Gaming's Never-Ending Adolescence

Surely it's high time for the medium to grow up.

Editorial by Jeremy Parish, .

I checked my email yesterday morning first thing, like I do every day. The first message in my inbox: A promotional mailing from an online retailer encouraging me to preorder an upcoming import game called Omega Labyrinth.

Everything about Omega Labyrinth sounded great! It's a roguelike dungeon crawler (love those!) for PlayStation Vita (a personal favorite system!) from developer Matrix (who have been responsible for quite a few fantastic portable RPGs over the past decade!). And yet... there's this one nagging detail. The theme of Omega Labyrinth, as described in the promo email I received, is "a breast-expanding RPG." Maybe that doesn't mean what I think it means, I thought to myself as I read through the email. But no: It means exactly what it sounds like. Omega Labyrinth features a team of female warriors who go venturing into random dungeons in search of treasure, and as they grow in skill and power, their breasts increase in size, eventually straining against and even tearing through their costumes. In proper roguelike style, the heroines lose their gear when defeated; I can only assume they lose their enhanced cup sizes as well.

The only image I've seen of Omega Labyrinth that comes even close to qualifying as "work-safe."

And in case the point wasn't clear, the game's logo features a sort of Final Fantasy-inspired duotone line art illustration of a young woman behind the logo typography. Unlike in Final Fantasy title images, however, the drawing interacts with the shape of the typography. You know how upper-case omega — Ω — looks like a horseshoe? Lower-case omega resembles a sort of rounded W. Like thus: ω. Earlier this year, Nippon Ichi used omega's distinct shape to turn the game's logo into an emoticon (*ω*); Omega Labyrinth, on the other hand, uses the Greek letter to define the rather generous form of the breasts belonging to the woman in the illustration.

The logo's actually kind of clever, I guess. I could see that same gag being used in some satirical sex-heavy '70s underground comix, or as a cartoon in Playboy, or something. But Omega Labyrinth isn't as honest about itself as that; it will push the limits of what will almost certainly be a CERO D rating — the equivalent of the ESRB's M — straining at the boundaries of acceptability like its poor protagonists' blouses, without ever actually plunging all the way into nudity or, god forbid, sex.

In addition its fetishistic inflation mechanic, Omega Labyrinth also includes an unspeakably demeaning item appraisal system. As in most roguelikes, the heroines will encounter all sorts of unknown equipment in the course of their adventures, which must be identified before you can safely use them. Other roguelikes offer various mechanisms for accomplishing this: Paying a shopkeeper, using a special scroll or spell, or the classic desperation move of use-identification. Omega Labyrinth, however, allows you to identify items by... rubbing them between your heroines' breasts. So we have Matrix, a talented studio, creating a legitimate roguelike for Vita: All good things. Then, they've drenched it with a thoroughly repellant coating. What a waste.

Surprise! This is what Omega Labyrinth looks like outside the questionable illustrations: A cute, totally unassuming roguelike RPG.

This is not, however, an excoriation of Omega Labyrinth. Its mechanics sound pretty gross, but I've seen worse. (Read up on Valis X sometime when you're not at work, or around other humans.) Nor is this a condemnation of developer Matrix, or of D3 Publisher (who presumably commissioned the game). I'm not a fan of what they've come up with here, but that's capitalism. They've found a demand in the free market and have chosen to answer it as best they can within the limitations they're given.

No, my complaint is with the limitations themselves: The ratings restrictions and console content approval rules that result in games that skirt the boundaries of pornography without being allowed to just be honest and show the nudity and sexuality their creators clearly want to. Weirdly, this ends up making the games far sleazier than they'd be if they would (or could) embrace a video game equivalent to the "hard R"; instead of full-frontal nudity or even more risqué content, you have games that treat their female casts like objects to be poked, prodded, and generally molested... but always with their clothes on, or with some sort of contrivance obscuring their genitals. And somehow, it makes it all seem so much worse.

It's a phenomenon that's even affected squeaky-clean Nintendo: 2013's Fire Emblem Awakening included an illustration of obsessive psycho-mage Tharja wearing a bikini, her backside on prominent display. Someone at Nintendo of America had the brilliant idea of obscuring her bikini-clad backside with a drape of cloth. This had the hilarious effect of making the illustration appear far more lewd than it had originally, giving the impression that she was parading about wearing nothing at all below the waist.

Similarly, just a few weeks ago, XSEED published schlocky grindhouse action game Onechanbara Z II: Chaos in the U.S. As ever, the latest Onechanbara features a team of warrior women barely clad in the most micro of micro-bikinis, an unpretentious, crass action game created in the tradition of the sleaziest of '70s exploitation flicks. Regardless of whether or not you're on board with the series' eagerness to exult in brazen sexism, it certainly doesn't pretend to be anything more than a cheap, low-class thrill — it matches its sleaze with dumb, button-mashing action, which is rendered with surprising competence, given developer Tamsoft's track record.

That being said, the latest entry in the series came with a download code for a costume called "Strawberry Banana Surprise," which turned out to be a perfectly fitting name: The "outfit," surprisingly enough, consists of two strawberries and banana for the women to "wear." Much like Nintendo's Tharja censorship, the net effect of this turned out to be far more obscene-looking than if the characters were just running around naked. Clearly Tamsoft wanted to go full-on Kekko Kamen with its characters, but couldn't take it that far under Sony's watchful eye on PlayStation 4... so they came up with a solution that ended up looking vastly more vulgar than if the girls had just been fighting zombies au naturale.

Also relevant: This week, Atlus published Dungeon Travelers 2 here in the U.S. on Vita. From what I've played of it so far, it's a pretty solid dungeon crawler — not as refined or engrossing as Etrian Odyssey, but a lot more accessible than, say, your average 5pb-published first-person RPG. Which is actually kind of surprising, given that developer Sting is known for impossibly dense and confusing RPGs like Knights in the Nightmare and Yggdra Union. That said, it's certainly not a casual RPG. The bosses are brutal, and even the introductory dungeon will chew you up and tear you out. I suspect Atlus picked it up for localization in order to have something Etrian-like on Vita.

The only male character in Dungeon Travelers 2 appears to be... you. This is not the stunning victory for feminism that you might think it is, however.

This is all well and good, but the puritanism and restrictions that gave us Onechanbara's naked women clutching bananas in a decidedly pornographic fashion is also how we ended up with the ridiculous opening scenario of Dungeon Travelers 2. There, the player's character — evidently the last surviving man in his world, given that every other character I've come across has been a shapely girl, including the monsters — begins his quest with a corny meet-cute in which he collides with some former (female) classmates at the entrance to the first dungeon. The two girls fall down in a pile, with the one clad in a shorter skirt flashing her panties to the world while her friend peeks down at the exposed lingerie, a flush of naughty excitement on her cheeks. The exposed underpants resemble shrink-wrap more than they do than any natural fabric I've ever encountered, leaving no detail whatsoever about this teenage girl's nether regions to the imagination.

That isn't the worst Dungeon Travelers 2 has to offer by far; in fact, Atlus ended up removing four illustrations from the U.S. version, as their blatant sexual imagery — though, as ever, without revealing any actual genitalia! — would have pushed beyond the acceptable bounds of the ESRB's M rating... or maybe it would have just caused Atlus too many headaches. In any case, those images' excision was no loss, and the publisher was wise to cut them altogether. The inevitable handful of complaints that emerge about censorship over the removal of borderline child pornography are surely a pale shadow of the potential trouble involved in actually publishing a game filled with borderline child pornography.

But again, it's not the games themselves that are the problem here; it's the circumstances that have led to their existence. Omega Labyrinth's boob-logo and Dungeon Travelers 2's shrink-wrapped genitals and Onechanbara's obscene plaintains and countless other similar video game products that slam-dunk the classic Bechdel Test thought experiment (by featuring casts filled with women who don't seem to have the slightest interest in wasting time talking about men) en route to presenting their audiences with a harem of girls who exist almost entirely for the sake of titillation: They're all a symptom of a creative medium trapped in a state of stunted maturity. The fact that video gaming's most visible treatment of sexuality boils down to cartoon games revolving primarily around strategically torn clothing and overly enthusiastic jiggle physics speaks volumes about just how arrested gaming's development has become. If games would mature — if they were allowed to mature — games like Omega Labyrinth would undoubtedly still exist, but they'd be a single facet of how the medium treats sexuality rather than being very nearly the entirety of it.

While Mass Effect 2's Jack was the work of game designers trying way too hard to be edgy, she had her moments. She could become a meaningful love interest when treated with respect; however, having a casual fling with her would cause her to give you the cold shoulder for the rest of the game.

The one thing all the games mentioned here have in common (besides copious pandering to teenage males) is that they're all from Japan, and that's not a coincidence. And no, the story here is not that Japan is a country full of sex perverts; if anything, the general public there sees the likes of Omega Labyrinth as even more shameful and deviant than Americans do. Japan's attitudes toward nudity tend to be far more lax than America's, yet there's considerably more genuine nudity and sex in mainstream American console games than in Japanese. That, I suspect, has everything to do with the fact that the idea of actual adults playing video games in their free time has found far more traction in the West than in Japan, where games remain very much a pastime for children and, to a lesser degree, women.

Which isn't to say Western games handle sex and nudity particularly well, either — outside of small indie creations specifically designed to tackle matters of gender and sexuality, games make 50 Shades of Grey look like high literature by comparison. Games generally fail to rise above awkward fetishism, and more serious attempts almost invariably fall flat on their faces.

Unfortunately, even in the West, Mass Effect's robotic makeout scenes (stilted sex as a reward for correct dialogue choices) and boobs-as-scenery in the obligatory bordello sequences of dark-and-angsty action games are about as far as mainstream games are willing to go. But that's probably to be expected in a medium that still struggles to tell a truly great story. In AAA games, the closest thing that passes for a great story is something Spec Ops (which gives you only one path forward — killing innocents — then tells you how terrible you are for working within the game's constraints) or BioShock Infinite (with its disingenuous message that maybe the people fighting against racist oppression are just as bad as the racist oppressors). Little wonder that the industry still struggles to handle the subtleties of deeper human emotions.

Sex is great! Human bodies are great! Love and romance are great! Video games' handling of these things... is not. Other forms of entertainment tackle such matters with at least occasional competence; by comparison, video games tend to give the impression of a 12-year-old obsessing over Victoria's Secret catalogs and scanning fuzzy stolen cable images for the merest hint of a nipple. It's pretty embarrassing, to be honest; but I suppose it's a necessary step in adolescence and maturation. I don't necessarily want games like Omega Labyrinth to go away... I just think it's time for them to grow up, you know?

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Comments 144

  • Avatar for mobichan #1 mobichan 2 years ago
    Blame the rise of Otaku culture, the fact that otaku gamers make up a huge chunk of sales for these niche genres and the rising migration away from games by the Japanese gaming community. As you said, this is where smaller companies can make money in Japan. It is also something that has been cultivated in Japanese gaming culture for decades. I would like to know if there is an actual correlation between the tastes of gamers in Japan now and the games that the current developers grew up with. Eventually this sort of thing was going to catch up with the people making the games.
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  • Avatar for gigantor21 #2 gigantor21 2 years ago
    I think the biggest problem is that there isn't a proven market for handling sex or relationships in honest ways. Indie games can afford to explore such things more deeply, but a big AAA game? As much as I'd love to see it more often I'm not getting my hopes up.

    One of these big companies will have to take a risk and stick their necks out to make it happen. Good luck with that...
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  • Avatar for Darji #3 Darji 2 years ago
    @mobichan Why do you need to blame anyone for it? It is something people are interested in and so it will be produced. And there is nothing wrong with it. Not everything needs to be realistic, smart or mature. That is why Gaming is so great and that is why especially Japanese gaming is so great.

    Let us take Metal Gear Solid for example which deals with heavy topics includes torture, rape, incest etc. And then you have a guy shitting his pants, someone running around in speedos grabbing the balls of snake or watch Meryl change her clothes.

    Games like Omega Labyrinth are made for adolescence people who enjoy these games so why not? There is nothing wrong with it.

    Witcher 3 did it very well and realisticEdited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #4 touchofkiel 2 years ago
    Incredibly well said. I'm with you - that very small minority that really enjoys niche Japanese games without, you know, the sleazy trappings. Occasionally I even get turned off by the relatively innocuous imagery in our beloved Etrian Odyssey. I think it's the age - blatant sexism is nothing new around here, but the creepy borderline-child-porn thing is most definitely not typical of western culture. And it's common enough in these niche RPGs that they can ruin my enjoyment of them (not to mention keep my from playing them in public - an awkward limitation, considering we're mostly talking about handheld games here).
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  • Avatar for autotwilo #5 autotwilo 2 years ago
    @mobichan Got it in one. The immaturity of western games is a separate animal to the deep dark abyss japanese games have found themselves in chasing the otaku money.
    There was a time when the japanese enthusiast audience had a counterpart abroad, but it was when japanese games targeted a broader market. Niche games for a niche japanese audience don't have a market abroad but it's where the studios have all found themselves in their race for the bottom
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #6 CK20XX 2 years ago
    @Darji Nothing wrong with it? Even Japanese people have been critical of this situation, about how the country's obsessions keep it from growing up and maturing. Read about Satoshi Kon, one of the greatest minds to ever live, for example.Edited August 2015 by CK20XX
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  • Avatar for Darji #7 Darji 2 years ago
    @touchofkiel This has nothing to do with sexism but rather fetish. That is why you have Otome games like DANDELION in which all the hot boys are animals. You do not like it do not buy it done.

    Games like these will not destroy this industry or prevent them from growing up. Or do Adam Sandler movies prevent the Movie industry from growing up? No they don't
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  • Avatar for Y7748837 #8 Y7748837 2 years ago
    Sounds like this Omega Labyrinth game has some seriously deep hidden depths.
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  • Avatar for Darji #9 Darji 2 years ago
    @CK20XX Who? People who makes these games? People who buy these games? How do niche games prevent this industry from growing up? This is a pretty scary thinking you have here. Everything you do not like is automatically bad and a disaster?

    You have no idea how japanese Culture is. They embrace sillyness in every form of media. For example there are variety shows in which men sing karaoke while a Porn stars is giving them a handjob. You have shows in which men in their underwear burning their ass hair and people watch this shit on prime time. And while all this stuff if going on they can still deliver highly emotional movies, TV series which can make you cry for days.

    Japanese Culture is different and many Japanese people think that western people think Japan is weird but they do not care at all.

    And if a game like this makes it over here who cares? Either you are one of the few thousands who will buy it or you don't. done. Niche games do not destroy the industry. Mainstream games can do this. the IOS market and F2P games can destroy this industry but silly games? No....Edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for Tetragrammaton #10 Tetragrammaton 2 years ago
    @mobichan The first part of what you said sounds a lot like what this article talks about. I'll also point out that midsize developers who made this kind of stuff before are either out of business or playing mobile gatcha.

    As for mature stories in games, we need to define what is meant by "mature". I'm guessing that Jeremy doesn't mean "blood, guts and gore" or "sex sex sex sex sex". Having subtracted every FPS since Half-Life 2 and post-Baldur's Gate 1 Bioware from the equation, I can still think of a lot of games that pair legitimately good writing with above-average stories aimed at an adult audience.

    Unfortunately, there's a fatal flaw to all of them. They don't sell well, which is why so few get made.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by Tetragrammaton
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #11 jeremy.parish 2 years ago
    @TK-Flash Yes, a D-cup is quite deep indeed.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #12 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    Oh boy, this is going to turn into another one of those 'bashing otaku culture' conversations.

    Jeremy doesn't seem to be railing against the games themselves. He's trying to point out how the ENTIRE industry, in its almost 40 years of existence has failed to produce a catalogue that portrayed sexuality in any sort of intelligent manner. Sex is a normal thing and yet you have games that treat it like they're handling a nuclear bomb or even flat out ignoring its existence. Like, he stated in the article, the only times we get anything close to sexuality, people start treating it like a taboo when sometimes it doesn't have to be.

    You know, more games could be like Catherine that looked at sex from a more mature angle. We don't have treat the subject of sex in videogames with the mindset of a horny 12 year old all the time. Just look at Conan's preview of Witcher 3 to see what I'm talking about.

    Developers and people could stand to grow up a little. Maybe if it did, we wouldn't get the kind of skeevy games we're seeing now.
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  • Avatar for Darji #13 Darji 2 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino The Witcher 3 handled sex and realtionships better than anything else Conan was just acting his character. Its funny nothing else.

    And yes it would be great if a developer like Bioware would grow up but these developers do want to be silly nothing else. They love their silly stuff that is why they are making it. They are not doing it for the money. They found something they can do for a living they like so no these kind of games have no need to grow up.

    If a game wants to be more mature and more serious like a Mass effect or Dragon Age then yes these Developers need to grow up.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #14 CK20XX 2 years ago
    @Darji Uh, I mentioned one, a big one, to start. You aren't going to promote mature discussion by shoving words into peoples' mouths either.
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #15 KaiserWarrior 2 years ago
    With all due respect (I usually agree quite a lot with Jeremy on most subjects), gaming has not "grown up" because nobody, not even those that like to think they're big great mature adults, are ready for it to do so.

    "In AAA games, the closest thing that passes for a great story is something Spec Ops (which gives you only one path forward — killing innocents — then tells you how terrible you are for working within the game's constraints)"

    That would be because the entire point of Spec Ops: The Line was that you are consciously making a choice to keep playing the game. If the main thrust of the original Bioshock was "You don't really have any choice so long as you are playing a video game; you're just going along the rails we've laid out for you", then The Line was a direct counter-argument to it: "You always have a choice. You can choose to stop playing at any time." You remember that line at the end? "The truth is, you're here because you wanted to be something you're not: A Hero."

