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Gears of War reinforces casual racism

Gears of War reinforces casual racism

Morgan Gray of Crystal Dynamics claims Cole Train does nothing but reinforce casual racism.

In a series of interviews with black people in the games industry, Crystal Dynamic's Senior Producer Morgan Gray has accused games like Gears of War and the upcoming Resident Evil 5 as enforcing black stereotypes.

In comments made during an interview with MTV, Morgan said that the Cole Train character in Gears of War was nothing more than black stereotype.

"I am sick of playing the average white dude character. I’m just done with it. And I’m sick of playing a black stereotype," Gray, who is currently working on Tomb Raider: Underworld stated.

"There's no reason that Marcus Fenix in Gears of War couldn't have been a black guy... Cole Train on his own, no harm no foul. But what is Cole Train? Cole Train is basically like every other effin’ black character in a video game. Like here comes the urban stereotype...Where is this 1990s - not even 2000 - black slang, where does this fit in this futuristic world that doesn’t even take place on Earth? They go really far to do a lot of fictional justifications for this culture that they’ve built, and they go right back to this urban stereotype for the black character."

Gray was quick to point out that his comments were not an attack on Epic and said that he did love the game utterly, but that the lack of thought served only to reinforce casual racism - "It’s almost like, 'Cue the drum beat, here comes the black character.'"

Gray also levelled some blame towards Japanese developers, saying that black people were nearly always portrayed as ultra-hip 70's pimps or straight-up thugs.

Whether you subscribe to Gray's views or not, you have to admit that he makes an interesting point - black characters are very much a minority for most games. Tell us what you think in the forums.

40 Comments

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DougEdey 11th April 2008, 10:49 Quote
I've seen "black" characters as police officers in games, I've even seen them as normal people, but most games aren't about playing normal, they're about play abnormal characters.
specofdust 11th April 2008, 10:54 Quote
I suspect black characters are a minority in games because the majority of gamers are white or asian, and people want to identify with what they're playing.

As for black people being stereotyped...seriously, dump the chip. Anyone seen an italian-american in a game in the last 5 years who doesn't talk about his mamma's meatballs, come from sicilli, and run a crime family? Or a scientist that doesn't wear a white coat, speak like a dotard, and have glasses? Or a fat chick? Has anyone met a ****ing fat chick in a game like, evar?
Games is about stereotypes because they're easy to work with, we're all familiar with them, and they save the gamer actually thinking. Since there's been a continual process of dumbing down alongside the rise of the console, of course this is to be expected.
DougEdey 11th April 2008, 11:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
Or a fat chick? Has anyone met a ****ing fat chick in a game like, evar?

Yup, quite a few these days, in Bully you even snog one.
CardJoe 11th April 2008, 11:06 Quote
I know the fat black woman who is the forensic investigator for the FBI (sans labcoat) in Condemned 1.

Many scientists in Half-Life don't wear labcoats and glasses - Kliener and Magnusson are deliberate stereotypes, but Mossman, Eli, Gordon and Breen are all normally dressed.

Jade in Beyond Good and Evil is a photojournalist who is sometimes said to be black - though I think she looks more multiracial personally.

Just off the top of my head.
DougEdey 11th April 2008, 11:14 Quote
Isn't Alyx Vance multiracial aswell?
Fod 11th April 2008, 11:21 Quote
game racism?
COD4, bit where you storm the news broadcasting office, black dude cuts the broadcast, says 'let's get some real music on', and plays gangsta rap.

seriously the devs missed a golden opportunity to subvert prejudice by playing pantera or something.

gears and cole? i guess they have an arguable point in saying that they're on a planet completely unrelated to earth, but then you have to walk the line between sufficiently alien yet sufficiently earthlike, in order to maintain both player suspension of disbelief and emotional engagement.
Th3Maverick 11th April 2008, 11:22 Quote
I think Gray had a point, but I also think he missed the point. Sure, Epic could have switched out the models for Cole and Fenix and I'm not sure I would have even noticed...but the stereotype that Cole Train filled in Gears was completely fitting for the role. Personally, I loved Cole. I knew plenty of jocks in high school, and I loved the big black dudes who looked like they could do wind sprints through a concrete barrier--who wouldn't want that cat to have their back?

