Tenured reporter N'Gai Croal sparked a debate when he commented on his gut reactions to the racial dynamics of the RE5 trailer a year ago. Recently he and the game's producer met to discuss.
Ex-Newsweek reporter Croal wrote about his meeting with RE5 producer Jun Takeuchi in the June 2009 issue of Edge. The column is not available online yet (though a related preceding one is).
For background, Croal had given an interview to my former site MTV Multiplayer, in April of last year, in which he talked about how the first trailer for the Africa-set Resident Evil 5 had struck him differently than anything he'd experienced in the Spain-based Resident Evil 4.
Croal won fans, enemies, friends and critics for his discussion of the trailer. So what happened when he finally sat down with Takeuchi in February at the DICE show?
As he relates in his Edge column, the two men talked about the game's controls, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead and then addressed some of the racial imagery stuff.
Takeuchi talked to Croal about his designers' and artists' research trip to Africa, though the producer couldn't remember which country the members of his team visited. They talked about addressing the complexion of the zombies and the feedback the developers received about these issues as they were making the game. It reads as if no voices were raised, no objects thrown.
In conclusion, Croal wrote:
"And as Takeuchi went on to explain that the enemies with the grass skirts and spears were seeking to defend the ruins from intruders and that he'd been inspired by Indiana Jones movies, I felt like I once again understood where he'd been coming from. That a two-to-three-week trip to unspecified African countries and looking at a number of movies set in Africa alongside pop-cultural inspirations like the Indiana Jones series simply hadn't been enough to sufficiently educate him or the team about the legacy of the imagery that they were tapping in to and, as a result, they'd lost control of their message. That's my take on it, of course; I doubt that the man who sat across from me and thoughtfully answered all of my questions would agree."
There's more in the column, which is on sale on newsstands now and will be at Edge-Online.com in the next month.
And with that, this chapter's closed?
(Full disclosure: I consider Croal a very good friend and played through the first half of RE5 with him on split-screen co-op this past March.)