Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

August 24, 2010 -

A new Gamasutra article called "Games With The Power To Offend: Surviving And Stoking Controversy" reveals that Capcom has learned a hard lesson from the public relations nightmare related to claims of racism in Resident Evil 5. That controversy reared its ugly head shortly after Capcom released the first trailer for the game, which depicted black zombies versus a white American protagonist. After that blew up in their face, the company decided that it could never let something like that happen ever again.

After that nightmare Capcom decided that it had to put a process in place to deal with future international cultural issues - to be implemented on both sides of the world. Here's more on that from the article:

"Since the RE5 controversy, we have become much more aware of how important it is that we are part of the asset creation process early on so that we are able to have a say in the end product," Capcom senior PR manager Melody Pfeiffer tells Gamasutra.

"We are also designing a lot of our own assets from this side of the pond, so that we are able to make strategic pieces of content that make sense for our market," she says.

"We are working really closely with our producers in Japan to construct these materials for the West and they are open more than ever to hearing our thoughts and ideas for assets."

The Gamasutra feature offers a lot more details on how the U.S. perception of Resident Evil 5 affected the company but the bottom line is that Capcom learned a new lesson about cultural differences between America and Japan.

 

Source: Gamasutra


Comments

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Looks like I'm late to the party, but I'd like to point out that we are talking about the same game that has some of the coolest characters who are black and not stereotyped, and in addition all the main bad guys are white. From now on all characters have to be green and purple, it's the only way to be sure we aren't hurting anyone's sensabilities with racism.

Of course all locations must be neutral, can't go having a gun fight in a church or a go kart race in an Italian city. Every location must be in shades of grey and brown... oh wait, looks like most games have already taken that step.

Any groups like the Italian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza or the Chinese Triads must be shown to be racially diverse and not affiliated with any races of which they are comprised in reality. That would be culturally insensitive.

Finally, Mario is now just a plumber, from no where in particular. His trademark slogan will be changed to, "It is I, Mario."

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

RE5's final product is more racist than the original that everybody called racist. Once the controversy "ended", Capcom changed some zombies to white or asian to "appease" the outcry.

A black zombie in an African village = geographically logical.

An asian zombie in an African village = scenario created from thinking that skin color matters = racist.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Oh jeez not this again.

The initial argument when the trailers were first viewed by N'Gai was that he was worried about how they can incorporate Africa in an RE game without doing anything stupid.  He never said it was racist, nor did most of the informed black gamers of the world.  I was looking forward to RE5 and I was just as worried.

The game finally comes out and suddenly the virus regresses the natives and have then in grass skirts chucking spears.  Not a good look, but racist? Far from it.  Now to those outside of the RE Series it looks odd but it wasn't made for them now was it?

I think the real lesson that needs to be learned here is that...well..nobody decided to talk to or ask the gamers of color their opinion and ran with the opinion of people who are not even part of our gaming collective.  People assumed that I personally was upset and wanted to boycott Capcom, why because I was black and other black folks outside of gaming was mad at RE5.  My valid arguments were dissmissed by both sides constantly, one side would call me a traitor that did not know my heritage, the other side said I was too sensitive and should get over myself because y'know...racism is over.

While I do believe that Gamers of Color are misrespresented in games RE5 is clearly not an example of that.  Capcom should just have that one guy that looks at the scenes and say..."I wouldn't do that part if I were you. It just looks wrong from the outside in."

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

 I just looked at the trailer for the (first time ever) pretending that I all I knew was that this was an action game, and didn't know it was a zombie game. From that perspective it was pretty bad. It's mostly a burly white guy with a gun going to war with black people. There is the one shot of black on black violence and some weird stuff happening to him, but it came off more exorcism like than zombie apocalypse. Frankly the zombies came off more like caricatures, which actually makes sense when you factor in the American with a gun and "a job to do". I can see finding the trailer offensive.

But it doesn't take much (if any) effort to figure out what's actually going on, and you're still offended after that then it's time to just watch a different video.

 

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

"It's mostly a burly white guy with a gun going to war with black people."

If that's the impression you got, it's clear you weren't really watching or only saw what you wanted to see.  There is absolutely nothing in the trailer that suggests "white guy at war with black people."  The trailer is clearly "white guy defending himself from swarms of homicidal locals (who are black due to where he is geographically) who have obviously been infected/corrupted/possessed by something evil."

