Sensitive Racail Issues in RE5

#1 Posted by Syn (17 posts) -

Okay...
Here' s an attempt to start a sensible discussion about the certain racial issues pertaining to RE5
I'm not looking to start a flame war, just want to hear intelligent views on what seems to have been a sensitive issue in the development of RE5

We have seen responses by some journalists and gamers about the use of Africa as a setting. Some have expressed some discomfort about the subject.
I think N'gai Croal of Newsweek has made some interesting observations and comments and I suggest people go Google and read it.

I have two questions to raise...

1) Do you think that people were over-reacting? With RE4 there was no big issue about the virtual slaughter of Spanish Villagers so why so touchy here?

2) Do you think that the developers had to reign in their original vision of the game/story to accomodate public opinion? Do you think that this is fair? How does this affect
the development of the medium as a mature (dare I say) artform?

Looking forward to some great responses.

#2 Posted by Relys (984 posts) -

It's a video game... Racism can only happen if you're doing it in deliberation. Some people are way over reacting.

#3 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -

Recently there was an interview conducted that directly went after this controversy.

Here's the link to the interview: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/07/21/resident-evil-5-producer-comments/
It's a good read. They also confirm they in fact have black people on their staff. (The key statement the initial editorial brought up.)

While I agree that a very simple argument of: Well I've been able to shoot a wide cornucopia of different zombies of different ethnicities in past Resident Evil games, whats wrong with me shooting black zombies? Can be made, to simply feign ignorance over why  people might be upset with this is also pretty bad as well. A recent interview with MTV pretty much summed up my initial conclusion that Capcom had no idea what they were getting into:


Multiplayer: I know you talked about this at [Capcom's Las Vegas promotional event] Captivate, but I have to ask you: the way people talked about the game and some of the reactions of: “Oh, is this a racist game?”… A lot of that has died off. But we on the MTV gaming blog actually published one of these interviews that got a lot of the reaction. We interviewed a gaming journalist who talked about his feelings when he saw the trailer. And he talked about: “I don’t feel like anybody black worked on this game.” That was his gut reaction. And I’m curious if you had anticipated that kind of response, if you had foreseen that people were going to react that way — and how that reaction affected you?

Takeuchi: No, we certainly didn’t anticipate the reaction. We were quite surprised by the reaction that came out.

My theory is this: I don't believe they went out to make a racist game. Resident Evil has a popular western following, stirring racism controversy is the last thing they want. Initially ignorant? Absolutely.  Are they correcting the issue? From the latest trailers it seems so. I guess this has become a learning experience for Japanese developers.

From the interview: Takeuchi: Certainly the most important thing we have learned is that different countries do see the same things in different ways.

So to answer the initial two questions:
1) The initial outrage was justified to those who were offended. At the time personally I wasn't but I totally understand why some people were.
2) I don't think anything is being cut from RE5. I think more things are being added but not cut out. I don't think that will detract from it's original vision.


#4 Posted by Termite (2398 posts) -

I think it's a huge overreaction. Why didn't Hispanics get all up in arms about RE4?

#5 Posted by Atlas (2454 posts) -

It really is just a huge overreaction. Yes it's set in Africa. It depresses me that nobody gives a shit when it's Hispanic villagers being blown to hell, but those poor vulnerable Africans are untouchable. I don't really understand it. Just seems like a big ball of PC hypocracy.

#6 Edited by Lobsterkin (10 posts) -

There were complaints about the Hispanic portrayal in RE4 also...The big difference is someone like N'Gai wasn't commenting on it.

This whole situation reminds me of the comments Spike Lee made about Quientin Tarantino's use of the N word. If you look at Tarantino's wikipedia page, you can read Spike Lee's snide remarks, and Samuel L. Jackson's defense of Tarantino's use of the word.
I don't mean to say Samuel L. Jackson's defense was unreasonable, I'm sure it was greatly appreciated. He's an actor in the film and that gives him some credibility on the subject. But he's also black, and I'm not seeing any quotes from Bruce Willis on that wikipedia page. I feel he was given some extra credibility because of his race, and that's wrong.
Reasonable race discussion in America can be difficult, sadly, because of racism. It's a very real thing, and being mixed (mom's black, Dad's white, and I'm white) I've experienced it under a disguise, in person. Someone once said "Fucking nigger" around me freely, because he saw my skin is white, and he thought that was what defined me as a person. 
I think comments like "We'll see if someone starts a lynching party" being broadcasted over FOX news defines a person, that's racist. Cops beating up a suspect because he's Black, that's racist. But Resident Evil 5, from what I saw, is nothing but geographically accurate to the RE universe, and I'm disappointed they changed that, because I felt it was somewhat enlightened. They had moved past the weight of a person's pigment, I don't think they were "Black zombies" to anyone working on RE5, they were simply zombies created from a small, mostly black town in africa.  And until I see a black-skinned zombie hanging from a tree, surrounded by a bunch of white-skinned zombies, I don't think I'll feel any differently.

