I have plenty to contribute (productively, I hope) to the conversation, I've been keeping my thoughts somewhat on the DownLow on the subject of ecci games while I finish Neptunia. Don't want to be called out as a person who talks without some knowledge of what they speak.
For what it's worth, I see both Pete and Parish's point.
Speaking of Neptunia for a second (since that's currently what I have experience with) While running around collecting game traits like "Stealth" and "First-Person-Shooter" I've also collected more diverse traits like "Old Man" and "True Story, Bro" - and (I feel this is relevant) I have also collected a trait called 'kinda pervy'.
If I were making Neptunia as a game INSIDE Neptunia's game making system (surprising really that you CANNOT do this) I think it would be built as something like: Burnin' Moe, RPG, Kinda Pervy.
The "Kinda" is important, at least in Neptunia's case. Pete is right in saying that there is an injustice being done anytime a person just glances at a box or listens to a show out of one ear and outright dismisses it. There's plenty to like in Nep Nep land as I have come to understand.
But, and let's be clear here: Nep is not "zero pervy". It's "KINDA" pervy. I'm not saying outright that this is bad either, there's a place for games which are Kinda Pervy, sure. This is what an ecchi game is. But as far as the perversion line goes it's something like...
Zero (pervy) ---- kinda pervy --> (nep is here, halfway between kinda and overtly) ----> "in your face" pervy ---> offensively pervy ---> ponographic ---> offensively / problematically.
What Parish is saying (and which I believe is valid) is that a game in which the premise is to inflate boobs until... whatever... Powerups happen, I guess... and then the woman rubs an item between her tits to identify it... well... that falls, shall we say, farther to the right. If you surveyed a swath of people in our culture and took a poll, you'd probably find the median response to that somewhere between offensive and problematic. A similar survey f people who were already familiar with ecchi games wouldn't find this, sure, but it's not weird that Joe / Jane Q public would. I did a quick survey of my friends last night (since we were hanging out in one place) and all people surveyed found the boob inflating game to be in bad taste. Let's be clear - we're we're talking about 'core' gamers here, both men and women.
I think I will sidestep the J-game discussion for a moment here and go to a different subject that is potentially less emotionally charged in this group: Gangsta Rap. I am a guy who enjoys listening to groups like NWA, Dr. Dre. I like ICP and hororcore. I know a lot about these genres. I believe these genres have lots of good traits and good things to offer on a cultural, musical and intellectual level.
THAT SAID, I have had a lot of trouble over the years explaining my affection for Gangsta to people who are predisposed to hate it. Lynette is not keen to go and see Straight Oughta Compton with me (though she will go with me because it is my jam). I had to stop playing it in the office all the time back when I used to work as a tour guide because it freaked out and upset some of the people who were working alongside me.
The reason for this is pretty easy to understand. When you have songs that begin with lines like "bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks / lick on these nuts and suck the dick" you're going to get people who are going to be offended. I flailed around for a while trying to dodge the issue, doing the whole "you're not giving it a chance!" thing, and I was in truth able to make plenty of headway and convert some nice blonde girls in Lambton Country over to enjoying some aspects of Ice Cube and friends. But I was never able to get to the point where people believed that gangsta rap WASN'T misogynistic, or that it DIDN'T degrade and objectify women a lot of the time, or advocate killing white people or glamorizing crime -- you know why? Because it is. And it does all those things.
Gangsta rap is intellectually challenging, sure. Got a good beat, you can dance to it. Laugh at it. Got lots to say. But to advocate for it you also have to accept that you are advocating a piece of art which - let's be clear - is pretty plainly often offensive to other people. Deliberately so. On grounds that can be legitimately pointed at and challenged. Not by wild eyed screaming crazy people, but by normal ordinary people with ordinary sensibilities.
Pete, I would recommend that you watch the video that Daniel mentioned
a while ago about racism and brushing your teeth. It's a good one, and helps to get to the crux of the argument. It's the same point made in the Angry Jack videos
I didn't send around last time. Broadly put, if you are on the defensive in the Gangsta Rap debate resist the urge to react in very black-and white knee jerk binary terms when confronted with critiques of the problematic aspects that needs discussing. It is not an all or nothing game.
The example the guy in the video uses is racism, but it's the same thing here. Racism, and I suppose problematic content of any kind should be thought of more like a sliding scale (they use the term "hygiene" in the video). I'll use the white guy example here, since I'm a white guy.
I say: (Something well meaning, but unintentionally racist to the guy I'm talking to)
Person says: "Hey, that comment was kinda offensive"
I say: "WFT I'M NOT A RACIST!!!!!!"
In the example above, dude isn't calling me a racist, he's saying that in this one instance ***the comment*** was racist. White guy me then escalates that into absurd godwin-like position by saying JESUS CHRIST MAN, YOU CALLIN' ME RACIST? Which he wasn't. Comment!= Person. An element can be somewhat offensive in certain aspects in the same way your teeth can be somewhat dirty. It doesn't mean your teeth need to come out. It means you should probably brushg the spinach out from between the front two.
