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Race and Racism In Video Games 371

Posted by Soulskill
from the token-hobbit-among-orcs dept.
SlappingOysters writes "Racism in video games has been a key topic of discussion in the game industry this year, thanks in large part to the controversy surrounding the Resident Evil 5 launch trailer. In this article, GamePlayer speaks to developers, publishers, activists and journalists about the issue to get various perspectives and insights into how the video game industry is moving forward on the topic of racism. A related piece also has interviews with Sue Clark from the UK's Classification Board and Dr. Griseldis Kirsch, a lecturer in Contemporary Japanese Studies, about how racism in video games is viewed by the BBFC and Japan respectively."
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Race and Racism In Video Games

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  • My education (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HungWeiLo (250320) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:23PM (#25970113)

    Games that defined my view of the races in my youth:

    Mike Tyson's Punch-Out
    Street Fighter series

    As a side note - my first American television show was Dukes of Hazzard. Followed, I think, by a re-run of Jeopardy. I was confused.

  • Remember kids (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:29PM (#25970153) Homepage Journal

    It's ok to celebrate the variation and uniqueness of fictional races, like elves and hobbits and orcs, but you can never think about the differences between real races.

    • Re:Remember kids (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:32PM (#25970199)

      to be pedantic.... elves, hobbits and orcs are different species.

      • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:36PM (#25970243)

        Best... pedant... ever.

      • Re:Remember kids (Score:5, Informative)

        by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:39PM (#25970261) Homepage Journal

        Turn in your nerd card.

        "The lands of Middle-earth are populated by Men (humans) and other humanoid races (Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs), as well as many other creatures, both real and fantastic (Ents, Wargs, Balrogs, Trolls, etc.)."

        Tolkien defines.

        • by Rakishi (759894)

          Humanoid != human

      • by Shados (741919)

        Are they? I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that species were classified in accordance to their breeding compatibility... and in most fantasy settings, you can have half elves and half orcs, for example, which are made from mixing these with humans, so you end up with a messed up circular-species-alike situation, where you have A, B and C, A and B can breed, A and C can too, but B and C cannot... what a pain!

      • I can't think of any rpg/fantasy world where half-elves are sterile. This implies different phenotypes of the same species.
        • by Kuukai (865890)
          From http://www.messybeast.com/genetics/new-species.htm [messybeast.com]

          In Heliconius butterflies genes have leaked from one species into another through hybridisation. Heliconius hybrids are relatively common and are a long way from the biology textbook stereotype of a sterile and deformed hybrid. These hybrids can successfully breed with either parental species or with other hybrids. However, there is natural selection against hybrids. Pure-bred Heliconius butterflies have warning colouration recognised by predators. The hybrids, equally unpalatable, have an intermediate pattern which is not recognised - the predators have not yet adapted and so the hybrids are disadvantaged.

          Not mammals, but I'm not even sure orcs are.

          • Re:Remember kids (Score:5, Informative)

            by Repton (60818) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:10AM (#25971321) Homepage

            Tolkien was unclear on the nature of orcs. The problem is that Melkor could not simply create them, the way Aule did the dwarves, because Aule needed Illuvatar to intercede and give the dwarves life, and he was hardly likele to do that with Melkor. Tolkien appears to have advanced several possibilities:

            Firstly, presented in _The Silmarilion_, is the idea that orcs are corruptions of elves. Melkor captured elves (and, later, men), twisted and wrecked them, and ended up with orcs. Possibly there may have been corrupted maia amongst them too, as leaders and spies.

            Secondly, that orcs were not "thinking peoples", like elves/men/dwarves; rather they were intelligent beasts in man-shape, of the same theological status as wargs, the talking ravens in _The Hobbit_, as (perhaps) the great eagles, etc.

            Thirdly, a variant on the preceding: orcs are beasts, but infused with the dispersed power of Melkor, giving them the ability for independent action. The spirit of Melkor is one of hate, thus orcs will fight amongst themselves, rebel (especially against Sauron or Saruman, neither of whom is Melkor).

            Ref: http://www.thetolkienwiki.org/wiki.cgi?The__Origin__of__Orcs [thetolkienwiki.org]

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by fractoid (1076465)

              Secondly, that orcs were not "thinking peoples", like elves/men/dwarves; rather they were intelligent beasts in man-shape, of the same theological status as wargs, the talking ravens in _The Hobbit_, as (perhaps) the great eagles, etc.

              If they're intelligent beasts that can talk, I'd say that's pretty good evidence that they can think. And if they can think, doesn't that make them people?

      • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

        What of half-elves and half-orcs then? There must be a common ancestor, hence they are at most of different genus.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JoshJ (1009085)
          Well, in Tolkien's mythos the Orcs were Moriquendi (Dark Elves) that Morgoth captured and twisted to create a new race; because he could not create anything of his own but could only pervert the creations of Iluvatar.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      but you can never think about the differences between real races

      What you said applies more to cultures, not "races". The term "race" is a non-scientific circular reference:
      1. Arbitrarily define "black" people as having broad facial features, dark skin, and recent African descent.
      2. "Celebrate" these people for their "differences", which you just invented to categorize them.

      This works for any "race".

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        Unlike every other category which is manna from heaven is it? Every word is "arbitrary".. that's what words are.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Every word is "arbitrary".. that's what words are.

          But we're not talking about words - I wasn't saying that the word "race" was arbitrary. I was saying that the categorization is arbitrary. Aborigines look pretty darned similar to certain Africans in many respects and one could be forgiven for thinking that they are the same "race". But, of course, that would be absurd since they are even further apart genetically, geographically, and culturally than "whites" and "blacks".

          People go out of their way to try to categorize people by race, when the whole concept

          • by ShakaUVM (157947)

            >>I was saying that the categorization is arbitrary.

            To a certain extent, yes, but when you can identify people's race solely by DNA analysis (which you can -- reports to the contrary are wrong, usually only looking at one gene locus instead of multiple), it has a meaning. In other words, if stats can separate two populations by whatever means (say, sickle-cell rates), then the populations are indeed distinct, regardless of politically correct inspired hatred of "labels" to the contrary.

        • by chrb (1083577)

          Not really. Some words have specific defined definitions. Race is not clearly defined. If it were, then people wouldn't be arguing about whether Barack Obama is black or not [bbc.co.uk]. And if you think that's crazy, wait until you see the Wikipedia discussions...

    • ...you can never think about the differences between real races.

      What's that got to do with anything? I was under the impression that RE5 was under attack because you were firing shotgun blasts into herds of zombies who happened to look a lot like black people.

      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        The issue of race in games existed long before this latest zombie fest.

      • Re:Remember kids (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dissy (172727) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @11:41PM (#25970919)

        What's that got to do with anything? I was under the impression that RE5 was under attack because you were firing shotgun blasts into herds of zombies who happened to look a lot like black people.

        I guess that means those same people complaining about that pretty much lost their right to complain, after not standing up for racism against white people in resident evil 1-3, and the racism against whites and Hispanics in #4.

        If they are OK with racism against those groups, they have no moral ground to complain about the exact same things towards their particular group.

        Personally, I'm having a very hard time seeing what their complaint is.
        If it is for what you say, it does not make sense. Even if it isn't, no other aspects of it makes sense either.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by AnonGCB (1398517)
          ^This^ 10000 X this. Tired of the damn double standard.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by philspear (1142299)

          I guess that means those same people complaining about that pretty much lost their right to complain, after not standing up for racism against white people in resident evil 1-3, and the racism against whites and Hispanics in #4.

          As I said to the previous guy, the OP was talking about racial differences being taboo, which is not at all what the objections were about in the case of RE5. I only brought up the controversy about RE5 because QuantumG was basically off-topic.

          Also as I said to the previous response, it's really not the same. A white guy shooting white people is not racist, whereras a white guy shooting black people could be construed as racist. Again, I don't endorse that view, and think it's wrong, but overreacting to

    • by ozphx (1061292) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @11:18PM (#25970611) Homepage

      The thing that struck me most about Farcry 2, being set in Africa, was the lack of black dudes. To be frank I found it hilarious that someone had decided that they needed an even mix of races to avoid the game "being about shooting black guys".

