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Episode 9: The Indoor Kids
Dominic Dierkes
The Indoor KidsThe Indoor Kids

The Indoor Kids #9: Dominic Dierkes

Dominic Dierkes (Derrick Comedy, The Anytime Show podcast) stops by to discuss racism & sexism in video games and his experiences writing for the video game awards for Spike TV, and we discuss whether we prefer killing humans or monsters/aliens/robots/monster-alien-robots in our video games.

**SPOILER ALERT** 1:18:44 – 1:20:00 (Very vague Braid spoilers)

Follow @DominicDierkes on Twitter and check out his podcast The Anytime Show

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  1. OGRastamon says:

    For the purpose of information and not justification the character of Letitia is voiced by black woman Amanda Strawn.

  2. Nich Hustler says:

    The beginning of this episode pised me off so much that I have had to make my first comment as an upset person. I really don’t see how RE 5 can be consider racist at all. I understand if you think of the game as a stand alone, but the main character has been killing zombies of all races for years. And to be honest if Capcom had made the main character black all the sensationalists would decry their depiction of black on black violence or some other nonsense like that. There is really no winning sometimes. Actually this reminds me of a movie called: The Dead; it’s set in Africa and a white american crashes his plane and has to fight african zombies. I live in South Africa, and I know if zombie apocalypse hit tomorrow, white people are less than 7% of the populace, I’d be fighting black and indian zombies (Durban has the largest Indian population outside of India itself), and thats just a fact. Would I be a racist? I mean of course I am being ridiculous.

    Finally I disagree that stereotypes of race are always negative, they are important and often very true. Not because of race, but because people are all more or less the same, generally race and in particular LSM (Life Standard Measurement) can determine a lot about people. It gives you a broad base to have an idea of who a person might be. And then how their personality is built up. I’m not saying people are cookie cut, but I suppose I am saying it to a degree. There is truth to it all, it’s why things like the enneagram work.

    Just my thoughts. I am calmer now.

    I do love this show though…

  3. Adam says:

    Making fun of perception is often mistaken for making fun of people. Or something.

  4. Nick says:

    Undertaker has actually got back more into being, “The Dead Man” rather than “The American Badass” biker gimmick. But, he’s also incorporated a shoot fighter/UFC kind of spin to the character also.

  5. Tom Triumph says:

    I was excited when I read that you were going to talk about racism and sexism in video games. And it started out fun and loose and then… you lost the focus.

    Okay, I enjoyed the “Back to the Future” stuff and, well, most of the bits, but how can you talk so much about Spike TV and not at least circle back to sexism a wee bit? What you did talk about was funny and interesting (the sexism stuff was a bit old hat and I wanted you to keep going, but then you veered off), but by the half-way point you seemed to have dropped the thread completely.

    Free form is great, and the moments are all great, but can you reign it in a bit? I’d love to get your insights in some depth.

  6. Really enjoying the show. I too have mixed feelings about Resident Evil 5, but in the end the game play made me power through it, but I still felt yucky. My friend who I played with it called it the Racist Zombie game. He enjoyed it to a degree, but wished your main character wasn’t a whitey.

  7. Jeff Whaley says:

    great episode as always and reminds me of how awesome TMNT 2 was as a game. but to correct Dominic on the Undertaker’s look, he went back to the dead man gimmick at WrestleMania 20 way back in 2004. completely unrelated to the point of the episode and a trivial thing to comment on, but i wouldn’t be a true wrestling geek if i didn’t correct it.

  8. Pitch White says:

    Who’s the character Sambo you’re talking about?
    When I googled it, the first thing that came up was a Russian fighting style:

    I didn’t even know it was a derogatory word and I consider myself to be extremely racist! I guess I’m just ignorant. (kidding)

  9. Tom says:

    I agree with Nic on Elizabeth’s clothing in Bioshock Infinite. Corsets were the style of the time (early 1900s). According to The Wikipedia, corsets didn’t fall out of fashion until the ’20s.

    Her waist is crazily narrow, too, because of it.

