Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially Insensitive”

October 19, 2010 -

An article on the African-American news site the Grio takes issue with the subject matter of the recently released Namco Bandai Games title Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, labeling the game "hurtful."

The game is set 150 years in the future, during a time when a war has destroyed much of the Earth and civilization, leaving robots more or less in charge.

The game’s main character, named Monkey (pictured), awakens aboard a slave ship as it is about to wreck. Monkey escapes with a woman named Trip, but loses consciousness.

When Monkey awakes he finds that Trip has applied a slave headband to his noggin, which forces him to follow her orders.

The Grio columnist called Enslaved “culturally insensitive,” adding:

The protagonist is not decisively black (Monkey is more of a tan complexion), but does it matter? The premise alone raises enough eyebrows to warrant a serious debate. I went on to a few video game message boards to see if I was alone in my discomfort. Unsurprisingly, I was not. Walking in the shoes of the oppressed has been done before but not quite like this.

The video game fan in me may choose to play Enslaved, but the black man that I am can't overlook the thinly veiled racial undertones.

The author continues, wondering if the game would have been published at all if “the main character's skin were a few shades darker.”


Comments

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Even setting aside the points already made above, about how slavery is not exclusive to black people, and the race card is overplayed, my question is this:  When will people stop trying to apply American perspectives, subtexts, and cultural mores to Japanese games?  To us, sure, words like "slave" and "monkey" seem to be drawing a connection to black slavery, but that connection just isn't there for the Japanese.  There is no malice or racial meaning intended here, even if it might seem that way to (some of) us because of our racism-tinted glasses.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Err, I don't think this game has much to do with Japan.  First, Ninja Theory is a British development company, not Japanese.  Maybe they hire Japanese, I don't know, I haven't watched the credits for Enslaved to see if the names are European or Japanese.  Second, the story the game is based on is Chinese.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

"The protagonist is not decisively black (Monkey is more of a tan complexion), but does it matter?"

He doesn't look at all black to me, not even remotely, but to answer the question, no, it doesn't matter.  At all.

Oh well, at least the author waited until the game was out and he could play it before offering his opinion.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

A story is made about slavery, and this guy immediately assumes it's about black people.

Now I wonder if this is ignorance or ego.


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Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Of course, slavery is not just a historical issue, but also a present one.  There is slavery all over the world, even here in North America.  Biggest slave group in NA?  Young women either white or hispanic.  There's a tragic sex slave trade that goes on all over the place under our noses.  Biggest slave group worldwide, Asians... enslaved by other Asians.

But of course the subject of enslavement is only sensitive for black people.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Oh come on, we all know if Monkey was black, the same people would be bitching about using a durogatory name for a black character.

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Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Here's what really bothers me about the author's comments: It's not the accusation of racism at all. It the fact that the author has not played the game and therefor has no first hand experience with it.

You can't judge a film or a book with out watching or reading it and you can't really judge a game without playing it. With just watching video clips or reading reviews you can go as far as to say whether the title interests you or not, whether it's a kind of game you like to play, but you can't really judge the whole content without giving it a chance.

Now had the author said "I rented, played it to completion and I have decided that the game is racist" is an informed statement, and we can have an informed debate.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

 Given that the author makes comments on gameplay, I think it's unwarranted to assume he hasn't played the game.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Black man says slavery is a taboo concept in media. Pack it up guys, no more mention of slavery allowed.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

It's just a columnist who wants "interblag" hits by making up racial crap. If you click on the link, then you're just playing into it.

If you really want to smite this ignorant idiot, don't click on ze link. It's as simple as that.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

There is an event in history called the "Sack of Baltimore" where many Irish people were captured and shackled by Africans from Algeria and sold on as slaves. I find it incredibly offensive and racist to state that slavery is a black only issue.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

So... How many games are there again where you start as a slave? How many stories? Is Gladiator racist because Russel Crowe is tanned in it?

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

I dont see how any of this matters. I'll go over a list why, though its probably already been said above.

 

1. Africans were not the first people enslaved, and probably not the last. Native Americans, Irish, Hebrews, any many many others have been enslaved before. You can basically trace your family tree back to someone who was a slave at some point in the past, or at the very least, to a race that has been. Even whites have been slaved at some point in the past.

 

2. Racism is a problem, but the anti-racist sue happy fanatics are not helping at all. People who throw out the race card are just making the problem worse. A few years ago there was this white kid who was born in africa and then moved over to the US, his friends tried to apply him to get a Afican American scholorship, which the committee wouldnt allow (which if I recall got those friends suspended). As many saw it, he should of been able to been aligable since he was technically an african, just not black. (Cant find the source, it happened back in 2003 or 2004, it was discussed on a old 2 Sense episode during the same week or month it came out)

There was another incident in LA where a african american in a public office was trying to get the IT support and computer stores to not call drives slaves and masters cause it was apparently a derogatory term directed at african americans. [Source]

And another where two Africian American Women complained about a airlines flight when a stewartest went and said "Eenie, meenie, minie, moe, pick a seat we gotta go" saying it was paroding of the original which was a racial slur. [Source]

 

3. You are playing from the perspective of the one who was enslaved, NOT the master. You are the one being oppressed, you are the one who is being forced to do things against your will, your only choice is playing (living) or or turning the game off (dying). Even if the guy was black, it still shouldnt matter due to what I just said.

