Muslim Should Not Equal Villain

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daftnoize:

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)

Well, they sure do act like they are but I can't give them that much credit.

I guess my definition of media is a bit broader than your definition of art. By media I meant everything from the 24 hour news networks, to textbooks, to books (fiction & non), to movies, to games, to even comics, and everything else. Hell music and stand up are included in my definition too. Sorry for the confusion.

BTW-I too appreciate the irony of the dbags being made fun of in GTA (on the left and right) not getting they are being made fun of. It's like conservatives who think Colbert Report is a serious show.

I just want everyone to know that despite what they might see in the news, NYers aren't pussies. We've moved on with our lives, even if people in the rest of the country haven't

Usagi Vindaloo:

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.

No, actually, I will not benefit at all from someone pushing their personal political agenda into my games. I have never said after playing a game "Man, I would have enjoyed that more if the main character was an albino lesbian." That is a personal crusade of yours.

Comments like "EVERYONE benefits from having more diversity" are incredibly myopic, especially since it runs contrary to the idea of diversity in values between different people.

Usagi Vindaloo:
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?

Oh, so it's only ok for non-white gamers to want a main character like them.

Fr33Kye:

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?

Your own words: "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."

Saying "Gee, I really wish there were more RPGs" is just hoping for something.

Saying "It's wrong that there aren't more RPGs" is claiming a moral obligation on somebody's part to create something because you want it. See the above poster.

Why the fuck would the author, as an Arab, be happy about somebody praising Saladin, who was a Kurd?

That aside, boo fucking hoo. I'm sorry, but if entertainment media want to be relevant, they lift their plots out of current headlines. That is why Captain America has been beating up nazis for almost 70 years - and I've yet to hear one German complain about it. When a movie comes out showing how Muslims attack an embassy - something which Muslims did a lot of during that whole Danis cartoon brouhaha - Muslims march about how they're being vilified. Where were the Germans holding picket signs when Inglourious Basterds came out?
During the Cold War, every thriller, spy movie etc had the Soviet Russians as the bad guys, and apparently, America hasn't realised that the year 1991 has passed, because they still use the Russians as the villains - to wit, MW2 and Salt. And yet, Ivan is not bitching.

And today? Well, the armed forces of most of the Western world are fighting a war against radical Muslims in Afghanistan, while every day, we hear about some act of extremism or terrorism carried out by an adherent of the Muslim faith. When was the last time anyone heard of a Chinese Buddhist blowing up a Zen Buddhist shrine on a holy day? That stuff happens between Shi'ites and Sunnis every week.

So maybe, it's not the evil Western media which are to blame for the depiction of Muslims, but certain Muslims themselves? But here we see a quintessential element of the Muslim psyche - blame everybody else. It's Israel's fault, it's America's fault, it's the media's fault, etc etc. Never point the finger at oneself, because introspection might show that compared to Europe and East Asia, a large part of the Muslim word IS frighteningly benighted. And the reason that video games depict Muslims as barbaric aggressors just may have something to do the fact that Muslims fly jet airliners into skyscrapers and blow up schools full of children.

As has been mentioned before, I've yet to hear such pathetic whingeing from Germans or Russians, who have been portrayed as cartoon villains for decades now. I wonder why that is.

Powerman88:

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.

Forgive me if I was overly defensive there, but since it's such a common response, I sort of anticipated it. And whatever you and I may think of al-Jazeera, it doesn't change the fact that it was speaking primarily to an Arab audience that had a different take on Iraq, on Israel/Palestine, and such, thus making it a valid target to the American military during the Iraq invasion. It's providing a more balanced perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict than the mainstream media, anyways, so that in itself would turn off a lot of people.

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.

Of course Israel has a right to exist. It's just that Israel is not as wonderful a place as you might think. The country has basically established its own Nuremberg-style laws to relegate any non-Jew to second-class citizenship status, and it does resemble an apartheid state is several ways, such as this story and this story prove. Of course Israel has a right to exist, but it is hardly a benevolent and tolerant state. But as that second article shows, there are those in Israel who recognize this and fulfill the role of moderates on that side. As for Palestine, it a culture that, much like the rest of the middle East, has trouble finding an identity other than that of Islam. But it is my personal belief that, just as Judaism and Christianity had their violent, politicized phases, Islam is currently in their own. Embracing democratic systems and open markets without external imposition would solve quite a bit of that, I think. I'm not saying Palestine is perfect, but as far as Israel is concerned, their actions aren't irrational. Remember, Israel has had its share of radicalists too, such as the Irgun group.

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.

Fair enough. I think we may have gotten a bit derailed, for what it's worth.I don't think peace is impossible, only that it is necessary for the sensible, open-minded and level-headed people to take charge and refuse to validate extremist violence on either side. Anyway, it was good talking with you.

To everybody telling the author to "get over it":

YOU DO REALIZE THAT THERE IS A NATIONAL DEBATE ON WHETHER A MUSLIM COMMUNITY CENTER SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE BUILT IN AN OLD BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY, AND IT'S BEING TAKEN SO SERIOUSLY THAT OTHER ISLAMIC BUILDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE BEING BURNED DOWN, YEAH? PEOPLE IN AMERICA ARE SO IRRATIONALLY FEARFUL OF ISLAM DUE TO DELIBERATE MISREPRESENTATION THAT THEY ARE DRIVEN TO COMMIT ARSON. SELF-PROCLAIMED PATRIOTS TALK EVERY DAY OF HOW THE CONSTITUTION MAKES THE UNITED STATES THE GREATEST GOD-BLESSED COUNTRY ON EARTH, THEN TURN AROUND AND ARGUE THAT THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS THAT THEY GIVE SO MUCH LIP SERVICE TO SHOULD NOT BE EXTENDED TO PEOPLE THEY SIMPLY DON'T LIKE.

THAT IS SHEER HYPOCRISY, AND IT MAKES ME VIOLENTLY ILL.