      I mean seriously, is everyone really that jacked up about all these perceived slights on their race?

    • by Xiroth (917768)

      It's ok to celebrate the variation and uniqueness of fictional races, like elves and hobbits and orcs, but you can never think about the differences between real races.

      Yeah, there is that. The fact is that it's entirely possible (even likely) that there are genetic differences between the races above and beyond their physical characteristics. But you know what? While I'm usually all in favour of more knowledge, in this case I think we're probably better off not knowing. Whenever there are differences, peopl

    • You do realize you're comparing a concept of "race" with roots in mythology and folklore thousands of years old to a modern understanding of race based on scientific discoveries, right? Back then, the various parts of Europe thought of each other as different species. There are next to no actual differences across the "races" in the real world, most of the perceived ones are just stereotypes. That is the difference here.
    • by localman (111171)

      Yeah, that's because there aren't differences between real races. That's the point.

      I am fully aware that by percentage you can correlate certain traits with certain races. And thus when speaking in gross generalities you can say "blacks are this way, whites are that way, asians are another way", etc. But the fact is that it's almost always a useless exercise, serving no purpose other than to help simplify a complex world at the expense of understanding that people are _individuals_ and nobody is bound by

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Everything you just said, plus:

        If your "scientific" classification system can't account for Tiger Woods or Barack Obama, then it's broken.

        The last time I typed that, someone came along and claimed that they weren't "natural" and so the system didn't have to account for them... lol.

      • Things have multiple traits.

        You can be members of the following groups:

        * Genders
        * Races
        * Ethnicities
        * Classes
        * Sexual Orientations

        and many more! Even better, you can be members of multiple groups at the same time.

        I thought they taught this stuff in introductory science classes.

  • I've been playing Q4 and you find different races in that. All dying for the same cause. Now that's equal.

  • by LtGordon (1421725) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:55PM (#25970423)
    that one day on the red hills of Silicon Valley, the sons of former Pac-Men and the sons of Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day play a game where they will not be judged by the color of their avatar, but by the content of their player stats.
  • Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by psnyder (1326089) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @10:59PM (#25970459)

    How ironic to think that perhaps (just perhaps) a game developer, or movie director, who isn't at all racist, wasn't at even thinking about race, may have created something based in a certain country. And in that country they just saw people as "people".

    And then, the players of a game, or viewers of a movie turn out to actually place more of a distinction on "races" than the developer. They see the skin color, or different shaped eyes, and it becomes an issue to "them" where it wasn't to the creators. They start screaming "racist" and "bigot", when in fact they scream it at people more innocent then them.

    Perhaps things like this are rare, but I've seen similar things in my own life. People who I know aren't even thinking about distinctions between so called "races" getting yelled at by people who are.

    Racism in any form should not be tolerated. But we should be sure that there's a blanket, derogatory emphasis placed on someone simply because of their group, and not the content of their personal character.

    • Re:Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sssssss27 (1117705) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @11:20PM (#25970633)
      That happened to my friend once. He was working at a bowling alley where they keep the pool sticks behind the counter. Some Spanish kids wanted to play pool and my friend, who is white, said he would get to them when he could because the place was busy. It took him a little bit to get to them but when he finally did their parents were yelling at him calling him racist for making them wait. My friend, who was fed up with always be called racist since he was white working in a predominately Spanish area, finally snapped and yelled back at the guy why is he a racist, why can't he just be a jerk. If he was Spanish and he made them wait would he have been called racist?
      • by g0at (135364)

        He was working at a bowling alley where they keep the pool sticks behind the counter.

        Now that's a sort of bowling I've never heard of.

        -b

      • by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @09:47AM (#25974263) Homepage Journal

        around usually fall into the falling categories

        1. They need to feel the victim, never wanting to believe anything that goes wrong in their life is the fault of their choices

        2. They usually exhibit the worst stereotypes attributed to their race

        3. They are so full of hatred (both self and towards others) there is no other reaction they can have

        4. They just seek attention or favors by making public scenes knowing that it is far easier to embarrass people than prove an occurrence.

