Muslim Should Not Equal Villain

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Muslims in My Monitor

From Prince of Persia to the recent Medal of Honor news of playable Taliban, the depiction of Muslims in videogames hasn't been any more even-handed than American TV or movies. Saladin Ahmed is one Muslim gamer who'd like to see that change.

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Sorry, but this kind of one-sided examination of an issue never helps anything. A long list of games that depict Muslims unfairly (and you're probably right to say most of them do) can't hope to get people really thinking.

I'm loathe to say you've got to look at the whole issue, since the whole issue here goes way beyond just videogames, but this needs balance - a word from the developers of those games, a non-Muslim perspective - to be in any way meaningful.

Puddle Jumper:
Following people would like to have a word with you on stopping to complain and get over it: Russians, Germans.

Not funny, certainly not smart!

Yeah, right after Japanese, Germans and Russains are depicted differently in video games, right?

daftnoize:

Puddle Jumper:
Following people would like to have a word with you on stopping to complain and get over it: Russians, Germans.

Not funny, certainly not smart!

To deny that Germans and Russians are still villains after decades is just moronic

daftnoize:

Puddle Jumper:
Following people would like to have a word with you on stopping to complain and get over it: Russians, Germans.

Not funny, certainly not smart!

What? It's true aint it. Every time that Russians appear in a movie or a TV series, they are depicted as the big bad that needs to be overcome.

Germans in games only pop up in WORLD WAR II games and in movies and TV, germans aren't exactly spared as well.

Yet, not a lot of people complain about it beyond: Not again!

It's not that surprising that the Muslim culture is depicted wrongly in videogames - most of them cater to Americans or Europeans, to whom the Muslim culture is something far away and out of reach. This is why the stereotyped image of Muslims exists and this is why it is no different to the image of the Japanese, Russians or South Americans.

As a Russian, I can only give you the following advice. Those are games. They depict bad guys. Every community has bad guys. If you know that your community has the same percentage of them as other ones, why should fiction bother you?

Also, True Lies. That's actually a comedy, or, at the very least, should not be taken seriously. If I were you, I would get offended at movies like Black Hawk Down or something.

maybe if moderate muslims took a more front and center position against extremists, and took back your religion from facists that seek to define it and jihad as some war against non believers, instead of the internal struggle with faith.

back when christianity was putting philosophers and scientists and jews to death as evil and non believers. islam welcomed science and other faiths.

sure does not help the islamic cause when chrisitans on one hand are often ridiculed and made the but of jokes and downright belittlement they take more or less with a grain of salt. but south park dares use the name and "image" of muhammid and they get death threats pouring in so they have to bleep even the name.

islam can be a beautiful religion and people that follow it can be caring generous and accepting even of non believers, but far too often do the vocal minority of the extremists rise to the top and belittle the rest of you.

Puddle Jumper:
Following people would like to have a word with you on stopping to complain and get over it: Russians, Germans.

Epic post.

Hahah.

OT:

Video games aren't meant to be some cross examination of xenophobia. they're just ways to have fun and tell a story.

In short.

Get over it.

Ahh, a simple, well-written article that treats its heavy subject with a light touch and doesn't get bogged down in semantics or trivial details.

You know Aladdin got rid of "Where they'll cut off your ear where they don't like your face" but retained "It's barbaric"? O_O

Still a great song though. Arrrraaaaabian Niiiiiiiiights...

EDIT: I'm not sure why people are treating this subject as even remotely controversial. English people are also represented poorly in American media, and like the guy who wrote this article, I don't see it as an outrage. I see it as a mark of poor writing.

Same with Germans and Russians. No-one gives a shit that it's not "PC".

I *DO* know however, that as soon as I see a film that presents Germans/Russians as the bad guys and nothing else, it'll be bilge of some sort. Maybe a parody of bilge. But 2-Dimensional characters = bad. Telling him to "get over it" misses the point, he's not offended - he's just disappointed ;).

daftnoize:

Puddle Jumper:
Following people would like to have a word with you on stopping to complain and get over it: Russians, Germans.

