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Because We Can't Have Nice Things: Scribblenauts Racism! Breaking!

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stupei

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Dec 6, 2008
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legend166 said:
Bullcrap. At the absolute worst, this may be considered a case of mild ignorance by not understanding the etymology of a word that has fallen out of common usage. Comparing it to actual racism trivialises the struggles black people went through during that time. Don't be stupid.
For the most part, I don't think people really are saying it's the same thing as "actual racism," are they? They're saying that a word that has potential racist connotations -- and I would think the majority of Americans who know the word at all do not recognize it as something that looks like a watermelon, but as a word that refers to blackface imagery and stereotypes -- is in the game. Personally, I don't think that in itself is a big issue, but I can completely understand that there are people who know the racial connotations but not the "fig" definition who will see that imagery and feel hurt by it. And that doesn't mean they're attention seeking cry-babies just because they know the more common (in America, at least) usage for a word that used to carry a lot of baggage.

This thread would have died a lot faster if people didn't insist on denigrating the experience of others. It's totally possible for 5th Cell not to have intended to offend anyone in the slightest and for there to be a subsection of people who are hurt or offended by the content. These two things can exist at the same time. The people who are hurt don't have to be called names in order for 5th Cell to not be racist.
 

Woodsy

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May 4, 2009
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Nicky75X said:
I'm kinda surprised to see people acting ignorant to this. Sambo is about as racist a comment as you can throw at a black person. To say you've never heard of it before shows you've spent most of your life living in a bubble wrapped in cotton wool.

Walk down the street with a card taped to your back that says Sambos and see how long you last before you get your head kicked in.
Maybe in 1950. I would bet that most blacks under the age of 30 don't even have a clue as to what sambo refers to, just as almost everyone under 30 has no clue that it is a racist term.

Before this story, when was the last time you even heard the word "sambo?" I probably hadn't heard it for 20 years, and that was probably from my parent's racist neighbor referring to Little Black Sambo.
 

Vagabundo

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Feb 10, 2007
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Nicky75X said:
I'm kinda surprised to see people acting ignorant to this. Sambo is about as racist a comment as you can throw at a black person. To say you've never heard of it before shows you've spent most of your life living in a bubble wrapped in cotton wool.

Walk down the street with a card taped to your back that says Sambos and see how long you last before you get your head kicked in.
Do that in Dublin and you would get a line of hungry people, some of them Black BTW - Ireland is far more multicultural than it used to be. You might get you head kicked in if you couldnt provide some ham and cheese goodness though, after promising such.

There are many many people in thsi thread who have no heard that term used in that way. So you're off base here matey.
 

Shito

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Nov 24, 2006
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Nicky75X said:
I'm kinda surprised to see people acting ignorant to this. Sambo is about as racist a comment as you can throw at a black person. To say you've never heard of it before shows you've spent most of your life living in a bubble wrapped in cotton wool.

Walk down the street with a card taped to your back that says Sambos and see how long you last before you get your head kicked in.
A very long time for all of us people not living in the us / uk / australia.
Which is to say: a lot of us out there.
Hell, I even bet there would be more martial artists fans that will actually *fear* you wearing that thing. ^^
 

Htown

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Feb 19, 2008
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LiveFromKyoto said:
That describes a lot of words though.

Other words in this game which have history as racial/ethnic slurs:

Midnight
Spade
Cracker
Snowflake
Albino
Ape
Monkey
Bog
Brownie
Crow
Frog
Gable
Gin
Pepper
Slope

I don't like the idea that racists are allowed to steal legitimate words from us forever. Should that entire list of words above be forever off limits? Several of those have been far more common slurs than the one in question here.

These guys just had the bad luck of it meaning something that resembles something else (it looks like a watermelon) that's tangentially related to racism in another language. If the game came up with a leaf or a martial artist when you used the word nobody would have though twice about this, since obviously nobody's objecting to snowflakes or frogs.
I'm not saying there's a problem with how the item or the word is implemented in the game. My problem is the people in this thread who refuse to acknowledge that sambo was (and occasionally still is) used for many years as a racist term. And that it's stupid to TALK about the issue. That's my only problem. I have no issue with 5th cell, except to wonder how nobody there knew there was a racial connotation to the word.
 

Shurs

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KHarvey16 said:
Claiming it's integral to having an understanding of the history of race relations in the US is completely ridiculous.
I think it's fair to say that if anyone has really looked into the subject of American race relations, they probably know the term.

