A lot of Gamers who own a console or a PC (old or new) can´t get the thoughts of Japanese games out of their heads. And one of the most famous examples of this would be the “Final Fantasy” series. However, it´s not the best of examples. And why is that? It´s because Square Enix has been specializing in the Western Gaming market for years. Therefore, it is also clear that “Final Fantasy” (in the West) has a large fan base. So, what about the lesser-known Japanese game titles then? You know, titles such as the “Star Ocean-series, Senran Kagura-series, Tales of-series, Grand Kingdom, Fairy Fencer-series, Atelier-series or the game “Nights of Azure”?
Sure, I bet that you might have heard some of these names, but do you know the stories behind these games? The problem is that many of these games don´t get the attention that they deserve due to their appearance. I´m of course talking about the games anime-style look and feel, but why is that? Because even magazines that write about politics acknowledge the huge draft and popularity of the anime-popculture. So one might ask him or herself, why that isn´t the case with games? Especially since some games are much more profound than most of the anime movies and TV-series on the market. Even so, the anime-like games are still being treated differently from its peers. And why is that? Well, my explanation to this phenomenon would be that it´s because it´s it´s a matter of “games”. And games are still being dismissed as “marginal phenomenon“.
However, it´s a totally different story on the Asian market. As in Asia, there are even games that have been turned into a national sport of sorts (like “Starcraft” in South Korea, for example). Nevertheless, games are still declared as a waste of time in the West, but why is that so?
You see, through the world of games, I have made many friends. Furthermore, I have also improved my English skills thanks to games, and now I have started to learn Japanese via video games as well (“Learn japanese to survive! Hiragana battle” is a good start for those who wants to learn Japanese). So why is it still that there is such a big difference in status between games in Asia and games in the West? Well, I can´t help to think of the past…Because at one-point movies weren´t taken all that seriously either, and the same could also be said about computers as well. As computers was once just considered to be “a waste of time”.
And in my opinion, the problem (even though that it´s a “pleasant” problem) would be the following: Our technology is now so advanced that game developers can create pretty much whatever they want in terms of game worlds. And that has led to a point where today´s society does not grow with the games, but the games grow by themselves. So in a way, the world of games has outgrown some of us (especially the older folks). And this circumstance makes it quite difficult for the older people in this area to get a grip of the advance game technology of today. Well, or at least to develop an understanding for why advanced games are so interesting to us. And now I bet that you wonder what this matter has to do with Japanese games?
Well, Since Japan (as an example) has a completely different relationship to the world of games than the West has (I had Central Europe in mind when I wrote this OP piece, since I´m from Germany myself) the structure is also distinctive. Games are more permissive and allow developers to let his or her imagination run wild. So, is creative and artistic freedom sexist as per say? You know, if women have big breasts, wearing tight clothes and have a high voice? Not necessarily, I think.
And in Japan neither game developers, publishers nor Gamers seems to bother all that much about the “sexism” tantrums that are being thrown around in the West as of lately. And the Japanese gaming market is booming and is getting bigger (it took a while for the Japanese market to get back on its feet again, but times are now finally starting to get better). Furthermore, Japanese females are enjoying games such “Senran Kagura Estival Versus” just as much as their male counterparts do and I know quite a lot of people who enjoy games of this kind. And they don´t get bothered (or offend) with sexy characters or lewd content. So to me, it´s clear that Japanese games of this kind are rare to obtain in Europe (especially if you want the game to be uncensored), and even if the game (s) in question does indeed get a release in the West. Then game (s) is most likely going to end up in being censored, in one way or another (aka “localization slaughter”).
In short, the game (s) is reduced in its appearance to “fit” the Western market. And on a personal-level, I find this to be very sad and unfortunate. Because games of this kind (lewd games which contain a lot of fan service content) often offer much more than what one might think in terms of story, depth, character development and gameplay mechanics (not to mention that the Japanese version of the very same game is often “uncensored” on release in Japan).
However, once games of this “kind” take on society head-on. The result tends to end up the same way that it has done in the past in the West. And that would include; laughter, finger-pointing and Otaku labeling. In other words, neither you (the player) nor the game (s) in question are being taken seriously at all. And that makes one wonder why one should bother to buy these games in the West? Especially since it seems like it´s very hard for the Western society to accept fan-service like games and its players. Well, in the beginning it was manga magazines that were hidden, then it was anime. And now it seems to be Japanese games for PC and console.
And quite frankly, I don´t think this kind of behavior can continue for much longer. As it just stands to reason that each and everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences in games, movies, books or whatnot. So I stand by my preferences and tastes. And yes, I´m more than aware that I “might” be grinned at by people who have read this article, as they “might” recognize me when I´m leaving the world of games for the real outside world (even though the chances are very slim that someone will recognize me). Nevertheless, I don´t care.
You see. I am 24 years-old geek/gamer/lewd fan, who are wearing a beard pride. So what? Stop judging me and chasing after my hobbies and interest in life (Kotaku, Polygon and the main-stream media come to mind). I would also much rather have people looking into why people like the hobbies that I do, then just writing me (and others) of completely and closing that door forever. And surprisingly enough, those who have actually given my hobbies a try (people who I know) is now enjoying the same games as I do. Furthermore, they also understand why I enjoy games such as “Senran Kagura Estival Versus” and other games of the identical nature.
Even so, every now and then, there are still those who are shaking their head (s) at games such as this. Well, at least they gave my game (s) a fair chance. And that´s what counts! And eventually (over time) even Japanese games (especially the lewd ones) will be more accepted in the West. As the youth of today has found a huge liking to the medium in the West. So who knows? One day, we might actually get to experience a normalization of Japanese games in the West? (minus the censorship and poorly done localizations) You know. The day when big companies such as EA and Activision might publish games such as “Senran Kagura”, “Gal*Gun” and “Criminal Girls 2”?
Well, time will tell I guess…At least we got Play-Asia and PQube to thank for some of the Japanese games which they have brought over to the West. And with that said, what´s your take on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
Robin Ek – Editor and Co-writer
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
The Gaming Ground
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