The issue came up when Latoya Peterson "talked about Chris Mottes, CEO of Deadline Games, and his defense of racism in his title Chili Con Carnage." She wrote:
Ching Chong Beautiful Exposes Racism in Video Game Design
Why, Chris, why? Why would you throw away all your hard work for a couple cheap, race based humor shots?
The reality is that no stereotype can be considered light-hearted and humorous. A stereotype is defined as “an often oversimplified or biased mental picture held to characterize the typical individual of a group.” Stereotypes are negative. Even “positive” stereotypes are ultimately detrimental to the groups that struggle to find a sense of self within the narrow parameters of society’s vision.
I was blown away. The tone of Mottes’ piece is unmistakably clear–this is how game designers think. This is how they justify their characters. It is as if the thought never crossed their minds that maybe, just maybe, the industry is sending a very powerful message out to minorities by saying that we do not exist outside of our stereotypical roles. If there were five or ten games with a multi-faceted, modern latino protagonist, maybe slipping in a few “light-hearted” stereotypes in one third person shooter would not be such a huge deal. It is still ill-advised, but you would have enough positive images on the market to balance out the negative images broadcast into the homes of every person who purchased this one game.
However, there is no balance. Stereotype after stereotype abound in the virtually crafted console world, with very few characters of color to provide an alternate perspective. Mottes argues that “most games with racist characters do not reflect the mindset of their developers.” I would argue that they do. It reflects the developer’s mindset in dealing with the world and in dealing with minorities. If the developer was not holding on to this mindset that minorities can be categorized with one or two main characteristics, we would have multi-faceted characters of color to play.
A few more thoughts on the subject:
For more on the subject, see "Joke" About Indian Shooting the Bull and Racist "Jokes" Are No Jokes.