My take:

I don't feel it is up to you or me to tell someone what to be, or not be, offended by. While a sambo is a gourd that does look very similar to a watermelon, had 5th Cell had any common sense, they would have left the term completely out of the game.
 

Htown

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Woodsy said:
Maybe in 1950. I would bet that most blacks under the age of 30 don't even have a clue as to what sambo refers to, just as almost everyone under 30 has no clue that it is a racist term.

Before this story, when was the last time you even heard the word "sambo?" I probably hadn't heard it for 20 years, and that was probably from my parent's racist neighbor referring to Little Black Sambo.
Did... did you just argue against Sambo being a racist comment by bringing up that the last time you heard it was from your parent's racist neighbor?

Anyway, instead of betting that most blacks under age 30 don't know what sambo refers to, why not ask a black person under 30 and find out?
 

Vagabundo

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Shurs said:
I think it's fair to say that if anyone has really looked into the subject of American race relations, they probably know the term.

My take:

I don't feel it is up to you or me to tell someone what to be or not be offended by. While a sambo is a gourd that does look very similar to a watermelon, had 5th Cell had any common sense, they would have left the term completely out of the game.
While there are very obvious words that should not be in, if you start taking out words used across the English speaking world, that are used as slurs, you would have very few common words left.

If it is a legitimate object - like it is in this case - then it should be in.

ASIDE: Just wondering if faggot brings a bunch of sticks? It bloody should, it would start to take back language that has been abused in this way.
 

Monroeski

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First time I ever heard sambo was I think last year when there were rumors that Sarah Palin called Obama a sambo.
 

hamchan

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The developers meant no harm so can some of you please pull the stick out of your arse and get the fuck over it? This is really an excessive level of sensitivity.
 

andthebeatgoeson

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Jun 7, 2004
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Shurs said:
I think it's fair to say that if anyone has really looked into the subject of American race relations, they probably know the term.

My take:

I don't feel it is up to you or me to tell someone what to be, or not be, offended by. While a sambo is a gourd that does look very similar to a watermelon, had 5th Cell had any common sense, they would have left the term completely out of the game.
I find it stupid on a large level that they release this game in the largest market and not have an understanding of this sort of thing or process to prevent it. But, then I'm sure they won't make that mistake with Japan or Europe. Then it becomes a debate of them thinking or their publisher thinking about the potential harmful effect. Nobody looked over the list of objects and decided to flag any questionable word? Nobody thought about the biggest market? If you look over the entire list, then flag any questionable word, how many words you thing pop up? I'm sure Sambo would pop up on an American list somewhere. It's just bad management.

Vagabundo said:
While there are very obvious words that should not be in, if you start taking out words used across the English speaking world, that are used as slurs, you would have very few common words left.

If it is a legitimate object - like it is in this case - then it should be in.

ASIDE: Just wondering if faggot brings a bunch of sticks? It bloody should, it would start to take back language that has been abused in this way.
I think you might be overstating that issue. It's not as if this is a rare word or a word used rarely in the past. The word has a large amount of meaning and was very prevalent. The fact that it is persistent and could be found easily in various books about it and is linked to a topic that is so ingrained in American culture seperates it from other slurs. Does bitch drop a female dog out of the sky? There are offensive words and scribblenauts has 10,000. We can stop acting like removing this word would irreperably limit the dictionary of scribblenauts. There is also a huge difference with the spoken language and language we should expect from a videogame.
 

Felix Lighter

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Htown said:
I'm not saying there's a problem with how the item or the word is implemented in the game. My problem is the people in this thread who refuse to acknowledge that sambo was (and occasionally still is) used for many years as a racist term.
I wasn't familiar with the term before reading this thread but it obviously and unfortunately is a racist term. I also believe that there wasn't an ounce of racist intent behind the words used in this case.

I understand the initial reaction of being offended but after realizing that the word also refers to a watermelon like fruit and that was how the word was being used in this case, I would imagine that it would become no more offensive than when other racial slurs with other meanings are used in a non-racist context. I can't put my self in other peoples shoes and I can't tell other people how to feel but that's just the reaction I would have expected.
 

Kintaro

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Eh, on one hand, they could have just omitted the word and avoided any possible "problems". Similar to what Sony did with a LBP song track before release. On the other hand, this is mountain out of a molehill. Similar to the RE5 "sensitive imagery" crap.

Your milage and sensitivity may vary.

