was going to "restore law and order." "Law and order" was code-speak for something entirely different. And it is certainly Mr. Lewis’ right to embrace and support the far right, if he so chooses. He just needs to be more aware, I think, that there are elements of the far-right who use race-infused issues like immigration, affirmative action, crime, welfare, terrorism, etc., etc., and all the code-words that go along with those issues (like "welfare mom" and "Muslim extremist") to serve their agenda. I guess I say all of this to say that, despite busting his chops all the time, I don’t think Mr. Lewis is fundamentally a bad or hateful person. He just needs to make sure he doesn’t repeat code-speak without a full understanding of what the code really means, I think.    

  8. Austin_Lewis says:

    Assuming any of what you said to be true, and not just my regurgitation of statistical fact (which most of the things I say that you claim to be ‘racism’ are), you are, without a doubt, the pot calling the kettle black you fucking hypocrite.

  9. Shahab says:

    While none of the games mentioned in anyway are racist…

    Austin Lewis, If you were to look in your heart, I think you find mistrust and maybe even hatred of blacks, latinos, and perhaps others. You can claim to the contrary all you’d like, but you’ve made a lot of comments on this site over the years I’ve been reading and you’ve revealed more than perhaps you would have liked to about yourself.

  10. ded2me says:

    I believe both of you have good points.  What it boils down to is racism.  A media fueled agenda being eaten up by the american public in order to turn us agaisnt one another.  The racisim topic is dead in my eyes.  I have been all over the country and talked with many people.  Racism is a very rare problem among the general public.  If it werent for the media publicising and ranting about issues that are really non existant then we wouldnt even be having this discussion.

    Bottom line.  Blame the media and racist activists for these fluff news topics.  Affirmative action is a hoax and a blatant attack on american workers.  Leave the "Racist" part out of it and what do you get?  Unqualified workers doing jobs that you know you could do better and are more qualified for, but are told "no" because of the color of your skin?  Who is the real racist here?


    All that aside, this guy is a real creep for even bringing up this so called "Racism in LFD2".  An atention slut with no morals or respect for anyone but himself.

  11. JDKJ says:

    Austin Lewis may be a lot of different things, but what he is not, in my experience, is incapable of standing up for himself – a trait of personality for which I actually admire him. This being the case, feel free to sit down whenever you tire of standing up for him. 

    Besides, what do you really expect of me? There’s only so much logic that can be brought to bear in a conversation about Cheech and Chong. Pendecco. 

  12. JDKJ says:

    Actually, it was a combination of his Latino-sounding surname and the fact of East L.A. While I stand corrected, it isn’t entirely far-fetched to assume that a Latino sounding name in East L.A. equals a Latino. I’ve seen it happen before. And Latino or Taiwanese-Isreali, an ethnic minority is an ethnic minority. And the fact remains that for some strange reason – call me crazy if you want – I can’t help but conclude, after having the pleasure of Mr. Lewis share his views with me here for more than a few years and based upon the tenor and tone of those views, that he’s not particularly keen on ethnic and racial minorities. As I’ve already conceded, I could be dead-ass wrong, but there is that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach, nevertheless.

    And what does that have to with the price of tea in China? It’s in response to Mr. Lewis surmising that "maybe they see racism in everything."  Because, at least with respect to much of what he says, there’s "racism" to be seen – at least when I look at it.

  13. Austin_Lewis says:

    I think this is more telling of JDKJ’s racist view on things.  Obviously, since the kid lived in East LA, he had to be Latino.

  14. PHOENIXZERO says:

    How about you get a grip?


    By the way, the kid wasn’t Latino. His mother is Taiwanese and is father is Israeli. Sure it might just be a foggy memory but of course it’s something that could be twisted into racism one way or another. >_>  Why’d you think he was Latino? Because he lived in East LA? His skin tone? Do you think everyone with a similar skin tone is automatically Latino? AL wasn’t the only one bagging on the story either (Liberal Arts FTL) and it had NOTHING to do with race unless you again lost to be a chronic racibator.

  15. JDKJ says:

    How about you check with the editor of this site and see if he’s in need of another moderator and can use you for that purpose. If he is and he can and he does, then, and only then, should you come back to me with your suggestions. That way, you’d be a real moderator and not just a wanna-be-moderator. 

  16. Austin_Lewis says:

    You seem to be missing out on something; most of these ‘geniuses’ are given free rides (or near free rides) to a plethora of schools, mainly because the schools view it as a great bit of free publicity, and they hope these ‘child geniuses’ will go on to do something of worth, which will get them in the news once again.  By the way, surely if he was such a genius, he’d have been more than able to get college loans, and qualify for all sorts of grants, as well as qualifying for some money from the college itself.

    Is he lazy?  Absolutely not (though whether or not this was motivated by his parents’ influence remains to be seen.  The true test of one’s ability to self-motivate is when one doesn’t have anyone pushing them for anything).  Is he stupid? Absolutely so.

