Many of us understand the current climate in video games. From the blatant examples of violence against one gender or another to the exploitation of that violence to either make a buck off of the actual product or make a buck off of claims of victimhood due to that product this bitter war rages on. There doesn’t appear to be an end game from either side of the debate. In fact there is only one promise and that is this nasty battle will only continue and desperation will only increase.
Credit is needed where credit is due. No such figure started more of this argument than one Anita Sarkeesian. It doesn’t matter if anyone agrees with her or not. This whole gendered debate on video games and the representation of certain genders in those video games didn’t start at the levels we are witnessing until Ms. Sarkeesian came along. Her Youtube channel known as Feminist Frequency pulled in large amounts of viewers, she made television appearances on media outlets and even satire shows such as the Colbert Report. No one has profited more off of the criticism of video games in such a short amount of time and at the same token none has gained as much backlash from that criticism.
Ms. Sarkeesian as well as others such as Brianna Wu refer to themselves as bloggers, pop culture critics and any of the usual titles that would avoid direct contributions to video games. That doesn’t change the fact that many gamers find them to be “problematic” if one can pardon the pun. Whether it is the omission of facts or the rather obvious ploy to “sick” the keyboard warriors on critics of their material there is no shortage of ammunition for war on either side of the debate.
There is a problem. Those like Anita Sarkeesian are starting to lose in some areas but are gaining ground in other areas. Take this for example:
This is the infamous Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. This video game that was developed by Koei Tecmo is not going to see a Western release. Why? Please excuse the broken English. When asked about it on their facebook page this was the reply, “We do not bring DOAX3 to the west and won’t have any plan change in the future. Thank you for asking.” When pressed further on the issue, “Do you know many issues happening in video game industry with regard to how to treat female in video game industry? We do not want to talk those things here. But certainly we have gone through in last year or two to come to our decision. Thank you.”
Seems like an honest reply, right? Well there is more to the story. Apparently this was just one employee who posted this message but at the same time Koei Tecmo pretty much confirmed that the game would not receive a Western release. The biggest sales numbers for the game isn’t that great compared to other smash hit titles which this game certainly isn’t. At the same time why release the game in an area where the largest amount of your sales aren’t present? There has to be more to it than just not releasing the game for other reasons outside of the gender politics. That isn’t just causation looking towards a solution. No, it is clear that Japan and the West have clear differences in terms of sexuality, what is generally accepted in a video game and what is generally accepted in terms of cultural difference. Let us not sit here and be intellectually dishonest. If a company in Japan, given the differences between the idea of sexuality and exposure of body parts, won’t release a game in the West where the largest amount of sales are than that kind of has to spell out the problem.
Play Asia stepped in on the debate and gave their two cents. Play Asia is known to sell English versions of many games from the East to Western customers. Their statement caused a bit of a firestorm and was all the rage on social media and especially Youtube. They released quite the statement, “#DOAX3 will not be coming to the US due to #SJW nonsense. However, we will have the English Asia version available: http://par.bz/87f.” Now one will understand why this created the firestorm that it did. Play Asia was literally calling out the “SJW” or social justice warrior crowd. Many gamers have been outspoken critics of SJW and SJW tactics. So whether Play Asia had it right or wrong is irrelevant. They played their cards well and as a result the game will likely sell more copies than it would have. Many gamers are interpreting this as a way to fight back against games they are labeling as censored.
It doesn’t matter if someone believes Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is sexist or not. That is not an argument. However if a company such as Koei Tecmo who has a long history of not caring what content they release suddenly changes plans in a market where a product sells the most only someone who is intellectually bankrupt would try to suggest they didn’t release the product because it didn’t make enough money. If even the smallest of dollars can be generated most companies aren’t going to care about how small the profits are so long as there is a profit to be made. That tends to be a winning strategy.
Many who would be labeled as social justice warriors and especially those in the feminist crowd called this a marketing stunt. Those words would have some validity if those same people weren’t criticizing games like Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 to give the calls of it being censored more credibility. You cannot in one breath say that potatoes are horrible, spread the word about your opinion and get so many to believe you but then cry victim or say someone is pulling a marketing stunt when potato salesman point the finger at you. It is dishonest and quite frankly not worthy of an opinion that should even be considered.
Anita Sarkeesian said it herself, “we’re not going to take your games away.” Well she can say that all she wants to. If games are not going to be released or are changed in any way that reflects her opinion that tends to pose a problem to her and those who agree or think like her. Because it can come off as a little suspicious and dishonest when the same people who claim that the views of a gender can change based off of representation but then those same people want something to change and when it does claim they had nothing to do with it. This is classical, “I’m offended but don’t dare blame me for something I may have caused or influenced because even though it can kinda be my fault it isn’t my fault.” But then you have to be wondering, “how did they change games?” It isn’t like games that have long stood the test of time are being modified, right? Wrong.
Many of us gamers are aware of Street Fighter. This is one of the longest running video game franchises ever. Many of us are also aware of R. Mika and Cammy as characters. A lot of gamers adore those characters and for many of those video game enthusiasts it has little to do with breasts and rear ends. However Street Fighter 5 is still getting some changes. When Capcom changed the opening themes and promotional videos of R. Mika and Cammy outrage ensued.
There is a particular cut scene featuring R. Mika, a wrestler, slapping her butt. Some saw this as objectification. But remember many Japanese wrestlers, regardless of gender, perform this action. Also keep in mind that the same people criticizing this are pretending to be innocent bystanders when companies like Koei Tecmo refuse to release a product in the West due to criticism just like this. And whether Capcom wanted to admit it or not it is pretty clear as to why those changes were made. So far not many are denying that. Yet somehow we are supposed to believe that criticism of a game based off of how someone perceived a particular gender is represented isn’t one of the major reasons why some Japanese companies are wary of releasing games in the West.
This is just part one in a series of releases that will be done by Phalanx Blogs. To be clear video games are cool, fun and at minimum two-thirds of the population has played a video game or are gamers. That is quite a large crowd. This debate and this war has to see some sensible end game. Our games depend on it.