It was inevitable, and I’m sure when most of us saw that stunning Resident Evil 5 trailer we knew it would be coming. Barely a week later and the race card has been played (also see The Village Voice, amongst others). I dread to think what it’ll be like when (please don’t let it be ‘if’) the game comes out.
Besides the obvious point that there were no complaints over several games of largely white zombies – with few exceptions like the police chief in RE2 there were no black zombies, which is surely more racist? – but this is a game set in Africa where, shockingly, most people are black. Are we supposed to pretend Africa doesn’t exist like Bob Geldof keeps telling us we do? Or do we populate in-game Africa with white people? Or even Asians, since this is a Japanese game?
Ultimately, whichever way it goes we’re going to have complaints because this is such touchy subject matter. I just wish there weren’t so many reactionary idiots, and it’s telling that the first blog post about it complains that:
“…this video game is marketed to children and young adults.”
Ignorance is bliss, right? It should also be noted that the trailer is age-gated on gaming sites, as per new rules, meaning that visitors need to give their age in order to view it. While that won’t stop kids seeing it (at least not the ones with enough intelligence to realise that it’s only a game), it makes it easier to parents to moderate the content.
Nonetheless the more enlightened commentators on this have raised some interesting points. Could the virus and transmission thereof be an allegory for the AIDS crisis in Africa? And does the fact that the game is coming from an ethnically homogenous country like Japan where racism is perhaps not such a delicate issue, explain why the villagers look so threatening prior to infection?
I hope Capcom try their best to take the high ground by refusing to censor the game but ensuring that things are handled as sensitively as possible. That means, whatever they do, if they’re adding an overall (RE4 spoiler) Saddler figure to control the ‘zombies’ DO NOT make it a white guy. The way the story is going it could end up being Wesker, and I can’t begin to describe how unwise it would be to make a white man in military uniform kill black people who are being controlled by another white guy who happens to be tall, blond-haired, and blue red-eyed. I wouldn’t even touch that one.