Researcher slams games for "blatant racism"

Ludwig Kietzmann
L. Kietzmann|07.25.06

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Researcher slams games for "blatant racism"
An interesting article on Next Generation details the findings of one Robert Purangao, a researcher from the University of British Columbia, who just recently completed a report on racism in video games. The conclusion is that, unlike the gratuitous violence and sex, the "blatant racism" in games has gone largely unnoticed. Luckily, Mr. Purangao endeavored to locate it for us and subjected himself to a sweeping total of four games. After playing Kung Fu, Shadow Warrior, Warcraft III and Grand Theft Auto 3 for hours on end, Purangao ceased pushing buttons and instead relegated his fingers to decisive pointing.

Surprisingly, he blames GTA for featuring non-white gangsters being blown up by a white protagonist, the former being "stock characters" serving only as "narrative obstacles to be overcome." He's certainly stumbled onto something here -- evil gangsters are definitely stock characters and stereotypical video game villains (see also: aliens, nazis, alien nazis), but it has nothing to do with their skin color. If that were the case, we'd be especially excited about the table-turning report on San Andreas.

Despite being obviously driven by parody, Shadow Warrior doesn't escape reprimand either -- it features a Chinese villain hero who screams "just like Hiroshima!" when he fires off a rocket. Purangao accuses game designers of using "a mix and match grab bag of Asian stereotypes that are often nonsensical," though he fails to specify whether or not all game designers do that. Another discovery he must have made here is that designers often make terrible games.

Sadly, the article is bereft of any details regarding the other two games under investigation. It seems likely that Purangao came across Warcraft III's shocking portrayal of orcs as slobbering and brutal beasts obsessed with burning, ransacking and smashing skulls.
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