Why King of Fighters Makes Me Hate Myself

The following is a guest post from Jean-Paul Malone:

Jean-Paul Malone is a white, bisexual cis-male from Scotland who has been gaming since the heady days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k. He likes 2D fighting games a lot, but sometimes takes a break to play RPGS and/or apply nail varnish.

Hey! There’s a new King of Fighters game out! While it has been available in arcades for quite some time, it’s now available for play on consoles and I’m almost certain to buy it! And this makes me pretty annoyed at myself.

This image contains a hint as to why!

Fighting game The King of Fighters XIII is the latest in the pure dead old series of mostly-excellent games from SNK Playmore, and it looks a lot like it’ll play well, with a varied and interesting cast with uncluttered movelists and smooth animation. It’s just a shame about the rampant misogyny, eh?

 

PART 1: DEPRESSING BOLLOCKS

“No Mai, No Buy” was the ludicrous slogan puked out of the fingertips of countless King of Fighters (or ‘KoF’) fans on messageboards around the time of the release of KoF XII, in reference to the lack of the character Mai Shiranui in the game. Ninjutsu-practicing Mai is a fun and effective character to play as, with useful and consistent moves, but her popularity mainly stems from the fact she has (you guessed it) large, over-animated breasts.

SNK Playmore, always being barely one step ahead of going bankrupt, seemed to throw their hands in the air and say “FINE, we’ll give you what you want!” and so included her in the latest KoF instalment. Good news for slimy bastards everywhere, the game designers decided to make her outfit even more revealing, and her breasts even more ludicrous and creepily-rendered. Have a look for yourself, likes, at the sprites for KoF94, KoFXI, and KoFXIII:

Ridiculous.

Ludicrous.

Intensely ludicrous.

I know that the appallingly-named ‘jiggle physics’ are no recent or unique thing in videogames – I’m looking at you with morbid fascination, Dead or Alive series! -and Mai’s KoF 94 sprite is an early ‘pioneer’ of such a thing, but that is no excuse for them to still be an ongoing concern (and part of a trend I sadly can’t see vanishing while the main players of  games are perceived to be young males), much like another slice of cringe-inducing sexism in the latest KoF installment…

PART 2: INSULTING BULLSHIT

 

King and Yuri (pictured above) are that rarity in video games – female characters with strong personalities and actual clothing that covers their bodies, and not just in a seedy painted-on sort of way! Not exactly progressive, but certainly the least we should expect, right? Sadly, both characters have a dark past in looks-okay-plays-like-shite fighting game series Art of Fighting

Quite apart from Yuri’s sadly-usual beginnings as a generic damsel-in-distress, King’s original appearance in 1992′s Art of Fighting saw her appearing as a bouncer passing as male at a club owned by a crime boss. When defeated, her clothes rip off, revealing her to be >gasp< a woman. Take a look at this image:

Don’t worry, confused male readers! She’s got a reassuringly feminine pink bra!

Sigh.

Anyway, while it could be argued that this at least had a storyline component, this ‘feature’ continued into 1994′s Art of Fighting 2, where Yuri was now a playable character. When you defeat any opponent with a special or super move (or whatever the terminology is in Art of Fighting), their outfit tears, exposing underwear/muscles/scars etc. To the designers’ near-credit, this also happened to the male characters (though obviously it’s not the same thing). This was also carried over to the appearance of the Art of Fighting characters in the first two King of Fighters games (though I think maybe Ryo was the only male this applied to as well?).

Thankfully, this unfortunate relic of the early-90s vanished from the games in the ones that followed, and King and Yuri grew into characters that could perhaps be described as ’rounded’ and ‘interesting’ (or as much as fighting game characters ever are, anyway).

Pathetically, with King of Fighters XIII, the clothes-ripping has returned, and this time it only happens to King and Yuri. Also problematic is the way that Yuri is now portrayed in an infantilizing ‘Moé’ style (which Wikipedia describes as being “used within anime fandom as an interjection referring to a character the speaker considers to be a moekko (a blossoming or “budding” girl)”), and the fact her alternate color schemes involve her leggings getting increasingly shorter/turning into thigh-highs. Here’s a  screenshot of Yuri being defeated, her clothes tearing off (it’s not as clear as it could be, but should get the idea across) –

Oh glorious! Strong female character shamed and humiliated for no reason other than the male gaze! I get that it’s a nod to the ‘classic’ games of the early 90s, but it’s really not a ‘tradition’ that should have been revived. I don’t really want games I enjoy playing to feature things that’ll embarrass me and make me feel like a creep, you know? I understand SNK Playmore feel the need to cater to the most base aspects of gaming culture, as they need to make a successful product to survive, but this shit is regressive and downright insulting. Here’s another image, this time of King being knocked out, clothing torn etc. –

Not nice or necessary, is it? And wait, just WHAT the FUCK is going on in that background?  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?

Huh?

Let’s zoom in!

 

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 embarrassing, 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 sizable 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 seriesKoF 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 favor 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 personalityalong 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 XIIIand 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 recognize 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.

Shit.

This entry was posted in Console Games, General Gaming and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Why King of Fighters Makes Me Hate Myself

  1. Andrew says:

    Uh, I’m not sure I understand all your angst over purchasing the game. If you were just doing a gloss of the problematic aspects of the game, you know, that’d be fine, but why are you spending so much time hand-wringing over your assholishness in purchasing the thing?

    I mean, you’re a free agent here. If it bothers you so much, don’t buy the game. Be strong! I believe in you! If it doesn’t actually bother you enough to stop you from buying the game, uh, maybe don’t publicly castigate yourself for your wretched male weakness. That sort of performative guilt doesn’t help anything other than your own conscience, and if it’s intended to absolve you for your inevitable purchase, I call bullshit on it. Go ahead and buy the freakin’ game and accept that shit be complicated. That’s one of the nice things about the Border House — authors can buy and play games that are hugely problematic AND recognize that the games are hugely problematic and intelligently critique them without insisting that those problematic aspects make the games or the people who play them instantly worthless. Well, with the exception of RapeLay, of course, but that’s its own special (awful) case.

    It just kind of feels like you want us to feel sorry for you, which seems weird and out of place in the rest of the article. If it’s supposed to be funny, it seems a little too heavy-handed to me. Sorry?

    • Tami B. says:

      I think the key part of this article is how the author talks about how it’s his privilege that allows him to buy this game without it personally impacting him. He’s not trying to make us feel guilty, he’s showing us that double standard that exists. Male gamers tend to dismiss or not even notice problematic portrayals of women in games because it doesn’t affect them personally.

      • Kimiko says:

        I agree that, as an example of someone privileged acknowledging feeling mildly uncomfortable enjoying the KoF games, it is an interesting article.
        But the last part of this article still comes across to me as asking readers to praise him for nothing.

        • Jean-Paul says:

          I think that’s a fair enough comment – I realise that part of male white privilege does sometimes incorporate “Look, I noticed racism/sexism etc.” and expecting praise, and I totally didn’t intend for that to be the case in this article. If it does come across like that, then thanks for pointing it out, as it is something I can attempt to address in future.

        • Andrew says:

          Yeah, that’s pretty much what I was trying to say. Knowing this was written for the author’s personal blog does make a difference, though.

      • proletariat says:

        you forget how white gamers dismiss or don’t notice the problematic portrayals of people of color, too.

        i even see it as a problem in a lot of feminists. they focus so hard on the plight of women in the media (most of whom are white, due to this society having euro-centric standards of beauty, by the way) that they forget white women are the second most privileged group of people to ever walk the face of this planet, behind only white men.

        i mean, a lot of the bad portrayals of women can be chalked up to a sexually repressed society trying to find an outlet (which, yes, is still harmful), but there is no reason to depict blacks as screaming savages or “thugs from the hood” (god, the white idea of what hip-hop culture entails makes me angry) except pure ignorance and bigotry.

        • Mim says:

          Actually, I’d argue that gay white cis men would be the second most privileged group, since they actually have been brought up with the same opportunities and networks as the straight white men and it really shows how much resources they have compared to everyone else. Maybe you overlooked that because of your focus in that commen being solely based on race and gender, and I’ve probably overlooked a whole ‘nother axis that makes another group outrank my suggestion. I do get your point that we need way more intersectionality in our human rights struggles, in fact this example underlines it, but ranking minorities like this? It’s good for nothing.

