Is LocoRoco Racist?

Golliwog-a-like character causes finger-pointing

Posted by Staff
Earlier this week, a Californian-based blogger pointed an accusatory finger at Sony?s new PSP hope LocoRoco, accusing the game of being blatantly racist due to the inclusion of Golliwog type characters (see picture to the right).

Alejandro Quan-Madrid insisted that the game was guilty of "institutional racism", claiming that the bad guys - Moja ? were far too similar to offensive early 20th Century caricatures of Africans popularised by such things as golliwogs and the Black and White minstrel-type entertainers of the day.

Another Kotaku writer, Florian Eckhardt, offered a counter-point to Quan Madrid?s accusations: "[he] is making himself out to be one of those knee-jerk reactionaries who measures his own importance by his ability to be self-righteously offended. Not only is his argument silly and worthy of derision, but it demeans the struggle against actual racism."

Ryan Bowling, PR manager for SCEA, waded into the frey, offering the comment, "LocoRoco is a fantasy game geared towards a worldwide audience that takes place in a vibrant pastel world with colorful landscapes and characters and is not based on real-life places, people or things."

What do you think? Are Japanese games designers innocently creating wonderful fantasy worlds for us to play in? Or are some of them really guilty of ?institutional racism? as per Quan-Madrid?s comments? Is there really something darker at work here? (Now that's a poor choice of phrase - Ed).

For more on LocoRoco, check out SPOnG's dedicated page here.
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Comments

Jay 30 Jun 2006 16:33
1/19
And there's every color of LocoRoco in the game except white. Now THAT'S racist!
Svend Joscelyne 30 Jun 2006 16:37
2/19
Maybe the reason Japan gets the decent games and light-hearted fun is because they're above this idiotic quest for 'political correctness'. Jesus, it's just a game.

Here's another one from the cer-aaaazay Japanese as well, while they're at it:
http://www.suntory.co.jp/softdrink/bubbleman/index.html

Bubble Man (my saviour drink in Japan when I went last year) has its own website. Check out page 12 in the flash-created magazine. ONOS.
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ShadowSpiderman 30 Jun 2006 16:42
3/19

I believe that yes, a lot of Japanese developer include things in their games that is offensive and would be considered racist by most people of African decent. I think Japanese people think its cute or funny. They even have a whole market for stuff like this (i.e. dolls, pictures). I mean look at "Oil Man" in the PSP game Mega Man powered up. Thats not right. Someone needs to tell them that it isn't funny or cute and that it is offensive and wrong.
crs117 30 Jun 2006 17:54
4/19
ShadowSpiderman wrote:

I believe that yes, a lot of Japanese developer include things in their games that is offensive and would be considered racist by most people of African decent. I think Japanese people think its cute or funny. They even have a whole market for stuff like this (i.e. dolls, pictures). I mean look at "Oil Man" in the PSP game Mega Man powered up. Thats not right. Someone needs to tell them that it isn't funny or cute and that it is offensive and wrong.


Are you serious? Its a game for crying out loud. And yes recial humor can be extremely funny and non-offensive see Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle, Carlos Mancia (sp) or even South Park for applicable sources.

Geez, the biggest issue with racism in american in today's day and age deals with the minorities trying to keep racism in the spotlight even over non-offensive issues. I am not at all supportive of offensive racist remarks used intentionally or not and there is definately a line, but for crying out loud, the game supports culture not destroys it.
Joji 30 Jun 2006 19:39
5/19
Loco Roco might not be racist, but despite japan being a hive of greatness for many things, its known by some to be racist or xenophobic in some cases, this is basicly because very few people of dark toned skin live there. Hell in some cases, there still probs between them the chinese and the koreans (that's what war does I guess).

You might think we are clutching at straws here, but the only way most japanese people see real black people would be in music, films and sport (and yes games too but we mean real people).

If you don't believe follow the link and read everyone.

http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1506576,00.html

Dig deeper on that one if you must.

There was also another case concerning anime series One Piece. When the series went to the U.S, a certain episode, with a certain black pirate character had his skin edited pink, because it was thought americans might find his appearance stereotypical and offensive.

Now I'm an anime fan and I like to see things how the artist intended them to be. I didn't think this edit in the U.S was not necessary since there were black pirates, a fact that Disney's Pirates of the Carribean does well to tell us even though that's fantasy too.

Follow the link below to see what I mean on this one.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Piece#Censorship_and_Editing

Now the question beckons, was this U.S edit justified because of the black pirate character design is of the stereotypical nature (all the characters of One Piece look just as weird regardess of nationality anyway), or was it done because the pirate was just black? A warning before the show would have solved this problem.

