Muslim Should Not Equal Villain

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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.

Eh that's what I think of Christianity now. But I think the point is there are plenty more Muslims fighting against terrorism than we depict it here.

BloodSquirrel:

Fr33Kye:

I dont think the author is saying that muslims and arabs aren't fair game, i don't think anyone is. But once again, if the only arabs you see are shooting at you, then he has a point. Even if its half of modern shooters, its still 99% of the arabs in video games. Yes if the KKK was real world problem we probably would see games about them, but once again, that wouldn't be a problem unless that was the only white people you saw in video games. You ignored the point of his article btw.

It's not even half of modern shooters: it's half of realistic military shooters. In other words, it's the games which are modeled after current real-world military conflicts. Muslims aren't popping up to kill me in Bioshock. It's one sub-genre of a sub-genre, the one which makes perfect sense to have them as villians.

Otherwise, they don't show up much because they are an extreme minority in the countries that make games, and most games take place in settings where an explicitly Muslim character doesn't make too much sense in the first place. How many Christian characters are there in video games?

I'm not ignoring the point of this article- in fact, I'm refusing to ignore a large portion of it that you want to gloss over.

I dont mean an explicitly Muslim character i'm referring to an Arab character. Even if you say its a sub genre of a sub genre, it doesn't mean that there is nothing wrong with that being the only depiction of Arabs. The author is saying he would like to see more Arabs that arent shooting at you. For something that only happens in a sub genre of a sub genre it is shown pretty often. The fact is Arabs are a minority in most of the countries games are made yes, but so are plenty of other people, if black people were only shown in games doing stereotypical things and nothing else it would be a problem. Yea it makes sense for Arab terrorists to be the villain in these games, but is it impossible to imagine seeing an Arab in the Arab country the game is set in, not trying to kill you? Honestly do you think Arab people are represented as much more than terrorists in video games? Because that's the point of the article. I dont think he is hoping to stop people from playing games where you fight against the taliban, i think once again he just wants to see a little more variety in how his race is depicted.

Muslims in My Monitor

it's more likely then you think.
click here for free Muslimscan.

BloodSquirrel:
Almost every game? Please knock of the ridiculous hyperbole. Modern, realistic military shooters use islamic extremists about half the time, and they do it because it's a real-world conflict currently going on. If the KKK was a comparable real-world problem, we'd see just as many games about that.

Allow me to be more specific. Almost every game that has Muslim characters. I thought that was implicit in the argument, as games that do not feature Muslims are irrelevant to this discussion. Almost every game with Muslims portrays them as villains.

BloodSquirrel:

bojac6:
He's not complaining about Taliban being portrayed as villains,

They why does he keep bringing it up?

Because it's the most prevalent way Muslims are portrayed in games. You take the examples that exist. If he could point to more games that portrayed Muslims in different contexts, he probably would not have written the article.

BloodSquirrel:

bojac6:

I'm not name calling, your argument is based on the premise that for a Muslim to be a good guy, you would have to be portraying a Muslim extremist as a good guy.

That is an absurd strawman. My argument is that muslims are fair game for being used as villians.

If that is your argument, it has not be very clear. The author wrote an article about how Muslims are overwhelming portrayed as villains in video games and he wishes there would be more Muslim characters in a positive light. That is his argument. You replied to this by pointing to games in which Muslims are the villains and that it makes sense that they are the villains in these games. Okay, that's not the problem, the author simply expressed a desire to see Muslims in a different light sometimes. You then imply that the author is a terrorist sympathizer or at least isn't willing to condemn them:

BloodSquirrel:

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.

Truth be told, I'm not sure what you're trying to argue. If your point is simply that making the Taliban the bad guys in a game about fighting the Taliban is fitting? Yes, I agree entirely, nobody has really disagreed, why are we having this discussion?

But the original article was about making more games that portray Muslims as human beings, like Assassin's Creed. Not eliminating games with Muslim villains, but creating games with Muslims heroes. There are plenty of reasons game companies don't do this, from marketability to avoiding controversy, but it still is a perfectly reasonable request in my mind. You appear to be arguing against this as well, though I may be interpreting your argument incorrectly. So, are you arguing against this part of the article or not?

Fr33Kye:

I dont mean an explicitly Muslim character i'm referring to an Arab character. Even if you say its a sub genre of a sub genre, it doesn't mean that there is nothing wrong with that being the only depiction of Arabs.

Why not? Because a handful of people want something else? It's on them to either create what they want or demonstrate that they have enough spending power to justify somebody else creating it. It isn't anybody else's moral responsibility to spend 20 million dollars to create a video game that makes them feel good about himself.

Fr33Kye:
The author is saying he would like to see more Arabs that arent shooting at you. For something that only happens in a sub genre of a sub genre it is shown pretty often. The fact is Arabs are a minority in most of the countries games are made yes, but so are plenty of other people, if black people were only shown in games doing stereotypical things and nothing else it would be a problem. Yea it makes sense for Arab terrorists to be the villain in these games, but is it impossible to imagine seeing an Arab in the Arab country the game is set in, not trying to kill you? Honestly do you think Arab people are represented as much more than terrorists in video games? Because that's the point of the article. I dont think he is hoping to stop people from playing games where you fight against the taliban, i think once again he just wants to see a little more variety in how his race is depicted.

#1. He also wants to see fewer Arabs that are shooting at you.

#2. How often? This is the same as the 'bald space marine' argument- people talk about it more than it actually occurs. Of all the big name shooters out right now, MW is the only one that comes to mind that has arabs as the enemy, but even then you're mostly fighting against Russians.