There is no violence in the trailer until it's established that the local populous has been forcibly infected with something that's making them act out violently.  Before that, the burly white guy is walking around town in a non-threatening manner and not being threatened himself.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Maybe it's the way I was raised to not cry wolf when there isn't one, but as a black man, I found zero fault with the initial trailer. My cousin and I thought to ourselves, "Cool we get to kill zombies in Africa!" In all honesty I was more concerned with Killer Crocs.....

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

This has gone on for far to long.  It's sad that Capcom came under fire for doing nothing wrong, and now has to worry about it happening again.  If you were offended by the trailor, then you knew nothing about the game.  If you knew about the game and were still offended, then you are a person who is easily offended, and probably isn't that bright either.  I can forgive the first, but the second, not so much.  In the end, the game was taken out of context, and people started shouting wolf.

---

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!"

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!"

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

"If you were offended by the trailor, then you knew nothing about the game."

Yeah, people shouldn't be watching advertisements for things they don't already know about.

Wait, what?

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

I said it was understandable to be offeneded if you knew nothing about the game or the series, but anyone interested in the damn game knew it was going to take place in Africa before the trailer, knew there would be zombie like people, and have no excuse for getting upset.  And we both know that a lot of people who knew what the story was about, where it was taking place, and so on cried racist over it.

---

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!"

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!"

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

The ones that cry "Race" are often racists themselves.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Whereas the ones who cry "Reverse racism!" are almost ALWAYS racists themselves.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Issues that deal with race need to be taken into context. What was the context for the game, did the game set out to be intentionally racist or offensive?

The game wasn't racist and it didn't set out to offend, people decided that it was racist and were easily offended. If people complain that the game shows the black characters in a simplistic nature it is because of the poor writing that exists in computer games, Japanese games usually have pretty awful scripts (if any at all) and quite frankly all characters come off as a stereotype and I think that they believe that their audience hold that image. Just look at the instances of potentially gay characters (they're awful stereotypes). Perhaps the industry should think more of their audience and start creating more believable characters. Or perhaps I have just shown a stereotype of the Japanese games developers.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

It's a shame lessons weren't learned by the people that really needed to learn them, namely the dipsticks who complained about something that wasn't a problem in the first place.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Is this another one of those "It is because it is, case closed" things?

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

As I've explained previously, there are reasons behind everything I say* but some things are so simple I don't think they require elaboration.

 

Andrew Eisen

*At the very least, off the top of my head, I can't think of anything I'd argue solely with a "because it is."

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Sorry, "It is because it's just obvious."  Completely different.

How'd that one play out for you on the debate team?

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

That's not an argument I've ever employed.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Well no, it's sort of the opposite of employing an argument -- indeed, a clear refusal to employ an argument.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

I see it more as something someone would say in lieu of having something of substance to argue with.  Typical of people who pick positions based on emotion rather than logic, facts, or common sense.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

To me, this all racial issues are complete bullshit. People gave way too much importance the color of their own skin or nacionality. It´s just another excuse to act like an ass against other persons.

In the case of Resident Evil 5, I don´t see another reason of why is this game being criticized other than being a videogame with black bad guys. This critizism is bogus, made by oportunistic persons who still believe that the color of the skin is the most important matter on any society.

It´s victim complex at its best.

------------------------------------------------------------ My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship): http://www.darkknightstrikes.deviantart.com

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

"In the case of Resident Evil 5, I don´t see another reason of why is this game being criticized other than being a videogame with black bad guys."

Then maybe you should read the rest of the thread.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Company responds to social pressure in an attempt to make it's product more palatable to target market. Cue people complaining.

Hopefully Capcom won't put out another ill conceived trailer again.

They might want to avoid Tribal Sheva next time.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Social pressure from non-gamers who wouldn't buy this product whether it had black, white or purple zombies. I find it absurd someone would get upset over black zombies. Throughout the series I have slaughtered thousands of white zombies and didn't find it offensive. There is already a minority of black characters in video games, uproar like this simply makes games companys more afraid to use non-white characters/NPCs should anyone find offense.

Unfortunately their bowing to the PC brigade sets a terrifying prospect for the future of free speech in gaming. Chilling effect indeed.

