Quoted: Chris Morris on Deus Ex Human Revolution

Take a look at Square Enix’s official comment on the matter: “Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a fictional story which reflects the diversity of the world’s future population by featuring characters of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. While these characters are meant to portray people living in the year 2027, it has never been our intention to represent any particular ethnic group in a negative light.”

See what’s missing there? The same words that Sony avoided for so long: “We’re sorry.” (Also missing is something along the lines of “We screwed up,” something else Sony didn’t want to acknowledge initially.)

Certainly, the issue of perceived racism and the compromise of sensitive personal information are two entirely different beasts. But they’re both issues that people take very seriously and personally. And by trying to defend their actions rather than immediately apologizing for them, both Square Enix and Sony risked alienating part of their audience.

Time’s Evan Narcisse wrote a spot-on look at the problems with the character of Letitia. Though he was careful to note that he was not calling Eidos Montreal or Square Enix racist, that’s what many people inferred from the column.

That’s easy to understand, given that Letitia’s speech patterns are reminiscent of something you’d hear in a minstrel show. And while voice acting is hardly the high point of this otherwise widely embraced game, Letitia’s patois is particularly hard to defend.

- From “Square Enix’s Handling of ‘Racism’ Case: A Page from Sony Playbook?,” on IndustryGamers.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Javan-Nelums/696759111 Javan Nelums

    You know it’s funny how people like go cyberpunk, but cyberpunk is
    nothing more like the Urban hood like Newark, South Central and etc with
    high technology.  Although I like Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, and Akira. the games and cyberpunk genre is pretty monochrome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Javan-Nelums/696759111 Javan Nelums

    You know it’s funny how people like go cyberpunk, but cyberpunk is
    nothing more like the Urban hood like Newark, South Central and etc with
    high technology.  Although I like Ghost in the Shell, Blade Runner, and Akira. the games and cyberpunk genre is pretty monochrome.

  • Cryptid

    I noticed that and thought that accent sounded more like something out of a Southern plantation in the 1850′s than anything you’d ever hear in this day and age, let alone in the future. 
    However, I’m willing to let them go on this because it seems DEHR is a brain-explodingly good game, and has a pretty diverse cast race-wise. 

    The troll scumbaggery in the comments section of that article is why I rarely haunt gaming forums. I  find it amusing how gamers can be so predictable and obnoxious towards race and gender issues yet will be the first to cry discrimination if they are stereotyped in any way. 

  • Big Man

    The comments on that story went in such a predictable fashion I wonder if the author questioned if it was even worth using the the page space. I’m lost faith in the ability of humans to change at this point. We’ve reached some sort of mental plateau.

  • Anonymous

    What is really offensive about the character and the reactions defending it.

    If the character was white, most of the people defending it would complain along the lines of, “why is she talking like she is black” or “why on earth does she talk like that ‘no one actually talks like that!’”

    I love games, but in the last few years it has become crystal clear to me why people of color can’t always enjoy playing them.

  • Sanoe

    Race and gender in DE:HX are poorly handled in a number of areas but I’m surprised this came up as Evan’s worst. As Evan noticed, there are a large number of black characters in DE:HX and while some are poor and speak in non-standard American accents, there are also black doctors, police officers, scientists, and business people who don’t. I suspect Letitia is the product of French-Canadian dudes telling a Canadian VA to sound like a poor black person from Detroit when none of them know what poor blacks in Detroit sound like.

    That said, Letitia is an NPC you speak with for a few seconds and never interact with again. What I find far more problematic is Zhao Yun Ru, the ‘Dragon Queen’ CEO of Tai Yong Medical. She’s a Chinese woman portrayed as domineering, manipulative, and sneaky, and she’s a major character.

    I’d say Zhao is the most prominent character of color in the game, so I think she deserves a bit more attention than Letitia.  

  • Sanoe

    Race and gender in DE:HX are poorly handled in a number of areas but I’m surprised this came up as Evan’s worst. As Evan noticed, there are a large number of black characters in DE:HX and while some are poor and speak in non-standard American accents, there are also black doctors, police officers, scientists, and business people who don’t. I suspect Letitia is the product of French-Canadian dudes telling a Canadian VA to sound like a poor black person from Detroit when none of them know what poor blacks in Detroit sound like.