Not funny, certainly not smart!

I'm sorry, what?
Umm... World In Conflict, Modern Warfare 2, Bad Company 2, hell, pretty much every modern war game for the Russians, every WW2 game for the Germans.
Can he has his "smart" card back now?

How many Muslims make video games? The fact is that all minorities are portrayed with ignorance when they are not part of the creative process. They will be protrayed better the more muslim game makers there are.

Yeah Get Over It! Just because 99% of the gaming industry is portraying anyone who looks like you as evil, doesn't give you the right to complain. After all, loads of games are set in modern-day germany with a - oh wait, no. My bad.

I can't speak for american media, but to me (brit.) Videogames are so far out of touch in this respect, I looked very hard at assasin's creed to find the allegory for today, suspecting it was the one voice of reason allowed to be produced. As it stands, we have no videogames where the opening sequence has you pull your one-legged wife from a UN hospital before the yanks blow it to shit, and I wish we had.

This article will convince no-one. I'd like people to change a lot of attitudes, in fact everyone would like their views to be held by the majority (that is unless they're trying to be individuals) what makes you assume your attitude is right?

Saladin Ahmed:
It is this sort of spirit that's on display in many videogames: Muslims are villainous killers whose only purpose is to serve as bullet sponges. Like Indians in a 1950s Western, the Arabs of these games are swarthy, savage, bloodthirsty madmen who gibber incoherently at the hero as they try to mow him down. There's only one sane way to deal with such a threat - blow 'em all to Kingdom Come. And that's just what we are encouraged to do in games like Metal Slug 2, Full Spectrum Warrior, Desert Strike, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, America's Army, and so on.

Full Spectrum Warrior? You mean the game that was basically an Army training sim and had no story and no characterization of any kind whatsoever? Or America's Army, a multiplayer military sim? What do you want, the terrorists to run up to the player and try to hug him? For them to shout out their life stories in english during the firefight?

This is why people don't take this garbage seriously. Any dipiction of any muslim as a villian must be accompanied by an extensive justification where it turns out, that, no, he's really the good guy, and it's the evil American pig-dogs that are the real monsters! Every representation of any muslim as a villiam, or even the implication that real-world terrorists might actually be wrong, is an immediate statement that every muslim everywhere is a froathing-at-the-mouth pscycho. Context can go screw itself and realism is just a tool of the imperialists!

Pugiron:
How many Muslims make video games? The fact is that all minorities are portrayed with ignorance when they are not part of the creative process. They will be protrayed better the more muslim game makers there are.

Iran has a video game industry. I am pretty sure the escapist had a one/two articles about them.

OT: I completely agree with this article. And this is one of the many reasons I often stated why I hate atomic games dev guts as well as their 6 days in fallujah gears-of-war game. Halfway between exploiting the war and changing multiple facts to serve as a good propaganda tool, their product despite having some high claim is nothing more than a generic shooter to let some people live their fantasies. Now I feel a bit like a hypocrite because of the paragraph I wrote below.

However, I have to thanks Bohemia Interactive for Arma. One of the many reasons I enjoy playing a sand-box game like ARMA 2 OA; just started getting my hand dirty with the mission editor, is having a ragtag gang of middle-eastern flavored characters fight off an invasion from the Russians in a very afghanistan-ish environment for a user created missions. Stingers ahoy.
This game is set up to be able to create stories from both sides of the line.

Best article I have read on the escapist so far.

stinkychops:
This article will convince no-one. I'd like people to change a lot of attitudes, in fact everyone would like their views to be held by the majority (that is unless they're trying to be individuals) what makes you assume your attitude is right?

So he should just be silent about it and accept that arabs/muslims are good target practice in video games? That arabs/muslims and generally "brown-people" culture should be vilify for the enjoyment of some developed countries entertainment? Video Games are not exactly an obscure medium of entertainment anymore.

A few years down the line, and we will probably see a lot of games covering the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq (guess who the bad guys are going to be). That's something that will happen no matter how many people are offended by it. If 1 million of Muslims died in the two conflicts combined, video gamers should be able to break that high score easily with video games.

