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Racial Issues Alleged In GTA San Andreas, Other Games

simoniker posted more than 9 years ago | from the allegedly dept.

Games 189

Thanks to the New York Times (free reg. req.) for its article exploring possible racial stereotyping inherent in many videogames. The article alleges: "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas... underscores what some critics consider a disturbing trend: popular video games that play on racial stereotypes, including images of black youths committing and reveling in violent street crime." Partially, though not wholly related to a recently discussed article on 'street' videogames, it's also argued: "The issue, critics say, is not that the games' representation of racial and ethnic minorities is as blatantly threatening as the sort found at hate sites on the Web, where players are asked to gun down virtual black or Jewish characters. Rather, the racial and ethnic depictions and story lines are more subtle, and therefore, some say, more insidious."

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racial stereotypes (5, Insightful)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946361)

So we're supposed to ignore the last 4 GTA titles just because the one coming up will have a black character to represent the player?

Only white people can commit violence in video games now? And here I thought people were complaining because there weren't enough minorities in video games, now you can't put them into video games without someone complaining about the way they're portrayed (come on, this isn't like that Duke3D-engine game from a few years ago featuring an Asian protagonist, but then no one complained about the depiction of white people in Redneck Rampage, either).

bahahahaha *choke* hahahaha *wheeze* (4, Interesting)

Ender Ryan (79406) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946672)

You nailed it, I think. I was going to post something very similar, but I think you said it better than I could.

However, I would also like to point something else out. GTA is about gangs and street violence. The reality is that, while people like those complaining don't like to talk about it, there are many gangs composed of specific races. Italian mafia, black gangstas, Latino, Irish, gangs composed just generally of white people(ie. white-supremacist groups), and as the OP pointed out, white rednecks.

Rockstar didn't create the current situation. In fact, that they are making video-games that reflect a little bit of reality can only bring attention to the issue, which can only be good.

Do people like the writer of the article want us all to put our fingers in our ears and close our eyes?

Fucking idiots. Why don't people put pressure on these groups who are actually committing violence? I guess that would make too much sense.

Re:bahahahaha *choke* hahahaha *wheeze* (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946753)

Why don't people put pressure on these groups who are actually committing violence?

Because they have guns.

Re:racial stereotypes (1)

sporty (27564) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946815)

No, not white people can only commit crimes. "redneck" is a very demeaning term. Just like "white trash".

If the movie industry can mix it up between a black or a white president, why can't a black or a white person commit a crime? And you should have complained about Redneck Rampage, otherwise you have little reason to complain now.

Re:racial stereotypes (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947038)

"redneck" is a very demeaning term. Just like "white trash".
I'm probably missing your point, but...

I've never heard of anyone describe themselves as "white trash", but I've heard a lot of people proudly describe themselves as "rednecks" and do what they can to fit the stereotype.

One bizarre experience for me, as someone who doesn't consider anything positive about rednecks (by reputation or by experience), was one of my neighbours coming over, saying he was born in Florida (I live in Florida) and that he's a redneck through-and-through and proud of it. He then, after saying this, told me he was having problems with his girlfriend because she "was lower class".

Now, funny thing is I know there are mods here itching to mod me down because of the logic in the last paragraph, but in some ways that proves the point - there are people who consider "redneck" a positive word, even when associated with all the things we generally associate with rednecks.

dude... (3, Funny)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947127)

"Redneck" is not the preferred nomenclature. "Southern-US American", please.

Re:dude... (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948985)

"Redneck" is not the preferred nomenclature. "Southern-US American", please.

I'll be good god damned if there aren't also rednecks born in Washington state. Dunno about Alaska.

Re:dude... (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949756)

ok then... how about "Urban-Challenged American"?

Re:dude... (1)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#9950062)

Truck-friendly American?

Re:racial stereotypes (3, Insightful)

justkarl (775856) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947568)

So we're supposed to ignore the last 4 GTA titles just because the one coming up will have a black character to represent the player?

No, we're not. The first one was passed off as a fad before the second came out, and it's top-down view wasn't real enough to cause a stir. When 3 came out, the ultra real gang violence was attacked by several groups, and Vice City was nearly pulled from shelves several times because of racial-related violence(anybody remember the"kill the cubans" line? It's not in versions made after about 9 months ago). I wouldn't really agree that this is the first GTA game to draw contraversy, and I certainly wouldn't agree that it's only because he's black.

Re:racial stereotypes (2, Insightful)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947794)

No, we're not. The first one was passed off as a fad before the second came out, and it's top-down view wasn't real enough to cause a stir. When 3 came out, the ultra real gang violence was attacked by several groups, and Vice City was nearly pulled from shelves several times because of racial-related violence(anybody remember the"kill the cubans" line? It's not in versions made after about 9 months ago). I wouldn't really agree that this is the first GTA game to draw contraversy, and I certainly wouldn't agree that it's only because he's black.

The Italians didn't get much press coverage if they were complaining about the protagonist of the first game. Yes, the violence itself was an issue, and probably will remain an issue (and it was in the first and second games as well, despite your own down-playing of it due to the top-down view, the very idea that you could car-jack someone in a game caused controversy). The "Kill the Cubans/Haitians" thing, as you noted, didn't have an effect until maybe a year ago, and Vice City was released almost 2 years ago. It had already sold most of the copies it will sell for the PS2 and PC before the controversy over those lines even started, and the fact that they pulled it precisely shows how rediculous this whole thing is (after all, the gangs called themselves The Cubans and The Haitians, and it was the latter that got the lines pulled, not the Cubans).

My point was not that this was the first to draw controversy. My point was simply to point out that this game has not changed in any fundamental line from the previous 2, and it's drawing this particular controversy simply because the main character (and many of the characters in the game's setting, I'd imagine) is black, instead of being of European descent like the previous games. People weren't complaining about the main character's ethnicity or even the ethnicity of most of the other characters in the games before (the "kill the cubans/haitians" thing had everything to do with the exact statement, or it wouldn't have stopped with the modification of a couple of sound files), they simply complained about the violence in general terms.

Let's ban ghettos! (4, Interesting)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946387)

Let's ban ghettos! In there you will find all these stereotypes walking around where anyone can see them! Even little children. Save the little children!

Re:Let's ban ghettos! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946499)

I wouldn't mind. There'd be a lot less stolen DVD players.

slightly offtopic, but not... (4, Informative)

kisrael (134664) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946394)

Today's Slate featured piece was by a black woman lawyer called Racist Like Me [slate.com] ...it raises some interesting points about how the accusation of racism tends to be a conversation- (and thought-) stopper, and how as a culture we should probably be more engaged in this kind of discussion.

USofAns (0, Troll)

hummassa (157160) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947137)

are vastly more affected because they don't really mingle (as a rule, with exceptions).

Point in case: me.

My grand-grandparents are of the following origins: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, South American Native, Black, Middle Eastern (Nobody [currently alive] knows if she was Jew or Arab), and Oriental.

How can I be a bigot? Whatever your race is, I certainly can feel related. Many Brazilians are in the same condition as I am, maybe I am more conscious (having done some extensive genealogic research) of my multi-ethnicity. When filling forms with "race/ethnicity", I usually seek for the "all of the above" option... :-)

But USofAns, more than European people, apparently segregate much more deeply, by race, by religion, etc. They don't seem to intermarry as commonly as down here.

What appalled me in your link was the fact that this woman *is* in fact intermarried with a white guy and she fears and have nightmares with black folks. This is a sign IMHO that *she* has serious problems.

Re:USofAns (4, Insightful)

kisrael (134664) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947273)

What appalled me in your link was the fact that this woman *is* in fact intermarried with a white guy and she fears and have nightmares with black folks. This is a sign IMHO that *she* has serious problems.