 

 

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

"Social pressure from non-gamers who wouldn't buy this product whether it had black, white or purple zombies."

Quickly, someone call Stephen Totilo and make sure he knows he isn't a gamer. And lo, I better tell all the black gamers who dared voice that the trailer bothered them that they aren't gamers either.

"I find it absurd someone would get upset over black zombies. Throughout the series I have slaughtered thousands of white zombies and didn't find it offensive."

You know, in General, it wasn't about the game at all, it was about the trailer which lacked the context that the game provides to the situation which did a lot to lessen the discomfort that some gamers felt.

The fact is, the imagery in the trailer, and even some moments in the game, evoked racist undertones built on stereotypes and long past racist portrayals of Africans.

"There is already a minority of black characters in video games, uproar like this simply makes games companys more afraid to use non-white characters/NPCs should anyone find offense."

In my experience black characters, especially Japanese games are rarely anything but a stereotype.

"Throughout the series I have slaughtered thousands of white zombies and didn't find it offensive."

Yes your life experience is the definitive one and no one may deviate from how you feel on any given subject.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

"Social pressure from non-gamers who wouldn't buy this product whether it had black, white or purple zombies."

Maybe so, but bad publicity is bad publicity regardless of where it originates.

"Throughout the series I have slaughtered thousands of white zombies and didn't find it offensive."

There aren't any racial stereotypes about white people being mindless savages.

Depicting Bush as a chimp: not racist.  Depicting Obama as a chimp: racist.  Yeah, it's a double standard, but it doesn't come out of a vacuum; these are racial stereotypes that have been used as justification for hundreds of years of persecution.

"There is already a minority of black characters in video games, uproar like this simply makes games companys more afraid to use non-white characters/NPCs should anyone find offense."

That could be true, but it's also the wrong message, and an incredibly simplistic one.  The takeaway here isn't something as simple as "You can't have black monsters," it's that some images evoke strong, visceral reactions from people, and something that looks totally innocuous in Japan may mean something very different in the States.  (And vice-versa.)

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Thad wins the internet on this one.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

I never played this one but wasn't RE4 the same only in a Spanish peasant village? I don't remember any uproar about that one. I'm not sure how they expect games to expand as a medium if they are unwilling in future to set anything outside of white countries for fear of offending minorities. If the plot takes the story line to an infected village in Africa (after spending 3 games in America), what colour people are they expecting to be there?

The irony is, if the zombies were all white the same people would be complaining that you didn't get to kill any black zombies.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Well, yes and no. The complaints were more about the trailer than the game itself. Also, portraying Spaniards as a sub-human, mindless horde doesn't play into stereotypes, but portraying black Africans that way does. The trailer almost looked like it came out of the 1920s.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5


Also not only that.  How come I never hear complaint about Quantum of Solace (the game) when Bond killed bunch of Black soldier and the leader of a army (who by the way is black).  See this is a example of dumbasses going after this but not that.  Also you're right, I never heard any complaint about RE4 being racist.  I guess there are stupid people in the US after I saw this video on Youtube.     

 

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Actually people moaned about Casino Royale the film where Bond has a shoot-out in an embassy. They said that he would never have done that if it was populated by white people. I guess they didn't bother watching the rest of the film.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Spanish is not a race.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

This is why having local cultural experts is important.. what will be, and will not be, offensive, can be unpredictable to someone who does not spend their life keeping track.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

Ah, the chilling effect at work.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

While I agree a chilling effect prompted this, it sounds like they are actually taking a very sane, sensitive, and pragmatic approach to the PR problem...

I am actually a bit shocked they were not doing it already.  The idea of including people in the design loop who are actually familiar with the culture of a major market you intend to release in seems like a no-brainer.

It is better then walking away with surface lessons like 'don't put black people in video games' or 'africa does not exist in video game world'.

Re: Lessons Learned: Resident Evil 5

"I am actually a bit shocked they were not doing it already.  The idea of including people in the design loop who are actually familiar with the culture of a major market you intend to release in seems like a no-brainer."

They had SOMEBODY working on Mega Man: Powered Up who knew that Oil Man's black-with-red-lips color scheme wouldn't fly in America and changed him to blue with yellow lips.

 
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