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No game has sparked so much debate about racial representation as Resident Evils, and Dill isn’t particularly forgiving of Capcom’s handling of the prickly subject. “I think at best the game developers didn’t exercise a minimum respect for racial issues,” she states. “Showing a White hero shooting at a crowd of Black people is clearly evocative of pro-White, anti-Black sentiment. The developers should have known better. I can’t know their motives, but it seems likely that either they were racist, ignorant or attempting to stir up controversy and profit from it at the expense of minorities.”

Brophy-Warren believes intention is important, but reception cannot be discounted. “I think that racism should be treated the same way that other crimes, such as manslaughter, are treated,” he contends. “There should be degrees that consider intention but also circumstance and effect. I believe Jun Takeuchi [Resident Evil 55 producer] when he says it wasn’t his intent to do or make anything offensive. But as an active consumer of the product, I have my reservations – not about his wcd, but about the final outcome:’

rcapcom is clueless” fumes Peterson. “It’s not like the warning bells weren’t sounded early enough to be proactive. They proclaim innocence, but really it’s just basic business sense.”
Issues like the tone of Sheva’s skin also helped to gile legs to the debate. Speculation that Capcom likened it in order to make it easier to distinguish her from the infected has been rife, but the implications beyond gameplay are glaringly obvious. “Even within families, skin tone’s a variable thing:’ concedes NJrcisse. ‘Where Capcom becomes open to criticism is by not demonstrating that it has any knowledge at out the way that variations in skin tone can inform scrial status in many cultures across the world, especially African ones. It’s a legacy of colonialism that’s particularly prickly, and to put it out there with ric) explanation makes it even more problematic:’

“Sheva’s definitely Black, but that’s not the issue:” says Brophy-Warren. “There’s a wider discourse ate out Blackness that complicates the picture. Her heir, for example, is straight Black people do not have straight hair. Even mixed Black people, such as myself, don’t have straight hair. These questions about Black essentialism only come into focus when there is a lack of characters of color. Sheva becomes an object of scrutiny because, frankly, she silt probably be one of the few main characters of color we see this year.”

These are just some of the factors that made Resident Evil 5 so ripe for criticism among what Peterson calls “anti racists”. For devoted fans of the series, however, the furore has been difficult to understand. “Garners looked at the game and just saw Resident Evil” she says. ‘What Resident Evil 5 did was pull the scab off the festering wound of gaming. We can’t actually have a conversation about race without people freaking out. And since people started freaking out, we had to keep pushing the subject. What I find interesting is that Resident Evil 5, Gears Of War, and other games have more issues with colonialism than racism, but that’s a conversation that just cannot happen yet. We can’t even handle talking about racism:”

“I think that the imagery in Resident Evi 1 5 was so starkly dramatic that it struck a chord with people who thought it was problematic,” says Narcisse. ‘Those images lean on a kind of essentialism that was used to characterize Africans and people from the African Diaspora as subhuman, violent or sexually predatory. Intention isn’t the only thing that matters, because culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Historical precedent and other cultural productions inform a creator’s work, whether they know it or not. Any creator in any field should be aware of that and needs to be able to answer to how their work gets interpreted.”

November 27th, 2013

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