The Sunday Papers

By Kieron Gillen on March 22nd, 2009 at 7:18 pm.

Sundays are for every organ in your body giving up the ghost and lying still, slowly twitching, as an enormous firey orb in the sky mocks you with beams of light. And slowly – ever so slowly – compiling a list of interesting game related reading we collected across the week for your delectation, while trying to not pollute what’ll surely be my last will and testament with a link to something music related. I’ve got to try, even though my will – and, in fact, everything else – is weak.

Failed. But less failed than usual. It was almost relevant.

.

74 Comments »

  1. Muzman says:

    Yeah, a game that suggests that a normal person wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a drooling, hyper-aggressive zombie and a normal African would probably sidestep the whole “racism” debate and go into “genius”.

    I assume that’s sarc. It doesn’t side step it so much as come at it from a different angle and an angle that might make for an interesting experience.
    An elite team/duo of soldiers sent in to clean up a disease outbreak runs afoul of the locals and ends up not being able to tell the difference (as it’s fairly marginal difference to begin with), and/or the situation deteriorates to such a point that in combat terms the difference is largely academic.
    That has all sorts of social commentary potential about race and colonialism (in a ‘shades of Black Hawk Down’ kind of way). Precisely the sorts of moral murk that is fashionable in the games industry as well as being good old fashioned zombie movie fare.

  2. Crane says:

    “…because there’s a history of demonization and subhuman portrayals with regard to people of African descent, there’s a certain sensitivity around that.”

    “Spaniards don’t have a long, loud history of being portrayed as scary, subhuman savages. The average American citizen that previous Resident Evil games have used as enemies don’t have a long, loud history of being portrayed as scary, subhuman savages.”

    This bugs me.
    What the crux of the issue seems to be is: “Oh, there’s a history of African people being portrayed as subhuman monsters, so it’s more racist to kill them than it was to slaughter hordes of Spaniards!”

    Now, what this says to me is “Oh, Africans got screwed over in the past, so we have to treat them differently now!”

    Shouldn’t we be treating them THE SAME WAY WE WOULD ANY OTHER RACE?
    Positive discrimination is still discrimination.

  3. Ian says:

    Genuine question (rather than possibly sounding like a loaded question, I’m not sure):
    Is there a way they could have set the game in Africa with the enemies basically just being black ganados (which is the impression I’m getting) without it potentially being seen as racist?

  4. Nick says:

    In the porn version of RPS would Horace the Endless Bear be a fat hairy bloke who practices tantric sex?

  5. Heliocentric says:

    I wrote a long post, it died. Short form: re5 is racist just like re4. Only the subject matter differs this time. By racist i mean they use the concept of race to create an uneasiness. In re4 it was dirty europeans in re5 its tribal africans and notably in the previous games corporate and suburban america. These environments and their inhabitants are the horror of resident evil. Not something magical, or even the overlayed science but people are the cause for the for horrific events. The next re will likely have something much less contraversal, im thinking asian undead, but capcom being asian might not see this as alien enough to merit focus. Oh, and it’ll be racist then too.

  6. Ecko says:

    Does the whole RE5/racism issue not beg the question, why would Capcom intentionally create a game with racist intent?

    Seems like we’re happy to get the pitchforks out just for a laugh, no?

    Also, success!

  7. Jockie says:

    I can’t help but think Farcry 2 got away lightly to resi in comparison, being that most of the enemies in the game are mindless black savages who attack you on sight, and most the npcs i met in the game were greedy doublecrossing butchers. Then again i didn’t play it til the end so perhaps there was something in the text about the white man (the arms dealer dude with the terrible voiceover) being the root of all evil.

    Charlie Brookers article is ‘about’ what his column is always about. Charlie Brooker being rude and amusing about stuff.

  8. Über Nerd says:

    However Farcry2 actually presses different buttons, mindless savages are a limitiation of AI. In FarCry 2 manipulative whites and power hungry blacks combined you get yourself a short summary of Africa. If you really dig for “Racism!” you will find harsh reality, and maybe the “white!” men “sort-of” solving the crisis instead of “black!” men.

  9. Ian says:

    @ Ecko: Somehow these days it seems it’s worse when people are unintentionally racist.

  10. bonuswavepilot says:

    “If you don’t want to see Walker working my shaft while Jim cradles the balls lovingly, get donating. ”

    Am I the only one who finds the most disturbing aspect of this the change from “*my* shaft” to the rather indefinite “*the* balls”? Which balls? Do his own count? If so, will he have sufficient hands to cradle all the balls available?

  11. Ecko says:

    Of course, unintentional racism is careless at best, and deeply worrying at worst, I merely believe that this reeks of strawmen for the ‘intellectuals’ of the internet to poke at, so as to look nice and progressive.

    Having black drunks to shoot at as enemies is vaguely insulting to all persons, but it’s hardly the BNP infiltrating Capcom. One would hope that the average black person could take it in his stride, it seems so petty!

