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Valve: Left 4 Dead is not racist

Valve: Left 4 Dead is not racist

Valve's Chet Faliszek has hit back at claims that Left 4 Dead 2 is racist in it's use of black characters.

Valve has today hit back at claims that Left 4 Dead 2 is racist in it's use of settings and characters, dismissing such opinions as nothing more than pure insanity.

The rebuttal was made by Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek, who was responding to comments made in a column from the Houston Chronicle last week. The column also implied that setting a disaster game in New Orleans might be a bit tactless for following on too soon after Hurricane Katrina.

"There are mixed races of zombies, there are all different races of zombies that you shoot, and since we placed it in New Orleans, that makes it racist?" said Chet in an interview with Destructoid.

"I honestly re-read the paragraph about five times ... but when two of the characters in your game are African-American, it's a weird thing to be accused of. We're like, 'how does this work'?"

"This is a videogame, those are real people's lives, we are not trying to make a statement with that," he said. "It's a place we love, it's dear to our hearts. We would not cheapen it."

The Houston Chronicle meanwhile maintains that setting the game in New Orleans was a bad move, claiming that New Orleans "was a scene of dead, bloated bodies" not so long ago and that "The city has had enough to deal with. Valve, you should have spared them, even if it's just a video game."

The blog post goes on to point the racist finger at other games too - Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is singled out especially for casting players as Confederate soldiers in the American Civil War, even though the protagonists desert the army by the end of the first level.

Destructoid expresses the opinion that any perceived racism within the game is likely arising from over-sensitivity and a desire to make everything sterile with political correctness.

Left 4 Dead is far from the first zombie game to be accused of racism though - the same happened with Resident Evil 5 a few months back. What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us know in the forums and check out our own thoughts on the game in our latest Left 4 Dead 2 hands-on preview.

49 Comments

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Ryu_ookami 31st July 2009, 10:43 Quote
How is left 4 dead racist in any way. Hell, you might as well claim thats is shortist because none of the heroes and none of the zombies are dwarfs or better yet it should be banned as it discriminates against the recently deceased and reanimated mildly mobility and intelligence disadvantaged members of the public of all races (thats the zombies for the politically incorrect).

To be fair it doesn't matter if it discriminates or not in any way the game still sucks.
lp1988 31st July 2009, 10:45 Quote
wow, I did NOT see that one coming.... come one i'ts one of the most basic shooters where you just kill everything that moves regardless of race/sex/belive/look/handicap, they are all just zombies and soon after dead,

Some people are simply over sensitive.
Radical_Monkey 31st July 2009, 10:47 Quote
This is just stupid.

What happened to the days when games were just games and people played them because it was just that, a game.

There are so many more awful things going on this world, if they want to b***h about something im sure they could find something far more meaningful to society. But no, games are an easy target so why not? Make themselves feel big because they dont have the maracas to take on a real issue...for shame.
DaMightyMouse 31st July 2009, 10:48 Quote
This is laughable why even pay attention to comments like that, L4D racist?! yeah maybe towards Zombies! Ummm "Houston Chronicle" maybe they represent the views of a Zombie nation :P
Krikkit 31st July 2009, 10:49 Quote
Quote:
Destructoid expresses the opinion that any perceived racism within the game is likely arising from over-sensitivity and a desire to make everything sterile with political correctness.

+1
mjm25 31st July 2009, 10:53 Quote
i went on google translate and apparently "Houston Chronicle" means "Daily Mail" in the US
Zero_UK 31st July 2009, 10:56 Quote
Political correctness needs a good slap on the arse. People push it too far, it has to be toned down.
liratheal 31st July 2009, 11:06 Quote
Bahhahahhah. This is utter bullshit on the part of the guy screaming racism.

You cannot take his article seriously when you consider the following: "I don't have a problem blasting Nazis in "Call of Duty" and "Medal of Honor." I don't have a problem lighting up Imperial Army soldiers with my flamethrower in "World at War.""

Anyone who is oblivious to shooting Germans or Japanese, and then cries foul because the skin colour gets darker? That's more racist than ignoring the skin colour all together, in my opinion. What's worse is, he goes on to say he hates shooting Americans. Not in my backyard-ism, much?

The guy is a complete halfwit that needs to have his rights to write publicly revoked. He's shite at it, too.
tejas 31st July 2009, 11:11 Quote
Only in the lovely US and Britain does this politically correct garbage have any credibility. Do these people realise that Valve's most high profile characters apart from Gordon Freeman are Alyx and Eli Vance who are both black? Where it the racism?? I just don't see it. Valve is possibly one of the most encompassing devs out there as far as diversity is concerned.

Sounds like the Houston Chronicle has some axes to grind or rather they are trying to distract from Obama's controversy at the moment...
fodder 31st July 2009, 11:16 Quote
Must have been a slow news day in Houston.
Trefarm 31st July 2009, 11:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal

Anyone who is oblivious to shooting Germans or Japanese, and then cries foul because the skin colour gets darker? That's more racist than ignoring the skin colour all together...

The guy is a complete halfwit that needs to have his rights to write publicly revoked...

Seconded. What ever happened to Journalistic responsibility? Attempting to stir up racial controversy to further your own interests/career... such selfishness is what angers me.
Tyrmot 31st July 2009, 11:41 Quote
Just had a read of it and what a laughably bad article. So this chap has no problem with killing white and asian people but as soon as a black person gets involved it's racist? I wonder if he is aware of the phrase 'a chip on one's shoulder' or 'small-minded hypocrite'. It seems like this man is the only racist involved in this particular story.
ffjason 31st July 2009, 12:50 Quote
Pathetic.
Skiddywinks 31st July 2009, 12:57 Quote
What a **** bag. Been reading the comments, and he doesn't address any of the intelligent rebuttals, and stops responding entirely by the end of it.

And his replies even reek of stupidity!
impar 31st July 2009, 13:08 Quote
Greetings!

After reading the original story (did you?), the author seems to object that L4D2 is set in New Orleans.
It is his opinion that it is too soon to put another catastrophe on the city since the scars of Katrina are not yet healed.
steveo_mcg 31st July 2009, 13:11 Quote
Read TFA, where do you think you are slashdot... :D
Flexible_Lorry 31st July 2009, 13:26 Quote
I think everyone should be free to create art, and everyone should be able to enjoy it, and everyone should be able to ignore it.
cyrilthefish 31st July 2009, 13:37 Quote
My word! they can't win...

include black people in a game setting where it makes sense: racist
don't include enough diversity in games: racist

What exactly do they want the developers to do here?
Paradigm Shifter 31st July 2009, 13:44 Quote
The Political Correctness crowd are never happy... yeesh.
supermonkey 31st July 2009, 14:52 Quote
What an odd article. I'll defend the Chronicle as a newspaper, though. Typically, it's not worse than any other paper in the US, and I would argue that it tends to lean to the left, politically.

However, as someone who lives in Houston, and as someone who has lived through a number of hurricanes, I think that article was just ridiculous. The author seems to meander from point to point, without any solid argument in between. At one time he suggests games are increasingly racist, then he argues that it was improper to use the scene of a recent natural disaster. Then he starts ranting about the Confederate Flag, but not until he talks about running over grannies GTA IV.

The article is less stream of conscious and more stream of mental diarrhea.

-monkey
HourBeforeDawn 31st July 2009, 15:41 Quote
lol its Resident Evil all over again come on people get off the damn racist train, its old, and tiresome ~_~
airchie 31st July 2009, 15:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by krikkit
Quote:
Destructoid expresses the opinion that any perceived racism within the game is likely arising from over-sensitivity and a desire to make everything sterile with political correctness.
+1
+2
Nicb 31st July 2009, 17:00 Quote
I lived in the area and had to help family and friends after Katrina. I personally saw over a 1,000 bodies wash up on shore while the army was working on dealing with the situation. It was a disturbing situation and it showed me how fragile our way of life is.

In no way am I upset by LFD 2 or think that it was to soon, tacky, or related.

Just like ALL the movies that have come out about New York being destroyed one way or another after 911.
MaverickWill 31st July 2009, 17:21 Quote
Resident Evil 5 had the same problems of racism, but there was a potential problem there. Anyone who watched the Zero Punctuation review will recall about how ethnically diverse the game was, until:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZP, 4:34 onwards
RE5 actually does a lot to defer that accusation [of racism]. Your partner is black - a bit, quite a few whiteys are scattered throughout the early hordes, and real effort has been put into a somewhat realistic and sympathetic depiction of modern Africa.

AND THEN:

Halfway through the game, we suddenly find ourselves in a succesion of mud-hut villages, fighting crowds of jabbering black people in loincloths and warpaint, chucking spears. OH DEARS. Talk about sidestepping a pot-hole to fall off a bridge.

But one really shouldn't worry about this thing unless there's genuine hatred behind it. I don't get that impression. Capcom aren't BAD people. They're just IDIOTS.

Funnily enough, my brother rented Res 5 the day before I saw that for the first time, and when I asked him about it, he pretty much repeated Yahtzee's sentiment about the mud-hut villages kicking in, although he never thought about it till I asked him.


As for setting a KETM-style game in New Orleans? No, not racist. Unless the level-specific special zombies damage you with watermelons, fried chicken, and 50 Cent CDs. (And yes, that is a racist stereotype, which I'm fully aware isn't the norm. Just like I don't constantly drink tea, eat fish and chips, and wear bowler hats)
AshT 31st July 2009, 17:36 Quote
A piece from Willie Jeffersons (the guy who wrote the L4D feature) LinkedIn:

"We also have several different divisions in our company. Our most popular site has been www.dukecitygamerz.com We have scored several of the hottest video games for review, including "Rock Band," "Guitar Hero III," "Halo 3," "Bioshock," "Call of Duty 4" and "Super Mario Galaxy." We are working on expanding our video game coverage as well."

Just a shame all his reviews will be tainted by the chip on his shoulder.
AshT 31st July 2009, 17:43 Quote
On reflection ... I've had enough of any non-white person out there killing white people. Where is the petition to have all whiteys removed from computer games???
MaverickWill 31st July 2009, 17:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AshT
On reflection ... I've had enough of any non-white person out there killing white people. Where is the petition to have all whiteys removed from computer games???

Right here!

http://www.collider.com/uploads/imageGallery/South_Park_DVD/south_park_imaginationland_show_image__1_.jpg
Veles 31st July 2009, 17:58 Quote
He shouldn't have wasted his time responding, there are no words adequate enough to describe the disbelief at retarded statements like this.
NethLyn 31st July 2009, 18:31 Quote
The infected are running too fast for me to give two ****s about their race. I don't need a newspaper or a politician deciding what's racist for me, thanks very much. At least the President hasn't put his two cents in about this matter like the last race moment a couple of weeks back.
Combatus 31st July 2009, 22:15 Quote
I just feel sorry for the zombies in all this, I mean who looks out for them? They're the most minority ethnic group going and when they do show themselves in public everyone shoots them or throws pipe bombs at them or even sets them on fire. Sheesh.
Joey9801 31st July 2009, 23:08 Quote
this is the kind of excessive political-correctness that really annoys me. I mean why would a large company like valve make their games deliberatly racist, what possible motivation could there really be?
Otto69 1st August 2009, 17:57 Quote
Aren't zombies generally green rather than black, white, or brown?
Ending Credits 1st August 2009, 18:59 Quote
Quote:
Halfway through the game, we suddenly find ourselves in a succesion of mud-hut villages, fighting crowds of jabbering black people in loincloths and warpaint, chucking spears. OH DEARS. Talk about sidestepping a pot-hole to fall off a bridge.

I haven't played Resi Evil 5 so I don't know how true to life the game is but almost anything smaller than a medium sixed town in Africa tends to be mostly shanty town, certainly not brick and mortar and the developers deserve a bit of artistic licence (just think about depictions of anywhere in games). However it does sound like the devs were pretty ignorant and the scene described seems at least half a century out of date.
feedayeen 1st August 2009, 23:33 Quote
It still seems a little ironic whenever Louis is the first one to die.
MaverickWill 1st August 2009, 23:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by feedayeen
It still seems a little ironic whenever Louis is the first one to die.

A la Michael Bay Transformers?

Optimus: "Is everyone alright? Have we any casualties?"
Someone else: "No, everyone's fine. Oh, wait, I think Jazz got hit..."
LordPyrinc 2nd August 2009, 02:55 Quote
There seems to be a number of people in society across the globe that continue to try and make issues out of nothing. They decry "RACIST" when in all actuality there is no intent of racism in those accused. Does racism still exist? Sure. Unfortunately, it always will. The problem is when someone asserts that a game or a movie is racist, they typically are selling their own face-time on TV or getting their words printed on newspaper. News sources make more money if they can sensationalize the news more than the next source. Racism is always a 'hot' topic for the news media and they will use it to their advantage if it generates increased ratings/subscriptions. People really digging to find the smallest thing to identify something as racist are just as guilty of what they charge others of doing.
DLoney 2nd August 2009, 05:25 Quote
the Houston Chronicle is a joke. most down here think as such.
liratheal 2nd August 2009, 12:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ending Credits
I haven't played Resi Evil 5 so I don't know how true to life the game is but almost anything smaller than a medium sixed town in Africa tends to be mostly shanty town, certainly not brick and mortar and the developers deserve a bit of artistic licence (just think about depictions of anywhere in games). However it does sound like the devs were pretty ignorant and the scene described seems at least half a century out of date.

I've been through RE5 twice now, and I cannot see anything that makes it look like Africa is out of date - It does show that the country is (In some places) quite poor - There are most certainly proper buildings, not just shanty towns.

You do end up in a "tribal" villaige with a group of zombies (anyone who can say zombies ought to be able to do anything but groan and garble needs educating in the field of zombies..). I can't say I know Africa at all, but the tribe you encounter use the flowers (Natural source for the progenitor virus (T-virus)) to decide their next leader.

Hell, if anyone wants to call Capcom racist, they'd be better off basing it on RE4 :/

RE5 might not be the haven for non-racism, but hell, it's most certainly no where near as racist as someone like Tom Metzger. Or the Gaede family.
Ending Credits 2nd August 2009, 13:03 Quote
Quote:
I've been through RE5 twice now, and I cannot see anything that makes it look like Africa is out of date - It does show that the country is (In some places) quite poor - There are most certainly proper buildings, not just shanty towns.

You do end up in a "tribal" villaige with a group of zombies (anyone who can say zombies ought to be able to do anything but groan and garble needs educating in the field of zombies..). I can't say I know Africa at all, but the tribe you encounter use the flowers (Natural source for the progenitor virus (T-virus)) to decide their next leader.

My point exactly, perhaps the last bit is not a common sight but tribes like this do exist and the devs deserve a bit of licence to be able to do stuff like this in aid of storyline and gameplay.
Horizon 2nd August 2009, 16:25 Quote
The guys a douchebag, he's looking for racism where it isn't present. There are more obvious issues to tackle in video games like negative sterotyping, e.g. how many black well-spoken intelligent black characters have you see in games? I can count them all on one hand. He says that it's immoral to play on the confederate side shooting union soldiers. How many World War II games are out there? He's vocal about it that he enjoys killing Nazi's, well the thing is Nazi's were German, and I'm pretty sure german appreciate game that glorify killing of their people, and world war II? nah that happen for purely entertainment reasons and it was only a little over 50yrs ago. So apparently it's wrong when he can't act out on his racism and instead of owning up he just hides and tries to play the black victim card. I'm also black living in America and can see what a piece of **** hypocrite that guy is.
HourBeforeDawn 2nd August 2009, 21:13 Quote
is it me or the people that claim something is raciest tend to be the ones who are raciest themselves more so then others... obviously I will have to compare to african americans always bring up how their people were slaves its like really you were a slave? no oh okay your parents were slaves? no oh okay so your grand parents were slaves? no huh then shut the hell up and move on.... the people who complain about such things and claiming to be held back for whatever reason are the ones themselves holding themselves back because they cant let go of the pass and actually movie on. This whole race things is just so stupid there is no race, just humans living on the same planet... move on quit complaining and enjoy life. Oh and for the record I think in the first left 4 dead I killed more "white" zombies then black so should I go around claiming how raciest left 4 dead was for white people? lol its just stupid... okay end of rant lol Im done and moving on ^^
thehippoz 2nd August 2009, 23:01 Quote
guys name is willie.. I can see that happening.. crazy, how do you go to sleep at night and wake up thinking- you know what! that left 4 dead is racist :D I got the scenario right here..

willie.. also known as sizzling willie at certain bars- picks up a hot black guy- only to find out later it was a chick.. he roid rages and looses all sense and writes this garbage on his mac
Horizon 3rd August 2009, 01:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
is it me or the people that claim something is raciest tend to be the ones who are raciest themselves more so then others... obviously I will have to compare to african americans always bring up how their people were slaves its like really you were a slave? no oh okay your parents were slaves? no oh okay so your grand parents were slaves? no huh then shut the hell up and move on.... the people who complain about such things and claiming to be held back for whatever reason are the ones themselves holding themselves back because they cant let go of the pass and actually movie on. This whole race things is just so stupid there is no race, just humans living on the same planet... move on quit complaining and enjoy life. Oh and for the record I think in the first left 4 dead I killed more "white" zombies then black so should I go around claiming how raciest left 4 dead was for white people? lol its just stupid... okay end of rant lol Im done and moving on ^^

Slavery isn't really racism. prejudice, discrimination, and hate are. Africans were made into slaves based on the simple fact that they were easier to pick out of a crowd than one that resembled the general population.
tmakonde 3rd August 2009, 08:32 Quote
First I was going to state, that whoever claim it were racist for their being black zombies in the next install of left for dead, are idiots.There be those claiming racism if no black zombies were included.So please!!Ok.

Now I have to respond to these 'I don't know what i'm talking about'quotes.

"Horizon
Africans were made into slaves based on the simple fact that they were easier to pick out of a crowd than one that resembled the general population."

WRONG!! Very simplistic assumption. Now you truly are talking out of your proverbial ass here. Africans were enslaved because of white christians justifing their actions through biblical texts. It enabled them to deride and negate black humanity to the form and viewpoint of 'cattle', socially, economically, theologocally, scientifically and by implimented laws,so they can do the horrendous things they have done for the pursuit of economic gain. Dehumanise someone and it negates any sympathy or conscience.Intially Native Americans where used first in this 'slave industry', followed by indentured Europeans. Both keeled over and couldn't handle the labour. Because of that Blacks were used.Read your history books.

as for HourBeforeDawn

'the people who complain about such things and claiming to be held back for whatever reason are the ones themselves holding themselves back because they cant let go of the pass and actually movie on'

WRONG: I wish that was true but unfortunately you're not particularly clever.You live in a sheltered environ and act as if YOU can explain situations why blacks are in? How Blacks are as they are? Please. Blacks have more experience of whites than the other
ay around. For one we are a minority group and surrounded by the majority, and thus have higher interaction with whites, which is better understanding of how you are than the other way around. With those in the majority, you don't have to associate, or if you do, it's on a smaller scale. In essence, lack of interaction equals 'you-don't-know-what-you're-talking-about-much', concerning the other.For many, I wouldn't be surprised if your black friends are far between or non existant.Let a black man explain. Cause you certainly don't get it. Ok. Why some blacks go on about enslavement is because the society we live in, STILL HOLD ON TO VIEWS AND INSTIGATE ACTIONS towards us. You don't see it cause you don't experience what is so easily dismissive by many. Those views stem from..slavery..right! And as for that holocaustic institution, we as blacks should never forget it. NO WAY you say? Paranoia?
How a fellow white interacts with you is not at times from my own experience the same. How many times you get racist slurs at you? Or groups of weakass minded whites attack you? Or how behaviour changes when you enter a room. Followed and/or held up by cops-physically that is.Or attacks within a work environment. Does the average white man get this? This is not a now and again - one shot experience. These are experiences many times over? And how many of you could handle normal life plus these contradictions? Contradictions in the sense that I have white friends and yet i am attacked by ones who happen to look like my friends? You don't get it cause YOU DON'T-GET-IT. He who knows it feels it. Our reality is NOT THE SAME AS YOURS. The two i've quoted from, 'try' to place themselvers in shoes that don't fit, and assume what they say is legit? It's like me saying about how to fly a plane but never experiencing it.Seeing the cockpit from a distance is not the same as being in one,flying the plane and seeing the view from that point. I'm not here to rant but to give a little 'correction' of an highly complex issue to those who don't know what they're talking about. It never ceases to amaze me how lack of knowledge that some replies emanate from a suposedly higher than average intelligent group.
[USRF]Obiwan 3rd August 2009, 16:00 Quote
There are no naked zombie chicks running around in the game. Now that is what I call racism!
thehippoz 3rd August 2009, 16:37 Quote
hey tma.. welcome to the forum- you may be the only black person here besides nexxo :D