          • proletariat says:

            only until you realize that even as a feminist, focusing on the plight of white women is excluding all the women of color, many of whom face far worse conditions than your average white woman.

            look up the numbers. a black woman is far worse off in every measurable category than a white woman, because of her race and gender combined.

            • Quinnae says:

              Speaking as a woman of colour I do not appreciate being pitted against my sisters as if our experiences are entirely incommensurable.

              To cast the complaints about sexual objectification as a “white” issue does a profound disservice to issues women of colour have long grappled with; the objectification of white women affects all women, albeit differentially. As a Latina I am excluded from the beauty standard it represents, cast as an outsider, a failure. Objectification perverts me, however, in the same ways it perverts white women- because we are also still both women.

              WOC scholars have cautioned against essentialising our experiences as building blocks or units of objective measure (one unit of woman = one unit of blackness, so 1+1=2. You should be able to see how stupid that is, frankly). My Latina-ness, my trans-ness, are struck through by my being a woman and vice versa. They are not neat MegaBlocks that are evenly separable from one another.

              Intersectionality is not premised on such a building block mentality where women of colour have Two Universal Oppression Units, versus white women who only have one. To argue that white women are, unequivocally, the second most privileged group on the planet is not something that can be fully substantiated by gendered reality.

              And why does this matter to me? Because I am LatinA; I am a woman in this society. The diminishing of the struggles of my white sisters diminishes my own struggle and diminishes my own claim to womanhood; it suggests tacitly that womanhood’s actually a pretty sweet deal, socially. After all, if white women are sitting pretty then the subject position of “Woman” isn’t so abject after all and maybe the Real Problem (TM) is racism, classism or something else.

              I reject that way of thinking, not out of any great need to defend white folks but because by wedging us apart as a gender it undermines *my* struggle as a feminist, and the struggles of other women of colour.

              Intersectionality is a two way street. I have a specific experience as a Latina trans woman who grew up working class, yes; I also have a lot that’s useful to say about womanhood as a whole, race as a whole. Not just this highly specific, essentialised experience of my own identity.

              You may not get it, but your comments have rather dramatically erased where *I* stand as a woman of colour, taking things I’ve experienced and dismissing them only as “the plight of white women.” Kindly stop speaking for me. Thank you.

            • Mim says:

              It’s mostly excluding queer people as well, to the point where radical feminists tried to appropriate the term Lesbian for some universal solidarity. I am pretty sure that queer people of color feel the same way about race discussion that you feel about feminist discussion, but you probably wouldn’t agree to one of them saying that straight people of color have it fine and dandy.

              I do know that I am in over my head in this discussion as a white person (and non American too, for that matter), but what I do know is that while things are looking up on the academical level, mainstream feminism is still very straight, and mainstream queer emancipation is still extremely male. I also know that by washing my hands of these movements is damaging because feminism is what enables me to have any say at all in the queer community and vice versa, despite their faults.

            • Sunflower says:

              “It’s mostly excluding queer people as well, to the point where radical feminists tried to appropriate the term Lesbian for some universal solidarity.”

              I haven’t seen that radical feminists call themselves lesbians across the board for solidarity. I believe you that it happens, but it bothers me that this comes across as saying all radical feminists believe or do the same thing. That’s not the case in my experience.

              I’m not trying to say your experience is invalid in any way. It just irks me when people say “feminists do X” as if there’s a hive mind or something.

            • Mim says:

              sunflower: You are very right about that. Sorry, I was going to specify it to radical feminists in the 60’s and 70’s, but sadly readability tends to take a back seat to whatever fancy idea that just popped into my head :)

            • Sunflower says:

              Thanks, Mim. I read that there were disagreements among feminists because some feminists thought that transgender people existed because of our society’s gender issues. That apparently turned into exclusion of those people and a dismissal of their unhappiness and experience by some. I’m happy that from what I see of today’s feminists, most of them are inclusive of LGBT people. I’m not very knowledgeable on this issue so hearing your experience helps very much.

