Thursday, July 30, 2009

First we addressed sex, now let's address race.

Since I entered into the world of Xbox Live (just a mere 4-5 months ago), there were problems with and declarations of racism in gaming. I got my console just in time for the release of "Resident Evil 5" and so, you can probably guess where I'm headed here.

Reviews stacked upon reviews of RE5 could not seem to help but mention the fact that "omg ur killin' black ppl" and, wow, that got annoying. I think, maybe, some people are unaware of what racism actually is, and maybe, just maybe, we're a little too sensitive. Because of this, Capcom went back and added in people of all colors you could kill. Diversity in killing is always important, I say. Nevermind that I was killing Latin-Americans in Africa.

Now we have some new controversy to look forward to with the release of "Left 4 Dead 2." Come on, does this really surprise anybody?

Let me just throw out some facts and stats for you first: Left 4 Dead 2 takes place in Louisiana. As of 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau claimed that 65.1% of the popular in Louisiana was white, and 31.9% of the population was black. They also claimed that the United States population, overall, was 80.0% white and 12.8% black. (I just thought you should KNOW that before I go into this.)

A writer for the Houston Chronicle, in describing the game said "players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies - with several of them who appear to be African-Americans." OMG, REALLY?! BLACK people in Louisiana? Not that they make up nearly a third of the state's population or anything. Sorry, but, if an undead person is coming at me with the vacant, determined stare, they're shot. Was he black? He was trying to eat my brains!

Let's not forget that two (out of the four) protagonist's in Left 4 Dead 2 are black, as was one of the two protagonist's of Resident Evil 5.

Another completely empty and devoid of any proof argument is in regards to location, claiming that Valve should have just left the poor state of Louisiana alone because it was too near to the disaster of Katrina to launch such a game. Well, I have to tell you, Fallout 3's DLC "Point Lookout" is meant to be loosely based on a place in the same county I was born and raised and I could be quite offended that the DLC has mutated rednecks and insane cult members. I could claim that Bethesda Softworks was displaying that area to be solely consisting of those types of people... but I'm not fucking stupid. With the likes of Bethesda, and now with Valve, I'd be privileged to have a game based in/on the area I live. Mutated rednecks or not.

(sources: GameInformer, Houston Chronicle, U.S. Census Bureau)


  1. The issue with race in RE5 wasn't that you could kill black folk. It's that the black folk were presented in such a way that evoked racist caricatures of the "brute," with the white colonialist coming in to clean up the savages. The addition of a straight-haired, light-skinned African sidekick did little to fix that. I posted in length on the trailer here at .

    But I agree with you on L4D2. There, we have a mixed-race group of locals fighting a mixed-race horde of zombies who were once members of the same culture as the survivors. The fact that some of the zombies are black doesn't mean there's racial undertones.

  2. Excellent post, Vee! The little cartoon is hilarious.

    My brother, who did relief work in New Orleans and other destroyed parts of Louisiana is crazy excited about L4D2. He is more worried the game will misrepresent the way Louisiana looks [landscape/building-wise]. All these people freaking out over the game need to calm down and find something else to do. Geez.

  3. The thing about this entire issue that worries me the most is that I'm afraid we're rapidly approaching a time (or are already there) when anytime one character is shown in a violent situation/being taking advantage of/anything demeaning, it has to be a white man at the hands of a white man.

    It's as if we're not allowed to show violence against any other racial group. I would think that minority groups would be more offended by the fact that they have been largely underrepresented in video games and still continue to be than the fact that many of these games are violent. I mean, speaking from my own background, do I give a shit that I just shot a zombie woman in the face? Do I care that I ran over that chick talking on her phone in GTA? Not one damn bit.

    Provided that the minorities being represented aren't being singled out by stereotypes which have made in into the game, I do not see an issue other than people's own sensitivities which, admittedly, are based on years and years and years of oppression.

    It's a double edge sword.