Also, he has a cool name.

And today's game review is Mafia 2. Gee, maybe if an ethnic group or culture makes itself infamous at one point in history, games might revisit that time. Seen any "Mongols working as farmers and accountants" games? No, that would be stupid.

Saladin Ahmed:
In Orientalism (1978), his landmark study of Western attitudes toward the Arab and Muslim worlds, the late Columbia English professor Edward Said defined "Orientalism" as Western culture's tendency to depict the Middle East through "a series of crude, essentialized caricatures." Some of these caricatures "present [the Islamic world] in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression." Others are more positive, but still treat the Middle East as an exotic land perpetually stuck in the past.

I had never heard the real reason why the word "Oriental" was considered insulting these days. It's used so infrequently that I rarely had a chance to think about looking it up, and if I ever thought about it, it just sort of slipped away. I HAD, however, heard the meaning of Jihad before, as that's something that tends to get thrown around much more carelessly.

With that out of the way, I have to say that America's Army is by far (in my opinion) the most offensive a game can be without outright saying that Middle-easterners are evil. It's not just because they're the main enemy of the game, but because I remember back when this game came out, it was intended as a "military simulator" in the sense that the mechanics and physics were realistic and it was officially sponsored by the military, no doubt with some hope of recruiting. They're essentially saying "This is what it's like for real!" and then shoving a gun in your face for you to gun down these people, first person style of course. It just seemed wrong.

As a last note, Long Live Civ!

Pugiron:
And today's game review is Mafia 2. Gee, maybe if an ethnic group or culture makes itself infamous at one point in history, games might revisit that time. Seen any "Mongols workign as farmers and accountants" games? No, that would be stupid.

o.O mafia 2 is loosely based on the mafia that existed, you expecting to play as a terrorist in a few years? Because in mafia 2 you aren't shooting at the mobsters you are one. They mafia is depicted as real people. There isn't a problem with revisiting the time but if all you did in mafia 2 was be a cop and shoot at people yelling in italian there might be an issue.
I really doubt all the people posting read anymore than the title.

I really liked this article, the guy has a point. Hell think of C&C Generals, if thats not a stigmatizing game I don't know what is

cainx10a:

Pugiron:
How many Muslims make video games? The fact is that all minorities are portrayed with ignorance when they are not part of the creative process. They will be protrayed better the more muslim game makers there are.

Iran has a video game industry. I am pretty sure the escapist had a one/two articles about them.

OT: I completely agree with this article. And this is one of the many reasons I often stated why I hate atomic games dev guts as well as their 6 days in fallujah gears-of-war game. Halfway between exploiting the war and changing multiple facts to serve as a good propaganda tool, their product despite having some high claim is nothing more than a generic shooter to let some people live their fantasies. Now I feel a bit like a hypocrite because of the paragraph I wrote below.

However, I have to thanks Bohemia Interactive for Arma. One of the many reasons I enjoy playing a sand-box game like ARMA 2 OA; just started getting my hand dirty with the mission editor, is having a ragtag gang of middle-eastern flavored characters fight off an invasion from the Russians in a very afghanistan-ish environment for a user created missions. Stingers ahoy.
This game is set up to be able to create stories from both sides of the line.

Best article I have read on the escapist so far.

stinkychops:
This article will convince no-one. I'd like people to change a lot of attitudes, in fact everyone would like their views to be held by the majority (that is unless they're trying to be individuals) what makes you assume your attitude is right?

So he should just be silent about it and accept that arabs/muslims are good target practice in video games? That arabs/muslims and generally "brown-people" culture should be vilify for the enjoyment of some developed countries entertainment? Video Games are not exactly an obscure medium of entertainment anymore.

A few years down the line, and we will probably see a lot of games covering the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq (guess who the bad guys are going to be). That's something that will happen no matter how many people are offended by it. If 1 million of Muslims died in the two conflicts combined, video gamers should be able to break that high score easily with video games.

Also, he has a cool name.

Yeah and I bet Iran's video games are fair to Westerners, Christians and Jews, right? no, not at al? SHOCKING! Its the same on both sides.

