'Wall Street Journal' Uses 'Resident Evil 5' Controversey To Discuss Bigger Picture


Posted March 11, 2009 - By r_pad


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The Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting article examining the alleged racism in Resident Evil 5. Initially, I thought it was going to consist of a mainstream writer ripping the game to shreds. Instead, it's a thoughtful and intelligent article that addresses the issue and expands on a larger problem in gaming. First thing's first -- the author doesn't believe that the game is inherently racist:

"To be clear, 'Resident Evil 5' is not a game about killing Africans. Your job, as a player, is to save villages that have been victimized by a biochemical terrorist group. The first fearsome opponent you face is a blonde-haired female and you are rescued several times by another troupe of African soldiers. And ultimately, the game suggests that the barbarism depicted in the game is a result of your enemies'zombieness, not their African identity. In short, Africans don't beat you to death with their hands -- zombies do." 

I never thought I'd see the word "zombieness" used in the WSJ. One of my dreams has come true.

Seriously, the author uses the issue to examine a curious trend in gaming: the overabundance of white protagonists. Similar to movies and television, the lead characters in games are almost always white. The author noted:

"The main characters in videogames are not particularly diverse either. There have been exceptions; Faith, an athletic Asian woman, was at the center of last year's action game 'Mirror's Edge.' A 2001 study conducted by Children Now! reported that nearly all videogame heroes were white and almost all African-American males were portrayed as competitors as opposed to allies."

Certainly, it's not as ridiculous as the television show Friends (nothing in Manhattan revolves around six white people), but there's definitely a lack of ethnic diversity in gaming. There are exceptions, but the number of non-White leads in gaming are a rarity and don't accurately reflect the world's ethnic makeup. I love that the author used the Resident Evil 5 controversy to bring up a larger issue. I'd also love it if a game featured a Chinese-Filipino-American hero. (Attention, game developers: I'm available for motion capture all weekend.)

Do you agree that gaming is dominated by White, Western leads? Do you want more ethnically diverse heroes and heroines?


'Wall Street Journal' Uses 'Resident Evil 5' Controversey To Discuss Bigger Picture


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