Ackk Studios, the developer behind January's YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, have many references to outside work in its game, but one has been brought under scrutiny: a directly quoted passage from author Haruki Murakami. In a statement to USG, the dev says this was intended as homage, rather than what some have alleged as plagiarism, but it will be updating the game to reflect as much.
First surfacing on the subreddit for Two Best Friends Play, a series of screenshots show a character called the Proto Woman talking to YIIK's protagonist Alex. Below the screenshots are the same text she is speaking, from the novel After Dark by Haruki Murakami; they are the same, word-for-word, but the in-game dialogue contains no citation of Murakami or his work. This led to commenters in the subreddit claiming it was plagiarizing Murakami's writing.
In a response to USG, Ackk Studios provided its reasoning, which we've excerpted from here. "Within the game," the developer wrote, "the tributes served a narrative function."
The "Proto Woman" character speaking the words from the novel is part of a distorted reality being presented to Alex; they're not a character from the regular, grounded reality Alex believes he knows. A regular person would have been written to speak with the intention and knowledge that they were quoting a book. Instead, the role "Proto Woman" plays is more like a pseudo "narrator" of After Dark.
The idea is, Alex has read After Dark, and his fondness for the novel is seeping into his reality with vocal and physical manifestations calling his attention back to the passages of the book now living in his subconscious. In that context, we thought it would not be in-character for "Proto Woman" to cite that their words hail from Murakami's novel, since they don't have the awareness that their words are actually an excerpt from a book.
It goes on to state that "certainly the YIIK player might realize these are words from After Dark, but we thought it would be difficult for Alex to consciously realize in that moment that he was listening to a direct excerpt of the novel."
Ackk has been under public scrutiny in the past for other use of metatextual references, like a direct nod to a real-life missing persons case, but this is a different matter in terms of citing an author's work.
In response to Kotaku and confirmed through the game's publisher Ysbryd Games, Ackk has stated it will update YIIK's credits to add a works cited section "for people interested in seeing our influences and references. This will also clarify how these works contributed to the project."