Muslim Should Not Equal Villain

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daftnoize:
http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-already-knows-everything-he-needs-to-know-abou,17990/

Hits the nail on the head I think

Yes, yes it does. Trust the Onion to satirically one-up all major news organisations.

cainx10a:

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.

You're presenting a binary argument where there isn't one. This is doing no-one any favours.

The best way, in my mind, for Muslims to overcome the stigmas society has attached is by better attaching themselves to society. I'm not saying it's their fault, it's specific people within Islam, but it's their job to win people over. No-one gets given anything.

So he can write some smug article about how racist and bigoted westerners are, or he can realise that everyone's as racist as each other and that these arguments simply gain momentum here because a majority of us are better educated and thus 'they' need to change their method.

How many red-necks/racists/Muslim bashers do you think will be convinced by this? How many level headed, educated people do you think see things this black and white?

You can cherry pick an argument if you want, but all I see here is a writer putting his own publicity ahead of what will do the people he's 'supporting' the better deal, in my opinion.
Just because he's Muslim doesn't give him a more valid opinion than other other writer, nor will it shield him from criticism.

Your search for a righteous argument seems to have led you to condemning things that haven't even happened yet.

We've got enough on our plates to solve now before we worry about censoring future media.

Plus... I prefer my Salad Out. (I couldn't resist :P )

robotam:
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.

I like this post, its always good guy vs bad guys. Well really Americans vs bad guys, which can look bad when you are supposed to be depicting a war that actually happened.

You know what else is funny about Jafar?

He's got an English accent. Frankly it's like England exists only to voice villains.

I don't mind too much because Jafar is awesome but bear in mind there's another racial stereotype at work there.

Generic Gamer:
You know what else is funny about Jafar?

He's got an English accent. Frankly it's like England exists only to voice villains.

I don't mind too much because Jafar is awesome but bear in mind there's another racial stereotype at work there.

I know of a certain Arab (Okay technically Berber) character who has more than an English accent
image

cerebus23:
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.

You sir hit the nail on the head. I would respect the religion a whole lot more if the moderates were more vocal and spoke out against the disgusting acts of these extremists. It's almost saddening to think that South park made a show about muhammed that blasted the other religions (Hindu Gods smoking dope, etc.) but when it comes to Muhammed there are death threats??? Something is wrong here.

O rly?
That's interesting and all, but once again, there is more to it than seems.
Western society is racist towards Islam.
Islam does stuff casually that are not very acceptable by western society. Like banning rock bands (islam kid on radio talks about the shit they had to go through), etc. Islam society certainly isn't without fault here.
Now, if we just nuked everybody and the kangaroos took over, everything would be fine. Methinks.

I thought Saladin Ahmed wrote an excellent article.

But look at the genres of these videogames he mentioned:

Metal Slug 2 and Desert Strike: shoot em up;
Full Spectrum Warrior: real-time tactics;
Splinter Cell: stealth em up;
America's Army: FPS.

These genres tend to embrace killing as a way to earn experience.

Both Prince of Persia and Assassin's Creed are action/adventure. Civ III is a turn-based tactics game

Yes, there's killing in these games--hell, Altair is an assassin--but there's a great emphasis on thinking your way through a problem, rather than mindless killing.

I may be stretching here, but it seems that videogames that require a certain type of creative thought know that Muslims are people too, whereas videogames that emphasis hair-trigger reactions (and in the case of a stealth em ups and RTTs, a different kind of creative thought) dehumanize their enemies. And if the enemy happens to be Muslim, it doesn't matter. He's just another target.

Talk about terminating with extreme prejudice.

Seventh Actuality:
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.

I disagree with you entirely. I thorny this article was fairly balanced, established its argument well and made a good point. How does a non-Muslim perspective make this argument more legitimate? "I'm not a Muslim, I have only outside exposure to this issue.". What difference does what the developers say make? Does it matter if they justify it by saying "We just wanted a generic bad guy and people have been using Arabs for years"? Is that somehow a better justification than "We just don't like brown people"? It's still institutional racism, whether conscience or not. It's still obvious racism, whether intentional or not.
Some issues have no middle ground. It's a major problem with the US today that so many people think that the truth is always in the middle. A rather stark example: I write an article to say rape is bad. Do I need to put in the point of view of a serial rapist justifying rape for it to be meaningful?