Don't you DARE pretend that Muslims are playing the equivalent of "the race card" so that they'll get special attention, because even I'm surprised to see a modern, civil depiction of Middle-Eastern countries and cultures. In fact, I was shocked to see that the Middle-Eastern cities we were bombing and occupying weren't Mogadishu-esque orange/yellow mud-thatch dustclouds with golden onions on spires every ten feet; rather, they were paved cities with glass skyscrapers and modern shops and homes, not unlike the metropolis nearest to my residence. I had to find this out from a military series that was so realistic that it was commonly accused of being anti-war.

Do you think of Russians as a bunch of filthy farmers toiling endlessly in fields so that their government can steal all their money, who retire to their homes at the end of the day to drink multiple bottles of vodka and sing about how they'd biddy-biddy-bum all day long if they were wealthy? How about Germans; do you think they're all goose-stepping, lederhosen-wearing, Jew-killing, emotionless monsters? If you said yes to either of those without a trace of irony, you're in the same frame of mind that allows one to view Muslims as uncivilized mongrels that hate freedom so much that they're willing to blow themselves to pieces for 72 pieces of ethereal strange.

In America, Muslims are being actively vilified so that Christian evangelists have someone to contrast themselves with every time a priest rapes a boy, and so pro-war advocates can shrug and say "well, we don't have much reason for being there, but seriously, you want to tell me that those savages didn't have it coming?", and then justify the removal of the rights of certain citizens by telling stories of Muslim boogiemen that will car-bomb your children unless you stop them from entering our god-blessed country. You think I'm exaggerating? Look how fucking hostile the comments section became on page one; if Muslims were regarded in the same way as Christianity or Judaism, there would not be a firestorm of insults, vulgarity or the internet equivalent of shouting matches anywhere near the caliber of what has been clearly been displayed here.

Islamic extremists are the equivalents of the fucked-up Christian zealots that bomb abortion clinics and shoot abortion doctors in church. Jesus taught people to turn the other cheek and love thy neighbor, yet certain Christians are able to pervert his message into a justification to kill... but somehow, this doesn't make anybody nervous about Christianity because "they're not real Christians". Islamic extremists, similarly, have taken a religion that advocates peace, and perverted its message as a justification to kill. Guess what? They're not real Muslims. Remember the protesters saying "behead those that insult Islam" and making death threats over a cartoon? Meet the Middle-Eastern Westboro Baptist Church. Everybody has their idiots; if you're willing to judge an entire people based on those idiots, but become indignant when someone from a different country judges you based on your peoples' idiots? Well, congratulations, you're indisputably hypocritical.

As an Atheist, I have no particular love for any people of any faith, but the ignorance required to paint an entire religion as hostile (1.5 billion strong, by the way; if rational, moderate Muslims were a rare thing, it seems logical to assume that we'd already be dead) because of a minority within that religion, absolutely infuriates me. Stop using caricatures of Muslims as a convenient excuse to indulge in narrow-minded, self-righteous fucknuttery.

Saladin Ahmed:

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

I think as one of the very first posts pointed out, in answer to 1) and 2), there is a line you can stand in behind the germans, japanese, russian, chinese, south american, and so forth. All of them have been demonized and stereotyped to death in one game or another.

And while there is a very, very small portion of games that have heroes represented from some of those that I listed, they are very few and far between.

As for 3) maybe I'm just being a realist but a lot of things don't have to be this way. Bigotry, slavery, etc exist in the world and odd's are won't be leaving until man kind ceases to exist. I understand what you're going for but until meaningful events occur that can change the view of the masses, 3) and even 4) won't likely occur, unless it's done so simply to be politically correct. Until more Arab/Muslim/Middle Eastern people shout from the roof tops against what the public at large hears and see's on a daily basis from many different news outlets, involving executions by stoning, stomping out freedom of speech with armed police/military, the oppression of women's rights in many middle eastern nations. Most people will just continue to assume the stereotypes that do exist are true.

As for the KKK / Abortion bombings and christian's having to speak out against it, they do. You don't hear of it much on TV but I've seen on several occasions where local church groups or someone from that area's local church, come out and condemn the senseless act of violence.
Church going people may not approve of topics of abortion but that doesn't mean they agree with an act of violence like so. There do exist extremist's in all religions so I'm sure a fringe section do praise it, just as fringe groups like Hamas exist also.

*scratches chin* I'm amazed I was able to say all of that while avoiding most of the real hot topic political issues revolving around this kind of issue.

Usagi Vindaloo:

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.

Ok, see, this "as opposed to fully realized, living and breathing characters" nonsense is the problem. They are opponents on a battlefield. At what point are they going to be characterized? Are they going to start chatting you up after they spawn and before they start shooting you? How many other shooters show you the life story of mook #341 before he starts shooting at you? I asked the author these questions, and he couldn't answer.

If you want the game to go that far out of its way to make up for the fact that the villains are muslims, then you clearly do have a problem with them being portrayed as villains. "I don't have a problem with muslims as villains" are easy words to type, but when you call games that do so "offensive" you clearly don't mean them.

This is something I can't stand. I don't want anyone to get angry with what I'm about to say. Personally I love hollywood films and I love western games, but I honestly feel like American film and games have the tendency constantly antagonizing any different culture it touches and wrapping them up into stereotypes. Worst of all, they're planted in my brain and they're never leaving! South Americans are all drug dealers, Germans are all nazis, Russains are all James Bond's worst enemy and anyone from the middle east is a terrorist. I'm tired of this crap and it's one of the reasons I don't play the Medal of Honor games or any other realistic shooters, because I feel that by buying those games and playing them, I'm agreeing with the context.

SODAssault:
snip

*applauds*
Seriously, the brand of hypocrisy and arrogance you correctly denounced sickens me to no end >_<

The funny thing is the number of people who stay in denial of proper facts due to their confirmation bias.

Powerman88:
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.

And you think the Muslims from Saudi Arabia and the Muslims from Iran are the same? They share the same religion (or variation of it, wahhabhism (or w/e they call it) in SA, probably different types in Iran) , but their ideologies are different. Do I have any proof of that? Just wiki the ethnic/religious parties in Iran/Saudi Arabia for that. Germany and the countries it attacked, were Christians during WW2 and that doesn't make all Christians responsible for the holocaust considering Germany was Christian at the time, and Christianity always had a really bad relationship with Jews, while the Jewish-Muslim relationship was, at least during the dark ages not as bad as it is today, and having to be apologetic about it at every turn. Iraq/Iran had bad blood between them despite being Muslim countries.

I argued with a bigot over hours about this, there are a billion of Muslims, and the majority of them are not even in the middle-east. Muslims over the world DO NOT have to apologize over what the taliban are doing, over what al-quaida is doing or what iraqi insurgents were doing or what the despotic regime in underdeveloped countries are doing.

My point, the consumer of these products are most likely muslims living in developed countries, I have a hard time imagining some taliban playing MoH and rejoicing about finally killing some infidels.

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!

Bullshit.

1. I'm pretty sure there are CHRISTIAN palestinians. Not all arabs are muslims.

2. When an arab muslim doctor can have his entire family blown to pieces by the same people he work his ass to save, then your entire point is moot. Arabs are known to live as second-class citizens in israel.

3. HAMAS are known to help palestinians, just like Hizballah helped lebanese considering they were a pivotal force to defend Lebanon. Israel/US refusing to acknowledge them (HAMAS) as a legitimate government when they were elected was a childish move.

4. Lebanon only recently allowed palestinians to work legally in their countries, I can't say anything about Egypt border though. Pretty much might be similar to why a certain country wants to protect its border from illegal immigrants.

5. The palestinians obviously are not peace loving, they totally don't mind being treated as cattle, killed and farmed for organs, having their kids sent to random dungeons never to be seen again, having to watch as their houses and land are destroyed by their peace-seeking neighbor, or having to live through another Israeli raid.

Also, I miss the 1-shot-2-kills pictures on Israeli-made shirts.

Bringing the Israeli-Palestinian argument in this thread is just a dick move. It has nothing to do with a Islam versus Judaism conflict, never was, never will be, as much as some people want it to be.

So FFS, stay on topic.

GonzoGamer:

daftnoize:

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)

Well, they sure do act like they are but I can't give them that much credit.

I guess my definition of media is a bit broader than your definition of art. By media I meant everything from the 24 hour news networks, to textbooks, to books (fiction & non), to movies, to games, to even comics, and everything else. Hell music and stand up are included in my definition too. Sorry for the confusion.

BTW-I too appreciate the irony of the dbags being made fun of in GTA (on the left and right) not getting they are being made fun of. It's like conservatives who think Colbert Report is a serious show.

I just want everyone to know that despite what they might see in the news, NYers aren't pussies. We've moved on with our lives, even if people in the rest of the country haven't

Yeah i was being really picky but i suppose I would allow all art to be classified as media with art transending media . I think the point I was making (which btw Its clear you understood) is that arguing whether video games are art or not is actually a rather important thing. I have numerous reasons (available on request!) but the issue of properganda (video games spreading an opinion, such as bioshocks anti objectivism), censorship (kids can see adult aimed paintings play yet not buy video games or films) and controvesial ideas (gta, manhunt et al) are deeply rooted within them.

On a slightly less up my own arse note. There are people out there who think Colbert Report is a serious show! Thats amazing its like when fred phelps used the an article from Onion thinking it was genuine.

All important questions being asked and I am slightly more dissmissive than i ought to be of what I believe to be cretins (note not people who disagre with me just people who argue badly). Any who I am rather pleasantly surprised to see, in most cases, a really high level of debate on these forums.

cainx10a:

Powerman88:
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.

And you think the Muslims from Saudi Arabia and the Muslims from Iran are the same? They share the same religion (or variation of it, wahhabhism (or w/e they call it) in SA, probably different types in Iran) , but their ideologies are different. Do I have any proof of that? Just wiki the ethnic/religious parties in Iran/Saudi Arabia for that. Germany and the countries it attacked, were Christians during WW2 and that doesn't make all Christians responsible for the holocaust considering Germany was Christian at the time, and Christianity always had a really bad relationship with Jews, while the Jewish-Muslim relationship was, at least during the dark ages not as bad as it is today, and having to be apologetic about it at every turn. Iraq/Iran had bad blood between them despite being Muslim countries.

I argued with a bigot over hours about this, there are a billion of Muslims, and the majority of them are not even in the middle-east. Muslims over the world DO NOT have to apologize over what the taliban are doing, over what al-quaida is doing or what iraqi insurgents were doing or what the despotic regime in underdeveloped countries are doing.

My point, the consumer of these products are most likely muslims living in developed countries, I have a hard time imagining some taliban playing MoH and rejoicing about finally killing some infidels.

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!

Bullshit.

1. I'm pretty sure there are CHRISTIAN palestinians. Not all arabs are muslims.

2. When an arab muslim doctor can have his entire family blown to pieces by the same people he work his ass to save, then your entire point is moot. Arabs are known to live as second-class citizens in israel.

3. HAMAS are known to help palestinians, just like Hizballah helped lebanese considering they were a pivotal force to defend Lebanon. Israel/US refusing to acknowledge them (HAMAS) as a legitimate government when they were elected was a childish move.

4. Lebanon only recently allowed palestinians to work legally in their countries, I can't say anything about Egypt border though. Pretty much might be similar to why a certain country wants to protect its border from illegal immigrants.

5. The palestinians obviously are not peace loving, they totally don't mind being treated as cattle, killed and farmed for organs, having their kids sent to random dungeons never to be seen again, having to watch as their houses and land are destroyed by their peace-seeking neighbor, or having to live through another Israeli raid.

Also, I miss the 1-shot-2-kills pictures on Israeli-made shirts.

Bringing the Israeli-Palestinian argument in this thread is just a dick move. It has nothing to do with a Islam versus Judaism conflict, never was, never will be, as much as some people want it to be.

So FFS, stay on topic.

Read all your 'offending' posts good on you mate. It just angered me so much when Powerman88 said Muslim comunity. What like Islam is some sortof club house!

SODAssault:
To everybody telling the author to "get over it":

YOU DO REALIZE THAT THERE IS A NATIONAL DEBATE ON WHETHER A MUSLIM COMMUNITY CENTER SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE BUILT IN AN OLD BURLINGTON COAT FACTORY, AND IT'S BEING TAKEN SO SERIOUSLY THAT OTHER ISLAMIC BUILDINGS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE BEING BURNED DOWN, YEAH? PEOPLE IN AMERICA ARE SO IRRATIONALLY FEARFUL OF ISLAM DUE TO DELIBERATE MISREPRESENTATION THAT THEY ARE DRIVEN TO COMMIT ARSON. SELF-PROCLAIMED PATRIOTS TALK EVERY DAY OF HOW THE CONSTITUTION MAKES THE UNITED STATES THE GREATEST GOD-BLESSED COUNTRY ON EARTH, THEN TURN AROUND AND ARGUE THAT THE INALIENABLE RIGHTS THAT THEY GIVE SO MUCH LIP SERVICE TO SHOULD NOT BE EXTENDED TO PEOPLE THEY SIMPLY DON'T LIKE.

THAT IS SHEER HYPOCRISY, AND IT MAKES ME VIOLENTLY ILL.

Don't you DARE pretend that Muslims are playing the equivalent of "the race card" so that they'll get special attention, because even I'm surprised to see a modern, civil depiction of Middle-Eastern countries and cultures. In fact, I was shocked to see that the Middle-Eastern cities we were bombing and occupying weren't Mogadishu-esque orange/yellow mud-thatch dustclouds with golden onions on spires every ten feet; rather, they were paved cities with glass skyscrapers and modern shops and homes, not unlike the metropolis nearest to my residence. I had to find this out from a military series that was so realistic that it was commonly accused of being anti-war.

Do you think of Russians as a bunch of filthy farmers toiling endlessly in fields so that their government can steal all their money, who retire to their homes at the end of the day to drink multiple bottles of vodka and sing about how they'd biddy-biddy-bum all day long if they were wealthy? How about Germans; do you think they're all goose-stepping, lederhosen-wearing, Jew-killing, emotionless monsters? If you said yes to either of those without a trace of irony, you're in the same frame of mind that allows one to view Muslims as uncivilized mongrels that hate freedom so much that they're willing to blow themselves to pieces for 72 pieces of ethereal strange.

In America, Muslims are being actively vilified so that Christian evangelists have someone to contrast themselves with every time a priest rapes a boy, and so pro-war advocates can shrug and say "well, we don't have much reason for being there, but seriously, you want to tell me that those savages didn't have it coming?", and then justify the removal of the rights of certain citizens by telling stories of Muslim boogiemen that will car-bomb your children unless you stop them from entering our god-blessed country. You think I'm exaggerating? Look how fucking hostile the comments section became on page one; if Muslims were regarded in the same way as Christianity or Judaism, there would not be a firestorm of insults, vulgarity or the internet equivalent of shouting matches anywhere near the caliber of what has been clearly been displayed here.

Islamic extremists are the equivalents of the fucked-up Christian zealots that bomb abortion clinics and shoot abortion doctors in church. Jesus taught people to turn the other cheek and love thy neighbor, yet certain Christians are able to pervert his message into a justification to kill... but somehow, this doesn't make anybody nervous about Christianity because "they're not real Christians". Islamic extremists, similarly, have taken a religion that advocates peace, and perverted its message as a justification to kill. Guess what? They're not real Muslims. Remember the protesters saying "behead those that insult Islam" and making death threats over a cartoon? Meet the Middle-Eastern Westboro Baptist Church. Everybody has their idiots; if you're willing to judge an entire people based on those idiots, but become indignant when someone from a different country judges you based on your peoples' idiots? Well, congratulations, you're indisputably hypocritical.

As an Atheist, I have no particular love for any people of any faith, but the ignorance required to paint an entire religion as hostile (1.5 billion strong, by the way; if rational, moderate Muslims were a rare thing, it seems logical to assume that we'd already be dead) because of a minority within that religion, absolutely infuriates me. Stop using caricatures of Muslims as a convenient excuse to indulge in narrow-minded, self-righteous fucknuttery.

Well done I really really hate hypocracy in any form. Ignorance is just as bad. Gets to me a lot seeing some of these posts. I personally believe the Christian Right is the definition of oxymoron!

@Daftnoize
What 'offending' post?

I did like Assassin's Creed for that reason, that they depicted both sides as having the sensible, and the neurotically obsessed with fervor, and for having what is one of the best representations of culture during the crusades that gaming has ever offered. Although, and maybe this is just me enjoying the vestiges of education, but I've never heard of Salah ah-Din being vilified. I've always heard of his prowess and exploits, of being a man worthy of respect, not of him being an evil to be purged. I've not heard a word against him, through most of academia. I can only think of foolish media pundits who might try to vilify him, to portray him as something evil against Christendom, but, those aren't really opinions worth listening to.

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

Yes, but white guys get to be portrayed in a whole sepctrum of characters: villains, neutrals, goodguys etc. The criticism is that Arabs and muslims are almost invariably shown as villains. I'm sure that would get irksome if that is how your culture and ethnicity was to be perpetually portrayed.

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

Ah, so because the West type casts many other countries, that makes it okay.

At least Russians and Germans get to be shown as good or neutral characters on a few occasions (COD2, TF2 etc). That hardly ever happens with Arabs. You could count the number of ethnically Arabic protagonists on one hand. Contrast that with white protagonists.

In Civilization, and many such empire-building games, Muslim nations, and Russia, are portrayed fairly. But in FPS, if Muslims or Russians appear in modern contexts, they are almost certainly the bad guys. The only exception that comes to mind is Battlefield: Bad Company. The player plays an American unjustly attacking the Middle Eastern Coalition and Russia. That makes the MEC and Russia good guys, even though they're still the enemy.

Great article! In Age Of Empires 2 you can also play as muslim on an equal field. In the Saladin (your =P) campaign arabs are for once considered the "good" and the western crusaders are the "bad".

BloodSquirrel:

Usagi Vindaloo:

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.

Ok, see, this "as opposed to fully realized, living and breathing characters" nonsense is the problem. They are opponents on a battlefield. At what point are they going to be characterized? Are they going to start chatting you up after they spawn and before they start shooting you? How many other shooters show you the life story of mook #341 before he starts shooting at you? I asked the author these questions, and he couldn't answer.

If you want the game to go that far out of its way to make up for the fact that the villains are muslims, then you clearly do have a problem with them being portrayed as villains. "I don't have a problem with muslims as villains" are easy words to type, but when you call games that do so "offensive" you clearly don't mean them.

Sigh...as I and a number of commentators have mentioned there's no problem with having Muslim villains. The problem is when the *only* Muslims that *ever* appear in games are villains. I've said this about five different ways now, as have numerous other posters.

And no, no one expects FPS games to suddenly feature enemies who sing 'kumbaya' and hug the protagonist after they spawn. It's mostly a two-dimensional genre, a fact which you can take or leave. But the best-written FPS games *do* nuance their conflicts in cutscenes, manuals, etc. Halo initially featured an unrelentingly evil alien Covenant but, over the course of the games, players are introduced to the idea that the Covenant themselves are, to a degree, dupes who are being manipulated -- and we see the Elites break from the Covenant eventually. And that's not even counting FPS/RPG hybrids. Deus Ex was functionally an FPS in most of its gameplay, and it was one of the most complex, politically nuanced, morally ambiguous games ever made.

Videogames are marketed a white teenage males. Video game comapnies care about profit rather then sadism and as such thje reason why Muslims are portrayed as villains is that for the target audience, that's what alot of Islam is. If a game specifically about Muslims will sell then it will be made. This whole topic is dancing on murky assertation on both sides.

I will state that Islam is not a race and thus it is impossible to be racist towards muslims. Towards semetics certainly but not towards Muslims. There are plenty of Arabs who are Jewish. Christain, Atheist or anything else.

To finish on a divise note however I will say that I do believe that diversity is great. While I do believe that Western culture is the greates culture existing at the moment, nothing should inhibit the desire to explore and understand new things seeing as it is an integral part of western thought.

DenSomKastade:
Great article! In Age Of Empires 2 you can also play as muslim on an equal field. In the Saladin (your =P) campaign arabs are for once considered the "good" and the western crusaders are the "bad".

Yeah, that's one I'm itching to go back and play. IIRC I was all caught up in Planescape: Torment when it came out. Which then sent me back to playing Baldur's Gate II, I think. Didn't come out of my Infinity Engine hole for months and months.

stinkychops:

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.

Fair enough. I've not seen True Lies - but I can think of a rather nasty real example of what I can only imagine is not intentional, some subconscious slip from the casting agency.

Avatar: The Last Airbender switches the hero and villain's races so that the heroes are white and the villain is asian. Now, that's unfortunate at best.

I do agree that these kinds of articles are often either preaching to the choir or falling on deaf ears - sorry for the cliché-storm. :P People's views on race, and especially on whether they themselves are racist/how alright that is are incredibly entrenched, as we can see from the fallout in the comment thread. Perhaps more so than on any other issue, unfortunately - so there's not much you can do other than stick with someone and really fight the cause of their racism, whichever direction it flows in.

Sorry for reading that wrong - I couldn't see how anyone would see this as a call for censorship, and obviously no-one did.

Shihoudani:

I think as one of the very first posts pointed out, in answer to 1) and 2), there is a line you can stand in behind the germans, japanese, russian, chinese, south american, and so forth. All of them have been demonized and stereotyped to death in one game or another.

Here's why that's not a good justification: we have a pretty basic understanding of modern-day Germans, Japanese, Russians. We've been exposed to small portions of their culture, and we have an overall pretty clear picture of what they're really like. The fact that we're given objective and positive exposure to these people allows us to distinguish the difference between the way they're depicted, and the way they would be if we had to interact with them in real life, and also allows us to enjoy the mannerisms that are exaggerated in the name of irony.

With Muslims, however, the exposure we do get is predominantly negative, and the following cycle demonstrates why it's so damaging.

1. The media produces sensationalist stories for the purpose of scaring people into paying attention and giving them better ratings, and get away with it because the culture they're exploiting is largely alien to the western world.
-----
2. These cherry-picked, exaggerated tales that pass for "facts" are embraced and perpetuated by people who want to use that fear for their own gain, such as politicians that promise protection from such scary people, and religious figureheads that don't want competition from another major religion.
-----
3. A lot of people in the entertainment industry take note of how the majority of their target demographic is buying into the anti-Muslim craze, and realize they've found a group of existing people that can be portrayed as undeniably evil and okay to kill en-masse, while they can still claim that their product is realistic.
-----
4. People buy the product, and have their negative views reinforced.
-----
5. With no positive exposure to balance out the negative representations, stereotypes about Muslims become regarded as semi-factual.

I'm gonna wax analogous, here, so try to bear with me, because sometimes I get a little lost in them. Okay, imagine that the actual xenomorphs from the Aliens series are actually a largely pacifistic race, and the murderous ones you saw in the movies and games were from a splinter faction of ultra-hostile xenophobes? You'd have never guessed that in a million years, because every time you see them in games, movies, and everywhere else they show up, they're either killing people, or getting ready to kill people. Or they're abducting someone to impregnate them with a flesh-eating fetus via face-rape. When a new Alien game comes out, there's not a single person that needs to be told "if it has a black, shiny, chitinous shell, shoot the fuck out of it", because they already know through pop-culture that they're bad news.

Now, imagine you met one in real life.

image
"Hey there, stranger! Sorry to be a bother, but my wife and I just moved into the apartment down the hall, and we were hoping to celebrate FINALLY getting everything unpacked. Know of any good restaurants I could treat her to? And while I've got you, how's the nightlife?"

What is your first thought? Is it:

Or

...I know it's B, don't lie to me.

Conversely, if they made a game about E.T. being a murderous psychopath, you'd laugh it off as a crude parody, because you know that all E.T. wants to do is phone home and eat Reese's Pieces, thanks to all the positive exposure he's gotten. If you met him in real life...

image
"Some asshole cut me off in traffic today. I swear, I was angry enough to kill someone. Ugh."

Quiz time! First thought:

Or

It's an imperfect analogy, but I hope I made my point.

It's a good article, or should I say, cultural commentary, but I still feel that Muslims do too little to speak out against the extremists, it's hard to see the difference between the internal jihad and external jihad, when both descriptions are used by muslims, who's the most muslim and thus the more "true"?

I had not considered the nostalgia aspect of the depiction of Muslims or Arabic peoples in gaming/movies/books. But there is always some associated with any of the places that managed to build one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Pyramids and Sphinx of Egypt tends to make us wish we could have seen them. Thus games set in ancient times or even fairy tales like the Arabian Nights never seem to get old to me.

Add in the bright colors of Prince of Persia amid a sea of concrete grey and dust brown games and it becomes a beacon of light. Most games in the late 1990's to early 2000's seemed to link color with "kids" and monocrome with "serious adult". When everyone does it, it gets old.

But I digress. The most glorious period I really know about Iran and Iraq was back when Persia still existed. The center of mathematics and learning, home to brilliant astronomers and astrologers, creators of some of the most beautiful architecture in the world, that was Persia. This is compared to modern day where the only thing ever shown in the news was constant fighting between factions, the looting of great museums, and the reduction to rubble those once-glorious structures.

It may not be all there is, but it is all that is commonly depicted. So urban warfare games seem to be the order of the day instead of sliding down washing lines and seeking buried treasure. But to be fair, it seems that movie/games are fixated on WWII which was pretty much the last time the US was clearly on the right side of a conflict even through the eyes of the world. So it's hard to escape any sort of nostalgic "glory days" for the depiction of any country or people.

It is interesting that the more strictly historical games are doing a better job of depiction than most any other genre of games. Perhaps we will see an improvement across the board over time. At the very least there is the power of voting with one's funding. Support the games that are better at it.

And good luck with your new book!

Saladin Ahmed:

Sigh...as I and a number of commentators have mentioned there's no problem with having Muslim villains.

Yes, you've repeated this over and over and over and then gone right back to the same old arguments. Bolded for convenience:

"I don't have a problem with muslims as villains" are easy words to type, but when you call games that do so "offensive" you clearly don't mean them.

Saladin Ahmed:

And no, no one expects FPS games to suddenly feature enemies who sing 'kumbaya' and hug the protagonist after they spawn. It's mostly a two-dimensional genre, a fact which you can take or leave. But the best-written FPS games *do* nuance their conflicts in cutscenes, manuals, etc. Halo initially featured an unrelentingly evil alien Covenant but, over the course of the games, players are introduced to the idea that the Covenant themselves are, to a degree, dupes who are being manipulated -- and we see the Elites break from the Covenant eventually.

That is one way to tell a story. It is not the only one. Many shooters, especially ones going for realism, prioritize immediacy over narrative complexity. Your personal political crusade does make that an invalid decision.

I wanted to thank you for this article. While I'm theoretically aware of the rage and the bigotry toward Muslims I have to confess to not having a fully conscious realization of how long it's been going on.

To everyone who says, "It's just fiction."
You know...there's a reason that Jesus used parables to teach. People absorb fiction more readily than they do facts. It's fine to tell a story with a Muslim as the villain but it becomes a problem comes when there are no counter examples. For a lot of people, this depiction will be their first and sometimes only experience of what Muslims are like. Without other stories being told, audiences will absorb only the one in which Arabic people are cannon fodder, no more valuable than zombies.

To everyone who is saying "Get in line."

No, really, there doesn't need to be a line. Everything I'm saying or that Saladin said can be equally applied to any stereotype. Correcting them isn't like building a tower. What's being said here is that when someone sits down to design a game that looking at all of the roles for nuance will make them more interesting. And as consumers, if consistently ask for and choose the games that have more nuanced characters and less stereotyping then we'll wind up with more interesting games over the long haul.

Maybe it's just me, but I hate games that are too easy to figure out.

Impressive article, one of my favorite in a long while. It has an effective, accurate timeline of Arabs in video games, and offers some new original thoughts on the topic.

I've seen that notice at the beginning of Assassin's Creed, and I've always thought it was cool. Not so much that the team was, any decent size group would be, but that they mentioned it. In the game, the bad guys were not exclusively Muslim or Christian, but a mix of both, appropriate considering the atrocities committed by both sides.

It bears mentioning, though, that the ultimate villain was decidedly Arab, while the hero, Altair, seems rather Caucasian, at least in comparison.

May the future continue the trend and popularize diversity of all kinds in the years to come!

Fascinating article.

I know when I was playing through Assassin's Creed, the story-line and setting really caught my eye because of its more equal handed approach to depicting both sides. I realized, that while there's absolutely nothing wrong with playing a Caucasian character (though, really, it's kinda absurd in the PoP series...), for once the character matched the setting, the time period. Voice acting is kinda a different story there... while the sub characters had a more middle eastern type accent, Altair had a more straightforward, western one.

SODAssault:

Shihoudani:

I think as one of the very first posts pointed out, in answer to 1) and 2), there is a line you can stand in behind the germans, japanese, russian, chinese, south american, and so forth. All of them have been demonized and stereotyped to death in one game or another.

Here's why that's not a good justification: we have a pretty basic understanding of modern-day Germans, Japanese, Russians. We've been exposed to small portions of their culture, and we have an overall pretty clear picture of what they're really like. The fact that we're given objective and positive exposure to these people allows us to distinguish the difference between the way they're depicted, and the way they would be if we had to interact with them in real life, and also allows us to enjoy the mannerisms that are exaggerated in the name of irony.

With Muslims, however, the exposure we do get is predominantly negative, and the following cycle demonstrates why it's so damaging.

1. The media produces sensationalist stories for the purpose of scaring people into paying attention and giving them better ratings, and get away with it because the culture they're exploiting is largely alien to the western world.
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2. These cherry-picked, exaggerated tales that pass for "facts" are embraced and perpetuated by people who want to use that fear for their own gain, such as politicians that promise protection from such scary people, and religious figureheads that don't want competition from another major religion.
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3. A lot of people in the entertainment industry take note of how the majority of their target demographic is buying into the anti-Muslim craze, and realize they've found a group of existing people that can be portrayed as undeniably evil and okay to kill en-masse, while they can still claim that their product is realistic.
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4. People buy the product, and have their negative views reinforced.
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5. With no positive exposure to balance out the negative representations, stereotypes about Muslims become regarded as semi-factual.

I'm gonna wax analogous, here, so try to bear with me, because sometimes I get a little lost in them. Okay, imagine that the actual xenomorphs from the Aliens series are actually a largely pacifistic race, and the murderous ones you saw in the movies and games were from a splinter faction of ultra-hostile xenophobes? You'd have never guessed that in a million years, because every time you see them in games, movies, and everywhere else they show up, they're either killing people, or getting ready to kill people. Or they're abducting someone to impregnate them with a flesh-eating fetus via face-rape. When a new Alien game comes out, there's not a single person that needs to be told "if it has a black, shiny, chitinous shell, shoot the fuck out of it", because they already know through pop-culture that they're bad news.

Now, imagine you met one in real life.

image
"Hey there, stranger! Sorry to be a bother, but my wife and I just moved into the apartment down the hall, and we were hoping to celebrate FINALLY getting everything unpacked. Know of any good restaurants I could treat her to? And while I've got you, how's the nightlife?"

What is your first thought? Is it:

Or

...I know it's B, don't lie to me.

Conversely, if they made a game about E.T. being a murderous psychopath, you'd laugh it off as a crude parody, because you know that all E.T. wants to do is phone home and eat Reese's Pieces, thanks to all the positive exposure he's gotten. If you met him in real life...

image
"Some asshole cut me off in traffic today. I swear, I was angry enough to kill someone. Ugh."

Quiz time! First thought:

Or

It's an imperfect analogy, but I hope I made my point.

I agree with a fair amount of your points that compare to the russians, germans etc we have some context behind their culture which levels out peoples feelings toward them. And I'll also give merit that the media can prop up some stories more then others for the sake of boosting ratings, though as I said in my first post that there are some things we don't learn just from the media, rather from the words of people who live in some of those nations such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, even Egypt to a lesser degree.

Things like the oppression of women's rights, how stoning someone is still an acceptable form of punishment in some of these governments. I could keep going but I'm just pointing out that even if I accept that the vast majority of people in these nations are gentle folk who are more then tolerant of others beliefs, the blame can't fall completely on the governing power for how they treat the civil rights of said citizenry. Because without the people either supporting, or willingly ignoring what's happening then it should crumble in upon it's self because who would wish to be treated as such?

It still seems necessary that those who don't believe in an extremist view of Islam or Islamic faith should proclaim their anger for such actions, so that those who do only hear these sensationalist headlines can learn and take notice that they aren't all aliens who want to impregnate you with their young :P (( Obviously making a joke back at the Aliens reference. )) Perhaps it could be said that they don't have to condemn actions such as to defend their beliefs, and that's well and good. Then why not condemn it on the simple line of oppression and inhumane treatment?

Hell there is an idea for a game with a Muslim Hero right there, a poor soul who fights back against all those inhumane acts, so that he/she and their family could live a better life? Could make it like how Hard Rain was made! Naturally drama and violence etc would get lumped in to attract a wider audience but you see what I'm getting at.

BloodSquirrel:

No, actually, I will not benefit at all from someone pushing their personal political agenda into my games. I have never said after playing a game "Man, I would have enjoyed that more if the main character was an albino lesbian." That is a personal crusade of yours.

Who said anything about politics? Where are the politics in having tons and tons and tons of awesome characters from all walks of life? Surely having a wide range of character types, backgrounds and stories only strengthens a narrative and pulls us in deeper to the emotional core of the work? I don't know about you, but I don't want all the heroes (or villains) to be the same... I want each and every one to be unique.

"Comments like "EVERYONE benefits from having more diversity" are incredibly myopic, especially since it runs contrary to the idea of diversity in values between different people."

But it DOES contribute to the idea that we are all human beings, united together, with far far more that unites us than divides us. That is why it benefits each and every one of us. You can't deny that being brought together and forging closer bonds between people and cultures is nothing but a good thing and something we (should) all work towards.

"Oh, so it's only ok for non-white gamers to want a main character like them."

White gamers already have people like them. We have plenty of role models and people who look like us. I for one am ready for something a bit different, and what better way to do that than by having heroes of different backgrounds? Not to mention if it makes others feel more welcome and included, that can never be a bad thing.

Basically, it is an absolutely no lose situation to include more diversity in our heroes. Non-white/straight/male people have someone like them to identify, perhaps even to have as a personal role model. White/straight/males who want something different than Mr Blandy McWhiterson get to see the world through entirely different eyes. And for everyone else who just doesn't care about race in games or doesn't think it's a big issue... you'll enjoy the game just as much no matter who's pulling the trigger as long as the gameplay is fun, so there's absolutely no downside. ^_^

BloodSquirrel:

Usagi Vindaloo:

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.

Ok, see, this "as opposed to fully realized, living and breathing characters" nonsense is the problem. They are opponents on a battlefield. At what point are they going to be characterized? Are they going to start chatting you up after they spawn and before they start shooting you? How many other shooters show you the life story of mook #341 before he starts shooting at you? I asked the author these questions, and he couldn't answer.

If you want the game to go that far out of its way to make up for the fact that the villains are muslims, then you clearly do have a problem with them being portrayed as villains. "I don't have a problem with muslims as villains" are easy words to type, but when you call games that do so "offensive" you clearly don't mean them.

I have a problem with ANY person being portrayed as a mook. That's actually one of my biggest issues with video games and their narratives in general; that the enemies feel like cannon fodder and stuff to shoot rather than realized characters in their own right. In this, I will agree, Muslims are not the only group to suffer this, as all video games screw this up royally with all types of characters, ethnicities, aliens, etc. It's just that Islam has this extra level of unfortunate implications which make it particularly squicky. But frankly, I wish games would stop with the "mook" thing and focus more on ensuring that every character has a life of their own. Otherwise it just comes over as bad writing. >< It's part of the reason I cringe at trash but love bosses in World of Warcraft; the trash ends up seeming like faceless extras with no personality, whereas the bosses at least have some effort to differentiate them, give them quirks, etc.

SODAssault has it exactly right.

And the post is good. Except, Saladin-Schmaladin*: I want to see a game with Baibars as the hero.

(* Just kidding. Saladin's cool too.)

Shihoudani:
Things like the oppression of women's rights, how stoning someone is still an acceptable form of punishment in some of these governments.

The thing is, it's not hard to find Muslims who will tell you, at great length, that much of the Islamic world is fucked up and needs fixing. It's just hard for those Muslims to have a real conversation with non-Muslims in an environment where Islamophobia -- which is ever-eager to segue from "Muslims somewhere did something wrong" to "let's bomb and shoot them, that ought to sort it, or at least it'll be fun" -- poisons the well for virtually any interaction.

It still seems necessary that those who don't believe in an extremist view of Islam or Islamic faith should proclaim their anger for such actions,

They do. Routinely. Lot of good it does them, obviously.

But then that's another consequence of Islamophobia: there isn't a dialogue with Muslims or any interest in such. The dynamic is people talking at Them, lecturing them about what They should do and what Their religion supposedly contains without bothering to find out what the person they're interacting with does or thinks about their own religion. I often find myself amazed at the cavalier disrespect with which many Americans talk about Muslims, a kind of disrespect which would amount to fighting words if they themselves were subjected to it.

Interesting read. It's nice to hear a viewpoint from a minority on such a specific issue once in a while, for sure. Muslims are a hot topic the world over. I'm not American, so i can't really say much about the 'Mosque on ground zero' thing or the 'Christian Right' because i'm too ill-informed about such topics.

Coming from a very conservative upbringing, i was always ingrained with a feeling of xenophobia. My parents always demonised ethnic minorities of any sort, from Asians and blacks, to Russians and people from the Middle-East, with Caucasians being predominantly the only 'sane' ones. This backed up with the news stories you get ("More black youth shootings in Peckham!" or "Abdul-Alharr found plotting to blow up the subway!) certainly did not help to build a liberal view and acceptance of foreign culture.

As a result of this, i find it hard to judge the individual rather than the community, or in this case, to overcome the perception of the community. I'm constantly told "Islam is yet to come out of its 'middle-ages' stage like Christianity was before it became 'civilised' " with the argument that women are, for example, still treated as slaves and objects, and that while it may be okay for a Mosque to be built in a western country like Britain or America, building a Church in the middle of Iran would most likely not be tolerated, period.

However i have met one or two of the Muslim faith on a personal level and had no trouble overcoming such judgements because they seemed to embrace my culture as well as their own. They, for example, may drink tea just like me and be open to western ideals but still choose to practice the Islam faith at home and keep their Islamic traditions. It is this that i think we need to depict in games more often.

We need to deconstruct the idea that being exclusively Arab / Islamic is some sort of 'club' that is exclusive to members of that community only. I identified with Altair as a character because he didn't make it blindingly obvious or in-your-face that he was Arabic. I knew he was, but i was happy with it. If they'd given him an over the top accent and garnished him with a ridiculous amount of religious articles and got him to spew hatred for the white crusaders, that's when i'd say "This is stupid and arbitrary".

You can't do anything about the generic mook. They're cannon fodder and not every game is trying to make a political stance. But what we can do is create a broader spectrum of protagonists and key characters for the player to identify with. If we have a more diverse range of heroes who go beyond the typical power-armour wearing one-liner spewing white caucasian male, we'll see a better depiction not just of Arab Muslims, but of blacks, Asians as a whole and women.

After all, you're complaining about the depiction of Arabs, but the homosexual community has had little to no representation in video gaming and any attempts towards it has been met with incredibly one dimensional satire and caricatures. Remember Makoto from Enchanted Arms? I bet that did wonders for the gay community.

The point is that it's not just Arabs who get an 'unfair or unequal depiction'. Hell, women are still treated as sex objects in games, too. I'd argue that by looking into games like Full Spectrum Warrior or Splinter Cell as being politically charged because they depict a certain race as the enemy is like when people read a book and find all sorts of ridiculous "hidden meanings" when that was never the author's intention. See South Park's "Scrootie McBoogerballs" episode.

Lastly, with the advent of the internet, global communications has enabled people to reach out to cultures otherwise unbeknownst to them; Westerners take a keep interest in Japanese culture, whereas my 50-something year old father would still see them all as incredibly weird and alien as he would have had no exposure whatsoever to such a culture. But as members of all ethnic groups, beliefs and genders begin to coagulate in the cultural melting point of the internet, we'll get to the stage where we won't have to turn to the news for sensationalist stories that portray one particular group as being 'evil', because we will have already made our judgements on that group based on the people and literature we've come across over the internet the world wide.

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