/post from a black dude who knew that Sambo could be taken in a bad way.
 

Htown

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Felix Lighter said:
I wasn't familiar with the term before reading this thread but it obviously and unfortunately is a racist term. I also believe that there wasn't an ounce of racist intent behind the words used in this case.
Again, I don't think there was any racist intent either.

I understand the initial reaction of being offended but after realizing that the word also refers to a watermelon like fruit and that was how the word was being used in this case, I would imagine that it would become no more offensive than when other racial slurs with other meanings are used in a non-racist context. I can't put my self in other peoples shoes and I can't tell other people how to feel but that's just the reaction I would have expected.
Yeah, that's about how it went for me.

Kinda sucks to be 5th Cell right now; they got caught up in a series of unfortunate stereotypes.

Just... maybe be a little more careful next time, guys.

and while I have your attention can you license the objectnaut stuff out to someone so they can do an awesome green lantern game kthxbye
 

Htown

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Also, how many phone calls do you think N'Gai Croal is getting right now? :lol
 

SovanJedi

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Vagabundo said:
ASIDE: Just wondering if faggot brings a bunch of sticks? It bloody should, it would start to take back language that has been abused in this way.
That leaked 22,000+ word list doesn't have "fag" or "faggot" on there. On the other hand, that negative connotation is on a whole other magnitude of recognition compared to this so it's pretty reasonable that they didn't include it.

As a disclaimer, I'm not trying to debunk "sambo" as a racist term, just that this day and age (in my experience) it's far more common to hear the other words used in a negative manner than the one being discussed about here.
 

Suairyu

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skinnyrattler said:
My problem is actually with the OP reaction. It continues a common thread that was exposed with RE5 and Ngai. Many people not exposed to American racism, including a lot of White Americans, get angry if anyone implies that something is racist. They over-react and deny when there are obviously people hurt by stuff like this. I consider myself to be a smart, intelligent Black guy. I'm not offended by scribblenauts and probably will buy the game, just like I intended to do beforehand.
You don't have to be knowledgeable of American media and literary history to see the problems RE5 causes with its representation of Africa, you just have to be slightly intelligent. It's not 'racist' as there is no malicious intent, but it's seriously insensitive and there needed to be an intelligent discussion on the matter (I'm still not certain that need has been satisfied, but at this point no-one's going to bother. Maybe in five years?).

However, this Scribblenauts issue was just (until proven otherwise) an honest mistake born out of complete ignorance over a term that is (thankfully) fading from existence. I hesitate to even call it a mistake, because the term used literally represents what it is supposed to once you research it a little. In this case, the ignorance is on both sides - 5th Cell can be called ignorant for not understanding the link between the term 'sambo' and racism (had they known they most definitely wouldn't have included the item due to its potential to cause offence) and those offended by its inclusion can be called ignorant of its actual meaning, rather than its use as a racial slur.

Were I to release a work that contained imagery I had a perfectly valid reason for using but also had an alternative association I was originally ignorant of, I would, of course, be upset that such an association existed, issue an apology to those who might be inadvertantly offended by my work and explain my perfectly valid reason for including the said imagery. That's what I call basic politeness. Maybe it'd even lead to an interesting discussion on authorial responsibility that everyone could enjoy in a reasoned and intelligent manner and everyone would come away having learned something knew.

I would not expect an journalist on a popular and influential blog to write a 'fair and balanced' piece exploring whether or not my intentions were to be racist when I offered a perfectly valid explanation as to why the imagery was included.

I would not expect members on a popular and influential message board to chastise everyone else for not understanding why I was completely racially insensitive and ignorant to the very basics of African slavery in America, as according to one commenter.

For the record, I also would not expect a bunch of members on that same message board to act hostile when the racial link is (mistakenly) made, claim political correctness has gone mad and that an artist is above being held accountable for offence they may cause, because it'd horrify me that a work I had used was being used a banner for the promotion of racial ignorance.

Beyond that "so sorry for offence caused but xyz calm down" statement I mentioned earlier they should offer out of basic politeness, 5th Cell should be required to do nothing. Nintendo, at their discretion, could demand the word be removed from the game's dictionary, but I don't feel anyone is obliged to make that particular call in this situation.
 

kodt

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Dec 10, 2008
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A Black Falcon said:
It's not outdated. Everybody's just trying to defend them, I think, because GAF loves this game, or the concept of the game at least... but that shouldn't be enough for you to defend them for something like this. It's just about whoever decided this word in the dictionary and whatever checking methods they had, not about everything about the game as a whole...
:lol

1. I have never heard of the term.
2. prove to me it is not outdated.
 

Larsen B

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Tideas said:
Err what? They do stop being racist if you don't intend them to be. Words are words. If you say them, without the racist connotation behidn it, then they're just words.

If you can't accept the past is the past and move on to the future, then everything is a lost cause.

Words are made racists by people. Not the other way around
If someone calls a black person a racial epithet without knowing that the meaning (or even connotation) is racist but rather assume it is merely an adjective people use to describe friends (like one might say "thanks, pal"), you're saying this is not racist?

It is not intentionally racist (like I said) but it is racist.

legend166 said:
Bullcrap. At the absolute worst, this may be considered a case of mild ignorance by not understanding the etymology of a word that has fallen out of common usage. Comparing it to actual racism trivialises the struggles black people went through during that time. Don't be stupid.
I am not trivialising the violence and persecution and suffering that black people went through, but I also do not think that mild racism is an easier pill to swallow.

Again, I said it was a case of ignorance on behalf of 5th Cell and (now) a large part of GAF.
 

GitarooMan

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I think this particular instance is much ado about nothing, but a huge swath of GAF's willful ignorance and/or continuous refusal to accept that anything could possibly be interpreted as racist is consistently scary to me.
 

Htown

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kodt said:
:lol

1. I have never heard of the term.
2. prove to me it is not outdated.
1. Again, that doesn't mean anything.
2. From last election: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/terry-trippany/2008/09/06/rumor-palin-called-obama-sambo-spreading-across-internet

someone was spreading a false rumor that a the white vice presidential candidate was calling the black presidential candidate a Sambo. Why do that if the term is outdated? Do a search for "obama" and "sambo" and you'll pull up a bunch of articles on the rumor, none of which have to explain that sambo is a racist term, because most americans KNOW it's a racist term.
 

bishoptl

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Jun 6, 2004
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GitarooMan said:
I think this particular instance is much ado about nothing, but a huge swath of GAF's willful ignorance and/or continuous refusal to accept that anything could possibly be interpreted as racist is consistently scary to me.
par for the course
 

Htown

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GitarooMan said:
I think this particular instance is much ado about nothing, but a huge swath of GAF's willful ignorance and/or continuous refusal to accept that anything could possibly be interpreted as racist is consistently scary to me.
EXACTLY.
 

Tempy

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Larsen B said:
If someone calls a black person a racial epithet without knowing that the meaning (or even connotation) is racist but rather assume it is merely an adjective people use to describe friends (like one might say "thanks, pal"), you're saying this is not racist?

It is not intentionally racist (like I said) but it is racist.
If I'm gardening and I ask a black friend for a spade, am I being racist? Really?
 

Woodsy

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May 4, 2009
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Htown said:
Did... did you just argue against Sambo being a racist comment by bringing up that the last time you heard it was from your parent's racist neighbor?

Anyway, instead of betting that most blacks under age 30 don't know what sambo refers to, why not ask a black person under 30 and find out?
No, what I'm saying is, I'm guessing that the interns they had looking up all these words were probably pretty young, and it's not all that unreasonable to think that they had never even heard the word, let alone known that it was a racist term. I'm not saying that it's no longer a racist term.
 

Luigiv

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Vagabundo said:
ASIDE: Just wondering if faggot brings a bunch of sticks? It bloody should, it would start to take back language that has been abused in this way.
If that were so, it would make me quite gay indeed.

As a side thought, it's an odd coincidence that you mentioned Dublin just now, as I was just thinking at how the whole watermelon thing is same as the stereotype that Irish people only eat potatoes. You guys don't get offended by that do you? No one gets up in arms stressing it not PC, do they?
 

Dyno

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I think it's opportunistic and shameful to treat this as a news item. Both articles read like a celebrity rag. There is no ligitimate issue to report, only the prurient slant injected by the authors.

Steve, you claiming the high road in this thread is laughable. You are not serving your readers or doing anything noble with this trash. What you are doing is lowering the level of their discourse. Garbage in - garbage out.
 

fatty

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sonicmj1 said:
Tiktaalik is right that, if you wanted to start a racial shitstorm, depicting Native Americans with tribal headdresses would be a more logical beginning, because that actually shows and reinforces a negative stereotype. This is gross overreaching.
No he’s not. Including a tribal headdress is now a negative stereotype?? If anything, people trying to insinuate racism when nothing is there are doing more harm to the cause.

