Second Opinion / COMMENTARY FROM OTHER MEDIA : RAFU SHIMPO : Game Gives Asians a Fighting Chance in the Video Arena

<i> From a column by George Johnston in Rafu Shimpo, a Japanese daily published in Los Angeles. </i>

Video games are as big a mass medium moneywise as anything Hollywood churns out. In “Street Fighter,” warriors compete for the title of world’s greatest fighter. It’s goofy, but fun. Given the generally lackluster portrayal of Asians by Hollywood, I was pleasantly surprised that of its 12 characters, two are Japanese, one is Chinese and a woman, one is South Indian and one is Thai. The locales for the battles include Japan, China and Thailand.

In other words, Asian characters and locations are well represented. Some might even think Asian characters are overrepresented! But that’s to be expected when the game’s programmers are Japanese. Would there have been as many Asian characters if the programmers were American? While I have mixed feelings about a generation of youngsters getting hooked on computer games, I’m encouraged that these same youngsters, if they’re playing “Street Fighter II,” get introduced to an ethnically diverse cast of characters.