Cultural Differences In Game Design and what we can learn from them

“Gaming needs to grow and mature as an art form” is a phrase I hear often and I would have to agree to a extent and I have wondered if it is truly the games that needed to grow but after reading Polygon’s dreadful piece about how “Geralt having sex with one of the female leads (one of whom he is in a relationship with) was misogynistic along with how the game was apparently racist” I came to the conclusion that it is not the games themselves that needed to mature but the people and the mindset of said people.

I will explain what I mean in detail so it will hopefully make sense, the west seems to have a very rigid, shallow and almost unshakable view on certain things at least in my opinion anyway regarding what is and apparently what isn’t “morally” acceptable when it comes to creativity and the mediums we consume and enjoy and I believe it comes down to cultural differences between countries and how that effects creative morals when creating something.

I am most definitely not a expert on world cultures or anything but I know enough about one country to use as a good example of morals and creative boundaries and the effects that has on the creative process and that country is Japan, the home of ninjas, karaoke and more hentai than you could ever shake a stick at .

Now Japan does quite a few things differently than game developers in the west and have a completely different set of moral standards but I shall start with the easiest to explain first and that is Japan's policies on violence in it's media

Now Japan does quite a few things differently than game developers in the west and have a completely different set of moral standards but I shall start with the easiest to explain first and that is Japan’s policies on violence in it’s forms of media like video games and manga.

Japan is a country has a long history of violence and this is somewhat reflected in their games, for example what do you notice about the image above, that’s right there is not a single drop of blood to be seen anywhere in that image, do you want to know why that is, it’s because Japan censors extreme acts of violence and gore.

A youtuber who I subscribe to on YouTube named Gaijin Goomba does a thing called Game Exchange and in one video he was telling his audience about the time he bought the Japanese version of Resistance 2 to play with his girlfriend who is now his wife and he noticed that there was very little gore compared to the US version )which has extreme amounts of violence) and that is because Japan has this idea that video games unlike manga and anime are still a children’s only medium in most cases and remove things like decapitations and gore while in anime and manga that content stays.

Japan finds the west’s obsession with violence somewhat disturbing much like the West finds Japan’s  use of sex appeal disturbing and perverted, Japan’s creative morals are a complete polar opposite to the West mainly (the US and so on) and I find that incredibly intriguing for the following reasons, take a look at the video below….it is some fatalities and x ray moves from Mortal Kombat X.

There are thousands of videos like this showcasing and also praising the extreme amounts of violence the characters can commit all in shiny 1080p at 60 frames per second meanwhile the very same people and press praising this also call games like Senran Kagura (a third person beat em up) “disgusting”, “harmful” and “filth” because of it’s sexualised roster of heroines.

So I ask you the question what is more harmful ladies and gents, a game with busty ninja girls that has no blood or Mortal Kombat X where Ermac literally pulls out his opponent’s insides out through their mouth using his powers and has enough blood to fill swimming pools….while one is praised like no tomorrow by the West, the other was put down because of something as trivial as girls with big busts and to be honest I find the violence in MKX to be far more disturbing than a pair of boobs but moving on.

When you look at things from another point of view, it often paints things in a different light and sometimes this new perspective can offer more than it seems such as a new way of thinking or new ideas but speaking of Senran Kagura and busty ninjas why does the West glorify extreme acts of violence and cruelty but shun anything remotely sexual….once again it comes down to cultural differences much like the violence issue.

If video games are meant to grow than why was the Witcher 3 called "misogynistic" over Geralt having sex with one of the main female characters, one of whom Triss Merrigold is not only his companion and sidekick throughout all the games but also his main love interest as seen in this scene from the franchise's previous installment

If video games are meant to grow than why was the Witcher 3 called “misogynistic” over Geralt having sex with one of the main female characters, one of whom Triss Merrigold is not only his companion and sidekick throughout all the games but also his main love interest as seen in this scene from the franchise’s previous installment

One moment people say “we want games to tackle different and mature subjects” but places like Polygon complain about a guy in a video game being intimate with his love interest and this is one area that I think the West should take notes from Japan and learn from since Japan is less strict about sexual material and just sexuality in general, hell one of their major festivals celebrates it and at said festival, they drink, eat inappropriately shaped food, enjoy life and etc.

For a always serious and uptight country I find that small fact about Japan pretty damn amusing but moving on to the point I want to make, Japan’s morals are quite flexible when it comes to sexual content and things of a sexual nature and if you thought that was a sex joke than shame on you for having such a dirty mind but moving on.

Japan has a bad image in the west's eyes and looked at with disgust when comes to it's mediums and products like video games, manga and anime but here is the really interest part that most people overlook.....they do a far better job at creating products around difficult subjects like romance and mature themes than people realize

Japan has a bad reputation in the west’s eyes and is looked at with disgust when comes to it’s mediums and products like video games, manga and anime due to the content but here is a really interesting change of perspective for you….they do a far better job at creating products around subjects like romance and various mature themes than Western developers and people realize and I will explain now.