  17. jedidethfreak says:

    Regardless of how you feel about AL’s views, this post has absolutely nothing to do with what he said here.  How about you comment on people saing L4D2 is racist because it has black zombies in it.  You know, the same call of racism used against Resident Evil 5.  Oh, wait, you have no REAL argument, so you’ll just call people racist.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  18. JDKJ says:

    Whatever the kid’s faults may or may not be, certainly he isn’t at fault for being lazy, as you’ve so often accused immigrants and racial minorities of being. He don’t get no credit for that? And have you stopped for even a second, Mr. Lewis, to consider the possibility that he graduated from COMMUNITY COLLEGE because community college is affordable and his parents (who I assume live in close proximity to East L.A. where I assume not too many people live by choice) may not have the financial wherewithal to send him to a $40,000 a year college like your claimed alma mater, Duke University? If you didn’t stop to think about that possibility and adjust your conclusion accordingly, then you’re no less the idiot than you claim he is, your Duke education notwithstanding. And it also suggests that you are perhaps an oblivious elite. 

  19. Austin_Lewis says:

    That kid was latino?  I completely forgot.  

    And yes, I’ll minimize his accomplishment.  For all his ‘smarts’, he graduated from a COMMUNITY COLLEGE, and then showed his complete lack of an ability to form an intelligent opinion, all the while showing that he HAD learned hypocrisy.  He suggested, if you recall, that video games and the industry around it were of no worth, then went on to say he wanted to be an actor.  In other words, the kid was an idiot.

    As for the legacy admissions, go back to that topic; I replied to it earlier today.  To sum it up, I think both are stupid; but I think there are a lot more people being picked up due to affirmative action than legacy admission.  I also railed against frats and people who get into schools because mommy or daddy bought a building for the school.

  20. JDKJ says:

    That’s a great movie. But there’s not much in the Cheech and Chong catalogue that I don’t find great. I also love "Mexican Americans." That’s a great song. 

  21. Austin_Lewis says:

    Haha.  Mexican americans don’t like to just get into gang fights.  They like flowers and roses and white girls named debbie too…

    I always liked up in smoke more, songwise.  Just fun to play, fun to sing, fun to hear.

  22. Austin_Lewis says:

    I’m sorry, I was listing his other role too.  I know it’s pee-wee herman.

    As for the song, I just love the last (ad-libbed?) line.  Funny as hell.

  23. Austin_Lewis says:

    That and the guy who stole the money and said ‘i’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry… I"M NOT SORRY’.  Oh yeah, that was great.

    Also, remember that song Cheech sang while he was waiting to sell drugs to the guy in the limo?  Save the whales or something?  Another great song.

  24. JDKJ says:

    Pee-Wee Herman (before anyone knew what a Pee-Wee Herman was) as the coke-head who keeps repeating "cheeseburger." Good stuff.

  25. Austin_Lewis says:

    At what point did I say I was against financial aid you jackass?

    Thousands of students every year get financial aid.  VERY few people could pay full price for college, and it’s important.  I also believe that having to get a loan teaches students an important life lesson.

    What I SAID was that I believed Affirmative Action and Legacy Admissions were both absolutely retarded.

    So, ‘treydawg’, how about you learn some reading comprehension?

  26. JDKJ says:

    Sorryabout that. My bad. You’ve been consistently clueless for so long, I automticallly assumed you were being clueless again.

  27. jedidethfreak says:

    Another fine example of "I can’t fight with logic, so I’ll just attack personally."

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  28. treydawg says:

    Austin_Lewis reminds me of a a guy i met in class. it was a debate on affirmitive action and financial aid and there was this one guy that was against BOTH. basically he said colleges (university or community) should be for those that can pay for it with out assistance and if people cant pay for it on there own than they should not be able to go. now thats a messed up thought process.

  29. Firebird says:

    That reminds me of a quote by Lewis Black;


    "There’s only one difference between Democrats and Republicans;

    …Democrats blow, and Republicans suck!"

  30. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Hardly, politician you mean.
    liberal/Con artist..er…conservative the only diffrance is want lube and orifice they abuse.


    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  31. RonnieBarzel says:

    I don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick of black-on-black text. It’s pretty impossible to read.

  32. sirjonk says:

    It’s pretty obvious that GP is racist. Look at what you’re reading.  Black text printed over a clean white background.  What is GP trying to say with this choice of color pallette, that blacks are walking all over whites?  Someone has some ‘splainin to do.

  33. Logan says:

    Right, because this is clearly about people not being able to handle seeing/shooting at black zombies.

    The columnist is an idiot, that much is clear.

