LOS ANGELES â “Resident Evil 5” producer Jun Takeuchi wants to clear up some misconceptions about his upcoming entry into the popular zombie-killing franchise: Itâs definitely as scary as its predecessors, players canât run while gunning down foes, and thereâs nothing racist about the video game, which takes place in a fictional West African country.
“I think the idea that because the game is set in Africa that itâs racist is mistaken,” said Takeuchi. “I want users to understand that it was never our intention to put anything racist into the game. Itâs a story that takes place in Africa, but ultimately the story is about helping a region where a bioterrorism incident is occurring.” Footage unveiled at the 2007 E3 Media & Business Summit of the mature-rated gameâs brooding Caucasian protagonist, Chris Redfield, facing off against a horde of black African villagers caused a furor among many gamers online.
Newsweek technology editor NâGai Croal wrote that many of the teaserâs aspects “dovetailed with classic racist imagery.” “We donât want to create something that offends a certain element of society,” Takeuchi said. “At the same time, we donât want to be in a place where you canât set a game in Africa or in an Arabic country. That in itself is a form of racism. For us, as creators of entertainment, itâs important for us to strike that right balance.”
Like previous games in Capcomâs nearly 14-year-old series, the story line of the latest “Resident Evil” centers on a wicked outbreak that turns the locals into rabid zombies. Set a few years after the original, “Resident Evil 5” explores the African origins of the virus. Other games took place in locales such as Spain, Russia, Antarctica and the Midwest. Spokespeople for both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Anti-Defamation League declined to comment for this story because they hadnât viewed the entire game. (“Resident Evil 5” will be released March 13.)
Takeuchi said he believes previous criticism would have been avoided if it had been explained that Redfield is on a mission to help the African country and that he was partnered with an African woman named Sheva Alomar who is based in the region.
Takeuchi also said the gameâs story line is not meant as a metaphor for AIDS or real-world terrorism. “Ultimately, I think the problem that we had with this game was a lack in communication,” he said. “I think thatâs where this whole issue comes from.
When the game is released and when the public gets to play the finished product, I think people will see the whole racism issue was just a misunderstanding.”
“Resident Evil 5? will be available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It will introduce cooperative gameplay, which allows a second player â either online or in person â to control Alomar. (The computer will help solo gamers.)
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