Tiktaalik tries to point out the Cleveland Indians logo as an example. The headdress (or lack thereof) has little to do with why people take offense to the logo. Growing up, my mother used to take me to quite a few PowWows and the emphasis on the variety and beautiful types of feathers used in the headdress was a celebration of Native American culture. And now we have people trying to make it into a negative stereotype. This is pathetic and I’m sick of all of the PC crap.

But it’s the developer’s fault for not knowing every single connotation of the thousands and thousands of words used in the game, right? Give me a break. And people are even taking it further.

There are actually some arguing in this thread that having a God in the game is endorsing a certain type of religion and that it may offend atheists or those who believe in polytheism. Why stop there, as a Christian I don’t believe that God is some old guy with grey hair as portrayed in the game but you know what, I don’t care. It’s just a freaking game and it’s obvious that they had no intention to offend anyone and if they did, too bad.

People need to take a step back and really look at what they are complaining about. If I was the development team, I would be ticked off.

I’ll help them and draft their response letter back to Kotaku:
It appears you found a word in our game that has multiple meanings and one of them can be used in a negative connotation so you contacted us for a response and apology.

We were going to issue out the standard PR statement on how we in no way intended to include a word that may or may not offend anyone in anyway but we then thought better of ourselves. So screw you.

Screw your website for trying to make a racial issue out of something that was clearly not intended. You do more harm to issues where race is still a problem. If you were seriously offended about the word being included, well, cry me a river.

Since it is all the rage these days, if you feel bad enough about this to boycott the game, more power to you. Fine by us. But we promise to not treat you or your website any differently than we did before this issue came up. We still have no desire to visit a website that tries to post sensationalistic crap just to get page clicks. You can now carry on with your next story about how you found more Princess Peach upskirt pictures.
 

poppabk

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http://www.reason.com/news/show/31068.html said:
"I was in tears, shaking," she told the faculty. "It's not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid."
Rideau's plea was a reality check. If the proper use of a Chaucerian term while teaching The Canterbury Tales could be construed as harassment of a student who did not know the word's spelling or meaning, then the code was teaching some interesting expectations indeed.
If you type the name of a fruit, it displays that fruit.
 

Htown

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Tempy said:
If I'm gardening and I ask a black friend for a spade, am I being racist? Really?
No.

Just don't stutter and say "spade" twice.

"Hey, pass me that spade spade. NO WAI-"
 

kodt

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A Black Falcon said:
I live in a very white region as well and am white (this is the whitest state in the country in fact), but heard it at least in the context of the original story well before college, that I'm sure of... this isn't just some obscure word you learn in college or something! Anyone trying to represent it as that is being disingenuous.

Sure, I grew up in a liberal, well-read family, and am liberal as well. But still, expecting Americans to know what "Sambo" means is not exactly difficult, to say the least. And if people don't know, yes, that is an even bigger problem, because it says that people don't know enough about the long struggles in America towards acceptance of nonwhite people... and that is definitely something that should be troubling. This is something anyone in high school in America should know, at minimum.
You are actually arguing that it is a bad thing that people are not longer learning and using a racist term? Did you read this before you posted it? You are telling me that because I have never heard the term "Sambo" used a racial slur that I am oblivious to the history minorities in our country and in particular blacks?

You people or so overly sensitive it is ridiculous. This thread is almost as bad as the Shadow Complex / OSC thread. Wow that was sad :lol

Htown said:
1. Again, that doesn't mean anything.
2. From last election: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/terry-trippany/2008/09/06/rumor-palin-called-obama-sambo-spreading-across-internet

someone was spreading a false rumor that a the white vice presidential candidate was calling the black presidential candidate a Sambo. Why do that if the term is outdated? Do a search for "obama" and "sambo" and you'll pull up a bunch of articles on the rumor, none of which have to explain that sambo is a racist term, because most americans KNOW it's a racist term.
ok you found one rumor of the term possibly being used. How about an instance of someone under the age of 40 using it? My grandparents still say old outdated words that no-one else (except for old people) uses any more. Still I don't think it is very common, it is no longer used in every day speech.
 

jaypah

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bishoptl said:
par for the course
at first i was like, "what the hell?" then i read 2 more sentences and i was like, "meh".

but what i do find funny is how many people this doesn't affect who would have told me to 'get over it' because i'm being 'overly sensitive'. just like the RE5 shit. if you're not the perceived target then don't tell me to get over it. in some instances you might be right but it smacks of dismissive wankery to say that when it is literally impossible for you to feel the same things from the subject.

kodt said:
You people or so overly sensitive.
damn...
 

