A current debate has surged since the release of the Resident Evil 5 trailer, post E3 2007. When I saw it, I knew the setting of the game and the ethnicity therein was going to be a problem. Most people did. Now, since I've developed a craving for more comments on the posts published, I'd like to make a serious attempt at a discussion. Retro gaming and social commentary. Can't fail, right?
It's perhaps the most predictable debate in video game history then, in a time when the UK bans Manhunt 2. A few newspapers has cared to address it, for example The Village Voice, and an African blog, which found it very offensive. The most troubling aspect of the game seems to be the setting, known, even to this day and through history, as the "dark continent". The other problem being that the protagonist is a white man who arrives at a ravaged continent to cure it of its plague, liberate its people, fight the virus and not getting infected himself. The AIDS connection is obvious in this case, making the decision to set it upon African soil a politically charged one. Changing the main character could perhaps smooth things over, and so would relocating the setting.
To get an outside opinion, I showed the trailer to a friend who isn't interested in video games at all. She reacted strongly to its graphic nature. Not only is it too much like current events and in poor taste politically, she argued, but the realistic graphics are also a huge problem. And so we stumble dangerously close to the old debate of photo-realism... With some luck, I hope Capcom try to emphasise the exploitation and problems of the African continent, merging it with the plot, and, as the trailer doesn't reveal any plot structures, that it merely looks bad right now because so little information about the game has been released.
Watch the trailer. Is shooting life-like African villagers taking it a step too far? Could Capcom get away with relocating the setting to (for example) Haiti, and why? Is this even worth arguing about? Share your thoughts.