I'm the last guy to attack a game, believe me. When they attacked Mortal Kombat, I scoffed, and when they blamed Grand Theft Auto 3 for all of the world's ills, I shook my head. Generally, I don't feel like entertainment can be blamed for anyone's problems. However, like anything else, it can be taken too far.
Enter Ikaruga - a "shmup" (shoot-'em-up) released in the United States by Atari - which is easily the most disgusting piece of computer entertainment ever designed. Unlike many shooters, which are harmless space adventures by comparison, Ikaruga goes as far as to encourage racial inequity.
In a standard "shmup," you pilot a spacecraft, constantly blasting away at random enemies and avoiding their fire. Ikaruga takes this simple, fun premise and turns it into a black eye from which the gaming industry may never recover.
Instead of just having you blast through levels, Ikaruga forces you to switch between being black or white, and it then forces you to battle enemies that are only of one of those two colors. Yes, not only do they encourage you to be black and destroy a black ship, therefore perpetuating the idea of black-on-black violence, but while you are black, all of your attacks inflict double damage against the white enemies. Really classy. Likewise, while you are white, not only are you supposed to damage your fellow whites, but your hate attacks also inflict double damage on the black enemies. Yes, Atari specifically wants you to target the "black enemies" and eliminate them.
As if all of that weren't bad enough, and when you think that Atari's message couldn't be clearer, you reach the boss of the first level: a large white man with a black shield. Think about that for a second. Even when the colors are united they are not equal. Do you think that Atari is done destroying your morality? Hardly. A second player can join in the "fun" so that you can happily spread Atari's prejudice among your peers. So the person with the highest score is the most racist? That's not my video gaming, Atari. That shouldn't be anybody's. I'm fine with people being able to shoot things, but don't reward them with combo points for whomever can take out the longest string of blacks without damaging a white.
Don't feel like I don't recognize that this whole thing is absurd. Believe me that I know it is as well as you do, but sometimes we are left unaware of the sort of ideas that are finding their way into our minds. For that reason, we as gamers need to make a stand against this sort of subtle mental sabotage. My last straw was seeing that The Next Level was hosting a contest where they would be giving away three copies of Ikaruga to their readers, including a first prize that consists of a large novelty Ikaruga box and a sake set. The last time I checked, gaming sites weren't designed for dealing hate, and that is why I made a stand by refusing to enter. I sincerely hope that the winner of this contest can sleep at night after drinking from that sake cup knowing that they were not only sipping Japanese alcohol, but also the blood of hate crime victims worldwide.
I am speaking out in order to encourage everyone who agrees with me to make his or her voice heard. I have started an online petition (http://www.petitiononline.com/badikar/petition.html) to force Atari to stop this sickness and to force them to change the game for the better. With your help, and with your voice, we can force Atari to change the colors in Ikaruga to blue and orange, to avoid any further harm. If a few people with vivid imaginations envision that perhaps police officers and road workers have a feud, then no harm done. That's just standard gaming mischief. I strongly encourage each and every one of you to sign it, and to show them that we, as gamers, won't stand by idly while our beloved hobby is being turned into a platform for hatred.
· · · FatalFlame