Far to the East, across the pond and then some, in Dubai, there’s an event going on called Games15. It’s a video game show where Capcom just revealed the latest addition to the upcoming Street Fighter V‘s playable roster: Rashid. He’s a Middle Eastern fighter sporting a keffiyeh and a Dragonball-scouter-esque monocle. An official character trailer was shown exclusively at Games15, but it was uploaded to YouTube courtesy of IGN Middle East.
In the genre of fighting games, fleshing out a character isn’t done traditionally. Narratives are weak in these games, so developers have found other means. In most cases, this is done through the action itself. Ryu and Ken both have rigid postures, but fluid movements, conveying an air of one who is stalwart and decisive. For many of the characters that have lasted since early iterations of games, their fighting styles may have molded their personalities, rather than the other way around.
And when it comes to this “rule,” Rashid is no exception. Favoring kicks and open-handed horizontal strikes, Rashid utilizes the power of the wind, launching cyclones and spinning like a tornado. He’s quick on his feet and features impressive aerial capabilities, hopping around with apparent ease. The cutscene shown for his special even has him in an archetypal genie’s pose; a genuine lord of the wind.
Questions regarding archetypes do arise, however. In many ways, archetype is just another word for stereotype, about which this portrayal could raise concerns. Whether or not this portrayal of a Middle Eastern person is fair and inoffensive, Capcom does have two factors going for them in this kind of issue. Firstly, Capcom’s history is chock full of stereotypical renditions of fighters hailing from all over the globe. If someone finds Rashid offensive to the Middle East, then they’d have to find E. Honda offensive to Japan and Chun Li to China, etc, etc. The second is rather ingenious planning. Revealing this character to a Middle Eastern audience in the Middle East means that any backlash is immediate and it comes straight from one horse’s mouth to another. Bad imagery, but the point is that if the Middle East had a problem with Rashid, we’d know it by now.
Rashid is just one of four characters introduced to the series in the past couple months, and with the beta functioning again, hopefully people will get to play as him soon.