    That wasn't being said to Walker, yo. That was directed at you, the player.

    "or BioShock Infinite (with its disingenuous message that maybe the people fighting against racist oppression are just as bad as the racist oppressors)."

    It's hardly disingenuous. Infinite was basically a big string of "what if things were a bit different?" scenarios. The point it was making with that section was that when you give people powerful weapons, it often goes to their heads. That even well-intentioned extremists are still extremists, and extremists drunk with power do terrible things.

    A mature audience would see that as a cautionary tale. A slightly different take on the well-worn saw that absolute power corrupts absolutely. A video game imagining of "be careful when fighting monsters lest ye become a monster as well".

    An audience that isn't ready for an actually mature medium might take issue with it because it seems to superficially clash with a particular ideological tack.

    Video games are largely puerile for the same reason that every other form of mass media is largely puerile: puerility sells. They're not in the business of being deep and philosophical, they're in the business of making money via the sale of video games. Trying to be deeper and more meaningful may be personally enriching, but it does nothing for the bank account, and at the end of the day people still need to get paid.

    But it certainly doesn't help that video games which try to have more meaning behind them are so easily dismissed as being "disingenuous" because the things they have to say aren't things that the player agrees with.
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  • Avatar for Darji #16 Darji 2 years ago
    @CK20XX Satoshi Kon Is some Artist who made like 5 Movies. Yes I enjoyed Perfect Blue because it was totally different then the stuff I have seen before but again. These people want to create silly and dumb games and when these games sell like 10k Copies no one is getting hurt by it.

    Especially Japanese media is so diverse like no media culture elsewhere in the world. And that is why it is so great. If the Western Audience only wants to acknowledge the silly and "bad" stuff then it is the problem of the western People Japanese media has so much more to offer most people in the West are not even aware off.

    Being mature also means to accept everything and to realize that everything has the right to exist as long it does not go against the law. You as an adult have a choice the choice to ignore things you do not like and leave people their silly media.
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  • Avatar for boxofficepoison #17 boxofficepoison 2 years ago
    There was an interesting article in Wired a few months back on indie games and sex and how they were breaking out of the juvenile If Sex video games make you feel weird that's the point gives me hope that as the indies begin exploring some of the more complex sexual interactions out there instead of the 13 year old boys fantasies that Japanese and western AAA games seem to the gravitate towards that we are probably edging towards being on par with Hollywood. There are not many big blockbusters that I can think of that have handled sex well, mostly being done on the indie sphere.
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  • Avatar for Concession #18 Concession 2 years ago
    I played the Dungeon Travelers 2 demo (in a real JRPG mood and beat all the ones I own and saw an ATLUS tweet saying it was out. It was a really long demo btw...). IMO, it feels like a porno, without the porn. You know how the first 2 minutes where they are acting before getting it on. That was the atmosphere of the game. The main dude has the same ultra creepy vibe that you get from dudes in a porno. Every single chick is all over him (except the "main" on the cover mage chick who isn't but she's also the very first pantie shot so that's all for naught). Beating a boss always rewards you with a pantie shot and, really, they could start playing 70s love making music at the end of pretty much every round of dialogue.

    I'm amazed this sort of game exists to be honest. Personally, I think sex scenes and this pantie shots crap is just shameless pandering that adds nothing of value to the game (or movie... or tv show... or anything). I happy to say I have every single achievement (including DLC) in Mass Effect 2 except one: romance (which is given upon sex scene).

    I played Persona 3 FES recently. It was refreshing. It has the whole dating thing and at the part where Bioware or CDprojekt would have the nude sex scene they spent months crafting it just fades to black and evening hits. It's about the relationship and not the "reward" at the end.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #19 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @Darji Don't get me wrong. Witcher 3 is absolutely a step forward. I'm speaking more about people's reaction to it. Conan' s bit is only funny if you buy into the fact that some of the people playing the game is a horndog looking for the sex scenes.

    That's the type of image the industry has to deal with it. You kinda get what I'm saying? It's hard to be taken seriously when all you've ever done is goof around.
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  • Avatar for boxofficepoison #20 boxofficepoison 2 years ago
    @Darji I think the article was pretty clear in saying there is nothing wrong with these games existing, just a desire to see more games deal with relationships and sexuality from a more mature perspective. To put it in film terms wishing there were more movies like Secretary out there doesn't mean you want Porkys to not exist.
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  • Avatar for catstronaut #21 catstronaut 2 years ago
    This article nails it. I wonder, though, if one could make a sexually mature game that involves player choice. Because it seems like that would open any game up to flowcharting, and turn any in-game portrayal of a relationship into a sequence of strategy-guided button presses. Even if the players were responsible, ultimately you'd be saying "there is only one way to this person's heart."
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  • Avatar for Darji #22 Darji 2 years ago

    . I don't necessarily want games like Omega Labyrinth to go away... I just think it's time for them to grow up, you know?

    Yeah he does not care if they go or not but he wants them changed which basically means removing games like this. There was not even the need to bring this game up in the first place. As I said these games sell like 10k copies. They are no threat, they do not change the Industry or make it a bad place. They are just existing just like Adam Sandler Movies exist. It is just a desperate attempt at painting some games in a negative shade just because he thinks those games don't represent the best of the industry. And speak volumes more about the adolescence of games journalists than their perceived adolescence of the industry.
    Gaming was always a scapegoat for everything. Nerd Culture was the same. 99% of people who play games do not even know about this stuff. He just made it more popular with his stupid article.

    Gaming has the nerd image and honestly I think it is nothing to be sad about. I love being a nerd and I am proud of being a nerd. Thais is what I am. And If people think we are all immature and gaming is immature they can do so I do not really care^^

    Bringing up Japanese games in such an article is as helpful as using japanese Doujin to tell people how bad Manga are....
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  • Avatar for Suzusiiro #23 Suzusiiro 2 years ago
    I think you're getting/going to get a lot of undeserved hate here because people are used to any remotely mainstreaming gaming journalism outlet either ignoring or doing drive-by articles shaming any moe/otaku game out there save for the handful that manage to hit the right level of quality vs "weeaboo-ness" such as Danganronpa, and this one comes off on its face like a drive-by shaming, even though it stops short of hitting that point.

    That said... this is pretty much the free market at work. People generally don't want games that treat sex in "mature" ways, they either want no sex at all or cheap fanservice. That's just the fucked-up way our society (as well as Japanese society) is with sex right now.
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  • Avatar for Darji #24 Darji 2 years ago
    @catstronaut They do exist and called Visual novels like White Album 2 for example.

    Yes they will end up in flowcharting bu that is how choice in real life is too. Storywise there are many which are really well written and which combine these well written stories with sex and mature relationships. Sadly Many of them do not get localized. Mostly the bad ones which is a shame.

    You can get The Fruit of Grisaia on steam as a non adult version and soon you will be able to buy the 18+ version. But these are only possible through kickstarter campaigns.Edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #25 touchofkiel 2 years ago
    @Darji You seem to be missing the point. "Don't buy it if you don't like it" - uh, that's the problem. I DO like it - the gameplay aspects. Because these types of games - roguelikes and dungeon crawlers - they're not all that common, especially on a system like the Vita. It's not like we're spoiled for choice here - we can't just choose the gross roguelike or the non-gross roguelike.

    Having said that, I would recommend to everyone Sorcery Saga for Vita. Its cutesy anime stuff is grating as hell, and it is super silly, but it pretty much never panders in the sleazy way that Parish is talking about. And believe me, it could. (On a side note, it's pretty mediocre as a roguelike... but hey, it' a roguelike on Vita).
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  • Avatar for TernBird #26 TernBird 2 years ago
    @Darji Here's the problem with your Adam Sandler allegory: a good chunk of movies aren't Adam Sandler films, to the extent where Pixel or Grown Ups or Billy Madison is considered "how things are".

    When it comes to games, every bleeding time we have something like Hunie Pop or Dragon's Crown's Sorceress or Oneechanbara or what have you (which is really bleeding often, to the point of exclusion of anything else!) and someone just so happens to be unfortunate enough to not like constant depictions of women with ridiculous breasts or portrayed as giggly sex dolls, people will come with the "Aw, but not every game has to be Citizen Kane!".

    For one reason or another, stuff like Sorceress or Omega Labyrinth are the default, and that's kinda not-cool. Hell, I'm a guy, and a boob-guy at that, and I kinda wish this thing weren't so constant. Gamers keep saying, "We'd make such great, mature works if we were allowed--but the damned censors keep stopping us!", but look at what they're making instead.

    They're making Senran Kagura's doll mode.

    They're making Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball.

    They're making Zero Suit Samus.

    They're making achievements for seeing Lollipop Chainsaw-girl's panties.

    They're not writing women like Furiosa from Mad Max, whose sexuality is a non-issue. They're not writing characters like Khamala Kahn, whose identity is more important than her cup size. They're not treating sex like a natural part of life, but something to be ogled. They're not treating women's bodies as something that they own, but as objects (the word of the day is "Objectification".

    And they're saying that people who don't like this are either sex-negative, hysterical, or just trying to ruin people's fun.

    The number of decently-written woman can be counted on one hand. Gaming's--and societies--issues with sex and women are a long, arduous process, and this crap keeps happening.

    Man, I need a drink...
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #27 CK20XX 2 years ago
    @Darji Well... let me try to be fair here. Maybe it would help if you could explain why the examples you gave are "silly"? You speak as if they couldn't possibly be anything else, yet that's far from the truth.

    The shows you describe sound anarchic, chaotic, without a theme or any coherent structure to hold them together. That's not "silly". Dr. Robotnik in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog is silly. Shredder from the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is silly. Lupin the Third is often silly too, and deliberately so. The shows you're telling me about sound like they could be described by a lot of adjectives, but "silly" isn't one of them.
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  • Avatar for awvnx #28 awvnx 2 years ago
    I agree with a lot of your thoughts about Omega Labyrinth and the need for more adult-rated games to be on popular platforms like consoles, but I'm going to have to disagree with you about your assessment of these games containing "harem of girls who exist almost entirely for the sake of titillation".

    In games like Dungeon Travelers 2 (which I'll speak mainly about since I've been playing it since launch), which has its roots in eroge, the actual sex scenes or fanservice aren't the main draw of the games, but in fact it's the romance or interactions leading up to it that are what people want. There are plenty of games that focus 100% on sex, like nukige, but those are a much smaller portion of the market than those that focus on the plot and characters, of which sex is a small portion of the game time. Sure, the fanservice images and sex scenes end up as being a reward for working on a girl's route, but that's not all there is to it.

    It's really no different for Dungeon Travelers 2 itself, where these fanservice scenes are quite plentiful, but are only on the screen for one minute. The game doesn't dwell on them, but focuses on the high quantity of character interaction scenes with them that aren't about fanservice.

    I'll also add that the censored images in Dungeon Travelers 2 were not cut from the game, but they were minor edits, which was what Atlus stated they were in press releases. One example of such is adding spats to an image of a young-looking girl who isn't even posed particularly provocatively.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by awvnx
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  • Avatar for Darji #29 Darji 2 years ago
    @TernBird Ok last comment for tonight since it is really late in Germany.

    First of all have you even played Hunnie Pop? Especially Hunnie Pop is damn well written. IT is a parody or satire of these dating sim games and it is brilliant at that. Even more interesting it is very well liked by the female audience because of it.

    Secondly: Are we talking here about Japanese or Western Culture because there is a very big difference in these cultures. For once Everything in Japan gets sexualized not only women. Everything men, women even animals. That is how Japan is.

    And here is the shocker. Men and women in Japan liking this objectification and sexualiation and despite this they create fantastic female written characters. Even in games like Senran Kagura's you have strong empowered female characters and personalities they are just like the male ones however highly sexualized.

    The female audience for these kind of games with boys in it is also getting bigger and bigger. Just take a look at this.

    Otomoe Games also getting pretty popular even on Steam. Just look how many Otome games were released in the last year on steam alone. Otome = story based video game that is targeted towards the female market. Generally one of the goals, besides the main plot goal, is to develop a romantic relationship between the female player character and one of several male.

    This is just how Japan is and there is nothing wrong with it. In terms of female characters I would even argue that they have in general way more interesting and better written ones than in Western games. But for that to know you need to overlook the nudity and sillyness western people seem to not like. And yes they make silly merchandise for example this.

    Male butt mousepads

    You just can not compare Japanese standards with Western morals and Standards.

    When we are talking about western games. Than there are very very few games like the game above basically none and the writing of western AAA games and female characters for the western standard also getting better and better.

    And I personally love both cultures the same. Japan for the sillyness and emotions and Western games for stuff like The Last of Us.Edited 5 times. Last edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #30 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @TernBird I get what you're saying but you're ignoring whole lot of games by saying it's this specific sex-doll thing all the time.

    And you're likening Zero Suit Samus to the DOA girls. That's not the same thing at all.

    There has been a lot of progress made throughout the years and that's including the Japanese side.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #31 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago
    The one criticism (and it's a big 'un) about this piece is the focal point on skeevy niche games like OD and DT2.

    See, those games of that pedigree have been around for ages. Lurid, broken-minded, depersonalized fetishism yeah, but it's nothing new and the video game liberterian in me wants no part in taking that away from its fans, (as my loves have been threatened to be took away from me by those with agendas). Hell, even Senran Kagura and Oneechanbara are more intentionally dumb than sexually pleasing.

    The focus should have been much heavier on the Atlus USA and XSEED facet of the article, where publishers like them and developers like Intelligent Systems and others are incintivized or forced by the cold hand of Adam Smith to stooping down to the level of skeeve, loli, and (in a more uguuu than sexual way) Moe to keep the lights on because non-skeevy, loli, and-or Moe stuff they put out didnt sell enough and the domestic fanbase has dwindled for most non-stalwart IP down to the lovers of the above and their fan feedback almost assuredly consists of waifu wars and bishie shipping.

    Alongside this, THEN the lack of nuanced sexual matters in games. But I fear with this framing, it'll be seen as an assault on Otaku bait rather than the call to bettering and broadening the language of sex in games.


    I like this post. I've call that stuff PG-rated Hentai for that reason, and oddly, the fade to black of P3 and 4 is for the same reason. Yellow journalism and moral guardians over in Japan have a snit fit if teens engauge in sex in media allowed by underage players.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #32 link6616 2 years ago
    I don't want to get too into the rise of the Otaku gaming culture thing, but I think there is certainly something to it. Take a photo of the PSV shelf in a Japanese gaming store and really, it's hard to not at least think for a moment either

    "Wow, kids really like minecraft, look at it in that top sales spot"
    "That is a lot of suggestively, but not OVERLY suggestively dressed young women."

    Now admittedly, you can head over to the Otome section of a gaming specialty shop and see this reversed a little. Idea Factory have 12 games coming out over the next year, one a month on average, most otome games. That is impressive! And Otome games are a similar problem to the "galge."

    And there are also problematic depictions of same sex stuff in things like Dramatical Murder (which is apparently a bit strange in the Vita version since they removed the sex from it?)

    Japan has this extremely strange and beautiful mix of being both open and closed about sexuality and sex. It's kind of a pity that the Vita and PSP both almost exemplify the strengths and weaknesses of that.
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  • Avatar for pdubb #33 pdubb 2 years ago
    I just want to be able to buy more dungeon crawlers and RPGs for my Vita without causing an amber alert. Is that too much to ask?
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #34 UnskippableCutscene 2 years ago
    Hasn't this stuff always existed to some degree? My impression was that the difference between now and, say, the pre-PS2 years of gaming is that nobody bothered to license this stuff for the US release. So we just got the occasional article in EGM or something telling us "Parodius exists! It's weird and there's almost but not quite naked girls! Come back next issue when we'll tell you about Cho Aniki. Oh, Japan, you're so awesomely weird!"

    By the PS2 we started seeing import deals for weird games with voyeuristic elements like Mr. Mosquito, but we didn't mind because it also gave us much less controversially strange good stuff like Katamari. So we just tried to ignore it.

    Somehow, and I blame this on the lack of mainstream market JRPGs on the PS3 (a system a bunch of people spent $500+ for after seeing one FF7-related tech demo), we just started seeing this garbage. Aksys joined NIS in localizing all kinds of otaku junk games that we used to just hear about in IGN previews or the backpages of Ultra Game Players. I still don't know what Record of Agarest War is actually about, I just know the boob mousepad and the high-res "eating" stills. Apparently there's a mediocre tactical RPG hiding somewhere under there.
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  • Avatar for Mikki-Saturn #35 Mikki-Saturn 2 years ago
    I was on "vacation" (sort of a "staycation" really, but I hate using made up words) and I decided to catch up on my backlog (the same thing I do every week, Pinky). I played The Witcher 2 all week. I was seriously thinking how much I admired that game for being frankly sexual. I mean, one could say that it's still a little immature in various ways, but really it feels miles ahead of most games in that department.
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  • Avatar for jay-ban #36 jay-ban 2 years ago
    This is a really great, well considered essay Jeremy. From the title I was expecting another of those regurgitated rants about exploitation and objectification of women characters, lack of strong female leads blah blah blah that crops up every so often on games websites.