I know a little about african history.. not much really- but christian missionaries did try to convert african villagers, problem was they died trying.. they settled right off the the rivers like they normally do. the natives knew better and lived inland away from the mosquitoes- all the attempts ended with malaria and death

you have to be pretty bad ass to live out there.. the slave traders weren't missionaries- hate to lump them in with that group who actually gave their lives.. think it was the dutch who were one of the worst in the slave trade, correct me if I'm wrong and your not dutch!

think the civil war shows how divided americans were on the slave issue.. but I do understand it's almost comical when a white person makes remarks about pick yourself up.. happy to see there is a divide though between the younger generation and the generation who marched with mlk- I like what I see as far as mixed relationships here in the states (outside of georgia of course- man when lived there all heard was n word this and that, I actually lived about 2 doors down from a guy in the kkk.. he had a little black doll in his window sill wearing a white pointy sash and grew his own weed, so yeah there's backwards people everywhere.. can't really blame him though, he was raised like that doesn't know any different)

far as this article.. think we can all agree, the guys a crackhead
Ape 4th August 2009, 07:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Horizon
e.g. how many black well-spoken intelligent black characters have you see in games? I can count them all on one hand.

If L4D was to truly represent my experience of the majority of blacks in the UK - then rather than using English he would be talking in '50 cent'glish.
Horizon 6th August 2009, 01:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmakonde
First I was going to state, that whoever claim it were racist for their being black zombies in the next install of left for dead, are idiots.There be those claiming racism if no black zombies were included.So please!!Ok.

Now I have to respond to these 'I don't know what i'm talking about'quotes.

"Horizon
Africans were made into slaves based on the simple fact that they were easier to pick out of a crowd than one that resembled the general population."

WRONG!! Very simplistic assumption. Now you truly are talking out of your proverbial ass here. Africans were enslaved because of white christians justifing their actions through biblical texts. It enabled them to deride and negate black humanity to the form and viewpoint of 'cattle', socially, economically, theologocally, scientifically and by implimented laws,so they can do the horrendous things they have done for the pursuit of economic gain. Dehumanise someone and it negates any sympathy or conscience.Intially Native Americans where used first in this 'slave industry', followed by indentured Europeans. Both keeled over and couldn't handle the labour. Because of that Blacks were used.Read your history books.

Oversimplified yes, but I'm going to have to disagree, I won't believe for one second that Africans made into slaves because they were built tougher than the other 'alternatives' other than the fact they were easily exploited. Also in your second sentence 'justify', justification and reason are two different things. You only state as to why slavery became an acceptable form of cheap labor. I doubt a slave dying regardless of race was an issue, they simply got replaced. In then many textbooks I've read, the main reasons why indentured servants were unsuitable for cheap labor was due to the fact that they almost always ran away, and there was little or no chance of recovery. Native Americans, don't remember anything explicit about them regarding the issue but I pretty sure the issue is the same that they would escape, and their tribes were able to fight back. Now an African on the other hand they're in a foreign land, can't get too far, easily identifiable because they'd stick out like a sore thumb and have the little issue called the Atlantic Ocean between them and home.

that's all the time at the moment, don't have time proofread sry. about any grammatical errors, and half finished thoughts.
Elton 6th August 2009, 01:20 Quote
I don't know about this but why is tmakonde even arguing? I mean it's been settled, L4D isn't racist, and if it was, it would be VERY apparent if not foolish.
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