#3. Black people are far, far more common than Arabs in the US.

#4. Civilians tend to get out when the bullets start flying. I don't remember a whole lot of German or French civilians popping up during COD2.

#5. Arabs are represented much more as terrorists because they dominate real-world terrorism.

Fr33Kye:

BloodSquirrel:

Fr33Kye:

I dont think the author is saying that muslims and arabs aren't fair game, i don't think anyone is. But once again, if the only arabs you see are shooting at you, then he has a point. Even if its half of modern shooters, its still 99% of the arabs in video games. Yes if the KKK was real world problem we probably would see games about them, but once again, that wouldn't be a problem unless that was the only white people you saw in video games. You ignored the point of his article btw.

It's not even half of modern shooters: it's half of realistic military shooters. In other words, it's the games which are modeled after current real-world military conflicts. Muslims aren't popping up to kill me in Bioshock. It's one sub-genre of a sub-genre, the one which makes perfect sense to have them as villians.

Otherwise, they don't show up much because they are an extreme minority in the countries that make games, and most games take place in settings where an explicitly Muslim character doesn't make too much sense in the first place. How many Christian characters are there in video games?

I'm not ignoring the point of this article- in fact, I'm refusing to ignore a large portion of it that you want to gloss over.

I dont mean an explicitly Muslim character i'm referring to an Arab character. Even if you say its a sub genre of a sub genre, it doesn't mean that there is nothing wrong with that being the only depiction of Arabs. The author is saying he would like to see more Arabs that arent shooting at you. For something that only happens in a sub genre of a sub genre it is shown pretty often. The fact is Arabs are a minority in most of the countries games are made yes, but so are plenty of other people, if black people were only shown in games doing stereotypical things and nothing else it would be a problem. Yea it makes sense for Arab terrorists to be the villain in these games, but is it impossible to imagine seeing an Arab in the Arab country the game is set in, not trying to kill you? Honestly do you think Arab people are represented as much more than terrorists in video games? Because that's the point of the article. I dont think he is hoping to stop people from playing games where you fight against the taliban, i think once again he just wants to see a little more variety in how his race is depicted.

After noticing your post, I've gone back and read more of what you've been saying. Glad to see somebody else is thinking along similar lines as myself.

Well I do agree with many of the points raised in the article I disagree with the main thrust. Now I am a blindingly white male (seriously I nearly glow in the dark) but me name is so ethnicly Italian that most people mispronounce it and I am only third gen on my fathers side yet I don't get offended by the narrow veiw of Italians in the media and if I did it would realy show my own insecurities more than any thing else. I think that everyone should want to be viewed as an individual not as an Arab or an Italian or an anything.

Saladin Ahmed:

WaffleGod:

Saladin Ahmed:

Le Tueur:
There are just as many whites as bad guys as any other race, so please get more offended from nothing.

But how many not-white (or, more to the point here, Arab or Muslim) HEROES are there in games?
Having lots of white villains isn't an issue if you've got lots of white heroes balancing things out...

How many Indians do you see in videogames? Not a lot huh? Yet there are 1 BILLION of them walking this earth.

Seriously. The arabs and "muslims" have been seen as the bad guys for several years now. Especially after 9/11. It's no surprise though. Can you look at the news and see anything positive being said about the middle east or the muslim world in general? All you can see is crazy politicians, car bombs and people waving flaggs while yelling "Death to America", "Death to Jews/Israel" or taliban forces fighting NATO troops. There's no way the West can sympathize with a religion/culture if all they see/hear about it is all bad and anti-western.

The only ones who can change that view is the Muslim world itself. And last time I checked, the Muslim world isn't exactly one big happy family either.

Umm, of course, it is possible that the us tv news suffers from the same narrow views. The idea that 'all we see on the news is bad stuff' has more to do with how dumb most corporate news outlets are than the fact that 'ZOMG everything in the muslim world is bad and you good muslims JUST AREN'T DOING ENOUGH to give yourselves a positive image!!!'

Well... Perhaps that's because every positive thing is overshadowed by all the negative things? :). And trust me, it's not just the US tv that is "biased". European news channels don't portray the middle east as a good place either. Perhaps not as extreme as the US media, but still. But then again, what is there to report about the middle east or the muslim world? War, terrorism and then the occasional wack-job who says some crazy stuff about how Islam is the best thing in the entire world and that everything else is secondary to it.

Saladin Ahmed:
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.*

Thanks for the great article. Interestingly, as an Italian-Canadian, I think I love Assassin's Creed II for many of the same reasons you liked the first game. Ezio Auditore is a lech and a killer trained by a criminal syndicate, basically the common Italian stereotype. But he is deeply devoted to his family, can rely on his extended family for assistance but feels obligated to repay them in kind, appreciates art and home improvement, and most of his criminal acts are against corrupt and evil authorities.

While I don't mind mobster games (or films, or shows) most of the time, and even count some among my favourites, it's nice once in a while to find an Italian character--especially a protagonist--who isn't just another goomba.

Not gonna read this whole thread, since at 3+ pages it's already getting too long and divisive for me. However, I did read up to this:

TraderJimmy:
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."

...And figured it should be Quoted For Truth. Well said.

Pugiron:

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

Germans certainly haven't gotten over it. I'd suggest that games featuring Nazis are illegal in Germany unless modified to remove any Nazi insignia.