    You're completely right about the Japanese audience for games, I don't think it's quite as broad as elsewhere in the world... and its shrinking too. At least from what I've seen here, both the games and anime industries are catering more and more to the hardcore otaku who seem to be very specific with their tastes and how they like to see sexuality portrayed.
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  • Avatar for sleepiest #37 sleepiest 2 years ago
    @touchofkiel I gotta second that etrian odyssey opinion. Dancers are one of my favorite classes, and I wish the female ones didn't look so prepubescent (I make my eo parties off of my friend group, so a male portrait doesn't solve my problem). Even just giving them real boobs and keeping the cheesecake would be fine. I just hate that they look like children
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  • Avatar for sleepiest #38 sleepiest 2 years ago
    I just want to browse the vita section in gamestop without looking like the worst kind of creep.
    Is that so much to ask?
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  • Avatar for metalangel #39 metalangel 2 years ago
    @UnskippableCutscene Geez, I remember those days. EGM (and especially EGM2) always had a ton of saucy anime pictures alongside their import reviews. Even something as harmless as Cotton had a big picture of Silk in her bikini.

    In their annual buyer's guide compendium they'd do a 'video game babes too hot for the US' section, with a glimpse of a girl, often from a PC Engine RPG, in a state of undress. In 1993 they even wondered what this would mean now that FMV was coming to games. I mean, really? We drew boobs in Dragon Knight so I guess that means we might see real boobs in Ground Zero Texas?
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  • Avatar for DogNozzle #40 DogNozzle 2 years ago
    ...sees article title...

    "Hmmm... I wonder if defensive otaku are going to be posting walls of text in the comments, telling me all about the sexual mores of Japanese culture."Edited August 2015 by DogNozzle
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  • Avatar for TernBird #41 TernBird 2 years ago

    Hunie Pop's conceit of getting girls drunk to make it easier to score with them "being a joke" is sick. It's as much a parody as Family Guy is satire.

    Also, there's no comparison for otome games and Free! and how women are portrayed. Know why? Because a) it's not an endemic part of culture (in fact, Free! is extremely niche, compared to DOA), b) they are, indeed, parodic, and to claim there's a problem with Free!'s sculpted men and how the camera gazes on their deltoids is to admit that, yeah, women are treated like crap in the media, and c) they're still not on the level of Senran Kagura. Free! doesn't stop to show you how Makoto's penis jiggles in his trunks. Any semblance of good writing goes flying out the window at that point, anyway.

    You also cannot treat the sexualization of women in these otaku-bait drek-games as "how things are", because this isn't the norm even in Japan. It's niche. It's for otaku. The defunct had a nice article about this; otaku games being portrayed as "how Japanese sexuality works". Uh, no it's not? Freaking no it's freaking not?! Tentacle porn isn't some joke on Japanese sitcoms.

    I feel like you're pretending to know Japanese culture because you watched Lucky Star, and that's seriously blind.

    The excuse is always "we're getting better", but the evolution never really comes through. For every step gaming takes forward, it takes another two back. I don't buy it for a minute.
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #42 curryking3 2 years ago

    Well said you all.
    @Jeremy Parish

    Thanks for this article.

    I think the depressing thing is exactly what you say: these studios fail to offer an alternative for those who may enjoy the gameplay, but are not flattered by the blatantly juvenile sexism or lolita-p0rn.

    Porn is not ban-worthy to me.

    At the same time I'm not excited by games development from Japan that is dominated by over-sexualized teen divas.

    I also sincerely doubt that this "otaku" fandom is as universally accepted in Japan as some people here are suggesting.

    I highly suggest reading this BBC article on "Why hasn't Japan banned child-porn comics?" from the BBC. It is a very in-depth take on the lolita sub-culture in Japan.
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #43 curryking3 2 years ago
    For example from that article:

    Japan and images of child sexual abuse

    Japan outlawed the production and distribution of images of sexual abuse of children in 1999 - 21 years after the UK

    *In 2013, the US State Department described Japan as an "international hub for the production and trafficking of child pornography"*

    Japan's police agency reported 1,644 offences in 2013 - more than in any year since the 1999 law came into force

    In June 2014, Japan banned possession of real images of child sexual abuse - people were given one year to comply"

    Look how late Japan is addressing the issue of lolita-porn, and even real-images and hoarding of child-porn of REAL children.

    Only in 2014 they banned possession of child sexual abuse images of real children.

    Notably, that does not include animated depictions of underage child sexual abuse/relationships. 4 times. Last edited August 2015 by curryking3
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #44 curryking3 2 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by curryking3
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  • Avatar for curryking3 #45 curryking3 2 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by curryking3
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  • Avatar for BabysFirstAnimeTit #46 BabysFirstAnimeTit 2 years ago

    *Sees title*

    Hmmm....I wonder if I'll see people yell about the evil anime?

    *After reading most of the comment*

    Look at them, look at them and laugh because they see something they don't like!!!!

    tell me, how hard is it to avoid these kinds of games? I myself, enjoy the ever loving shit out of them, but, then again, anime is my shit.

    People just seem to love making games like these a big deal because "OMG, IT HAS TITS AND FANSERVICE AND IT'S NOT MY CUP OF JOE!!!!"

    Fanservice in anime and animetype games is like jump scares in horror movies, they might be tasteless and tacky, but i'm not going to make a 10+ paragraphs article on how their tasteless and tacky and unnecessary in horror movies.Edited August 2015 by BabysFirstAnimeTit
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  • Avatar for Hoolo #47 Hoolo 2 years ago
    (Writing on phones is hard, but I'll try to get some more article-related thoughts out, too.)@KaiserWarrior 
    "That would be because the entire point of Spec Ops: The Line was that you are consciously making a choice to keep playing the game."
    If that is the entire point of Spec Ops, it's a really bad design point. Not to make this into something about privilege or anything similar to that, but you pay, what, some sixty dollars for this game? And then the only way to keep the moral high ground is to stop playing? If I paid good money for this game and want to see it to a (for me) satisfying conclusion, I'd like to not be antagonised for doing the only thing the game allows me to do. Stopping at any point premature to the ending would not allow me to get (what I perceive to be) my money's worth. And that's bad design.Edited 4 times. Last edited August 2015 by Hoolo
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #48 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @jeremy.parish I like the even handedness of your article, and that it doesn't totally pick on Japanese games. I also like that your article goes out of it's way to not criticize the sexuality of these games directly.

    Personally, I think the problem is that gaming is just not a medium that is conducive to nuanced storytelling. Not just about sexuality, but about any topic. There are well written games, as well as games that handle sensitive topics in a mature and thoughtful way... but they are the minority, and it's because of the nature of the medium. Because in order to do nuanced storytelling, usually you have to rip control away from the user for extended periods of time. Thus, you tend to see these kinds of stories in smaller independent games, visual novels, and heavily story based games.

    I don't see how that can change anytime soon. That's just the nature of the medium.

    This will never be as easy for games as it is for more narrative driven mediums like books or films. But there will always be a niche for it, don't worry. It may even be growing. Still, I feel like calling for more mature stories in games is not the right message. It's cool when we get that stuff, but let's stop trying to force games into being something they aren't. Gaming's focus, as a medium, should be to deliver interesting and fun gameplay. That is a very different goal from good storytelling, and the two don't usually gel very well.

    Well, there's always the rare exception of brilliant games like Catherine, that can marry good storytelling with good gameplay. I honestly don't think that most games can do what Catherine does and succeed as well... but I wouldn't mind seeing more try!Edited August 2015 by theresacatalano27
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  • Avatar for SigurdVolsung #49 SigurdVolsung 2 years ago
    Sigh... I promised myself that I would stop commenting on this site, but this article is like bait for me. So I'll leave only one statement. Obviously I have stated my distaste for the way the western media tends to report on or react to sexuality in games, so I'm not even going to bring that up.

    What I will say is this. This issue of the representation of sex in the industry is becoming more noticeable due to the increasing diversity of the industry and those who partake of it. Sex, at it's most normal level, should be experienced by most individuals at some point. Although in many different fashions and the more you get out the more you know how wide of an array that is. But, take it from my experience, if you had seen as much war as up close as I have, you would be just as disturbed, if not more-so, at the way military shooters are created and marketed. So many parts of the industry need work, and I still say what I've always said. Without the people who are certain they can do it better picking up the reigns and doing it themselves, this industry cannot continue it's momentum. As always, I do hope MOE games continue to exist, I enjoy them a lot and have a good laugh playing any of them that I own. But I am welcome to more "mature" (by your standards or whoever else) depictions as well. I would not consider The Witcher games my pinnacle example probably, I would probably go with "Heavy Rain" for a "Western" game, or many great VN's for "Eastern".
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  • Avatar for Y7748837 #50 Y7748837 2 years ago
    My biggest problem with anime titty games isn't that flesh is on display, it's that whenever anime titties show up, the story goes right out the window. They devolve into placeholder for the cheesecake scenes and are nothing but mindless anime dreck that rely on "Oops, I fell face-first into your titties!"-style character development.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #51 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @theresacatalano27 Your comment is very interesting. There's a larger conversation to be had about the narrative potential of games and whether it's worth chasing or not. Looking at the most popular games over the past decade or even USgamer's own list, how many of those games would we consider to have a great story? Not many.

    Sometimes I wonder if videogames are actually compatible with what makes a good story. As you stated, good storytelling is achieved through focus and taking control away and good gameplay is about the exact opposite; you seek that freedom to do what you want. Isn't that the reason why Dark Souls is so beloved after all? Because it doesn't get in your way? Imagine if Dark Souls started to tell its story with cinematics and set pieces. How would that impact it's gameplay?

    I don't know. I'm just musing at this point. Catherine was an excellent marriage of the two concepts but look at its metacritic: It wasn't received that well and it was forgotten rather quickly despite everything it accomplished. And then you see how The Walking Dead got GOTY when there was no gameplay to speak of. It was literally a TV show where you sometimes controlled the plot. It was very strange to see that game get such a warm reception.

    What do people want out of a videogame these days? I don't know anymore.Edited August 2015 by Kuni-Nino
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #52 UnskippableCutscene 2 years ago
    @Hoolo Yes, it's a bit like the comic "Wanted" that ends with the main character denigrating the reader for being a bore who buys comic books and being a working stiff instead of living his (fictional) badass existence. Doing that kind of thing in fiction is a bit of a cheese, since it's really easier to talk down to people to change rather than actually make change.
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  • Avatar for Darji #53 Darji 2 years ago
    @TernBird Ok first of all no it is not Sick. YOU find it sick the men and women who worked on this game and the people who bought it do not think so. And yes it is as much satire as Family guy and if you take family guy seriously you really have some problems.....

    And no this is not Niche anymore. Infact female otaku spend as much as male Otaku. The priorities are just different. For example they spend way more money on Manga/Anime/doujins and merchendise however there are tons of Otome games. There are as much Otome games on Vita and Co as games like these. Just take a small look at Amazon.
    Description here

    And yes they are different because Men and women find different things attractive. For example. Women love homo erotic themes and they are very prominent. While males want the sexuality more in your face. And there is nothing wrong with it.

    And as for Anime series like Free. No they are not Niche and rarely there are more and more each year. You really have no clue about this stuff. And you are absolutely right these things are niche nothing else So why do you not like a niche market that is cratering to these people? They do not go out and rape people because of it. They are just living their lives in their fandom and they are happy.

    And no I do not know this because I watch Animes or other stuff I know this because I studied Japanese Culture and society at the university.

    Japan has a very strange relationship towards sex and what they have media wise and how they are outisde of media is very different. However there are people men and women who loves this stuff so why not let them enjoy it? Because you thinking its sick does not cut it.

    Also your last comment shows your ignorance. Two steps back? Why because there are games likes this? Since when do books and Movies have only masterpieces? This statement alone is so ridiculous. Also do not forget that games media is the youngest media by far and still needs to grow but we are getting there and games like The Last of Us, Walking dead etc are showing exactly this.Edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for boatie #54 boatie 2 years ago
    As a fan of the SMT series, I was ready to buy anything Atlus put out that looked at all interesting in order to help the developer keep making games. Conception II looked weird, and I liked that it was a risk to put out, I knew there were dating sim elements to it, but I've always liked Harvest Moon and Rune Factory so why not. I really liked that it was a dungeon crawler.

    Then I played it and every male character constantly makes creepy winking suggestions about the girls, and espescially the creepy "principle"-type character and they even gave him the creepiest voice to make it all synch up. Couldn't play the game.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #55 jeremy.parish 2 years ago
    Thanks for the evenhanded responses, everyone. Nice to see reasonable discussion going both ways.

    (Except that one guy. There's always the one guy.)
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  • Avatar for Darji #56 Darji 2 years ago
    @curryking3 First of you need to know that when we are talking about child pornography in Japan that means not everything under 18 but rather under 12/13. There is no way they will go out and ban teen pornography or idol vidoes.

    Yes there is a huge problem when 5 year olds are filmed in bikinis and sexy poses and that certainly needs to be outlawed but animated fiction. Honestly I do not see any reason for it.

    First of all we are talking about Japan the Country with the lowest crime rate. Child abuse in real life is very low and yes there are train molesters etc but still women or people in generally feel really safe in Japan. And one reason for that might be the total liberty for sex in media.

    Pedophilia is like being homosexual it is not something you chose it is something you have. It is your sexual fetish the things that makes you tick. Only difference is that one is accept by society standards and the other one for totally valid reasons is not. But as long this does not result in attack children or abusing them honestly I am fine with it.

    Imagine you have a fetish that you are not allowed to live out. You never have this stress relief and after a certain time the urge to live this sexual fantasy or fetish you have becomes way to big to keep. These form of fictional media is helping these people and personally I think it is a great thing to have.

    So as long they keep it in their games and books I see no problem with it at all. But that is my personal Opinion and probably a pretty controversial one.Edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for vagabondarts #57 vagabondarts 2 years ago
    I'm sad that one of my favorite game play types, first person dungeon crawlers, have become infested with this crap. It's really unnecessary, adds nothing to the game, and makes me not want to buy them.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #58 jeremy.parish 2 years ago
    @vagabondarts On the plus side, it makes the two or three kinda-skeevy portraits in each Etrian Odyssey game seem a LOT less egregious.
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  • Avatar for Exhuminator #59 Exhuminator 2 years ago
    Maybe publishers would let developers create truly explicit and uncensored games, if more retailers would allow ESRB rated AO titles on their shelves.
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  • Avatar for catstronaut #60 catstronaut 2 years ago
    There are a ton of JRPGs I haven't even given a second look because they look so anime-fanservicey. I don't mean things like Persona or Etrian which appear to have their own identity, but rather things that are clearly an appeal to anime fandom and nobody else. I'm not one for moe-eyed girls and too-cute dialogue all the time. So I wonder if I've missed out on anything genuinely good.
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  • Avatar for Y7748837 #61 Y7748837 2 years ago
    @Darji 1. Most prefectures in Japan have higher ages of consent than 13. If you sleep with someone under 18 in Tokyo, you will get arrested. Unfortunately, if you are in Nagano, you won't. Since you're so certain of the depth and breadth of your knowledge of Japanese culture, I'm sure you won't mind this Japanese blog on the subject written by a lawyer:

    2. Pedophilia, fetish or not, involves the rape of one party. Unlike adult homosexual men, children cannot give consent. Comparing it to homosexuality is a false equivalence. It would be more appropriate to compare latent pedophilia to someone fantasizing about murdering or raping a coworker or acquaintance.

    3. I can't believe I had to write a fucking post like this. Jesus christ.

    Edited: My original post said "female coworker" and I later realized that was unnecessary.Edited August 2015 by Y7748837
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #62 KaiserWarrior 2 years ago
    @Hoolo You could have paid $60 for The Line. Currently it sells for $30 on Steam, and it's regularly much cheaper -- I got my copy for some $10 to $15 in a sale. But I think that's rather aside from the point; bringing "getting your money's worth" into things sort of throws any notion of "games as mature idea-conveying medium" out the window, because you've reduced them to nothing more than products.

    BE WARNED: Spoilers follow. There is no way to adequately discuss this game without spoiling the experience for people that haven't played it. This is one of the many reasons that it's one of the greatest games in recent history.

    There is no satisfying conclusion to The Line. And again, that's the entire point of the game. "The truth is, you're here because you wanted to be something you're not: A Hero." The Line is a deconstruction of the modern military shooter. You go into it wanting to be a hero. You want to save the day, you want to be the big great invincible superhero that you always get to be in video games of this stripe. At the very beginning of the game, you are given a simple order: Get in, get a read on the situation, get out.

    You accomplish the first two parts of your mission VERY early in the game. All you had to do was get out. All you had to do was stop playing. But no. You wanted to be a big damn hero. You hadn't had enough, you wanted that "satisfying conclusion". The point of that line in the game is to address that directly to you, the player: You paid money to be here, you kept going because you wanted to be A Hero. And look at where you are now. Look at what you've done.

    You actually get treated to a montage of previous scenes in the game at this point -- except that they're slightly different from how you remember them. They reveal that Walker, the character, all this time has been doing the same thing that you, the player, have been doing: lying to himself. Imagining justifications for the things he's done. Finding reasons to keep going and think that he's being some righteous savior. Inventing choices so that he can feel like he's making the right one.

    In the end, The Line winds up (on one of the ending paths, anyway) in the best possible way that it could have: It gives you one last chance. One final opportunity to make your choice of whether to keep playing the game or not. Some time after the events of the game, when Walker has been alone in this dead city for a while now, a rescue team finally comes in to get him. You're given the most powerful gun in the game, and a set of "enemies" exactly the same as the ones you've been fighting all through the game. They're slowly walking toward you and asking you to put the gun down.

