The Color of a Game; A Commentary on Resident Evil

I am fully aware that we live in an age — and country — that demands that people walk on egg shells when it comes to communicating with other people. I also realize that no matter what you say, there is probably someone, someplace that could take offense to it.

Enter the trailer for Capcom’s upcoming installment of the zombie shoot ‘em up series, Resident Evil 5.

Even though RE5 isn’t scheduled for a Wii release, the franchise is still a part of every Nintendo gamer’s canon of games, especially considering the Wii’s nearly flawless port of Resident Evil 4

Since the trailer’s release at E3 ‘07, video game and socio-political pundits have been in arms over the racist overtones in the trailer. In many ways, those crying “racism” remind me of the very same torch and pitchfork mobs found in RE4. Well, if they are the same manipulated mobs, then I will gladly take the part of RE5’s Chris Redfield.

Lock and load, baby.

Resident Evil 5\'s Chris Redfield defends himself against an angry mob.

Newsweek’s N’Gai Croal was one of the first to voice his uneasiness about the trailer. Soon, everyone was crying wolf at RE5, including the outspoken X-Play co-host Adam Sessler in his soapbox web special. However, I applaud writers like Gameworld Network’s Brian Allen, who defended Capcom and RE5.

I have watched the trailer many times, and enjoyed it each time. Even though it looks exactly like RE4 — except instead of Spaniards, they are Africans — it made my heart race with the thought of having an entire village assault baring down on me. All the time, you, as the gamer, are fully-aware that you only have one clip of bullets for your handgun and two shotgun shells. Ah, how I love the new age of Resident Evil games.

Leon Kennedy targets Spanish peasants in Resident Evil 4

Of course, now I must ask myself the question as to whether or not I am a racist because I enjoyed the trailer. I also enjoyed Black Hawk Down and Schindler’s List. Maybe I am a racist after all. Or maybe, just maybe, I can take a form of media entertainment for exactly what it is: entertainment.

Capcom (a Japanese company) isn’t making a game for white Americans to play so that they can expel the fears that they have towards “the black man” by mowing down mindless legions of them. I say mindless, but if they are anything like the Spaniards in RE4, they will be anything but mindless. Just thinking about it makes me conjure up feelings of how I longed for rows of dumb zombies in previous games of the series. Sorry, for the digression. I’ll get back to my point now - you can’t honestly believe that Capcom’s goal was to produce racist propaganda.

A megaphone-wielding leader speaks to African villagers.

Ok, then it was Capcom who, instead of being out-right racist, was instead insensitive. How dare Capcom show African villagers in an African village. Hell, take the image of Chris Redfield walking through the village, replace him with *insert famous white celebrity here* and you have a common occurrence on television.

Sure, Brad Pitt doesn’t shoot the villagers, but then again, the villagers don’t become zombie-like and attack Pitt, either.

People, and Americans in general, need to stop making race such a large issue. Don’t people realize that every time we point out that a black man is running for president, or how a black coach won the SuperBowl, or that February is Black History month, that we are actually drawing even more of a racial distinction based on our cultural differences? In America, a country of mixed cultures, shouldn’t we just except people for who they are? If that is in fact the case, then stop making it news every time a person of another race does something special.

If we want to progress beyond race, we have to stop making race an issue. Good or bad; stop it. So what if Indianapolis Colts’ coach Tony Dungy is the first black man to win the Superbowl? If we spotlight it, all we do is magnify the issue that he has racial and cultural differences that set him apart from white caucasians.

Those who are attacking RE5 from within the industry are also those that have otherwise defended it, often saying that games like Grand Theft Auto, Postal and Mass Effect have no damaging effects on the minds of gamers. Yet, they seem to think that RE5 will be different. RE5 will somehow heighten a player’s desensitization to cultural differences. It will fuel a gamer’s disrespect for “different” people.

Spaniards storm Leon Kennedy in RE4

While we’re on the subject, let’s focus on the racial issues found in a few other games. How about the critically-acclaimed Gears of War. I mean, come on, look at how stereotypical the character, Cole Train, is. Can he fit the stereotype of urban black man any more than he already does? How about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Do I even need to remind people of the terrifyingly negative images portrayed by the African American protagonist as he waged crimes all over the cityscape?

Wake up, people.

RE5 is just a game — just like those previously listed — and is not a commentary on racial issues, nor is it a lesson on insensitivity for other races. The moment we, as gamers, start attacking games, is when Jack Thompson and the other pinheads start winning. Just pick up the controller and play the game.

If, after you are finished, you find the game morally reprehensible, then maybe you should take a long vacation and relax for a while. Might I suggest, Africa?

Chris Redfield surveys the African village

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  • By Gargantua, December 24, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

    A well written article dude. I appreciate the viewpoint (and share it) and I’m glad you stepped up to the plate to post it. Bravo!

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