 

So thats what I have to say.

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Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Blah.  I see where this comes from -- combine "slave" with "monkey" and you're going to raise some eyebrows -- but yeah, Journey to the West is not a new story and it's nothing to do with American slavery.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Odly enough, I would actually say this game plays into gender stereotypes more then racial.  Big strong brute man protecting the weak and manipluative women?

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Yeah, if anybody deserves to get their panties twisted over this, it should probably be someone trying to look at gender roles in the game.


 

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Sure, you could make a case for everything-ism.  You can find pretty much anything you want to find in anything of complexity.

Sexist?  Absolutely, Trip is a manipulative damsel in distress.

Weight-ist? You bet!  There's a character that's overweight and acts disgusting and repulsive.

Age-ist? Yup! There's no major character seeming over the age of 30.

Outrage can be made about anything.  But what causes me the most outrage is these people searching for it and screaming it from the rooftops.

 

Seems to me that this author had a problem with the word "Enslaved" and then went looking for more things to be upset about.

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

 "The author continues, wondering if the game would have been published at all if “the main character's skin were a few shades darker.”"

Apparently the point the author is making is that this game should not have been published at all?

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Maybe there is discrimination at work here.

 

Think about it, if the clearly white guy in the game was actually black and if the story was not based on the old chinese legend (heh legend, who the hell are we kidding, its the Monkey TV show from the 70s) but had the sole intent of getting a black man enslaved to whitey, then this guys argument might have had some merit but NOOOO they callously and insensitively took that away from him!

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Getting a tad tired of this outcry. See, while some were put in shackles to be used as slave, one branch of my ancestors (Natives) weren't dim fit to be slaves, so they got massacred instead. Now let's look at other slaves throughout history:

Half the roman conquests

Half the ottoman's conquests

Half the white colonial conquests

Some of China's conquests (ok, they are relatively tame, surprising, I know)

Jews

And I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot. So please, if it ISN'T discrimination, don't MAKE it discrimination.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Uh.... did anyone notice that Enslaved is 'loosely' based on the Chinese story? Where a literal monkey man has a headband strapped to his head by a monk so they go on a journey together. He's even got the bo stick and everything. Yes the character is bascially a slave to the monk, but mostly because the character is mean spirited. Though the monk isn't really much better if you read the original source material, and not Dragon Ball or the droves of Anime adaptations through the years. I admit the 'loose' adaptation is so loose as to be on par with the "Lawnmower Man" movie being 'based' on the Steven King novel.

Also slavery is not a 'black' thing. Slavery has existed for several millenia. The English and Germans were slaves to the Roman empire. The Mongols enslaved anything that was non-Mongol. At least the Egyptians didn't use slaves to build the pyramids though. But essentially every single civilization/culture/population up until 200 years ago enslaved who ever they could. Blacks do not have a monopoly on this, just recent history.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

You beat me to it on the loosely based on Chinese Folklore.

Its sad that this has become a race issue when there are more prominent and blantant things that go on in the industry as a whole that are racist.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

I take it this guy has never heard of the source material the game is based on.  Also, I'm getting so tired of these people constantly looking for a fucking fight over race.  This connection to some kind of racist undertone is new to me- and I'm white, which means that I am genetically programmed to hate and oppress blacks.  You would think I'd be eating this up.

One of the reasons racism will never go away is because even if it is gone (or not present), someone will invariably impose racial undertones onto anything.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

"Also, I'm getting so tired of these people constantly looking for a fucking fight over race."

And yet you're the guy who has something to say on the subject in every thread where it's brought up and at least one it has absolutely nothing to do with.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

 Ya know... asking if something is racially insensitive or not is insensitive to the human race....


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Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

On a passing glance the average person would probably not even take Monkey's race into account as he looks like a white guy.

As much hate as I may get for saying this, it was over a hundred years ago, let it go already.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

If I had a nickel for every ridiculous cry of racism I heard I would be a rich man.  The culture of over-sensitivity and just plain idiocy that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent in this world sickens me.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

facepalm.jpg

The character doesn´t even look like black. Is this columnist that dumb? There are like hundreds of movies with the theme of slavery, with all races in there. Is he also that ignorant?

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Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

Oh for God's sake. Things about slavery do not automatically mean they are about black people. Black people were not the only people who have been slaves and don't try to pretend they were. It's based off an old Asian book anyway.

----------------------------------------------------

Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

---------------------------------------------------- Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it's over they have the same positions they started in.

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

*nod*

As a person of slavic descent, i.e. the group the word 'slave' derives from, with all of their past.. I get rather annoyed at the idea that slavery only applied to this one historical group.

I imagine it is even more annoying to modern day slaves (I have only met one person who escaped modern slavery, and she had her own thoughts about people using the word....)

Re: Columnist Asks if Enslaved Game is “Racially ...

As a black person myself, I am getting sick and tired of this outcry from people who are looking for a fight where there is none. Noone is going to take you seriously if you scream racism at EVERYTHING. I haven't played the game myself, but I was keeping up with it for a short while before I lost interest. This game is more of a reboot of the chinese story "Journey to the West" not some smear attempt to rub racism in black people's faces. Yes, racism is still an issue in this country more than I want to admit, but I don't think it will get any better if we keep throwing out the race card at any and everything.

 

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