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Old 12-26-2008, 07:02 AM   #1
Emabulator
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NY Times: PoP Raises Some Real-World Questions

Seth Schiesel of The NY Times has written an article on Ubisoft Montreal's new action game, Prince of Persia. In "Even Escapist Fare Can't Escape Some Real-World Questions" he praises PoP's visual style, intuitive controls and calls it the best game in the series since Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Following the aforementioned praise Seth changes focus to cultural issues surrounding the main character.

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And yet I have never been fully comfortable approaching the Prince of Persia games simply as a diversion, and it has been difficult over the years for me to let the series off the hook for invoking a specific real-world culture so cavalierly. What are we to make of a “Prince of Persia” who talks and behaves like a 17-year-old American mall rat? A “Prince of Persia” with blue eyes, fully Anglicized facial features and what looks like a tan he picked up on spring break? Is it taking a video game too seriously to shrink in distaste from such characterizations? In fairness, the new Prince of Persia does not claim any historical or cultural authenticity; the game is set in a fantastic magical realm rather than in a rendition of any real place. But does that absolve the game of any responsibility?
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Old 12-26-2008, 07:52 AM   #2
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Whoa, wait.. surely he doesn't mean to imply that all people from the middle east aren't wise-cracking self-important grave robbers struggling against an ancient evil more powerful than anything the world has ever seen with their beautiful princess/priestess companions that continually save them from the brink of death while teaching them lessons in sacrifice and societal duty?
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Old 12-26-2008, 08:25 AM   #3
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All I can say is lighten up Francis.
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Old 12-26-2008, 08:28 AM   #4
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Okay, asshat maybe you should go talk to Dan Quayle about his Murphy Brown speech.

First, It's a fictional place. Next, it's a game and lastly one of my best friends from Iran has blue eyes.

Feeling a bit politically correct go, download the I'm a dinner jacket (president of Iran) skin.

Yet somehow Disney s Allidin gets a pass?
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Old 12-26-2008, 08:34 AM   #5
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Lets see, Real big name columnist finds something more interesting then Genre known only
Website writer... Okay good, Maybe This will happen more, and the Website owning blowhearts will learn their place. I glad this point was brought up, But I'm interested in the event more then the point. Can't wait to see more!
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Old 12-26-2008, 08:36 AM   #6
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What a clown.
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Old 12-26-2008, 08:37 AM   #7
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Um...it's a game. Still good to see the regular media start looking at games so closely.
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:49 AM   #8
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The writer of the article has a point in that the game's two main characters look fairly western (w/tans) and I think that to simply say 'it's a game' without providing further context doesn't really give it a pass considering the game's called Prince of PERSIA. If it wasn't supposed to be a middle eastern setting steeped in fantasy, it would be called something else. Additionally, much of the game's level design looks heavily inspired from middle eastern originis, at least in a fantastical sense. It's definitely taking place somewhere in some VERSION of 'Persia.'

However, that said, Prince Of Persia (the new one) is not trying to be the time capsule that is Assassin's Creed. To me, this game's visual presentation is along the lines of an anime where the characters are Asian but don't really look Asian to the Western eye. In fact, many anime character designs don't look Asian at all, and are fairly non-racial/non-ethnic. Characters in anime could be given Western names and I wouldn't know the difference unless it was one of those shows that had heavy Asian cultural influences (Japanese high school setting ane whatnot.)

The new Prince Of Persia is, to me, like that. They're middle eastern characters but the art design is so stylized that it sort of blurs or ignores ethnic/racial/cultural lines.
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:05 AM   #9
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This has taken place throughout the history of modern entertainment. Quite frankly, White Americans feel comfortable knowing white actors/actresses are playing the roles of even the most ethnic of personalities.

From Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra to Jim Caveziel as Jesus. Whites would ALWAYS rather have a white person playing a role than the actual ethnicity. It just makes them feel more comfortable (like millions of whites have a picture of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus on their walls and churches.)

And in animation (and videogames) even if the VISUAL representation is accurate, it's pretty much standard that a caucasian will do the voice-acting. Again, this is all done to cater to caucasian-Americans.

I don't know if they'd freak out if a Puerto-Rican plays a Puerto-Rican and a Mid-Easterner plays a Mid-Easterner, but it's far more common that white actors/actresses assume the roles.
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:13 AM   #10
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Personally it would have been pretty sweet if they used middle eastern actors, but I honesty thought that for the first 5 mins of the game and forgot about it. It's all marketing anyway and they want to appeal to the majority of gamers and using USA white boy/girl voices with flawless(u kno cause all us white folk use flawless English) english was probably the safest bet. It's that simple. Marketing!!
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:57 AM   #11
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If games want to be taken seriously as an art form, then games and gamers will have to be willing to take some serious criticism. Whether one finds anything of credence in said criticism is certainly a subjective determination, but the fact that the NY Times is spending ink on the game is a decent sign of some mainstream acceptance of gaming as an art form that has something more to say than just "kill the baddies" and the like.