JourneyThroughHell:

daftnoize:

Puddle Jumper:
Following people would like to have a word with you on stopping to complain and get over it: Russians, Germans.

Not funny, certainly not smart!

I'm sorry, what?
Umm... World In Conflict, Modern Warfare 2, Bad Company 2, hell, pretty much every modern war game for the Russians, every WW2 game for the Germans.
Can he has his "smart" card back now?

Yeah fair enough, However I do think its slightly different with the inasane amount of Islamiphobia going on at the moment in America. Ground zero mosque is just a prime example of this. Most steriotypes of muslims portray them as terroists, not all german or russian sterotypes do (and even IF they do they are hiccups from the past not opinions which are being formed in the present). Please read this article guys though so funny and a great piece of satire. http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-already-knows-everything-he-needs-to-know-abou,17990/

"I almost gave in and listened to that guy defend Islam with words I didn't want to hear," Gentries said. "But then I remembered how much easier it is to live in a world of black-and-white in which I can assign the label of 'other' to someone and use him as a vessel for all my fears and insecurities."

I agree that it would be a good idea to produce more games where it isn't just, "Certain Race = Villans"
That is Lazy Storytelling.

Indeed, the Western media has a troubled relationship with the Middle East, and much of it can be a kneejerk reaction to Islam's rising presence in global politics. It would serve us well to try to reach a deeper understanding with the Middle East and understand how human they are, just as much as the rest of us.

On the other hand, keep in mind that Middle Easterns are sort of to blame too. A lot of Americans are calling it like they see it because, quite frankly, most of what they see isn't very pleasant. Since very few people are unwilling to recognize how much of a problem Israel is in relation to all this extremism. Since Islam has nothing much in the way of a centralized authority willing to declare what's right and wrong, the opportunity is always there for the message to be hijacked and presented as something it isn't necessarily. Americans tend to forget that the religious rhetoric and motivations of militants, extremists, terrorists, freedom fighters, or whatnot, are expressions so fundamentally immeshed with politics as to be rendered unrecognizable to Islamic orthodoxy. The Middle East is embroiled in confrontational politics in the form of Israel's continued racism, aggression, and expansionism, and since Islam, in all its forms, is basically the one commonl variable the Arabs and Palestinians have, it's their quickest, most digestible way to channel their political grievances. It's a mistake to equate Islam with the actions we Americans see, because they're ultimately expressions of earthly concerns that anyone in the position of a Middle Eastern, religious or not, would at least understand, if not condone.

Muslims and Middle Easterns in general have to put in more effort to clarify this to the West, and the West needs to take steps towards not being Israel's bitch and supporting Middle Eastern dictatorships. That's the only way we're truly going to get past this thick cultural barrier.

Fr33Kye:

Pugiron:
And today's game review is Mafia 2. Gee, maybe if an ethnic group or culture makes itself infamous at one point in history, games might revisit that time. Seen any "Mongols workign as farmers and accountants" games? No, that would be stupid.

o.O mafia 2 is loosely based on the mafia that existed, you expecting to play as a terrorist in a few years? Because in mafia 2 you aren't shooting at the mobsters you are one. They mafia is depicted as real people. There isn't a problem with revisiting the time but if all you did in mafia 2 was be a cop and shoot at people yelling in italian there might be an issue.
I really doubt all the people posting read anymore than the title.

Mafia 2 Was already protested for portraying an ethnic stereotype. The game features fictionalized people loosely based on real events, just like the Medal Of Honor Taliban. if you cannot see the correlation, you're not smart enough to be part of this discussion. The Nazi's killed more people than the Taliban and people have played the Germans in Medal of Honor multiplayer without a huge uproar. Get a clue.

There's a difference in that there aren't any current conflicts between the US and russia/germany so the situation is a bit more complex.

That said, the article writer didn't so much ask game designers to stop portraying people from muslim countries as villains so much as letting them be heroes too.