Ok, this could get ugly quick, but:
Right now, there is a correlation with young black people and a violent, not-very-educated street culture. There are violent, undeucated people of all colors, of course, and you're doing yourself and the culture at large a disservice if you "profile" someone exclusively on skin tone, and there are tons of historical reasons why that subset of black culture exists and is such a noticable cultural force, but what she's getting at is it's sometimes hard to get in a reasonable conversation about the kind of phenomenon with the term "RACIST!" being slung around and shutting down productive conversation.

The fact is, given some reasonable definitions of racism, most people are racist to greater or less degrees: often concerned about the well-being of their subset social group (like, heh, Geeks on slashdot...), and also using a variety of visual and audio cues to make at least a first best guess about what that person is all about. (and like in the case of a bunch urban-looking youths or redneck-looking bikers, if they're likely to be some kind of threat.) Really worrisome racism is when people can't get past their subgroup concerns and first impressions and preconceived notions; to damn everyone who has any twinges of that feeling is not helpful.

Re:USofAns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9948970)

You do realize that racism (and sexism, etc.) has a definition? Generally speaking, it is morally wrong to apply attributes of a group to an individual who happens to belong to that group. When the group is a certain sex, we call it sexism. When the group is a certain race, we call it racism.

This definition allows us to discuss racism and sexism quite objectively, while acknowledging that as a group there are clear statistical biases towards certain types of behaviour.

It's just a shame that hardly anyone involved in the debate understands the simple definition of the terms. Being concerned about the well-being of your social group as opposed to other social groups is not racism. Making preliminary judgements about people on incomplete information is not racism - but acting on those judgements, or refusing to change them in light of further information about the individual - is racism (assuming the judgement is made on the basis of the person's race).

So yeah I agree with what you're saying, but I think you can say it more strongly - the things you mention are not instances of racism, and there is nothing wrong with them per se.

Re:USofAns (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947620)

USofAns...are vastly more affected because they don't really mingle (as a rule, with exceptions)...But USofAns, more than European people, apparently segregate much more deeply, by race, by religion, etc.

1. This is nonsense.

2. If you're going to play at being Mr. Tolerance, please stop slinging around your ignorant Brazilian media stereotypes about Americans, and your silly little "USofAns".

Re:USofAns (3, Informative)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947682)

I'm going to take things out of order a bit, because the points are somewhat separated...

How can I be a bigot? Whatever your race is, I certainly can feel related. Many Brazilians are in the same condition as I am, maybe I am more conscious (having done some extensive genealogic research) of my multi-ethnicity. When filling forms with "race/ethnicity", I usually seek for the "all of the above" option... :-)

What appalled me in your link was the fact that this woman *is* in fact intermarried with a white guy and she fears and have nightmares with black folks. This is a sign IMHO that *she* has serious problems.


The whole point of the piece was that people need to remember that racism isn't just a white problem, or homophobia isn't just a heterosexual problem, it's something that everyone needs to address. Additionally, just because you're black (or in your personal case, multi-ethnic) doesn't make you immune to being racist.

But USofAns, more than European people, apparently segregate much more deeply, by race, by religion, etc. They don't seem to intermarry as commonly as down here.

I really couldn't say, because I have never been to Europe. However, I would say that in the US the line seems to be much more along class lines than racial lines. Unfortunately, class and racial lines have a tendency to coincide to a large degree in the US. If you find that you're in a city in the US and the locals are primarily black or latino, there's a good chance that you're in an area where people make less money, and therefore in a lower-class neighborhood. If most of the people are white, you simply have to look at the size and maintenance of the homes to determine the class of the neighborhood, because there are white neighborhoods at all levels of the "class struggle".

From my own experience, having lived both in California and Virginia (the latter having been the capital of the Confederacy), racial mixing (both in families and in neighborhoods) is actually more common in the south, where integration was actually forced into being in the last century, than in the west, where people generally don't consider segregation to be an issue (it's not that they believe segregation is ok, they simply don't believe, and many probably wouldn't, they'd have a problem if black or latino people moved into their neighborhoods). The lines are still drawn primarily by how much money you make on the west coast as they are in the south, but no one forced people to integrate along racial lines in California, therefore most of them never did.

I grew up in a primarily white neighborhood in southern California, middle class (probably upper middle class now that housing prices have sky-rocketed), where the most common minority was latino, at roughly 5% (the white population being roughly 87%). When I moved to Virginia, sharing a place with a co-worker, we were literally the only white people on our block, and I'll admit that initially it made me nervous. However, I have to add that it wasn't just the fact that most of the people living around me were black that made me nervous, but it was also the fact that I could not possibly have found a place in southern California that was that cheap to live in without qualifying for government assistance (which is to say, living in welfare housing projects). This made me believe that I was living in what was probably a bad part of town, somewhere you might have to keep your car alarmed and possibly not leave your home unoccupied for too long, should someone decide to break in and either trash the place or steal all of your stuff.

As I continued to live there, though, I realized that I was actually living in a lower-middle-class neighborhood and that housing was simply significantly cheaper anywhere in the state than it was in California. The people living around me primarily had jobs in similar areas (not computers, but working for similar companies; despite working as a software developer there are very few people that I work with that know much about computers), and any type of violence or suspicious activity lead to someone calling the cops, just as in the neighborhood where my parents lived. I have since moved 3 times, not because of any problems with the neighborhood, but for differing reasons, personal in nature the last 2 times (i.e. I'll have a daughter in a couple of months, and the last place I lived wasn't big enough). In every case except 1, the black population of the given neighborhood has been between 25 and 50%, primarily because these people grew up with similar educations and entered similar areas of work as the people I work with, or, in a large number of cases, they entered the military and made some use of the benefits that are available to the people that wish to take advantage of them in the military. The 1 exception, of course, was an upper-middle-class area where I rented a room for 6 months. I don't think most of the people in that area would have any problem with integration (in fact, many of the people in that area are immigrants from Eurasia, and therefore sometimes face many of the same problems, made worse by language barriers), but it will take time, and the continued possibility of open opportunities, for black people to actually be able to afford to live in those areas. In general, people (regardless of race) want to do as well as, or better than, their parents, and as long as that drive continues, society will continue to become better integrated. Anything left blocking that type of integration should be eliminated, including the self-inflicted blocks of drugs and violence that have been portrayed as the problems of black youths in southern California.

Re:USofAns (4, Interesting)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949706)

Well, since you are from So. Cal, but didn't mention LA- my guess i that you are from either the Valley, or more likely O.C.

I'm from OC, and prior to moving away I had the exact same feeling that you did. Not so much that "black people were bad", but that if you lived in a neighborhood with black people, then you were obviously in a really bad neighborhood. And, a true "mexican neighborhood" (I.e., Santa Ana) was also something that should be avoided...other than making weekly runs to Townsend St. to pick up a bag of weed.

So eventually I left OC and went into the Army and gasp! I ended up spending 3 years being one of only ~5 white guys in a platoon full of 55 black guys. That opened my eyes to a LOT of things. I would not have considered myself 'racist' in the past, just completely un-aware. Growing up in a fairly well-off neighborhood in Orange County can do that to you. Oh yeah...we had a black guy at our high school...but his dad was a professional athlete.

I've moved on, and now I live in a city where the population is about 45% hispanic, 40% white, and a mix of everything else for the last 15%.

My sister who still lives in the same area I grew up, never moved away. Now I consider her to be one of the most racist people I know. I look back and wonder..."was I as bad as she is?"

Well the whole point of this is....some of those "middle class white neighborhoods" of Southern California can gives kids a very distorted view of the world. The real estate prices are so high- and the reality of the hispanic/black underclass so prevalent...that a lot of kids grow up surrounded only by whites (and of course Japanese/Chinese...) They're not raised to be prejudice, but it just becomes an outgrowth of their environment.

