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talbaineric
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"Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Fri 19 Oct 14:24post reply

Seeing as how it's been ages since I've been here, I figured I'd bring up something, if I haven't already ages ago, and that has to do with the cast of Street Fighter and their respective origins and nationalities.

I always loved the world warrior aspect of Street Fighter. As gorgeous and addicting it has been to play SFV, I have to say I'm disappointed with how many unknown nationalities a lot of the characters are. M. Bison and Urien I could understand, as I feel that they are characters that didn't fit any mold to any country anyway, but for characters like Kolin and Falke, where they clearly could have hailed from somewhere but don't, for the sake of laziness from the designers part.

I feel the designers need to take steps to make the cast more diverse in future and give SF more international representation, which I feel will flesh them out story wise and add to the experience of playing a SF game. SFIV did good with the likes of Juri and Hakan, South Korea and Turkey being represented for the first time. Same with Menat, the Egyptian representative. But with the influx of Japanese schoolgirls and characters from America, it feels like the game is lacking in diversity. Perhaps throw in a character from Norway (Ruby Heart is from there, but not playable in the SF games) or a South African fighter. The possibilities are endless, if Capcom chooses to pursue them.

Thoughts?

I hope you all are well. Good to see the old school reps still here! ^_^






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HokutoAndy

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"Re(1):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Fri 19 Oct 19:12post reply

I feel 2D Street Fighter had its rad cast because the creators threw in all the cool stuff they'd seen in movies, read about, saw in early martial arts tournaments and so on.

Later SF characters feel more like something thought up in a marketing meeting with binders full of demographics than "this is based on something I personally enjoyed outside of games".

So I feel developing a good Street Fighter character needs an anchor from "outside of games". It can be something close like how Cammy has a bunch of Gally/Alita moves and expressions, or more distant like stretchy Indians showing up in one Hong Kong movie, or taking an archtype like "70's Britisher punk rocker" but putting a Zangief sized Adonis of a dark skinned man in that getup.

Like if I were to invent a new SF character on the spot based on something I've been intrigued by... a Taiwanese youth with a Yun/Yan vibe but he wears clothes like that from real world Taiwan fashion label Guerilla Group: https://theawesomer.com/photos/2016/05/eyes_sins_nightfall_noragi_jacket_01_1.jpg

He can wear some leather rings on his hands because GG sells that stuff: https://www.guerrilla-group.co/collections/new-releases/products/sw-r4

That's a new SF character concept based on what tabs I had open while looking at this question. It's based on what I find personally interesting which has a cult following world wide, that's the level of specific but also appealing I like SF characters to be.







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"Re(1):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Fri 19 Oct 23:21post reply

I feel like SF5 is doing "Okay". Like, it could do much better, but it's still improving the SF map in some way. Much better than all SF4 except Juri and Hakan, to say the least.

The most obvious, as you say, are Rashid and Menat, adding two lesser used nationalities as well as two characters with darker skins, which is always welcome. Abigail, however you feel about him, is the first playable Canadian of the series. Necalli is not so much Mexican as weird-Aztec-mish-mash, so you could argue that his country of origin doesn't exist anymore, but he's from "central America". Kolin is also a bit of a special case, since she's from... probably an ex-soviet republic? With a war in it? Tying her with a specific country might be touchy with certain players, so it makes sense to keep her "unknown" rather than calling her, say, "Ukrainian" (what with the Crimea crisis and so on).
Laura is related to Sean so she had to be Brazilian, and Zeku is a Ninja so of course he's Japanese. G is just weirdness personified, so he's "from the world", which, eh, whatever.

I agree that it's disappointing that FANG and Falke didn't receive an official nationality. Falke is very obviously German so I don't see the point of removing that. As for FANG, his organization was Thai, and datamining found elements of what could be his background, a Thai temple. Being bosses of Shadoloo didn't prevent Claw from being Spanish, so I'm not sure why they decided to keep it discreet here.
And then there's Ed.
...

My big concern is the Gorilla. It is obviously coming, and it's probably going to be great and dumb. But they would probably make it African (which is, well, the place were gorillas live). But I understand their reluctance to have "Africa" (or Congo, or Rwanda...) represented by an ape. Historically, Capcom's representation of race hasn't been spotless to say the least, and the last thing SF5 needs now is a big racist row. So possibly, keeping all the Neo-Shadoloo characters without nationalities is to alleviate concerns about our future gorilla overlord.







