NY Times: Resident Evil 5 Not Racist

March 16, 2009 -

Yesterday, GamePolitics reported that the mainstream (i.e., non-gaming) press was beginning to weigh in on the race issue in regard to Capcom's just-released Resident Evil 5.

As we noted, the AP's Lou Kesten was concerned. The Huffington Post's Earl Ofari Hutchinson was angry.

Seth Schiesel is the video game reporter for the New York Times. Like Kesten, he has a foot in both worlds. You can't any get more maintream than the Times, yet gaming is his daily beat. Schiesel, who reviews RE5 this morning. believes that the race issue is overblown:

Let’s get this out of the way: Resident Evil 5 is not a racist game.

For at least a year some black journalists have been wringing their hands about whether the game... inflames racist stereotypes because it is set in Africa. The answer is no... Resident Evil 5 exposes the perhaps uncomfortable truth that blacks and Arabs can become zombies too, just like anyone else... The point of the story is that the indigenous people have become the innocent victims of evil white people.

All that said, Resident Evil 5 could not possibly have been made in the United States. Racial sensitivities and prevailing political correctness would have had American game executives squirming in their Aeron chairs the minute they read a budget proposal for a game featuring African zombies.

Not so in Japan, apparently...

39 comments

Mainstream Media Considers the Resident Evil 5 Racism Question

March 15, 2009 -

While the video game press appears to have reached a consensus that Resident Evil 5 is not racist in its portrayal of blacks, non-gaming media outlets do not seem quite so sure.

Lou Kesten, for example, who covers games for the Associated Press, straddles the line between games and the mainstream. In a syndicated column which will be reprinted across North America, Kesten clearly is uncomfortable with RE5's racial vibe:

Even longtime fans of the horror franchise may find themselves wondering: Is this game racist?...

 

Yes, the vast majority of monsters in "RE5" are infected black men. Does that make it racist? I believe producer Jun Takeuchi's claim that the story led naturally to Africa, and it's obvious that a zombie-creating virus unleashed there would lead to hordes of African zombies.

Still, there were plenty of moments where I felt uneasy after shotgunning a path through a crowd of feral Africans. Even though "RE5" makes some points about colonialism and capitalism... the racial imagery is more loaded than its creators probably realized.

Judged purely as a game, "RE5" is undeniably entertaining. But many players are going to find it disturbing for the wrong reasons.

At left-leaning political blog Huffington Post, commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson pulls no punches. For Hutchinson, RE5 is clearly an exercise in racism:

The well-worn script reads like this. A protest group blasts a video game manufacturer... for dumping a game on the market loaded with racially insulting and demeaning stereotypes. The video game team yelps that the game is pure entertainment, has some blacks or Latinos in on the design and production, and gets high marks from the industry...

So it was no surprise that Jun Takeuchi yanked out that script to defend his video game brainchild Resident Evil 5 from the charge that it's racist. But what else could one call it? It features a white male (modern day Bawana) mowing down a pack of poor, primitive disease challenged Africans... . The racist game reinforces the worst of the worst ancient stereotypes against and about Africans...

GP: When video game controversies flare, there is typically lag time between the gaming press's more immediate coverage and the issue's crossover to the mainstream media. Now that RE5 has been released, it's likely that the racism issue will be receiving a new round of attention from mainstream outlets in coming weeks.

72 comments

BBFC Sees No Racism in Resident Evil 5

March 2, 2009 -

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has weighed in on Resident Evil 5 and finds no evidence of racism, reports Eurogamer.

Complaints of racial insensitivity in RE5 have cropped up periodically ever since a trailer for the game was released at E3 2007. Most recently, Eurogamer's report on a pre-release look at RE5 code renewed concerns about possible racism in the game.

But the BBFC's Sue Clark dismissed the racial angle in a scene fretted about by Eurogamer:

It's the bit where you see "a white blonde woman being dragged off, screaming, by black men", as our preview put it... [BBFC's] Clark responded, "In the version [of the scene] submitted to the BBFC there is only one man pulling the blonde woman in from the balcony, and I can't say the skimpiness of her dress impressed itself on me. The single man is not black either.

"As the whole game is set in Africa it is hardly surprising that some of the characters are black, just like the fact that some of the characters in an earlier version were Spanish as the game was set in Spain," Clark continued.

"We do take racism very seriously, but in this case there is no issue around racism."

Odd that both Eurogamer and Kikizo reported it was black men doing the dragging, but presumably we were given an earlier version of the code than the one submitted to the BBFC.

26 comments

Penny Arcade Examines the RE5 Racism Controversy

February 18, 2009 -

While gamers continue to debate whether or not the upcoming Resident Evil 5 contains racist imagery, the Penny Arcade crew has weighed in on the issue with a new comic (left).

Incidentally, in a recent GamePolitics poll on the topic, 83% of GP readers disagreed with the idea that there was racism in the game.

For the full PA comic, click here.

73 comments

GP Poll: Racism in RE5 ?

February 12, 2009 -

With the release of Capcom's Resident Evil 5 drawing closer, the debate over whether the game contains racist imagery has been rekindled.

What do you think?

Register your opinion in the GamePolitics poll at left...

 

78 comments

The Atlantic Weighs in on RE5 Racism Controversy

February 11, 2009 -

In what is likely the first of many mainstream media outlets to weigh in on the topic, a blogger for The Atlantic seems convinced that the upcoming Resident Evil 5 contains racist imagery.

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

Seriously, I have no idea what the frack Capcom was thinking, when they went ahead with Resident Evil 5...

 

the whole "it's only a game" defense--which people always raise--is so lame... if we're going to allow video games to enter into the world of adults, if we don't want to looked upon as boys in the bodies of men, then we have to be serious... You can't ask people to at once respect the creativity of gaming, and then tell them they can't critique it.

84 comments

Resident Evil 5 Imagery May Generate Renewed Racism Controversy

February 6, 2009 -

The debate as to whether the upcoming Resident Evil 5 contains racist imagery has raged ever since Capcom released a controversial trailer for the game at E3 2007.

Eurogamer, which has a detailed hands-on preview of RE5, reports that there is additional room for concern over images in the retail version:

There's also the spectre of the old racism debate, hovering the background. That debate is only going to get louder and more urgent once the game is released...

One of the first things you see... is a gang of African men brutally beating something in a sack. Animal or human, it's never revealed, but these... are ordinary Africans... Since the Majini are not undead corpses... it makes the line between the infected monsters and African civilians uncomfortably vague. Where Africans are concerned, the game seems to be suggesting, bloodthirsty savagery just comes with the territory...

Later on, there's a cut-scene of a white blonde woman being dragged off, screaming, by black men... If this has any relevance to the story it's not apparent in the first three chapters, and it plays so blatantly into the old clichés of the dangerous "dark continent" and the primitive lust of its inhabitants that you'd swear the game was written in the 1920s...

 

All it will take is for one mainstream media outlet to show the heroic Chris Redfield stamping on the face of a black woman, splattering her skull, and the controversy over Manhunt 2 will seem quaint by comparison. If we're going to accept this sort of imagery in games then questions are going be asked, these questions will have merit, and we're going to need a more convincing answer than "lol it's just a game."

Resident Evil 5 will be released on March 13th.

252 comments

NY Bill Would Shield Minors from Racist Stereotypes and Profanity in Games

January 13, 2009 -

A new legislative proposal to restrict the sale of video games portraying negative racial stereotypes and bad language has been proposed in the New York Assembly.

The measure, A01474, was submitted by Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, a Democrat from Manhattan. The bill, which has been referred to the Assembly's Consumer Protection and Affairs Committee:

Prohibits the sale to minors of certain rated video games containing a rating that reflects content of various degrees of profanity, racist stereotypes or derogatory language, and/or actions toward a specific group of persons.

A similar bill proposed by Wright in 2007 failed to pass.

GamePolitics readers will recall that New York passed a video game law in 2008 mandating - redundantly - that game packages display ratings and that consoles offer parental control features. The video game industry did not bring a legal challenge, however, since those remedies were already in place and the law did not threaten sales.