Oh...and also, while I was in the Army I lived in Germany. While OC may just be racist 'by accident' (mostly financial) I found Germany to be an extremely overtly racist place. Going out to local parks/pools/restaurants with my friends (black) gave me a view of what the US must have been like in the 50's. My friends wouldn't be let into nightclubs because of a 'dresscode', or we would be told that the 'pool was closed now' (with tons of people in it). Or we would go to a restaurant and the waitress just would never come to our table to take our order. No...Europe is no wonderland of color-blind society.

Re:USofAns (2, Interesting)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949958)

Well, since you are from So. Cal, but didn't mention LA- my guess i that you are from either the Valley, or more likely O.C.

There's this small town near the border called San Diego, 6th largest city in the US, few million people living in the surrounding counties. Now, in east county, there are a couple of cities that are extremely majority white, and a couple of cities that are primarily latino and black. Obviously, I lived in one of the majority white cities, and the middle-class/upper-middle class designation would probably clarify which for anyone that's actually familiar with the area (unless, of course, they assume that anything outside of La Jolla is lower class).

I have to add, though, that black and Mexican (as opposed to the more general term latino, since a non-Mexican latino was quite rare) people were not so rare that you never knew any of them, but there's a far cry from knowing that 1 black guy in your high school to being 1 of the only 2 white guys on your block. You have no problem with the individuals, as you can treat them as individuals and it often doesn't change any part of your general view of racial stereotypes and so forth. Unfortunately, when you live in an area with a large "minority" population, you quickly learn that some of those stereotypes have a foundation (but of course aren't completely true), and that you should never assume they're true unless you have to make a life-or-death decision.

The other thing I learned, of course, was that it's really hard to get good mexican food once you leave San Diego.

Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947472)

A liberal website like Slate accusing conservatives of something bad? Shocking.

Most conservatives I know would prefer things be completely color blind (ie no affirmative action), while the liberals I know tend to believe skin color should play a role in school admissions, hiring, etc.

Terrible, terrible distortion of reality (5, Funny)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946417)

Don't these people at DMA know that LA gangs of the early nineties were uniformly white?

Oh. Never mind.

Re:Terrible, terrible distortion of reality (1, Funny)

illuminata (668963) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946529)

I'm guessing that the whites in LA would have formed gangs, but they were probably afraid of being called racist.

Warriors, come out and playy! *clank clank* (1)

British (51765) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947464)

Well to counter that isn't some company making a game based on the classic movie "The Warriors?" With the 800000 gang members in that, that was pretty diverse. Ranging from female gangs to baseball player mimes.

Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (1, Insightful)

happyhippy (526970) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946457)

Name one film that didnt have a black character acting as a home boy gangsta wise cracking rapper.

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (1)

nempo (325296) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946573)

the Leathal weapon series and predator 2 to name a few.

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (1)

RotJ (771744) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947549)

It's weird that you only list movies that have Danny Glover in them. Why don't you add some Morgan Freeman to the mix?

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (1)

AntDaniel (553730) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948757)

Erm....

At least one Lethal Weapon features blacks in gang situations. (Doesn't on kid get mowed down by an uzi after messing around with a gang?)

And predator 2 had a gang on columbian (?) drug dealers.

So these can't be used as a purer than pure situation.

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946614)

And who among us can forget Dick Van Dyke's superb ghetto stylings in Mary Popacapinyoass? A spoonful of sugar? Kids these days and their drug slangs.

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947404)

Dick Van Dyke wasn't black. He was just covered in soot.

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (4, Funny)

BlueCup (753410) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946695)

Schindlers List. =D

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (1)

Dolly_Llama (267016) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948538)

Oh there was one there, he just happened to be first up against the wall, so you might have missed him.

Let that be a warning...

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (1)

RotJ (771744) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947479)

Ghost Dog [imdb.com] has a black character acting as a home boy samurai who raises pigeons and reads Hagakure. It also has old Italian gangsters who watch Itchy & Scratchy and listen to hip-hop. And a black Haitian ice-cream salesman who speaks only French.

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947764)

one of my favourite films - for those above facts.

adding to the mix you could have the Manchurian Candidate movie.

or 24 (not movies i know) - a black president.

How about ... (1)

arhar (773548) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947725)

The Last Dragon [imdb.com] :-)

Re:Hollywood movies are worse at stereotyping (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948813)

"Name one film that didnt have a black character acting as a home boy gangsta wise cracking rapper."

Dinosaur?

Goddamn whities. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9946459)

Always busy bitching about crap and not taking any action. In fact, I'm going to write a game where you're white and all you can do it bitch about stuff. Someone mugs you? You can start a commitee and bitch about it with other whities. Someone kicks your dog? You can start a commitee and bitch about it with other whities. Someone nuked your backyard with an old russian ICBM? You can start a commitee and bitch about it with other whities.

Ps, I'm white; Seth

Whatever. (1)

jpmkm (160526) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946478)

Somebody make a game with all white people and let's see what the blacks have to say about that. You just can't win.

Re:Whatever. (5, Funny)

slungsolow (722380) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946719)

They've been making hockey games for years. I haven't heard a black person complain about that yet.

Re:Whatever. (3, Informative)

fullmetal55 (698310) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948545)

now now, there are black people in the NHL, to name just a few Grant Fuhr (Goalie - Edmonton Oilers during their dynasty years in the 80s) Freddie Braithwaite (Goalie - Edmonton Oilers, St Louis Blues, and others) Mike Grier (forward) Anson Carter (forward) Jarome Iginla (forward) and many more whos names escape me at this point.

Re:Whatever. (4, Insightful)

mausmalone (594185) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946867)

I can probably name a couple dozen all-white (or, more to the point, all-Japanese) games off the top of my head, and I'm sure that the've largely gone un-acknowledged. What I have a harder time naming is any games where an inteligent main (or at least important) character was black, latino, etc ...

I personally never found it very surprising that sports games sell well among minorities. They're one of the few genres of game where you can count on seeing successful minorities being judged solely on thier abilities, accomplishments, and occasionally team affiliation. (c'mon, we all have rivalries :P )

Oh, and as far as Rockstar using racial stereotypes in their games... no guff chet. You can be offended if you choose, but at least don't act so surprised.

Re:Whatever. (2, Interesting)

RotJ (771744) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947741)

What I have a harder time naming is any games where an inteligent main (or at least important) character was black, latino, etc ...

Grim Fandango: Strong latino characters. Dead, but still latino.

Gabriel Knight: Smart, female Japanese sidekick.

Intelligent black characters? I'm having a hard time coming up with one. James Earl Jones as GDI Supreme Commander in Tiberian Sun?

It's not good that we have to think for 20 minutes to remember any intelligent minority game characters.

Re:Whatever. (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947855)

It's not good that we have to think for 20 minutes to remember any intelligent minority game characters.

Try thinking about intelligent game characters in general. Your average game character, if given any personality, is more along the lines of Duke Nukem than Gordon Freeman (who never speaks, but we can suppose to be smart because of where he works...). Not to mention that we have an awful lot of animals and weird anime characters, with the latter often causing us to have a hard time determining sex, let alone intelligence and race.

Re:Whatever. (1)

Spankophile (78098) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948511)


It's not good that we have to think for 20 minutes to remember any intelligent minority game characters.


Sure it's good!! That just means that minorities are so well integrated in society that you don't even notice! Isn't that the point?

...and for the record, you play as a Black guy in Unreal 2.

Re:Whatever. (1)

AntDaniel (553730) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948815)

Tony Hawks Underground?

If there was any negative representation it was minor, and only while the character was establishing himself.

blame hollywood (2, Interesting)

OleMoudi (624829) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946487)

As they are the first who introduced those stereotypes. These kind of videogames such as GTA only try to emulate cinema through development of characters and plots similar to those seen on common blockbuster titles at big screen.