#7 Edited by Syn (17 posts) -

I understand that there are serious racial issues and problems that can be raised here.
Could there be some sort of over-compensation? I mean the racial issue in America is a very sensitive, especially with regards to African Americans. 
I mean if the next COD game focuses on the pacific conflict and you get to kill Japanese soldiers in all sorts of grisly ways, is this a big deal? Is there going to be as big an outcry?

vidiot:
Could adding content to the game also change the original vision...
for example, the new character that was introduced is a female of African roots... was she really there from the beginning? Or did they put her in to soften the shock of shooting Africans? [which puzzles me... does it make it better just because she's shooting her own people?]

I also don't think they set out to make a racist game... but I just find it saddening that the game designers have to reign in their vision because some people object to the material... I'm not advocating a KKK game... but at least allow reasonable mature content an opportunity to exist as the designers had envisioned.

Anyway... interesting comments so far... hope it doesn't degenerate like the similar thread on the general discussion page

#8 Posted by BlackWaterCO (1574 posts) -

Who gives a shit. I can put GTA4 in my 360 and shoot nothing but black civilians but thats not racist

I honestly don't give a damn, bunch of liberal douchebags is all it is

#9 Posted by BlackWaterCO (1574 posts) -
Atlas said:
"It really is just a huge overreaction. Yes it's set in Africa. It depresses me that nobody gives a shit when it's Hispanic villagers being blown to hell, but those poor vulnerable Africans are untouchable. I don't really understand it. Just seems like a big ball of PC hypocracy."

That's because black people are extremely sensitive and people like Jesse Jackson...ugh, nevermind. Im a mutt so I could careless about race. Im 75 German 25 Puerto Rican
#10 Posted by vidiot (2737 posts) -
vidiot:
Could adding content to the game also change the original vision...
for example, the new character that was introduced is a female of African roots... was she really there from the beginning? Or did they put her in to soften the shock of shooting Africans? [which puzzles me... does it make it better just because she's shooting her own people?]

You know I was thinking about this long after I wrote it regarding it initially dampening the "original vision" and how that might detract from it as something artistic. As a game design decision I believe the concept of co-op was initially considered. Whether her ethnicity was decided at the time is something that the developers have publicly answered with a "yes". I don't think we will ever be able to know for sure 100% if that was the original intention just speculate. I don't think the original vision is being detracted from. I believe that the development of this game is going through a lot of hands and what I mean by adding is exactly that. This is a different argument within itself and deals more with how big budget games are made.

I also don't think they set out to make a racist game... but I just find it saddening that the game designers have to reign in their vision because some people object to the material... I'm not advocating a KKK game... but at least allow reasonable mature content an opportunity to exist as the designers had envisioned.

I get what your saying. But I don't think Resident Evil should be the poster child for advancing mature racial issues in our video games (Personal opinion, rather have a more thought provoking series take that decision.). It will be interesting to see as gamers tastes become more sophisticated how that will reflect in our games. Mature content is something very important in games. (Not just blood and guts)

For those of you who haven't read the N'Gai interview: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/04/10/newsweeks-ngai-croal-on-the-resident-evil-5-trailer-this-imagery-has-a-history/
For the record: I'm white. While my immediate reaction to the initial trailer wasn't: OMGZ RACIST! After reading N'Gai's interview and more importantly showing that initial trailer to some of my black friends afterwards I can understand that some of that initial outrage was justified to those who were offended. I doubt the final product will reflect what many very vocal critics were advocating. This is a game that wants to make money in the States with little to no problems along the way. Whether that goes against the original vision... If the game had an "original vision" set in stone at all is something we wont know for a while.

I mean if the next COD game focuses on the pacific conflict and you get to kill Japanese soldiers in all sorts of grisly ways, is this a big deal? Is there going to be as big an outcry?

It should also be reminded that both pacific theater Medal of Honor games were released in Japan.

So to summarize: I think it was the initial trailer that threw people off.

#11 Posted by p4ddym1607 (995 posts) -

So people were complaining about the depiction of black africans as demented or savages?

Did RE5 devs change this?

It is completely racist to suggest that they are being racist when the game is set in Africa and there is a perfectly legitimate reason for the black people to be savages. When it comes to racism people are generally retarded about it. The people who complained about this are definitely being racist suggesting that this is wrong. They are the ones looking at the colour of the peoples skin.