120 comments

NYC Street Artist Portrays Black-on-Black Violence Via GTA IV Billboard

December 29, 2008 -

In a provocative guerilla work, street artist TMNK uses a Grand Theft Auto IV billboard to make a point about black-on-black violence:

A perfectly legal Billboard advertisement promoting a video game where the participants commit acts of violence, for fun. And scrawled on it a message that is considered illegal, vandalism. One message paid for by a business who simply wants to make money, regardless of the cost. The other, written freely, in hopes of sounding an important alarm, despite it’s potential cost to the author...

There are more of US killing US, than terrorists killing us. And in my community there are more of US killing Us than Cops Killing US.

45 comments

ESRB, GameStop See No Loophole in Animal Crossing Racial Slur Incident

December 8, 2008 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on a bizarre incident in which more than a dozen prominent game journalists were sent Animal Crossing: Wild World Nintendo DS cartridges which contained a racial slur.

MTV Multiplayer's Stephen Totilo, who broke the story, reports that he subsequently queried used game seller GameStop and the ESRB as to whether the Animal Crossing incident exposes a flaw in the system whereby embedded user-generated content might exceed the content rating.

Both GameStop and the ESRB view the Animal Crossing episode as an anomaly and deny a larger problem. MTV's Totilo writes:

ESRB spokesperson Eliot Mizrachi, told me... “Just as with online-enabled games that allow features like chat, ESRB ratings cannot anticipate and therefore consider user-generated content in the ratings we assign,” he wrote. “Besides, as you mentioned, saving content to the actual game medium is pretty uncommon in today’s games. Most games are read-only with the saved content being stored on the system and not on the game medium itself.”...

The ESRB may not have much reason to worry that questionable content will make it to consumers because gaming chain GameStop claims to be scrubbing the content from re-sold games. Chris Olivera, spokesman for GameStop, told me in a phone interview that his company has a “proprietary” process that wipes consoles and games clean before they are sold back to consumers...

GP: GameStop and the ESRB make a good case here. It's important to remember that the offending DS cart was not purchased through retail channels, but rather was mailed out by Nintendo's own PR department.

25 comments

Nintendo Addresses Racial Slur Shipped with Animal Crossing Review Kits

December 4, 2008 -

Nintendo is in damage control mode after a DS cart shipped to game reviewers was found to contain a commonly used racial slur.

Kotaku reported yesterday that editor Brian Crecente received a pre-played copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World for the DS. The 2005 title, shipped with secrets unlocked, was intended to show reviewers how content could easily be migrated from the DS game to the recently-released Wii title, Animal Crossing: City Folk.

However, as Kotaku explains, things soon went awry:

When you come upon Baabara, the town's resident sheep, you're greeted with a racial epithet. The word is used repeatedly in your conversation with the sheep.

"I almost forgot about you, N—-a" "So got any juicy gossip for me, N—-a?" "Just thinking about it gets me all excited, N—-a."

Nintendo quickly issued a statement, blaming WiFi for the screwup:

Previously played copies of the were sent to 14 members of the media to demonstrate the ability of players to transfer items to the new Animal Crossing: City Folk for Wii. We regret that an offensive phrase was included without our knowledge via a wireless function that allows user-generated catchphrases to spread virally from one game to the next.

 

This version is limited to 14 copies created for media review purposes only and is not available at retailers. We sincerely apologize for the incident and are working with media who received the game cards to return them to Nintendo immediately.

47 comments

Xbox 360 Version of Black College Football Experience Compatible with Rock Band Drum Kit

November 29, 2008 -

Louisiana game publisher Nerjyzed Game Studios is readying the launch of an Xbox 360 version of its Black College Football Experience game, reports The Advocate. The release of BCFx will mark the first-ever publication of a console game by an African-American owned studio.

A national ad campaign for Black College Football Experience will kick off today during the Bayou Classic as Southern University and Grambling square off in their 35th gridiron tilt. BCFx debuted last year on the PC. Of today's launch, Nerjyzed CEO Jacqueline Beauchamp commented:

We’re going to be doing a complete national rollout, and it’s going to start right here in Louisiana first. We actually have six commercial spots on NBC (during the game).

NBC will be highlighting the game during the broadcast (2 p.m. Eastern):

The network will... feature another first, the BCFx Sideline Video Game Zone... NBC will cut back and forth between the actual football game and the action in the Video Game Zone.

