Resident Evil 5, yet again: High ideals + low culture = middling research

Just when you thought it was in the grave, the fuss over Resident Evil 5 raises its ugly head again, this time in an article on AlterNet by Roberto Lovato, further circulated via ever-useful industry blog GamePolitics.

Now, as previously covered in this blog, I entirely understand the concerns regarding initial footage of the game.

However, Lovato’s article is so full of inaccuracies, sweeping generalisations and general hackery that it adds nothing to the debate, and undermines its own valid points.

Lovato’s piece reflects an annoying undercurrent in ‘serious’ journalism as it relates to ‘pop’/’low’ culture, i.e. it seems to presume that what it’s covering is just a load of dumb old shit, and that therefore no research or background knowledge is necessary.

Readers of The Guide, The Guardian‘s Saturday supplement of culture and listings, will be all too familiar with this kind of writing – articles on, say, vampire movies which just throw together some half-remembered bits of anecdote from the writer’s own personal viewing, without any kind of fact checking or research at all. The underlying attitude seems to be ‘fuck it, this is fluff, I don’t need to take it seriously’.

Well, if you’re being paid to write about something and/or throwing around serious concepts like racism, you fucking will should take it seriously.

So, back to Lovato’s article. Where to start?

  • The article seems to presume that the Resident Evil games are the product of White American media. Rather than, errr, actually being Japanese.
  • ‘Racist video game series’ seems a little harsh and sweeping, based on one existing game and three minutes of trailer from a series of, what, a dozen games?
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, this year’s most popular video game’ – hmmm, we may have become disjointed from our place in space-time here.
  • The list of popular moments in contemporary gaming – ‘Kung Fu, Warcraft 3 and Shadow Warrior‘ – is beyond baffling. The thing is, there are doubtless plenty of games, recent and older, that you could pull apart for examples of racial stereotyping or worse. How many fighting games out there portray black characters as nothing but the ‘muscle’, brought in for physical strength while the white characters do all the nimble martial arts stuff? Loads. These examples just seem so… random.

This is bad, bad journalism. If you want to make a case against games, the evidence is out there. Some of it is spurious, some of it is, sadly, fairly solid. Unfortunately, the writer of this piece hasn’t done the most basic research. A shame, as I think that flagging up concerns about Resident Evil 5 is valid, and it’s always good to see a mainstream writer take a look at serious gaming in the way that Lovato does with the immigration themed game ICED! I Can End Deportation in the back-end of the article. But, by presuming that his subject matter doesn’t warrant serious scrutiny, Lovato has damaged his own credibility far more than he has dented the games industry.



September 22, 2007. Tags: . Uncategorized.

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