DrFunk

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Woodsy said:
Maybe in 1950. I would bet that most blacks under the age of 30 don't even have a clue as to what sambo refers to, just as almost everyone under 30 has no clue that it is a racist term.

Before this story, when was the last time you even heard the word "sambo?" I probably hadn't heard it for 20 years, and that was probably from my parent's racist neighbor referring to Little Black Sambo.
You're very, very wrong

And --
1950?
Try saying that in certain parts of America and see where you wake up in the morning. I'm 26, black, and definitely know the history of the word. Like other posters have said, the sad thing is not many people in America know it's a racist term. But whatever. it's just something 5th Cell has to deal with now.
 

chespace

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GitarooMan said:
I think this particular instance is much ado about nothing, but a huge swath of GAF's willful ignorance and/or continuous refusal to accept that anything could possibly be interpreted as racist is consistently scary to me.
That's because they love videogames THAT MUCH.
 

Shurs

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bishoptl said:
par for the course
Which is sad.

It would be nice if some people used this story (whether it's overblown or not) as an opportunity to look into the negative connotations associated with the word in an attempt to better understand why some people could be offended by it.
 

Ponn

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GitarooMan said:
I think this particular instance is much ado about nothing, but a huge swath of GAF's willful ignorance and/or continuous refusal to accept that anything could possibly be interpreted as racist is consistently scary to me.
Yea, but the point is the word Sambo by definition is a type of gourd. And that is exactly how it was used in here. It's not a matter of it being construed as racist because it wasn't used in any other context. I'm not sure if anyone here is denying it can be used as a racial slur, the argument is thats not the case here.

If you truly have a problem with it being used this way then you're essentially saying you have a problem with the word all together and you just need to petition to have the name removed from the dictionary all together and the name of that melon changed to something else. And if we are going that far then we should do it for everything else in that same position.
 

Ca1amity

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Apr 16, 2007
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Stephen, I hope this goes on every page until this thread dies so you dont miss it.

Stumpokapow said:
Disclaimer: I work in the publishing world in a non-editorial job, but I am a published writer.



No one in this thread or elsewhere has complained about Joystiq covering the allegation. Everyone in this thread is complaining about you guys covering the allegation. What do you think the difference is between the coverage that causes a difference in our reaction? Clearly that can't be chaulked up to people being defensive about the allegation or people being angry that you didn't ignore the story.



You know when people insulted your move to Kotaku, and you said "What tabloid journalism? What Kotaku pieces do people have a problem with?" ... It's fine that you don't agree with that assessment of this story, but I hope in the future you won't seem flabbergasted that people call Kotaku sleazy. This is what they're talking about.



Responsible and dispassionate?

Well, the title explicitly frames the story as being racial, rather than the more neutral "Controversial". This will cause people who tend to be progressive on racial sensitivity issues to immediately accept the validity of the charge, and people who tend to feel "PC has gone wild" to immediately dismiss the issue.

The lede does not summarize both sides of the stories, it's more of an exercise in creative writing that sets the tone for a scandal. "Nintendo DS title Scribblenauts has players solve puzzles by writing words. The game has a database of tens of thousands of words — writing words causes objects to appear on screen. So what happens when you write "sambo"?" could be rewritten more neutrally as "Nintendo DS title Scribblenauts has players solve puzzles by writing words. The game has a database of tens of thousands of words — writing words causes objects to appear on screen. Now, a controversy has erupted over the alleged meaning of one word in the game's dictionary--'sambo'". See how I've shifted the tone from a writer supporting an allegation to a writer reporting an allegation? By externalizing the controversy ("a controversy has erupted") , the writer is no longer a part of the forces making the allegation.

Including the dictionary definition is a joke. The paragraph before the definition adequately establishes the negative connotation of the word and the paragraph before that adequately establishes 5th Cell's intent. Using the dictionary afterward is sleazy because after contrasting two opposing views on the issue, a "neutral" source is cited to justify one of the two views. Everything after the dictionary definition is pure editorializing and condemning the word's inclusion and basically making a mockery of 5th Cell, with no attempt to be anything resembling dispassionate.