  10. Adam says:

    I haven’t played Resident Evil 5, but I did play Resident Evil 4… and I feel I remember that most of that game was shooting Spanish zombies. Sounds like RE5 is all about shooting African zombies. Is one better than the other? That being said, I dream that zombies of all different races, creeds, and religions will be represented within the RE series so I can teach my daughter tolerance through an extended multicultural zombie slaughterfest.

  11. Kumail Nanjiani says:

    @Brad. I thought of Beyond Good & Evil right after the podcast was over! I wish I had thought of it during. Good call. Great game, strong lead, very quirky and unique and awesome. They’ve been apparently working on a sequel for a few years now.

    @Zac We did obviously miss Super Princess Peach, where she has to rescue Mario & Luigi. However, a wikipedia search of the game shows that she has to use to volatile emotions as super powers. For instance, she can cry super hard and fill up the screen with water to get above obstacles. One step forward, five hundred steps back.

    Thanks for listening & commenting!


  12. Justin says:

    First game I remember not liking was either that 7up or California raisins games on sega genesis.

  13. rhzunam says:

    ” Saying that hispanic people are hard-working is still racism to me, and still just as harmful as ascribing a negative characteristic”

    I can see kind of the point you tried to make Kumail but I think your wrong here. It can’t be just as harmful. That actually the point of something being negative or positive. The fact that it’s a negative statement instead of a positive, by itself makes it more harmful. It can’t be just as.

  14. DefconDan says:

    I’ve emailed my comments to you guys but still thought the podcast was awesome! Now I’ll be back I need to get my stolen PSP from Julio down in Peru …..

    Oh yeah @Vincent… dude … really man? REALLY??

  15. Vincent S says:


    :P. I am interested if the dynamic changes though. If the vibe was three (+x) people just shooting the shit (?), is the new one become three (+x) people just shooting the shit (just happens that two of them are married (or all?*)) or two married people hanging around with guests. Only time will tell since this just started and (correct me if I’m wrong) there wasn’t a format on the first episode. It’s ok either way, you guys are fun.

    *just realised Kumail has connections to islam, that joke wasn’t directed to his umm… ability to have more ladies (<<<showing my limited reach in other cultures). I listened to Kumail talk about the wedding on Youtube. Who knows, with the list of male guests maybe Emily has a male harem we are only getting to know.

  16. J MacD says:

    I am surprised you guys didn’t mention the Uncharted series considering the first game was all about murdering Pacific Islanders.

  17. Brad says:

    If you want a game with a really strong female main character check out Beyond Good and Evil. It was originally for consoles, but now you can get it on the Playstation Store, Xbox Arcade and (if you don’t know about, it’s a great place to get awesome games from the ’90s and early 2000s that are DRM-free and all the game are $9.99 or less). The main character is Jade, she can fight and she’s a photo-journalist. She’s attractive, but not all big breasts and revealing clothing. Great game and a great character.

  18. Bryan says:
    In his Street Fighter II ending, he reunites with his mother Samantha, who recognizes him from the anklet he wears. She reveals that Blanka was once known as Jimmy, before he was in a plane crash as a little boy. This crash caused him to be raised in the wild, although he has connections to a local village. Ever since the crash, Blanka/Jimmy had been separated from his mother.
    According to some sources,[citation needed] Blanka acquired his electrical trait from the same plane crash due to an intense electrical storm at the time (the cause of the crash). According to the instruction manual for the SNES version of Street Fighter II it states he learned the ability from electric eels.

  19. Greg says:

    Great episode! I found your discussion about killing humans opposed to aliens/monsters/robots interesting. I myself think that every game brings its own unique environment to the table and if they set up the story properly I have no problem killing humans, aliens, monsters, or robots. One game I wanted to point out though was I believe COD: Modern Warfare 2 where you are playing as an undercover soldier in a terrorist group and you go through an airport shooting innocent civilians. I remember that making me a bit uncomfortable but I thought the game did a great job making it work. I would say that was the only time where I had a problem killing humans and have always wondered what other players thought about it.

  20. Nic says:

    I think Elizabeth is dressed like that because it’s a period price. Like a old fashioned corset dress type thing.