#12 Edited by Blood_for_the_blood_God (300 posts) -

This reminds of the time when all the special interest groups and ethnic political groups come out at GTA games stereotyping them or flat out having "Lets go kill (insert ethnic group here)" and saying that it is racist. Political activists like seizing on any and everything to get media coverage. However, this reaction was from within the gaming community first and foremeost. I felt like they added fuel to the fire when they had that trailer where Chris delivers his monologue about how everyone around him (in Africa) is lifeless and not human which can be totally blown into a flat out rascist comment

#13 Posted by eightbit (123 posts) -
BlackWaterCO said:
"

Who gives a shit. I can put GTA4 in my 360 and shoot nothing but black civilians but thats not racist

I honestly don't give a damn, bunch of liberal douchebags is all it is

"
That doesn't mean the game is racist, but that's an indication that someone who does that is.

I don't know what to think about people's reactions to this issue.  I don't think there is anything wrong with someone discussing the issue, but no matter where it is brought up and no matter in what fashion of professionalism in which it is brought up, the reactions and comments I read (I'm not talking about here, but in other forums) are shocking and devolve into mob mentality.  I wonder if it wasn't for the amount of anonymity afforded by a forum if these types of individuals would speak this way in public or in front of their mothers.

As for me, whether someone is racially motivated in their creations or not is not of consequence.  Even if they just want to make a great game and Africa seemed to make sense, the imagery it creates can become powerful.  I don't necessarily think that's the case with RE5, but then again we won't know until we see the game in its full context.
#14 Posted by HandsomeDead (11863 posts) -

I really don't see how it's racist at all. The storyline is set in Africa, last I checked, Africa's population was mainly black ergo the enemies are going to be black too. Considering Resident Evil 4 was set in Spain, so all the enemies were Spanish and nobody said a word, I don't see why the African setting has to ruffle so many feathers.

#15 Posted by Everyones_A_Critic (6305 posts) -

BlackWaterCO said:

"

Who gives a shit. I can put GTA4 in my 360 and shoot nothing but black civilians but thats not racist

I honestly don't give a damn, bunch of liberal douchebags is all it is

"

Ok, I'm going to ignore the liberal comment because quite frankly it makes my blood boil when some guy just points the finger at the liberals as the reason the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It's everyone's fault, you and the liberals are all equally at fault.

Now getting back onto topic. The setting is fictional (Italics thing is stuck...). It's supposed to take place in an African country that will more than likely remain nameless as it did in RE4. Anything involving African Americans being anything but praised for their hardships or worshipped as sports icons is going to get slammed by the media, but it'll blow over quickly. They'll lose interest and the game will become another Manhunt 2 (granted it will be a lot better and sell a lot better...). Just ignore the Jesse Jackson's of the world and enjoy the game. (Sorry the Italics key is being such a pain in the ass..)

#16 Posted by DarkLegend (1387 posts) -

Why does everything got to do with killing African American always racist? Geez

#17 Posted by Syn (17 posts) -

I guess the depiction of Africans being subject to violence still brings up a lot of emotions...
There's a lot of emotional baggage that comes with that, especially in the US.
Just wondering if it has to do with the slave experience of the Africans... but then again... I can think of many other races who went through similar experiences.

I guess it might have to do with culture and identity as well?

Let's just hope that as the gaming audience matures, that issues that can be discussed in other mediums (music,books,art) are also given an opportunity to exist.
That being said, I agree with Vidiot that this game isn't exactly the best example of pushing the envelope.
I definitely don't want to see mature content being interpreted as more T and A or blood and guts... which is pretty much the state of things now, when you think about it... Onechanbara Vortex anyone? 

#18 Posted by Randolph (374 posts) -

The people calling the game racist, are themselves, the actual racists.

#19 Posted by Iffy350 (224 posts) -

Its funny. I find the human race to be very offensive. As far as RE5 is concerned. . . who really cares?!? The NAACP but they said Lucas was racist because Jar-Jar Binks sounds like a Jamaican so they sued in 1999 only to realize that the actor playing the voice and character of Jar Jar Binks WAS IN FACT JAMAICAN.

#20 Posted by p4ddym1607 (995 posts) -
Randolph said:
"The people calling the game racist, are themselves, the actual racists.
"
That is the truth
#21 Posted by Wolswor (201 posts) -

OH noooo, the white man is off killing some black people "WAHHHH".  Really, how am i responsible for what my ancestors did? Stop bringing up the past.   Nothing is more annoying than this particular argument, for example if a black guy went on a killing spree and killed 3 white guys, it would be state news, maybe even country.  If a white guy went on a killing spree and killed 3 black guys, dear lord it would be plastered all over the nation's news.  Support rallys would be made, A day would be devoted to the murder of the heroic african-american people.  If you want any more proof of how racist everything is just look at scholarships....almost impossible to get any if you're white.

