Saturday, 30 January 2016

Blaster Rants: Localization vs Censorship

THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING! THEY DO NOT MEAN THE SAME THING! I could end this post right there, but even then I know people will still keep interchanging the two, so let me explain why.

Right now, the current punching bag for this is Fire Emblem Fates, all three versions of the game (that part is something I want to save for if I review it or not), specifically, how parts of games are being changed in localization for a western audience. I will say that Fates isn't the only game I'm using for this example, I have a few more, but for now, let's start with the recent one, the petting mini game. Now I don't mind a petting mini game in games, I've played one in Nintendogs, in Pokemon Generation 6, and it's something common in anything that has some form of pet, so I don't see a problem in those examples. Petting an anime girl? That's creepy, and many in the west see it as disgusting and objectifying. Me? A cheep stunt as I hadn't herd of it before, and from what I've sen, it does absolutely nothing. I should say, all I've been able to find is articles saying "Why it should be removed" or "Why it should stay", which is why my knowledge of it is limited. I'm not here to come on a side, what I will say though is "If it has no purpose, why is it there in the first place?". Now as for the point I'm going to make, the reason why it's being removed is, in simplest terms, gender roles between the two demographics. The views of gender differ between Japan and the western world, in japan, something like that is seen as appropriate, normal (to an extent). In the west however, views on gender are very different, and are changing every day, even to the point where many can't agree on gender portrayal, most of it thanks to the portrayal of the genders over history. In a perfect world, this wouldn't be a factor, however we don't live in a perfect world, we live in a scrap world, where objectification of women in anyway is going to have negative repercussions. Now again, to state my personal view on the matter, if you can provide an in story valid explanation for a character looking the way they are, then I don't have an issue with it, as it is there to serve the story. This from what I've seen, is not serving the story, its a way of cashing in on the Japan Pop Idol culture, something that isn't a thing in the western world. So why would they keep it if

  1. There's no reason cuturally to keep it in thanks to a lack of Pop idol culture.
  2. There's no reason in terms of sales to keep it in because the moment obnoxiously loud people find out about it, your PR manager is going to be in tears because of all the abuse it would have gotten.
On that second point, let's bring out another game that isn't being sold in the west for that reason, Dead or Alive: Xtreme 3, I told you I'd be using a few examples. This one is a game not being sold in the west for a few reasons, but one that got the most attention was because they're afraid of the social backlash. What's the more realistic reason? The games probably haven't sold well here, as it is a very niche game made primarily for Japanese audiences because again, that's more acceptable there then it is here. The reason they gave, to put it in internet understanding terms, "they were afraid of Social Justice Warriors". I could probably go into a whole other rant on my views of that culture, but suffice to say, the one's I see get the most attention, don't deserve the attention as it comes off as more "doing this for personal gain". Most people, myself included, do see eye to eye with them on several points, however the culture has become so toxic, so overbearing that people stay away, see them as trolls, people just there to abuse people in the name of social justice. That community almost went to war with the companies involved by that statement, meanwhile all I could see was people who had no interest in getting the game or even caring about the game slamming it because of the game having girls in bikini's. My stance on that? "Wasn't going to get the game anyway, don't care, why bother getting angry about something like that?". Please note though its the same kind of people who got Target and K-Mart Australia to stop selling Grand Theft Auto 5, and in all the cases above, people called it censorship.

NONE OF THOSE ARE CENSORSHIP!!! And trust me, I can say that with a level of certainty as I live in a country THAT DOES CENSOR GAMES, its why I've been limiting my examples to games. Up until January 2013, three years ago, Australia didn't have an R18+ rating for games. For comparison, that means we didn't have an M or AO rating in comparison to the ESRB and a PEGI 18 for European readers. The most we had was MA15+, which as a base comparison would be about PEGI 12, maybe PEGI 16, and T by the ESRB. Anything higher was either censored, or not released here at all. Even games released after January 2013 were censored like Saint's Row 4 (which I think might be looking too deep but it was a simple change, changing drugs to caffeine) and South Park the Stick of Truth, yes there really are crying koala's. For more, and this yes I use Wikipedia, but I cross reference. Censorship is a government body saying "Either change this, or you cannot sell it here, at all"
  • IT IS NOT a company changing aspects to help the product do better in other countries, which happens both ways, the only reason you don't hear it as much going from a western to eastern release is because the US can't stand not being the center of attention (that was a joke).
  • IT IS NOT a company not selling a product in a country by their choice.
  • IT IS NOT a store refusing to carry a specific product because some people signed a petition.
Before I close, there is actually a difference between censoring and censorship. I told you what censorship is, censoring is changing something by one's own accord in order to, basically protect themselves from people who are offended. For example, I do things like "f#!@%(%" that, that's me censoring myself, in order to not have to deal with parents sending me angry messages about how little Jimmy learned about words like that from my site. The bleep censor is another case of that. Nothing is stopping me from not using those, I choose to use those as the majority of my reviews are on child friendly things, and if something is for a more mature audience, I use more "mature" language as I'm assuming that little Jimmy wouldn't be reading my first impressions of the red band trailer for Deadpool, for example. I will always try to make the use of "mature" language obvious before it's used, to cover myself. Again, this ISN'T censorship, no one is making me do it, and right now, no one cares, people have actually been telling me not to do it. I do it of my own accord, its not being afraid of something, its saving me from a headache.

If you're going to call foul on censorship, MAKE SURE IT'S ACTUAL CENSORSHIP!!! Localization and censoring one's self is NOT CENSORSHIP. See you all on Wednesday, as I need to calm down after this.

Post release edit: the feature from Fire Emblem fates was not limited to female characters. I was unaware of this at the time of release as I have not been paying attention to spoilers, and the only information I could get was focused more on the objectifying women side of it. I am aware of this now.

Also, I am aware of times when localization and censorship are intertwined, and I should have brought that up. The reason I didn't was because I didn't have any solid examples that blured the two, instead of just either one or the other.

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