Re:blame hollywood (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948108)

Hollywood? Try walking around in newark nj for a day...

If you want offensive.. (0, Offtopic)

lowmagnet (646428) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946570)

If you want offensive, something worse [tshirthell.com] . In other words, get over yourselves, people.

Re:If you want offensive.. (1)

706GL (172709) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949400)

I can't imagine a situation where wearing that shirt wouldn't get your ass kicked.

A question about the figures... (5, Interesting)

Bazzargh (39195) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946612)

"he prominence of black characters in those story lines is all the more striking because of the narrow range of video games in which blacks have been present, if present at all, over the years. A 2001 study by Children Now, for example, found that of 1,500 video-game characters surveyed, 288 were African-American males - and 83 percent of those were represented as athletes."

I was curious - how many of the 1500 were hedgehogs? Racoons? Demon imps?

I checked the report this figure was lifted from:
http://www.childrennow.org/media/video-game s/2001/

"White characters were the majority in the video game population (56%)" - thats as opposed to 19% being african-american males (see above). That's compared to the real US population which is 80% white and roughly 7% african-american males (see http://www.census.gov/statab/www/poprace.html) - even ignoring for a moment that many games originate in Japan where the racial mix is even more skewed.

The accusations of stereotyping and the narrow range of games including such characters ring true, but the "if present at all" remark is completely unsupported by the figures - if anything african-american males are quite over-represented in games. Although not to the extent of space aliens, who make up less than 1% of the real population.

Living in the UK, I'd ask - where are the asian characters? (apart from japanese/chinese). Our population is about 5% from the indian subcontinent, but I can't recall ever playing a game with indian or pakistani characters.

Speaking of Asian developed games (2, Interesting)

llevity (776014) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946690)

Have you ever noticed the lack of asian characters in Japanese developed games? Most characters seem to be cookie cutter caucasians. FFX is one of the few that comes to mind that had any characters with asian features, and even then, there was a disparity between the in game look of the characters and their look in the CG cinemas. They looked caucasian in the normal gameplay, and had asian features in the CGs.

Re:A question about the figures... (1)

Alphasnail (745810) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946836)

Here's a summary of what your average American knows about India and Pakistan:
-- Apu from the Simpsons is funny.
-- Curry smells funny.

Re:A question about the figures... (1)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946923)

I want more Asian characters, too (hot chicks, preferably ;), but I also find
the lack of Indian etc. characters disturbing. I wanted one in City of Heroes,
but all the faces look decidedly Caucacian :(

(Skintones are varied. Blue, green, brown, black, red, pink, whatever - but only
five or so faces!)

Re:A question about the figures... (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946989)

Our population is about 5% from the indian subcontinent, but I can't recall ever playing a game with indian or pakistani characters.

"Dhalsim flame!"

And Streetfighter II is certainly not unique in that the cast of characters to choose from represent many different countries and cultures.

Re:A question about the figures... (2, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949027)

Good thing they put in Guile. "For Americans to play."

Affirmative Action (3, Funny)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946729)

What we need is federal affirmative action programs for criminal street gangs. If we can't bust them for illegal weapons or dope, we can smother them with greedy lawyers.

Racism, pure and simple (5, Insightful)

ALeavitt (636946) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946760)

This definitely sounds like racism to me. A white, Italian stereotype can go around gunning down anyone he wants, but as soon as he has to kill members of a Haitian gang, it's racist. But make the protagonist black, and all of a sudden it's reinforcing stereotypes and represents racism against African-Americans? Come on! There's a United Negro College Fund. If there were a United Caucasian College Fund, these same people would be crying racist. Yes, it is racist. It's racist that there is such a dichotomy - what's acceptable for one race isn't acceptable for another, and vice versa. This is just further evidence of the absence of racial equality in our society. The fact is, though, that in many regards it's skewed opposite the way many people believe it is.

Re:Racism, pure and simple (2, Interesting)

cyber0ne (640846) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946899)

If there were a United Caucasian College Fund, these same people would be crying racist.

Good point. I wonder what the average member of any given racial minority in the US would feel if we somehow magically eliminated this dichotomy. On the one hand, they would gain full equality in the minds of everyone around them. On the other hand, they would lose all social programs geared towards helping them for other other reason than they are a minority.

I work in an office building which houses many state programs (I won't name the state) and see on a daily basis the countless people who come through here filing for this and applying for that. I see a lot of money going to do (I hope) a lot of good. The social issue at large is a nice thing to discuss and/or complain about, but would that be of any consolation to Mr. John Q. Public in his unending quest to feed his family?

Re:Racism, pure and simple (2, Informative)

dorlthed (700641) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947512)

There's a United Negro College Fund. If there were a United Caucasian College Fund, these same people would be crying racist.

It's not a dichotomy, in that there is no "white culture", and whites are not a minority, nor even are they one uniform group that could be construed as a minority if they were. More importantly, there is no NEED for a United Caucasian College Fund, in a cultural sense. Sure, there are plenty of needy white kids who need money to go to college, but the difference is that there is no decades-old, concerted effort to advance the standing of white people in society, nor does there need to be.

The UNCF, for example, is a fund set up *BY BLACK PEOPLE* to support young members of their own culture. If there was a UCCF, would it be to support young members of the white culture? No, because there is no white culture. Keep in mind, however, that there are plenty of scholarships for Italians, Jews, etc, who DO have their own communities and cultures, and wish to advance the standing of their young people in society. They just don't have as much clout or publicity.

Re:Racism, pure and simple (1, Flamebait)

Zed2K (313037) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948121)

I think the point is that there should be NO race based programs at all. Black, white, doesn't matter. If you want to go to college the applications should NOT ask what your race is. Race should not matter in anything. But since it does seem to matter to so many people it is a very one sided thing.

White, middle class, males have the raw end of the deal. And its only going to get worse.

Re:Racism, pure and simple (1)

mattnl (602476) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948679)

white, middle class males have always had the best deal there is. we have always been able to get what we want with no govermental/societal/social rad blocks keeping us back. we don't need help.

on the other hand, a lot of minority groups have been systematically pushed down by institutions like universities for hundreds of years.

have you ever heard of a "no white man" policy at a country club? but there are still some "no jews" and "no black" policies in north america.

so who's getting the "raw end of the deal"?

Re:Racism, pure and simple (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949515)

white, middle class males have always had the best deal there is. we have always been able to get what we want with no govermental/societal/social rad blocks keeping us back. we don't need help.

As a white, middle class male the only choice I had when going to college was to pay for it myself (though I got a minor scholarship due to a GPA in the top 10% of my class and strong SAT scores). The beauty of middle class is that you can live a day-to-day life fairly well, but most middle class parents can't afford to send their kids to college. The beauty of our student aid system is that as soon as the boxes "white" and "male" were checked on the application, the only thing left for them to look at before laughing at me until I went to the bank for a loan was my parents' income, despite the fact that they didn't pay a cent for the time I spent in college.

On the other hand, the good side of things is that very few people are ineligible for a student loan. The bad side is that student loans do have a cap, so that if your parents are unwilling to take the risk of taking out a loan for you, you're probably still screwed (yes, my parents made me pay off the student loan they took out, which was what we had agreed to before they would even sign the loan paperwork).

The point should be to remove the existing blocks, not to generate new ones by trying to promote those that were harmed in the past. So long as we treat race as a reason to give any one person a benefit over another, racism will have a foundation upon which to remain (that isn't to say it's the only foundation, it's simply one of many fuels in the fire).

Re:Racism, pure and simple (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9949855)

...yet illegal immigrants and kids of them (sure, they're legal NOW...) go to school for free in this country. Hell, Bush will even pay for their housing, food, crack habit and their 32 kids. And all the while, not one member of the god-damned family speaks a word of english.