        The problem today is that the term is applied to too many instances when bigotry is the real term that needs to be applied if at all. Any slight can be perceived in any manner and the press has this tendency to blow things out of proportion because too many in the press think they are societies protectors and it is up to them to identify what is wrong.

    • Re:Perhaps... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Xiroth (917768) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @11:30PM (#25970759)

      Perhaps. But there's also the camp that suggests that the roles we see for black (or x other minority or female) characters are cast as they are due to subconcious racism (or sexism), which frequently is brought on by viewing other media with similar unintentional racism. In this case, although the developer was entirely innocent of intentionally adding racism, their characters are just like the others found in other films and therefore have the same racism in common with them. The people who kick up a fuss are trying to break the circuit by forcing the developers to take another look at their preconceptions.

      I don't know much about RE5, so I'm not familiar with whether this applies in this case, but doing something unintentionally can be, in some cases, even worse than doing it intentionally, as it means that the problem is rooted in the fabric of the culture rather than one or two bigoted individuals.

      Just a couple of cents.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        But you shouldn't have to change movies like Black Hawk Down just because you think it might be racist. That's like advocating the rewriting of history to make it sound better or to try to wipe out wrongs in the past.

        The same really applies to this game. If it's based in a part of Africa that's predominantly African Males, you shouldn't have to place other races/sexes in there to make it even. If you were to do that, and teach children that the world is perfectly diverse in some magical way, it only sets

        • by nschubach (922175)

          Sorry for the extra post. I meant to add:

          You're projecting racism from the individual to the media. You're trying to protect some novel projection of equal distribution that simply isn't true in order to "protect the children." In doing so, you're only setting them up for a very vivid wakeup call when they find out it's not true and they'll likely retaliate further or harsher if they do end up going there on vacation or military assignment.

        • by Xiroth (917768)

          If it's based in a part of Africa that's predominantly African Males, you shouldn't have to place other races/sexes in there to make it even.

          Seriously? Predominantly African Males? Wow, poor guys - I'd probably turn into a zombie too if there weren't enough women around to keep things interesting.

          Anyway, I'm not entirely sure where people keep pulling this idea that people want to put random other races into the game. Where's it coming from? Why are people even paying attention to it? It's obviously stupid,

      • "but doing something unintentionally can be, in some cases, even worse than doing it intentionally, as it means that the problem is rooted in the fabric of the culture rather than one or two bigoted individuals."

        Or, perhaps, your game is set in a nation of predominantly African-American (I hate that term btw) individuals and so, when choosing the predominant inhabitants of that region within your game you went with realism.

        Not a single person ever complained about racism in RE's 1-4 which had predominantly

        • Re:Perhaps... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Xiroth (917768) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @01:58AM (#25972045)

          Uh, they aren't African-Americans, you know - they're Africans. That reminds me of when an American interviewer was interviewing a black British guy - she called him African-American, he corrected her, but she couldn't stop doing it. It's times like these that you yanks really do seem slightly crazed.

          Anyway, back to the point, I really love the strawmen that people are building up around this. Who the heck is saying that you shouldn't have black people in Africa? I certainly haven't seen anyone suggesting that. What most people seem to be pissed off at is that it's A) a white guy going around killing lots of black people that are B) behaving like stereotypical savages. Yeah, the B part is because they're zombies, but the parallels with the violent colonisation and subjugation of Africa by the European nations in the Age of Discovery are pretty strong. It would have been a lot simpler to just have a local cop be the protagonist - it's not like they haven't done that before [wikipedia.org].

    • How can you ever be sure of someone's intention?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elrous0 (869638) *

      As a racist myself, I really resent the way the term is tossed around in this modern day politically-correct world. When I was younger, you had to EARN your racist moniker. I had to actually burn crosses on people's lawns, threaten them if they voted, burn down their barn if they got all uppity, etc. That was fucking WORK, man. The KKK doesn't just let anyone in, you have to go to the meetings and buy robes and shit (not to mention raise money with those damned candy sales once a year). Nowadays, any old in

  • by Anonymous Coward

    as advertisers have found out. You can always make fun of white males. If Spike Lee did a film or video game where white males were being shot there would be no mention of racism. Racism itself has gotten very subjective. A number of serious diseases have come out of Africa so it was a logical choice and it's hard to make a game set in Africa with a bunch of blond haired blue eyed Nordic types turning to zombies and getting shot. Set a game in Beverly Hills with a bunch of rich yuppies turning to zombies an

  • Game categories... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @11:22PM (#25970671) Homepage Journal

    Someone who...