In other words, for those who stopped reading, this isn't a bad thing at all. Of course, if you stopped reading, you missed this postscript. Oh well. Screw you!
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Old 12-26-2008, 11:03 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan View Post
If games want to be taken seriously as an art form, then games and gamers will have to be willing to take some serious criticism. Whether one finds anything of credence in said criticism is certainly a subjective determination, but the fact that the NY Times is spending ink on the game is a decent sign of some mainstream acceptance of gaming as an art form that has something more to say than just "kill the baddies" and the like.
Well said Johan.
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Old 12-26-2008, 11:57 AM   #13
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It's frustrating when white people won't listen to the fact that things like this are MORE offensive and maddening than not agknowledging other races at all.
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Old 12-26-2008, 02:30 PM   #14
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I love the overt racism in this thread from the non-whites. But it doesnt matter, whiteys be racist! Damn you Bollywood for not hiring white actors and the BET needs to burn for calling itself "Black" Entertainment Television, Im white so I feel left out!
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Old 12-26-2008, 03:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nominal View Post
Whoa, wait.. surely he doesn't mean to imply that all people from the middle east aren't wise-cracking self-important grave robbers struggling against an ancient evil more powerful than anything the world has ever seen with their beautiful princess/priestess companions that continually save them from the brink of death while teaching them lessons in sacrifice and societal duty?
While the main character is called The Prince, he's most definitely not a prince...and they never overtly state that he's even from Persia. Based off of the information they provide in the instruction book opening cinematics, I got the strong impression that the Prince isn't even supposed to be from Persia at all; he's just a wandering theif who wound up in that area in his endless search for shiny things to steal.

I could be wrong, though...but it's worth thinking about.
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Old 12-26-2008, 04:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suicidal ShiZuru View Post
I love the overt racism in this thread from the non-whites. But it doesnt matter, whiteys be racist! Damn you Bollywood for not hiring white actors and the BET needs to burn for calling itself "Black" Entertainment Television, Im white so I feel left out!

Can you please point out the 'overt racism'? That's a serious charge and you're making yourself look quite silly.

And if another white person pulls the ridiculous "Bu, bu, blacks have BET!!" argument, my head will explode..
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Old 12-26-2008, 05:03 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ebon Deth View Post
Can you please point out the 'overt racism'? That's a serious charge and you're making yourself look quite silly.

And if another white person pulls the ridiculous "Bu, bu, blacks have BET!!" argument, my head will explode..
Im actually not "white", but half mexican, which is a rather bad mix socially speaking. I consider myself white, since I look and act it yet this really doesnt matter. All of the assumptions in your original post rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of it has to do with finding the talent for a part and not because white people are more comfortable with it. Yet even if thats true who gives a shit, we all know that "blacks" are comfortable with that idea as long as it applies to their own color... Your obvious paranoia and discomfort makes you come off as a racist in my eyes. Also, who the fuck else says "whites"... I cant walk around talking about those "blacks"... Im pretty sure there was a ninja edit or two, making the racism I mentioned not so overt anymore from someone else.
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:15 PM   #18
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eh, I'm sorry, but if the company is willing to capitalize on the value of the Prince of Persia brand then they have to accept the meaning of the title.

In other words, you can't say "the prince in the game isn't a prince or isn't Persian therefore everything is okay." It says Prince of Persia on the box and you're making money off that fact (how many people will buy it just because they know the brand?).

That said, I think the writer is nit-picking a little bit, especially since this pales in comparison with other contemporary absurdities i.e. the protagonist from Assassin's Creed. Really? He's supposed to be Middle Eastern? And Charlton Heston is Mexican.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:07 AM   #19
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I don't get it... What is a Persian supposed to look like? Should they have made him look like the fat persian guy from 300. People from that area don't look that different from Americans, and, yes, they can have blue eyes. Many of the visual differences are related to hair and facial hair. The structure of their faces are not all that different from ours.
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Old 12-27-2008, 05:57 AM   #20
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All I'll say is: The original games were quite clearly set in some location that looked, at least to some degree, Middle Eastern. But then, the protagonist looked like ol' whitey in the original two games as well. Observe:



The music in the original two games also hinted strongly in the direction of the setting being that of a middle eastern land.
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