Remember when everyone went mental over Resident Evil 5 featuring a buff white man murdering black men in grass skirts? Capcom does too.
Melody Pfeiffer, senior PR manager for Capcom US, has told Gamasutra that the company’s western arm is now involved in the creative process from the get-go. So it can, you know, spot anything overtly racist before it gets put into Capcom games by the Japanese kids.
“Since the RE5 controversy, we have become much more aware of how important it is that we are part of the asset creation process early on so that we are able to have a say in the end product,” she said.
“We are also designing a lot of our own assets from this side of the pond so that we are able to make strategic pieces of content that make sense for our market. We are working really closely with our producers in Japan to construct these materials for the West and they are open more then ever to hearing our thoughts and ideas for assets.”
“Classic racist imagery”
The Resident Evil 5 race probe kicked off when black journalist N’Gai Croal, then working at Newsweek, told MTV that an RE5 trailer contained content that “dovetailed with classic racist imagery.”
“I looked at the Resident Evil 5 trailer and I was like, ‘Wow, clearly no one black worked on this game,’” he said, speaking in April 2008.
“Because I wonder, and I haven’t sort of really dug into it that much, but I wonder what sort of advice Capcom gave them. The point isn’t that you can’t have black zombies. 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?”
Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi quickly claimed that the intention had never been to make a racist product, and that there were “black members in the development team,” but the issues dogged the game right through to launch in March 2009.
It was claimed that Capcom specifically requested reviewers not make mention of an island section in which the player encountered spear-wielding Africans; the company later denied this had anything to do with race issues.