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Croal lays into "racist" Resident Evil 5

Newsweek writer airs his concerns over the imagery involved in Capcom's forthcoming zombie-fest

Newsweek's games writer, N'Gai Croal, has expressed his concerns over the imagery depicted in the trailer for Capcom's forthcoming title Resident Evil 5, a trailer for which was shown at E3 last year.

"Wow, clearly no one black worked on this game," was his first reaction to seeing the trailer, he said in an interview with MTV Multiplayer.

"It's like when you engage that kind of imagery you have to be careful with it," he went on to explain. "It would be like saying you were going to do some sort of zombie movie that appeared to be set in Europe in the 1940's with skinny, emaciated, Hasidic-looking people.

"If you put up that imagery people would be saying, 'Are you crazy?' Well, that's what this stuff looks like. This imagery has a history. It has a history and you can't pretend otherwise.

"That imagery still has a history that has to be engaged, that has to be understood. If you're going to engage imagery that has that potential, the onus is on the creator to be aware of that because there will be repercussions in the marketplace."

The Resident Evil 5 trailer shows protagonist Chris Redfield in a small, poor and dusty village, the location of which isn't specified but is strongly reminiscent of certain third world countries.

Redfield is the only white character portrayed in the three minute trailer, while all of the zombies are made up of black inhabitants, who Redfield proceeds to try and kill - both male and female.

But Croal's argument isn't with the fact that the zombies shown were all black - it's the general treatment of the subject material that's he's concerned with.

"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," he said.

"That's the whole thing where only Chris Redfield appears to be human before they turn into zombies; the humanity of other people is in question. It's like you barely see their faces, he doesn't really interact with them, he sort of walks through this thing and it's sort of, 'Is he there? Is he not?'

"It's a very strange thing, and it taps into sort of this very racist iconography. I think that's the only way I'm describing it. I'm not saying that was their intent. But it seems that a lot of people who were up in arms about the trailer couldn't see that and didn't want to engage it.

"I think, again, the point is not that Capcom can't or shouldn't make a zombie game set in what appears to be an impoverished country where the majority of residents are black.

"I'm not saying that. But what I am saying is that if I was Capcom, I wouldn't have suggested to put out that trailer. I would have said, 'You know what, this has tremendous capacity for being misunderstood, and we want to signal that this is not what you might think it is' - and they didn't do that."

Initial reaction to the Resident Evil 5 trailer was mixed, with some people expressing unease at the content, while some gamers dismissed any racist connotations.

The game is set for release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms later this year.

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