Whore of the Orient Title Formally Accused of Racial Insensitivity

Whore of the Orient is coming under attack for being racially insensitive. The funders justify the title as being a historical nickname for Shanghai, rather than an expression of content or characters.

Whore of the Orient is coming under attack for being racially insensitive. The funders justify the title as being a historical nickname for Shanghai, rather than an expression of content or characters.
Recommended Videos

Video games in modern times have to be sensitive to a great many things.  One of the things every form of media must be careful about is racial insensitivity.  It does not take much to convince many people their race is being misrepresented or disrespected.  Whore of the Orient is now being accused of this racial insensitivity with its title.

No, whore isn’t the word causing the problem…

The title is actually a historical nickname for the city of Shanghai, which is where the game takes place. In that context, the title seems appropriate given the almost-certainly unpleasant aspects of the story one might expect from 1936 Shanghai.

The problem is the last word of the title, which Jieh-Yung Lo, councillor of the city of Monash, explains as being the Chinese equivalent of the ‘N’ word for African Americans. He intends to address the issue to the Human Rights Commission to attempt to get the game canceled or, his preference as a fan of L.A. Noire, get the name changed.

Not quite so cut and dried…

It is impossible to debate whether or not the word in question genuinely has the negative connotations any more than any other word, meaning the discussion comes down to a more philosophical one.

Shanghai was called the whore of the orient, but that fact does not negate the pain associated with the word ‘orient’. There are few equivalent issues in recent memory, largely because people tend to recoil instinctively from such racially-charged nicknames, at least in polite company.

Is it still too soon to address the time period in its own words?

On the one hand, history does need to be told. Knowing and understanding the past is key to avoiding the same pitfalls and being vigilant for the same evils in the future.  In a world where we are starting to recognize video games as art, capable of portraying things of beauty and importance alike, is a video game the right format to start such a discussion?

Perhaps the most important question of all, one which cannot be answered without seeing more of the game itself… Is the name simply a symptom of locale, or is the ugly side of mankind and the time period it represents a key enough focus of the game to justify it?

About the author

Wokendreamer

Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.