“The announcers will say, ‘Southern may be winning 24-10 on the football field. Let’s take a look at who’s winning in the video game,’ ” Beauchamp said.

The network has agreed to cut to the Video Game Zone twice during the broadcast but Nerjyzed is hoping for more, Beauchamp said.

In addition to its football action, of special note is BCFx's drumline game play, which is compatible with the Rock Band drum kit for the Xbox 360. 35 tunes and 65 drum cadences are included.

GP: Unfortunately, the 2007 launch of the PC version generated unkind remarks by some in the game community. Let's hope that the new version is received with greater tolerance. It actually sounds like a very cool mix of football and rhythm-based gameplay.

73 comments

Bill Cosby: Grand Theft Auto is Entrance Exam for Prison

November 22, 2008 -

Comedian and activist Bill Cosby likened Grand Theft Auto to a prison prep course during an appearance in Greenwood, Mississippi on Thursday.

Cosby, who urged the local African-American community to take an active role in bettering their neighborhood, dismissed Rockstar's controversial game series, saying:

Cost your mother $250 to buy that for you so you can practice your entrance exam (to prison).

Cosby's remarks were filmed for an upcoming documentary. Among his other comments:

The drug dealer is not in your culture, nor is the prostitute, nor is the glorified pimp if you teach black pride. They have no pride. They don’t know their culture.

Via: Greenwood Commonwealth

101 comments

Resident Evil 5 Producer Slams Racism Charges

October 27, 2008 -

Most gamers will recall the race controversy sparked by the Resident Evil 5 trailer released at E3 2007. Set in Africa,  the trailer showed a white protagonist mowing down hordes of black zombie villagers.

As the long-awaited game draws closer to its March, 2009 U.S. launch, CVG serves up an interview with Capcom's Masachika Kawata, an RE5 producer who says his team had no racial agenda in the game design:

We chose Africa [as RE5's setting] because we're extending the storyline logically. Following the tradition of the Resident Evil franchise, you'll remember from Code Veronica - the Progenitor virus comes from Africa so we wanted to go back to the root of where the virus originated.

 

For the people who think it's racist... well, we can't please everyone. We're in the entertainment business - we're not here to state our political opinion or anything like that. It's unfortunate that some people felt that way.

We've gone where the story has taken us...

Via: Edge Online

 

 

52 comments

Ultra-Conservative Student Group Criticized over Border Patrol Game

September 14, 2008 -

A watchdog group has criticized the controversial Michigan State University chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom for promoting Border Patrol, a racist Flash game released in 2006.

The charge came after MSU YAF linked to Border Patrol via a recent blog post.

YAF Watch, a site dedicated to tracking activities of the MSU YAF, writes:

The game, Border Patrol, encourages the player to shoot Mexican immigrants dashing over the border. When the player shoots one of the immigrants, a blood splatter appears. The various targets for the player include a pregnant woman, a baby and man carrying a backpack...

 

This is not the first time YAF has been involved in degrading immigrants. They first made headlines with a proposed "Catch An Illegal Immigrant" game in 2006. The game would have featured a person portraying an illegal immigrant, and encourage game players hunting the person down. The game was condemned by MSU officials, including President Lou Anna K Simmons. It eventually was canceled.

According to Wikipedia, the MSU YAF was cited as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2006. In 2007 the group hosted Chris Simcox, head of the Minuteman Civil Defense League, a group which aggressively targets illegal immigration.

Border Patrol, anonymously released to the Internet, has been widely condemned. As GP correspondent Colin McInnes wrote in our original 2006 coverage:

Most of the debate about illegal immigration centers on America's border with Mexico, so it's especially troubling that in Border Patrol the player's tasks include shooting "Mexican nationalists," "drug dealers," and "breeders" - pregnant Mexican women - who try to rush the border towards a welfare office.
66 comments

Researchers: Racial Bias Exists in Game Worlds

September 12, 2008 -

A Northwestern University study indicates that MMO players are subject to the same racial biases seen in the real world.

