Delayed Responsibility

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Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

This Won’t be Much of a Post

Posted by deckard47 on March 19, 2009

Because it’s about people typing funny things into search fields to get to my blog. But it’s also about games!

Down to business. Thanks to my latest Among Thieves post, the “sexy nathan drake” types are showing back up at my site. It’s nice to see you all again. Second, someone got here by typing “tom cross shouldn’t be gaming.” That hurts Internet. I didn’t know you felt that way. I like gaming so much, why would you take it away?

Anyway, I’m happy to say that Left 4 Dead 360 will be showing up soon. Hopefully I’ll be able to play it with a small amount of skill. I’m mediocre on the PC version, I’d hate to think what I’ll be like using a controller. Peggle: Dual Shot is still entertaining me. I’m now grappling with a stupid magic rabbit, whose power is utterly worthless. I long for my magic pumpkin now!

Finally, a RE 5 update. I’m on chapter 5-2 (I think), having just defeated the (spoilerz, spoilerz, etc.) ludicrous giant spider boss. I forgot to tell you about the “tribal” villagers. You thought the villagers from the first two chapters were bad? Wait for the wetlands. I was making the Tintin in the Congo reference as a bit of a joke before. This time it’s no joke. You’ll fight painted, masked, lion-clothed villagers, who look like they jumped straight out of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Capcom, classing it up. There’s actually a boy’s diary that you find in a village, that delivers the kind of humanizing look at the pre-infected society that would have changed the beginning of the game, to some degree. Luckily, Capcom stuffed it at the en of the 3rd chapter, in an optional document… And by luckily, I mean it doesn’t make a damn difference, with every other move they make, they’re digging themselves and even deeper hole. The reasoning they give for these villagers dressing up in “traditional” garb (and by traditional, I mean ripped from tabloids and serials older than my grandparents) is paper-thin. Apparently the villagers just started dressing in this fashion (and murdering each other) after being infected… Um, apparently this is a symptom of the version of the Progenitor virus specific to that part of Africa (and specifically, the marshlands and the nearby caves), which only affects men. Men who kill their families and villages as they become infected. Capcom, this is not how you do this. Oh, I’m sure it’s just “how this version of the virus is,” but it also happens to fit conveniently into your vision of what unpredictable, violently traditional people the Africans you’ve created are. And that’s just one angle to critique this game from.

The game is getting dumber by the minute, and I hope it doesn’t take me with it. The writing is bad, the kind of bad that makes you want to go Eternal Sunshine the time you’ve spent with it. Part of it appears to be some kind of weird syntax and wording thing. It’s how a game would look if I translated it from French (but mine would be worse). You’d figure Capcom would hire somebody who knew both languages well enough to make the game intelligible to English ears. Maybe it’s just really badly regularly written? I can’t tell.

The story and script are offensive not only in their content but also in their basic approach to storytelling. Chris and Sheva make Bruce Willis (and I mean Asian women-hating Die Hard 4-era Willis, not my beloved Fifth Element Willis) look like Humphrey fucking Bogart. (more of the spoilers? Not really) Albert Wesker is the hugest kind of tool; maybe he’s what designers think gamers would like to be like? There is absolutely no reason to be interested in him. There are a million other bad guys in games who I would rather watch or fight. His sidekick, the hilariously voiced Excella (no, really, that’s her name, I bet she’s good at things… Maybe she even excels at them!), wears “sexy” clothing and attempts to use her wiles to convince Wesker to let her be his “partner” Wesker (using devilish tactics no doubt culled from the “women like debasing themselves before men” school of literary inspiration), but is rebuffed by his Manly Devotion to Wearing Glasses and Having Blond Elvis Hair. They (most of the characters) stubbornly continue to use the word “partner” a lot. It’s gotten almost as bad as the “fertile ground” situation. Also, the spiders creep me out, the little ones, that is.

And I may still finish it and play it with Owen. What kind of fool am I?

Posted in Impressions, Racism | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

Seth Schiesel and the Opening Hours of RE 5

Posted by deckard47 on March 16, 2009

This won’t be the last time this happens (and hey, I’m doing it too), but Seth Schiesel decided to one up everyone else and lay down the law on RE 5 and racism. Things do not, unsurprisingly, go well. What follows is a large portion of his article, a bit of analysis, and then some linking and discussion of relevant posts/discussions:

For at least a year some black journalists have been wringing their hands about whether the game, the latest in the seminal survival-horror series, inflames racist stereotypes because it is set in Africa. The answer is no.

The series, which began in 1996, is about a virulent bioweapon that turns people into zombies and other gross, pustulant monstrosities. In what has already become perhaps the most hackneyed theme in gaming, the player’s job is to save humanity from (yet another) zombie apocalypse. Other games in the franchise have been set elsewhere, like the United States, Spain and South America. In the new installment, released Friday for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, the action shifts to Africa, where the local population in the fictional region of Kijuju has fallen victim to the Las Plagas virus.