    You can put the gun down. Or you can do what you've been doing all along, and start attacking them. The choice is yours. The game respects that choice and makes you face the consequences of it, whichever way you choose to go.

    And that's what I'm talking about. That is a mature story. That is a video game living up to the potential of the medium, to integrate its interactivity into its narrative so thoroughly that Stop Playing is a legitimate choice you can make, which actually makes sense within the context of the game.

    But nah, screw that. We need to Get Our Money's Worth. It's awful that this Video Game makes me feel bad for playing it.

    This audience? This audience isn't ready for an Actually Mature Medium.

    EDIT: If you've found any of this intriguing, I highly recommend picking up a copy of "Killing is Harmless", by Brendan Keogh. It too is very spoiler-heavy, so I highly advise playing through the game before reading, but it's an excellent companion book that goes into much more depth about the symbolism and meta-elements of the game, all of the tiny little touches that make it incredible.Edited August 2015 by KaiserWarrior
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  • Avatar for FalcoT #63 FalcoT 2 years ago

    If you're not too skeeved out, consider a Retronauts episode about ecchiness. I'd be interested to see if older games were better / the same / worse on being gross. A few examples that come to mind are Golgo 13, Snatcher, and Portopia Serial Murder Case (Yuji Horii's first game).
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  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #64 SuperShinobi 2 years ago
    I don't mind at all the more realistic depictions or even the more juvenile depictions of sex and relationships in games. Relationships are the one thing that motivates me to endure the interminable Witcher and Bioware games for example. I imported the Red Zone edition of No More Heroes and the Japanese version of Dragon's Crown because they were less censored. I really like DoaX too. I mean, you're a hot chick in that game, holidaying on a tropical island with fellow hot chicks and trying to befriend them while doing all kinds of fun holiday activities with them. How is that not an appealing idea? I'm so glad they're making a third one, I'll import it for sure if it's not released outside Asia.

    I don't think those games detract anything from the high-quality mature side of video games, just like metric tons of juvenile movies have not ruined the reputation of film as a serious art form. There should be room for everything in a medium as broad as games. I also think that games like DoaX are incredibly tame and sweet compared to the fictional mass-slaughter that is a staple of the medium. And really, really innocent compared to the hardcore porn that is ubiquitous on the net.

    Also, I think Jeremy is somewhat selling the medium short by saying that it has struggled to tell great stories. I would point to the Naughty Dog games, Spec Ops the Line, the Bioshock games, Catherine and some of the Rockstar games as examples of great storytelling in games.Edited 3 times. Last edited August 2015 by SuperShinobi
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  • Avatar for Hoolo #65 Hoolo 2 years ago
    @KaiserWarrior I didn't want this to spiral into talk about 'getting your money's worth', which is why I noted that I don't mean to bring things like 'privilege' into this. Maybe for some players, getting your money's worth out of a purchase is important, not necessarily so for me (as long as it's not exorbitantly expensive, like the prices of some Kickstarter tiers. But that's something else entirely). When I am talking about me, personally, perhaps I should be talking about something more like 'satisfaction of the end'.

    Half-assing things is not my style. Starting a game and not finishing it nags at me. Reading the first 100 pages of a book and putting it down is something I can't accept of myself (unless it's really, really, really not clicking with me). Some games, they're products, yes. But not necessarily because of me, or other gamers. They're products because that's how they were made. The ever-popular annual instalments (the Assassin's Creeds, CoDs, and sports games of the world, among others) are often built as products first, works of sweat and code (and love) second.

    After doing some browser searching, it seems like my mind may have confused Spec Ops: The Line with that Call of Duty level where you're a terrorist tasked with shooting civilians. Still, that doesn't necessarily matter for my point to come across. Yager isn't what I'd call a AAA studio, and they have deliberately put this path in Spec Ops, the path that you are forced to follow if you are anything like me and what to experience the 'satisfaction of the end'. Berating players for following their desire to see the end and conclusion is what I'd call rude. It's definitely set up for rocking the (moral) boat, challenging the status quo. But is that maturity? I feel like it would be thought-provoking (it's definitely not my cup of tea, so I'm staying far, far away from it), but at the same time it feels childish in that they're forcing you to choose between pressing the power button and not pressing the power button, and telling you off when you don't press the power button.
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  • Avatar for mobichan #66 mobichan 2 years ago
    Wow, go to sleep and wake up to a seriously heated debate.

    I never said Otaku culture was bad. I only said to blame it for the loss of publishers backing products that don't contain the content some find questionable. There is a place for all kinds of games. I, personally, mourn the loss of the simpler, arcade style 2D games of my youth that came out of Japan. And the times I see a glimmer of hope where something even resembling those games appears, it is usually filled with Otaku flavored content. This makes me much less interested in buying the games.

    When you consider that Japanese games have had a history of explicit (or at least by western standards) content since the early 80's PC scene, it should not be shocking that this sort of game has finally become less taboo and more accepted by publishers as a legitimate way to support their businesses. My only gripe is that in the last 10 years or so, these sorts of games are taking the spotlight and the traditional games I used to love are becoming rarer and rarer. I have almost completely given up on western games, because they take themselves way too seriously or they have themes that don't give me the escapism I am looking for. Similarly, Japanese games are generally coated in something I find off-putting, even though I was a pretty hardcore otaku in the late 80's and early 90's. It just isn't my thing now.
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  • Avatar for Darji #67 Darji 2 years ago
    @TK-Flash 1. In Japan it is the norm that you can not pay underage teens for sex. Sex with teens and their consent is fine for the most part. And yes it is stated its 18 in Tokyo and 13 by the central government. That is why people overlook it as long there is no crime happening.

    I live in Germany and the age of consent is 14 here. And there are no problems at all. Yes many girls in their 14 or 15s have sex with 18+ year olds and there is nothing wrong with it. These girls even bring their boyfriends home and parents normally find it totally normal to have an older friend.

    The thing will be different when there is 40 year old sleeping with a 14 year old. Theoretically it is not against the law here but also here it depends on the relationship. For example: Teacher and student is against the law. Also it is not really accepted in our society.

    As for your second point no it does not.

    Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger.

    The attraction is called pedophilia not the act. The act is rape yes but this is again fiction and nothing else. You need to differentiate here. Also Let us not forget that Rape is one of the most common Fantasies men and women have. It is a fantasy a fetish. That does not mean they want to be raped in real life..... nor does it mean these people want to have sex with children they know that it is wrong that is why they go for such media.

    So if you are attracted to these children you do not break the law. And it is much better to relief your sexual tensions on fiction and media than on real people. And for exactly this reason I do not mind the stuff Japan does as long it does not involve real children.
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  • Avatar for vagabondarts #68 vagabondarts 2 years ago
    @jeremy.parish yes, I would really like to see more new straightforward dungeon crawlers without any of those elements going forward. If they don't get made I'll just go replay older games I guess, or check out western variants (which I usually don't like because they tend to be real time combat).
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  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #69 Monkey-Tamer 2 years ago
    Great discussion, but I feel video games depict sex and relationships just like they do violence, which is to say not grounded anywhere near reality. After all, our hobby is an escape from reality, is it not? Those of us that know how to shoot can go on for hours about how video games get it wrong. I can attest that hand to hand combat is nothing like it is in a game. It is far more nuanced than what can be currently programmed and set to a controller. So it doesn't surprise me that such an intricate proposition as a relationship also is presented in a simpler format in video games. And as far as video games catering to the lowest common denominator of boys that get turned on by polygon boobies, reality tv does well for a reason. Hate it all you want but what sells simply sells.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by Monkey-Tamer
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  • Avatar for Elliot-Gay #70 Elliot-Gay 2 years ago
    I was mostly following along till I got to this bit: "That, I suspect, has everything to do with the fact that the idea of actual adults playing video games in their free time has found far more traction in the west than in Japan, where games remain very much a pastime for children and, to a lesser degree, women."

    This reads as though you're equating women with children in contrast/juxtaposition to "actual adults." Just a bit uncomfortable.

    An interesting read for sure, but I've also come to realize that a lot of men (and to a lesser extent women) in the west have zero interaction with games for women in Japan, and therefore have little to talk about on the subject. Fanservicey/straight up porn games for women will never get their mention in any media because there's hardly any of it available in English, and the typical English-language Japanese game news sites will never report on them because they don't see the audience as being significant enough to warrant mentioning.

    So instead only people "in the know" are aware of their existence.

    Ultimately it makes it very difficult to have a complete conversation when so much of the information necessary to have it is missing or in only one language.Edited August 2015 by Elliot-Gay
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #71 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    Sorry, this may be controversial, but I have to say this. Maybe part of the reason why we don't get more mature handling of sex in video games is because we simply aren't ready for it.

    I mean, look at this comments section. Look at all the sex negativity in here and judgementalism. Even though the article specifically goes out of it's way to say that is not criticizing the sexuality of these games, a whole boatload of comments are about doing that very thing. I see multiple comments about how they avoid games specifically because of sexuality.

    There are games that, I feel, do handle sex in a mature fashion. There could there be more... But I wonder if that's what people really want. In reality, people in our culture still find sex itself deeply uncomfortable. And that is sad, but as long as that's true, nothing's going to change.Edited August 2015 by theresacatalano27
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #72 KaiserWarrior 2 years ago
    @Hoolo But that choice is a valid one. In fact, it's a critical one for Video Games As A Medium.

    I think the comparison to reading 100 pages of a book and stopping is an important one, because it highlights the difference of medium. It touches upon the reason why The Line works.

    Reading a book or watching a movie is a passive experience. You are reading (or watching) a story somebody else made for you to experience. You don't take an active role in it. You can choose to stop reading/watching just as you choose to stop playing, but the reasons are inherently different.

    Why is playing through a segment where Walker kills a bunch of innocent people in The Line different from reading a chapter where Walker kills a bunch of innocent people in a book? It's because one of those has you actively participating, the other does not.

    That's what The Line is getting at. That's what I mean when I say it fully integrates its interactivity into its narrative. The Line is aware that it is a Video Game. It is a game that you play, not just a story that you're watching. This is why I have far more respect for The Line than I do for, say, Gone Home. Gone Home is A Story That You Can Press Buttons At, The Line is A Video Game. Gone Home is a piece of barely-interactive storytelling where you walk around a house, click on things, and listen to and/or read journal entries. The clicking of the things has nothing to do with the journal entries, and you could strip the entirety of the "game" portion of it out without affecting the story at all, and without much of an effect on the experience as a whole. The Line, by contrast, fully integrates its interactivity. Its story doesn't work without that interactivity. The message it is conveying is entirely dependent upon the fact that it is an interactive medium.

    It's just that The Line dares to question your involvement as a player. It dares, as no other Video Game has before or since, to look you in the eye and demand that you take responsibility for your participation in it. The Line does not allow you to be a passive observer. It defies being experienced as A Story You Can Press Buttons At. It goes way, way out of its way to make sure that you know you're doing the wrong thing the further you go into it, and at the end it has the guts to say "You just did some horrible things. You did them. You chose this. Live with that choice."

    You said that you were getting it confused with No Russian, that infamous Call of Duty PR stunt of a level. And that's the sort of thing I'm talking about when I say that the audience is, largely, not ready for an actually mature medium. The difficulty of distinguishing between what The Line is doing and what No Russian is doing is the proof of that. Call of Duty never questioned your decision to participate in No Russian. In fact, it offered the option of skipping it entirely. Call of Duty is exactly the kind of Story You Can Press Buttons At fluff that comprises an immature medium. If this makes you uncomfortable, that's okay, just skip over it and keep going. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, and cut out all of the bits that might make you uncomfortable.

    The Line has more guts than that. It's a representative of what a mature medium could be. No, you're not skipping this. You have a choice. You can choose to stop playing. You know you're doing horrible things, we're not going to tell you if it's worth it or not. That's for you to decide. Make your choice.

    Far, far too many people would be happier with an immature medium that lets them get rid of everything uncomfortable, than a mature medium that dares to challenge and question them.

    All The Line did was say "Hey, you're an active participant playing a part in this. Are you okay with that? You can stop at any time."

    Heavens forbid we should ever be asked to examine the role we play as participants.
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  • Avatar for christopherhughes97 #73 christopherhughes97 2 years ago
    @KaiserWarrior Metal Gear had the same theme years earlier without being nearly as condescending or frustrating to play.
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  • Avatar for evanboone15 #74 evanboone15 2 years ago
    dude stfu. saying gaming wont grow up because one bad example is the same as pointing to a Transformers movie and asking, "When will film grow up?" while believing that one movie can cancel out every other film of note. there are games that aren't for everyone just like there's all sorts of other things in entertainment that aren't for everyone. stop bitching and generalizing the media just because you didn't like ONE. You didnt like this example, fine, complain about games LIKE this one, not all games. You are the reason most of the people outside the gaming community think gaming is only for kids or immature people. its also this line of thinking and level of ignorance that promotes negative stereotypes about"gamers" when in reality they are just regular people. sure you have your weirdos but EVERY community does.
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  • Avatar for andrewmayes78 #75 andrewmayes78 2 years ago
    Even as an anime fan myself, I for one did not see this article as an attack on Japanese culture the way some people seem to. I saw it simply as, "Hey Japan, maybe I'd like to play an awesome dungeon crawler WITHOUT having to stare at underage G-cups the entire time. Thanks."

    The game looks like it has a lot of potential, but I also fear that buying it will put me on numerous government watch lists.
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  • Avatar for Darji #76 Darji 2 years ago
    @andrewmayes78 And this is what gaming should not make you feel. That is the overall problem with these kind of articles. Instead of shaming and guilt people out of these games we should embrace the silliness.

    You are not a bad person if you like to play these kind of games. This should be the message for every game ever made. Why? because it is media and entertainment it can be silly, dumb, intellectual dramatic, full of action, love and romance.

    Gaming will never grow up when we try to shame people who like different things
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #77 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @catstronaut I would imagine it's unlikely. I mean, I can give you a description of a particular RPG and by the tropes alone (young male hero, his girlfriend, the lancer, the sibling, the experienced one) and you would never know which one I'm talking about.
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #78 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @Darji Correction; gaming will never grow up as it continues to try and cater to a specific type of consumer; i.e. the otaku or the 'core gamer' here in the west.
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  • Avatar for DragonDai #79 DragonDai 2 years ago
    Video Games don't need to grow up any more than literature or cinema needs to grow up. For every War and Peace or Citizen Kane there are 15 Grandma's Boys and 50 Shade of Grey. NONE of the older forms of media have EVER grown up EVER, but no one complains about that shit. There aren't a dozen articles a month about how music needs to grow up and get over it's Nicki Minaj phase and start listening to more Bach, because that would be fucking ludicrous.

    GOD I hate these sorts of articles. They are the most infantile, backwards, moronic pieces of "journalism" to ever come out of "games journalism," and that's saying a LOT.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #80 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @DragonDai Actually, people write about stuff like that all the time. Here's Simon Pegg:

    "In the 18 years since we wrote Spaced, this extended adolescence has been cannily co-opted by market forces, who have identified this relatively new demographic as an incredibly lucrative wellspring of consumerist potential. Suddenly, here was an entire generation crying out for an evolved version of the things they were consuming as children. This demographic is now well and truly serviced in all facets of entertainment and the first and second childhoods have merged into a mainstream phenomenon."

    That's an extrapolation of his earlier comments:

    “It is a kind of dumbing down in a way,” he continued. “Because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about... whatever. Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.”

    Pegg concluded: “But I sometimes feel like I miss grown-up things. And I honestly thought the other day that I’m gonna retire from geekdom. I’ve become the poster child for that generation, and it’s not necessarily something I particularly want to be. I’d quite like to go off and do some serious acting.”

    Here's a Slate article about movies where guys don't have to grow up.

    To get it right, they should have watched just about every other Hollywood comedy of the past decade. There they'd have found the solution to the plight of American masculinity: don't grow up. Just stretch out that period between adolescence and parenthood to the extent it becomes a prolonged state of infantile bliss. Teenage hedonism on a grown-up salary; being old enough to smoke weed but still having your mum do your laundry; not having to share your Star Wars figures with anyone. This is the new American dream.

    Those were only a Google away. Which is to say, people within certain fields will look at those fields critically. Jeremy covers games, so his thoughts are drawn in that direction. It perplexes me that because people don't read articles about those other fields, that they assume those articles don't exist.
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  • Avatar for Darji #81 Darji 2 years ago
    @MHWilliams Did this guy also insult the audience of these games as pedophiles?

    Also let us not forget that right now people with taste like that get constantly attacked by gaming sites. Developer got attacked and insulted by Kotaku for making such games. Let us not forget that these kind of attack articles always drove controversy and it seems like Sites are using these more and more to actually gain traffic and controversy. He is questioning the whole industry here because of niche games that does not even sell 20k copies.

    I can not wait till we get these MGSV reactions from sites like Polygon for example. They will certainly ride on these controversies and if you call yourself a Journalist you should be honestly ashamed.

    And you know what the really funny thing is? This game now got more attention that it would have without this article. So I guess Good Job on promoting a game he does not like.

    PS: Luckily Japanese Developer like these do not even care about westernized prudish opinions All they want to make are silly and fun games^^Edited 3 times. Last edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #82 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @Darji Sorry you feel maligned. (I will note, that calling someone "prudish" is in fact, the same thing you seem to be railing against?) Omega Labyrinth was the inciting game, but Jeremy wrote about the industry as a whole. It's an article about trends, not a single title.