Almost every game stereotypes every race, from the nerdy white kid with glasses solving puzzles and whatnot (think Bernard in Maniac Mansion) to the buff Latino man with the inexplicably Cuban accent roughin up the eses. "Casual racism" is an idiotic term--why not just call it what it is: stereotyping? Because it doesn't sound as good in a media bite? Racism will not end until the word ceases to hold meaning entirely in society, and with people making up new uses for it...it's just never going to go away.

Unless we wake up as an enlightened society tomorrow, I don't foresee stereotyping going away anytime soon. Everyone bases their view of the world on their past experience, and 90% of them aren't even aware of it. I'm with Spec on this one. So long as they're there, use them. Exploit them. Make them so outrageous they become funny. But telling people not to use stereotypes in games, or even complaining about it? Hell, how do you imagine I look as you read this? Need I say more?
[USRF]Obiwan 11th April 2008, 11:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougEdey
Isn't Alyx Vance multiracial aswell?

No...

Alyx is just a incredible hot looking game chick. And she can sing too.


and yes... see below
CardJoe 11th April 2008, 11:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougEdey
Isn't Alyx Vance multiracial aswell?

She is. Azian, her mother, was Asian (but never in the game) and Eli is white black. :p

Half-Life is a perfect example of showing relateable heroes though. HL has a varied cast of races, roles and types. There's Kliener the nerdy white guy, Alyx the minxy mechanic, Breen the white oppressor, Adrian Shepherd the white army dude...and yet, my favourite character is still Barney. He's just a regular guy who gets carried along by the events around him and I can relate to that more than I can relate to Army training, Engineering and robotics know-how or doctorates in multiple sciences.
will. 11th April 2008, 11:44 Quote
/Insert angry ranting about people here
Jordan Wise 11th April 2008, 11:45 Quote
i agree with fod, cod4 racism was laughable, and don't get me started on the back guy from crysis
CardJoe 11th April 2008, 11:49 Quote
I'd point the blame more at Saints Row than Gears to be honest.
Fod 11th April 2008, 11:49 Quote
yeah i don't really buy into the 'it's just a game' excuse people try and hide behind. if you want games to be treated as a genuine art form, you need to start holding them up against the same standards as you do music and literature. N'gai croal just did an interview about the RE5 trailer regarding this (although i actually disagree with him there; his exceptions to the trailer just didn't register for me. i did however take issue with the white-as-the-driven-snow hero...) and it's so very true. however! sometimes people are overly sensitive to race and racism in an effort to appear politically correct. characterisation is a very important aspect to games and the decision to represent characters as stereotypical may well have fully justifiable reasons.

chalk me down as being agnostic when it comes to race, tbh. as far as i can see there are an equal number of black and white people in my area, yet i know more white people who act gangsta than black.
steveo_mcg 11th April 2008, 11:50 Quote
Barney always reminds me of John Mclane, wrong place wrong time. yippee-ki-yay, ************
Veles 11th April 2008, 12:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fod
chalk me down as being agnostic when it comes to race, tbh. as far as i can see there are an equal number of black and white people in my area, yet i know more white people who act gangsta than black.

White people who pretend to be black don't count as human beings.

10 megabucks says this guy Morgan Grey is white.

Problem is people just latch on to this stuff. Oh noes a stereotype! Ever thought why a stereotype is a stereotype Mr Grey? I'm pretty sure he's living in a bubble if he things all black people are hotshot lawyers and no black person speaks in the "90's way" anymore. What's this about the future? They're on a different planet for christ's sake, they should be speaking moon latin and look nothing like they do. I wish people like this would just shut up. Complaining about petty things like this is the exact reason why racism won't go away, even though they're trying to be nice by being politically correct, they just draw more attention to the racial differences. When I watch the RE trailer, I just see a guy fighting off zombies.