Despite the character design, I'd rather there be a black pirate in the show. In a similar way to the Mr Popo Character in Dragonball Z (search Google dammit), I notice the design again is stereotypical, but bare in mind when it was made and who was intended to see it. I won't agree with it, but I also know for a show that has characters like this, there will be others that show the better flipside of the coin. Better a black pirate than deny they existed at all.

The Secret of Blue Water anime series has Nadia as the main character and shows her brushes with racism in the show, because of her dark skin and that one is partly set in France. Cowboy Bebop series also has some greatly designed black characters (watch the show and see what I mean), possibly the best I know of. Enough about anime anyways, it was just the nearest example at hand.

So is Loco Roco Racist? No I don't believe it is. Black is a colour of the spectrum people, and if a character is black in colour what colour will their features be? Obviously any colour but black to make them stand out.

Yes. Some black people do have larger lips and they are a purply pink colour (I should know since I'm one of them). That's fact, but its up to designers to check these sensitive issues during production, which is why we never hear these kinds of complaints in games.

Sony know they have to sell to many countries so they aren't gonna go out of their way to insult people. There will always be some that think differently though and there's little we can do about them but educate them in a better way of thinking.

I'll step down from the soap box now, thanks for listening and let us know your thoughts.



tg0006 30 Jun 2006 20:13
6/19
This guy saying this game is raceist is a f**king idiot. The reason for the dark enemies is because its a bright world with brightly designed characters, and black is as dark of a color to oppose the bright colors of the game.
tyrion 1 Jul 2006 12:13
7/19
tg0006 wrote:
This guy saying this game is raceist is a f**king idiot. The reason for the dark enemies is because its a bright world with brightly designed characters, and black is as dark of a color to oppose the bright colors of the game.

Exactly! And if the guy had looked at the game and not just flown off the handle at some of the character art, he'd have seen that the Mojyas move like they have tenticles, not the dreadlocks it appears they have in the art attached to this story.
Ditto 1 Jul 2006 12:59
8/19
Joji wrote:
You might think we are clutching at straws here, but the only way most japanese people see real black people would be in music, films and sport (and yes games too but we mean real people).


No, that's wrong.

There are a lot of R&B, hip-hop, rap (crap music) clubs in Japan that have black people handing out leaflets and encoraging people inside, I guess because this is what the Japanese associate these types of music with (black Americans). If you walk up Kyouto's main street you will see about half a dozen at least.

(NB Disclaimer: I'm not being racist or stereotyping black people in Japan, but making an observation based on personal experience.)
PreciousRoi 2 Jul 2006 05:15
9/19
I'm surprised no PC-minded individual objected to Bob-oms or whatever those chained, Black so-called "monsters" from Nintendo's Mario games. And what about the blatant animal abuse featured...

Not to mention the heavy, near-omnipresent propaganda supporting the opressive rule of the current Mushroom dynasty and the dreaded PID (Plumbers of Italian Descent), the Mushroom Kingdom's security organ...
alexh2o 2 Jul 2006 12:42
10/19
man this pisses me off! black is just a worldwide recognised colour for evil/bad and white as good. that has absolutely nothing to do with the colour of peoples skin. so in games, yes a black charrecter will be used to portray bad because it can be easily distinguished from the good charrecters. that doesnt mean that the charrecter in a game is actually based off a real life racial group!

and as a side note... so what if the bad guys are black and meant to portray black people. some black people are bad so why cant they be portrayed. no one cares when you get some american army game where they go round killing arabs in iraq. is that racist? no its just a depiction.
vault 13 2 Jul 2006 14:23
11/19
I don't think it's the color of the sprite featured in the promo picture, it's more the big orange lips and suspiciously dreadlocky hair. It's would seem at first glance a huge jab at late 1800's and early 19th century depiction of african americans. Hell just look at the old time cartoons, some of which were made by the famous Chcuk Jones' crew (Bugs Bunny et al.). Now I don't know if the developers were actually being racist or just making übercool japanese concept art, but I'm sure they had to of realized that either they created a questionable piece of art or that someone would say something.

When I saw the headline and then looked at the picture, I could easily see where one would come to the racism conclusion. Ya know, red is also a very evil color too.

P.S. Ya know what's a real bitch, the fact that a s**thole kid with a crappy blog is getting a news story, be it even on a slightly underground game news site. If shock value and contriversy are the pro-Bush mainstream news story of the day, then I'm making a blog solely about the inclusion of any race other than inuits ion videogames. All you whities, blackies, and yellowies are inferior to the spear chucking inuits I come from!
realvictory 2 Jul 2006 18:29
12/19
I don't understand why people think it's racist, because it's not humans, black people aren't pure black, and it's just a picture and it's subjective. People who choose to believe that it's racist are the people with the problem - does it actually say anything about black people?

I think it should be accepted as a style, because any picture that is not a photograph is going to have something changed (from reality), and it doesn't necessarily have to be taken offensively.