    However, there are many many examples of racial stereotypes in video games, and Resident Evil 5 showed us that gamers will play the willful ignorance card in a second.  When people brought up the idea that the enemies in RE5 were based on harmful stereotypes, they were shouted down with "why? because they’re black?" and it never moved forward from there, simply because gamers on the whole decided that keeping it in the simplest terms aided their argument.  Ultimately the game came out, had Africans with super-human jumping ability, wearing grass skirts, and chucking spears, not to mention Sheva’s alternate bone-necklace animal bikini getup, yet gamers still failed to see the stereotypes there.  Wonder why that is…

  34. JDKJ says:

    Maybe if you didn’t open your mouth so much, I wouldn’t so often see the "racism" in damn near everything you say (from your rants about illegal wetbacks mooching off the U.S. health and education system to your rants about affirmative action while never ranting about legacy admissions and on to your rants about Sonia Sotomayor’s irrelevant membership in La Raza). I could be dead-ass wrong. You could well be as far removed from being a "racist" as possible. But bear in mind that ain’t no better incrimination than self-incrimination.

    EDIT: I forgot one of my personal favorites: Clowning on and completely minimizing the accomplishment of that little Latino kid from East L.A. who managed to graduate from community college at 15 or whatevermany years-old. That one was particularly galling because you’ll be the first to suggest that Latinos want nothing more than to come to the U.S., sit around on their lazy asses all day, and benefit from the U.S. taxpayer. But yet when one of those same Latinos obviously tries to step their game up and be about something constructive, your first response is to deride them. Talk about never pleasing all of the people all of the time.  

  35. Austin_Lewis says:

    Well Chet, when you make a game without black people in it (especially one set in Nawlins), they’re going to scream ‘racism’.  When you make a game WITH the black people that you would find in Nawlins in it, they’re going to scream racism.

    Why?  Because they have nothing better to do.  Or maybe because they see racism in everything.  God knows, if the world went all ‘zombie-ocalypse’ on us and I was in Nawlins, I’d expect to see a sizable black populace.  Hell, I’d expect to see a sizable black populace in most areas. I’d also expect to see other colored zombies.  You know, what with the VAST MAJORITY OF PEOPLE BEING TURNED INTO FUCKING ZOMBIES. 

    Really, what is this bullshit?  You can’t have a black zombie?  You can’t shoot a black zombie?  I bet the person who wrote that article in Houston was one of the same people who constantly claims racism because there aren’t enough black people in video games.

  36. d20sapphire says:

    Considering that he couldn’t even point out a specific instance in the game that seemed racist, I can see how just using the topic "racism in video games" would be useful to increasing readership.  At least when Eurogamer made the claims for RE5 they had specific instances (some of which later disappeared in actual consumer game play) after a lengthy review.  This is just a cry for attention.

    Just by watching some of the clips I’ve seen, there’s nothing that one could pinpoint specifically that would make L4D2 racist.


  37. axiomatic says:

    What everyone fails to realize is that the Houston Chronice article had one aim in mind. Which was to cause a scandal to increase readership. This had nothing to do with racism, and everything to do with generating interest (positive or negative) to a dying news medium.

    I live in Houston and the Chronicle is a crap rag. You should read Willie Jefferson’s other gaming articles, he is a fringe gamer at best.

  38. GodBeastX says:

     I couldn’t even ignore this stupid news.

    The fact someone even brought it to the racism level shows they’re a racist. I’m black myself, (I won’t say African American, cuz I know jack squat about africa), and I don’t find anything racist about it. Why don’t white people throw a fit about left 4 dead 1 having white people running around and getting shot? Oh, I see, it’s okay to shoot white people who polymorph into undead but not for me to shoot black people who have the same problem? Last time I checked, the T-Virus didn’t care what race you were when it infected you.


    People need to get over themselves. It’s stupid game with black zombies, and I’m sure there’s white ones in there too. Comments like those is why people don’t put black people in half the games, because they gotta be worried about "Offending" someone.

  39. Dante2006 says:

    Why don’t white people throw a fit about left 4 dead 1 having white people running around and getting shot?

    Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t, because as far as society is concerned, all white people are racist, evil, cat-stroking, monacle-wearing, maniacly cackling devil spawns. If we tried to say that ANYTHING was racist against white people, we’d be harassed, mocked, and would never be able to place our face in public ever again.

  40. LujanD says:

    It’s the people which see racism everywhere that are the real racists. After all, they’re the ones getting all worked up over colour. I’m surprised none of them ever grow weary of all the colour-math they seem to do whenever they play a game, read a book, etc.

  41. Magic says:

    It’s as if all of the progressive issues over the last 100 years have inadvertently ‘swung’ too far round. Feminism, racism and environmental issues have been, in short, recognised and decent changes have been made (Rights for women and minorities, green policies) but it was like there wasn’t a stopping point for some people. That’s the reason why I think we get people like this.

    Games are in no way getting more racist (Nor dare I say were they ever in the first place), if anything they are broadening out more and more. If that results in knee-jerking reactionaries like this yammering away on the internet, then I guess we have to yammer back and tell them to shut up and just continue onwards.

  42. tacc says:

    "Set in New Orleans, players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies – with several of them who appear to be African-Americans."

    And if you visit the real New Orleans you might see real African-Americans. New Orleans is soooo full of racism.

  43. Torven says:

    Thanks for reminding me.  I need to pick up some cat food and monacle polish…and a new power supply for my orbital gigawatt laser.

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