Yeah there are games that enforce stereotypes, but there are also games that don't, just like how all games aren't art. Some are masterpieces, some are just cool doodles, some are just awful.
Yemerich 11th April 2008, 12:56 Quote
So GTA 3 was ok, but GTA 4 was racist?
stoff3r 11th April 2008, 13:40 Quote
we love stereotypes. that's it. if you look into the characters they might be over the top, but it's done that way because we like to recognize patterns and people. Remember stereotypes has to come from somewhere.

Also, if people like Morgan Gray would just shut the hell up about stereotypes and racism, both would've be gone soon.
CardJoe 11th April 2008, 13:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
White people who pretend to be black don't count as human beings.

10 megabucks says this guy Morgan Grey is white.
.

Morgan Gray is black.

The whole point of the interview series is that it is looking at black people in the industry, hence interviewing Morgan and N'gai Croal. It's a follow-up to a set of interviews looking at women in the industry.
Yemerich 11th April 2008, 14:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yemerich
So GTA 3 was ok, but GTA 4 was racist?

OoooOoops... I meant GTA: SA instead of GTA 4
chicorasia 11th April 2008, 14:12 Quote
Quote:
Gears of War reinforces casual racism

Only if you play it on Casual difficulty. If you play it on Hardcore or Insane difficulty, it will reinforce Hardcore Racism and Insane Racism, respectively

:D
roryok 11th April 2008, 14:29 Quote
superfly johnson anyone? He was a balanced, non-stereotyped character...

Having said that, I think my fave black character from any game was taurus from interstate 76 and he was straight of a blaxploitation film. But then again that game was SOO00oo 70s.
DougEdey 11th April 2008, 14:33 Quote
N'Gai is awesome though, anything he says is therefore true, remember the good ol' days with him and Phil Harrisson

/me rocks in chair
mrb_no1 11th April 2008, 14:35 Quote
maybe gamers like playing as the badass sterotype so companies keep making games with those sterotypes built in. Its not like we need to start making games with an american black president as that defies any stereotypes....maybe more games should incorporate black geeks with bad glasses....wait a minute, ea did the black 'acting' president in tiberium wars didnt they as lando cal from star wars was in it if i'm not mistaken.

just some quick off the cuff thoughts

peace

fatman
mmorgue 11th April 2008, 14:59 Quote
How can anyone win in this sort of situation?

You cast a black guy as the sterotypical, inner-street gansgter; you get slated for racism/stereotyping. Cast an Asian as a brainy math geek or triad member, you get slated for racism/stereotyping. Cast a native (North) american (or is it indian, Christ, I dunno anymore!) as the "wise" and prophetic elder, you get slated for racism/stereotyping.

Swap it around a bit and cast a black guy as the rational, all-knowing, well educated scientist, the asian as the dumb ass and the native american as the gangster, and you get slated for trying to "break the mold" and give a token role that would otherwise be _out_ of "stereotypical" character. :/

Until people just relax and stop being so ****ing PC about race issues and giving it so much attention, it'll never change.
Firehed 11th April 2008, 15:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmorgue
How can anyone win in this sort of situation?

You cast a black guy as the sterotypical, inner-street gansgter; you get slated for racism/stereotyping. Cast an Asian as a brainy math geek or triad member, you get slated for racism/stereotyping. Cast a native (North) american (or is it indian, Christ, I dunno anymore!) as the "wise" and prophetic elder, you get slated for racism/stereotyping.

Swap it around a bit and cast a black guy as the rational, all-knowing, well educated scientist, the asian as the dumb ass and the native american as the gangster, and you get slated for trying to "break the mold" and give a token role that would otherwise be _out_ of "stereotypical" character. :/

Until people just relax and stop being so ****ing PC about race issues and giving it so much attention, it'll never change.

Sums things up pretty well imo.
kevon27 11th April 2008, 16:20 Quote
As a black man, people always accuse me of being a "Bryant Gumbel". I get really perturb about being called and Oreo cookie.. Now where is my Tom Jones CD, I need to relax..
liratheal 11th April 2008, 16:37 Quote
Mmmm, Political Correctness.