As for everyone else making the "Russian and German" argument, so what? They are usually portrayed as villains, it's getting silly and it's not right. Instead of saying "the Russians and Germans got in line first, so shut up" can't we just acknowledge this is a large issue and help all of them?

is it wrong that i felt a giggle comming up when you said "less time blowing up guys that look like my dad"???

anywhay, i kind of see your point, but being from México i cant really relate to all this problems, i mean sure, being called a beaner or seen how in the border things are getting out of hand is extremely irritating, but there are no games or media really exploiting that kind of thing, so its... ok?? in a sense

stinkychops:

cainx10a:

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.

You're presenting a binary argument where there isn't one. This is doing no-one any favours.

The best way, in my mind, for Muslims to overcome the stigmas society has attached is by better attaching themselves to society. I'm not saying it's their fault, it's specific people within Islam, but it's their job to win people over. No-one gets given anything.

So he can write some smug article about how racist and bigoted westerners are, or he can realise that everyone's as racist as each other and that these arguments simply gain momentum here because a majority of us are better educated and thus 'they' need to change their method.

How many red-necks/racists/Muslim bashers do you think will be convinced by this? How many level headed, educated people do you think see things this black and white?

You can cherry pick an argument if you want, but all I see here is a writer putting his own publicity ahead of what will do the people he's 'supporting' the better deal, in my opinion.
Just because he's Muslim doesn't give him a more valid opinion than other other writer, nor will it shield him from criticism.

Your search for a righteous argument seems to have led you to condemning things that haven't even happened yet.

We've got enough on our plates to solve now before we worry about censoring future media.

Plus... I prefer my Salad Out. (I couldn't resist :P )

I didn't see any smugness there. Just a sense he felt left out of some games, because he wasn't represented. More well-done ethnic diversity in games = good is the argument, and it is a binary argument. I didn't see anything about censorship.

This isn't some declaration of a future constitution of America, it's an article on a games website saying "Wouldn't it be cool to have a relatable Islamic character in a game? Here are some games that've missed this opportunity. Here are some games that have SEIZED this opportunity, including Triple-A titles. I think the latter are improved games by including such a character."

That's what I got from it.

I think that one of the problems of there being no "modern Muslim" heroes, as you seem to lament, is that to Western developers there really seem to be no Muslim archetypes today who fit that description. The closest I can think of would be moderate Muslims who take a stand against the supposed "hijacking" of their religion from the likes of the Saudi royal family, al-Qaeda, al-Sahab, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban.

But the choruses of "civilians just trying to live their lives" dercying extremism from within the Muslim world are noticeably absent. Sure, every now and then we get a press release from the government of Pakistan vowing to fight the extremists, and Egypt is (at least nominally) helping blockade Hamas in Gaza, but that's about it. To many Westerners, this means that the average moderate Muslim in the Middle East either (a)does not care or supports the bloodthirsty ideologies of these groups, or (b) is too cowardly to speak up against them.

Neither of these options sound very heroic. Modern Muslims can have a place in our gaming world. But they must prove that they are capable of such heroics.

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

Quite right.

daftnoize:
http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-already-knows-everything-he-needs-to-know-abou,17990/

Hits the nail on the head I think

Another vote for this as the best response.

A fair few people are demonstrating their bigotry in this thread...

Velocirapture07:

cerebus23:
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.

You sir hit the nail on the head. I would respect the religion a whole lot more if the moderates were more vocal and spoke out against the disgusting acts of these extremists. It's almost saddening to think that South park made a show about muhammed that blasted the other religions (Hindu Gods smoking dope, etc.) but when it comes to Muhammed there are death threats??? Something is wrong here.

