Five Groups Not Offended by Video Games (Yet)
It seems as though video games have found a way to offend just about every political group on the planet. From vegetarians protesting animal menus in Cooking Mama to veterans groups annoyed about their fallen being trivialized in a first-person shooter, there is always one group or another on hand to protest the latest game. Electronic Arts even poked fun at this phenomenon by working in fake Christian protestors to promote their upcoming release of Dante's Inferno. Real Christian groups then protested the fake protests, in a recursive political spiral that leaves our head spinning. Luckily for everyone, there are some groups left on the planet who have not yet voiced offense to their portrayal in video games. Should they be offended? Read on to find out.
Russians: A convenient scapegoat for video games during the 1980s (Rushin' Attack, anyone?), the proud people of Russia needed a new role after the fall of communism. Unfortunately, their depiction in video games seems to have shifted from military villains to hardcore criminal psychopaths, who will eagerly kill you while describing the act in a thick Russian accent. Still, those who we've spoken to remain relatively unflustered by the stereotypical depictions. It could be that Russian people are just naturally thick skinned, or it could be that they are ready to own the stereotype. Our call for comment to the Russian embassy returned this pre-recorded statement: "Ve vill drain se life from your body using a power drill. And then ve vull laugh." Yikes.
The Japanese: The poor Japanese just cannot catch a break. Despite being one of the world's largest sources of video games, they are still depicted as the bad guys with frequent regularity in Western games. If they're not slicing and dicing people as Yakuza in a Rockstar title, they are likely wielding a field rifle and shouting "Banzai" in a World War 2 game (Call of Duty: WaW, Battlefield 1943). The Western video game industry is so callous in its depiction of the Japanese that we even turned some of them into zombies. But have we heard any complaints from Japanese citizens groups? Not a one. They've just quietly continued their plot to enslave us all using the Wii Vitality Sensor and Hello Kitty.
Nerds: Do you know who gets made fun of a lot? Nerds. And we should know. It's not enough that we endured years of torture in the schoolyard, but now we find ourselves mocked by the very medium that we turn to for comfort: video games. Perhaps the biggest offender in this category is the Otacon character from Metal Gear Solid. He is perennially annoying, cowardly, whiny, and in need of protection. While snake gets to, well, snake around killing people from the shadows, the game periodically drops us back into reality with a cutscene featuring Otacon. We realize that if it were actually us trapped in that Alaskan base, we'd probably be cowering in a utility closet obsessing over Meryl too. Still, video game makers better not push their depictions of nerds too far. After all, as a major consumer of video game products, we have significant boycott power.
Environmentalists: When racing your modified offroad truck across the wilderness of Baha Mexico, does it occur to you how many carbon credits you are burning? So far video games have avoided the attention of environmental groups, but we're not sure why. Whether you are (ironically) racing across the dying carcass of Mother Earth in FUEL, or slaughtering marine life with the Wiimote, just about every game features activities that could be considered harmful to the environment. And we haven't even gotten started about all the plastic, electricity and pollution that results from the seemingly innocent hobby of gaming. Strangely, the Grand Theft Auto series doesn't feature any children OR animals, possibly a sign that they recognize the power of groups who love both.
Vampires/Werewolves/Goths: So far we have managed to escape mass protests by the vampire community, but time might be running out. An easy and recognizable target for video game violence, gothic creatures have appeared in a number of action titles from Devil May Cry to Castlevania. Even though mythical creatures are frequently depicted as bloodthirsty, power-hungry and demonic, so far not a single supporter has come forward to defend them. With the current popularity of teen vampire fiction like Twilight, we can see a rise in the number of vampire supporters. Look out, Konami. The release of your next game might be met with protests full of darkly-dressed young girls shouting "vampires are people, too!" To read more about the injustices against vampires committed by Konami, check out our preview coverage of Lords of Shadow.
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