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More Resident Evil 5 racism claims

Newsweek writer wades in.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

New suggestions that Resident Evil 5 features racist imagery have emerged.

Newsweek games writer N'Gai Croal has hit out at the E3 2007 trailer for the game in an interview with MTV Multiplayer, stating, "Wow, clearly no one black worked on this game."

He continued, "It's like when you engage that kind of imagery you have to be careful with it. It would be like saying you were going to do some sort of zombie movie that appeared to be set in Europe in the 1940s 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 Resident Evil 5 trailer shows protagonist Chris Redfield in a small, poor and dusty village. He is the only white character portrayed in the three minute trailer. The zombies he proceeds to try to kill are black.

"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," Croal said.

"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."

Initial reaction to the Resident Evil 5 trailer was mixed, with some people expressing unease at the content, while others dismissed suggestions of any racist connotations.

The game is set for release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms later this year.

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