            • Mim says:

              Sunflower: I think that as a rule of thumb, we just have to remember that people don’t get rid of all of their prejudices and preconceptions just because they join in on one cause. Feminists will always be transphobic and racist and so forth unless they’re made aware of their shortcommings, and the same is true for everyone else. Admittedly I have been more of the side of saying supid things than having stupid things said about me, but I know that actually getting to know the people you make stupid statements about plays a part in getting rid of these statements. But of course the more important part comes from bringing attention to the fact that they’re stupid in the first place.

            • Sunflower says:

              Mim: This one specific transphobic part of feminism that I read about seems to have come from trying to justify some gender theories, as far as I can understand. But usually when people try to use something to justify something else, it’s because there’s already some discomfort, fear, or hate there to begin with. I find that the more uncomfortable or defensive certain lines of questioning make me, the more I have to feel my feelings on the subject in order to find out what it is that I’m trying to get away from. That’s pretty much what everyone has to do and in that we’re in the same boat, all steeped in a society that affects us a lot of times without us even knowing it. Not everyone in a group wants to feel that discomfort and some people actively try to shut it down. It sucks :(

            • Sunflower says:

              Quinnae: Thank you for speaking up about this. It is very interesting and meaningful.

    • Jean-Paul says:

      There’s a lot of stuff to think about, there. I should point out the article was originally written for my blog, which is why it’s maybe more self-involved than it would be if I’d written it specifically for this website (which isn’t an excuse, just thought I’d give it a wee bit more context).

      I think I wrote it both as an attempt to work through some stuff regarding my conflicting feelings regarding the game, and also to point out some dubious things about the game that I feel needed mentioning as no-one else was.

      Oh, and I did buy the game, in the end, and have basically accepted that shit, as you say, is complicated. I don’t want any pity or anything, and do accept that the article does sometimes suggest otherwise!

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Trodamus says:

    It’s strange, as a few video reviews of XII by IGN (I think) called KOF out on the bizarrely racist backgrounds, while the video review for XIII didn’t mention this element even as it complimented the backgrounds for being beautifully animated.

    I’ve always wanted to be a KOF fan but will probably only get into the series with XIII this Christmas, but didn’t the XII-XIII arc focus on an efeminite villain character designed to play against the players (assumed) transphobic stance against such “girly” men? I think I’d read something on that, maybe not, but if so it’s also worth mentioning.

    As much as I find Mai to be nice looking, I also find her to be embarassing because she looks ridiculous in a way I can never in good conscience attempt to justify.

    • proletariat says:

      #whitepeople
      yeah, w’re using your “hashtags” now:
      Imagine the Word of God without religious groupies
      Imagine a savior born in a Mexican hooptie
      Persecuted single mother in a modern manger
      You’d crucify him again like a fucking stranger
      Tears of the anger are worth more than diamonds or rubies
      Imagine being locked up since juvie
      Imagine changing your life and still going out like Tookie
      Imagine niggas talking shit when they never knew me
      Imagine a movie that depicted the pain in your life
      Like them kids in Afghanistan chasing a kite
      For most of the world that’s what it’s like
      Imagine if the woman you suppose to love for the rest of your life
      Is set to marry someone else at the end of the night
      They say you fight the greatest jihad in your heart and your mind
      And fight the hardest when you start from behind
      So I dreamed the impossible all the time
      Fuck a Masonic design—Americas future is mine
      Repeat that to yourself cause if culture’s a crime
      Them numbers tatted on your arm aren’t too far behind
      They can only conquer you after they’ve murdered your mind
      So rise up motherfucker like the sign of the times
      I feel my body weakening but my spirit is fine
      Ready to go to war with devils at the drop of a dime
      And fight with my rebel army until the stars are aligned

