Racism in video games has been around for quite a while. From the infamous Custer’s Revenge, through such titles as Ethnic Cleansing and Border Patrol, developers have been coming out with some pretty shocking stuff over the years.
Now comes a game titled “Dirty Chinese Restaurant,” made by Canadian development company Big-O-Tree Games, which is igniting controversy online.
The game puts the player in charge of a Chinese restaurant which is depicted as a sweatshop-like, semi-illegal business. The player’s tasks in the game involve hunting for stray cats and dogs for food, committing tax evasion and hiring illegal immigrants.
The two trailers for the game begin with the tagline “Because being politically correct is so… boring.” Both videos show the game’s protagonist, Wong Fu, dumpster diving, evading tax collectors and sabotaging competitors.
For obvious reasons, many Chinese people aren’t fans of this game.
“The game is targeted to children and teenagers, which content will leave misconception towards the Chinese. They would think Chinese restaurants cook with cats and rats. It is total racism. There is no education meaning at all,” said Chen Jialing, a Toronto resident who is filing an official complaint against the game to the Office of the Prime Minister.
Besides concerned locals, the Chinese embassy in Canada has also raised its voice against the game. The Consulate General in Toronto has released a statement, demanding that the company stop developing and selling the game immediately, remove it from the internet and make a public apology.
Frank Scarpitt, mayor of Markham, a city just outside of Toronto where the game’s development company is based, also spoke out against “Dirty Chinese Restaurant” on Twitter.
I am appalled at the depiction of Chinese in the video game "Dirty Chinese Restaurant" @cityofmarkham stands with our Chinese community
— Frank Scarpitti (@frankscarpitti) 2017. szeptember 29.
Another high-profile opposer of the game is New York congresswoman Grace Meng.
Meanwhile, Big-O-Tree has defended their game in a statement posted on their website.
“It has come to our attention that our small, independent game, ‘Dirty Chinese Restaurant,’ has upset some people due to its content,” the statement reads. “Our game is mainly satire and comedy influenced by the classic politically incorrect shows we grew up watching, such as: ‘South Park,’ ‘All in the Family,’ ‘Sanford & Son,’ ‘Family Guy,’ ‘Simpsons,’ and ‘Chappelle’s Show.’ We also listen to Jay-Z.”
Pretty convincing, huh?
Satrical or not, this kind of game helps to enforce harmful stereotypes against Chinese people which are untrue… at least the vast majority of the time.
Last month, Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers, an American EDM duo, ignited outrage online after implying in a promotional interview with a Chinese reporter in China that he would not bring his dog to China for fear that it would be eaten. This was followed shortly afterward by an incident in Hubei in which a vigilante pet owner chased down a restaurant owner who admitted to hunting stray dogs with a crossbow for use in his specialty dog meat hot pot.
By Máté Mohos
[Images via Big-O-Tree Games]
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