  21. stephen says:

    thank you so much for making fell like less of a weirdo for not like call of duty because i feel weird about killing people in games that could be some one i could actually meet in my real life! i love this podcast because it is great to hear people talk about games the way i would talk about them, in terms of how it makes the players feel, rather than just a technical review braking down the mechanics and such.
    thanks so much for another awesome podcast. keep up the great work or I’ll be all sad and junk.

  22. Ben Z says:

    The first game I remember not liking was Myst. I was about 7 or 8 and could not figure out what the point was or where to go.

  23. Johnny says:

    I took a loot at the video, and it is much MUCH worse than I remember it being when playing the game. I’m gonna have to take back what I said earlier about people like this existing… and maybe start paying more attention?

  24. Kumail Nanjiani says:

    Thanks for listening guys! I love that we are having these discussions.

    @Amrehlu, I wanna get this RE5 out of the way first. Of course, if a zombie virus spread in Africa, most zombies would be black. I never said that was false. I just said it felt icky to have a game where you play a well dressed white dude shooting up black people in tattered clothing all day. And I can’t imagine you didn’t feel slightly icky when the black dudes in grass skirts and spears showed up. I’m just saying that game was a misstep, and it made me uncomfortable.

    @Johnny, I am saying that there are no black people that talk like Laetitia in Deus Ex, yes. No black people say “yous” or speak with that cadence at all. That accent is specifically one that was employed during minstrel shows and employing it in a video game is insane to me. @Miguel you bring up an interesting point, in that it was developed by a French-Canadian company who may have been unaware of the sensitivity of this issue.

    Also, speaking generally, the standard way that people defend the use of stereotyping is by saying “We aren’t saying every person of this race is like this. Just that this one specific character is. You’re the one who is racist for assuming otherwise.” But if media portrays people from a specific race in the same specific way over and over, it causes people to sub-consciously associate those characteristics with all people from that race. Why do you choose to just show asian people who are good at math, or indian people who are good at computers? It reinforces peoples’ ideas.

    Also, stereotypes don’t always have to seem negative. Saying that hispanic people are hard-working is still racism to me, and still just as harmful as ascribing a negative characteristic. Racism is when you assign any behavioral characteristics to people based on how they look or where they are from. And, even tho the hard working thing may not seem negative, it is. Anything that collapses a person into a representation of their race, and nothing more, is harmful. Racism isn’t just denying people the right to vote; racism is also assuming personality traits based on what you look like. And most video game characterization of different races seem to enforce stereotypes that we have been seeing in culture for many many years.

    @Aeshir I agree that homogenous populations can be very insensitive to race issues. I’m from Pakistan, which is very homogenous, and I heard some intensely racist stuff growing up. Don’t wanna generalize, but certainly very true in my case.

    Thanks so much for listening! And as I said, I genuinely like that we are arguing and having these discussions. Its ok that we disagree, long as we can communicate with each other in this kind of way. You guys are the best!


  25. Amrehlu says:

    Cut myself off there, got distracted by Minecraft and thought I had finished…

    …Now, don’t assume I am raging, I’m not… I’m just confused about how other people think, people are weird. Regardless, still loving the podcast guys, I hope you keep them coming.

  26. Amrehlu says:

    Go to the type of area in RE:5 and find more than a handful of white people… it isn’t racist… if you set a zombie game in Japan… you’re going to kill a lot of japanese zombies. The main characters happen to be white… one of them wasn’t even white… I just really don’t understand how anything they talked about was racism. They’re all people… a person is a fucking person, furthermore, in the case of a zombie game, they aren’t even a person anymore. It seems people who are racists, or more prone to racist thoughts, think of all those things that aren’t even a real thing… but that’s like some sort of high-end psychology stuff. I weep for the day that games are made with such a terribly crippling eye watching that nothing they do could possibly be twisted by anyone into anything that could be vaguely seen as a possibly racist or misogynistic in any sort of way.

  27. Aeshir says:

    A big reason for the assumed “racism” in Japanese games such as those from Capcom is that their population is very homogeneous; a general cultural unawareness of the intricacies of race and ethnicity results in examples such as the white-hero-fighting-hordes-of-black-enemies type situations of RE5, and T. Hawk comes from the widespread national confusion between American natives and Mexicans.

