Newsweek writer raises concerns over Resident Evil 5
- Posted April 11th, 2008 at 11:32 EDT by Michael Harradence
N’Gai Croal, a videogames writer for Newsweek, has voiced his concerns over the content displayed in the E3 2007 trailer for Capcom’s upcoming Survival Horror title, Resident Evil 5.
Speaking with MTV’s Multiplayer blog, Croal discussed various elements within the trailer, of which his first reaction was simply, "Wow, clearly no one black worked on this game.”
"It's like when you engage that kind of imagery you have to be careful with it," he said. "It would be like saying you were going to do some sort of zombie movie that appeared to be set in Europe in the 1940's with skinny, emaciated, Hasidic-looking people."
"If you put up that imagery people would be saying, 'Are you crazy?' Well, that's what this stuff looks like. This imagery has a history. It has a history and you can't pretend otherwise.”
"That imagery still has a history that has to be engaged, that has to be understood. If you're going to engage imagery that has that potential, the onus is on the creator to be aware of that because there will be repercussions in the marketplace."
The trailer itself depicts the game’s white male protagonist, Chris Redfield, as he explores a remote village somewhere in Africa, only to engage in a heated gun battle with legions of black villagers, of who are supposedly infected with some form of unknown plague or virus.
However, Croal insists his argument isn’t with the fact the enemies are black; rather, it’s the general representation of the content itself of which raises concern.
"The point isn't that you can't have black zombies. There was a lot of imagery in that trailer that dovetailed with classic racist imagery," he explained.
“That's the whole thing where only Chris Redfield appears to be human before they turn into zombies; the humanity of other people is in question. It's like you barely see their faces, he doesn't really interact with them, he sort of walks through this thing and it's sort of, 'Is he there? Is he not?'"
"It's a very strange thing, and it taps into sort of this very racist iconography. I think that's the only way I'm describing it. I'm not saying that was their intent. But it seems that a lot of people who were up in arms about the trailer couldn't see that and didn't want to engage it.”
"I think, again, the point is not that Capcom can't or shouldn't make a zombie game set in what appears to be an impoverished country where the majority of residents are black."
"I'm not saying that. But what I am saying is that if I was Capcom, I wouldn't have suggested to put out that trailer. I would have said, 'You know what, this has tremendous capacity for being misunderstood, and we want to signal that this is not what you might think it is' - and they didn't do that."
Resident Evil 5 is currently scheduled for release on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in late 2008.