Sure some of their games have a abundance girls with bouncy cleavage and the West roll their eyes in contempt and think that there would be nothing of value here like what happened with Senran Kagura but here is where they they are wrong, can anyone tell me when was the last time you played a game that tackled mature and sometimes difficult themes like love, sex and relationships to name a few as a core premise other than Catherine…it’s ok I will wait a few minutes.

You see, the biggest game market in Japan is dating simulators and visual novels of both kinds (erotic and non erotic) and they tackle many diverse subjects that many developers wouldn’t even consider adding or in some cases wouldn’t dare adding in a western title.

There are no boundaries and no topic is off limits to a certain degree, subjects like romance, depression have free reign to exist in these novels, hell even subjects like rape, yes even a subject as chilling and disturbing as rape exists in this medium but that is in a entirely different genre and the niche market is extremely small.

Visual novels aside there are countless dating sims that the West could borrow ideas from because there is a tonne of potential there, yeah the avarage dating sim isn't complex by any means but if the genre it self was incorporated into western titles in some way then it could  yield potential

Visual novels aside there are countless dating sims that the West could borrow ideas from because there is a tonne of potential there, yeah the average dating sim isn’t complex by any means but if the genre was mixed and incorporated into western titles in some way then it could yield potential.

If I as a 20 year old guy can take a step back and look at things from different point of view then why can’t a entire industry do it, then again I spend my Saturdays watching Highschool DxD which has fan service and inappropriate jokes but I didn’t feel offended, hell at one point I even read a great manga about two girls in a relationship and yes you heard me right…I read a romance manga about lesbian school girls because it was one word off from what I was looking for but moving on to my point.

Now it’s not like I am not saying the west should start pumping out eroge (erotic visual novels) like Japan but be less uptight and while we are at it LESS judgmental after all growing up is in itself maturing mentally and experiencing new things with an OPEN mind and not a closed one….that is what I am trying to convey in general.

Geralt in the Witcher 3

How is a medium meant to grow when places like Polygon tear down games like the Witcher 3 over something petty like two characters who are I repeat IN A RELATIONSHIP having sex, do you see the point.

The best course of action is to be more open minded to things if people in general want more complex and meaningful experiences, no one should appoint themselves moral guardians and say you can’t do this or you shouldn’t do that which is once again on the gaming presses part since they can make or break a title

The point still stands since other mediums like comic books/graphic novels became more didn’t have this problem and covered alot of different subjects and even grim ones and we get great products with Watchmen and Kick Ass being two of many examples I state because they didn’t have this problem but comics are a much older medium than video games.

If we want the medium to truly move forward we have to be less narrow minded and afraid of certain things, mostly grim subjects and premises but you get the idea, if anything we should follow Japan’s example but do so in our own way and just be less rigid about certain things and that in my opinion is the greatest thing we can learn from this….accept that there are differences but also realize that difference can sometime be a good thing.

Anyway that’s it from me and I do apologize about the opinion heavy posts recently but I found the best way to write is to write what you feel and believe me I am writing this without any notes or talking points in front of me so I have actually surprised myself for once…..what do you think needs to happen for gaming as a medium to mature because I think it is the mindset of the people and not the products currently…..so if you enjoyed this post than, like, comment down below and share it around.

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6 responses to “Cultural Differences In Game Design and what we can learn from them

  1. Violence at a base level is rather universal, we all know how to see it and what it entails, the perverse nature of many Japanese games are largely focused on females and it creates a large rift, this is for straight men and homosexual women, it is something that is usually to be taken with tact, unlike violence which is pretty much always a gruesome and bloody endeavour in some way.

    • True but while there is a rift there it can be solved, I just put that there as a example of how open the culture is meanwhile the Witcher gets curb stomped because of sexual content….its rather stupid in a sense because it isn’t anything bad so that’s what I couldn’t understand >_>

      • It does come into the area of the inclusions for the purpose of story and the inclusions for the purpose of gameplay.

        Sex with your love interest might help the story but that not only is the exception in the current industry it might also do so in a way that needlessly shows too much. Do I need to see them walking around butt naked to help the story or gameplay? Probably not.

      • Probably not but there are worse things on prime time TV that usually get off scott free without outrage…..like Game of Thrones which pissed off alot of people this week for some reason, I have no idea what happened though

      • well Game Of Thrones gets called out by many people for shamelessly and stupidly chucking in the sex awfully compared to the films, one scene even having naked people doing SOMETHING that I can’t recall as an exposition is going on.

        It’s tacky and insulting to the viewers intelligence but it gets swept under a rug because of all the praise blinding people.

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