Oh, wait. No. Retardation. Sorry, the two are so similar these days..
DougEdey 11th April 2008, 17:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kevon27
As a black man, people always accuse me of being a "Bryant Gumbel". I get really perturb about being called and Oreo cookie.. Now where is my Tom Jones CD, I need to relax..

You see, that sounds like racism
johnmustrule 11th April 2008, 21:02 Quote
I think it's awful that black stereotypes are being reinforced through media (looking at you san andreas) but I don't see the point in complaining that white people are also main characters "I am sick of playing the average white dude character". I can see were there's obviously an abundance of black stereotypes over white one's in the media but does that mean he's complaining that there's not enough white stereotypes in games. Maybe they should make an NBA game where all the white guys just sit on the bench.

Oh and one game that gets equality points.. HL2, yeah Valve!
serial_ 11th April 2008, 21:14 Quote
Gimme a break. Nobody complained about Barret from FFVII being a total stereotype. It's the thing to do anymore, anywhere you can point out supposed racism, people line up behind you chanting support.

You can't tell me that StarCraft didn't use stereotypes to create some of the most beloved characters in all of gaming. There wouldn't be stereotypes if people didn't fill them. Just because 5 black people out of 100 don't like rap doesn't make saying "black people like rap." a racist statement. It's true. Just because SOME blacks don't doesn't make it a false statement.

I'm a skinny white gamer kid that listens to techno. Oops! I just got trumped by a stereotype =(
War-Rasta 11th April 2008, 22:03 Quote
Stereotypes do exist and they exist for a reason. People just have to chill and not be so anal about it and stop making such a big deal out of any little thing.

RE5 does show an awful lot of black zombies, but the thing is set to be in Haiti (not so sure of this since i haven't really kept up to date on the game) where I'm pretty sure that at least 90% of the population must be black. I live in the Dominican Republic so we share an island, therefore I have been in contact with them my whole life and I can't remember of a single time when I have met or seen one who wasn't black. I know that there must be a certain amount of Haitians that are not black, but the vast majority of them are and therefore the stereotype is that Haitians are black. Nothing wrong with this.

I'm latin and it's no secret to anybody that the reputation that we have in most countries is that we are criminals. Does this offend me? No, because the reason for this is that most latin people living in other parts of the world are the ones who didn't get the best of educations in their home countries and left (most likely illegally) so they started doing a bunch of @#$%*! up things just like many other non-latin people do as well and that's why I don't feel offended when I'm playing San Andreas or any other "hood" game and I see another latin character robbing a liquor store.

I think all people should just ease up on the matter and quit being so touchy.
CardJoe 11th April 2008, 22:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by serial_
Gimme a break. Nobody complained about Barret from FFVII being a total stereotype. It's the thing to do anymore, anywhere you can point out supposed racism, people line up behind you chanting support.

Read the article - they do call out Barrett as the worst example. The man has zero brains and a gun for a hand.

And Resident Evil 5 is set in modern day Africa, not Haiti.
D3s3rt_F0x 11th April 2008, 23:11 Quote
Whats this guy doing talking about racisim......talk about a new legacy of kain game or even better a Soul Reaver game for christ sake I want one :'(
ShredMachine 12th April 2008, 19:33 Quote
Legacy of Kain?

I smell a possible comeback for Blacula!

http://braincrack.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/poster-blacula.jpg
Neogumbercules 14th April 2008, 06:28 Quote
I disagree with some of what N'gai was saying about racism RE5, but I do see why he might think that way. The impression I got from the RE5 trailer's characters (before they went nuts and started attacking Chris) was that they viewed him as a total outsider, and looked upon him with resentment. They appeared to have their own, functional, lifestyle and here comes some complete stranger sporting some authoritarian badge and a gun and they don't like that. I didn't pick up on the trailer portraying them as if they are already monsters, or hostile. Well, not until they went nuts, anyway. If you look at any documentary about these small villages in Africa, or go to one, it's a pretty accurate portrayal of what you might see. Open markets with lots of people walking around on the streets. Woman carrying big jugs around on their heads. Animals walking around in the street. Make-shift buildings and dirt roads, etc... And it's not too far fetched to think that a lot of people will keep their distance or give dirty looks at a complete and total stranger who shows up one day to do god knows what. It's just how it is in some rural places on that continent.

