The Convenience of Chinese Ethnicity in Games?

November 22nd, 2008

I remember a few years ago I was watching an interview with Jackie Chan, and one of his comments struck a chord with me. He mentioned that in movies, particularly western movies, the Asian guy never kisses the girl. That’s quite interesting isn’t it? Interesting because he is dead-on in that cultural archetypes and shape media. No one really wants an Asian guy to pash the lovely American actress now do they? Well at least not in western films.

That’s one good example of how culture affects media in the most subtle of ways, beyond the posh British waiter and clich├ęd American hero. Here is another, much similar to the last. What do all of these female video game characters have in common?

chinese video game characters
Ada Wong (Resident Evil), Lian Xing (Syphon Filter), EVA (Metal Gear Solid) and Chun-Li (Street Fighter)

That’s right they are all Chinese, well the good bits.

Obviously many attributes have been toned down, while others have been toned up to fit the appropriate audiences. I mean, skin is nice and white, the orientation of the eyes are relaxed, bust is increased and clothes are not particularly Chinese in style (even by contemporary Chinese fashion). These women (excluding Chun-Li) all seem like American born Chinese instead of native Chinese.

A question to you readers, do you think that these characters quantify as culturally authentic and not characters retooled for the western audience? Judging by their appearance, accent, behaviour and so forth. Furthermore, is this perhaps a responsible thing to do and what are the implications of it?

I will share my ideas in another post..well still deciding to respond or to leave it as food for thought. (Yes, that’s right dolling them out in desperation).