According to iTnews, researchers used the virtual world of There.com as the setting for social interaction experiments in which light and dark-skinned avatars approached random players and asked for a favor. From the report:

White avatars in the DITF experiment received about a 20 percent increase in compliance with the moderate request; however, the increase for the dark-toned avatars was 8 percent... The finding is consistent with previous DITF studies -- in real and virtual worlds -- that demonstrate that physical characteristics, such as race, gender and physical attractiveness, affect judgment of others.

Researcher Paul Eastwick commented:

This study suggests that interactions among strangers within the virtual world are very similar to interactions between strangers in the real world. You would think when you're wandering around this fantasyland … that you might behave differently. But people exhibited the same type of behaviour -- and the same type of racial bias -- that they show in the real world all the time.

Via: Kotaku

49 comments

Resident Evil Activity Book

September 11, 2008 -

Not content to rest on the laurels of their hilarious GTA IV Activity Book for Kids, the crew at the -minusworld has come up with a Resident Evil Activity Book for Kids.

By way of explanation, there's this:

Oh Resident Evil 5, you elusive wench! Why must you make us wait so long to play you? What the hell are we supposed to do until March? And think about the kids! They can’t even play the game, period. Luckily, though, Capcom has heard your cries and is clappin’ back with the Resident Evil Activity Book For Kids. You won’t find any blood, gore, or racism here but you will find good old wholesome fun! So much fun that your head might explode, exposing wavy tentacles of joy that flail around the village. Get to it!

 

13 comments

Resident Evil 5 Race Controversy Resurfaces

June 20, 2008 -

While the issue of race in the trailer for the upcoming Resident Evil 5 has received no small share of attention in recent months, it continues to spark outrage among some members of the black community.

On Your Black Writers today, Tolu Olorunda takes exception to the RE5 trailer:

What I witnessed [in the RE5 trailer] was nerve-wrecking, painful, mind-numbing and heart-racing... It wasted no time in capitalizing upon the long history of blatant depictions of Africans as savages and helpless imbeciles. The trailer featured a Caucasian male mutilating African villages, along with Africans. With the not-so ancient history of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Africa, the issue of racial insensitivity and indifference must be brought to the centerfold...

Olorunda also raises the issue of under-representation of African-Americans in the video game industry:

The Video Game industry is one which has profited immensely from the casualty of black on black hostility. Notable products of its faculty include, “50 Cent: Bulletproof,” “Def Jam: Icon” and “Grand Theft Auto.” This $10 billion market owes the majority of its inspiration to the tragic decisions of young black and brown teenagers...

 

A 2005 survey suggests that Blacks constitute 2% of the demographic makeup of Game Developers, with Latinos making 2.5%. How ironic is it, that this reality does very little to punctuate the disproportionate consumption of video game products by Black and Brown teenagers...

 

272 comments

 
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NeenekoHeh. PoliSci tends to ruin the news. Kinda like how being a gamer tends to ruin mainstream game stories, any actual knowledge in a field highlights how poorly it is reported.09/30/2014 - 8:30am
MechaTama31Heh. I don't think you need a master's in politics to see that... ;)09/30/2014 - 7:32am
Matthew WilsonTrust me i read the same sites.I have a Master's in Applied Politics. I get to see through the spin both Left and Right that tend to be put on news stories.09/30/2014 - 1:02am
WymorenceI also have an extremely hard time in listening to people who froth at the mouth when the POTUS does something almost identical to the previous POTUS, but for some reason is subhuman for it this time around09/30/2014 - 12:43am
WymorenceThe problem is that opposing views are a good thing, but sites like Brietbart and their ilk are the exact opposite. 9/10 times they tweak the news to benefit their own views instead of just giving their own side of it.09/30/2014 - 12:41am
james_fudgeIf I were in a cult I might try and shut myself away from opposing views...09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
james_fudgeoh and Nate Silver and Politico too.09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
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james_fudgeNeo_DrKefka: you do know you visited "one of those sites" when you posted that article, right?09/29/2014 - 11:44pm
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quiknkoldI'm an independent voter. Vote Blue and Red. so I dont really visit any specific news sites(Though I know FoxNews can take a flying leap off a bridge)09/29/2014 - 7:02pm
quiknkoldFactcheck.org. there you go. neither left or right. straight down the center.09/29/2014 - 7:01pm
 

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