The British Board of Film Classification, which rates games in the UK, has delivered its verdict on the Resident Evil 5 racism controversy.
Whether or not Resident Evil 5 is intentionally or unintentionally racist (or racist at all) is really up to you to ponder for yourself, but for the BBFC, it's something that actually matters when it comes to doing their job. The board, which rates films, DVDs and videogames in the UK, needs to consider racist elements when handing down verdicts on whether or not six-year-olds will be allowed to shoot zombies in the African savanna.
"The BBFC would not automatically cut a work for racism," Sue Clark, head of communications for the board, explained to Kikizo. "We would normally give a work a higher rating to take it away from younger consumers who might not understand the issues surrounding racist remarks or attitudes."
They've given RE5 a rating of 18, but that has nothing to do with shielding kids from "the issues surrounding racist remarks or attitudes." They don't think the game is racist at all. "We do take racism very seriously, but in this case there is no issue around racism," Clark said.
Speaking specifically, Clark commented on a controversial scene in the game which multiple journalists described as showing a white woman being sexually accosted by a group of black Majini (the zombie-esque infected townsfolk). Some argued the scene echoed classic racist tropes of black males corrupting white women, but the BBFC saw little of that.
"In the version [of the scene] submitted to the BBFC there is only one man pulling the blonde woman in from the balcony, and I can't say the skimpiness of her dress impressed itself on me," she said. "The single man is not black either." So either the BBFC received a different version of the scene or some people were feeling a tad sensational.
In any case, the BBFC seems to be taking the same stance as many gamers who feel the entire controversy is beyond the bounds of common sense. "As the whole game is set in Africa it is hardly surprising that some of the characters are black, just like the fact that some of the characters in an earlier version were Spanish as the game was set in Spain," Clark said.