    We don't traffic in controversy, we traffic in honest opinions. This is Jeremy's. You disagree with the premise! That's cool. Other opinions are great and yours is welcome here as long as you keep it civil.

    And yeah, it is great that this article acts to illustrate Jeremy's opinion and raise the profile of Omega Labyrinth! If you love it and you didn't know about it, now you do. Everyone wins.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #83 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago

    I will say the story going on in that Twitter is why I discussed this article at the source. There's a FUD flood from a small subset looking to drown out involved questioning of subject matters on even NeoGAF.Edited August 2015 by SatelliteOfLove
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #84 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @Darji You deserve a little support, so let me just say that I agree with your general sentiment. I don't think gamers should be attacked for their tastes, especially not sexual. I don't think people should be made to feel any shame for liking these sorts of games. There is nothing unhealthy about a desire for sexual gratification, as long as it's not hurting another human being. And none of these games are doing that. If anything, it's shame that is unhealthy.

    It's unfortunate, but we still live in a culture of sex shame. Both men and women are made to feel bad about their sexual appetities in a variety of different ways. This is unfortunately a mainstream view, and it's something we as a society need to work on.

    And speaking of games handling sex more "maturely," I'd love to see a game take on the topic of sex shame. That's a topic that even films rarely tackle.
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  • Avatar for VHartmann #85 VHartmann 2 years ago
    @TernBird I need a drink after reading that ridiculous comment too.

    Why are you pretending that the Sorceress and Senran Kagura are even CLOSE to being the default in video games? It's disingenuous at best, downright stupid at worst.

    "The number of decently-written woman can be counted on one hand."

    Seriously man? Do you even turn the video games on?
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #86 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    @VHartmann Good point. But also I just want to say that there's nothing wrong with the sorceress from Dragon's Crown. Her bust is a little ridiculous and she's obviously very sexualized, but she's also in a game full of ridiculous sexualized designs of both genders. She is not out of place at all. And the game is artistically beautiful, with it's own art-style.

    People will say that they aren't against sexuality in games, only badly done depictions of sexuality... but Sorceress is a GOOD example of sexuality in games.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #87 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @captainN2 The Sorceress is actually an old witch who uses magic to reclaim the figure of her youth. The figure you see is entirely by her own choice, canonically. Basically, she owns it. Some might say that's positive.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #88 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    @captainN2 What exactly is wrong with the Sorceress? The fact that she is sexually exaggerated? So what? Character designs are often exaggerated, and all the character designs in Dragon's Crown are exaggerated for a certain effect. Just because she's a sexually charged design does not make her bad.

    Dragon Crown is an artistically beautiful game. And the Sorceress's design fits with the other exaggerated designs in the game. So it's an example of good design.
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #89 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 Well, it's a stark contrast to how the male characters are designed; idealized, practical, and fitting of the usual power fantasy for the usual cismale gamers, usually to the exclusion of everyone else. Most women would not want to be dressed like they were meant to be ogled at, which is what the primary design ideas for both her and the amazon.

    It sends a rather obvious message that women have one body type and that's 'sexy'. Otherwise, women don't exist at all. And if you don't have that body type in real life, it can get rather demoralizing.

    I've read that George Kamitani defended those designs as 'satire', which, sadly, shows he doesn't know what satire means. If the designs of the women were actually satirical, the sorceress would look like an old hag, wearing the same outfit, only she's hunched over and ugly in the standard sense of the word. And the Amazon would be more muscular than the dwarf to the point where she'd look masculine where she'd also be 'ugly' to the usual gamer. That is what satire is; ironic exposure of ideas, well aware of its absurdity.

    There is no satire in Dragon's Crown. It's business as usual.
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  • Avatar for VarietyGamer #90 VarietyGamer 2 years ago
    I think I'll just leave this here:

    “Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

    -C.S. Lewis
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #91 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz That's nice and all, but Kamitani never described it as satire. He said he exaggerated the features of typical fantasy character stereotype. So muscles got bigger and so did the breasts. He said the art would be more unique that way and more attractive.

    If you're going to throw a game under the bus, do it right and do some research.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #92 Kuni-Nino 2 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by Kuni-Nino
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  • Avatar for Darji #93 Darji 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz No it is called art style. And the point should be art can be anything. In dragons Crown every character has ridiculous proportions. There is no "male power fantasy" here. I personally think words like male power fantasy is basically everything a certain group does not like. I even heard Anita using the word male power fantasy describing the Last of Us...

    Also the way you use the word cis say already enough about your motivations. The notion what you think most women want and not want is already pretty sexist. No you do not know that because every women, every person is different. And most people would not even care about this at all because they have no time or want to spend their time defending ideologies that would never work in reality.

    And no it does not send messages if these are the female characters....

    But yeah you are probably one of these people who rallied against the Beach Body ads so there is no reason to talk to you any further.

    So have a good day.
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  • Avatar for Darji #94 Darji 2 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by Darji
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  • @VarietyGamer "The desire to seem very grown up" in this context is the desire for shameless titillation (also swearing and excess violence).
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #96 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz It's actually not a stark contrast with how the male characters are designed. The male characters are not at all wearing practical outfits. They are just as exaggerated, and they are also sexualized. Not all of them are sexualized, but then not all of the female characters are either. The female characters do not all have one body type, there is a variety of body types.

    The women in Dragon's Crown exist for the same reason as the men... to look attractive and interesting while they fight, or to provide eye candy in the background. It's just as true for the women as for the men.

    But, supposing you're right and that the sexuality in Dragon's Crown is primarily aimed at men... why is that a problem? It's okay to have sexuality in the media aimed at men, just like it's okay to have sexuality in the media aimed at women. It's okay to have eye candy for men just as much as eye candy for women. As long as you aren't anti-sex, you should be okay with that. If the problem is inequality, then do you want more sexuality aimed at women? I'm all for that. Let's ask developers for it. But that's not Dragon Crown's fault.
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #97 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #98 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by theresacatalano27
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #99 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @captainN2 Look at the judgmental language you're using: Ilk... seedy... juvenille... sexist. Your post is just full of condescension and puritanism. I think our condemnation of people's sexual desires, our culture of shame, that's the REAL problem here. We're never going to have more "mature" attitudes about sexuality until we can first accept sexuality as something that is natural, healthy, and okay.

    You want more self examination and introspection? Start with yourself.
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  • Avatar for Darji #100 Darji 2 years ago
    @captainN2 oh man. How is Onechanbara sexist? Because of women who wear skimpy clothing? Have you even played these games know anything about these characters to say these are misogynistic or sexist characters? Or are you basing all your opinions on nudity alone? Despite their outfits you again have very strong female characters which are saving the world. Yes it is dumb but sexist? Please give me a break....

    I am so tired of people who believe skimpy clothing equals sexism especially coming from a culture which has sexualized everyone in their media. And you know the really funny part again? Japanese Media or Manga/Anime games in general are way more homosexual friendly than western media in America.

    Also not one of these games dominate the market they are very niche like games nothing else. They do not represent games not the industry. They are just a very small part of this industry.

    AAA Games dominate the market games like GTA, Call of Duty, Mario, Assassins Creed etc. Not a game that does not even often will be released in the west to begin with. And yeah if you call games like these sexist you can call the entire media sexist.

    Seriously if you want boring ass games like Sunset than go and buy it. The market has decided they do not want it. Onechanbara is just stupid fun and very trashy but sexist? No only if you do not like sexualized female character and judge them based on their outfit. Which is what I would call sexist.

    I remember when an old white straight male called Arthur Gies called Bayonetta a figure which is for many sex positive feminists a role model and example of empowerment, sexist and misogynistic. A figure which was created and designed by a female designer who loves her work and style. And this just shows how ridiculous American people are acting when we are talking about nudity.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • @captainN2 If you had only limited yourself to the first two paragraphs, I would have been nodding along with you.

    Games are not stuck in a seedy porn niche; plenty of games don't have any sexual message whatsoever. Like, if you're looking for sex in Ratchet & Clank you're looking in the wrong place.
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #102 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @captainN2 I STRONGLY disagree.

    I'll give you that games like Omega Labyrinth and Onechanbara are juvenille, and crass. I won't give you sexist and misogynist. Catering to male sexual needs isn't necessarily sexist or misogynist, even if it's done in a crass way. Sexism means to treat one gender differently than the other, but that doesn't apply to all heterosexual urges, obviously. It also shouldn't apply to sexual fantasies. Misogyny means dislike, contempt, or ingrained prejudice against women. Media which caters to male sexual fantasy should not automatically be seen as having contempt for women... this is not a healthy viewpoint! It is a very bad thing when we condemn and demonize people's sexual fantasies.

    Let's look at some female examples. Do you think yaoi automatically shows contempt for men? There's certainly a lot of yaoi that is pornography, that shows men in ridiculous and unrealistic situations. By the logic you've just used, you should have to say that yaoi is sexist. You should have to say that it is misandrist. But it's not sexist and not misandrist, anymore than media that caters to male sexual fantasy. People can tell fantasy apart from reality, and a healthy fantasy life is part of being a human being! Some attempts to cater to it may be more crass than others but that does not make them morally wrong! We shouldn't condemn and demonize people's sexual fantasy! That's an anti-human point of view! Sexual fantasy is a healthy part of being a human being, and we have to learn to be okay with that!
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #103 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @UnskippableCutscene Not so much porn, but obvious fanservice that, frankly, is kind of insulting to those of us who are not teenagers anymore, and haven't been teenagers for years. And it doesn't take a lot of effort to see that the designs of women characters always seem to fit a certain profile; young, emphasis on bust (large or small), impractical designs that don't hold up to scrutiny.

    Case in point; Talim from Soul Calibur. She was clearly in her teens in 2 through 4. Then, time skipped forward about 20 years and suddenly, she, Xianghua, and Taki have all been replaced by other women characters that are about the same age. Hell, Ivy's pushing fifty, yet, she sure as hell don't look fifty, due to plot contrivance. Yet, we still have mainstays, Misturugi, Cervantes, Kilik, Maxi, and many more men who can still fight, unlike the other women who have aged out of relevance. Kind of strange, don't you think?
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  • Avatar for BlueBurn #104 BlueBurn 2 years ago
    Let's have a reality check mister "professional gaming journalist"

    There are countless games out there. You can pretty much find a game that is about anything you want. If you can imagine it, somebody probably made it. That's a GOOD thing. That is people being free to express their ideas.

    If you like it, play it. If you don't like it, don't play it. If you think you have a better idea, make it.

    So that brings me to my point. Complaining about some random game and putting it up as "what's wrong with games now" is not helping or contributing anything. Somebody thought it was a cool idea so they did it. Good for them! Good for everyone who enjoyed it. It's not hurting you at all. There are games you like too. Play those.

    You know what would actually be useful to write? How great whatever your current favorite game is. Maybe some people would be like "Hey, that sounds cool, maybe I should play it too!"
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  • Avatar for joycostello05 #105 joycostello05 2 years ago
    What is with our guilt culture nowadays? Why do we always have to be made to feel guilty about the things we like? Games like these aren't hurting anyone! They are harmless! Why don't we just let people play what they want, and not write articles about judging how bad they are? A little less judgment please, people!
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  • @BlueBurn He already writes a lot of articles about how great the games he likes are (not that you would know, since you obviously got this article linked from some forum, judging by the sarcasm quotes).

    And while there are likely plenty of niche dungeon crawlers with light-to-zero fanservice, the fact that the majority of them are from before the turn of the century - and that the more fanservicey ones got released closer to the present day - should be a cause of concern.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #107 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz Why is fan-service so insulting to you? What's wrong with it?
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  • Avatar for BlueBurn #108 BlueBurn 2 years ago
    @franciscovillarrealh Well he could always make one instead of complaining. The game devs who made this aren't going to read this nor do they care.

    People who make games make whatever they think would be cool, or would sell. And considering this is a Japanese game you have to consider that their culture is different so different things are going to sell over there. And who are you (as an American gaming journalist) to criticize their gaming culture? I mean putting aside the problem that nobody in that country is going to read this anyway.
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  • @BlueBurn Who are news journalists to criticize the culture of people from countries not their own? Or film critics to criticize the culture that allows for the rise of certain trends they may or may not approve of? They're people who get paid to write.

    And his argument is that to the average Japanese person, this sort of games (that pander to a very specific demographic in order to guarantee a minimum number of sales to make them profitable, regardless of what other audiences they might scare away) is about as attractive as most American comic books of the 1990s-2000s were to the average American, so it's not a matter of "their culture finds this acceptable".
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #110 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @BlueBurn "You know what would actually be useful to write? How great whatever your current favorite game is. Maybe some people would be like "Hey, that sounds cool, maybe I should play it too"

    He... does that too?

    That is what we do: write about what games and trends work and do not work for us. We observe and report or editorialize. This is an editorial. Praise and criticism happen in equal measure.
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  • Avatar for docexe #111 docexe 2 years ago

    I don’t entirely disagree with some of your points, but I think you are veering too far into the other side of the extreme. There is a VERY vast gulf between someone finding some forms of fetishization off-putting or unhealthy and being a sex negative or prudish person.

    I personally consume ecchi and hentai materials on a semiregular basis (more anime and manga than games though). I also look online for pin-ups and erotic art of characters that I like. However I’m also extremely picky with what I choose from those spaces, because I find that a lot of things cross the line from being actually sexy and alluring to, simply put, incredibly disturbing and/or downright disgusting.

    I mean, I do have my fetishes like everyone else, but I refuse to engage with things that I just find extremely misogynistic (rape, sex slavery) or troubling (incest, adultery, gore, bestiality among a rather long etc.). Does that make me a “prude” or “sex negative person”?

    And yes, I get it, some people fantasize and fetishize things without any intention of committing them in real life, and I do believe in the idea that you can like things with problematic or troubling content without actually being in favor of said content.

    But I also think there are degrees and standards for everything, and I don’t think engaging with some sexual fantasies or fetishes to particularly extreme degrees is… well, particularly healthy (indeed, as far as I know, if someone happens to genuinely suffer from a psychiatric disorder or paraphilia, that person should look for medical help rather than indulge in their fetishes).

    Seriously, I don’t’ want to be judgmental, especially considering the kind of horror and exploitation movies that I have consumed myself for pure entertainment reasons. But some of the things that I have seen in the hentai space honestly make me wonder at times “what kind of person gets off with these things?” There are simply put some sexual fantasies and fetishes that I don’t really think should be celebrated or embraced.

    Ultimately though, I can’t demand for the purging of materials that contain those fetishes or sexual fantasies, neither go out condemning every person who happens to like those materials for whatever reason.Edited August 2015 by docexe
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  • Avatar for docexe #112 docexe 2 years ago
    As to the article itself well I don’t particularly agree with the condemnatory tone regarding otaku games that appeal to the fetishes of a very specific niche of the market. But I do agree with the central point that there needs to be more games that explore sex and sexuality in more nuanced and deeper ways than mere titillation, fanservice and/or fetishization. Right now, outside of games belonging to niche genres (Japanese visual novels and some indie games), there aren’t really that many games that look at sex, sexuality and relationships from a more nuanced perspective than merely providing titillation and quick sexual thrills.

    However I think some serious changes would need to happen in the gaming industry for that first. For instance, the AO rating would need to actually become viable.Edited August 2015 by docexe
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #113 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 If you must know, son, fanservice is insulting because it's basically saying, "We have no idea how to give depth and nuance to our story. So, here's some boob and panty shots, instead!"

    Seriously, it's a crutch and it's a poor one.
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #114 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @docexe I think you're misunderstanding me. If some forms of sexuality make you uncomfortable, that's fine... you don't have to be in to everything. But you shouldn't be so quick to pass judgment on the things that other people are into, even if it's something that makes you personally uncomfortable.

    You said you are into echi and hentai, right? How would you feel about people passing judgment on you, demonizing you for the things you like? You wouldn't like that, right? All I'm saying is, we shouldn't treat ANYONE that way.
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  • Avatar for Darji #115 Darji 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz But there are a lot of teenager out there or people in general men or women that like these kind of games. That is why I say. If you do not like it just ignore it and let other people enjoy what you don't. Video games are not only made for the "mature" and adult but also for immature and teens.

    I do not like many games. Onechanbara is one of them but I would never call them sexist because of it. Today words like Sexist, racist or the very famous "problematic" are beng thrown around like free candy. Everyone pulls the these cards very fast because they thing you can not argue against it or you are a misogynist. Just like the term Feminist. I for example are total equality but I am anti feminist or better anti modern feminist. I get called misogynistic because of it all the time on the internet. "What you are no feminist? Egalitarian? That does not exist and fake. You are MRA then". That is why I can not stand these people. And luckily these people only exist in my Life on the Internet^^


    No you can find these things off putting and unhealthy. I have no problem with it. However the moment you are trying to say that it is problematic and sexist for everyone you are losing me. You never should project the things you do not like on a global level.

    You are not liking violence? That is fine I do not like it either much. You do not like some sort of fetish? Totally ok. You are saying that it is in general problematic and sexist, racist etc. Do no do this please....

    Just let me give you one example on the most common one. Rape. I think everyone here agrees that real rape is one of the most terrible things you can do to a person. However: In our fantasy most people have it and most women have it.

    Women's Rape Fantasies: How Common? What Do They Mean?

