Videogamer.com has done something crazy. Instead of letting the internet and game journalist yell about whether or not RE5 is truly a racist game they went and talked to an expert. I know! Someone should check in on their sanity over there. The site talked with Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kent, Canterbury, who is one of the leading experts on racism today. They showed him the first three levels of the game and then asked for comment. After an immensely interesting interview which everyone should read he came down on the side of not racist. “I don’t think it’s racist. I think people are looking too quickly to be able to jam that label onto it,” he said, after earlier stating that it was “silly to call it racist.”
What does Bowman think the game’s themes are about then? Colonization, fear of the West and the post 9/11 trauma that the rest of the world has suffered because of American policies. Deep stuff for a zombie survival game, but immesnly refreshing to hear a college professor discuss games with such depth, even if he does sound a little surprised by it. “I would like to set up as a counter-thematic, there’s a very interesting anti-colonial thematic running through it. This whole idea of the victimisation of Africa by pharmaceutical companies, by terrorist groups, all of whom seem to be run by white characters who are coming in and exploiting people,” he notes, and then later points out, “I think what they’re trying to do is say this is a shit scary space that you’re in and it’s full of anger and furthermore also people hate Americans. And frankly it’s very interesting about that, and they don’t go into it, but in this period of post-9/11 a third world perspective on America that says local people hate Americans actually brings up that whole interesting thematic of why do they hate us? which people started asking after 9/11 and then very quickly stopped asking because maybe it was a little bit too obvious.”
There are about 20 more quotes I want to pull and show you here, but this is too long anyway. So what do we think, does this settle the argument?