This as long as the most violant are the most outspoken this is how it will be.

Saladin Ahmed:
I'm not the only Muslim geek out there hoping to spend more of my gaming hours jumping off buildings in medieval Jerusalem and fewer of them blowing away guys who look like my Dad.

This was a great way to end this. It really puts a human face on the issue.

It dosen't help that most of the muslim world considers music unsuitable for muslims nevermind videogames.

stinkychops:

cainx10a:

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.

You're presenting a binary argument where there isn't one. This is doing no-one any favours.

The best way, in my mind, for Muslims to overcome the stigmas society has attached is by better attaching themselves to society. I'm not saying it's their fault, it's specific people within Islam, but it's their job to win people over. No-one gets given anything. which boils down to integration of Muslims in western societies. Are they not integrated at all? I mean, are they just here like some other forum-dweller said only here to benefit from welfare and other flaws in the system? Ok, I will be honest, here in Canada, I don't exactly have any contact with my muslim friends on the same level I had back in my home country, but these people seems well integrated. They are getting educated, and working. They are functioning members of society. (note I'm only referring to Muslims here in Canada and the US, from what I get, Europeans tend to have it worst in a way)

So he can write some smug article about how racist and bigoted westerners are, or he can realise that everyone's as racist as each other and that these arguments simply gain momentum here because a majority of us are better educated and thus 'they' need to change their method. True, everyone is a little bit racist. We tend to emphasize on the "they/them" first, then look on our side of the fence. But remember Avatar? Popular movie, still have typical 'white' guy to save the aliens because apparently they can't save themselves. It's understandable considering WHO are the PRIMARY target audience? What needs to be change is that this 'primary' target audience need to include everyone. Something a simple character editor can do. Remember those arguments about the 'lack' of female protagonists? That could solve that problem all-together. The characters don't need to be painted completely as the minority/race they are representing. Does it matter if Gordon Freeman was an arab, an indian, or a latino? It doesn't.

How many red-necks/racists/Muslim bashers do you think will be convinced by this? How many level headed, educated people do you think see things this black and white? excellent point, but there are still people in-between those two groups

You can cherry pick an argument if you want, but all I see here is a writer putting his own publicity ahead of what will do the people he's 'supporting' the better deal, in my opinion.
Just because he's Muslim doesn't give him a more valid opinion than other other writer, nor will it shield him from criticism. there was a saying after 9/11 that Muslims opinions don't matter. Your criticism however is good criticism, but it doesn't change the fact that most of the things he said in this article, or anyone written by a gamer who also happens to be a minority will echo that (being a minority myself: although I must admit, games seem to ignore Indians (me ancestors, not originally from India) as the bad guys, I am deeply hurt. I always wanted to murder my gramps before he met my grandma.). Of course, I don't disagree that it is pretty pointless to know the back-story of the pixels you are shooting most of the time when they see no qualm in shooting you.

Your search for a righteous argument seems to have led you to condemning things that haven't even happened yet. Not looking for an argument over this point, but MoH (which after watching some videos felt just like a certain Modern Warfare game everyone plays) is getting released, and 6 Days was almost here (and I am particular glad it's not).

We've got enough on our plates to solve now before we worry about censoring future media. Is it about censorship? What exactly is being censored? Inclusion of Muslims-like characters as the bad guys? Games can be more than generic shooters or gratuitous US military fantasies. Also, what exactly do gamers have on their plates that need to be addressed first? BioWare has made the step forward with its acceptance of homosexuals in its games. What else? Dealing with how violent games are censored? That's probably the biggest and only issue the industry has (unless you want to count games addiction as another issue), but thanks to the 'freedomz' they hate us for, that will in the future, protect video games from unnecessary censorship as well considering the money the VG industry produces, I find it hard at this stage that the video industry is in a big danger of anything.

Plus... I prefer my Salad Out. (I couldn't resist :P ) No, you!

TraderJimmy:

stinkychops:

cainx10a:

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.

You're presenting a binary argument where there isn't one. This is doing no-one any favours.

The best way, in my mind, for Muslims to overcome the stigmas society has attached is by better attaching themselves to society. I'm not saying it's their fault, it's specific people within Islam, but it's their job to win people over. No-one gets given anything.

So he can write some smug article about how racist and bigoted westerners are, or he can realise that everyone's as racist as each other and that these arguments simply gain momentum here because a majority of us are better educated and thus 'they' need to change their method.

How many red-necks/racists/Muslim bashers do you think will be convinced by this? How many level headed, educated people do you think see things this black and white?

You can cherry pick an argument if you want, but all I see here is a writer putting his own publicity ahead of what will do the people he's 'supporting' the better deal, in my opinion.
Just because he's Muslim doesn't give him a more valid opinion than other other writer, nor will it shield him from criticism.

Your search for a righteous argument seems to have led you to condemning things that haven't even happened yet.

We've got enough on our plates to solve now before we worry about censoring future media.

Plus... I prefer my Salad Out. (I couldn't resist :P )

I didn't see any smugness there. Just a sense he felt left out of some games, because he wasn't represented. More well-done ethnic diversity in games = good is the argument, and it is a binary argument. I didn't see anything about censorship.

This isn't some declaration of a future constitution of America, it's an article on a games website saying "Wouldn't it be cool to have a relatable Islamic character in a game? Here are some games that've missed this opportunity. Here are some games that have SEIZED this opportunity, including Triple-A titles. I think the latter are improved games by including such a character."

That's what I got from it.

My reference to censorship was at the other chap.

While I agree that games that have done ethnic diversity well should be praised I don't agree with his examples. Aladdins an old movie, True Lies isn't racist... just overall I disagree with him.

I can look at any popular movie and turn it into something about Arabs. Avatar - the blue people are Arabs and unobtainium is oil, Hurt Locker -, Scott Pilgrim vs World - the indian guy is the weakest and there are no arabs. Honestly, Arabs have not been, in the media of movies and games, marginalised to that extent. It's the news that have.

What's more, there's a War going on at the moment in the Middle East. Of course they;re trying to demonise them.

While I can see what you're saying about this being small time, I think that small things can have big differences and that every action should be a step forward.

Sorry if I've missed anything or strawmanned. Notify me if you care to and I'll sort it out later. Very tired.

Undead Dragon King:
I think that one of the problems of there being no "modern Muslim" heroes, as you seem to lament, is that to Western developers there really seem to be no Muslim archetypes today who fit that description. The closest I can think of would be moderate Muslims who take a stand against the supposed "hijacking" of their religion from the likes of the Saudi royal family, al-Qaeda, al-Sahab, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban.

But the choruses of "civilians just trying to live their lives" dercying extremism from within the Muslim world are noticeably absent. Sure, every now and then we get a press release from the government of Pakistan vowing to fight the extremists, and Egypt is (at least nominally) helping blockade Hamas in Gaza, but that's about it. To many Westerners, this means that the average moderate Muslim in the Middle East either (a)does not care or supports the bloodthirsty ideologies of these groups, or (b)is too cowardly to speak up against them.

Neither of these options sound very heroic. Modern Muslims can have a place in our gaming world. But they must prove that they are capable of such heroics.

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

Quite right
.

Yea we probably wouldnt hear what the civilians of arab nations are saying right now. There are muslim soldiers in many armies, and they have fought in many wars for there country.

Still, while a lot of races/ethnicities are under-represented as hero's, they still feel they don't come close to be vilified. So most of the hero's are caucasian, guess what? So are a LOT of the bad guys.

The big 'controversy' over Residnet Evil 5. Really, who here was at all surprised that the big-bad was still Umbrella and it's poster-child, Albert Wesker? Modern Warfare 2? Your own commander, General Shepard, betrays you (and the one Marines you play is 'Ramirez', a very Latino name).

I just never really cared one way or another. I am caucasian, and grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. My high school, with a graduating class of 92, had just two black kids (and one of them was our class President). You know what that means? 99% of the assholes that I've ever had the misfortune of meeting face-to-face have been white. So yeah, maybe I'm just super jaded, but I've been hating my fellow man (regardless of race) for quite some time now. :p

I find it odd that America's Army is mentioned. In the old America's Army, you played as the American Army with the Opposing Force being from an unnamed nation that just so happened to have Russian gear and weapons. In the Special Forces mode, there were indeed Muslims present, but they were on both sides (Both the American and OpFor) and were simply refered to as Indigenous Forces that assisted either sides Special Forces. In the latest installment of America's Army, the fight is taking place in a ficitional Eastern Bloc country against an OpFor that is seemingly inspired by Serbia. Perhaps I am wrong, but I distinctly recall that both Serbia and Russia are Orthodox Christian and not Muslim.

While I agree to some extent with the portrayal issue, someone has already mentioned that the same thing regularly happens with Russians (for Cold War/Modern) or Germans (for WW2). And let's be honest here, I don't play Modern Warfare for its' nuanced portrayal of geo-political conditions and the horrible nature of war. No, I play Modern Warfare because it is fun occasionally, to pretend you are soldier and a war hero.

Hey folks. This is my first Escapist article after being a longtime reader. So thanks for all the feedback, both critical and supportive. A few points:

1) A number of people have pointed out that Germans, Japanese, Russians, etc. have also been stereotyped in games. Um. Yes. But I'm not sure how this makes things any better. "Other people have gotten crappy treatment" isn't really an argument for crappy treatment being ok.

2) Re: Mafia II and the Italian gangster stereotype: While this, too, is offensive to some folks, I think there's a pretty huge difference (as some here have pointed out) in being the HERO, even when the hero's a criminal. Nowadays when moviemakers want a mobster they rarely go to the Italian American stereotype (there's a reason Mafia II's historical). Usually now we get the Albanian/Serbian/Russian etc. mob. But while Niko from GTA IV is a criminal and thus fits this new stereotype, he's also the POV character, the one we're rooting for and controlling. We get the moving story of how he got to be the way he is. We laugh at what he laughs at, get pissed off by the things that piss him off, etc. That's a huge difference. Similarly, Altair from Assasin's Creed is a cold-blooded killer trained by a fanatical sect -- on the surface, a Muslim stereotype if ever there was one. But he's humanized and fleshed out b/c he's the protagonist. That's different than an endless horde of might-as-well-be-orc towelheads who exist just to be mown down and deserve it because...well, they're *bad guys.*

3) A number of comments seem to basically start 'Well, until muslims stand up and refute the extremists...' So let me ask you: if you're white, do you feel the need to constantly apologize for the actions of the KKK? If you're Christian, do you feel the need to constantly apologize for the nutjobs that bomb abortion clinics? If you're American, do you feel the need to constantly apologize for the actions of a few soldiers at Abu Ghraib? Probably not. (See http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2010/08/please-forgive-me-for-the-actions-of-extremists-i-have-never-met-who-commit-acts-of-violence-that-i-.html)

4) The idea that this is 'just entertainment' is both wrong and right. Of course I realize that most gamers are not so zombiefied that they totally confuse the images of gaming with the real world. I mean, even *I* played the *hell* out of Metal Slug 2 back in the day, blowing the little SNK Ay-rabs to kingdom come and didn't feel compelled to then go blow away my relatives. But anyone who claims that videogames don't have any effect on our culture, or that media doesn't help in subtle ways to shape our perceptions about who's a good guy and who's a bad guy is just not paying attention to reality.

Yeah, I think this is absolutely true. And I think RPGs have even more potential for nuance. What I'd really love to see, in fact, is a Dragon Age-style 'open morality' type game with an Arabian Nights theme...

[ETA: this is in response to StageTree @ #43]

HentMas:
is it wrong that i felt a giggle comming up when you said "less time blowing up guys that look like my dad"???

anywhay, i kind of see your point, but being from México i cant really relate to all this problems, i mean sure, being called a beaner or seen how in the border things are getting out of hand is extremely irritating, but there are no games or media really exploiting that kind of thing, so its... ok?? in a sense

Well, if you really want to be offended, Mexico was the big-bad for a couple of Tom Clancy games. 'Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter' 1 & 2, as well as 'Rainbow 6: VEGAS 2' and a quick stint in 'H.A.W.X.' :p

Bad guys in FPS games set in modern times tend to be muslim because the biggest threat of violence directed against Americans and Europeans at this time currently comes from people who are muslim (this is NOT to say that all muslims violent). It's probably not PC to say that, but I believe it to be true. If a game developer is trying to go for "realism", they'll make the targets of their FPS members of the group most likely to shoot at the protagonist in that setting. And not too many American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan are being shot at by buddhists right now.

If a neo-nazi faction goes on a massive terror campaign in the western hemisphere, expect to find yourself shooting aryans shortly thereafter in an FPS. The same for an extremist christian sect going on a killing spree.

First Person Shooters are also not a place where you're likely to find a whole lot of character development or deep discussion regarding the motivations of antagonists, because it gets in the way of the purpose of such games: shooting things. If you want characterization or a deep discussion of issues, look for it in a Bioware RPG or a game like Assassins Creed (as mentioned in the article), not Modern Warfare 2 or this latest Medal of Honor game (my dog in Dragon Age had more character development than all the characters in MW2 put together).

That being said, there are ways to balance things out in these games while not diminishing gameplay.

I think that developers are missing an opportunity by not having a FPS where the main character is a member of the Iraqi or Afghanistan military fighting to save their country against extremists. The character could even be tasked with missions that American forces can't do (clearing insurgents from a mosque, for example). The beginning of MW2 had a brief tutorial on shooting and throwing grenades by having your character demonstrate these for Afghan recruits. They could have had you PLAY one of those recruits instead.

Another area where there's probably room for improvement would be providing balance or contrast in subtle ways in these games, like having an allied, muslim soldier praying to Mecca before picking up his rifle and going out on a mission with you (and, if any game developer reads this, please please PLEASE don't have that character turn traitor, okay?). The sequence could take less than ten seconds, and could happen while you're selecting your loadout, and the point doesn't have to be driven home with a hammer. I wouldn't mind some balance in a FPS, but I resent it when I feel like I'm being preached to. Or , YOUR character could be saying the prayers. (That popping sound you hear is Pat Roberton's head exploding.)

Hell, even a mission where you're pursuing a group of sunni muslims that just launched several RPGs into a shiite mosque (or vice-versa; I'm not about to take sides in a sunni/shiite argument) might help drive home that the bad guys are evil because they do evil things, and not because they're muslim.

Fr33Kye:
Yea we probably wouldnt hear what the civilians of arab nations are saying right now. There are muslim soldiers in many armies, and they have fought in many wars for there country.

Ummm... you do realize that there are such things as Middle East correspondents, right? News agencies have them all over the Muslim world, and they routinely cover major public movements there. Unsurprisingly, most of what they cover are the near-constant anti-Western protests that pop up all over the Muslim world when even the slightestest whiff of Islamic blasphemy comes from the West.

This only further proves my point. To many Westerners, the Middle East is a a land where religious maniacs are tolerated or even aided and abetted by the general population. If such a stereotype were to be broken over there, those same massive protests that Muslims are all-too-capable of should be directed at the extremist groups, not the West. If they demonstrated this, I could see a developer making a "Saboteur"-esque game where a Muslim city that has been taken over by terrorists wages guerilla war against them, for example.

One more point: Muslim terrorists have taken their place next to Nazis and Soviets as the guilt-free enemies of viedogames. there's no denying that, so why should the article whine about the fact that they just happen to be Muslim? If South American terrorist organizations had murdered 3000 Americans on September 11, the US army would probably be in Ecuador right now. Religion really has nothing to do with it. Westerners might be repulsed by aspects of Islam, but we are not in the Middle East because of it.

Saladin Ahmed:

3) A number of comments seem to basically start 'Well, until muslims stand up and refute the extremists...' So let me ask you: if you're white, do you feel the need to constantly apologize for the actions of the KKK? If you're Christian, do you feel the need to constantly apologize for the nutjobs that bomb abortion clinics? If you're American, do you feel the need to constantly apologize for the actions of a few soldiers at Abu Ghraib? Probably not. (See http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2010/08/please-forgive-me-for-the-actions-of-extremists-i-have-never-met-who-commit-acts-of-violence-that-i-.html)

We didn't just write an article complaining about how the KKK is always portrayed as villains instead of being shown as sympathetic, nuanced human beings.

You're asking for it both ways. You don't want to disown muslim extremists and admit that they are the bad guys, but you don't want to be assocaited with them either.

cerebus23:
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.

I agree with everything but the "islam can be a beautiful religion" part but that's because I can't stand religion in general.

Scrumpmonkey:
It dosen't help that most of the muslim world considers music unsuitable for muslims nevermind videogames.

This just plain isn't true. I think claims like these are part of the problem that crops up when the US media basically resorts to a fundamentalists = most Muslims equation. Type in "Arabic music" in google and you get literally millions of hits. "Pakistani music" gives you hundreds of thousands. Yes, like with every religion, there are a handful of jerkoffs who try to tell people not to have a good time, but they're not anything like 'most' of the Muslim world -- they're not even a sizable minority.

Generic Gamer:
You know what else is funny about Jafar?

He's got an English accent. Frankly it's like England exists only to voice villains.

I don't mind too much because Jafar is awesome but bear in mind there's another racial stereotype at work there.

Yeah, a posh English accent in an American cartoon pretty much = loves to torture puppies (or, perhaps, have a manservant torture puppies) while calmly sipping tea.

Undead Dragon King:

Fr33Kye:
Yea we probably wouldnt hear what the civilians of arab nations are saying right now. There are muslim soldiers in many armies, and they have fought in many wars for there country.

Ummm... you do realize that there are such things as Middle East correspondents, right? News agencies have them all over the Muslim world, and they routinely cover major public movements there. Unsurprisingly, most of what they cover are the near-constant anti-Western protests that pop up all over the Muslim world when even the slightestest whiff of Islamic blasphemy comes from the West.

This only further proves my point. To many Westerners, the Middle East is a a land where religious maniacs are tolerated or even aided and abetted by the general population. If such a stereotype were to be broken over there, those same massive protests that Muslims are all-too-capable of should be directed at the extremist groups, not the West. If they demonstrated this, I could see a developer making a "Saboteur"-esque game where a Muslim city that has been taken over by terrorists wages guerilla war against them, for example.

One more point: Muslim terrorists have taken their place next to Nazis and Soviets as the guilt-free enemies of viedogames. there's no denying that, so why should the article whine about the fact that they just happen to be Muslim? If South American terrorist organizations had murdered 3000 Americans on September 11, the US army would probably be in Ecuador right now. Religion really has nothing to do with it. Westerners might be repulsed by aspects of Islam, but we are not in the Middle East because of it.

Sorry i almost forgot. There are Afghani soldiers fighting right alongside american soldiers, it was on 60 min actually. Even with middle eastern correspondents how often do you hear from the civilians in the area? I for one would like too. Also maybe the cover the flag burning cuz it would be bad depict the people you will eventually be at war with as anything other than maniacs. You are right about how many westerners see the middle east though, but thats not because muslims arent marching in the street in america about how bad extremists are. Why isnt everyone else marching in the streets about how bad terrorists are? Why should muslims in another part of the world be expected to defend there religion based on what some extremists did? Every time an abortion clinic is bombed are Christians expected to speak out against them? I dont think so, i think for the most part we just talk about how crazy those specific people are.
its because that is the main depiction of Arab people. The article isn't really whining about it. It's really about how most Arabs are portrayed and the context. It isnt because he wants to see terrorist that aren't Arab or Muslim its that he would like to see Arab or Muslims that arent always terrorist getting shot at.

ignore this

Saladin Ahmed:

Scrumpmonkey:
It dosen't help that most of the muslim world considers music unsuitable for muslims nevermind videogames.

This just plain isn't true. I think claims like these are part of the problem that crops up when the US media basically resorts to a fundamentalists = most Muslims equation. Type in "Arabic music" in google and you get literally millions of hits. "Pakistani music" gives you hundreds of thousands. Yes, like with every religion, there are a handful of jerkoffs who try to tell people not to have a good time, but they're not anything like 'most' of the Muslim world -- they're not even a sizable minority.

"Music is Haraam

References within the context of the Holy Qur`aan along with the Hadith of the Prophet Sallalahu alihi wa sallam (Peace be upon him) confirm that music is haraam.
Interpreters of the Qur`aan have defined the term `lahwal hadith` which is mentioned in the Qur`aan as:

1) Singing and listening to songs.
2) Purchasing of male and female singers.
3) Purchase of instruments of fun and amusement. "

A LOT of muslims even here in the UK consider this to be the case. Saying that it "simply isn't ture" ....Simply isn't true.

While I see that Saladin is actually sort of exaggerating the effect of fictional media on the current reputation of Muslims and Arabs, I can definitely see where he is coming from.

Last year, I took two semesters of Arabic at my college, and it actually had an effect on more than just my linguistic skills. I got an inside point of view on the experience of Arabs living in America. I'd actually say Arab immigrants are some of my favorites. They balance a love of their own culture with a seething love for America very well, unlike a lot of others I've seen who will either shit on their own country or mine. A lot of them would speak about the trouble they had with fitting in around people who weren't Arab themselves. Basically, have you seen the movie Amreeka? It's extremely accurate - Americans are ridiculously prejudiced against Arabs.

Hell, I got to experience it firsthand! After I told my coworkers I was learning Arabic, they started calling me Akbar and asking me to blow up the store on their day off. At first I took it in good humor, but it gets old after six months of five days a week. While I was getting to know a culture better and beginning to fully understand their current struggle, I was also being taunted for merely trying to learn about them. Hell, my own Grandfather scoffed and scolded me for wanting to "hang out with A-hab the A-rab" when I told him I wanted to do a Summer program in Egypt. Then things got stupid. I am white, which is very apparent to anyone who sees me; however, I am rather hairy and the hair is dark. A couple of months ago, I grew a beard. It isn't dirty, scruffy, or unkempt, but people started referring to me as a "terrorist." As someone who has studied and embraced my country's history and foundation, I was extremely offended that someone would even insinuate that I would be such a thing. Why was I being taunted? For trying to understand a different culture. Why is the common person so ignorant that this can be an acceptable reason for teasing to the point of actual insult?

I think if you're going to target the media, you should target terrible comedians like Jeff Dunham. His Dead Terrorist puppet is ridiculous and for some reason, all it does is fuel the ALALALALABOOM point of view people have of Arabs here.

BloodSquirrel:

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!

I think you're going pretty far afield of my actual words here. As others seem to have picked up on, I'm not saying we shouldn't ever have Muslim villains in videogames. I didn't sya a thing about real-world terrorism in the article. But if ALL we have is 2-dimensional portrayals of what is, in real life, a complex conflict, then we end up ignoring the context you're supposedly interested in. There's room for more nuance in games, and saying so isn't the same as saying "it's the evil American pig-dogs that are the real monsters!" In a recent interview with actual US military guys about the 'play as the Taliban' multiplayer option in the new Medal of Honor title, one soldier said:

"Games such as MW2 teach the player that it is heroic to play as a nearly invincible shooting machine mowing down brown-skinned people who spout off culturally stereotypical platitudes and die in droves before the player's corporately licensed wrath (i.e. the weapons actually having the correct names such as M4A1, Spectre Gunships, and wearing copywritten ACU patterns). Portraying the conflicts in such a manner cheapens the deaths of all those who have died on both sides of the conflicts."

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