    • Plays pianos is a pianist...
    • Plays guitar is a guitarist...
    • Plays racing games is a racist?! - er um, gamer?

    Honestly, I'm sick to death of the whole racism debate. This is nothing more than a manufactured controversy. Seriously, people, move on - in case you didn't notice, a Black man was elected President and has chosen a woman for his Secretary of State. The debate is over, racism is out. Sure, you can find racists if you look, but the majority of America is not racist, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that there are more Mac users than racists. (Okay, that last part was troll bait, but only in jest...)

    There are bigger, more important issues in the gaming world than whether or not some game is interpreted by some conspiracy-loving-nutjob as racist.

    \sarcasm
    I mean, just think of the titles passed over by the gaming industry in the name of sensitivity to women and minorities:

    1. Grand Theft Auto: Nigga Thug Style...
    2. Age of Empires: African Conquest.
    3. World of Whorecraft...

    And many more!

    \sarcasm

    But on a more serious note, games are about fantasy, not reality. I'm not interested in a game which represents someone else's politically correct reality. Conflict is part of the fun. But I've yet to see any game where racism represents a major theme. It would be just too close to reality to be fun. Instead, game makers concentrate on the fantasy, escapist themes which take the players away from the daily boredom and unresolved difficulties of normal life.

  • The tubes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bemopolis (698691) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @11:29PM (#25970743)
    If you think the games are racist, wait until you hear the rambling smack talk from the troglodytes on XBL (or, I would presume, any other online service).

    On the plus side it does make me feel young, as it reminds me of junior high in East Texas. Only stupider.
  • by dissy (172727)

    I have to stop and ask a big WTF here.
    WTF?

    ... thanks in large part to the controversy surrounding the Resident Evil 5 launch trailer.

    So not having heard of any racist issues with this new game, nor seen its trailer yet, i simply highlighted "Resident Evil 5 launch trailer" and hit 'google', which the first link back appears to be said trailer at http://www.gametrailers.com/player/41037.html [gametrailers.com]

    I see absolutely nothing controversial nor racist there.

    Even the article doesn't help.

    The trailer sparked angry reactions from black activist groups and saw legions of gamers rush to defend the franchise's reputation

    But why?
    Is this seriously a problem in todays world? Am I missing something?

    I realize the only point of activist groups s

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bigbigbison (104532)
      That isn't the trailer. The first trailer was much shorter. I think this is it http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2jk75_resident-evil-5-teaser-e3-2007-ps3x_ads [dailymotion.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pieisgood (841871)
      Remember, It's cool to kill honky ass white bread crackers. Though, The minute you start killing Africans in Africa the gloves are off and it's just plain racism. This is regardless of the fact that blacks with a minority complex are racist towards whites and other races. It's the stupid view that racism is a one way street.
    • by nschubach (922175)

      I'm trying to figure that out myself. It's no more racist than Black Hawk Down was. (And I didn't consider the coverage of real life battles to be a racist action.) I assume that games can no longer take place in tropical climates because you'd have to shoot at Black people?

      Disclaimer: I'm making assumptions as to the racist nature of this video. I may be incorrect as to what exactly offended someone.

      When can we consider games to be completely non-racist? Would you consider a similar game like Left4De

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 02, 2008 @11:40PM (#25970895) Journal
    I think the article has a fair point, in certain respects(Sure, even in the far future of human colonization, when we're rubbing shoulders with aliens, the black guy will be muscle-bound and jive talking. Good work guys). It certainly wouldn't hurt and it might even help in terms of atmosphere, to say nothing of social objectives, for games to do some slightly subtler thinking on that one. I found Firefly's setting rather interesting for that reason: the visible population actually looked and sounded somewhat like you'd expect the descendants of a grab-bag of human colonists would look and sound like, rather than the brits that happened to be available as extras(plus Lando, yes, I'm talking about Star Wars).