#22 Posted by AutomaticSnake (390 posts) -
Randolph said:
"The people calling the game racist, are themselves, the actual racists.
"
i have to agree with that
#23 Edited by pause422 (6201 posts) -

Figured this thread would bring up some stupid comments. Honestly though,this has been talked about since the first screenshots of RE5 were released over a year ago,people just need to get the hell over it. There aren't only black africans in the game,there has been some lighter skinned ones as well. On top of your co-op partner is black,I mean no one bitched and moaned when in RE4 you were shooting hispanics,or every other game where you're killing white people.

Capcom wouldn't purposely make a damn game aimed at being racists,its just accurate because you're in fucking AFRICA. Recently some of their black employees have even acknowledged all this shit going on,and said they don't find a single thing wrong with it other than because accurate for the setting,and one of capcoms highest positions is also a black man. So that kind of counters anyones feelings towards this supposly because racist.

All these people speaking out and just trying to get this back on headlines,are just trying to sound "politically correct" like they give a damn in the first place even if  actual racism was happening,but they don't.

#24 Posted by AmericanPegasus (392 posts) -

They're less people calling it racist than you think. People got really angry that the few people that called it racist, then the idea got really popular and spread on the internet.

Which we all know is serious business.

#25 Posted by Arestice (468 posts) -

I'm just gonna come out and say that no one had a problem with killing all the white people in the previous games. So what's the deal.

#26 Posted by Lemegeton (780 posts) -

There was no fuss over RE: 4 and there is over RE:5.  People react this way because Black people were discriminated against and treated like dirt for decades , and the spanish were not. Now i like everyone would love an even playing field, and for everyone to be treated equally and all races to be looked at the same. But the simple fact is because of the treatment of the black people through history things like this will always happen.

 Now i for one believe that while Racism does exist today , the world is a much less racist place and i know there are people out there who will cry racism at the slightest little thing, and will call people a racist without any justification, and i hate those people just as much as i hate those people who have ever persecuted someone because of their skin color. as far as the game goes i do think its a huge over-reaction , but this stuff happens everyday, to call a game racist simply because its a white man in a black nation is pure hypocrisy , because we all know if RE 4 had a black character shooting the white villagers not one word would be said. my point is , is that yes the reaction to RE 5 is crazy and hypocritical but that is the world we live in , and thanks to the scum of past generations who treated the black people like animals, the world will always be this racially sensitive and overly politically correct place and that makes me sad.

 I hate the idea of Capcom or any developer changing game content because of an outcry from any group, be it based on race, gender or religion , but game companies like all companies who wish to do business in this world are slaves to the PC nature of society these days , and would not want to risk alienating any one group of people who are potential customers

#27 Posted by Doc_Zaius (119 posts) -
Randolph said:
"The people calling the game racist, are themselves, the actual racists.
"
To paraphrase the immortal Monty Python, I came here for an argument but this is just contradiction.
#28 Posted by Homer (1372 posts) -

Yeah this is really just stupid. People take things way to far.

#29 Posted by IxRyanRitterxI (127 posts) -

it would only be racist if the guy u play as was wearing a white robe with a pointy hood..... other wise people have nothing to do except call things racist and messed up.


WOW RESIDENT EVIL 2 IS SO RACIST MAN I KILLED A WHITE GUY. I MEAN WOW WHAT ARE THEY RACIST??!! THEY TRYIN TO SAY WHITE PEOPLE ARE ZOMBIES.... WOW CAPCOM U RACIST.

#30 Edited by PsYuSoFly (97 posts) -
DarkLegend said:
"Why does everything got to do with killing African American always racist? Geez"
It all started with Slavery my friend, Slavery.
#31 Posted by HandsomeDead (11863 posts) -
PsYuSoFly said:
"DarkLegend said:
"Why does everything got to do with killing African American always racist? Geez"
It all started with Slavery my friend, Slavery."
Why bump a months old thread just for this useless comment?
#32 Posted by StaticFalconar (4849 posts) -
IxRyanRitterxI said:
"it would only be racist if the guy u play as was wearing a white robe with a pointy hood..... other wise people have nothing to do except call things racist and messed up.


WOW RESIDENT EVIL 2 IS SO RACIST MAN I KILLED A WHITE GUY. I MEAN WOW WHAT ARE THEY RACIST??!! THEY TRYIN TO SAY WHITE PEOPLE ARE ZOMBIES.... WOW CAPCOM U RACIST."
It would be more racist if the story of the game started off with Chris trying to go to the ATM and the result was the trailer we all saw at E3.

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