All Cultures Enjoy Killing Nazi Zombies


PSFK always has fascinating stuff. This recent post of Celestine Arnold’s talk called “Ghosts in the Machine: Digital Multiculture” certainly did not disappoint. As you may know, I am an account person for my agency’s multicultural team. I also consider myself a multicultural gamer, so this topic hit particularly close to home.

The main focus of the presentation was that minorities make up a significant portion of gamers, yet are underrepresented in games with the exceptions of villains, stereotypes, athletes and punchlines. Apart from the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which more than satisfies the stereotypes category, I struggle to think of high profile characters from a recent game that represent something other than a white male. There’s the female character from Mirror’s Edge I assume is Asian.


The black guy in Left 4 Dead. e3-2008-newcharacters

Oh, and all those people from Resident Evil 5. Actually…that one, not so much. There’s a very detailed analysis on the race and poverty issues in RE5 here via GameSetWatch.

Another interesting topic Celestine covered was the interaction between gamers on digital platforms like Second Life and Xbox Live. “It’s like the wild west … people are supposed to be all equal, but that’s not really how it is.” She mentions studies that have shown that racism on these platforms usually reflects similar actions taken in real life. For example, the schmucks who target my buddy when they see his gamertag “Hebrew Hammer,” would probably exhibit antisemitism in other situations.

These sort of topics always dance around a gray area, because exclusion is a very veiled form of racism. I’m sure many people will be very skeptical, but Ms. Arnold perhaps puts it best when she explains, “as the majority, you don’t see that everything has been created for you. In first person shooter games you have a white hand.”

UPDATE: Call of Duty: World at War just announced it will release another map pack featuring Japanese zombies instead of Nazi ones. So…there it is. Not, sure if that helps the discussion.


~ by Joel on April 30, 2009.

5 Responses to “All Cultures Enjoy Killing Nazi Zombies”

  1. don’t “those people” have Donkey Kong??

  2. Ah geez. Not good.

  3. I think the Resident Evil 5 situation is the best example. How could they not foresee that it would be deemed racist? And the fix? To have a female (light-skinned) black teammate? That only made things worse.

  4. Killing the Nazi Zombies on COD is the best level!!!!

  5. Well, hey…How about not broadcasting your religious/ethnic beliefs and preferences in something as benign as a gamertag. You said it yourself, everyone should be equal in the online gaming world. If you want to categorize and thus segregate yourself, then prepare for the consequences (not that I condone the reactions, either, but it is what it is..)

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