Part 3: Whyyyyyyy
So, yeah, yesterday I posted the following image of King of Fighters XIII:
That’s some backdrop there, eh? Look past the woman with the bizarrely-torn trousers and take a look at the lovely greenery, the beautiful sunbeams shining through the rainforest canopy and the, er, baffling racist caricatures?
Let’s zoom in!
I think those are supposed to be human beings? The stage is supposed to be in Brazil, so perhaps they are supposed to be an indigenous people of the Amazon? A further zoom into the background, perhaps?
I mean, really? I understand that the primary artist for KoF XIII is Nona, and he likes to deal in caricature, and KoF’s backgrounds have abandoned sort-of-realism for spectacle, but there’s a difference between, say, the Japanese stage featuring sumo wrestlers who at least look like human beings or the London one featuring red buses, and this Brazil stage featuring embarassing, outdated and outright racist stereotypes. Brazil has cropped up before in King of Fighters in a similar context, way back in KoF’94:
There’s some sort of indigenous people in the background there, too, and while their appearance isn’t exactly ideal, they at least look human. While I accept that the new KoF XIII backdrop may be a callback to this one, it (like the misogyny covered in the previous post) is something that should have remained in the past, not actually brought back and made even more offensive.
Oh yeah, there’s also the confusing Egypt backdrop, which has now appeared in two games (though they feature slight differences), but I’m not sure what to make of that, as it appears to be a bizarre ancient Egypt involving the wailing undead in thrall to the magical future-folk (I think? The alternative is that these are supposed to be some sort of actual modern Egyptians, emaciated and bowing to the superiority of the strange fighting people, but that’d be too ridiculous?):
Did no-one at SNK Playmore think any of this was a bad idea? How culturally clueless are they? I’m not saying the racism/misogyny in KoF XIII is in any way intentional, it’s more likely just a case of ignorance and cultural insensitivity (at least I sincerely hope it is). But, at a time where the company’s survival will no doubt heavily depend on how the game performs in non-Japanese markets, they really should be thinking more than this, and that’s before even considering the fact that Brazil has a sizeable KoF fanbase.
Maybe this is what they think people want? Maybe this IS what people want (what a depressing thought…)? Or maybe they don’t really care as pricks like me will buy it anyway?
PART 4: Worst Human
So why does this bother me so much, anyway? I could just ignore the game, like many, many people will ( ‘King of Fighters’ isn’t exactly a household name).
The problem is, I love the King of Fighters series. KoF has been a part of my gaming life for quite some time, and I prefer everything about them to Street Fighter (the nearest and more popular equivalent), from the gameplay mechanics to the characters. King of Fighters is less likely to feature character concepts like ‘sumo guy’, ‘weird magic Indian guy’, ‘boxer guy’, in favour of having characters in an (admittedly sometimes outlandish) approximation of ‘street’ clothes. The storylines, while still being slim, have an episodic quality that flows from game to game, and the characters have more personality, along with ever-evolving movelists. Such a good series of games!
I already own all the main KoF games (and 3 versions of KoF ’98, as I’m a dick), so the idiotic completist in me will no doubt win out when it comes to purchasing KoF XIII, and that’s even before I take into account the omnipresent horror of white male privilege.
Yes, being a white European male means that the misogyny and racism in the game don’t directly affect me (though obviously any misogyny or racism affects society as a whole), so I’ll probably be able to play the game quite happily, with only the occasional grimace or exclamation of “ooh that’s a bit dodgy” when confronted with the problematic aspects.
I am not happy about this, and recognise this as a definite problem. I’d like to have the courage of my convictions and not be able to ignore the shitty parts of this game, but I know that I will, as a new King of Fighters is too tempting an offer for me to pass up. White male privilege. The world is aimed at me.
So, King of Fighters XIII – actively being offensive to a large part of the population, and making me a self-hating coward. Is this what I want from a £40 game? No, but I won’t let it put me off actually making the purchase.