Personally, I find extremists in general to be the 'bad guys'. And the extremists who get the most press currently tend to be of the Muslim extraction. I find stories of the latest 'pronouncements' of some ultra-right wing Christian - I'm thinking of that eejit who not too long ago said that the disaster in Haiti was because they'd made a deal with the devil a hundred years ago to get rid of the French - just as worrisome as I find some of the coverage of Muslim extremism. But if you're developing a game that's not based on any historical fact or event, and you need a bad guy, you're probably gonna pick a group that a majority of your target audience distrusts.

"Hey... we need a bad guy for this new shooter we've creating. Any ideas?"

"Grandmas!"

"Boy Scouts!"

"People who read to the blind!"

"Criminals!"

"Lawyers!"

"France!!"

"Muslims!"

And currently, the easiest sell for the game devs is probably the Muslims. It's the world we live in right now. But the reality - or the reality we're shown through the lenses of the tv news cameras - we're seeing is acts of terrorism being done by Muslims. Not to mention the odd story here and there of how Sharia law rules on a case involving a woman. And as long as they are the current bad guys on the nightly news; they're gonna be the current bad guys in video games as well. North Korea was making a play for the big bad guy role, but as expected, they kind of sputtered and whimpered off the world stage - for now at least.

Pugiron:

Fr33Kye:

Pugiron:
And today's game review is Mafia 2. Gee, maybe if an ethnic group or culture makes itself infamous at one point in history, games might revisit that time. Seen any "Mongols workign as farmers and accountants" games? No, that would be stupid.

o.O mafia 2 is loosely based on the mafia that existed, you expecting to play as a terrorist in a few years? Because in mafia 2 you aren't shooting at the mobsters you are one. They mafia is depicted as real people. There isn't a problem with revisiting the time but if all you did in mafia 2 was be a cop and shoot at people yelling in italian there might be an issue.
I really doubt all the people posting read anymore than the title.

Mafia 2 Was already protested for portraying an ethnic stereotype. The game features fictionalized people loosely based on real events, just like the Medal Of Honor Taliban. if you cannot see the correlation, you're not smart enough to be part of this discussion. The Nazi's killed more people than the Taliban and people have played the Germans in Medal of Honor multiplayer without a huge uproar. Get a clue.

Barely a protest and once again in medal of honor the single player isnt about the taliban from the eyes of the taliban if you dont see the difference then you're not smart enough.

Pugiron:

cainx10a:

Pugiron:
How many Muslims make video games? The fact is that all minorities are portrayed with ignorance when they are not part of the creative process. They will be protrayed better the more muslim game makers there are.

Iran has a video game industry. I am pretty sure the escapist had a one/two articles about them.

OT: I completely agree with this article. And this is one of the many reasons I often stated why I hate atomic games dev guts as well as their 6 days in fallujah gears-of-war game. Halfway between exploiting the war and changing multiple facts to serve as a good propaganda tool, their product despite having some high claim is nothing more than a generic shooter to let some people live their fantasies. Now I feel a bit like a hypocrite because of the paragraph I wrote below.

However, I have to thanks Bohemia Interactive for Arma. One of the many reasons I enjoy playing a sand-box game like ARMA 2 OA; just started getting my hand dirty with the mission editor, is having a ragtag gang of middle-eastern flavored characters fight off an invasion from the Russians in a very afghanistan-ish environment for a user created missions. Stingers ahoy.
This game is set up to be able to create stories from both sides of the line.

Best article I have read on the escapist so far.

stinkychops:
This article will convince no-one. I'd like people to change a lot of attitudes, in fact everyone would like their views to be held by the majority (that is unless they're trying to be individuals) what makes you assume your attitude is right?

So he should just be silent about it and accept that arabs/muslims are good target practice in video games? That arabs/muslims and generally "brown-people" culture should be vilify for the enjoyment of some developed countries entertainment? Video Games are not exactly an obscure medium of entertainment anymore.

A few years down the line, and we will probably see a lot of games covering the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq (guess who the bad guys are going to be). That's something that will happen no matter how many people are offended by it. If 1 million of Muslims died in the two conflicts combined, video gamers should be able to break that high score easily with video games.

