It takes very little time for extreme emotions to become stirred up inside the human body and for Resident Evil 5 it only took 30 seconds. The infamous trailer, first shown at last year's E for All convention set off public outcries from the public both in and out of the medium. The images of a lone white man, Chris Redfield, in a place where most of the inhabitants just happen to be black, Africa, and the chaos that soon would ensue all parties involved sparked almost immediately, the controversy of racism. While we know practically nothing about how the events and character relationships will unfold in the game, it doesn't seem to matter to a lot of people who freely judged the game as an entirety of proposing racial genocide. At the same time however, the fact of practically zero knowledge of the title also seemed to slip through the minds of those who took arms of their keyboards to vigorously defend the game. While most efforts to defend the title were well meaning, a lot of them came off ignorant and foolish as opposed to well thought out and understanding.
One of the earliest and biggest accounts of these arguments came from a blog post that had reposted a story from the Village Voice about an author's interpretation of the trailer having racist tones. While the article was obviously written be someone who didn't play a lot of games or even any of the Resident Evil titles, it was an opinion piece and nothing more. The blog which posted the link was picked up by Kotaku and a frenzy of angry gamers marched their way to the blog leaving behind vicious and hateful commentary, some went so far as to call the poster a bitch, and some went even further with the personal attacks ironically using racial slurs of their own. About half way down the comments list, the poster entered a comment about how the story was a repost and not their work. That one comment alone had collectively made numerous attackers? gamers, look like a bunch of ignorant fools. Did that stop the angry masses? Nope. The attacks went on until I don't know when. Eventually I had to stop reading and hoping that something would tick in my fellow gamers' minds and serious, intelligent thought provoking responses would appear. Only a handful of them actually did respond with something intelligent, but those were eclipsed by the less than pride filling ones.
And people wonder why Fox News picks on our hobby.
Honestly, after reading the article and responses to it, it quickly became apparent that people were not even reading the article and instead, immediately resorted to name calling like some five year-old schoolyard bully. I know not every person who plays games is going to have an intelligent conversion, just look at Xbox Live, but I would like to think that most people have more common sense and decency than what was shown at that blog post.
Sadly, that didn't seem to be the case. Fast forwarding almost eight months to now and we have a renewed fanning of flames with comments made by Newsweek writer, N'Gai Croal. In an interview with MTV Multiplayer, Croal commented on how from his perspective, indeed the trailer gave off a racial vibe and it how many gamers couldn't see it.
?There was a lot of imagery in that trailer that dovetailed with classic racist imagery. What was not funny, but sort of interesting, was that there were so many gamers who could not at all see it. Like literally couldn't see it. So how could you have a conversation with people who don't understand what you're talking about and think that you're sort of seeing race where nothing exists??
To me, the man made a great point, how are you supposed to engage in a conversation with a person that cannot see your side of things? Regardless of whether or not they agree with you, how do you make an invisible argument?
Certainly not by having a comment section because this one turned into a frenzy twice the size of the blog's above. Once again, gamers went on vicious defense, protecting the trailer with ignorant comments, expect this time they weren't attacking someone outside of the medium's opinion; they were attacking a well respected gaming journalist's opinion, one that has come to the aid of games many times in the past. Gamers were turning on their own like hungry wolves to protect a game they knew nothing about from an opinion.
The frenzy continued when Kotaku picked up the story and their comment section filled up with the same garbage replies. The next morning, Managing Editor, Brian Crecente, wrote a disgusted reply about what he had saw, even alluding to ridding of the comment sections all together if it came to it. He wasn't the only one who was disgusted by the comments either, Shawn Elliott, formerly of GFW Magazine, wrote an extensive post in his blog about his reactions to what fellow gamers were writing.
The fact is, while these vicious defenses came in the name of gaming, we need to think before we grab our keyboards. The anonymity of the internet isn't a license to act like a person who doesn't carry any common sense or decency, it so people can state their opinions freely. The truth is, each of those ignorant comments made has damaged the reputation of gamers as anything other than social-less freaks sitting in the dark inside their parent's basement. A lot of people have argued that games are a true art form, well, if that is true than we have a lot of maturing to do because if issues like this are just going to be met with rabid knee-jerk reactions against another person's opinion, one they are entitled to, what does that say about art?