May 29, 2008

Strong, silent type in Shadow Hearts

Natives are stereotyped in video games as well as movies, TV shows, and comic books. The Shadow Hearts game is a good example of this.

I’m Sure You’ve Got Plenty to SayWhile discussing the game with BomberGirl and PlasmaRit, we became interested in the “strong and silent” Native American character Natan. We wondered how much he actually had to say throughout the course of the game, and I honestly couldn’t recall. It’s been a while since I’ve played it.

To investigate our suspicions, I combed through one hundred and ten pages of the Shadow Hearts: From the New World script. From beginning to end, the script is 30,324 words long.

Natan says 768 words.
What this means:The treatment his character receives perpetuates the strong, silent Native American stereotype. At the very least, he’s not quite Tonto from The Lone Ranger. He rarely speaks, but he uses good grammar throughout the game, with one strange exception. After the party has been captured in the Caribbean, Natan lifts the gate from its hinges and says, “Long time no use… so gate was warped.”

The only quality of the Shadow Hearts series that makes this passably acceptable to me is that no one is safe. The developers must have had a Big Book of Stereotypes when they were drafting the characters. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, it’s not a game to take seriously.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Wooden Indians.

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