Return to Darkness: Representations of Africa in Resident Evil 5

Geyser Hanli Tshabalala Pippa
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

Darkest Africa, the imagining of colonial fantasy, in many ways still lives on. Popular cultural representations of Africa often draw from the rich imagery of the un-charted, un-knowable ‘other’ that Africa represents, fraught with post-colonial tensions. When Capcom made the decision to set the latest instalment of its Resident Evil series in an imagined African country, it was merely looking for a new, unexplored setting, and they were therefore surprised at the controversy that surrounded its release. The 2009 game Resident Evil 5 was accused of racially stereotyping the black zombies and the white protagonist. These allegations have largely been put to rest, as this was never the intention of Capcom in developing the game or selecting the setting. However, the underlying questions remain: How is Africa represented in the game? How does the figure of the zombie resonate within that representation? And why does this matter?