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"Re(1):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Fri 19 Oct 23:43post reply

Street Fighter 1 and two were focused on the "world warrior" idea, traveling the world to face stereotype fighters of different styles and countries. You don't have that worldwide feel if everyone is either American or Japanese, and certain styles are associated with certain countries and races. For that reason, it had to have a measure of diversity.

After Street Fighter 2, that "world warrior" idea was largely dropped. Street Fighter 2 shaped the future of the series, and it established the two stories that would dominate future games.

Shadaloo, with Dictator, automatically became the main story of any game where it was included. Characters not only became defined by how they connected to the Shadaloo story, many characters would be created primarily tied to Shadaloo. (Sure, the Dolls come from around the world, but Shadaloo is effectively their "nation".)

The other major story of Street Fighter became the extended drama of Ryu and Akuma, Shotokan/Ansatsuken, Satsui no Hado... Ryu, Akuma/Gouki, Gouken, Gotetsu, Evil Ryu, etc... This story, directly tied to Japan, is very insular and adverse to diversity. Note that I left Ken out of that character list on purpose, because he's more of a tag-along. He's connected, but he isn't really part of that story.

Beyond these stories, there are two other factors that shape Street Fighter.

First, there is the assimilation of Final Fight. (Specifically, the first Final Fight.) You could argue the connection started with Street Fighter 2 itself, but Final Fight characters started joining Street Fighter rosters with the Alpha series, with future games continuing to bring characters from Final Fight to Street Fighter. The diversity issue here is that Final Fight wasn't particularly diverse itself, so Street Fighter isn't going to be drawing any diversity from the Final Fight roster. (*The matter of Poison addressed below)

Second, there is appealing to fans. Yes, people with unrepresented races and/or countries tend to like the idea of seeing (non-insulting) representation. But existing fans largely want their existing favorites to return, or sometimes to see characters related to their favorites join. Here, Street Fighter 2 also set the "core" roster. There is backlash against certain styles of play, which some existing characters only weather due to their legacy. (People that hate facing grapplers are going to be more vocal against a new grappler than they are against Zangief.) There is often backlash against new styles that might force people to play against that character in a new way. There is backlash against new characters that place well or win in tournaments. A Street Fighter V tournament completely dominated by Cammy or Akuma will be more accepted than Alex or Juri winning, while people scream for nerfs at even the idea of Abigal, Menat, Ed, Laura, or the other newcomers winning or even placing well. (Zeku gets a degree of a pass because of his connection to Guy.) So new characters struggle to find an audience, then vanish, while Capcom is pressured to bring back old favorites (and particularly SF2 characters) to hold audience attention. (This most visibly happened with SF3, but also shaped SF5's DLC, and certainly had some impact on the roster of SF4 as well (particularly since SF4 was the game meant to bring back all those old SF2 fans.))


(*) Ah, the Poison issue. This almost deserves an aside because of what it may say about Capcom's view of diversity. A while back on the Steam forums, I did a quick search of the history of Poison's official gender status.

The most recent status I've seen came off of the SFxT win quote controversy, which blew up to the point that Capcom felt that it had to promote that it was in consultation with GLAAD to remove any potentially offensive issues. At that point, Ono stated that Capcom's stance was to not take a stance on Poison's gender. Ono went on to say that it was a matter of trying to appeal to all sides, those that wanted Poison to be transgender (of any status) and those that wanted her to be a natural-born woman.

(On a side note here, in this interview Ono contradicts both previous evidence and statements he himself had made years earlier. Here, Ono claimed that Capcom had never taken an official stance on Poison's gender, with the context being whether Poison was transgender. However, Poison was officially transgender. She is marked as such on some Final Fight concept art, is listed as such in the Japanese SNES Final Fight manual, and the creator of Poison and Roxy has spoken about why their gender was changed (against his desires.) Ono himself had years earlier stated that Capcom of Japan and America were in conflict on whether Poison was pre- or post-op, which would mean that there was no conflict over her being transgender in general.)