This will probably get marked down as a troll, and that's fine because this isn't the proper forum, but I'm so sick of hearing that this country & government is racist. We spend more money helping 3rd world nations than we should, while, back home within our own country, we've got homeless sleeping on the streets, kids having to live with and be raised by crack-heads and a lot of AMERICANS (born and raised, not immigrants) can't afford to put food on their tables or go to college.

Then, to boot, we start out sourcing... But that's another off-topic post on another article...

(-1 Troll) Here I come!!

Re:Racism, pure and simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9949032)

It's not a dichotomy, in that there is no "white culture"

If there's no white culture, whose culture have I been living in all my life? For that matter, who buys those singing fish and commemorative NASCAR plates? Seriously, though, you seem to be confused about what culture is.

and whites are not a minority

Racism has nothing to do with whether a race is a minority.

nor even are they one uniform group that could be construed as a minority if they were.

You mean not all white people are white? How the heck do you define a group of people by a common characteristic and then pretend that the group isn't uniform? I could turn this around and accuse you of racism for insinuating that all black people must be the same in any way besides skin color.

More importantly, there is no NEED for a United Caucasian College Fund, in a cultural sense.

Whether that's true or not, it's completely tangential to the point in contention. I invite you to return from your sidetrip into irrelevance and rejoin the actual conversation.

For what it's worth, I agree with the grandparent. Special treatment based on race is inherently racist, regardless of motive.

Re:Racism, pure and simple (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949619)

You mean not all white people are white? How the heck do you define a group of people by a common characteristic and then pretend that the group isn't uniform? I could turn this around and accuse you of racism for insinuating that all black people must be the same in any way besides skin color.

It would be like calling all black people African... oh, wait.

It's all pretty stupid, but in the end it's the refusal to accept that race and behavior are not irrefutably linked that makes someone racist. Maybe someday we can get beyond that point and get down to the point of "white", "black", "red", "yellow", and "brown" are not races at all, but rather someone's arbitrary determination of skin color.

Re:Racism, pure and simple (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949710)

So tell me, what's "black culture"?

I can understand how there is no "white culture" or god forbid, "Asian culture", seeing as how they all come from the same place, so I think it's kind of neat that there is a single cultural definition for people who very recently (I mean, what's 150+ years?) were forcibly relocated to the US from that tiny ethnically and societally homogenous place called Africa. I'm sure our Italian friends with ancestors from such closely connected communities as Sicily and Piemonte would agree with you that such a definition of a pretty arbitrarily delineated group's "culture" deserves of recognition.

Honestly. I'm not calling into question the existence of the UNCF. I think it's great that a group which statistically is not so prosperous builds an organization to change the status quo on its own. However, your incredibly broad generalization of "culture" as such is pretty uninformed, and I'd venture so far as to say insulting towards people with ancestors in Smorgasbjord, Sweden or Bulubumbu, Congo, whom you so simplistically lump into "white" and "black".

As for your logic regarding "the standing of white people in society", I think it's a pretty fucking sad statement on society today that you have to differentiate between poor bastards who can't afford college on their own, based solely on race.

negative racial overtones (2, Interesting)

sporty (27564) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946783)

One of the many things to reduce prejiduce and dispell stereotypes, is positive exposure.

For instance, the entire "nerd" stereotype. I'm sure there are quite a few nerds here. Heck, by the base definition of just beign smart, I'm a nerd. It doesn't mean that I'm phsically uncoordinated or have a severe inability to interact with people. I don't get sick very often, except when I'm unusally stressed. Never had a bad case of acne. A lot of people follow this line of life. But through exposure, we know that acne + social flaws + uncoordinated isn't tied to being smart.

Another example, the entire cold war "Russians are backwards" stereotype. The biggest thing that's different between Russians and Americans are where they live, the languages spoken and small cultural things. These differences exist between any two cultures to varying degrees. But via exposure, we learn that a lot of thinsg aren't true because we see for ourselevs.

By showing various races in negative stereotypes only reinforces certain ideas. Eventually, one deems for current fact either what isn't fact or isn't even current just because the idea was presented to them, not from some random joe on the street, but a coorporation.

Frankly, I would expect an american company, to have learned from its past and not promote these types of stupidity. In a way, it's disrespectful for what most of us have stood up against. Worse yet, it's plain wrong in that it gives "black", "latino", and any other races that get depicted in this fasion. After all, isn't America supposed to be about equality of people and power? Isn't this just plain slanderous of an entire group of people who will now be seen more as thieves and other assorted criminals? We dont' want to put criminals in power, but minorities should be ok, yet we slight them in this way? Shame on you GTA producers.

Re:negative racial overtones (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946939)

The game is centred around gang warfare. Specifically, rival gangs in a thinly-veiled reconstruction of South-Central Los Angeles, 1991.

Given that the main characters will be male youths in gangs, what percentage of minorities would be acceptable? 0%? 7% (to reflect the national average population)? Or shall we reflect the facts?

Rockstar take as their inspiration (across the entire GTA series) the many and varied classic films about criminal life.

Shall we also ban Goodfellas, The Godfather and Scarface for their negative depictions of Italian-Americans? Boyz N The Hood for racism?

Re:negative racial overtones (1)

sporty (27564) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947008)

Movies are quite different and you know that. Actors are what drive the industry. If minorities were only used as criminals, yes, ban them. But we know that's not true. I can easily name movies that had black people, white people and every other type in the position of violence. It is more equal than video games.


In comics, video games and the likes, they are made up. Rather than reflect the facts, which aren't healthy, why not either do something more equal or not at all? Yes, you can be sarcastic if you want and have that whole, everyone represented in one gang with one-of-each BS. Moving away from stereotypes is all that I ask. It doesn't have to be completely mixed each and every time, but c'mmon...

Re:negative racial overtones (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947153)

Movies are quite different and you know that. Actors are what drive the industry. If minorities were only used as criminals, yes, ban them. But we know that's not true. I can easily name movies that had black people, white people and every other type in the position of violence. It is more equal than video games.

But can you name any movies that portrayed life in South-Central L.A., especially relating to gangs, from the late 80s through the early 90s, that does not portray the majority of the people in that area (or even just the majority of the gang members) as black or latino? It's hard to say that movies are quite different when the game derives heavily from the movies themselves for it's backdrop. If someone never saw Scarface or Miami Vice before playing Vice City, I could understand if they didn't pick up on where the game drew its influence, and its entire world, but that doesn't excuse them from their ignorance if they believe its an accurate portrayal of life in Florida in the early to mid 80s. The same should only be held for GTA San Andreas, but because the movies they drew from for the early 90s L.A setting were primarily depicting the "plight of the urban minority youth", of course we're going to end up with a game that's heavily filled with urban minority youth behaving violently.

Re:negative racial overtones (2, Interesting)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947757)

"Movies are quite different and you know that. Actors are what drive the industry. If minorities were only used as criminals, yes, ban them."

This quote actually cuts to the heart of what I think is really going on here, both with your own posts and the article.

Yes, it is true that the majority of black characters in this game will be portrayed as criminals, or otherwise negatively. However, with computer games about committing criminal acts in a semi-realistic setting, even if (as with the previous GTA games) they provide broad swathes of social satire and in-jokery to counter the severity of the violence, there aren't any positive role models around.

The cynical, satirical world of GTA is populated by criminal mobs, corrupt law enforcement, a gung-ho military with little regard for bystanders and hypocritical politicians. There truly aren't any innocents or decent people out there in these games. So either you admit that each and every section of society is going to be ridiculed somewhere, or you insist that the game is a digital apartheid.

Re:negative racial overtones (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9949329)

Rather than reflect the facts, which aren't healthy, why not either do something more equal or not at all?

