If you’ve been keeping a close eye on the videogame industry, or actually any other industry that can raise the least bit of controversy, you can easily then identify Jack Thompson who is an attorney avid on attacking videogames and other forms of entertainment that are psychologically damaging to children and young youth. Given all the shootings that have been happening in the schools around the States, the murders and the crimes, Thompson has been actively attacking games like DOOM and, most importantly, the phenomenal Grand Theft Auto, mostly for its notorious use of organized crime, sex with prostitutes, and beating up police officers and running over them.Though parents of juvenile gamers have been warned of such games and are usually siding with Thompson, the entire gaming community is against such claims and rather blame any violent action by children resulting from playing such games on the parents who had an active (or non active) role in raising their children such that they could not discriminate between what is real and what isn’t.
A few years ago, it was put in a great way, “When you shoot someone in real life, you cannot insert a coin and go back. It is game over”.
Psychologists have done extensive studies on how the brain functions before, during and after playing violent videogames, and most have reported increased aggression, but that is often stemmed from excitement and competitiveness and does not in a long run translate into actual organized crime or increased violence.
People like Thompson though have gone overboard, stating that any kind of violence, even Mario hitting a mushroom on the head with a hammer, can be disturbing. We gamers claimed that Thompson was, in a former life, the said mushroom.
Anyhow, controversy in games have evolved from simple mushroom bashing, to organized crime, to simulation, where recent games have taken place in real life wars like WWII and, recently, Gulf War and even the recent war on Iraq. In this regards, everyone praised the concepts since the gamers were put in the feet of American soldiers taking out the “bad guys” and so it was perfectly normal. It was briefly an issue with non-American gamers but, as gamers, we all know a game is a game, and bad influence of who is the bad guy will definitely come in other forms of media in much more abundant and destructive ways than shooting down a now-extinct sect in Europe.
So why am I babbling all this?
Gamers (and recently non gamers) have been following the Resident Evil franchise since its debut on the PS1 around a decade ago. The most recent game on sale, Resident Evil 4, featured Hispanic zombies and settings, which, strangely, did not bring up any racial or ethnic dispute. In fact, people found it amusing that finally there were non-American and non-European zombies available for the kill. But what was really disturbing about the game was that the “zombies” were not as grotesque as their American counterparts, rather (at least before they start sprouting stuff from their backs and heads) they mostly looked human and attacked you with weapons in packs, violently. And you gunned them down. It was intense and disturbing.
But no one made a racial comment. For America, it was fine to kill Hispanics. To the rest of the world, zombies knew no race.
Now, a few years later, Resident Evil 5 surfaced, offering the first Resident Evil game in high definition, and, more importantly, the zombies are Africans. They’re Black. The main character? The ever popular Chris Redfield – who is white. White guy gunning down Black people. Now THAT is something to talk about.
Or is it?
Some bloggers (and others) are raising the issue that the game is promoting the hatred of black people by pitting a white guy against a horde of the zombified beings. Personally, I found the trailer incredibly disturbing and chilling, mostly though not because of the presence of black people, but because of the very pain you can see on their faces, which I believe is true.
Regardless, the concept of black people seems to be subjective to Americans, which rubbed off through globalization on the rest of the universe, but that does not mean that all countries view the concept of racism the same. Certainly, I doubt that the creators of the game, who are Japanese, have a grudge against Hispanics or Blacks.
Like any piece of art, what people interpret is probably different from what the artist actually intended. Games are a form of art on their own, and how each person perceives a game is subjective to that person.
Gamers, in majority, do not find the concept of Africans in a RE game to be racist. In fact, they put it in a nice way for me to close this post:
“According to the statistics of racial make-up in the world, I’d actually say that whites have been unfairly discriminated against in the series, if anything, since so many of them have been enemies in RE,” said one commenter. “It only seems fair that Africans get treated equally, and with only one game full of primarily black enemies to six games full of primarily white, from a racial viewpoint I’d say that the Africans are getting off easy.”
“There is plenty of real racism alive and well in the world today and words cannot describe how disgusting it can be,” wrote another, “but it is garbage rants like this that take attention from real problems. It is absurd and insulting to everyone to suggest this game is in anyway being designed to teach anyone to hate black people.”