    As for Blanka, he was just raised by eels.

  28. Emily says:

    @Vincent S Oh great, here I was thinking that I was a real live person, but instead I’m just somebody’s wife. Good to know.

  29. Karl Savage says:

    On the racism level of things, it is also worth noting that a lot of Japan’s pop culture pulls off of stereotypes and broad strokes of other cultures, which they then incorporate and blend in with the rest of their craziness.
    And while you could point out that the Street Fighter characters could be considered stereotypes in a sense, they’re more just cultural avatars of athletes (E. Honda=sumo wrestling, Ryu & Ken=shotokan karate, Zangief=professional wrestling) or based on specific people (Fei Long=Bruce Lee, Balrog=Mike Tyson). At least, that’s what Street Fighter was like in the beginning, with each stage in a different part of the world and each character coming from those specific parts of the world as well.

  30. Vincent S says:

    Now that Ali’s gone, is the vibe going to change from some people and a girl hanging around (no lady guests yet :/) into some people and the host’s wife hanging around (:P)?

    About racism in games, I really can’t be offended or at the very least, I can’t let myself be offended. This isn’t people trying to stop me from urinating on a specific place or people telling me off because of my ethnicity. Besides, it’s just some asshole who wrote it and I have to waste time in validating this person’s perspective? I’d just let it go, you can do whatever you want.

  31. Zac says:

    Also, you must have stopped paying attention to professional wrestling a while ago. The Undertaker stopped his “American Badass” persona in which he came to the ring riding a motorcycle in 2003. At Wrestlemania XX in 2004, he reverted to the undead monster that he had previously been.

    Not trying to be a hater. Just making you aware of corrections.

  32. Zac says:

    You guys obviously missed “Super Princess Peach”, a DS game in which Mario, Luigi, and Toad were captured, and Peach has to save the day.

  33. Artie says:

    Re: Damsel-Rescuing-The-Dude:

    The old DOS game “Hugo’s House of Horrors” revolved around rescuing the titular protagonist’s girlfriend Penelope, then turned the tables in the sequel and had you play as Penelope (although all she really did was solve a murder; Hugo’s disappearance was resolved after the murder was solved and the gameplay switched back to him and he figured his own way out of the room he was trapped in, because the damsel-in-distress motif can’t be totally subverted).

  34. Johnny says:

    I don’t really agree that some of the characters mentioned are depictions of racism. It’s great to be sensitive to that sort of thing but to say people like that don’t exist is crazy. It’s not like every black person in the game acted like that, so they obviously aren’t saying, “this is how black people are.” I think it would be more racist to ignore the fact that people like that do exist and try and make everyone some middle ground version of its self. It feels like saying the actual people that are like this should be ashamed and change themselves or something insane like that.

    And with the native american fighting character, I don’t really see how you would expect them to handle this. A fighting character should be unique and exaggerated, I don’t see how it’s racist at all. How would you design a Native American fighting character?

  35. Robbie Keizer says:

    OMG ha ha ha
    such a funny episode you guys
    also I agree how some sexism in video games is rather out of control but at the same time lets remember its mostly dudes developing these games and its kind of all in fun really but with so many females getting into gaming and wanting to get into the industy to develop games that have may not have such bad proportions in female game characters.

    But like I said it is mostly dudes making these games. Like look at comics, most of the people drawing them are guys and lot of the female characters are rather scandly outfits, but at the same time they do have these characters kicking ass and standing out as important characters impacting the story some how.

    So I say give it time female partade characters in games and other forms of media will get better. Thats how the world work basically. Guys start something that becomes the new “thing” and its mostly domanted my guys and then it takes that one girl out of so many that may also be in to whatever the “thing” is and then like this female army begins to arrive and change it and be taken more seriously with the female community

    Also I love this podcast *hugs Kumail & Emily* 🙂

  36. Miguel says:

    Another great ‘cast, but you know what no one has brought up about Deus Ex Human Revolution? The developers are French Canadian. I think they may be a bit removed from the intensity and sensitivity of Black racism. Womp womp! Still a great game!