If we can't talk about these things, frankly then.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I'm going to say it again: You can like a media product while criticizing certain aspects of it. Dr. Dre may be both politically fascinating AND incredibly misogynistic and Senran Kagura may have good, well developed characters AND be offensively objectifying to some people. The goodness of aspect A doesn't absolve or shield aspect B from being discussed seperately on its own. You can totally have a thing which is awesome in aspect A, B and C and problematic in D and E and be fine with discussing them.
I'm not going to get into an argument if the terms of engagement involve me saying "Hey, these elements of game A are problematic" and the person on the defensive says "YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID BECAUSE ELEMENTS C D AND E ARE REALLY GOOD!!!" because *of course* there are good qualities to most games. Nobody is saying the battle system is crap nor that the characters are treated without nuance or that, whatever the hell blanket statement you want to make. "Merry Muthafuckin' Christmas" by Eazy E is both hilarious and DEEPLY OFFENSIVE to many people on very legitimate grounds. I can talk about the comedy of the song while acknowledging the parts that are going to upset people. I don't have to resort to saying I'M NOT A CRIMINAL, I WOULD NEVER HIT ANYBODY, because of course I wouldn't. The fact that ICP raps about eating dead bodies and fucking beehives doesn't mean that I am a cannibal or a... beehive fucker... for listening to them. But I can't just handwave it either if someone confronts me on it.
I agree with your points about the validity of ecchi games Pete. I also believe in the goodness and general decency of the majority of the individuals who enjoy playing them.I'm not calling enthusiasts of ecchi pedophiles or a bad person - but you have to meet me halfway on this. When I read your blog, what I'm not seeing is you attempting to meet people like Parish halfway on the argument. To acknowledge that a girl rubbing an item in between her tits **might be seen** as offensive and objectifying to a lot of people, regardless of the other admirable qualities of the material -- just the same way as normal "not-crazy" people react strongly against Ice Cube talking about beating someone's head in with a brick in Natural Born Killaz.
Are people too easily offended in today's day and age? Too closed minded to new things? Different argument. Perhaps. Not what I'm saying.
If you're going to sit there and seriously argue that critique ought not to be brought against a game in which a *central mechanic* involves inflating women's boobs... or to insist that people are being hostile/unreasonable by looking at that kind of thing and finding it offensive and offputting, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. How to we have this conversation? That's like me saying to a woman who hears NWA and says "I don't like the part where Dr. Dre fucks and then beats up the hos" "oh come on lady, stop being so sensitive, it's just how Gangsta is"... That's just side-stepping the issue without addressing it - refusing to acknowledge that there's a legitimate criticism here. And as long as your audience feels like you're just blanket-dismissing their feelings by saying "you just don't GET IT, man" well... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ can you really be surprised that they don't seem to want to listen to your side of the story?
Speaking frankly, I am in exactly the same position as Parish. Excited about a new tactical JRPG, sounded like something I'd want to play. Then.... this shit again. It's the Crying Game. Movie is rolling, I'm enjoying myself. BAM the dick flops out, I roll my eyes, excitement meter deflating exponentially. Not what I signed on for. I'm out. Maybe strong praise can bring my interest back. Probably not. Same fucking thing as Dungeon Travelers or whatever.
Again, let me restate that I'm not saying that there is no place for cheerfully perverted, Oglaf-like ecchi games, but when (it seems) just about EVERY damn game in this style now includes 100% more Otaku Etch it seems like... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. How is that different from every game last gen being brown and featuring a bald space marine. What if I don't want to play a bald space marine? Tough, bald space marines is what's happening. Well (says Joe Gamer) fuck this entire genre then. I guess I could go play Tales or something? Wait for Fire Emblem? It's OK to like Gangsta rap, it's OK NOT to like Gangsta rap. But when everything seems like Gangsta Rap? Well, it's hard to broaden your audience.
Likewise, what Parish said - the scenario where everybody is constantly winking at the camera and pretending that nothing weird is going on here on the sexual front in terms of Adult Content? Fucking stupid. Don't show me perv out of one eye and then go "lalala move along ESRB, nothing to see here!" With the overtly "R-rated game" I think you are on much firmer ground. Give me titles that stick tits and fucking directly into my face point blank. Don't give me a game where you stretch microfine membrane over someone's pudendum and then try to act like it's deserving of a PG rating because... what? You can't see anything! Technically? Give me a fucking break. I respect Tupac much more when he comes out and discusses rapping about Cop Killing frankly then when he tries to dance around the issue, giving me some "hey, it's all just entertainment" bullshit.
Should there be sexual games? Games that feature sexuality prominently? Dominantly? Hell yes, because sexuality is kind of important to the human condition. Should there be pervy games? Sure, why not.