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"Re(2):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Sat 20 Oct 00:45post reply

I agree with Iggy that the decision not to tie Kolin to a real-world tragedy since that would come across as a bit crass and unnecessarily political. Falke was probably left as unknown in order to distance her from the dolls but... well, Falke wouldn't have been interesting even if we knew her hometown.

quote:
Later SF characters feel more like something thought up in a marketing meeting with binders full of demographics than "this is based on something I personally enjoyed outside of games".


The notes from SF2 tell how aspects of the characters were borrowed from other sources they were also consciously designed to appeal to an international audience. It's the reason E.Honda is 120% Japanese since the designers wanted to make certain western audiences knew what he was about in a single glance. That, and I can't imagine someone like G came out of a Ubisoft style boardroom meeting. Perhaps nowadays it feels like the more clinical, demographics side is more obvious than the "here's something cool I saw in a comic book" nuttiness aspect in the design? Having Red Bull sponsorship directly in the game can certainly make it feel that way.

quote:
A Street Fighter V tournament completely dominated by Cammy or Akuma will be more accepted than Alex or Juri winning, while people scream for nerfs at even the idea of Abigal, Menat, Ed, Laura, or the other newcomers winning or even placing well.


From my perspective it seems that whatever character is seen as too strong or popular is pilloried. It also seems to have something to do with the ease with which a character can be played. A well played match with the difficult to control Menat seems much more appreciated than when people count the Cammys that make it into the top spots in tournaments.

quote:
But with the influx of Japanese schoolgirls and characters from America, it feels like the game is lacking in diversity.


To promote diversity we need fighting schoolgirls from all nations.







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"Re(3):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Sat 20 Oct 01:08post reply

quote:
To promote diversity we need fighting schoolgirls from all nations.
I really, really hope Elena will not come back, though.







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"Re(4):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Sat 20 Oct 02:02:post reply

I think Baines hit the nail on the head about new character dynamics as well as how the two major story threads took some of the worldliness out of the world warrior and made Japanese and US characters more likely to feature. Conveniently enough, these are the prime markets, anyhow.

I agree that SFV is a marginal improvement over IV in this area, where only Hakan and Juri really work as national representatives, and of course I never miss a chance to disparage SFIII's roster of freaks, most of whose only discernible nationality is "video game character," though in recent years I've warmed up to Urien (who should still have been explicitly Greek) because he's very reliable about attending my wild beach parties. (Nationless Q is also allowed, though he's directly stolen from somewhere else, anyway.)

I do think it's lame that while SFV went ahead with nationalities for some new characters like Laura, Menat, and Abigail (even if on principle, this road warrior should have been from Australia), they couldn't be bothered to actually state the obvious for Rashid (UAE), Fang (China/Thai Chinese), Kolin (Ukraine), Falke (Germany), or Necalli (Sega).
quote:
To promote diversity we need fighting schoolgirls from all nations.
I really, really hope Elena will not come back, though.

I certainly hope not. Instead, supporters eagerly hope that a reappearance of "tan Sakura" from MVC will make the character viable in SFV.





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[this message was edited by Maou on Sat 20 Oct 05:03]

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"Re(5):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Sat 20 Oct 02:21post reply

The world warrior aspect is really something I like, not just in SF, but in fighting games in general. SFV added a couple new nationalities and that's cool, but yes, some more diversity would be nice.

You know, something I'd like to see more often in fighting games (especially in SF) is characters speaking their mother languages, like in TTT2 and T7. While it may make sense to have everyone speaking in Japanese or English (it's probably cheaper for the company), it does make you feel like you're seeing more of your favorite character's cultural background...





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"Re(6):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Sat 20 Oct 02:32post reply

quote:
While it may make sense to have everyone speaking in Japanese or English (it's probably cheaper for the company), it does make you feel like you're seeing more of your favorite character's cultural background...

Also, nothing will be better than the dialogue between Roger Jr. and Mokujin in Tekken 5.
Something like
- I need to go find my father.
- No, you can't! It's too difficult! I'll go find him instead.
- Why? I'm strong!
- Yeah, but you can't talk human, you can only talk kangaroo.
- Shut up you talking tree.






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"Re(3):Diversity in Street Fighter" , posted Wed 24 Oct 07:54post reply

quote:
To promote diversity we need fighting schoolgirls from all nations.


I love this! Agreed!