    "Sixty-two percent said they'd had at least one such fantasy. But responses varied depending on the terminology used. When asked about being "overpowered by a man," 52 percent said they'd had that fantasy, the situation most typically depicted in women's romance fiction"

    We need to learn how to differentiate between reality and fantasy. We need to embrace our sexuality more and not being made ashamed of what we fantasize of. For example I love incest fantasy. Real life? No way but fantasies are mostly about forbidden things. Things you would never do in Real life. Things that are taboo in our society. We all have these and there is nothing wrong with it.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #116 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz Your answer confuses me. A couple follow up questions:

    1. How did you come to the conclusion fanservice and a good story are mutually exclusive?

    2. Do you actually believe that all games need to have a deep and nuanced story? Aren't frivolous and fun games (like Dragon's Crown) okay as well? And if so, then What's wrong with having fanservice in those kind of games?
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  • Avatar for Hoolo #117 Hoolo 2 years ago
    I would say there is nothing inherently wrong with the games primarily discussed here (Omega Labyrinth, Dungeon Travelers 2). Sure, they skirt the lines of decency with their fanservice, but they do so in a cartoony fashion catering to a niche audience. This audience knows very well this is not realistic at all, so what's the problem, really? Is there a problem?

    At this point I am still not entirely sure there even is a problem, but if there is, it is this: the niche audience that is being catered to is a niche within a niche. It's not just the visual style that is used or the fanservice on display that is meant for the niche audience, but the style of game as well. Dungeon crawlers are, and probably forever will be, limited to a smaller audience pool because of the methodological approach that is necessary and the often brutal penalties for failure. Probably the most mainstream examples of games in the genre are the Pokémon, Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest spin-offs, and they have a larger audience backing. "Pure" dungeon crawlers, if we can call them that, don't really have an established IP or a larger audience backing. So what developers and publishers are left with is finding the niche that would be interested in their game, and market it to this group to their best ability. It would appear that this leads to these kind of games catering to an "Otaku crowd" by using a "moe" art style.

    This is not a problem; different strokes for different blokes, and variety is the spice of life. It would be more apt to say this is not a problem in itself. It does, however, start to approach the beginnings of a problem when the genre niche (procedural dungeon crawlers) on a niche system (PSVita, in the West, at least) gets games that are exclusively catering to the aforementioned "Otaku crowd" by making full use of fanservice and moe. Simply put: Catering to a particular niche within an already established niche to the exclusion of all other instances of that larger niche is the "real" problem here.

    Looking at dungeon crawlers on PS Vita, the vast majority of them are using the Japanese "anime" art style to a greater or lesser extent. On the (in the West) more mainstream 3DS, this is mostly true as well, though it seems like there is a larger number of non anime-style dungeon crawlers. Still, the most popular franchise in the genre on the system, Etrian Odyssey, is poking at the discussed trend with its character models, though never outright crossing into what can be called the "Otaku camp" that Omega Labyrinth and Dungeon Travelers 2 are in.

    Taking all of this and trying to find a line to the larger subjects, girls and games and maturity in gaming, I think it's fair to say that not all works have to feature full-blown realism and "maturity", and moreso, that no game I'm aware of has succeeded at that. Games like Omega Labyrinth have their place in the hearts of a niche audience within a niche audience, but the larger part of the audience is being passed over if they simply can't deal with the character portrayals.

    Is the real problem, then, located in the developer's/publisher's continued catering to the niche-within-a-niche, and not in the person being catered to? I don't know. But what I do know is that bashing people who enjoy games is a very sad existence.
    (Please note that I'm not wishing to bash on developers or publishers here; they're mostly in it for either letting loose creativity or getting money out of their products, which is part of a very different discussion, though it may brush against this one at some points.)
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #118 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @brionfoulke91 I responded clearly and succinctly and feel no need to elaborate further. Furthermore, if you get defensive whenever someone criticizes things you like, perhaps you should reevaluate the why instead of insisting that those with a differing opinion are 'wrong', especially in an opinion column with a perfectly valid criticism.Edited August 2015 by Iliya-Moroumetz
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #119 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz You're the one who sounds defensive here. I'm just asking questions.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #120 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago

    True, and if anything has been clued into me from the last few years on this issue is that alot of people to varying degrees see themselves as arbiters of matters sexual, so even when developers did do what Jeremy rightly calls for, it would be shit-slung from all angles no matter how well it was made (this goes for other mature, complex ideas in video game design beyond sexuality, believe you me). It's almost not even worth it and the parade of slutty anime ingenues or real doll on real doll sex scenes remain the norm cuz why bother when a goodly-sized subset enjoy that and you're going to get shit on by vested extremists anyways?

    That first paragraph or two is a corollary of my first post. Starfish, Atlus, and Experience Inc are but a few who have faced that devil's bargain of art direction and tone reguarding their blobbers.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #121 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @Darji "If you do not like it just ignore it and let other people enjoy what you don't."

    That seems like it could be extended to this article. And yet, here you are discussing it. In truth, you enjoy the site (theoretically) and you see areas worth discussion and improvement. That's wonderful, as speech is good. This is true of everything. If you don't like it, having frank discussion surrounding the ideas and trends leading to your choices is an absolutely valid thing. If a developer makes a choice you dislike, don't buy and civilly let them know why you're not buying it; without that, you're not even on their radar.

    Statements like that tends to be like the idea of "creative freedom". Solid sentiments, but frequently used to shut down discussion someone dislikes. There are some who live that idea to the fullest, but I don't know many. Most people tend to discussion things they like and dislike.Edited August 2015 by MHWilliams
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  • Avatar for docexe #122 docexe 2 years ago
    @SatelliteOfLove Sex is and has always been a very complicated issue, the same with the social mores relating to it. So yes, I also think even if more developers took a different approach than only the pure titillation, people will still complain.

    That being said, I don’t particularly like that mentality of “people are going to complain anyways so why bother”. I think it reflects a level of… well, apathy that is unbecoming of people engaged in a creative medium.

    Because the simple fact of the matter is that as an artist or creator, you are NEVER going to please EVERYONE and trying do so might be the first path to hell.

    You have to put your work out there being aware that some people are not going to like and might even be very harsh with their displeasure (if not outright assholes about it), but you can’t do anything about it except learning to put up with the crap that will be fling you way, while filtering the good criticism that might help you to grow as a creative.Edited August 2015 by docexe
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  • Avatar for docexe #123 docexe 2 years ago
    @theresacatalano27 The thing (and this is something I think we are going to disagree on) is that I only would take issue if someone was directly demonizing me or making a blanket statement that demonized a group I belonged to. I don’t’ think that someone merely excoriating or passing harsh judgment over something that I happen to like should be taken immediately as an insult or attack towards me.

    Granted, not going to lie, I didn’t always think that way. Just a few years ago I would indeed become very defensive if someone happened to disparage something that I liked. But as I have become older and wiser, I have come to realize that doing that is, in many cases, only a reflection of my own insecurities. Not only that, I have also become more critical and self-aware, and more willing to admit that the things I like have flaws (sometimes very serious flaws), and I’m also more willing to examine those flaws.

    So nowadays, while I still retort to criticism and negative remarks that I disagree with (and may even do so with vehemence), I’m also more willing to hear the other person and their arguments, and depending on the issue and the work in question, I would probably even agree with some of their points if I think they have merit.

    In the case of ecchi and hentai material (and here I would like to also tag@Darji because this is the particular reply I wanted to direct in his/her way), I don’t think that consuming those works for the purpose of getting quick and cheap sexual gratification is inherently wrong by itself, because you are ultimately not harming anyone directly.

    But that being said, I also understand why some people label them as sexist, because they tend to engage in a certain form of sexual objectification: They present female bodies for the gratification of the spectator. Given that even nowadays women are still too often judged by their physical appearance and sexual availability (or lack of it), I honestly understand why some people are irked or put off by those materials given that they continue those social trends. I even agree that we need more material in gaming and many other media that doesn’t present female characters primarily as “eye candy”.

    The thing about sexism, racism and other prejudices and forms of discrimination is that they are not that black and white, where if something happens to be sexist or racist or whatever it is automatically “EVIL!” and the people who consume it are as well evil. It’s actually way more complicated than that, from the fact that everyone is prejudiced to some degree or the other (because we are all flawed human beings who discriminate and develop biases as a natural process of how our minds work), to a lot of systemic, societal and cultural beliefs and structures that have been established, enforced and/or passed down to us through centuries if not millennia.

    In that sense, while I wouldn’t put up with someone insulting me for consuming hentai or ecchi works, I’m fine with people criticizing them (even very harshly), at least to a certain degree. I’m not in favor of criticism that veers to the extreme of essentially asking for these works to be banned (because I’m also of the opinion that all creative works have a right to exist, no matter how off-putting or offensive), but I’m actually fine with some of them being labeled as sexist, because I understand where some of those criticisms are coming from.Edited August 2015 by docexe
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #124 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @docexe But that's not what's going on here. A lot of people are demonizing the people who like this stuff. Let's say you're a fan of Game of Thrones, and someone is trashing it. That's not a direct attack on you, that's just someone expressing their opinion. That's one thing, but this is a different situation. What you have here are people attacking other people directly, not just the games in question. Take a look at all the comments here and notice how many treat the people who like this stuff as human trash. That's demonizing other people, and you can't justify that.

    I also take a lot of umbridge with the idea that consuming pornography is inherently sexist. Sexual objectification is a term I really dislike because it's often used to demonize healthy sexual behavior. Everyone has sexual fantasies, that's healthy and normal. Media that caters to this is naturally going to present female bodies (or male) for the gratification of the spectator. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's not objectification. Calling it such is just demonizing sexual desire. And that is quite plainly anti-sex.

    It also doesn't make much sense to call that sexist. Let me ask you, is heterosexuality sexist? By definition, it is. But obviously it's not wrong to be a heterosexual, is it? By the same token, the only thing that makes pornography sexist is it's heterosexuality. So calling it sexist shows a profound misunderstanding of the term.

    Back in the 1970's and 1980's, we had the feminist sex wars, in which the second and third wave of feminism clashed over pornography. One group felt that pornography was oppressive, the other felt that it could be harnessed as a means of feminist sexual expression. Gradually out of this a new wave of sex positive feminism started to arise. This is where I belong, I feel like ultimately the way forward for us as a civilized race of human beings is to embrace our sexuality and not to be ashamed of it. Unfortunately, lately there's been a huge backslide as sex negative feminism has begun to have a resurgence. I find this to be truly saddening.

    Pornography is not evil, it is not harmful, it is just our culture trying to satisfy a basic human need. Not just for men but for both genders. Human need for sexuality is not something we should be ashamed of, it shouldn't be looked at as dirty. We really need to get past that idea as a culture.

    I'm not trying to force my ideas down your throat, but I hope you at least give some thought to what I said.
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  • @Iliya-Moroumetz I haven't really seriously looked at a Soul Calibur since the second game. Compared to DOA2/3 at the time, I thought it did the fanservice stuff fairly well at least in regard to presenting a variety of characters from both genders so you could just pick what you wanted to look like. There were characters like Sophitia that were more well dressed than Ivy, there were fantasy men like Kilik and Maxi alongside weirder designs like Voldo, Yoshimitsu, and Cervantes.

    I barely got to scratch the surface of SC3 before calling it quits, but my favorite women inthe franchise by the end were SC1 Seung Mina and SC3 Tira. The former was limited to some revealing upper thigh angles, while the latter was an underboob display. Looking at a wiki, I see Seung Mina's outfits have gotten highly impractical over the years, but again I can't speak to SC4/SC5 or if it's roster has the kind of variety the first one did.

    I think the more telling thing is that you mentioned that you're not a teenager anymore. You subtly indicate that you see this stuff appealing to that age segment, and I can only point out that there are always teenagers. If you were 32 in 1999 you might roll your eyes at games released at the time, too. A lot of what you're saying, and what Parish is talking about, is a lack of progressing tastes in the industry as their own tastes progress. You're basically growing up and insisting on taking the industry, or at least your favorite franchises, with you.

    "My puberty is over, and I am no longer a digital flesh fetishist; therefore it is time for all pubescent digital flesh fetishists to pack it in."Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for docexe #126 docexe 2 years ago
    @theresacatalano27 Well, I was talking specifically from my personal perspective. I do recognize that some of the comments here are very disparaging and demonizing. But ultimately I also think that everyone has different sexual mores for a multitude of reasons and I’m not particularly comfortable with the idea of telling them that they are wrong regarding those, or that they should just embrace forms of sexual content or sexual fantasy that they might find off-putting.

    Now, I’m only a layman when it comes to feminist theory, but I was aware of the divide that you mention about issues like pornography, how one camp of feminism is against it and another camp is in favor of it. The thing is that I have seen some arguments from both camps and I honestly can’t help it but agree with both to some degree, because ultimately both are making sense to me: How pornography can be sexually objectifying and/or sexist, yet at the same time, how engaging with it to satisfy what is indeed a basic human need doesn’t make you by default a bad person.

    I don’t know if I’m explaining myself or if I’m making much sense, but that’s why I think these issues can’t be examined or described in black and white terms where one side is inherently and fundamentally good and the other is inherently and fundamentally evil. I think these issues are way more complicated than that and have to be looked at with way more nuance.
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #127 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @docexe I understand where you're coming from. Let me just clarify one thing. I'm not saying everyone needs to embrace pornography; I'm saying we need to stop condemning it.
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #128 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @UnskippableCutscene Good job completely missing the point about Soul Calibur. I also forgot about Cassandra and Sophitia, whose outfits also got progressively worse the further the games got. I mean, compare Sophitia's outfit from Soul Blade and compare to what she's wearing in every game after that until four, which was her last appearance and you'll see my point.

    Yes, I'm not discounting the fact that there will always be teenagers. It's the idea that most games you come across appeal to these teenagers and despite the average age of the gamer is well past that, games are still being made with them in mind.

    I mean, I didn't have to do much research about Gears to War to know that it was not only going to be not for me, but that its story had all the depth of a kiddie pool with foul mouthed piles of meat, wearing half a car, trying to show 'maturity' with all the grace of a drunken elephant. And this is the standard that most video games follow. There's a reason why the 'homophobic epithet tossing 12 year old on xbox live' has such prevalence in the public consciousness.

    And I have to commend you on trying to spin it around so that the adult is wanting to take their ball and go home when it's usually the opposite whenever someone dares try to rock the boat. I mean, the hashtag that shall not be named is proof enough of that. And the subjects about race in games brought up by review of The Witcher 3 from Tauriq Moosa?

    Or, are you saying that it's impossible for games to grow up and that I should abandon the hobby altogether and leave it to the aforementioned who throw a fit whenever someone tosses some valid criticism about their toys? That's what it sounds like you're saying.Edited August 2015 by Iliya-Moroumetz
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  • @Iliya-Moroumetz I didn't spin anything around. People trying to play modern games in franchises from the childhood, finding they're "not as good", and wondering why isn't really a new thing.

    Look at the big retrospective of Final Fantasy on socksmakepeoplesexy: the author reaches FF12 and reaches one of two conclusions. One is that Square is just selfishly marketing the bejeezus out of FF for easy cash until it's brand association runs negative. The other is simply that the games, which matured from "HEROES, seek the ORB" to discussions of identity crises, capitalism vs environmental impact, etc at the same time the author matured, never reached "adulthood" with him.

    He concludes, "I kept growing, and Final Fanasy seemed to stay in place. It stopped maturing. Its growth plateaued, leaving it a perennial seventeen year-old. (...) Final Fantasy was a game designed for the under-eighteen sect from the very beginning. Why should that have to change now that its older fans gone and aged out of the target demographic? Whining about this would be like writing an angry letter to Hasbro suggesting that they'd better start making GI Joe figures that a man in his twenties can enjoy if they expect to keep my business."

    Let's make a film example: American Pie had a movie about all the characters, who were portrayed as high schoolers around the time I entered high school, now being adults with families. I have friends with wives and children, so in a way it's targeting people around my age who could identify with the characters in the original film. The franchise is aging with it's audience. However, someone is still making raunchy low-budget movies for teenagers, they're just called "Date Movie" and "Epic Movie 3" or whatever.

    Gaming isn't going to be like this. The actors are digital. Ash Ketchum would be engaged to some character by now if he grew up alongside his fans. And the gaming franchises that lured in the 16-25 set from 1995-2005 is going to continue to target the 16-25 set from 2015-2025.

    I just entered middle age last week, and while I admit I no longer have the interest in digital cartoon smut that I used to, I am not going to expect gaming's "American Pie" and "Clueless" to become gaming's "Birdman" and "Interstellar". It's going to be a different title that achieves that, not the one that appealed to teenage boys with big guns and explosions and people beating the crap out of each other. Those are just going to keep on being what they are.

    I'm not surprised at all that Minecraft is attractive to all kinds of people age 8-80. But even knowing the kind of money it's made, I don't know why people think Gears of War or Street Fighter would do the same.Edited 4 times. Last edited August 2015 by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for Darji #130 Darji 2 years ago
    @MHWilliams Because for various reasons and especially thanks to games media this topic was poisoned so much that you can not have these discussions anymore. I would totally agree that we need better writing and more diverse playable characters but the way people do it is just not right to me. Especially when we are talking about Japanese Niche games. Let us take this game for example. Almost no one will know about this game still it was used to call out the industry.

    It is like calling out Hollywood for some Amateur B or C class trash movie. These people do not do it because of the money they make but because they like this kind of stuff and are passionate. If you would take a look at these kind of developers they are Otakus themselves they act weird and its fine in my opinion.