Nothing in real life is ideal anyway - it doesn't mean people have to make a fuss about it (in this case, I don't think it's very significant at all). Not that I'm racist, of course, but I could say about anything "because you didn't portray my 'race' accurately and I find the differences offensive, then you're being racist" which is pathetic. Sometimes if you find things offensive, you just have to deal with it.
realvictory 2 Jul 2006 18:32
13/19
If you find the aspects of you that make you unique offensive, then that is a problem with you being unhappy with yourself - why do people have to be forced to see things in a particular way, as long as they aren't intending on harming anyone.
vault 13 2 Jul 2006 21:17
14/19
realvictory wrote:
I don't understand why people think it's racist, because it's not humans, black people aren't pure black, and it's just a picture and it's subjective.


I don't have much of a problem with it first off. Secondly, symbolism is just as bad as a blatant representation. it doesn't have to be a german in SS gear with guns and red bandanas killing jews to be offensive. The nazi symbol used in an offensive way would be enough to cause a stir. The issue is not does it look like a black person. The coal black color, the round snow whte eyes, the huge lups, the orange evelids and lips, and well we don't know if or how they speak so we can't comment on that. Look up on Limewire or Torrent it, Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarves or any other old time cartoons and you'll see what I'm talking about. And just like in that cartoon, it's not an acurrate depiction otherwise it wouldn't really be racist, but anyone worth a lick of intelligence can infer it's a jab at african americans.
SorelissLarethian 3 Jul 2006 17:56
15/19
"I'm surprised no PC-minded individual objected to Bob-oms or whatever those chained, Black so-called "monsters" from Nintendo's Mario games."


Because usually people who prefer Nintendo are "gosh darn hippies", and they don't translate things this way :)

Also something that you seam to miss is that Nintendo presents bombs and chained balls as evil, because they are symbols of war and slavery and not because they are black.
Also I don?t think this guy complained because this was a Sony game either.

These Loco characters, now that i get a second look at them, DO look like the African indigenous representations of the past (whether these things on their head are tentacles or dreadlocks). In fact the only thing that's missing is a bone on their nose or hair but i don't think that they carry the same message unless you really want to see it this way.

I do not think that the game designers intended to insult anyone with this design for the bad guys. It just looks fresh and funny. That's all there's to it.

There is a saying where i come from for that specific case but i can't really translate it although it's spot on!!

A bad person in games or movies can be typically:
Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Gypsy, Chinese, Japanese, Rusian, Arabian, French, Spanish, Mexican, etc. That includes almost every nationality on the planet although except some nationalities which are considered too stupid to be evil. I can't recall any famous evil doers being Israelis or sane white Americans in the vast majority of games or movies. If they are white Americans they are usually mutants OR insane. i.e. Magneto although he lives in US there's emphasis on that he is a German and Mutant and in many times he is portrayed as insane.

Typically heroes are either White American's or British.
and those that belong to other ethnic groups have seen the light of the greatness of US and have renounced the evil of their former nationality, having embraced the ?American dream? and all.

I have not seen this in my country's movies. I have never seen an evil Turk in a movie although that would be the easier thing to do in Greece if you wanted to use stereotypes to pass an impression. The only Turk i remember in a Greek movie was actually a good character. (and i have not seen this in most European productions to be frank) In fact most (if not all) of the bad guys are Greeks.

There certainly is a pattern that has been cultivated/created through the early dark years of entertainment (mainly cinema) and is used by modern media (rarely from tv as the impact of complains is immediate) as it's easier to use these standards than try to establish new international evil stereotypes.

Dark colour evil is not meant to be dark skin colour evil but merely dark as the opposite of light.

Traditionaly in most cultures day and sunlight symbolizes good while darkness and night symbolizes evil.

It's hard to say that game industry creates stereotypes. I can safely say that they are simply using the stereotypes set earlier by cinema mostly because it's convenient rather than making a statement.

Greek tragedy used white/bright colour clothes for good characters, heroes, and dark coloured clothes for characters in pain, sickness, death etc. as well as certain sounds to introduce them on stage etc. There's no indication that they used specific nationalities to symbolize good or evil while it is certain that they could easily do that as they had many national enemies, although their choice was not to. So one can say that dark skin evil is established mainly during the middle ages, (as slaves in general were carrying diseases because of their awful treatment), or at least the last 2 centuries for political purposes.


OMG I think I wrote enough for 1 month?s worth of posts :)


did anyone really read through all my rumbling?




vault 13 4 Jul 2006 01:01
16/19
I concur.
SorelissLarethian 4 Jul 2006 10:39
17/19
Really?
:D
BOB 27 Sep 2007 14:00
18/19
racism strikes dum dum dum dum dum
Captain Random 21 Mar 2008 04:25
19/19
How can they be racist? They're amorphous blobs! This just goes to show, that some people have way too much time on their hands.
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