  12. Malagate says:

    @bonuswavepilot, the balls are a seperate entity that are clearly integral to the RPS hive mind, if the balls are not lovingly cradled at all times then the magical articles are not written and Walker’s shaft-working technique suffers. Jim is actually just standing in the background whilst holding four spherical objects that look a little bit like purple kiwi fruit, in a loving manner.

  13. mrrobsa says:

    Man I’m so frustrated by this Resi furore! My thoughts as soon as people started arguing; ‘I’m sure it’s not racist, there just happen to be black African enemies, and Capcom would be smarter than that’.
    Played it last night. Not only is there a section of normalcy at the start, contrary to what Evan Narcisse’s piece says, but there’s just nothing racist about it. Any marauders are quickly highlighted as infected, the hordes are of mixed race, and there are several positive black characters too.
    It draws on iconography from Africa’s past, but I’d expect that wherever the game was set. I’m sure if it was set in China there’d be dangerous icons from China’s past to start the chills. And to say that because of Africa’s past of oppression we can’t have a game where Africans are the villains, seems more racist to me, like positive discrimination or something. The stuff that happened centuries before I was born is REALLY SHIT, but I think I’m a good guy who treats everyone how I’d like to be treated, and I think it only fair that all nations of the world should be included in my virtual pew-pew games.
    I’m probably a racist now, right? ;p
    Also, Resi 5 is not very good. :(

  14. The Hammer says:

    EDGE have a nice bit about the RE5 thing in their 200th issue.

    It’s probably the thing this year I’ve most been thinking about when it comes to games. I just watched the ending of Birth of a Nation today, and hells, there was quite a lot to compare to what I’ve seen of RE5 (particularly, vulnerable white women).

  15. syrion says:

    I think Spiderweb games would do much better if Mr. Vogel freelanced out the art. He could get better graphics out of an art school student or two, who would work for cheap, and could use the graphics for several games.

    Of course, I’m not an expert on this, but I think he really undervalues the presentation side of it. I bought Avernum 5, but I’m an atypical gamer. How many people would be more willing to spend thirty bucks on a game if it didn’t look like something from 1989?

  16. The Hammer says:

    Oh, and away from the POTENTIALLY VIOLENT DEBATES, the online article is really something special, at least to me. I have a lot of friends on WOW, and there are times you don’t see them for weeks without any prior warning, and it really does worry you. Some you can probably guess lost interest, but with others, it’s just a really abrupt departure. I mean, these are guys and gals that, not only do you see almost every day, but they’re also ones that belong to social groups, social groups that work how they do because of the people in them.

    I’d like for my online friends to know if I’d kicked the bucket, or even if I’d been in a non-fatal accident. Otherwise you have an unexplainable emptiness.

  17. N says:

    lol, the whole “and that’s worth discussing” repetition was annoying to say the least, in the re5 article, yes.

  18. dhex says:

    the graphics for geneforge five are actually pretty nice. i wasn’t totally wowed by the demo but i haven’t had a chance to go back, but it’s far from ugly.

  19. Dinger says:

    The_B says:

    Wait, what’s Alec doing during all this?

    Yeah, my money’s on “Naked Crying Watching Judging”; that or putting on his pained today face. (or is that painted day-face?)

  20. undead dolphin hacker says:

    I’m just glad the double-standard of racism has finally spread to video games. Now our media can have pseudo-intellectuals chase their pseudo-intellectual tails with pseudo-intellectual ramblings about colonialism and negroes and we’re all closet racists and mumblemumblemumble huffinstuff huffinstuff too.

    And we can end our articles with little pithy quotes like “let’s do something about it, guys!” without actually advocating any kind of solution, because everyone’s too much of a pussy to come out and say what they really think of the matter, and to advocate a solution would be to acknowledge it’s a problem.

    Except, apparently, Jim Sterling, who pretty much sums up what appears to be my generation’s (you know, the one who elected Obama) take on this nonsense. The R-word didn’t even cross my mind until the wannabe intellectuals came out of the woodwork. The game’s set in Africa, the zombies are Africans, a people which tend to be… you know, black. I didn’t even blink.

    But ohymgosh racism, or I didn’t read the article, or I’m an exception that proves the rule, or whatever it takes to preserve the poorly written, meaningless pontificating that we consider products of gaming intelligentsia.

  21. Muzman says:

    It’s good to see the violent, defensive overreaction to people even brining up the word racism, or any discussion following such (as well as anti-intellectualism and a blinkered view of history) has finally spread from right wing Talk-back radio to video games sites.
    The word still has some power, I see.

  22. Psychopomp says:

    On the subject of RPS porn, I know someone who will do commissions of damn near anything, for “THIRTY DORRAH.”

    We’ve discussed commissioning that in the RPS chatroom.
    For the lulz, of course.

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