Sony: The colour of good and bad

So, in this PS3 game, the player has a good side – a desire to do good, help, work for the benefit of all, etc- and a bad side – a desire to be selfish, go for instant gratification, etc. And like with Pluto in one of those old Disney animations, the good and bad side is animated as an actual person or personality, someone you can see, hear, and maybe even have a conversation with. Let’s ignore the externalization of desire, responsibility, etc, or the schizoid view of human personality, the idea that I must chose between my good and evil side rather than try to be a whole person, troubled as all that is. Let’s look instead at how the good and evil side is presented.

So, what do learn here? We learn here that good is white and sexually modest, while evil is black and sexually daring. That’s a nice piece of stereotype enforcement right there, Sony. Well done.

(via sociological images)

3 thoughts on “Sony: The colour of good and bad

  1. I’m pretty familiar with this series (I just recently played through the first game) and I don’t think they’re going for a nuanced “externalization of the person” thing here. I think those are two actual characters your character can choose to align himself with. The first game had a similar thing, where you had good and bad friends who would make requests and send you on quests and you’d alienate some and chum up with others depending on your actions.

    That doesn’t in any way invalidate what you’re saying here — it really is unfortunate that the good character (possibly a girlfriend, given the storylines) is white and demure, whereas the evil character is black and provocative. I totally agree that that was a very poor choice on that part.

    • I hear you. I have a bit of a peeve about the idea that good or bad are external and that we can chose one or the other, but I accept that to get decent game play you allow some artistic freedom. And this looks like the kind of game my kid would enjoy – which it another reason I’m unhappy about the stereotyping.

  2. Yeah. The game has been both lauded and criticized for its treatment of good and evil. On the one hand, it’s a big thing in the franchise. That’s why it’s called “inFamous” — because you have the choice of becoming either famous (for your good works) or infamous (for your evil works) and both routes offer a full path through the entire game. This was lauded as being fully-developed freedom of choice that allowed you to play and complete the game from very different perspectives, with the world and other people reacting you differently and your choices having some impact. It was criticized for several reasons: First, the choices were often ridiculous, as moral choices often are in games of this sort. Choice in life are often grey, and aren’t of the sort that video games of this ilk are presenting you with where it’s like, “Do you feed this homeless person, or kill this cat?” Also, because your superpowers are keyed to your good or evil status, you can’t play as kind of neutral or as good to a point or evil to a point — you have to either be the paragon of all that’s good in the world or the Devil incarnate, if you want access to the greatest powers and powerups on either side. So it’s definitely a simplistic and polarized moral view. I think what they were probably going for with having these separate characters was to work over some of the other criticisms from the first game — that the game didn’t change enough depending on whether you were good or evil. Sure, the randomized people on the street alternately cheered you or threw cans at you, the streets got cleaner or dirtier, etc., etc., but the game didn’t react in big ways, and the promise that you’d want to play again to experience the other side seemed pretty hollow given how similar the experiences would be. So they’re probably trying to give good or evil some serious differentiation. It’s just sad that that’s how they chose to do it. Especially since, all critiques aside, the first game really *was* an extremely fun game, one which I played through pretty voraciously.

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