What is the Resident Evil 5 controversy all about? Racism allegations explained

manjani attacking chris redfield in resident evil 5Capcom

Resident Evil 5 was a blockbuster entry into the classic horror franchise, but a lot of the game’s pre-release material shrouded the title in controversy. But why is RE5 so controversial?

After the incredible foundations that were laid down by Resident Evil 4, which has also since had an equally successful Remake, Capcom got straight to work on Resident Evil 5.

The game was easily the furthest the series had moved away from its horror roots as dark halls and claustrophobic environments were replaced by blazing suns and the intense heat of African terrain.

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This change of setting came with a ton of controversy though, more serious than the game’s new direction toward combat-focused gameplay.

Why was Resident Evil 5 so controversial?

Resident Evil 5’s controversy first came about when renowned video game critic N’Gai Croal, formerly of the ‘Newsweek’ media platform, raised concerns over the first trailer for the game at E3 2007.

The footage showed the game’s protagonist Chris Redfield attacking Manjini, parasite-infected residents of the country.

chris redfield and sheva alomar in resident evil 5Capcom

Croal said: “Wow, clearly no one black worked on this game. It’s like when you engage that kind of imagery you have to be careful with it. If you put up that imagery people would be saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ Well, that’s what this stuff looks like. This imagery has a history. It has a history and you can’t pretend otherwise.”

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The argument from some was that the portrayal of black people in the game was offensive, but Capcom themselves were shocked by the criticism and it effectively blindsided by it.

The nature of the game’s controversy became a tennis match as some journalists argued the case of the game’s theme being too much, whereas other figures such as Professor Glenn Bowman, Director of Research at School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent, found the labels and accusations to be “silly.”

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When all was said and done, Resident Evil 5 was released to much acclaim with many praising its expert action-adventure gameplay and the addition of co-op gameplay. The game also went on to sell 13 million-plus copies – which is probably why a Remake is much sought after.

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