      Nostradamus was a white man’s prophet
      Who predicated European supremacist logic
      Because the pilgrims and Conquistador columns
      Killed more innocent people than Hitler and Stalin
      I guess the fortune-tellers skipped an antichrist or two
      Brother, give this to the OG’s doing life with you
      And pray for the problems with the Pope psychology
      So the Vatican will offer an apology
      For destroying the people’s liberation theology
      Snatching the spirit of Jesus from people in poverty
      Business decisions like keeping people in prisons
      But had the opposite effect: incarcerating religion
      That type of crooked politics imposed on a populous
      Is obvious if you read the Northwoods documents
      Forget the compliments for what I recorded
      And live for revolution instead of always dying for it
      Remember a bullet can never stop me
      My legions are led by the spirit Haile Selassie, watch me
      Even if I’m shot in the chakra I will prosper
      Doppler effect bumping music out a helicopter
      Telling the Persians, “Dig up Zoroaster”
      And tell them I came back as the son of the Ahura Mazda
      Fish out the Philistine Dagon from the shores of Gaza
      And call Quetzalcoatl flying over La Raza
      This is my message to the older gods
      I’ll sacrifice you all to the Revolution like the Romanovs
      Lost in the desert like the Hebrews of Israel
      The blood clot system tried to kill me like sickle-cell
      But I survived and I’m alive to fight another day
      Cocooned in a coma, I can still hear my mother pray
      Sister crying out to god, “Please let my brother stay!”
      Walking towards the light but something’s pulling me the other way

    • Jean-Paul says:

      I do puzzle over the Ash Crimson stuff (the baddie who is portrayed as being rather effeminate) – I didn’t think him being into nail art and having a sashaying walk was portrayed negatively, or maybe it was just me thinking that, as I reckon it makes him pretty cool.

      He’s got a definite character, which isn’t just generic ‘intense tough guy’ and it’s turned out in KoF XIII that’s it’s not as simple as him being the bad guy. This doesn’t necessarily make his portrayal okay, though, and I am pretty sure there is a definite case to be made against his portrayal and the other character’s reactions to him.

      It’s near-impossible to read any fighting game forums discussing him that aren’t just hideously negative, though, and some of the pre-fight dialogue in KoF XIII does concern him being less-than-traditionally-‘manly’, and this being a negative thing.

      And speaking of the pre-fight dialogues, there’s SO MUCH shaming of the way Mai dresses. IIRC, there’s even one of the characters saying “if you were MY girlfriend, I wouldn’t let you go out dressed like that”, and that’s one of the ‘good guy’ characters (Joe) who is supposed to provide comic relief. It’s not funny at all, and is pretty damaging to the character (who also gets to exhibit some transphobia in the Fatal fury ending, mentioned in a comment below) as I now find it incredibly difficult to see him as full of ‘fun’.

      I’m probably rambling! I could talk about KoF all night, really…

      • Sarah says:

        I’m so conflicted when it comes to Ash’s character. On one hand, I really like him and think he’s an interesting character with an interesting personality. I like his snark, his manipulative behavior, his fighting style.

        On the other hand, Japanese media has a habit of portraying effeminate men as something to be laughed at or ridiculed, so I really must question the motives behind making Ash such an obviously effeminate, unheroic and fingernail-obsessed character. I can’t help but feel like he is a joke character or a character who is supposed to be seen as funny/not taken seriously.

  3. Noirsam says:

    Good article.

    But i think you forgot about the bit of transphobia/homophobia in the Fatal Fury team ending.

    • Jean-Paul says:

      Actually, yeah – when I wrote this, I hadn’t actually seen that ending, but I have now, and yup, it is definitely offensive. What’s worse, I think it’s a running joke from maybe KoF 2003? It’s not funny, and it’s insulting that we’re expected to find it funny. A lot of the pre-fight dialogue shows that a lot of the characters are just generally pretty loathsome (though I do not think that we are supposed to think is).

  4. Sunflower says:

    Thanks for this article. My first reaction to it was that you were sincere in describing your complicated feelings, but I am glad that others questioned that because I got to see you respond in an open and honest way which makes it clear you were not going for the pity. I think if you really were, you would have gotten defensive over it and refused to consider the critiques.
    This article makes me think of my feelings when I read Agatha Christie. I know there is problematic stuff in her books, but it is not enough to make me stop reading her because they are mostly not aimed at my identity. Every racist or classist thing I notice bothers me but I can never truly understand the reaction directly because of privilege. I struggle with it and yet I read and enjoy her books. I am thankful at least I can pick the issues out, instead of being oblivious to them, but yeah, I feel I can do better.