    Now, this doesn't mean that all games ought to be triumphal portrayals of racial togetherness. Various sorts of strife on the point have cropped up in human history, and continue to do so, and are in principle legitimate gameplay elements as well. Arguably, in traditional scifi and fantasy settings, a lot of stuff about race is already there, just sublimated into orcs and aliens.

    One thing, though, struck me as rather seriously flawed with the thinking of some of those interviewed: they seemed to view the game making as a means to an overtly propagandistic end. Games(as well as films, books, etc.) that labor under a heavy moral frequently suck, no matter how good or bad the moral itself might be. At best, propaganda games tend to be attention getting, good for a few rounds of play; but ultimately mediocre as games(The Japanese Cetacean Research Simulator, Operation PedoPriest, and similar come to mind). It is certainly possible to make a good, or even great, game that also has a moral of some sort; but only if you start with the game and weave the moral in seamlessly. If you start with the moral and try to build a game, or start with a game and tack on the moral, you are screwed.

    In particular, if your tactic is to simply take an existing work and hack your moral onto it, the product is likely to be weak and, I would argue, even counterproductive. Take Guitar Praise [guitarpraise.com] as an example. Straight guitar hero clone, with "christian" hacked onto it. Whatever you think about christianity, that is weak. It essentially says: "My religion is too sensitive for me to play a game with music that doesn't pander to it; but it also presents no compelling alternative to secular culture, so I'm just going to play a shitty clone with the offensive stuff clipped out." C'mon, either play guitar hero or come up with something that is genuinely inspired by, and an organic product of, your faith. Slapping a decal on somebody else's cultural product just makes you look uncreative and horribly thin skinned.

    Praise hero is merely a dramatic example of this, I'm not singling out christianity specifically. Anybody who says: "We need an alternative to X"; but then turns around and produces a simple copy of X with a few words replaced is guilty of this. If you want to change something, you have to do more than rebrand it. From the tone of the interview, it sounded like some of those interviewed were going down the path of "games are too white, therefore we will make black versions of existing games." That is a weak approach at best(this works the other way as well, the fact that the guys at Resistance Records could only puke out a derivative fourth rate shooter [wikipedia.org] just makes them look pathetic.)
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @01:47AM (#25971985)

      In particular, if your tactic is to simply take an existing work and hack your moral onto it, the product is likely to be weak and, I would argue, even counterproductive. Take Guitar Praise [guitarpraise.com] as an example. Straight guitar hero clone, with "christian" hacked onto it. Whatever you think about christianity, that is weak. It essentially says: "My religion is too sensitive for me to play a game with music that doesn't pander to it; but it also presents no compelling alternative to secular culture, so I'm just going to play a shitty clone with the offensive stuff clipped out." C'mon, either play guitar hero or come up with something that is genuinely inspired by, and an organic product of, your faith. Slapping a decal on somebody else's cultural product just makes you look uncreative and horribly thin skinned.

      The Slashdot crowd so often claims to be so enlightened on the religion issue, and claims to have such valuable insights on religion over and over, and then accuses spiritual people of holding ignorant and biased beliefs. Well guess what, my spirituality comes under fire all the time and I have to defend it at work, to my friends and to my family.

      I really want you to examine your post. First of all, I went to the website you linked, and it IS NOT filled with Jack Chick propaganda, like you'd lead people to believe. It's almost *exactly* what I'd expect a non-christian video game website to be. Nowhere on the website did it give me any indication that they thought "My religion is too sensitive for me to play a game with music that doesn't pander to it." Secondly, it's all Christian music, so fucking what? Guitar Hero released an all Aerosmith game! Would you prefer that they put a bunch of Christian music into Guitar Hero? Third, you say they made some cheap knockoff clone, like this is somehow unique to the industry. Lets see, we're looking at Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Rock Band World Tour, and Wii Music. After DDR came out, a bunch of other dancing games came out. Sure, innovation is great, but it is rare and acting like it isn't, is just ignorant.