This is the single most insane thing I have ever read. You're suggesting actively hiding the truth because the truth isn't healthy?! Perhaps we should only hear goodfacts, since realfacts can only cause harm. Won't someone please think of the children?

(Apologies for the Babylon 5 reference.)

Re:negative racial overtones (3, Insightful)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947057)

Frankly, I would expect an american company, to have learned from its past and not promote these types of stupidity. In a way, it's disrespectful for what most of us have stood up against. Worse yet, it's plain wrong in that it gives "black", "latino", and any other races that get depicted in this fasion. After all, isn't America supposed to be about equality of people and power? Isn't this just plain slanderous of an entire group of people who will now be seen more as thieves and other assorted criminals? We dont' want to put criminals in power, but minorities should be ok, yet we slight them in this way? Shame on you GTA producers.

The simple fact is that the basis for the entire game is centered around the "gangsta-rap-culture" movies produced in the late 80s and throughout the 90s. Most of these movies obtained their direction (especially in the form of writing, acting, etc) from the very people that are supposedly being slandered by this game.

People like to talk about the music and movie industries taking advantage of people, but in the end, "gangsta" rappers were among the first people to take control over their own careers by creating their own record labels and taking on most of the production positions normally filled by whoever the record label feels like putting in the studio. The primary reason they did this, of course, was that labels wouldn't touch their music until the early 90s unless there was someone else to take the heat for the language and portrayal of violence. Once the music became popular, of course, the movie deals came, and in many cases the artists exerted similar (though not to the same extent, due to the difference in the type of knowledge required) control.

Now we have someone making a game based around the image that these movies and music portrayed, much like their previous GTA title was based heavily on the image portrayed by a combination of Miami Vice, Scarface, and other movies and TV shows portraying cops and gangsters in the 80s. This particular game company has learned that taking essentially the same game (GTA3) and putting period elements on it makes it more appealing to the demographic that is supposed to be mature enough to play these games in the first place (after all, what do people born after 1985 really have to feel nostalgic about from the 80s, or really remember about the explosion of "gangsta rap" in the late 80s and early 90s?).

Then again, if it were simply another white or Italian protagonist, we'd only be hearing about the violence itself, unless some gang in the game was named after their race.

Re:negative racial overtones (1)

justkarl (775856) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947898)

after all, what do people born after 1985 really have to feel nostalgic about from the 80s, or really remember about the explosion of "gangsta rap" in the late 80s and early 90s?

Please tell me you weren't born in '85.
This all reminds me of a previous discussion about GTA(sorry, no link) where I related a story about how I was in the game store, and overheard a mother talking to the clerk about how it was better that she buy her 12 year old GTA3 than let him watch cable. "I mean, there's just so much violence, he dosen't need to be exposed to that." I was truly sickened.
Granted, today's discussion is not about age and maturity, however, I think that with age and maturity, satirical racism can be taken with a grain of salt, and that some people are just too damn young for that kind of media. I can't stress enough that age limits need to be enforced because of issues like these. I could go on forever about this, but I'll dismount my soapbox.

Re:negative racial overtones (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949350)

Please tell me you weren't born in '85.

'78, and personally most of the 80s crap still doesn't do much for me. '85 was a convenient year because it puts people born in that year near 17 when GTA VC was released for the PS2.

This all reminds me of a previous discussion about GTA(sorry, no link) where I related a story about how I was in the game store, and overheard a mother talking to the clerk about how it was better that she buy her 12 year old GTA3 than let him watch cable. "I mean, there's just so much violence, he dosen't need to be exposed to that." I was truly sickened.

I would be, as well. On the other hand, if her 12 year old was mature enough and she was aware of the content of what she was buying, it'd be a different story. The justification of violence already being on cable (or moreso on the evening news) is no justification at all.

Granted, today's discussion is not about age and maturity, however, I think that with age and maturity, satirical racism can be taken with a grain of salt, and that some people are just too damn young for that kind of media. I can't stress enough that age limits need to be enforced because of issues like these. I could go on forever about this, but I'll dismount my soapbox.

I completely agree, and I also agree with one of the people quoted (or perhaps it was the author, I'm not looking at it directly at the moment) in the article as saying "I dont want my 11 year old exposed to this." I was playing Doom when it came out, and a little math will tell you I was in high school at the time (and that just barely if I remember Doom's release year correctly as 92). However, the computer was kept in the family room, and my parents were quite aware of what I was playing. Just as with anything they could control access to (obviously to some degree I was exposed to things when they were not around), they made the determination that I could handle it before allowing me to play it (or view it, as in the case of most of the movies I was watching at that age). I tended to be exposed to a lot of things at an age lower than that recommended by the rating, but it wasn't due to lack of attention to the content. Knowing this, I also know that every child is different, and therefore what they should be exposed to is also different. I hope that my child will be mature enough to handle GTA: San Andreas before she is 17 (though she may never care to play it in the first place), but if I don't believe she is, I will certainly prevent her from playing it when I can, despite the fact that there's little doubt it will be in my house (and yes, I am prepared to keep much of my video game and DVD collection under lock and key, if only to keep her from playing with them as an infant in the near future).

Re:negative racial overtones (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948412)

Where do people get off thinking they are smarter then everyone else? I hate that. So you are able to see that it's a video game, and, oh my god, not real life?! Only you are capable of determining that having acne and glasses doesn't make you smart? Only you are capable of relizing that there could be evil commies in another country who just want to get food, have some sex, and live their lives, and don't care about politics? Only you? Because, if this game shows me that black people are evil criminals, only you are capable of seeing the truth. The unwashed masses are too stupid to understand that it's a video game and not real.

By the way, has anybody played this game yet? I mean at liest wait until the fucking game is released before everyone starts bitching. I told all my friends "I cant wait for it, cause the lead guy is black, there's going to be a shitload of people crying racist". Here's the first one.

Can we repeate after me everybody... video game. V I D E O G A M E. It's realistic you say? It is? YEah, I get loading screens when I drive over bridges in real life. I also see cops ramming the crap out of guys car jacking other people all the time. He usually blows up in an inferno and gets up later.

I mean, damn, I've playd racing sims, flight sims, sub sims, destroyer sims, pt boat sims and got knows whatever else sims. Those are wayyyyyyyyyyy more realistic then gta could ever be, and you kno what? I still know I can't drive an f1 car, or man a sub.

IT IS A GAME. The characters are going to be made to be a stereo in order to be over the top, on purpose.

What's with you people? Everytime I decide to to shade a character black, I have to make him a super intelligent guy? I created the character, I can make him however I want. If you don't like it, don't buy the game.

Well whatever, I'm too stupid to know that the character in the video game isn't how every person who's black is going to behave.

Why can't I associate gang like behavior in low income inner city house with, gang behavior in low income inner city housing? Why do I have to think that every black person I see is that way? What the hell? There's plenty of white people who act that same way who live in the same situation.

Whatever, I don't care, I'm just feeding the trolls and the article trolls. Fucking video game that's not out. Trolls to the max.

Huh? (5, Insightful)

BigNumber (457893) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946838)

The game takes place in Southern California in the early 90s. This was the height of gang violence in that area and most gangs were made up of blacks or hispanics. I'm sure there were plenty of white people committing crimes at the time but that's not the subject matter of this particular game. Screaming racism in the face of documented history is just silly.

Re:Huh? (2, Interesting)

mausmalone (594185) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947058)

Speaking of which, I wonder what the actual plot of the game is. Like in GTA3, the game overall was a quest for revenge, and as a sort of nomadic hired-gun, you were able to see how ridiculous the whole racial-gang/revenge thing was. It just led to more killing and extinction. I wonder if since 90's LA had so much racial tension, is this plot gonna have a moral about racism and violence?

Seriously, I can understand being offended by all this, but when you look at the GTA series you have to remember that a lot of the stereotyping and villainy is done on an exaggerated scale to highlight the absurity of it all.

