Ah stereotypes - from subpar drivers of asian descent to the elusive sober irishman of legend, stereotypes have the power to make us laugh, rage and sometimes look into things way too much. It should come as little surprise that these cultural perceptions have managed to filter their way through to the gaming world - from our favourite protagonists to our most despised villains, nobody is safe from being portrayed in a manner which will send even the most lightweight member of the PC police into a seizure. With this in mind, i hereby declare the museum of gaming stereotypes open to the public! Children of teenage mothers enter free - simply present your Centrelink papers to witness a slice of digital history!
*Managers warning : by entering this attraction, you hereby acknowledge you fully understand the concept of satire. Management accepts no responsibility for patrons who take the exhibit literally and take it upon themselves to leave comments which suggest that management is somehow culturally insensitive. Patrons who do not abide by these terms and conditions will be presented with 20 Douche Tokens upon their exit - Douche Tokens can be redeemed in the court of public opinion.
EXHIBIT A : The Cole Train
Kicking things off with a massive "WOO BABY!" is Augustus Cole from the Gears Of War series. Both loved and loathed by fans of the series, the "Cole Train" has personality in spades. Albeit, it seems that personality seems to be lifted directly from a pop culture snapshot of urban America. Energetic, confident and very loud would be the terms one would use to describe the former thrashball player if they were conciously trying to choose their words very carefully. It would be fair to say that Augustus would not be one's first choice of backup in a situation which requires any sense of restraint. Phrases such as "bitch ass queen", "bring it on, sucka!" and "this is my kinda shit!" are his stock in trade, and Epic even took this a step further by having Augustus rap over the end credits with at least two of the aforementioned lines featured in the infamous closing jam. For my money, the Cole Train is one of the more endearing, likeable characters in the Gears universe - but one still can't help but get the impression Epic were just one bucket of fried chicken away from a public relations nightmare. WOO!
EXHIBIT B : Any female in a Team Ninja game
Whilst not exactly a stereotype, strictly speaking, Team Ninja's consistent rendering of the female form is one that no doubt sends even Hollywood plastic surgeons into fits of laughter. Impractical skimpy outfits rivalled only by Ivy from Soul Calibur? Check. Suspiciously close to underage? Check. Breasts of such size and jiggle that would make a porn star uncomfortable? Check. Sixaxis controlled jiggle physics on Rachel in Ninja Gaiden Sigma? Okay, you're just taking the piss now. Try as i might to ignore it, one cannot help but wonder about any police records which may or may not exist for the members of the company. In the words of one Chris Hansen, "why don't you take a seat over there, Team Ninja?"
EXHIBIT C : Mario
For a long while, Mario's italian heritage evaded stereotype territory - he just happened to be an italian plumber bashing bricks and collecting coins. Then came the "Super Mario Brothers Super Show". As someone who religiously watched this staple of afternoon programming in my younger days, i don't think i can recall a single episode that went by without a mention of pasta of some sort. This development alone wasn't too bad, but Mario's experience with stereotyping was about to suffer a
hammerblow with the release of Super Mario 64 years later. Who among us does not equate Mario's vocal signature with the infamous title screen proclamation of "it'sa me, Marioooo!"? As if the moustache and unneccesary backstory about being a plumber from Brooklyn wasn't enough, Nintendo stopped just shy of implementing a game mechanic to whistle at any nearby "hot chicks" to gain a powerup. To be honest, im stunned that Nintendo did not try to get Mario a centre stage role in 2K's Mafia 2. I can see it already - Mario takes up a vendetta against Bowser for disrespecting him on the day of his daughter's wedding by scratching his car. Shame on you, Shigeru!
EXHIBIT D : Any antagonist of Soviet background
Over the last few years, it seems game developers have a newfound fascination on the Cold War era "Red Menace". Pretty much any first person shooter released nowadays will feature at least one main villain who will use the term "motherland" at some point. Despite the fact that the Cold War ended in 1991, it seems Russians have become the new Nazi's of the gaming world - however, there is at least one potential industry that may stand to benefit from this recent deluge of vilification of all things from the Eastern Bloc. As i understand it, in-game advertising is now a multi million dollar industry in and of itself, and this presents quite a lucrative window of opportunity for any vodka companies who wish to take the ball and run with it. You may not be able to stop western developers painting the former USSR as a convenient modern digital punching bag, but you can blast the words "Absolut Stereotype" into the retinas of gamers the world over - talk about brand awareness!
EXHIBIT E : JRPG protagonists
Guess the game genre! Androgynous male protagonist sporting an implausible hairstyle. Tends to be the quiet and brooding type who often carries a torch for his childhood friend, but can never bring himself to say so. Immediate family more often than not deceased. Whilst not a stereotype directly attributable to a particular cultural background, JRPG protagonists have become a stereotype unto themselves. Square Enix (to take a specific notable example) tends to put forward the same consistent portrayal of their main characters so frequently it almost borders on self parody. "Nobody understands me"...."leave me be"....."i don't want to talk about it" - it is actually more shocking to me that we have not yet seen a JRPG whose score is wholly composed by My Chemical Romance. Think bad "dark teenage poetry" and you have a potential career in character writing and design. Please send your resume (and a collection of your 'deep' musings on existentialism) to Square Enix at : Shinjuku Bunka Quint Bldg. 3-22-7 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku,Tokyo 151-8544, Japan.
EXHIBIT F : Garcia Hotspur
Shadows of the Damned may as well have come bundled with a free sombrero and pinata given how demon hunter Garcia Hotspur is presented. I can almost smell the Tijuana breeze whenever Mr. Hotspur makes one of his numerous references to either "pendejos", "cojones" or "meh-hi-co" between all of the thinly veiled penis jokes which make up the remainder of the game. Not that Suda 51 and co. were content to leave things there - without even slightly bending the truth here, the player can regenerate lost health by...wait for it...drinking tequila. While Shadows manages to remain pretty tongue-in-cheek about it all, there is still a whiff of the slightly uncomfortable here. Rumour has it that at the eleventh hour Grasshopper decided to cut the bonus stage where the player must successfully sneak across the US border and land a job as a janitor. Wise move there, guys.
Well, ladies and gentlemen - this concludes the first wing of the museum. Feel free to visit the kiosk for some genuine food from around the globe, all served with a variety of amusing accents and mannerisms. Please leave any comments or suggestions in the box below, and we hope you have enjoyed this portion of the tour. Be sure to return here in 15 minutes, as the exhibition moves on to the next wing : "People who do not understand lighthearted commentary". See you all shortly!