      Yes, it might be getting dangerously close to copyright infringement, but that isn't part of your argument. Yes, there are OTHER religious games and people that spout awful propaganda, but you picked to smear one that I think is being respectful. Smearing Guitar Praise for being Christian is as bad as religious people smearing Spore for promoting evolutionary concepts.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Longstaff (70353)
        Reviews: http://www.guitarpraise.com/reviews.php/ [guitarpraise.com]

        There are many video games that I've reviewed for Plugged In that I wouldn't let my kids--or anyone's kids, if I had such power--get within a country mile of.

        "My views are so obviously correct that nobody should be allowed to hold others..."

        Nope. That doesn't smack of ignorance or bias.
  • So I should be ashamed for playing Postal 2 as a M-16 toting Gary Coleman shooting a likeness of Osama Bin Laden? I guess if I didn't game on a Mac I might have healthier game choices available. :-) http://gopostal.com/postal2/screenshots/gary.jpg [gopostal.com]
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:20AM (#25971395) Homepage Journal

    There's active racism. It's the virulent kind. The asshole with shaved heads attacking people on the street.

    There's passive racism. It's just as evil, but not as out in the open. It's the asshole in a suit and tie who prefers to hire certain kinds of people for certain kinds of jobs.

    There's latent racism. It's in no way malignant. It's when someone honestly doesn't think about races or and differences between them, but they can accidentally say something stupid or offensive. Like when Tony Snow made his "tar baby" comment.

    In video game development, I see latent racism. In many games all of the central characters are white. The game developers probably never even though about racial issues. They just made a game. Being rendered invisible is almost as hurtful as being actively discriminated against. In the first several GTA games the central character is white. In San Andreas, the central characters are almost all black and THAT'S when people notice. I salute Rockstar for making an effort.

    LK

    • by Grym (725290) *

      In video game development, I see latent racism. In many games all of the central characters are white. The game developers probably never even though about racial issues. They just made a game. Being rendered invisible is almost as hurtful as being actively discriminated against.

      Videogames are made by companies which are acutely aware of how sensitive some people are to issues related to race. So they take the simple solution and attempt to avoid it altogether by making most--if not all--of the character

    • by Dutch Gun (899105)

      There's passive racism. It's just as evil, but not as out in the open. It's the asshole in a suit and tie who prefers to hire certain kinds of people for certain kinds of jobs.

      Seriously? After Obama is just elected President of the US, you're still going to try to tell me that there's some deep, malignant racism here? How many times has Michael Jordan been on the cover of Sports Illustrated? How about Denzel Washington being voted sexiest man alive? Ever play Guild Wars: Nightfall (African themed Guild Wars campaign)?

      You really need to look more closely [ugo.com] if you think there are only Caucasian characters in games.

      Let's point out racism where it well and truly exists. There are

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      There's active racism. It's the virulent kind. The asshole with shaved heads attacking people on the street.

      There's passive racism. It's just as evil

      Really, so basically lynching people is about as bad as not hiring some people? Besides, it's too easy to just label 'racist' someone who has a 'problem' with a so-called race, not try to understand and come up with canned explanations like "it's just hate", "he's just being ignorant" or " happened in his childhood that made him like this". It's too easy and

    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:21PM (#25976183) Homepage Journal

      There's latent racism. It's in no way malignant. It's when someone honestly doesn't think about races or and differences between them, but they can accidentally say something stupid or offensive. Like when Tony Snow made his "tar baby" comment.

      There's also "invented racism", like then people got worked up over Tony Snow's use of "tar baby". I have never, not once, heard that used as a racial epithet. Instead, I'd always heard it used exactly like Snow meant it: as a metaphor to the Uncle Remus story. It never would have occurred to me that someone could have interpreted that any other way. Same with "niggardly [wikipedia.org]" which was never racist until someone decided to be offended by it.

  • So remember... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KlausBreuer (105581) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:40AM (#25972581) Homepage

    ...your PC game must be as PC as possible. It must have a white guy, a black guy, and an asian woman.
    Because, if you don't closely look at races, you're a racist.

    *shakes head* This does not seem to be so much of a problem here in Europe...

  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @03:42AM (#25972597) Journal

    I'm sick and tired of this racism, etc bullshit. It's like they see a "race" being put in a non-flattering light (which is actually relevant to them IRL), but because it's non-flattering, it's racist. Or if certain liberties have been taken, which is ok for *entertainment*, it's racism.