    What I am saying if you are invested in these topics please think first and pick your fights that would help so much more. Also we need to embrace games and characters we want to see more of. Instead Media always try to shame developers or players who like these games.

    Why not write about characters you want to see more of? There are tons of fantastic female characters. Even in Japan.
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #131 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz The problem is your criticisms are NOT valid. All you are doing is throwing condemnation around for no good reason. Please stop it. If you don't like fan service, or immaturity, then don't play those games. But don't insult and condemn the people who enjoy them.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #132 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @Darji We're having those discussions right now. And like I said, we do both. You can absolutely talk about where developers are doing things right, in addition to where they are doing things wrong. Just like you are with USgamer right now. Discussion is the point.
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #133 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @UnskippableCutscene So, basically, according to the developer you quoted, Final Fantasy is virtually incapable of being able to evolve past the need to appeal to teenage boys and grow up. Remaining stagnant and static and never, ever attempt to go further. Considering my poor opinion of most games that have lasted this long, I don't think I'd lose too much sleep over it if they stopped making anymore.

    The point I will agree with you is that we need new series and franchises that can appeal to those who have grown weary of the nonsense that makes the majority of what game makers put out.

    Now, then. Where are they? Where are the large, mainstream games that are capable of showing nuance and subtlety on subjects that have no easy answers?

    I'm sorry, I couldn't find them, because the latest FPS/Moba/whathaveyou that regurgitates the same vomit that every big games uses because 'creative vision' of marketers who want a quick buck are the only thing you see and that remain front and center whenever videogames are brought up.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by Iliya-Moroumetz
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  • Avatar for Darji #134 Darji 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz Yes because that is their targeted market. That is what all JRPGs are going for. They do not want to go for a growing audience just to left teens out. Games like FF have no obligation to grow up with your taste or change because you do not like it anymore.

    JRPGS will always be targeted at teens because A that will ensure nostalgia for people and also gather new fans. Besides JRPG are especially in Japan mostly played by girls/women. FFXV is targeted through the cast totally at girls/women women. These 4 represent basically everything the japanese female audience wants. And I bet they will also have a homo erotic hot spring scene with these 4 just in small towels. Because that is what this audience loves.

    And you know what is even more funny? FFXV wants to tell a much more serious story and all the west does is shouting at them for having 4 males as party members which by the way is even a first in this series. According to them it is targeted towards boys which I already told you is ridiculous. Let me show you something. An Anime with basically the same kind of characters of FF. You can basically use a checklist to find these in the FF party

    Do we really have this? To me it is more one side is shouting at the other one while the other on is defending the stuff they love or want to see. And for more "argument" sake one sides is throwing words like sexist, problematic or even racist around like free candy. While the other and even more moderate side gets really annoyed by this. Meanwhile most developer and even publisher are being quite because they still do not know how to react without upsetting people. And this article goes even after developer which will basically never read their criticism.

    This is not some kind of discussion that will lead to something in my opinion.Edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #135 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago

    Wow, that is some grade A retorts, right there. Might want to punch it up a bit, next time.

    If you read the article, you would have noticed that neither Jeremy nor I said they had to leave the teenagers behind. It's just that the audience has grown up and it would be rather foolish to ignore an audience you still developed goodwill with, only to try and cater to fresh blood so you don't have to try anything new. That's money right there. Why do they not want money from an audience that has more disposable income than teenagers?

    I also find your claims about FFXV to be dubious with no proof to back it up. Also, if they were trying to make FFXV a more serious story, they would have realized that it's not just Japanese audience they would try to be catering to. And as a side note; Cidney, the mechanic's design kind of tosses anything serious out the window, because no mechanic worth their salt would be caught dead in that thing. By all means, take a picture of Cidney to a mechanic and ask any women mechanics there if they'd work in that, nevermind the safety and health hazards.

    So, trying to use one anime that uses the same tropes they no doubt have in FFXV only proves my point that FF remains an immature franchise, incapable of mature thought, breaking character archetypes, or discussion on subjects that can have real world implications? Not sure what you're trying to say here.

    Also, stop pretending that those critical of the 'things you love' are somehow out to take them away from you. Or are you really scared of a japanese video game where a female protagonist is covered in something practical and functional, has a deep and thoughtful character arc, and is in her 30s?

    You also don't speak for developers, so, stop trying to use the 'Let the developers make what they want' defense. It makes you look like you don't want any sort of criticism about it at all. Criticism is how things get better, especially from viewpoints from outside your experience.

    This is an article about criticism. This is an opinion article. This is about how games need to realize it has the potential to be so much more than just a past time for the same, limited mindset, but people like yourself have no problem vilifying anyone that speaks out against it, despite the fact there's a good chance I've been playing games longer than you've been alive.

    Hey, if you want games to stagnate and die, that's your problem. Just don't assume criticism of video games is somehow going to ruin it.Edited August 2015 by Iliya-Moroumetz
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #136 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @Darji Well, assuming I cop to the idea that there are sides, the other "side" tends to throw around "sex negative" and "prudish" as a way to shut down discussions. I'm not seeing moderation in that. There are certainly moderate people, that's why we're having a discussion at all.

    A couple of things, social and commercial commentary is always measured and reasoned, so the idea that developers and publishers are reticent to wade into the conversations isn't a new thing. I know, as I spend much of my time conducting interviews, for which the non-answers and half-answers are missing for you in the final product. That is nothing new and in fact, things have gone far in the opposite direction, with developers and publishers reaching out with more information on development all the time.

    On the contention that the developer may not even read this article, we are not aimed at developers. Again, we provide our honest opinions and thoughts and allow for further discussion, which again is happening right here. 143 comments worth of discussion actually. Some find their thoughts align with Jeremy, some against, some in-between, some don't care. That is the nature of people.

    I think part of the key to this discussion is seeing where people stand on certain concepts and terms, like sexism. The general concept is media portrayals can hold up and reinforce certain ideas about men, women, other races, or religions.

    I do have to ask, what is sexist to you? Can entertainment ever be sexist or racist without intent?

    I agree, there certainly is a problem with interpreting less clothing as an issue alone, or noting skinnier characters as "unrealistic" body types. But on the flip side, we have this insistence that there are no problems or issues to discuss. That there are no inherent biases to any work and if there are, they should not be pointed out. I disagree with that contention.

    Everything is taken within it's own context and within a larger context. I can enjoy something like Prison School (and I do), while also saying another work does certain content in a poor manner (stuff does). Tone, setting, and the place of a title within that larger context, these things matter. It's why I can watch and enjoy something like Prison School, while still wondering about the purpose of Rory Mercury's character design in GATE. "Because" isn't really an answer and discussing it doesn't change the creator's freedom to do as they please.

    (Sorry, since you second-tagged me, I didn't get a notification.)Edited August 2015 by MHWilliams
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  • @Iliya-Moroumetz You're misrepresenting other people's positions.

    Jeremy's complaint was that a game he wanted to play was made to pander to the people most likely to buy it. He even admitted as much. His problems are with games from Japan, made for the people who buy games in Japan. Final Fantasy XV is being made primarily for a Japanese audience because that's where XIII sold best (edging out NA in the first two, and dominating with 43% of sales for Lightning Returns.)

    Japan has been the pillar holding up the sales of games with dense storytelling and/or RPG mechanics. The west buys more video games than Japan does, but prefers a different style altogether: the action movie stand-in that you've complained of as immature boomfests.

    If you like dense storytelling and/or RPG mechanics in your games, you're probably playing Japanese games and those games are reflective of the Japanese game-buying market, and you're about as much of a minority as Japanese fans of Call of Duty. The same is true in reverse.

    You've talked about these older gamers, but what you haven't acknowledged is that they're a very fickle crowd. Nintendo catered to them through the previous generation, and they didn't adop the Wii U, and they had to reverse course. And Nintendo is just about the most well-positioned player in the industry to capture this audience: they've been out there trying unusual titles like Brain Age, they briefly invented a cottage industry in fitness "games" before realizing that people would prefer to manage their weight on their smartphones, and their games are the least appealing to fans of shooters, MOBAs, cheesecake RPGs, dating sims, etc.

    "Non-gamers", "everyday people", or whatever you want to call the market that's more varied and averages older than the traditional gamers of the past two decades, are a market nobody has been able to consistently crack at a high budget. Notch managed to capture them and become wealthy, but he kept his production costs very low, worked on his own, and so his business doesn't resemble the corporate development scene at all. Same is true of Scott Cawthon and Five Nights At Freddy's. He worked alone, his beta testers were his own sons, and despite it's plays at horror, the game has a wide range of fans and has sold a lot of copies on both Steam and the mobile app stores.

    It seems like, if you're aiming for them, you have to develop differently. You're competing not against Final Fantasy or Zelda or Battlefield, you're competing against Minecraft and Ellen Degeneres's "HeadsUp!" game. You have a small budget, a small workforce, and a solid mobile presence. You also hopefully get a little lucky recognition from Apple, because as the developer of Monument Valley showed upon releasing it's financials, iOS in particular is where all the money is, and you can't buy prominent placement on the App Store's front page.

    In the meanwhile, back in the world of dedicated gaming machines, despite your protestations people aren't threatened that a game would have a main character that is a well-dressed woman in her 30s. Numerous commentaries into the commercial failure of Sunset, here and elsewhere, produced very few people who thought the game failed because the character fit that profile. People thought it failed because she did very little of substance (cleaning a condo) and that was expressed in monotonous gameplay. People who were fans of Tale of Tales quirkier previous titles felt they mishandled this game. People noted that the developer seemed to be barely holding in a venomous disgust of their paying audience.

    And your statement that gaming will "stagnate and die" unless we see a surge of acceptance for this shock to the system makes your comments seem rather similar to Michael Samyn.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by UnskippableCutscene
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  • Avatar for yuberus #138 yuberus 2 years ago
    I gotta say that I agree with everything Jeremy laid out in this op-ed. Certainly there is a place for this kind of adolescent view of sexuality and women in games, but that being the norm for as long as it has is ridiculous.

    I mean, I don't play dungeon crawlers, but I love shootemups, and that is a genre that has been absolutely dominated by this whole "little girls and/or crassly sexualized style since the turn of the century. Even if the game itself is good, I find that uncomfortable and can't always just power through it. Hamfisting things in to appeal to that niche-within-a-niche really sucks for those of us who are just in that broader niche.

    You're definitely correct that games as a medium have a difficult time telling really good stories (when the game itself is trying to do so). That certainly seems to be starting to turn around, particularly in the indie space. So hey, if other media can hash this out and do a better job on sexuality, video games need to - and likely can - step up too.
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  • Avatar for Darji #139 Darji 2 years ago
    @MHWilliams See I halfway also agree with you but I kind of find it strange that people have to go for the very niche market. These priorities are just wrong to me. We should focus on the main stream. For example yes we should have discussions about female representation or people of color in Mainstream games. Just like we should have these discussions with Mainstream Movies. But no matter how much you criticize these kind of niche games they will not change. The only thing that will happen is that these games will stay Japan only because no one wants to deal with that kind of pressure and social media attention.

    Let us Take DOA Extreme 3 for example. A game totally targeted to boys and young men. And because of these backlashes we will probably not even get an Localized version anymore. This kind of stuff is not helping to get a truly diverse Market because developer and especially publisher get scared of bad PR from these extremists on twitter and other social media. Another example would have been Square Enix with Deus EX and Mechanical Apartheid which was heavily slandered by these people and that without any context or information how they will handle it. Luckily SE believes in their team and said no to censorship.

    To have an honest discussion people need to fight against everything and everyone they do not like. Especially when they never were interested in the game.

    Furthermore just like with Violence there is no real long term study that actually shows that MEdia in general enforces sexist, racist or violence behaviour Quite the opposite in fact. For example. A 3 year long year Study done in Germany has found no links between videogames and sexist attitudes.

    Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers? A Longitudinal Study on the Relationship Between Video Game Use and Sexist Attitudes

    And to your question. Yes I think media can be sexist intentional and unintentional. An example would be the latest Steve Harvey stunt.But right now everything a certain ideological group does not like is being called out as sexist which is just insane to me. For example how is it even acceptable that a old white straight man like Arthur Gies can call something misogynistic and sexist that so many even hardcore pro sexist feminist find empowering. How is that that he never was called out for his Bayonetta 2 Review? This is the kind of double standard I really do not like in this discussion. Do I find something not sexist as a male i will be framed as an MRA or misogynist by these people. Hey I even got banned from Polygon for saying that I do not find that Quiet in MGSV is sexist or misogynistic. I have never insulted anyone and still got banned for that...

    And yes I know that you are not responsible for this and I appreciate the openness here very much but this is the kind of atmosphere many sites are having right now and which makes it hard and painful to discuss these things on real meaningful level.

    I bet you have also heard about the Horizon Protagonist and how nervous Sony/Guerilla was before because of negative backlash because they could have done something wrong. This is not an environment in which developers want to try out things and experiment with new diverse characters.

    As for your question about Gate. Its pretty easy. He is an Otaku and these women need to pander to the Otaku culture and its not Otkau culture without a loli Gothic character who is like Rory which also includes her attitude. They are aware of their audience and carter to them.

    I want better storytelling and more diverse Characters so much since I am playing games today only for story and character reasons but I also do not want to compromise games or genre other people like because gaming should be indeed for everyone who enjoys it. Also I love cliche cheesy and corny dumb games as well and I would never want the JRPG genre to change either. The Industry should certainly big enough for everyone. And we are getting there even without slandering the games we do not like.

    They are doing this because they are made for teens. There is a reason why there are only teens as Main protagonist. I also do not complain because Sesame Street did not grow up with me. And here is the reason for your sexy mechanic. A trope that is very popular

    Furthermore I find your assumptions that these games die pretty laughable. Quite the opposite in Fact. It just does not fit with western culture. MEanwhile in Japan the amrket carters more and more to the men and women who actually spent tons of money which goes way beyond the game alone. These people spent a ton on figurines, and other merchandise be it men or women and this is how these companies make money from it. So yeah they do not die at all.

    And again... I do not mind criticizing games but criticizing niche games with small audience who do not even care what you want or not will not help at all. All that it will cause is anger and annoyance on both sides. Even more it will hinder games to be released in the west.

    So yeah if you want to better games a more diverse industry and better storytelling let them experience. Let them make errors. We have so many great male characters because publisher and developers are allowed to make mistakes. When they miss with a women no matter how small the error all hell breaks loose on social media and that is always bad PR.

    Here is something you should think about:


    edit: I am sorry for my probably bad engliish since it is not my native language but I hope my thoughts are clear^^Edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #140 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @Darji You typed out so much but all you said was, "I don't want my toys to be criticized because reasons."

    Why not try and condense what you want to say to a sentence or two. And be honest about it, while you're at it. I've heard these arguments so many times before that it's starting to become a blur. But the intent behind them is still the same; "stop trying to change my video games."
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #141 MHWilliams 2 years ago
    @Darji Once again, while one title may be the inciting incident for the article, the entire article focuses on a number of different titles.

    DOA Extreme 3 is likely staying Japan only because the publisher has not seen a large draw for the main game within the United States. Why go with a spin-off, if the main game's sales are simply at the cusp of solid sales? DOA 5 at best reached total shipment & sales of 1.5 million units worldwide. Tecmo Koei believes that that spin-off sales will come in below that. This is a company that release Deception IV and Ar Nosurge Plus in July. What's more likely, that they somehow changed their views on content in a month, or that sales aren't justifying a North American release? Hayashi even noted that the game could come West is demand is high enough, indicating that KT decided it would not be, probably based on sales of DOA5.

    Again, you attempt to say criticism and commentary will prevent certain games from being made, but in fact, that's not the case.

    Moving on to the long-term study, that longitudinal study wasn't about games specifically, wasn't about a certain subset of games, and was only based on three questions.

    Here's a look at that study at Gamasutra:

    Participants: 824 German respondents who were part of a large nationally representative telephone survey ran by the Social Foundations of Online Gaming project (SOFOGA). The respondents were first surveyed in 2011 with 4500 respondents, 2012 with 2199 respondents and finally on 2013 with 902 respondents. These numbers differ due to attrition effects typically for a longitudinal study (see Wikipedia). The relevant data for this study was used for Time 1 (2011) and Time 3 (2013).

    The study was part of a large nationally representative telephone survey, it also means the respondents were answering all sorts of questions. Some of the questions were related to other studies, such as Rachel Kowert and colleagues’ emotional sensitivity and friendship study (see blog post). Remember all questions were asked through the telephone, imagine how long each respondent had to listen and answer questions.

    Sociodemographics: age, sex, and highest education within the German education system.

    Videogame use: How often they play: every day, several times a week, several times a month or less often. How many hours per day, week or month they play on average. They also indicated how much they like each videogame genre on a 5-point scale, such as First-person shooters, action games, role-playing games, etc.

    Sexist attitudes: 3 items answered on a 5-point scale. The items are: “The man should be responsible for all major decisions made in a family”, “In a group of male and female members, a man should take on the leadership”, “Even if both partners work, the woman should be responsible for taking care of the household”. Very clear sexist statements, little room for ambiguity.

    The take home message is that the cultivation effects of sexist attitudes from a general use of videogames over a three year period from a German population has not resulted in any appreciable changes in sexist attitudes.