Re:Huh? (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947211)

off the top of my head, IIRC, it's about a guy who gets out of jail, and wants to clean himself up, but fails and gets back into a life of crime or something.

but i'm not trying too hard to figure out what the plot is until i get my claws on a copy of that game... ;)

Let's ALL be offended while we're at it! (4, Interesting)

FlimFlamboyant (804293) | more than 9 years ago | (#9946960)

Personally, I'm offended that caucasian game developers who implement villainous characters of other races are often stereotyped as racist bigots. What are they going to do about THAT, huh?? Oh, that's right; nothing. Because my great, great, great grandparants, who have been dead for 100 friggin' years weren't slaves! How many people own slaves here in America today? Isn't about time that we GET THE HELL OVER IT?

I looked at a few screenshots of the game in question, and I can't think of a single, high-crime neighborhood that I've been in that didn't look EXACTLY like that. Please excuse Rockstar Games for making their game realistic.

Only in videogames... (5, Funny)

trueneutral (771705) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947140)

I'm just glad that movies and television don't have racial steriotypes. It's good to see that every other form of media has progressed beyond that.

What's new? (2, Insightful)

TalMaximus (681873) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947186)

The two latest GTA games have been filled with racial stereotypes. Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Triads, Columbian Drug Dealers. The game has been thriving on racial stereotypes since it hit the PS2, and Xbox. Doesn't matter if the lead character is black, white, chinese, or whatever. GTA3's character was technically Italian...not white. Another stereotype with the Italian Mafia. Granted, I don't know how often you're going to find multi-ethnical organized crime establishments. At least its not saying, all 'insert race here' are violent and prone to rebellion. Its more saying all Yakuza, Triad, and Columbian Drug Cartels are prone to violence and rebellion. Lets face it, organized crime exists to committ crime. Long story short, there's nothing new here.

Re:What's new? (1)

TalMaximus (681873) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947208)

One more thing...GTA3 also had a white organized crime unit composed of violent rednecks.

Re:What's new? (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 9 years ago | (#9949452)

They weren't really "rednecks" per se; more Michigan Militia types. A right pain they were, too, since after you've vaguely annoyed one of them they'll shoot anything in sight.

you know... (2, Insightful)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947201)

as much as I personally detest the GTA games...

"Art imitates Life."

Put me in the game... (2, Interesting)

NIN1385 (760712) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947230)

This is just getting out of hand, may I suggest to all these black people with sticks up their butts...WATCH THE CHAPPELLE SHOW! If your pissed off aqbout this, I would like to refer you to the following website, but you have probably already been there.


Click Here [www.gnaa.us]

If they dont want to be in the soon-to-be greatest video game ever then tell them they can't be in it anyway...because I am going to be in it. I mean c'mon, who wouldn't mind being this guy:
True Gangsta [com.com]

Is stereotyping taboo or something? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9947274)

If you were to derive meaning from the context it's used you might think that "stereotyping" means or implies "racism" automatically, when in fact it's just another word for "conceptualization," which is something all language-using, thinking humans must do for their finite brains to cope with an infinite world.

If Australopithecus found a red bulb that smelled and tasted good, then saw another bulb of the same color and smell, it would eat it. Ergo, racial profiling. Seriously.

The statistical reality is that the super majority of Grand Theft Auto crimes are committed by Black and Hispanic people. Apparently even suggesting this statistical fact is "stereotyping" and intrinsically racist, even lacking specific extrapolation. When a Black or Hispanic is portrayed as committing a crime "not unbeknownst to their race," as it were, the furor erupts - but why?

I think the real reason for outcry is (and I don't say this with cruelty) embarassment, plain and simple. You see the same sort of shame from the Italian/Sicilian-American community over gangster portrayals, and from Americans over "ugly American" portrayals. But embarassing facts coming out in the open always causes shame. I don't see why reality should be ignored in order to assauge someone's feelings about their social status. There is absolutely nothing wrong, or even incorrect, about portraying "brown people" committing urban crimes, rioting, looting, etc. And since there is absolutely no indication in GTA4 that these "brown people" are representative of all others in all other cases, I don't see how this could be construed as racist by any but the embarrassed themselves.

Re:Is stereotyping taboo or something? (1)

Quill_28 (553921) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947490)

You new to earth?

Quentin Tarentino? (2, Insightful)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 9 years ago | (#9947354)

Whereas the movies that play up on those same racial steriotypes (the Godfather movies, Taxi Driver, Tarentino's body of work, etc) are considered to be the pinnacle of cinematic art?

--
Evan

tired of stupid people (1)

Zed2K (313037) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948036)

"including images of black youths committing and reveling in violent street crime."

So if the "images" were of white people I guarantee you wouldn't see white people complaining and sueing. If they did they would be called racists. If the game takes place in a certain area of a city it doesn't make sense to have the images of people in the game when you are in that area be anything but what the race of the people are.

All the anti-video game lawyers... (1)

JExtine (691267) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948194)

...are wet with anticipation for GTA: San Andreas to come out. Guess they couldn't even wait for it to be released before they started trying to bash it.

Re:All the anti-video game lawyers... (1)

Spleener12 (587422) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948968)

Precisely. If it's starting to get attention now, three months before its release, just think of how much bitching will be happening when it finally comes out.

What are they complaining about? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9948304)

The complainers are just reinforcing the impression that most black people are a stupid bunch of whingers who refuse to take responsibility for their own actions (which is probably why there are so many single parent black mothers - black males aren't man enough to take care of their children - or are stupid enough to keep shooting each other dead).

The stereotype is there for a reason - because there are tons of black people doing that sort of stuff.

It's already a been a few generations of blacks after the US official racism thing. It's more the black man keeping the black man down than anything. Look at the glorification of the "gangsta" culture by the blacks.

Any black that tries to make it legit in gets accused of trying to be white. Any black that says the blacks are getting it wrong [blackamericaweb.com] , gets criticized. Isn't that counterproductive?

Sure there is racial (and gender) discrimination, but many other minorities (indians, chinese, japanese) are doing a lot better than the blacks. So my conclusion is that the US blacks are to blame for most of their own problems.

The carribean blacks appear to be a bit different, so it's probably the gangsta black culture which sucks.

Sure I'm racist. I'd discriminate against gansgsta blacks anytime.

Speaking of race in games... (1)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 9 years ago | (#9948666)

We better ask the Pandemic and the US Army to stop distributing/playing Full Spectrum Warrior because it features violent Arabs in a Middle Eastern country.

non-karma-whoring article text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9948694)

The screen crackles with criminality as a gang of urban predators itch for a kill. The scene erupts into automatic-weapons fire in a drive-by nightmare of screaming car engines, senseless death and destruction set to a thumping rap soundtrack.

The action is not part of a new film, but of a video game in development - the latest permutation of Grand Theft Auto, one of the most popular game series ever. Partly set in a city resembling gang-ridden stretches of Los Angeles of the 1990's, it features a digital cast of African-American and Hispanic men, some wearing braided hair and scarves over their faces and aiming Uzis from low-riding cars.

The sense of place, peril and pigmentation evident in previews of the game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, underscores what some critics consider a disturbing trend: popular video games that play on racial stereotypes, including images of black youths committing and reveling in violent street crime.

"They are nothing more than pixilated minstrel shows," said Joe Morgan, a telecommunications executive in Manhattan who is black and is helping rear his girlfriend's 7-year-old son, who plays video games. Mr. Morgan argues that games like the Grand Theft Auto sequel, which was described glowingly and at length in a game magazine the boy recently brought home, are dangerously reinforcing stereotypes.

"A lot of young people are unable to discern between reality and satirical depictions," he said. "It makes them very vulnerable."

