Melvin Taylor, Brand Marketer
With under a month until its release, “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” seems to always have a buzz around it. This time the game has been accused of racism toward Native Americans. After last week’s Nintendo Direct, there was a livestream of the game being played. During the stream, one of the game’s characters, Mr. Game & Watch, performed an attack where he wore a feather on his head and attacked with a torch. This is a reference to an old game called “Fire Attack” where a cowboy defends his fort from Native Americans.
Video game research and translation site Source Gaming spoke to Nintendo about this situation. In the statement by Nintendo, they said that they have been planning an update to remove the feather. They continued by saying that “Fire Attack” was released more than three decades ago and does not represent their current values. Finally, they apologized for not making the change in their marketing material. According to gaming news channel GameXplain, this depiction of Native Americans has been removed before in the video game “Game & Watch Gallery 4” which was a compilation of classic “Game & Watch” titles.
After looking into this topic, I noticed a lot of comments complaining about the change. It has been equated to political correctness, an unneeded change and jokes about Mario from the “Super Mario” series being an Italian stereotype have been made. I have also seen comments by Native Americans saying that they were not offended by the depiction. I understand disagreeing with the decisions that companies make at times, but this is not one of those times. There is nothing upsetting about this change and I think it only does good. Companies like Nintendo simply do not wish to offend other people and I think that is a good standard to have. We live in an era where news is instant. I am sure Nintendo would not want headlines calling them or “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” racist. This could have all sorts of effects like the company losing potential customers or just being seen in a different light. They handled this situation in a professional way and I respect them for it.
Nintendo had already planned to make this change, so I think the complaints about the change were completely unnecessary. Some might see the Native American depiction as a minor thing but there are people out there that are offended by this racist stereotype. I think people are upset because they feel like changes like this will lead to a time where censorship is common due to small issues being deemed as offensive. This is not a future I see. I see this as something that offended someone and is racist, so it is being handled. Nintendo has changed this depiction in the past and are going to now. If it is not a problem, why did they remove the depiction years ago? People need to remember that something that does not offend them can still be offensive to others.