  5. Wilberg says:

    I agree with you. It is kind of sad that developers don’t think about what they are doing before they release it something. Even Street Fighter falls into this kind of trap. Dee Jay is definitely a stereotype that sticks out like a sore thumb. And Rufus looks like an intentional or unconscious dis. Even Guile looks more like a caveman than a person in SF 4. It didn’t stop me from getting those games though. Sometimes I just laugh at the fact that some people don’t even think about matters like these when they are making games.

  6. Wilberg says:

    This was a good read. I do feel sorry for King and Yuri. Those two characters are my favorite pair. It would be better if those two went down with dignity just like everyone else. While playing KOF 13 every time my King’s health is low almost everyone wants to strip her down with a special. Sometimes I actually get annoyed by that.

  7. Ash says:

    I will agree with the misogyny and all that, but the Brazilian bit is off base. They’re supposed to be bears or something cute, not offensive. Looks like something out of Lilo and Stitch. Just something that’s supposed to be goofy.

    That said, Marvel vs Capcom 2 still reigns supreme!

  8. I’m a long time fan of KOF and I love the gameplay, but boy did this entry go out of its way to turn back the clock.

    King is one of my mains in the game, and seeing her clothing ripped to shreds when she gets hit with a super made me uncomfortable. Sure, I remember that antic from the old Art of Fighting game in the mid 90s, but it was treated as a surprise because you were led to believe that she was a man. Seeing that now, almost two decades later, just seems tasteless.

    And I still don’t get what the heck is happening in the Brazilian stage. At first look, the “beings” look like savage, racist portrayals of people, but they also have tails. I don’t think any other stage has these humanoid animals.

    • Jean-Paul says:

      Yeah, the Brazilian stage is pretty confusing – having seen the tails, I wonder what exactly the humanoid animals are supposed to be? If they are just supposed to be some sort of ‘goofy’ and ‘cute’ things, as mentioned in other comments, some sort of non-human, then the art team have gone about it in a really stupid way, what with the designs incorporating aspects of racist stereotypes. Baffling!

  9. Eldritch says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the fact that much of the reason for the racist (I’ll wont comment on the sexist stuff out for now as that’s a whole other kettle of fish) content is the fact that this is a Japanese game.

    Japanese games often have racist overtones – however usually it’s the kind of racism that stems from a sort of naive ignorance rather than outright hate or xenophobia. Japan is not nearly as multi-cultural as Europe or America and media such as games often strongly reflect this.

    The problem here is that games coming from Japan often have a huge international audience, but the Japanese creators do not seem to really consider this and continue to make games only for a Japanese audience, leaving international matters to the international people.
    You made the very good example of the way that the game portrayed Brazillians making them seem seemingly oblivious to the large Brazilian fan following. Kind of like treating them as if they didn’t exist.
    The same phenomenon can be found in Japanese anime – which also has a huge international following – in the way that black characters are often portrayed. Japanese creators will have to change and eventually realise they no longer have an exclusively Japanese audience. But issues such as language barrier and the simple fact that many Japanese creators haven’t even seen a non-Japanese person (other than in Hollywood films) ensures that this will take a while.

  10. Miggens says:

    I really must debate the Brazil part of this article. I definitely don’t think they are supposed to be human (they have tails), let alone what the Japanese developers think the native population of Brazil looks like. Yes, Japan has problems when it comes to depicting non-Japanese people, but I can’t imagine a Japanese dev thinking it’s a good idea to depict Brazillians as scaly, green, tailed creatures.
    The little creatures look more like a silly race of random native animals.

    The same applies to the Egypt stage. Really, when it comes to Egypt a lot of people automatically think of pyramids, mummies, curses, etc. Just look at movies like The Mummy or TV shows like Tutenstein or video games like Banjo Kazooie (and it’s pyramid-filled “Gobi Desert” level). People love the mythology and history of Egypt, as well as the mysterious supernatural side to it. I wouldn’t say it’s an offensive stereotype though, or that King of Fighters’ level is particularly unusual in its depiction of Egypt.

    I definitely agree with the rest though, particularly Mai’s character design.

Comments are closed.