His complaint echoes a concern that many civil rights and other groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have long raised about stereotyping in movies, and the detrimental impact it may have on racial understanding and relations.

The issue, critics say, is not that the games' representation of racial and ethnic minorities is as blatantly threatening as the sort found at hate sites on the Web, where players are asked to gun down virtual black or Jewish characters. Rather, the racial and ethnic depictions and story lines are more subtle, and therefore, some say, more insidious.

"It's not just the kinds of stereotyping people generally think of," said Eileen Espejo, a senior associate at Children Now, an advocacy group in Oakland, Calif., that has studied video games. "It is the kind of limiting what characters of color can do and cannot do in the games that sends a message to kids."

Video game developers counter that no offense is intended. They say their games are simply parodies, or a reflection of a sort of "browning'' of popular culture that transcends race and sells to all in a marketplace captivated by hip-hop styles, themes and attitude.

Several games scheduled for wide release this fall or early next year are notable for their portrayal of urban black culture:

Def Jam Fight for NY, from Electronic Arts, a sort of "MTV Raps" meets "W.W.E. SmackDown!" in which mostly hip-hop-style characters (one with the voice of the rapper Snoop Dogg) slap, kick and pummel one another in locations like a 125th Street train station in Harlem.

25 to Life, from Eidos Interactive, an "urban action game" set to a hip-hop soundtrack that allows gamers to play as police officers or criminals, and includes lots of images of young gun-toting black gangsters.

Notorious: Die to Drive, described by its developer, Ubisoft, as featuring "gangsta-style car combat" with players seeking to "rule the streets of four West Coast neighborhoods." Ubisoft's Web site describes the payoff succinctly: "High-priced honeys, the finest bling, and millionaire cribs are just some of the rewards for the notorious few who can survive this most dangerous game. Once you go Notorious, there's no going back."

The prominence of black characters in those story lines is all the more striking because of the narrow range of video games in which blacks have been present, if present at all, over the years. A 2001 study by Children Now, for example, found that of 1,500 video-game characters surveyed, 288 were African-American males - and 83 percent of those were represented as athletes.

The portrayal of blacks as athletes has taken on a new wrinkle in NBA Ballers, released in April by Midway Games (with an "all ages" rating). It not only pits stars of the National Basketball Association, most of them black, in fierce one-on-one matches, but also encourages players to experience a millionaire lifestyle off the court - accumulating virtual cash that can buy mansions, Cadillac Escalades, yachts and attractive "friends." The style of play emphasizes a street-edged aggression, sizzling with swagger and showboating moves on the court.

John Vignocchi, a lead designer with Midway who worked on NBA Ballers, contends that the world portrayed in such games is one that gamers take for granted. "Hip-hop culture has kind of crossed over," said Mr. Vignocchi, who is white. "Look at what everyone is wearing, at what everyone is listening to." Racial stereotyping, he insisted, is "not the intention of the game."

Leon E. Wynter, a cultural critic and author of "American Skin: Big Business, Pop Culture, and the End of White America" (Crown, 2002), said that the infusion of popular aspects of black youth culture into the mainstream American media was a double-edged sword. On one hand, Mr. Wynter said, the game characters bristle with aspects "solidly associated with nonwhite people.''

"The bad news is that the larger aspects of the humanity of people who happen to be nonwhite are not always transferred," he noted. "This is an extension and reflection of what we're seeing in other forms of entertainment, especially filmed entertainment aimed particularly at predominantly young male audiences."

As video games extend their prominence as a mainstream form of entertainment - the Grand Theft Auto series alone has sold more than 30 million games since 1998 - their share of consumer dollars rivals Hollywood box-office revenues.

Video game sales in the United States reached $7 billion last year, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Game hardware, including consoles, added more than $3 billion to that total, industry analysts estimate. But with Hollywood-scale success have come Hollywood-style pressures, including the need for games to "open big" and achieve enough success to sustain lucrative sequels.

"Games are attempting to drive market share beyond the traditional 8- to 14-year-old male player," said Michael Gartenberg, research director for Jupiter Research, an Internet consulting firm. Part of that drive, he suggested, involves having video games reflect what has proved to work in popular films. And as in Hollywood, that may mean subject matter that drives sales even as it draws criticism for gratuitous violence, sexual exploitation or racial insensitivity.

In any case, limiting content to realistic, multidimensional portrayals of racial minorities may be unfair to game developers, Mr. Gartenberg suggested. "Video games are fantasies," he said, "and are not attempting to mirror any reality whatsoever."

But Esther Iverem, editor and film critic for www.seeingblack.com, a Washington-based Web site offering black opinion on cultural and political matters, said she worried about the effects of games like earlier versions of Grand Theft Auto on black youngsters, including her 11-year-old son. "These games don't teach them anything about respect, tolerance and responsibility," Ms. Iverem said, but are instead "validating a much-too-accepted stereotype, an accepted caricature."

Others, like the cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson, point out that racial stereotypes conveyed through video games have an effect not only on the self-image of minority youths but also on perceptions among whites. Dr. Dyson, a professor of religious studies and African studies at the University of Pennsylvania, describes some video games as addictive "video crack."

"They are pervasive, and their influence profound," he said.

Rockstar Games, the publisher of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (to be released in October for the Sony PlayStation 2), is known for infusing its games with gritty yet cartoonish violence. Players were famously rewarded in earlier Grand Theft Auto games for killing prostitutes and, more recently, brutalizing Haitians.

After repeated requests for an interview, Rockstar Games, responded with an e-mail statement that read in part, "Rockstar Games is a leading publisher of interactive entertainment geared towards mature audiences and makes every effort to market its games responsibly, targeting advertising and marketing only to adult consumers over the age of 17." (While previous games in the Grand Theft series are rated Mature, for ages 17 and over, they have a wide following among younger players.)

Those associated with the Def Jam games were more forthcoming. Kevin Liles, who recently resigned as president of Island Def Jam, which licensed the games, said they had been good for his company and for hip-hop.

"We have a sense of responsibility, but we know that games are games," Mr. Liles said.

Def Jam's co-founder, Russell Simmons, said the images of hip-hop culture, even those played out in video games, had been good for the country. "The most important thing for race relations in America in the last I don't know how many years is hip-hop."

"Now Eminem and 50 Cent think they are the same people," Mr. Simmons said, comparing a popular white rapper with a popular black rapper. "They're faced with the same struggle, and they recognize their common thread of poverty."

Mr. Morgan, the telecommunications executive, rejects that argument. In fact, he limits the 7-year-old gamer in his household, Elijah Wilson, to the cartoonish games for Nintendo Game Boy to avoid exposure to content he finds objectionable.

"They ingest these images," Mr. Morgan said of racial stereotypes he had found in games like NBA Ballers. "The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy, something straight out of central casting."

"It won't," Mr. Morgan added emphatically, "happen in my house."

Advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9949038)

If I didn't know better, I'd think DMA or Rockstar or whoever makes the game was behind this. The first game sold on controversy (violence), the second one sold because everyone loved the first one, and the third one may sell on controversy over racism.

If someone at a publisher cooked up a marketing campaign based on controversy, they'd be rich. Well, richer than they already were.

Thye best way to fix it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9949509)

Add in white characters eating fried chicken and watermelon.

Yeah Right... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9949763)

I'm not a racist, but I do live in a major city and people have gotten shot and killed on my block, and I hate to say it, but it was black youths committing and reveling in violent street crime.

People of all ethnic backgrounds murder people and commit violent crimes, but in American urban areas, the vast majority of these crimes are commited by african americans. I would have a problem if the stereotype didn't exsist in real life, but the fact is this is how it really is, and they are just drawing from it. Golly, people writing fiction based on fact, how shameful!

You don't see people getting all miffed by the cops in GTA hanging out by the donut shops.
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