Following recent news of various Japanese games being altered for the western market or in the case of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, not receiving a western release at all, a number of gamers have begun the Twitter hashtag 1 Million Gamers Strong in the hope of convincing Japanese developers and publishers to reconsider their decisions.
There has been much speculation that these decisions by developers are to avoid negative editorials from western gaming press. However at this point it is only speculation as there has only been one statement made by a developer for DOAX3 on a Facebook post, and any other individual statements from other developers on different projects are coming from unverified anonymous sources.
The games that have been altered in question have been Xenoblade Chronicles X, Blade & Soul, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water and Street Fighter V and all have been altered due to the depiction of female characters.
Official company statements such as from Koei Tecmo appear to want to distance themselves from any speculation concerning their decision not to release in the West saying,
Capcom’s Yoshinori Ono gave more details than most as to why they have made changes, in their case, to censor R.Mika’s pre-match “butt slap“ taunt in an interview with website Jogos (Translated),
Regarding the discussion about feminism in videogames and the way the heroines are portrayed in them, “Street Fighter V“ has been criticized because of two characters seen as extremely sexualized √¢‚Ç¨‚Äú including the Brazilian Laura.
In an interview for UOL Jogos, the producer of the fighting game series Yoshinori Ono guaranteed that Capcom wants to erase that notion so that their game doesn’t disturb the female audience.
“Our objective with √¢‚Ç¨ÀúStreet Fighter V’ is to start over from zero“, explains Ono. “We want the professional players and the casual fans of the series to return, but we also want to reach those who have never even touched a fighting game. So we can’t have something in the game that makes people think, √¢‚Ç¨ÀúThis is not acceptable’“.
Originally, the fighter Rainbow Mika slapped her butt during one attack sequence, but the action was removed. That led some fans to question if some kind of √¢‚Ç¨Àúcensorship’ had occurred.
“We didn’t make any change because of external influences“, reassures Ono. “Those changes came up internally. We decided to remove that because we want the biggest possible number of people to play, and we don’t want to have something in the game that might make someone uncomfortable“.
The objective, according the producer, is to have characters that people like, and not put them off the game. “Probably we won’t be able to remove everything that could offend someone. But our goal is, at least, to reduce that number as much as possible so that they think √¢‚Ç¨ÀúOk, there is this issue here, but it is within the limits’. We want that everyone can play and enjoy without worrying about anything else“, he says.
It is a fact that Japanese games have been the subject of many negative opinion pieces from gaming press sites over the last few years as they have chosen to promote and champion alleged “Progressive“ ideals, agreeing with the Objectification Theory proposed by Feminist Frequency and other proponents of Third Wave Feminism.
The Dead or Alive franchise has been attacked by commentators in the media for quite some time. Street Fighter has been the subject of criticism by media outlet over the years as well mostly centered on Chun-Li and Cammy. R.Mika who is central to this recent controversy involving Street Fighter V was condemned following the character’s debut trailer. In a moment of hypocrisy however, the same outlets greatly appreciated a shirtless, bearded Ryu.
Although Japanese developers and publishers have not given details for their design decisions some gamers are convinced that it is due to Japan giving too much stock to a media that does not represent the majority of customers.
They have started a petition and have encouraged others to get word around using #1MillionGamersStrong hoping to get developers and publishers to revert changes made as there are more loyal customers than those swayed by the words of a few western press organisations.At the time of writing this, the petition has only around 2,300 signatures and the hashtag is at 7,200 Tweets although it has only been a day since it started. Whether the petition and hashtag gains any traction remains to be seen. The subject of censorship and self-censorship however is back as a significant talking point.