    The study conflicts with previous experimental studies on sexist content and sexist outcomes. These experiments used very obvious sexist videogames with specific outcomes related to sexism (Dill et al., 2008, blog post), the survey did not ask any specific examples of sexist videogames, just videogames in general nor did the survey assess for the full spectrum of sexist attitudes. The experiments assessed for short-term effects whereas the survey assessed for long-term effects. Nevertheless, the study assessed for the cultivation of sexist attitudes from videogames as posited by cultivation theory.

    The authors argued that factors, such as personal experience, peers and family would have a stronger effect on sexist attitude than video game content. Speaking of peers, IMO this can extend to peers in your videogame social network. Furthermore, cultivation theory cannot properly account for videogame effects because of videogames’ interactive nature that makes each play experience unique for each player. The authors remind you that while they failed to find support of cultivation effect of sexist beliefs from videogame exposure, they have not found a repudiation of these effects. They proposed instead to examine certain genres or individuals series (Dead or Alive for example) and specific aspects of sexism, instead of the three general items used in their telephone survey, something along the lines of gender roles, sexual harassment, etc.

    As the study itself notes:
    They also focused on very specific games and types of sexism, whereas the present study was longitudinal and looked at general beliefs about gender roles in society and overall use of video games.

    Even the authors argue that we need to dig down and see what the case is with specific titles. Which is to say, "Hey, let's try not to assume the gospel truth from a study when it doesn't say certain things and lacks direct correlation."

    Moving onto Gies' review of Bayonetta, do you honestly believe he was never called out for his review? Or more likely, despite the call outs, Polygon stood by their reviewer, in the same way you want a publisher to stand by a developer? I personally don't know about your ban from Polygon, though I noted there was a post that toe our lines here on USgamer. If I had to guess, your passion for the discussion got the better of you in that case and I wonder if perhaps you may have been banned elsewhere for that significant passion?

    On the Horizon protagonist, you're missing the point of Guerilla's comments. It's not that they were worried about getting the protagonist wrong, it's that they were worried about having a female protagonist in a certain manner would effect reception of the game. This is part of the issue, the idea that female protagonist seems to require a wholly sexual presentation in order to exist. Guerrilla's direct comments:

    "I was nervous to see the reaction from people."

    There was a third reason that Yoshida was nervous to see how people would react to the game: Horizon's protagonist is a young woman.

    "She's a female lead character," he said. "That has always been the vision by the team, but we had a discussion. Is it risky to do a female character?"

    In fact, once development was underway, so many questions were asked about the protagonist internally, that the company brought in a marketing team to do some focus testing.

    "The concern came after the game was in development," he said. "We started to show it to many more people internally and they had questions about it. So we worked with our marketing groups to do this focus testing.

    "We wanted to see how people would react to some of the things: open world RPG, the set up of machine versus primitive weapons and the female protagonist. All of those things."

    While the reaction was positive, Yoshida was still a bit nervous about the game's first broad unveiling.

    "The focus testing reaction was positive and that made us feel good, but you know it's a limited number of people that we were able to test."

    While developers may have once been concerned that a female lead character in a game might hurt its sales, that doesn't seem to be as much the case now.

    "Looking at our press conference and other's press conferences, many teams our doing it now," he said. "Like there is a new lead in Assassin's Creed, and Mirror's Edge is back. I feel great that there is more diversity in the kind of worlds and kind of characters that we are making as an industry."

    And, Yoshida said, he hopes that games with more female leads can help broaden the demographic of gamers.

    "As an industry, I think we should continue to make efforts to have more females in studios on the development side and to get different perspectives," he said. "Games have become more and more popular in terms of who plays, especially in terms of mobile. We have a chance to further increase the reach, from a PlayStation standpoint, to a bigger more diverse audience.

    "In order for us to do that, the games we create have to appeal to a broader audience."

    And when you see commentary like this, the you start to wonder about our portrayals of solid female characters overall.

    And that wasn't a question about Gate. That was a statement. I know why Rory Mercury is a vamping lolita goth, I just disagree that that does anything to enhance or improve the story. The assumption is about a single audience and I'd posit the addressable audience may in fact be bigger, but creators don't realize it. And before you say "creator know exactly this" the history of entertainment business in fact shows the opposite, most creators don't know about an addressable audience until sometime takes that risk.

    To me, the point is, do these characters/portrayals/design improve the product? Do they enhance the tone being conveyed? Do they enhance the story being told? In some case, sure. In others, that's not the case and the addition is there simply because of predisposition. In either case, criticism and feedback are worthwhile for understanding and place works in their specific context. Hence why more speech is better.

    And let's be honest, you and I know Winry wears a wide variety of outfits over the course of FullMetal Alchemist, all tailored to the specific situation she finds herself in. The outfit you offer up is a full overall suit, that she actually wears the overalls on because working on mechanical items requires that you don't have skin showing. That's little like Cidney, assuming the outfit show is the only outfit she has.

    Of course, FMA's world isn't FFXV's world, so... *shrug*Edited August 2015 by MHWilliams
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #142 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz Aren't you being hypocritical? You accuse him of not being honest, but what about you? Are you really being honest about the reasons behind your criticisms? Because they don't make any sense to me. You can criticize things all you want, but this is a public form and your own words aren't above criticism either.

    You seem to really want games to be a certain way... that's fine. But you can have what you want without taking away what other people like. Many kinds of games can co-exist. Even stuff like the game in this article (which I personally wouldn't play, it sounds tasteless, but I would never condemn anyone who wants to play it.)

    Calling what you're doing "criticism" seems disingenuous to me. What you're doing isn't critique, it's more like trying to impose your value system on other people. And you know what, that's not cool with me. Personally, I'm a very sex-positive person, I'm all for depictions of sex in the media of any kind, I think it's all good. I'm very against shame culture, I think it's unhealthy for us as a race. But you won't see me ripping a game for being too conservative or not having enough sex, and calling that "critique." Not every game needs to fit into my worldview. There's room for all kinds.

    And you know what? Not every game should fit your worldview either.
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #143 Iliya-Moroumetz 2 years ago
    @theresacatalano27 It's what I have been saying and if I did not make that clear that I want more games to grow up, as Jeremy specified, then I apologize.

    However, the problem is, the kinds of games that Jeremy and I have been calling for are few and far in between. Most games have to have women designed for maximum sex appeal when there's no need. (I.e. The Boss from MGS3) Most games can't or won't, try to show war as a negative and instead keep trying to show it as something exciting, ala Call of Duty and whatever Space Marine games you can name.. Most games have a thirteen year old's understanding of sex when there's far more nuance than that when it comes to intimacy within relationships. (The thing that even comes close is the To Kill a Mockingbird scene from the first Darkness game.)

    They just aren't there. That's the problem. The majority of development resources goes to the kinds of games that Jeremy takes issue with.

    As a side note, and a personal pet peeve of mine, is the game mechanics that show no respect for the time of those of us who have disposable income, but not all the time in the world to play them. There's no comfortable exit point, because a lot of games these days are specifically designed to make sure there is no exit point. Except when you quit out of frustration when you feel you're not making progress and feel cheated either way.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by Iliya-Moroumetz
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #144 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz "Most games have to have women designed for maximum sex appeal when there's no need."

    This is not unique to games... it's often true with other media. Leading actors are often incredibly attractive people. Sex is a very common element in TV, movies, advertising, everything. A common trait that we all share as human beings is that, in general, we like to look at attractive people, and we like sex.

    So to say "when there's no need" is a bad choice of words. It's not a matter of need, it's a matter of choice. The Boss is designed for sex appeal in MGS3 for the exact same reason that Scarlett Johansson plays Black Widow in The Avengers: to appeal to a basic human desire, to look at attractive people. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. In both cases, the sexiness of the character fits the tone of the work. And in fact, the sexuality of both The Boss and Black Widow doesn't really hinder them as characters, and they manage to be very memorable and well written anyway.

    So you say that there's very few games like you're calling for. Do you mean story focused games that address sex in a mature way? If that's what it is, can I just point out a few reasons why that would be rare? For one thing, there's a huge number of games that have little to no sexuality. There's also a huge number of games that primarily focus on gameplay, with no focus on story. So part of the reason why what you're looking for is rare is because of the nature of games being games. It's really hard to address something complicated like sexuality without having a huge focus on story, and minimal gameplay. And those types of "story games" have only started to gain popularity recently.

    Have you tried looking at visual novels? There are actually a few really good ones in terms of handling sexuality... Katawa Shoujo comes to mind. Have you played Catherine? It's a very rare example of a game that fuses a good story with excellent gameplay, and it's take on sexuality is far more interesting than the usual fare. Jeremy has spoken pretty highly of it, you should check out his review. Do these games fit what you're looking for, or is it something else?

    Well, I do understand why you might be frustrated, as what you seem to be asking for does seem rare. But I just want to emphasize, I really don't think it's because of the maturity level of games so much as it is just the nature of games as a medium. It's very hard to tell a mature, nuanced storyline without abandoning gameplay... Catherine is one of the only games I've seen that can juggle such a thing well. What you're calling for is incredibly specific. But give it time, there ARE games out there like that, and as story games are growing more and more popular, there is certain to be more.

    Anyway, you'll get a more positive response if you ask for what you want in a positive way. There is no need to attack games like Omega Labyrinth. Instead of attacking what you DON'T want, which only causes bad blood and doesn't actually gain you anything, I think you should just focus on asking for what you DO want. If there's not enough games of the type you're looking for, I agree that is a problem, and I'm more willing to support you if you address that problem in a positive way. Let's build up instead of tearing down.Edited August 2015 by theresacatalano27
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  • Avatar for Darji #145 Darji 2 years ago
    @MHWilliams Yes the title is focusing on other games as well which are all niche games. The only not so Niche game is Fire emblem which was censored because of American sensibility. I remember the whole Fire emblem is trans phobic outcry for example. And that is my point. Why go for Niche games which sell under 100k copies? I understand games like Tomb Raider even personally I do think the new one is sexist quite the opposite actually but it is worth a discussion.

    As for DOAE 3. They are thinking about an adjusted version if ever released in the West. Which already tells you how sensible America has become and how other countries also have to suffer from it.

    And no I was saying that games will still be made but not released in the West and that developer are afraid to use a more diverse Character because they can not make one mistake or they will be called sexist, misogynistic etc. Some developer of course do not care but publishers do not want bad PR. See the Coverbox of Far cry 4 which was changed because these people again accused the design of racism which was ridiculous.

    As for the study: Just like with violence most studies are short term studies the sexist one was in fact a long term one which lasted over 3 years. And in the German description which I only could read since the other was behind a paywall it clearly mentions Dead or Alive Extreme for example. And I agree it needs more research but so far there is no evidence at all that Media causes sexist, racist or violence attitudes. The last study about violence got even called out by over 200 Professors.

    As for Polygon: Yes Gies got called out by gamer but not by the press, not by the critics etc. And Publishers mostly do not stand by their developers when things go bad. See the Cover Change with Far cry 4 for example. As for my ban. I posted like 2 times on Polygon: None of it was an insult more something like. That this is ridiculous and the second one was about Quiet.

    As for the line: Can you please tell me which of my posts caused "trouble" I know I am very open especially towards sexuality and as I said before I am pretty direct but I am willing to learn. But without knowing what caused it its hard to do better. I even never received a warning on the polygon site. probably because i only posted 2 times there. .

    As for Horizon: Fair pint I am pretty sure I read something a bit different or maybe I interpreted the reception thing a bit more different since I have a very strong opinion about social media outcry and mob mentality in this industry. And for Gamefaqs. There will be always idiots but we never should generalize a group, subculture, race, gender, ideology on a small but sadly very loud vocal minority.

    For the last point: At least in my opinion not everything needs to make sense, Rory outfit does not make the anime less interesting to me while some people certainly find it either more interesting or less interesting depending on your taste. I am pretty sure there there was no thought behind it but rather they needed female Anime cliche Characters. But I am also someone who never judges people or character based on their outfit. And In Japan they also do not judge characters based on this. For example a series like Fairy Tail is very popular with the female audience. Even with all the male and female fan service. A Character like Erza does not lose her empowered position or character because she is highly sexualized. Same goes for Gray which is always running around shirt or pants less.

    And Yes I know Winry has a lot of outfits. I just used her as an example of this trope. And you are right Cidney also would have a lot more clothing still she was basically judged based on this outfit. Because it is unrealistic in a world full of monster, magic Robot soldiers etc.

    Same goes for Luna/Stella. We have seen one second clip of her sitting in a chair "waiting" for Noctis. And when I look at places like Neogaf for example it was called sexist because of reasons....

    Quiet got the same reaction from the press because they released 2 picture of her and told the people that she can not talk. Social media went all out called her a misogynistic wet dream because she can not scream..... All of this happens without context or more information about her character. In FFXV case it was the fact that it was an all male party (for the first time ever) and because of Cidney which is just a side character. On the other hand the women literally abusing her boyfriend and slapping him was just a joke and got really not attention at all from these people. Final Fantasy 15 gets so much shit because of it an all the press is doing is asking The team over and over again about this issues. And they tell over and over again the same reasoning. That is why I love these events SE is doing on live streams because then people can concentrate on the game itself.

    In the movie industry for example. I do not really see this much. I saw it with Harley Quinn in Suicide squad but also without any context behind it. Later on it was totally fine for most people.

    So in my opinion people should at least wait until the game is out, until we know about characters motivation story background etc and not based on their outfit. I often get told that it is sexist to judge a women by her appearance or outfit which I agree with by the way. Still with fictional characters it is different even when these female characters are designed by women. Best example Bayonetta.Edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for yuberus #146 yuberus 2 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by yuberus
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  • Avatar for yuberus #147 yuberus 2 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz here here! I agree wholeheartedly with your stance; there's room for more kinds of games and more kinds of women IN games than there are currently.

    And to Theresa, that's not unique to games but that doesn't necessarily make it all that great. It's easy to find all kinds of different male characters in games, movies, etc. from fat slobs like Rufus in Street Fighter, to pretty boys like Shulk in Xenoblade, to ripped guys, old guys, weird guys, etc. whereas women in games are pretty much exclusively "sexy." Part of that IS because they're trying to appeal to that teenage male audience, and part of it is a dearth of female characters in mass media as a general rule (Having one or two women in a case of say, a dozen in something). Given that there are all kinds of women in the world who look all kinds of different ways, the fact that the vast majority are designed pretty much to look generically attractive to straight guys is ridiculous.

    Yes, there's other types of games out there, but they definitely aren't as accessible to western audiences and aren't to everyone's cup of tea. If I want to play a modern arcade shooter I'd be hard pressed to find one that doesn't have some teen or preteen girl flying around shooting things. I am a market segment being ignored that the creators are likely to not even be thinking about without there being that criticism of their existing product (now whether or not they can read it is another thing).
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  • THIS ARTICLE AHHHH. Exactly. I have no problem with the sexy sex; my issue is just how fucking STUPID and ubiquitous and just under the surface it is throughout games. It is handled badly. People think feminists are anti-sex (and some are) but in my case that is so far from the truth that you have to actually turn around from that point to see me. I just get tired of sex in games being handled with the mindset of a thirteen year old child.
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  • Avatar for theresacatalano27 #149 theresacatalano27 2 years ago
    @yuberus I wouldn't say there are all different kind of male characters in Japanese games. There are certain types of male characters that are favored, particularly young and pretty looking boys. Ugly looking male characters are still a small minority, and usually reserved for bit parts and not for leading roles. This is very much like female characters, both in games and in movies, so it's not as big a disparity as you make it sound.

    Not all arcade shooters feature sexy girls prominently, in fact the vast majority of arcade style shooters have little to no sexuality. What about those shooters, they don't fit in your market? You say you're in a market segment being ignored, but what is that market exactly? Does Splatoon fit in your market? Mario? Life is Strange? I'm a little confused as to what your market is.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #150 yuberus 2 years ago
    @theresacatalano27 By arcade shooters I mean shmups, STGs, whatever you want to call them. In the past you mostly had abstract things - spaceships, fighter planes, etc. but in the 00s that definitely moved toward girls (or anthropomorphic girl fighters). Like Deathsmiles is good, Mushihimesama is good, Otomedius... exists, but those all feature girls - typically sexualized to some degree - as their "characters." And then you get into stuff like Muchi Muchi Pork, Pink Sweets, etc. the old spaceship shooters of Gradius and Zanac fell WAY to the side. And why? The developers decided they could make more scratch by appealing to the niche of shooter fans who are also otaku into that sort of thing. It's not my bag, and unless the game is REALLY good (as Deathsmiles and Mushi are) I'm just not interested in those games at all.

    Ugly males are a minority? Let me use something like KOF as an example: You've got pretty boys like Benimaru, Kyo, Iori, Yashiro, Ash, K' etc. you've got old men like Takuma and Chin. You've got weirdos like Chang, Choi, Hwa Jai. You've got buff guys like Seth, Clark, Maxima, Goro. fat guys like Raiden (and Chang again). Evil badass looking guys like Geese or Rugal. So yeah, there's diversity there. And the female characters? While there's a surprising amount of diversity in how sexualized they individually are, they're all still supposed to be cute or sexy and all between their teens and their early 30s. Which is my point - you get a lot more diversity in male character archetypes than female ones, even in fighting games - a genre where you typically have pretty sizable casts.
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  • Avatar for Darji #151 Darji 2 years ago
    @yuberus you get these because the reception in our society for media is like that. For example even women in general want to see less "ugly" people on TV or even in video games. And here lies the problem you need to change the reception in our society first than you can get these games.

    Video games are not there to create role models for our society, thy are no compass how the world should be. Media and especially Video games are entertainment.
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