So Resident Evil 5 exposes the perhaps uncomfortable truth that blacks and Arabs can become zombies too, just like anyone else. Blacks and Arabs do not have a secret anti-zombie gene. And just like all the thousands of white, Asian and Hispanic zombies that have been dispatched in innumerable other games before them, the African zombies must also be destroyed, or at least neutralized.

This supposed controversy is why no one should ever try to come to a serious judgment about a game — which by its nature is interactive — based on a noninteractive snippet like a trailer.

There is no question that Resident Evil 5 is mostly about a white guy and his local café-au-lait hottie running around killing a bunch of deranged Africans (as opposed to deranged white people). But this is not a movie. When you are in control of the action the racial or ethnic appearance of your enemies simply stops mattering. The basic mechanics of moving, shooting, using cover, solving puzzles, employing weapons properly and understanding the overall environment are universal, no matter whether the enemies are aliens or Nazis or zombies or gangsters or any of the other categories we use to denote “acceptable to kill.”

Resident Evil 5 is certainly violent, but it does not feel especially gratuitous in its depiction of violence against African zombies. 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. The Japanese development team at Capcom, which developed Resident Evil, professed surprise at the racism concerns when black game writers in the United States started criticizing the game based on preview videos more than a year ago. To help the Japanese team understand, perhaps they should consider what the response in Asia would be to a Japanese game in which the player slaughters zombified Chinese villagers.

So… Where to start? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Impressions, Racism | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

News, Kinda

Posted by deckard47 on March 14, 2009

So I saw two or three things I wanted to link to, so I’m going to link to them. I know it’s not very fancy, but I don’t care. Here we go:

First, Simon over at Chungking Espresso has a cool piece up about Left 4 Dead up. He’s been writing about it for a while, but I haven’t mentioned it, because I’m silly. This one is about the rhythm of Left 4 Dead. See? Go look!

Second! Over at Acid for Blood (I hate saying “over,” it makes it sound like I’m bestest buddies with the site and it’s writer… I’ll say something new from now on. After this one) Brinstar has quickly and carefully explained why the “racism expert” guy who got mentioned a ton recently is mostly full of it (and why everyone else is full of it for believing him). Like I said, her points are good, and she makes a strong argument, so go check it out. Regarding that “informed expert,” who thought that it was cool to have one dude pronounce a piece of entertainment racist or not, and have that be the final word? Hell, if you want that, I can go read Chris Redfield’s palm for the answers, or look for them in the tea leaves or something else that’s “informed” as much as this guy was. Oh, and his conclusions were shit anyway. Onward.

Third, I guess the Escapist found some site that is worried about the PC version of The Game of Life teaching their kids about homosexuality?

“My daughter noticed right away (even before I did) and clicked on one of the girls instead of one of the men and then asked, ‘Mom, how come I can marry a woman?’ And then that led into a lot more questions that, quite frankly, I was not ready to talk to my 6-year-old about.”

Oh noes. Seriously though, those are tough questions. How can it be done? Do we have the resources? Can we rebuild him? I’m glad that The Game of Life is stepping up in this area to be honest. Like the author of the Escapist article who posted this gem, I always thought that game was creepy and centered around things I disliked (marriage, houses, investments, and more words I didn’t understand). One assumes that this Christian site doesn’t know about Army of Two yet. When they do, it’s going to be a real blow, I think.

Oh, and last and least, there is a review of Skate 2 over at Popmatters, courtesy of myself. I think it’s actually pretty good (you know how I normally write), and if you crave writings about Skate 2, and haven’t purchased the game yet, check it out. Also, I have a new article up at GameSetWatch. It’s about Alone in the Dark, again, for which I apologize. Still, it’s moderately entertaining, I think. It’s time for me to wrap this up, because it’s almost Paella time. Rocking.

Posted in Links, Racism | 2 Comments »

Capcom, Showing Us All How it’s Not Done

Posted by deckard47 on March 12, 2009

Wow. Normally I’m not an early morning blogger, but this blew me away. As is traditional, Resident Evil 5 will ship with a ton of unlockables. Like, a ton. It’s why I loved the so-so RE Zero, for its Leech Hunter mode, and resultant unlimited ammo double-barreled shotgun. It feels good just to write that. Anyway, one of the unlockable/buyable costumes for Shiva has been revealed. And revealed is the right word, because she’s wearing some kind of “tribal” outfit that covers about 10% of her body. And no, I am not making this up, by “tribal” I mean she’s wearing what is essentially a cheetah print bikini, body paint and feathers. Wow Capcom. You just took sexist objectification and antiquated racism and rolled them up into a  sandwich, didn’t you? I guess you guys are thinking there’s nowhere to go but up from here? I’m suddenly worried that there’s even worse, hidden away in the game. I guess we’ll all find out soon. I hope that this makes people stop and pay attention, because if most people who buy their games don’t hold them responsible for this bullshit, then why should they care? Again, will enough people care? I hope so.