Plus, it being a trailer means that the developers have to try and create an atmosphere and give you a sense of what's going on without giving away too much information, but still keep the watcher interested and wanting more. In N'gai's defense, he did say he was going to reserve judgment until he actually plays the game. If only more people were as open minded as he.
IvanRussel 15th March 2009, 16:06 Quote
Okay first of all Cole could have been based on his voice actor. Lester Speight is a former professional football player and a former professional wrestler. I have found on a few wikis that Cole is based on Lester and his talking. Also this "futuristic" city is not set that far in the future from our current earth. In fact the human like denizens of Sera are called humans. Also I like how that he is calling out racism in video games while developing an extremely sexist game series ever. It's no secret that the proportions of earlier Lara Crofts were physically impossible. It would be nice if some one could site my sources and look further into the making of Cole because if he can base his rant on assumptions so can I. I assume that Cole was based on the voice actors personality and not a racist development studio.
BentAnat 1st July 2009, 16:20 Quote
blast from the past here, but this is one of those discussions that i just have to pitch in my 2cents worth.

If you're going to argue "racism" in games, then i would firmly like to point a finger at just about (i have played a _lot_, but probably not all) every WWII shooter and a lot of films. Adn the stereotype pulls through to several games and films (especially films) NOT set in WWII

List of stereotypes involved there:
*Germans are inherently evil - check
*Germans all have bad accents - check
*Germans can't shoot for s*** - check.
*It's OK to kill 200 germans, but if one american dies, we have to play tragic music - CHECK.
*There never have or never will be Germans that disagree with Adolf Hitler's Point of view on National Socialism, Aryan race, lesser life forms, etc.
*Germans all LOVE Wagner
*Germans always have names like "Klaus", "Franz", "Fritz", "Heinz" or "Hans", with a surname that starts on "von" and ends on a phrase that means something in english but not in german "von Doom" "von Ckrackenfart"

Classic scenes in game:
COD5 - where you play the russian shooting the Germans in the back or executing the germans on the floor...

Classic scenes in movies:
*EVERY movie where they show the battle of the bulge... fun fact: the americans had the germans outnumbered and outgunned there. the Germans just had them scared and outpositioned. Deal with it.

*Saving Private Ryan - suddenly it's funny and publicly acceptable to shoot surrendering germans and when asked "What did they say" reply with "Oh... hans... i wash for dinner" in a fake german accent.



The people criticising "racism" in games always conveniently leave that out. Why? Because they'd have to look into a mirror and realise that they're stereotyping asses themselves.

Am i (as a German) offended by any of this? nope... not really. I Laugh about that s*** as much as i laugh when a Pool boy in Generic Sitcom #587 set in suburban America is called Jesus... I laugh as much as i do at every movie where a Brit is depicted as a drunken football hooligan. It's stereotypes, that's all. And everyone with an average education should be able to go "yeah whatever" at them...
thehippoz 1st July 2009, 22:32 Quote
cole train :D ahhah why don't they check out some pornos and see the racist stuff in there- I remember going over my friends and he had this porn he just had to show me.. it went like this- fat I mean 500 lb fat white lady and a skinney as a pole black dood- she was slapping him around telling him he couldn't hurt this, what do you call that!.. ect,, blah blah when it was all over she pulls out this huge ape dingaling from under the couch and waves it around- the line that will be burned into my brain for my entire life, in a raspy condescending voice she said "this thing is more of a man than you'll ever be!" :D

goes back to "what is seen, cannot be unseen!"
idontwannaknow 25th September 2011, 21:46 Quote
Just leave Black characters out of the game. They are too much trouble and there is no pleasing them.
mikemorton 25th September 2011, 22:01 Quote
Roland in Borderlands is a cool dude.

And I thought the racism in GTA San Andreas was actually pretty well handled, coming from all sides - white, hispanic, Polish and black.

The point being, it can come from any ethnicity and be applied to any ethnicity, intending on how dumb those hurling the abuse are (Chris Penn's character Eddie Pulaski probably being the dumbest).
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