Racism in Resident Evil 5

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When the gameplay trailer of Resident Evil 5 (RE5) was released in October of 2007 it attracted a lot of media attention surrounding racism. There were both ‘for’ and ‘against’ the idea that RE5 is a racist game. Earl Ofari Hutchinson made himself know by saying that “RE5 is a very racist game” however there were other commentators such as Jim Sterling who made himself known by defending RE5 by saying “He laughs at the idea of RE5 is racist. The stereotypical characters and settings in the game caused a lot of controversy, and yet it was not withdrawn from the UK market. Some people went as far as questioning the ethics of the game; Hilary Goldstein (2009) was one of several who asked ‘Is Resident Evil 5 racist?’ To establish whether these criticisms and the negative media coverage it received are fair, a critical analysis of the game and its components is needed

In short Resident Evil 5, part of the Resident Evil series, is a survival horror game that is set within the fictional African town of Kijuju and sees Chris Redfield return to the protagonist role he featured in the first and third game. Along with Sheeva Aloma, he is sent to Kijuju to investigate a new biological agent which has made its way to the east. The virus has been turning the population into aggressive and disturbing creatures and their goal is to uncover the truth behind the disturbing turn of events.

Even though the release of RE5 was not for another two years after the trailer release, the media attention it had initially gained had not died down. Press and online forum discussions across both sides of the Atlantic demonstrated the opposing viewpoints of the game. Such headlines as: “The Resident Evil 5 race issue”, “Resident Evil 5 is ra...

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... also appear racist on the basis of the ideology that still exists in some parts of the world, that the white race is superior over the black race.

However it could also be argued that Capcom, being a Japanese company did not anticipate or understand the way in which an international, multicultural audience did not see the game. The characters, settings and scenes they created was seen by them as justifiable within the conventions of the genre. Negative reactions have nevertheless led to changes in their creative processes as Senior PR manager Melody Pfeiffer said that “Capcom’s U.S. staff is now more involved in the creative process to help assure better understanding of potentially offensive content to other cultures.” This suggests that they accept that RE5 could be seen as racist and as a result the subsequent version of the game RE6 is set in America.
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