I really want to like Wake the Dragon. It ticks all of the right boxes for a power fantasy: emergent gameplay, destructible environments, and tons of weapons. Siberian Digital even went so far as to record their own stunts so they could animate character movements more realistically in a top down perspective. Normally I would have already backed this but the overuse of racist and sexist tropes make it difficult for me to feel comfortable doing so.


Every character in this game is literally yellow skinned. The bosses are a chef, a samurai, and a guy with a Jade arm. The enemies are all yakuza however two of the three special enemies caught my notice, the Kamikaze and the Dirty Girl. Much as I expected the Kamikaze is a suicide bomber and the Dirty Girl embodies the Asian Sex Worker trope. Not only are the visuals instilled with stereotypes but the Kickstarter campaign itself even throws around casual sexism.  For example:

"Girls – not that powerful of fighters, but what could we do without them?"

Girls – not that powerful of fighters, but what could we do without them?” reads the Kickstarter.

All of this is really a shame as Wake The Dragon has some fantastic ideas and mechanics that work very well together. An even bigger loss is that the developer is Russian and could have used his experience to make the same game with an authentic Russian setting, something that video games have rarely seen. Usually we get a post-apocalyptic Russia, as seen in S.T.A.L.K.E.R, or a very Westernized view of Russia like the ones found in modern war games. Personally, I’m going to pass on backing Wake The Dragon but I will keep Siberian Digital on my radar in hopes that their next game doesn’t rely so heavily on stereotypes and tropes.


This just doesn’t sit right, does it?

About the Author

Bryan Rumsey

Musician by day, game dev by night, author by dusk, video game player by...well, sometimes.

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