Posted in News, Racism | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Homecoming…

Posted by deckard47 on March 12, 2009

Is the real deal. Want fear you can’t forget? Buy Silent Hill: Homecoming. Seriously, I’m dead set on playing it (and replaying it, in this case), but I can’t. There’s no one else in the house, and no one likes talking to me on the phone when I’m concentrating on killing Lurkers or Spiney guys or whatever. It’s much worse than Siren: Blood Curse, probably because I play Blood Curse like a tactical sneaker (as you mostly have to). Sure, it’s atmospheric, but it’s got nothing on knowing that weird pale knife-hand things are just an ace haft away from you. Before i get to today’s main event (or maybe one of the main events?), I thought I’d point out that I’m downloading both the Wanted and Wheelman demos on Live. not only does this tickle my alliterative fancy, but they’ll hopefully be entertaining offerings. At least I won’t have to watch Morgan Freeman, Jolie and McAvoy (who I like, check out State of Play, where he’s wonderfully and pallidly rakish) “act” for two hours.

Anyway, in preparation for RE 5‘s release, Kotaku has decided to dip its toes in the racism debate again. They’ve done so by linking to two articles, one an MTV interview with the project leader for RE 5‘s cutscenes, and another from the Wall Street Journal. The MTV one is alright, at first, until the guy just up and says this:

I can’t speak for everybody. Everybody is different and has different sensitivities, but for me, I feel it’s balanced and I feel like we tell the story accurately the way it was written. It’s set in Africa, and we did our best to not just make it be, “OK, here’s a white guy shooting black people.”

There’s a black woman — Sheva is fighting for her country and trying to defend these people who are infected with the virus. I think the actual story, the characters — how bigger-than-life they are and how kick-ass they are and their relationship — transcends that issue.

Ummmmm, ok. “There’s a black woman.” Yes! Yes there is. Her skin is not as white as Chris’ skin (Chris, who looks like a murdering alien bounty hunter or some shit. Check out his face, it’s worse than his arms)! Just like the enemies’ skins! That’s some next level shit there. Really (and less smart-assedly) though, if they’re gonna use Sheva as a defense, they’d better get in line. People have and will continue to use black characters to cover their asses when they’ve knowingly fucked up in other racially related areas. It’s almost funny how adamant, how sincere they are. “No, really, she’s black, don’t you guys see!? It’s balanced.” All I can say is, if they think this is going to make a difference, they’re wrong. This is going to kick their asses every which way, and the longer it takes for the whole gang (and by this I mean gamers who have yet to tumble to the fact that one of their beloved franchises is unavoidably, unquestionably in very bad taste, and extremely offensive, no matter how you slice it) to catch on, the longer we hurt ourselves. Let’s face it, there are tons of people saying what I’m saying (as I mentioned in a previous post… you can google this, and find tons of discussions that don’t center on how “it’s set in Africa, after all”), more eloquently, but a large percentage of gamers just don’t give a fuck. Will they ever?

Wow, that got parenthetical, fast. Well. So WordPress just deleted the last 10 minutes of writing, after the above stuff was written. I am unhappy. Here’s the Washington Post one, I’m too tired to sum it up (aside from saying that it’s alright, but doesn’t really break any new ground). WordPress, I hate you. I’ve been less of a blogger lately, for which I apologize. Tomorrow, when I hate WordPress less, I’ll write more. Goodight.

Posted in Impressions, Racism | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist (hey gamers and developers!)

Posted by deckard47 on October 20, 2008

So, I just ran across an article over at Kotaku that just blew me away. I’m gonna quote the post, because it’s too dumb to rewrite here:

Last week, Sony announced a worldwide recall and delay for LittleBigPlanet after two expressions from the Qur’an were discovered in the lyrics of one of the game’s licensed music tracks. The song is titled “Tapha Niang” off the album Boulevard de l’independance.

And here are the translations of the two lines (although I can’t say for sure):

1- In the 18th second: “كل نفس ذائقة الموت” (“kollo nafsin tha’iqatol mawt”, literally: ‘Every soul shall have the taste of death’).

2- Almost immediately after, in the 27th second: “كل من عليها فان” (“kollo man alaiha fan”, literally: ‘All that is on earth will perish’).

I understand that if those lines were in there when the game shipped, people would freak. I know that people would see this (correctly) as some strong imagery. I’m sure it would offend people, Muslims, Christians and others, for different reasons.

But this is how they worded it:

“During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur’an.”

Forgive, if you will, my cynicism, but I’m pretty sure that if there had been lyrics like that in a song (and the lyrics came from the Christian Bible), that there would be no recall. Because it would just be how it is. As always. No one would have a problem, because it’s ok if the Bible condemns things to death, but not ok if some other Religion’s holy book does the same? I understand the censorship, I do, but this still stinks of people being scared of Islam, and of Sony making a quick (but again, admittedly business-savy) move. It’s sad. When Resistance had a level set in Manchester Cathedral and the Church of England got angry, Sony told the C of E to get bent. Sweet.

Oh, and I’m sure I’m not supposed to say this, but it’s super catchy. I hope the rest of the soundtrack is this good. Late.

Posted in Racism, Rant | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »