Sep 2, 2010

It's the Holiday Season. Where are the games?

Labor Day Weekend is approaching in the United States which signals the end of the summer. I use this time to get my checklist ready for the upcoming holiday season of gaming. The holiday season is the best time to be a gamer. After a summer of mediocre titles and downloadable content, gamers are blessed with the return of awesome games. Last year we saw Uncharted 2, Demon's Souls, Borderlands, Assassin's Creed 2, and many other games that made the 2009 holiday season great. This year the only games I have on my radar are Fallout: New Vegas and LittleBigPlanet 2. Am I missing something?

I blame it on this motion control craze that's sweeping over the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Sony & Microsoft are trying to profit from the casual audience Nintendo has banking off since 2006. They got so caught up in adding motion controls they forgot about the hardcore gamers, much like what Nintendo did with the Wii. Microsoft's presentation of Kinect at E3 consisted of a bunch of casual games that could be found on the Wii, and Dance Central. Sony is hoping the September release of the PS Move proves to be a success by bundling it with "Sports Champions" which looks like Wii Sports HD. I'm already bored.

It's not all bad. 2011 is also shaping up to be an excellent year in gaming. Off the top I can name Dead Space 2, Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War 3, Mortal Kombat, and Madden 2012. We just have to deal with an abysmal 2010 holiday season. Microsoft is dropping Halo: Reach in two weeks so they'll be all right. Sony is hoping we all buy a PlayStation Move so we can replay games with motion controls. It worked with Resident Evil 4 on the Wii, but will I want to play Heavy Rain with the PS Move? Probably.

Sep 1, 2010

The Racism in Mafia II

Mafia II takes place during a time when segregation was a norm in American Society. The developers of Mafia II use that time to exploit many racist views and ideas throughout the story. I felt uneasy as I was asked to steal a car from what Vito Scaletta refers to as a "moolie" neighborhood. I was uncomfortable listening to Joe describe how all blacks do is smoke dope and kill each other as I drove around Empire City. I had to tell myself "It's the 40's" to rationalize the insensitivity. When I found myself repeating that phrase over and over I knew there was a problem.

One of the more offensive moments happened when I was shooting my way through a restaurant in Chinatown. After successfully killing every last Chinese person in the place I received the achievement "Chop Chop!" I was disgusted. The name "Chop Chop" is a reference to a comic book character from the 40's and 50's. His image was that of a stereotypical Chinese caricature as you can see in the picture on the right. It's just insulting to for a game to take pride in killing a bunch of characters then rewarding the player with a shout out to an offensive character.

The racism in Mafia II is not necessary. Red Dead Redemption focuses on an earlier time in American History and manages to do it without being offensive. The game brings us to Mexico and embraces the culture as it tells us a story. If we let a game like Mafia II slide it's only going to open the door for more offensive games. What's going to stop the next game that's set in the 40's and 50's from being offensive? Before we know it we could end up with another Ethnic Cleansing on our hands.