Also, he has a cool name.

Yeah and I bet Iran's video games are fair to Westerners, Christians and Jews, right? no, not at al? SHOCKING! Its the same on both sides.

What iranian game or games are you referring to?

Fr33Kye:

Pugiron:

Fr33Kye:

Pugiron:
And today's game review is Mafia 2. Gee, maybe if an ethnic group or culture makes itself infamous at one point in history, games might revisit that time. Seen any "Mongols workign as farmers and accountants" games? No, that would be stupid.

o.O mafia 2 is loosely based on the mafia that existed, you expecting to play as a terrorist in a few years? Because in mafia 2 you aren't shooting at the mobsters you are one. They mafia is depicted as real people. There isn't a problem with revisiting the time but if all you did in mafia 2 was be a cop and shoot at people yelling in italian there might be an issue.
I really doubt all the people posting read anymore than the title.

Mafia 2 Was already protested for portraying an ethnic stereotype. The game features fictionalized people loosely based on real events, just like the Medal Of Honor Taliban. if you cannot see the correlation, you're not smart enough to be part of this discussion. The Nazi's killed more people than the Taliban and people have played the Germans in Medal of Honor multiplayer without a huge uproar. Get a clue.

Barely a protest and once again in medal of honor the single player isnt about the taliban from the eyes of the taliban if you dont see the difference then you're not smart enough.

LOL none of which changes what I said. You area moron. Reply all you want. I am just ignoring your retarded ass now, Sarah Palin.

You know, I'm currently reading The Arabian Nights as translated by Husain Haddawy, while the morals on display are certainly a little...outdated, (see: King Shayrayar and King Shahzaman killing their wives for cheating on them, and then being forced to have sex with the wife of a demon...yeah, which of course is only the prologue, and starts off Shayrayar's subsequent new wife killings and meeting Shahrazad. Fun stuff though.) it'd certainly be something fascinating to tap into and make a videogame out of, maybe a RPG?

Okay..maybe not the best source to get a 'good' Arab character out of (though there are plenty), but, at the risk of sounding like I'm against the idea (I'm not), it seems the general advice given to artists of any kind is to write/draw/create what you know. However, this advice is clearly both held to and ignored at the same time, with creators at once creating only solid, well thought out characters that they can relate to, that share their skin colour or culture, while at the same time, trying to paint what cultures or persons they may not have very good knowledge about as being only bad guys.

You know though, if you were looking for a representation of good Arab characters, personally I thought Blizzard did an excellent job in Lut Golien in Diablo 2. The entire chapter of course loosely based on everything Middle Eastern, yet without relegating the NPC's in the area to outright stereotypes.

Pugiron:

Fr33Kye:

Pugiron:

Fr33Kye:

Pugiron:
And today's game review is Mafia 2. Gee, maybe if an ethnic group or culture makes itself infamous at one point in history, games might revisit that time. Seen any "Mongols workign as farmers and accountants" games? No, that would be stupid.

o.O mafia 2 is loosely based on the mafia that existed, you expecting to play as a terrorist in a few years? Because in mafia 2 you aren't shooting at the mobsters you are one. They mafia is depicted as real people. There isn't a problem with revisiting the time but if all you did in mafia 2 was be a cop and shoot at people yelling in italian there might be an issue.
I really doubt all the people posting read anymore than the title.

Mafia 2 Was already protested for portraying an ethnic stereotype. The game features fictionalized people loosely based on real events, just like the Medal Of Honor Taliban. if you cannot see the correlation, you're not smart enough to be part of this discussion. The Nazi's killed more people than the Taliban and people have played the Germans in Medal of Honor multiplayer without a huge uproar. Get a clue.

Barely a protest and once again in medal of honor the single player isnt about the taliban from the eyes of the taliban if you dont see the difference then you're not smart enough.

LOL none of which changes what I said. You area moron. Reply all you want. I am just ignoring your retarded ass now, Sarah Palin.

uhhh what? Now you just seem ridiculous. You dont see the difference between playing as the taliban or a nazi in multiplayer and playing them as real characters with names in single player?

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