But Muslims really need to realize that, just like Christians, spraying Apologetics around does not make your book 'peaceful and loving'. It's filled with hatred and allows a culture of discrimination to thrive on for a silly superstitious belief with absolutely no evidence to back it up. Ironically, it's "faith" that allows the racist to deem that all Muslims are immoral, which is absolutely untrue. However I simply just wished that the religious would own up to the immorality in their holy books rather than apologetically alter meanings and try to find loopholes.

Charli:
I would encourage the muslims who are rich and despite what you think, there are many. To make their own video games. That is all.

If you want somthing done, do it yourself. Words to live by. If you don't like how your people are depicted in video games, well stop playing them and hup to it boy.

YEAH, the internet is no place to have discussions... :\

bojac6:

Allow me to be more specific. Almost every game that has Muslim characters. I thought that was implicit in the argument, as games that do not feature Muslims are irrelevant to this discussion. Almost every game with Muslims portrays them as villains.

You're missing the point. Most games with muslims in the Tailan are military shooters based on the current dominant real-world conflicts, thus using them as villians. And there aren't nearly as many of them as you seem to think.

This idea that muslims are just popping up all over the place in video games to kill the player is nonsense. It's an extreme exaggeration used to make a handful of games look like a nation-wide witch hunt.

bojac6:

Because it's the most prevalent way Muslims are portrayed in games. You take the examples that exist. If he could point to more games that portrayed Muslims in different contexts, he probably would not have written the article.

"I think there should be more muslim heroes" and "I think there should be fewer muslim villains" are independent arguments. You can have one, either, both, or neither. You- and him- are flip-flopping between the two to try to make up for not being able to construct a solid ground for the latter.

bojac6:

If that is your argument, it has not be very clear.

Yes, actually, it has. The problem is that you've been refusing to acknowledge parts of Saladin's argument as existing.

bojac6:

Truth be told, I'm not sure what you're trying to argue. If your point is simply that making the Taliban the bad guys in a game about fighting the Taliban is fitting? Yes, I agree entirely, nobody has really disagreed, why are we having this discussion?

Probably because the author does disagree about how the Taliban is portrayed.

BloodSquirrel:

Fr33Kye:

I dont mean an explicitly Muslim character i'm referring to an Arab character. Even if you say its a sub genre of a sub genre, it doesn't mean that there is nothing wrong with that being the only depiction of Arabs.

Why not? Because a handful of people want something else? It's on them to either create what they want or demonstrate that they have enough spending power to justify somebody else creating it. It isn't anybody else's moral responsibility to spend 20 million dollars to create a video game that makes them feel good about himself.

Fr33Kye:
The author is saying he would like to see more Arabs that arent shooting at you. For something that only happens in a sub genre of a sub genre it is shown pretty often. The fact is Arabs are a minority in most of the countries games are made yes, but so are plenty of other people, if black people were only shown in games doing stereotypical things and nothing else it would be a problem. Yea it makes sense for Arab terrorists to be the villain in these games, but is it impossible to imagine seeing an Arab in the Arab country the game is set in, not trying to kill you? Honestly do you think Arab people are represented as much more than terrorists in video games? Because that's the point of the article. I dont think he is hoping to stop people from playing games where you fight against the taliban, i think once again he just wants to see a little more variety in how his race is depicted.

#1. He also wants to see fewer Arabs that are shooting at you.

#2. How often? This is the same as the 'bald space marine' argument- people talk about it more than it actually occurs. Of all the big name shooters out right now, MW is the only one that comes to mind that has arabs as the enemy, but even then you're mostly fighting against Russians.

#3. Black people are far, far more common than Arabs in the US.

#4. Civilians tend to get out when the bullets start flying. I don't remember a whole lot of German or French civilians popping up during COD2.

#5. Arabs are represented much more as terrorists because they dominate real-world terrorism.

Edit:
lol most of this means nothing now, bojac layed it out pretty well.
I'm gonna read this article again cuz apparently, bloodsquirrel thinks the author wants taliban to be the good guys in a game, but i'm just not hearing it.

Give it 20 years and it'll be a whole new [insert ethnic minority here] boogeyman. If video games were at their peak (or around at all, in the following time periods mentioned), the, "big bad villain," would change depending on the environment.

20's-40's--Modern Warfare would have been about nothing more than blowing the bejeezus out of Nazis.

50's--Those pesky Russians, or to quote our buddy Liberty Prime (gottal love that Fallout 3 nationalist metallic giant), "Battle analysis: Red Chinese Victory: IMPOSSIBLE." Possibly the N. Koreans, as well.

60's-70's--Chinese, again, to a lesser degree. Russians. Vietnamese. Start of Arab fear.

80's--Mostly the Russians (they were our buddies at that point [snicker, giggle], so we could have some laughs at their expense, of course--plus, it had made good story telling in the past, so why not continue?). Arabs, just starting to come into the limelight, then fade again when we hit the 90's.

90's--Russians (I'm seeing a pattern here...). Less of, "Arab fear," and more, "Muslim fear," beginning (Somalia, then the Bosnia fiasco added to the confusion).

Early 00's-present--Arabs, especially of the Muslim variety are today's, "big bad." Not a racist remark, please do not misunderstand... It's the actions of a few that have fed the fear mongering machine known as modern media. But, with every boogeyman that society creates/recognizes/imagines/outright slanders, there is always some good story tellin' fodder in it...

If I had to guess, come the early 2010's, we're going start seeing some more games focused around North Korean and South American, "big bads." (I'm looking at you, "Mercenaries," franchise...)

All I'm saying is to step back, realize that games aren't themselves inherently racist/phobic as much as they are a symptom of our current sociological climate, and that this fear, too, will pass...