    That said, Letitia is an NPC you speak with for a few seconds and never interact with again. What I find far more problematic is Zhao Yun Ru, the ‘Dragon Queen’ CEO of Tai Yong Medical. She’s a Chinese woman portrayed as domineering, manipulative, and sneaky, and she’s a major character.

    I’d say Zhao is the most prominent character of color in the game, so I think she deserves a bit more attention than Letitia.  

    • Jay

      I rolled my eyes at quite a bit in the China part of the game. You start there by landing right next to a massage parlor, and the first non-player characters I talked to were “masseuses” asking if I wanted a good time. A main villain, Zhao is a typical CEO dragon lady that feels up the main character to put him off guard as you mentioned. Sex sells in video games, but it’s just blatantly more so when it comes to Asian women.

      For the guys, well there is a side mission where a friend of the main character’s friend (non-Asian) was murdered by her Chinese boyfriend and you find the evidence to prove it. Pretty tired of the whole Asian misogynist trope, now applied to fictional interracial relationships in the future.

      There’s a major nightclub area called The Hive. Yes we get it, Chinese people have a “hive-mentality” right? Wrong.

      I guess another thing is the city is policed by an English private security company, so you have pretty much white guys and some black guys being the police and having authority over a mostly Chinese population, but a major theme of the game is the influence and power of corporations, so such an idea isn’t that much of a stretch I guess. You do fight this police force, so I guess the whitish washing avoids the scenario of the player killing/putting to sleep a bunch of Chinese bad guys, but then again you also fight a Chinese gang later on.

      The good part is the Chinese city is portrayed as cutting edge and the place to be for the technology in the game, so you also find a decent population of non-Chinese characters, making it fairly multicultural. You also rescue a young Chinese man who turns out to be the only person that shows up in all 3 Deus Ex games and is a pretty big ally in 2 of them.

      Just found this link that covers race/sex in DE:HR that might interest some.
      http://minoritygamer.com/?p=137

  • 8mph Ansible

    Game seems cool for a prequel game but I’m more likely to rent or borrow it after hearing often from friends and reviewers how the voice acting for some of the black and latin@ characters is stereotypical bullshit–something that often grates and urks me and xauses me to return a game or not even buy it.

    Comment… it’s why I refuse to call myself a gamer despite being a dyed in the wool one. I refuse to be associated with that trash.

  • 8mph Ansible

    Game seems cool for a prequel game but I’m more likely to rent or borrow it after hearing often from friends and reviewers how the voice acting for some of the black and latin@ characters is stereotypical bullshit–something that often grates and urks me and xauses me to return a game or not even buy it.

    Comment… it’s why I refuse to call myself a gamer despite being a dyed in the wool one. I refuse to be associated with that trash.

  • Anonymous

    Are you sure that was even voiced by a woman? And yeah the commenters on that site show why some gamers live an a bubble.

  • Anonymous

    Are you sure that was even voiced by a woman? And yeah the commenters on that site show why some gamers live an a bubble.

  • Katie

    Don’t read the comments on Evan Narcisse’s article unless you want to be really angry. I love how everyone is calling him racist for pointing this out.

  • http://yendi.livejournal.com Adam Lipkin

    Gah. I made the mistake of reading the comments on the Time piece; it’s pretty much a textbook example of why I hate most gamers (even though I love gaming), and refuse to frequent any gaming forums or sites.

    • Anonymous

      You and me both.

    • Anonymous

      You and me both.

  • Evan

    While I don’t like the character of Letita, the other black characters in the game are treated realistically and not as horrible stereotypes. I also like that they didn’t whitewash Detroit. The city is still obviously majority black. The game even addresses the issues of being an “augmented” person of color, two things that can lead to discrimination, even in 2027.

    I’m willing to give them a break on this one point.

  • Keith

    Did they hire the folks from the HBO show “the life and times of Tim” to write the dialog and do the voice acting, or do  black folks in 2027 suppose to talk Mantan Moreland doing a racist cross over flick.