Diner Dash and the Angry Black Women

Over at Cerise (the gaming magazine for women) I have a review of Wedding Dash, a spin-off of Diner Dash, one of my favorite games. I’m not a huge gamer, though I have played them since I was a kid. I even still have a Nintendo 64 around here somewhere. Though I love console games, I mostly just play the simple ones you can find online, like Diner Dash, when I don’t have the time or energy to fire up my DVD-ROM games like Quidditch World Cup and Grand Theft Auto.

And yes, I play GTA San Andreas because I really love stealing cars, running people over, shooting random passers by and blowing things up with the tank. I’m a stereotype, so sue me.

My review of Wedding Dash focuses on gender issues in the game, which I don’t have with Diner Dash. Though DD has its own weird issues — not enough to make me really angry, mind you, but enough that they ping me every time I play.

Diner Dash is a flash-based puzzle game where you play Flo, a restaurant owner. In order to succeed in business, she must keep her diner running smoothly by seating guests and serving them well. There are several different types of customers, and each poses their own challenge. The default customer is a white woman who eats and loses patience at an average rate. All of the other customers can basically be measured against them. Other types include Senior Citizens (old white men) who are very patient but eat slow and hold everything up, Bookworms, who are just like the seniors but are less tolerant of noise around them, Families with crying babies, and impatient, fast-eating Businessmen (who, after Diner Dash 1, start yakking away on cell phones and pissing off everyone around them). And then there are the Businesswomen.

Diner Dash ABW 1

Yes, that’s them. These are the only black people in the game (unless you count the jazz piano player who sometimes shows up in later versions). Diner Dash ABW 2And though the game text identifies them as Businesswomen, I have always called them the Angry Black Women. The ABWs are similar to the Businessmen in that they are impatient but also eat very fast. In the first DD, they were the fastest eaters and the most impatient of all the customer types. I dreaded seeing them in the line because I knew they wouldn’t wait long and, if you didn’t get to them right away, their little hearts would go away very quickly. As with all of the customers, once you get down to two hearts, they stop smiling and start scowling. If they get really angry they will bare teeth. It’s not a pretty sight.

Diner Dash ABW 4When playing the first game I found it slightly funny and slightly annoying that the worst customers to deal with were the ABWs. But then in DD 2 they gave the Businessmen cell phones, making them even worse than the ABWs. Yes, they are impatient and eat really fast, throwing off my timing (even more than the women) but since they talk on cell phones, they can disturb the other diners, resulting in a lot of hassle in seating them. Bastards.

Still, those black women in suits are pretty darn impatient and angry. I also think they don’t tip very well.

Wedding Dash - Better Dancing

Wedding Dash - AuntieWhen I first started playing Wedding Dash I wondered if this trend would continue. In WD, you’re running a wedding reception and have to seat the married couple’s guests. Luckily, it seems that some thought went into race when they designed this game. With each reception, the couples change. Sometimes they are both white, sometimes both black, and sometimes the couples are mixed. I believe there may be a few Latina brides as well. The guests are, again, mostly white, but there are three PoC in there. This time, the black woman is very patient, but she is the slowest eater, which, again, throws off my timing. She also looks a bit like Condi Rice, which is disturbing… Ah well, can’t win them all.

The thing I find most funny about the changing race of the couple is that there are some wedding guests labeled as family members who, at each reception, are white, even when neither the bride or groom are. I suppose it would be a bit of a programming hassle to make Aunt Ethyl (the blonde woman with glasses) and Uncle Ernie a different race in each reception. But still, it’s funny.

Though there aren’t any major race issues in Wedding Dash, the gender stuff is pretty awful, in my opinion. Roll on over to Cerise if you’re interested in checking it out.

10 Responses

  1. And yes, I play GTA San Andreas because I really love stealing cars, running people over, shooting random passers by and blowing things up with the tank. I’m a stereotype, so sue me.

    This is slightly off-topic, but I think you might get a chuckle out of it.

    When I heading off to law school, I asked a friend for his 1L advice. “I know you’re into RPGs, but you need to buy a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Because if you don’t carjack a virtual tank and blow virtual shit up, knowing you, you’ll get so stressed out that you’ll want to carjack a real tank and blow your real law school building up. And since Georgetown Law is right next to the Department of Homeland Security, that’s not such a hot idea.”

    It was the most helpful 0L advice I got.

  2. Hey, I didn’t know you were a gamer!

    Great review, and welcome to Cerise!

  3. Side topis but,
    These games sound very stressful. My roommate plays some game called animal crossing where you have to talk to bitchy animals, and do chores for them and write them letters and arrange your furniture in your game house. All of these things would stress me out in real life. I understand games that cause anxiety but you also get to fly of steal things or run people over or blow stuff up as its kind of cathartic, but these games that are kind of sort of like real life are weird.

  4. Okay, quick story. My mother works at a job where she can’t put up pictures of her family for various reasons, so as a joke, my husband decided to present a picture of himself and just himself. (He’s white, I’m black). My mom got such a huge kick out of it that it’s now sitting on her desk. When people walk by and stare at the white man on her desk, she looks them in the eye and say, “Oh, that’s my son.” Leaving out the ‘in-law’ part.

    Gotta admit, it’s a hilarious way to stick it to all those nosy people.

  5. I liked Vice City better than San Andreas. The music was better, for one thing.

  6. Hey! Maybe Aunt Ethyl’s albino! :P

    Seriously though, I’m the darkest one on my mom’s side of the family (click my name and see a pic!). She would fit right in!

  7. I liked Vice City better than San Andreas.

    I can see that. To me, it’s like traditional hummus or edamame hummus: whichever one I like more simply depends on what kind of day I’m having.

    When I was first thinking about law school, Vice City was the most recent GTA release. (Wow, that makes me feel really, really old.)

  8. I am pretty sure that one of the women who designed Diner Dash was a guest poster on Feministe this summer.

    She mentioned something about wanting to make video games that had positive representations of black women, and I think she felt that it was fighting stereotypes to have the black women be the powerful businesswomen who have money and clout in the restaurant setting.

    Also, did you know Vy’s husband works for the company that made DD and WD? :-D

  9. One of the couples in the game (I think it’s a later level) are named Shannon and Vylar.

  10. I posted my own pet peeve with the ABW in Diner Dash last year. I vowed never to play the game again and have kept that vow.

    http://sharoncullars.blogspot.com/2006/08/racially-offensive-computer-games-i-am_10.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 142 other followers

%d bloggers like this: