It’s time once again to look through the library of video games and examine some of the good ol’ fun themes of racism in some of our favorite and least favorite games. Today’s racist game is one of the most well known games in video game history: Street Fighter 2.
I know what you’re saying: “Hey! Eff you man! Leave Street Fighter 2 alone! That game rocks!”. Fair enough, hypothetical person responding to this blog. Street Fighter 2 is a great game that undeniably revolutionized the fighting game genre and had a huge impact on video game history. That said, it’s a little bit racist. Like “Punch-Out!” Street Fighter 2 falls into the category of games that were unintentionally racist for the sake of having characters from around the world. The game undeniably relies of stereotypes and bizarre caricatures of different countries and peoples. Let’s look at some of these nationally accurate characters!
Zangief : Zangief is Russian. What do Russian people do? Wrestle bears, of course. Also, they do that one dance; you know the one that all Russian people do. Zangief’s ending literally features Zangief dancing with, then president, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Dhalsim: Dhalsim is from India. Things the developers knew about India include that Yoga is popular, Elephants are a plenty, and Hinduism is a strange and mystical religion. In Dhalsim’s ending in the game, he rides a elephant back to home! Everyone in India has a pet Elephant!
Balrog: Balrog is the only black character in the game. Haling from the United States, Balrog shares a striking resemblance to Mike Tyson and is even a boxer! Also, in the original Japanese version Balrog was named M.Bison, which clearly is a play on the aforementioned ear biter.
Upon beating the game and becoming world champion, Balrog retires to a life of luxury, and in some versions, white women!
Other Fun tidbits of racism from Street Fighter 2
-The Americans in the game all seemingly have fabulous lives, where as many of the other characters are pretty poor and destitute. Guile, for example, is a military hero!
– Vega is from Spain. People from Spain all love Flamenco and are Vain, or so the developers believe.
-Very few countries are represented, and yet Japan and the U.S have multiple characters! The hell!?
Street Fighter is a great game, but it certainly relied heavily on stereotypes to make up its cast of characters. I’m sure the developers didn’t intend to make the game offensive, it’s probably that they just needed to make the characters noticeably different from each other. Future games in the franchise featured more fleshed out characters and relied less on stereotypes and even the original cast is a little less racist these dam. Regardless of its unintentional racism, it’ll still be one game that will forever be a classic…No mater which 1 of the 500 versions of the game you play.
BONUS ROUND OF SEXISM!
Street Fighter had the chance of being one of the most sexist games ever, as some of the original developers actually wanted to give Chun-Lee, the only female character in the game, a shorter life bar because she was a woman.
“You know how each character has a life bar? At one point, I wanted to make the power gauge for Chun-Li shorter than for the other characters because women are not as strong. But [another designer] didn’t want to do that. We both had legitimate reasons, but then we came to an agreement to not make it shorter.”
Oh man, who thought that was a good idea. Oh Capcom.