Gamers are dirty racists

August 16, 2009, Author: Shaquil Hansford

Was the last game you played racist? It’s probably the most random question someone could first ask of your previous gaming experience, but it may just hold some prominence on the next time you pick up the controller. If the answer is “yes”, then ask yourself how it’s racist; if the answer is “no”, could you prove to a skeptic that it isn’t racist? Even if the game is racist in any small or big way, would that ever stop you from playing it? It must be noted that some of the most popular games of today feature racially stereotypical characters galore, and I’ve decided to take an in-depth look at the true driving factor behind racism in video games.

When racism is okay
First of all, don’t even pretend like you’ve no idea where this is coming from. There has always existed a double standard in which it’s okay to represent some people in some ways, but it’s not to represent anyone else as the same. It’s almost as if people want to get rid of the idea that anyone who isn’t white could possibly be violent, and so when there’s a game which consists of non-white characters committing acts of evil upon anything else in existence, there always follows an unrelenting explosion of accusations and debates.
Casual Racism

Oh, now, that's just in bad taste!

So, when is it okay to be racist? Why, when there are Germans, of course! If you were thinking of including black zombies, then forget it. Had hopes of Spanish zombies? Sorry, bucko! Instead you can put Nazi zombies. With such a saturation of World War 2 video games on the market, it seems people have forgotten that Nazis were people as well as the things that the allies shot at a long time ago. As a result, the Nazi Zombie mode of Call of Duty World At War was removed in the German edition, as well as the tons and tons of Swastikas portrayed. You may not be able to relate to this, but some people had relatives who fought in World War 2, and might not rejoice at the idea of shooting the head off of the ghost of their great grandfather.

Another time when racism works okay is when it’s just for laughs, right? Why, sometimes a good game needs a healthy injection of casual racism to spice things up! A lot of us might not recall Isaac Washington by name, but he happens to be the loudmouthed, overzealous black guy in House of the Dead: Overkill. He and his buddy, Agent G (the clichéd cool idiot who wears shades indoors and at night) pull off hilarious adventures in this over-the-top game, and most of it is all in good fun. So, then, is it okay that the black guy is a model stereotype, bald head and all? Methinks not, my friends. I am not bald, and I am not sassy. I’ll also have you know I haven’t said mothaf*cka in this article once! Wait… dammit!
<When racism isn’t okay
When it’s aimed toward anyone who isn’t white. Yeah, that about sums it up. While killing white zombies in Dead Rising was perfectly fine, slaughtering un-dead Spaniards and Africans is apparently something Martin Luther King Jr. would campaign against. It seems as though the trend is that if a game includes any Caucasian person committing acts of violence against any person of any other ethnic background in general, that game is racist. It’s a scientific fact.

This brings up another question, though; are goombas black? If they are, does that mean that Super Mario is racist? Perhaps we should contact IGN, and they could interview me on this groundbreaking new revelation I’ve unturned! That right there is about as serious as you should take the ridiculous allegations of the Resident Evil franchise’s hidden racist agenda. The prospect of how many more ridiculous articles N’Gai Kroal will drum out about Capcom’s Aryan views makes me chuckle more than it inspires me to bear arms against racial tyranny.


Just another case of the man tryin' to keep 'em down.

In all seriousness, though, the worst cases of racism widely go under the radar. Ever heard of Ethnic Cleansing? Didn’t think so. More widely known may be games like Border Patrol, in which you play an American soldier whose one job is, as the game puts it, to “keep them out… at any cost!”. You can guess who’s being referred to with “them”. There’s also the critically berated Homie Rollerz games for the Nintendo DS that many people have ranted about enough already. The average gamer may never have heard of these games, though, which is both good and bad.

On the one side, the fact that people hear so little from these horrendously ignorant releases is good, because it means they’re being seen and squelched before ever making too many headlines. On the downside, there are more subtle hints of racism in the games attaining critical acclaim which make it into everyday society. They push the gaming culture closer and closer into losing the ability to discern what real people are like from what is perceived to represent them in our video games based on race, and a shallow archetype.
Well, if the question is whether or not games are racist, then the answer may shock you. The answer is a bigfat… sometimes. If you’re playing Total Overdose, then the answer is yes. If you’re playing Super Mario, then the answer is no. Or at least it is until we do some DNA testing to find out if goombas are of African descent. Until then, the answer is still no.

Getting back to serious business, the answer is about eighty percent of the time of your own choosing. Games are not like movies or books or television shows, where we have to take in everything that the creator wanted in the way the creator wanted. In every video game ever, the entire thing has been open ended. If you perceive certain things to be racist, then there’s a chance that there’s a game out there including those things that will grind your gears. If you’re oblivious to even the idea that anyone could ever be racist, let alone include racist depictions in video games, well then you’re going to enjoy your happy life of rainbows and buttercups.

Games are of humans, just like everything else. That means that games are going to reflect some of the uglier sides of humanity, and we have to learn to live with that, rather than look to scrub away all of the flaws. We must accept the lesser qualities of things of human creation because if we don’t, in giving games the racial enema they deserve, we may wash away what traces of individual expression are left from the minds behind them. Hopefully this article has helped you see it this way. Now go play some games, you silly nig– I mean… oops.

(For an expanded few paragraphs on the subject, and items kept out of the full article, click here)