    Gee, a slum in Africa. That's racist! Gee, an Asian with slanted eyes. That's racism! Gee, a *cartoon* of a woman with big breasts. That gives an unhealthy body image! etc. etc. etc.

    It's all bullshit. Every *culture*/*gender*/etc has good and bad points in general. In fact, most comedy is based on these "stereotypes." But, that doesn't make them untrue. It just makes them unpopular in the eyes of a loud few. But, if history tells us anything, the politicians will bow to the loud few and over time, it'll become taboo to speak of it any more. Even though it's pretty much the truth.

    For those that want an example, you just need to think of the term, mentally retarded. It is a very accurate term for the people in which it describes. But, because some people used it in a derogatory way (what wording can't be used that way?), it got "criminalised." And the people that did it were the activists, not even the parents of those in which it described.

    It's a sad that this can happen. And all of it through emotional appeal. God forbid that logic and common sense would enter into it.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @05:20AM (#25972973) Journal

    Just how do you make a black character that can't be called either a stereo-type the moment you give him/her anything more then a skin for being black? And if you make him generic, you will be accused of making him white, accused of claiming the only good way to be is to act like a white person.

    Like it or not, stereo-types is what we define race by.

    In the series frasier, there are no black characters except one. Winston, an upper neighbour. I didn't realize he was supposed to be black until later in the series when his mother is introduced. He has no stereo-typical black features other then a dark skin, talks like a brit, acts snobbish, he is in a way whiter then frasier.

    So does he count as black man in a white series OR is he just an actor and his skin color irrelevant as it was to me?

    That is the hard part about creating a character. Just putting a bra on a 3d model doesn't make the player character female. She got to do something feminine. Nothing to complex because we got a game to play but something that CLEARLY makes the it a her. Ask yourself this, Lara Croft. Woman or boy with tits? From the start, she really doesn't act female at all. You do not control her as if she was female. She is you with tits and you is a male. There are other games as well where you play a female but it never really chances the way you play the game. Hell my MMORPG characters tend to be female often for little better reason they look better and obscure less of the scenery. I certainly don't play them as if they were women.

    For that matter, how would I know how to play a woman? I ain't one. Neither am I black. Either a black character I play or interact with is going to have to do something I associate with being black or it is just going to be a skin color with no relevance.

    Skin color having no relevance might be what Martin Luther King dreamed about, it ain't what the PC crowd dreams about. They want minorities to be seen in a positive light. Winston from Frasier ain't a positive minority to me because I never realized he was part of a minority. But how do you accentuate that someone is a minority without adding some stereo-types to show this person is a minority?

    You can't. Lara Croft is not a positive role-model for women because she ain't a woman. She is whoever the player is because her sex never enters into the gameplay. Leisure Suit Larry did that, it changed your character at one point to a female and you played a woman because it stereo-typed you as a slut who used sex to gain access to new areas. You had to think as a "woman" (how many of men can get a doorwoman to allow us in by giving cunninglus?) but not in a way that is exactly positive.

    In GTA, you are a very stereo-typical character, but if you weren't a blacker black then any black person has ever been, how do you get white guys whose closest connection to the hood is that they seen it on tv to play a "black" character? Lets not forget that an awful lot of games allow you to choose your own skin color without it ever making a difference. So either you play a stereo-typical character or a generic "white" avatar with no background.

    Don't mistake basic story telling with a racist agenda. Do people complain that Puss In Boots in Shrek was a speciest slur against dogs? Why can't dogs be shown to be cute and cuddly and capable of wearing boots?

    • by acb (2797) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @07:25AM (#25973485) Homepage

      What constitutes being "black" or "white" beyond skin colour? Does a black character have to dress in a certain way, walk in a certain way, or speak in a certain way to be truly "black"? Also, how do you make a protagonist in an action game "feminine"? Do women jump over ravines in a different way from men?

      If President-elect Obama was a fictional character, would people be accusing him of being essentially a white character hastily written into being tokenistically black because he doesn't dress funky or say "fo'sheezy"?

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