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Mon 23 Feb 2009 08:06 PM

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Playing the race card

Violent video games have taken a bad rap over the years for 'encouraging' aggressive behaviour. But could two well-known games be blamed for potentially inciting racism amongst gamers?

Africa has become the setting for two relatively violent and popular video games: Far Cry 2 and Resident Evil 5. The former game, some might argue, stereotypes Africa as a corrupt place where diamond resources are plundered and where warlords and mercenaries run rampant.

In some African countries, the setting of a game such as Far Cry 2 is relatively realistic. Illicit rough diamonds (referred to as 'Conflict Diamonds' or 'Blood Diamonds') have fuelled conflicts in African countries such as Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, the above-mentioned problems are not prevalent in most African countries, and a game such as Far Cry 2 does therefore run the risk of perpetuating the stereotype of African countries and Africans as being 'corrupt' and 'dangerous'.

This risk is particularly evident when one considers that the majority of gamers live in places such as North America, Europe and the East; and these gamers could gauge a false idea of what Africa and Africans are like.

Then there's the game Resident Evil 5, which follows on the successful formulae of killing zombies; but in this game, the zombies mostly happen to be Africans in a poor African village.

A recent commentator on popular gaming website IGN put across the suggestion that this game could be interpreted as being racist.

“Do these images and the fact that the core gameplay has you shooting black men and women make RE5 racist? The answer is going to vary greatly from one person to the next and, perhaps more significantly, from one region to the next,” the commentator says.

Many will argue that previous versions of RE displayed white zombies and that the issue of racism was never brought up when these versions of RE were launched. That's true, but in games such as RE white characters have also been protagonists seeking to return a disrupted situation to some kind of normal or positive state of being.

It's only recently that Africa has been represented in gaming with Africans not being portrayed as protagonists seeking good, but rather as just zombies, warlords or gangsters.

Gamers are capable of telling the difference between reality and a video game, and games that are deemed racist by some will not encourage most gamers to become racists. But perhaps it's time to realise that the way in which Africans are portrayed in games such as Far Cry 2 and Resident Evil 5 should be of concern to those here in the Middle East as the Middle East includes countries in northern Africa and is often grouped up with the African region. There needs to be calls for games to introduce game protagonists of all races and creeds seeking to attain good by eradicating 'evil'.

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Private 11 years ago

Great work on this topic and im actually glad that some may think that some video games are racist well I can't count how many video games portraited Arabs or the Middle East region as "Terrorists" and believe me this is not out of racism its just another way for humans to cope with reality thus creating an alternative reality that may / may not portrait others in a bad image, "freedom of speech", that may vary from one to another on how to express their emotions but thats not even relavent to racism. I can't argue about the fact people can tell the difference between video games and reality and thats exactly why we should accept any additions that overcome our lives... Thnk you for all the trouble... Best regards,,