Hey Saladin, first off very interesting read. It was really nice to hear your perspective. I think you hit some points right on the head and some points kind of fell flat.

I think my biggest problem with the Muslim community is that it seems to only demand respect from the west without doing much to earn said respect. From our perspective it is quite troubling to read about the recent riots in Iran over the elections and how the government handled it, or the laws in Saudi Arabia requiring women to all wear burkah's covering their entire bodies and faces, or reading about how the Taliban will kill a woman for leaving her house without being escorted by her man. It really seems to me that we in the west are expected to be tolerant of the Muslim community, but a lot of them seem to refuse to be tolerant of us.

It is really tough to be tolerant of Muslims and the middle east when basic civil rights of groups like women, gays, and Jews are not recognized.

RebelRising:
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.

I hate having this conversation over internet forums, but I see it as my duty. I reference all my facts from the BBC news site (as flawed as it may be). My question would be to you is how many muslims live, vote, and earn a decent living and have a decent standard of life in Israel? Go check I'll wait. How many Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindu, or Shinto live, vote, and have a decent standard of living in Gaza? You can probably guess why. The problem with the palestinians and Gaza/Israel isn't the big bad jews that want to conquer the world, its that the Palestinians elect Hamas, a terrorist organization according to the US, EU, and UN, instead of electing the moderates in the Fatah party. Why is it even Egypt, a nice moderate state, has a closed border with Gaza? It's not because the Palestinians are a peace loving people who just want to live in perfect harmony. Their leaders have said time and time again they won't be happy until Israel is wiped off the map.

Thanks again Saladin and please write more interesting and well thought out articles!

you take on down pass 'em around 268 Muslims in My Monitor

I love Assassin's Creed for the same reasons! It's all a mire of various philosophy and as a study of attitudes to imperialism you can do no better than listening to the dialogues between Altair and his victims. For all the games faults those sections are superbly written.

But I have to defend True Lies, man. That movie was an intentional piss-take. I don't think it should be taken so seriously as regards race seeing as it was a satire of the action movie genre. A lot of action movies may well be guilty of poor representation. But True Lies, if anything, was partly a criticism of that.

Fr33Kye:

#1 yes he most likely does because thats all he's seeing and he is arab, he is saying less of the same. I'm sick of generic shooters and i would like to see less of them lol.
#2 maybe its because of how popular war games are lol and how popular that game is in particular. Once again it also has a lot to do with the fact that you will barely see them outside of being shot at.
#3 yes they are, still a minority. The point is that when any minority is represented in any form of entertainment as only one thing, there will be a problem.
#4 I'm pretty sure soldiers in the middle east come into contact with more civilians than you think, also, no Afghani soldiers shown? Although i believe they are shown in medal of honor so thats a plus.
#5 eh it is true that it makes sense that they are represented as terrorist more, but does that mean they cant be represented as anything else?

What i'm saying is that its not about them being represented as terrorist its about Arabs not being portrayed as anything else.

#1 That is a completely different arugment you are switching to mid-stream.

#2 You haven't asnwered the question. How many games are we actually talking about here? Don't just assume there are a ton.

#3 No, the point is that you're more likely to see a representation of 10-20% of the population than you are >1% of the population.

#4 In the middle of massive firefights, which are the parts of being a soldier that shooters tend to cover?

#5 See point #3

BloodSquirrel:

Fr33Kye:

#1 yes he most likely does because thats all he's seeing and he is arab, he is saying less of the same. I'm sick of generic shooters and i would like to see less of them lol.
#2 maybe its because of how popular war games are lol and how popular that game is in particular. Once again it also has a lot to do with the fact that you will barely see them outside of being shot at.
#3 yes they are, still a minority. The point is that when any minority is represented in any form of entertainment as only one thing, there will be a problem.
#4 I'm pretty sure soldiers in the middle east come into contact with more civilians than you think, also, no Afghani soldiers shown? Although i believe they are shown in medal of honor so thats a plus.
#5 eh it is true that it makes sense that they are represented as terrorist more, but does that mean they cant be represented as anything else?

What i'm saying is that its not about them being represented as terrorist its about Arabs not being portrayed as anything else.

#1 That is a completely different arugment you are switching to mid-stream.

#2 You haven't asnwered the question. How many games are we actually talking about here? Don't just assume there are a ton.

#3 No, the point is that you're more likely to see a representation of 10-20% of the population than you are >1% of the population.

#4 In the middle of massive firefights, which are the parts of being a soldier that shooters tend to cover?

#5 See point #3

ok
#1 like he said at the end, what's wrong with him wanting to see less games where he shoots at people that look like his dad lol. Makes sense for him to want to see less of that, also makes sense for him to want to see more arabs doing more than being the nameless villain with the gun.
#2 Once again its not about the number of games, its about the fact that in video games, most Arabs you see will be in those games(no matter how many there are) shooting at you.

#3 yes >1% of america's population, does that mean that we can only portray them as terrorists? Yes you are likely to see a representation of 10-20% of the population but if you are going to set games in the middle east, or have games with Arab people at all, doesn't mean they have to shoot at you lol. Yes it makes sense for Arab people to be terrorist in actual war games set in the middle east, but why are they not shown anywhere else? Whatever the reason is nothing wrong with wanting to see more of non terrorist Arabs.
#4 Well i've never been to war but you could be surprised, there are such thing as civillian casualties, even if they dont show arabs in those particular games, what prevents them from being shown in others?
#5 So they are terrorists and nothing else?
You seem to be thinking that i have a problem with Arabs being shown as terrorists. That is not the issue. The real issue is that for the most part they are shown as terrorist or not at all. Is it wrong for someone who is both arab and muslim to hope to see more Arabs that aren't terrorist?

BloodSquirrel:

bojac6:

Allow me to be more specific. Almost every game that has Muslim characters. I thought that was implicit in the argument, as games that do not feature Muslims are irrelevant to this discussion. Almost every game with Muslims portrays them as villains.

You're missing the point. Most games with muslims in the Tailan are military shooters based on the current dominant real-world conflicts, thus using them as villians. And there aren't nearly as many of them as you seem to think.

This idea that muslims are just popping up all over the place in video games to kill the player is nonsense. It's an extreme exaggeration used to make a handful of games look like a nation-wide witch hunt.

bojac6:

Because it's the most prevalent way Muslims are portrayed in games. You take the examples that exist. If he could point to more games that portrayed Muslims in different contexts, he probably would not have written the article.

"I think there should be more muslim heroes" and "I think there should be fewer muslim villains" are independent arguments. You can have one, either, both, or neither. You- and him- are flip-flopping between the two to try to make up for not being able to construct a solid ground for the latter.

bojac6:

If that is your argument, it has not be very clear.

Yes, actually, it has. The problem is that you've been refusing to acknowledge parts of Saladin's argument as existing.

bojac6:

Truth be told, I'm not sure what you're trying to argue. If your point is simply that making the Taliban the bad guys in a game about fighting the Taliban is fitting? Yes, I agree entirely, nobody has really disagreed, why are we having this discussion?

Probably because the author does disagree about how the Taliban is portrayed.

I think the author's argument is very clear. It is NOT "there need to be fewer Muslim villains" but has always been "there need to be more Muslim heroes," or on a more nuanced level, "there need to be more Muslim characters who are more than just cannon fodder/stock bad guys."

There are lots of Muslim terrorist bad guys in video games. Fine, it makes sense considering IRL politics. But wouldn't it be awesome if the sergeant of your squad, the badass and snarky guy who commands you and generally gets in your grill, was also a devout Muslim? It wouldn't make him any less awesome, any less relatable, any less likeable... and would be a great point of identification for people like the OP. It's a win win situation.

I think the thing that really annoys me about the common argument, "meh, game companies make what sells," is that it plays to an utterly false (I hope!) notion: that straight white male gamers will somehow like a character less if they are non-white, non-male, non-straight, etc. Gamers need to disabuse game developers of this belief and make it clear that even if they are the whitest, straightest, most manly guy to ever hold a controller, they are completely happy to enjoy the adventures of people of a wide range of ethnic, sexual and gender backgrounds. It shouldn't be too hard... women/ethnic minorities/LGBT people have been able to enjoy games with straight white men, so I imagine straight white men won't have a problem with playing Arab trangsgender women or what have you.

Powerman88:
I hate having this conversation over internet forums, but I see it as my duty. I reference all my facts from the BBC news site (as flawed as it may be). My question would be to you is how many muslims live, vote, and earn a decent living and have a decent standard of life in Israel? Go check I'll wait. How many Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindu, or Shinto live, vote, and have a decent standard of living in Gaza? You can probably guess why. The problem with the palestinians and Gaza/Israel isn't the big bad jews that want to conquer the world, its that the Palestinians elect Hamas, a terrorist organization according to the US, EU, and UN, instead of electing the moderates in the Fatah party. Why is it even Egypt, a nice moderate state, has a closed border with Gaza? It's not because the Palestinians are a peace loving people who just want to live in perfect harmony. Their leaders have said time and time again they won't be happy until Israel is wiped off the map.

Thanks again Saladin and please write more interesting and well thought out articles!

Funny, I don't remember ever saying that the Palestinians were a peace-loving people, at least, no more than a lot of other peoples in the world. But it is foolish to pretend that this violence grew out of some void. What I'm saying is that all this violence is a reaction to what is to the Palestinians, a very present and real threat. While it is the wrong course for them to take, I'm not going to pretend that the lack of condemnation of Hamas and Hizbullah is just a symptom of a savage, bloodthirsty race. Why do you think they supported Hamas in the first place? I don't care if you call me an anti-Semite, if that's the best you can do, but it doesn't change the fact that, time and time again in the last 50 years, Israel has had the opportunity to engage the moderates and progressives in the Muslim world instead of using their position to wipe out any sort of opposition. It's easy to label the Muslims as 'evil' for taking the easy way out and hiding behind a big, bad organization that they think will protect them and better their lives. The Arab people are victims in all this too, just as the Jews once were themselves.

What I'm saying is that it is the Muslims' responsibility to go the extra mile to speak for themselves and be heroes themselves, rather than just the actions of extremists overshadow whatever points they wish to make in favor of moderation and diplomacy. There are already plenty of Muslim leaders who take such a stance and news networks like al-Jazeera prove that free press is not an impossibility in the Middle East. What the American media needs to is to make sure these messages reach the public. Israel and Palestine need to reach peace on their own mutual terms, or there will be no peace at all. America isn't helping by contributing to the polarization.

Puddle Jumper:

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!

Farcry (IDK about the game I only saw the movie), the guy was a german ex-spec-op. I think that's all that needs to be said. (only because you said only pop up in WWII games).

Good article, pretty much sums up the situation imo, (Saladin's site and reading his bio is a good idea too). The civilopedia is actually one of my main research sources, the sheer amount of information there is staggering (of course, always cross-reference to make sure you have it right).

Fr33Kye:

#1 like he said at the end, what's wrong with him wanting to see less games where he shoots at people that look like his dad lol. Makes sense for him to want to see less of that, also makes sense for him to want to see more arabs doing more than being the nameless villain with the gun.

Because his race/religion does not deserve to exempt from being portrayed as villians.

Fr33Kye:

#2 Once again its not about the number of games, its about the fact that in video games, most Arabs you see will be in those games(no matter how many there are) shooting at you.

"For something that only happens in a sub genre of a sub genre it is shown pretty often."

Please try to keep track of your own arguments.

Fr33Kye:

#3 yes >1% of america's population, does that mean that we can only portray them as terrorists? Yes you are likely to see a representation of 10-20% of the population but if you are going to set games in the middle east, or have games with Arab people at all, doesn't mean they have to shoot at you lol.

"The fact is Arabs are a minority in most of the countries games are made yes, but so are plenty of other people,"

Seriously, it's kind of hard to have a coherent discussion when you can't even remember what you posted a few minutes ago.

Fr33Kye:

#4 Well i've never been to war but you could be surprised, there are such thing as civillian casualties, even if they dont show arabs in those particular games, what prevents them from being shown in others?

Most civilian casualties in these conflicts are the results of bombings or collateral damage. When the bullets start flying, people tend to either get down or get out. Nobody ever thought we needed German civilians running around on Omaha beach to remind us that not all Germans were evil.

And what other games take place in Arab countries?

Fr33Kye:

#5 So they are terrorists and nothing else?
You seem to be thinking that i have a problem with Arabs being shown as terrorists. That is not the issue. The real issue is that for the most part they are shown as terrorist or not at all. Is it wrong for someone who is both arab and muslim to hope to see more Arabs that aren't terrorist?

Already went over this:

"Why not? Because a handful of people want something else? It's on them to either create what they want or demonstrate that they have enough spending power to justify somebody else creating it. It isn't anybody else's moral responsibility to spend 20 million dollars to create a video game that makes them feel good about himself."

RebelRising:

Powerman88:
I hate having this conversation over internet forums, but I see it as my duty. I reference all my facts from the BBC news site (as flawed as it may be). My question would be to you is how many muslims live, vote, and earn a decent living and have a decent standard of life in Israel? Go check I'll wait. How many Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindu, or Shinto live, vote, and have a decent standard of living in Gaza? You can probably guess why. The problem with the palestinians and Gaza/Israel isn't the big bad jews that want to conquer the world, its that the Palestinians elect Hamas, a terrorist organization according to the US, EU, and UN, instead of electing the moderates in the Fatah party. Why is it even Egypt, a nice moderate state, has a closed border with Gaza? It's not because the Palestinians are a peace loving people who just want to live in perfect harmony. Their leaders have said time and time again they won't be happy until Israel is wiped off the map.

Thanks again Saladin and please write more interesting and well thought out articles!

Funny, I don't remember ever saying that the Palestinians were a peace-loving people, at least, no more than a lot of other peoples in the world. But it is foolish to pretend that this violence grew out of some void. What I'm saying is that all this violence is a reaction to what is to the Palestinians, a very present and real threat. While it is the wrong course for them to take, I'm not going to pretend that the lack of condemnation of Hamas and Hizbullah is just a symptom of a savage, bloodthirsty race. Why do you think they supported Hamas in the first place? I don't care if you call me an anti-Semite, if that's the best you can do, but it doesn't change the fact that, time and time again in the last 50 years, Israel has had the opportunity to engage the moderates and progressives in the Muslim world instead of using their position to wipe out any sort of opposition. It's easy to label the Muslims as 'evil' for taking the easy way out and hiding behind a big, bad organization that they think will protect them and better their lives. The Arab people are victims in all this too, just as the Jews once were themselves.

What I'm saying is that it is the Muslims' responsibility to go the extra mile to speak for themselves and be heroes themselves, rather than just the actions of extremists overshadow whatever points they wish to make in favor of moderation and diplomacy. There are already plenty of Muslim leaders who take such a stance and news networks like al-Jazeera prove that free press is not an impossibility in the Middle East. What the American media needs to is to make sure these messages reach the public. Israel and Palestine need to reach peace on their own mutual terms, or there will be no peace at all. America isn't helping by contributing to the polarization.

First off I never called you nor suggested you're an anti-semite. I would actually agree with you that al-Jazeera is actually some of the best reporting in the world.

I guess the fundamental question boils down to does Israel have a right to exist. There are compelling arguments on both sides, but my whole point is making judgments on culture (and how I tie it into the OT). I would argue that the Israeli (NOT Jewish) culture is one of inclusion, progress, and openness. The Palestinian culture is a culture that believes another entire country can not exist because they believe in the wrong god. It is a culture where it is not okay to be gay, or disagree with the government. As I mentioned even Egypt refuses to open their border with Gaza.

Getting back to my original opinion is I believe it isn't just the west that needs to reach out to Muslims, but also Muslims need to reach out to the west and not just demand that we change our ways. I don't think we will all ever just get along, but we can agree to disagree in peace.

GonzoGamer:

daftnoize:

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."

While I do sympathize with the fact that Muslims have gotten a raw deal in popular culture, it seems to me that every culture is painted with an extremist brush in video games.
As an American, I actually appreciate it when games like GTA and Fallout characterize America based on the extremist xenophobic loudmouths everyone seems to associate this country with. Believe it or not we're not all like that.

And about the "ground zero mosque," I think everyone should know that real NYers who lived in this city our whole life don't care if they decide to put a mosque ON ground zero much less 4 blocks away. We live, work, and play with Muslims (and people from every other religion in the world) in this city and we resent being used as political pawns during election season which has been happening since 2001. We're not pussies and we're starting to resent the rest of the country treating us as such. Same thing when they were talking about trying the 911 "mastermind" in NYC. Every retarded politician in the country had to have a say about how insensitive and dangerous it was while NYers were welcoming the trial. Most of the NYers I discussed it with were more worried about what an angry mob might do to the suspect rather than what would happen to us. Sure we got hit hard but we bounced back, now I just feel like the rest of the country (who frankly don't have as much to complain about) has to suck it up and catch up with us.

I just wonder if any Christian churches near the site of the Oklahoma city bombing caught any flack after McVeigh was caught.

My point is that everyone from every culture looks like a dick in the media from textbooks to video games. Maybe the trick is for a Muslim to start a game company of his own, then they can characterize us for being the xenophobic, loudmouth d-bags fox news wants the world to think we are. I don't care what background a game protagonist has, if the game is interesting, fun, and compelling, I will dig it.

Agree with you on everything but the line
My point is that everyone from every culture looks like a dick in the media

Although I acutally agree with that too its the fact that you think video games are a form of media. I would want to classify them as an art form which has very different implications. Take something like GTA. On the surface idiots rage about violence rasicm etc but it is clearly a satire Rockstar (a British developer) stiring up archetypical americana. It is actually a very intelligent series (shame i dont find it at all fun, as its played by mostly ****'s, an the irony of thier ignorance is glourious)

Although nit picky I believe these works of art (YES ART!) are actually more broad than most people give them credit and satirism clear charicatures, yet The irony is lost on most and although a shame it does have a negative effect. IN MY OPINION DISCLAIMER!!!

In short conservatives are the cause of EVERYTHING wrong in the world (I may be being scarastic or i may not you decide)

Spoilers

Alpha Protocol subverts this halfway. Saheed is a Saudi oil magnate whose terrorist network shoots down a passenger jet with a missile. The twist is that the missile is American made, and the weapon was voluntarily sold to him by a corporation hoping that he would get up to crazy Arab antics and incite a war between Islam and the West. The second twist is that he knows all this and has been amassing evidence to bring the company, and America with it(he thinks), crashing down. The actual terrorist act was incidental to his overall plan. The player is left to decide whether Saheed or the weapon manufacturer is the bigger evil. You can join his terrorist cell and work against America and the corporation...and then still shoot Saheed in the head, since he was responsible for the plane.

Basically the Arab terrorist is a kind of Noble Demon who recognizes the greater threat and has a plan to deal with it, but could care less about the lives of infidels. Make of that what you will, but I think it's pretty spot on, at least when it comes to terrorists.

BloodSquirrel:

Already went over this:

"Why not? Because a handful of people want something else? It's on them to either create what they want or demonstrate that they have enough spending power to justify somebody else creating it. It isn't anybody else's moral responsibility to spend 20 million dollars to create a video game that makes them feel good about himself."

I dont think he said it was anyone's moral obligations. He seems to just hope for this, he isnt making demands or condemning people. Why is it so horrible that an Arab Muslim who enjoys video games wants to see more of his race in games, doing more than trying to kill you?

Thanks again, everyone for the thoughtful comments. A lot of this discussion is going a bit afield -- claims like 'Most terrorist acts are committed by Muslims,'* or 'most of what goes on in the middle east is violence/most middle easterners are terrorist sympathizers,' (which ignores that most people in ANY country in the world are just trying to make a living and are more concerned with what's for dinner or their stupid boss or their smartmouthed kid than they are with chanting 'death to America'), debates about what rhetorical stance 'moderate' Muslims should take, or about Palestine/Israel, wholly inaccurate claims about the degree to which US forces interact with civilians, etc., etc. I've got thoughts on all these topics, but I really just want to reiterate the article's basic points that, thank goodness, about half the readers at least seem to have picked up on --

1) Most depictions of Muslims in video games rely on stereotypes
2) Most of these stereotypes are negative and dehumanizing
3) It doesn't have to be this way
4) One remedy would involve featuring more Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern heroes in games

For the record, censorship was never mentioned, nor was completely eliminating Muslims from developers' potential arsenal of villains, nor was the 'evil pig-doggery' of America, nor was the 'heroism' of the Taliban.

kthxbi!

* Umm, no:
http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/not-all-terrorists-are-muslims/
http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/terrorism-in-europe/
http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/05/rand-report-threat-of-jihadist-terrorism-exaggerated/

BloodSquirrel:

"Why not? Because a handful of people want something else? It's on them to either create what they want or demonstrate that they have enough spending power to justify somebody else creating it. It isn't anybody else's moral responsibility to spend 20 million dollars to create a video game that makes them feel good about himself."

But it's not just a handful of people. It's not just Muslims who want/should want more balanced Muslim representation... it's white people, black people, Asians, Mexicans, Polynesians, and pretty much every other ethnicity/religion/etc I've missed. And they, in turn, should be all gung ho and excited for more black/Asian/Mexican/Polynesian/etc representation too. Because it's somethng that is good for everyone. EVERYONE benefits from having more diversity.

You seem to be saying that the only reason to have more positive Muslim characters is to keep a "minority" happy. How about because it's more realistic? Because it's the right thing to do? Because awesome characters are awesome? Because game narratives with nuance are the sauce? Because even the whitest of white gamers will not enjoy their game a single iota less if the hero of the story is called Achmed instead of James?

Usagi Vindaloo:
I think the author's argument is very clear. It is NOT "there need to be fewer Muslim villains" but has always been "there need to be more Muslim heroes," or on a more nuanced level, "there need to be more Muslim characters who are more than just cannon fodder/stock bad guys."

"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.

Unlike the "Exotic East" heroes, the villains in these games are present-day Arabs and Muslims. In the slightly less offensive versions of these games, the bad guys are from imaginary or unspecified countries. But increasingly, as games have aimed for more and more supposed realism, the countries and villains depicted are real places where real people live. A truly realistic game would investigate the complexities of the conflicts they depict, and would show that the "hostile levels' of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc., are in reality countries where the vast majority of the population are civilians - women, children, and men just trying to live their lives without being blown to pieces. The aliens of the Halo franchise are more humanized than the bad guys in America's Army, who are really just endlessly spawning born-to-die vermin with AK-47s and rocket launchers."

He doesn't just want muslim heroes- he has a problem with them being portrayed as villains.

Bonus points for the fact that he clearly hasn't played American's Army or Full Spectrum Warrior, and has no clue what either game is like.

blindthrall:
Spoilers

Alpha Protocol subverts this halfway. Saheed is a Saudi oil magnate whose terrorist network shoots down a passenger jet with a missile. The twist is that the missile is American made, and the weapon was voluntarily sold to him by a corporation hoping that he would get up to crazy Arab antics and incite a war between Islam and the West. The second twist is that he knows all this and has been amassing evidence to bring the company, and America with it(he thinks), crashing down. The actual terrorist act was incidental to his overall plan. The player is left to decide whether Saheed or the weapon manufacturer is the bigger evil. You can join his terrorist cell and work against America and the corporation...and then still shoot Saheed in the head, since he was responsible for the plane.

Basically the Arab terrorist is a kind of Noble Demon who recognizes the greater threat and has a plan to deal with it, but could care less about the lives of infidels. Make of that what you will, but I think it's pretty spot on, at least when it comes to terrorists.

Huh. Never played that, but Obsidian's writing generally rules, so I'll need to check it out, despite just having had the twists SPOILED :P

BloodSquirrel:

Usagi Vindaloo:
I think the author's argument is very clear. It is NOT "there need to be fewer Muslim villains" but has always been "there need to be more Muslim heroes," or on a more nuanced level, "there need to be more Muslim characters who are more than just cannon fodder/stock bad guys."

"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.

Unlike the "Exotic East" heroes, the villains in these games are present-day Arabs and Muslims. In the slightly less offensive versions of these games, the bad guys are from imaginary or unspecified countries. But increasingly, as games have aimed for more and more supposed realism, the countries and villains depicted are real places where real people live. A truly realistic game would investigate the complexities of the conflicts they depict, and would show that the "hostile levels' of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc., are in reality countries where the vast majority of the population are civilians - women, children, and men just trying to live their lives without being blown to pieces. The aliens of the Halo franchise are more humanized than the bad guys in America's Army, who are really just endlessly spawning born-to-die vermin with AK-47s and rocket launchers."

He doesn't just want muslim heroes- he has a problem with them being portrayed as villains.

Bonus points for the fact that he clearly hasn't played American's Army or Full Spectrum Warrior, and has no clue what either game is like.

No, I read that as saying that he has a problem with them being portrayed as ONLY villains and nothing else. Not only that, but that the portrayal reduces them to moving targets to be shot, as opposed to fully realized, living and breathing characters.

To put it another way... say you have a first person shooter set in Afghanistan or something. Naturally, you are going to be shooting many Muslim terrorists. However, Afghanistan's population is not ONLY Taliban members. Why not have sequences where your character is helped by the locals? Perhaps there's a local guide who leads your men up into the mountains. Or perhaps you have to bunk with a family and develop a sort of friendship with them. That sort of thing would go a long way in promoting the idea that there is a huge spectrum of people within the given ethnicity. And you have to admit, it would make the GAME itself better, giving it new life and depth as well as offering some potentially fascinating set pieces (what happens when guerilla fighters target your guide?)

...Wow. I joined up to post my thanks and love for this article. I'm not Arab or Muslim, but I'm tired of playing games that assume I hate everybody except white (Christian, heterosexual, etc.) men and see nothing wrong with catering to this assumed bigotry. I also want more complex characterization like that in Assassin's Creed, but I'm not going to get that as long as this stupid us-vs-them thinking persists in the industry.

But as I was scrolling through the comments on this post, I'm reminded of why that kind of thinking persists. Holy *crap* is there a lot of ignorant, bigoted BS flying around here. O.o Haters, seriously -- you do realize you're proving Saladin's point for him, right? Your ignorance and hatred is partly caused by the exact kinds of games he's railing against. (The rest is all on you. Seriously, go read a book or something -- not one by Glenn Beck, OK?)

An interesting article, thanks! I agree that it would be nice to see more variety in video game protagonists, be they Arabs, Indians, or whoever. (I was about to say "minority", but then realised that it's a silly construct that depends entirely on where one stands - I'm a Brit living in Germany in an area where there's a very large Turkish population and a significant number of Americans thanks to numerous bases. If anyone's a minority here, it's probably me!)

(Reading the bit about the colour of the Prince of Persia's hair unintentionally amused me though. We had it on my Dad's behemoth of a laptop way back when, and the thing only had a black-and-white display - for me the Prince will always be grey-scale!)

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