The article's "dispassionate conclusion"?
'Both "sambo" and the image of a watermelon carry the baggage of the American experience regarding racism. There is a connection between them. A long, painful and oppressive one.'

The final sentence fragment especially reads like a poor man's impression of Keith Olbermann's impression of Edward Murrow rooting out corruption.

This is not a dispassionate article.
Also:
stephentotilo said:
In instances like this, ignoring a story -- one that was already on the Internet before we posted -- is not an option.
It certainly is an option. You just dont run the story you did. You dont run it because its sensationalist and contributes nothing to a discussion of race-issues-in-games or games in general. If you decide you cant fall behind the other blogs, which is a whole other issue, then you write a brief news post to let your readership know this is possible and move on.

Want to editorialize? Then do it properly, like a journalist would, and take some time (read: more than a day). Gather sources and information for a balanced look at the larger issues raised if you want to go down that road. You use this issue as a jumping off point, not the focus of a non-story click-grab.


stephentotilo said:
This isn't a matter of what I want the story to include, but what we think the story needs to include, to be responsible and dispassionate, to focus on what we know and what we can back up.
I'll go out on a limb here and hope youre trying to say something subtle with this sentence.
 

Blizzard

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Jan 23, 2008
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Ponn01 said:
Yea, but the point is the word Sambo by definition is a type of gourd. And that is exactly how it was used in here. It's not a matter of it being construed as racist because it wasn't used in any other context. I'm not sure if anyone here is denying it can be used as a racial slur, the argument is thats not the case here.

If you truly have a problem with it being used this way then you're essentially saying you have a problem with the word all together and you just need to petition to have the name removed from the dictionary all together and the name of that melon changed to something else. And if we are going that far then we should do it for everything else in that same position.
I think the problem may be that it's a very obscure word. It's not on dictionary.reference.com, nor wikipedia, nor google's define:. I did a bit of research and the only thing I could find is that it's a Spanish and/or German word for Cucurbita ficifolia. I couldn't find any actual definition of the word.
 
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Nicky75X said:
I'm kinda surprised to see people acting ignorant to this. Sambo is about as racist a comment as you can throw at a black person. To say you've never heard of it before shows you've spent most of your life living in a bubble wrapped in cotton wool.

Walk down the street with a card taped to your back that says Sambos and see how long you last before you get your head kicked in.
Any race that would collectively kick my head in for wearing "Sambo" on my back has a long way to go, wouldn't you say?

Don't be so stereotypical. Also, get over it.

I'll have you know that if we bitch enough, the next Scribblenauts game is going to be incredibly bland. Forgot the words baby, meat, priests, and gun! Just be happy with different species of bird!
 

poppabk

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Jan 21, 2008
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GitarooMan said:
I think this particular instance is much ado about nothing, but a huge swath of GAF's willful ignorance and/or continuous refusal to accept that anything could possibly be interpreted as racist is consistently scary to me.
Which is why everyone should be pissed that such a big issue is being made of this. The people it hurts most is the people it is purportedly trying to defend. People become fearful of minorities because articles like this make them out to be overly sensitive reactionaries that will find offense where none is meant, making being accused of ___ism/___bia independent of thought or deed.

Fear breeds anger and hate, the exact thing we want to avoid.
 

truly101

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Feb 20, 2007
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I summoned the basketball player and then summoned a piece of fried chicken and a cheerleader to see what he would do, only the cop I summoned earlier shot the basketball player on sight.

Is that racist?
 

bishoptl

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Jun 6, 2004
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Tempy said:
If I'm gardening and I ask a black friend for a spade, am I being racist? Really?
If I'm looking to get a cigarette (no chance in hell), I wouldn't ask one of my gay friends if I could bum a fag off him because A) he'd laugh his ass off and B) I know how that word is loaded for gays, even if I would never mean it in that manner.

Nobody's arguing - I think - that 5th Cell should be demonized, or that the game is bad. What's weird is the number of posts I'm seeing stating that

- I've never heard of it, so it's not relevant
- yeah it kinda looks like a watermelon but that could also be this fruit instead

Personally, I blame the DS' graphic shortcomings for this problem. :|

If typing in the word "sambo" had resulted in the characters wrestling, nobody would have thought twice about it. Putting in a melon-like graphic instead demonstrates a lack of sensitivity, imo.

Blizzard said:
I think the problem may be that it's a very obscure word.
Not too obscure for last year's presidential race. Funny how that popped up with a black male in the mix.
 
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