I like the Witcher because (as Bowley said) it is a world where people plough and are ploughed. Overtly. Unapologeticly. Maybe it's the censor codes in Japan that are responsible for it all? I don't know. Hayes code style rules that say you can put a 14 year old on the box as long as you don't specifically show her inner labia? (Thongs are 100% OK though!) I feel like it's laughable to say any of this treats "sexuality" in anything resembling a "mature" way, and I agree with Parish on this point. Pinup. cheesecake, grindhouse -- you can call it any of those things, but you can't call it mature sensitive portrayal. It's like saying Game of Thrones has "strong female characters" that it "treats with respect" BUT ALSO **surprise** the show markets them as eye candy who get naked half the time they're on screen. Have cake, eat cake too.
Again, I am not saying that Ecchi is WRONG, nor people who like it are morally deficient in some way. Not wrong -- but I'm not surprised that someone would choose to use the word "immature". Boob inflating? Jigglebounce. Hilarious perhaps, but in a sophomoric, Natonal Lampoon way . Three Stooges stuff.
This is not to say that Japan doesn't have a genuine gift for flip flopping back and forth between immaturity and legitimate profundity often in the same breath - in the same EPISODE which is the maddening aspect of trying to advocate anything from Japan to mundanes half the time. We are AT THIS VERY MOMENT watching a fucking amazing anime (Shokugeki no Soma) at home which is all about Cooking. It's basically a shonen manga battle show series that takes place in an Iron Chef style cooking school where people have ridiculous, overwrought, over-the-top Kitchen Stadium battles. In these battles, the food produced is SO GOOD that whenever anybody eats it, they instantly cut away to a PG-13 Foodgasm scene comeplete with cut-away shots of people's clothes blasting off in all directions in their minds and obvious, senran-kagura levels of boob-jiggling fanservice as they roll around naked and blissed out after eating a tempura shrimp or whatever. It's fucking hilarious. It is to cooking shows what Phoenix Wright is to law. In this case, it works. Sex is food and food is sex, same way Fighting Games are about sex. I am prepared to make that argument in public. Here I am, watching a somewhat pervy show X. I will defend it, but if you want to critique it, you have a case.
I think it is 100% understandable that a person would use the words "skeevy" or "creepy" to describe the game Parish is describing. You might not agree with it -- and those words may be polemic -- but again, he's not calling YOU a creep, he is talking about game elements in language that Joe Non-Ecchi Fan would probably use. It's the Angry Jack trap. If someone calls Dr. Dre's lyrics violent and misogynistic did they just call me a violent misogynist? No.
Did he call you a pedophile? A creep? Directly? Really? Or did you hear those words and immediately jump to the racist toothpaste conclusion. "I AM NOT A CREEP!". OK, chill. Nobody's saying you are. But the reason that a person would think that -- would instantly snap to that -- is the same reason that a person who heard NWA would instantly snap to thinking that a person listening to music like this must be a violent, police-hating racist. It's not that crazy, it's not unexpected.
Most media that originates from an artistic impulse and not, say, by corporate glorps in a boardroom is probably messy in some way - bound to offend or at least provoke somebody, somewhere. That's the point of making art.
What we are discussing is where the line of "OKness" falls (and why). This is the natural part of discussing polarizing media, no different than stating my Cypress Hill collection contains lyrics that are scary, or racist, or humorous (in bad taste or otherwise). IT IS OK TO USE WORDS LIKE THIS provided you keep the focus on the material in question. TOOTH BRUSH ANALOGY ABOVE: A person can like problematic media without themselves being problematic. It needs to be addressed though. You can't talk about boob-inflating game without addressing how this yes-or-no instantly off-putting design choice affects its holistic appraisal. Not when we are talking reviews and recommendations. You can't talk about ICP without mentioning that yes, you're going to listen to some music now in which clowns go around stabbing Santa Claus. Be advised.
The game as described in the article is definitely something I would not talk about out loud in the presence of my coworkers if I WAS playing it (unless I really saw something of worth) because I would immediately be on my back heels. The women in my office already strongly believe that video games as a whole a) objectify women and b) turn men into immature man-children. Note: This kind of game is NOT HELPING that perception and it's NOT because there is anything wrong with my female coworkers objective judge-o-nators. I get that there's merit and craft and artistry and yadda yadda, but we aren't even at that point yet. I'm talking about the nuances of some minutae of Shaggy 2 Dope's delivery, they are hearing a song about clowns who stab people and eat their faces. I need better diplomatic grist here to make my case.
Let's be clear: To defend the boob inflating game is a high Difficulty Challenge rating. You'd better have a REALLY good argument in your pocket, because at the end of the day you ARE defending a product that pretty clearly demeans and objectifies women (in the mind of your average woman). Maybe there is an argument to be made? I'm no authority. Defending ecchi games means accepting that people are going to come at you Bro with some pretty legitimate points. I know how to make that argument, but you can't be surprised and indignant when it happens. These aspects of games ought rightly be critiqued and discussed. Same as artistic style, same as story, same as control scheme. Step up and make the case. I will listen to you. Good art will out. Tits and sex everywhere in Song of Saya, Katawa Shoujo, Witcher 3, and more. I will defend all of them on artistic grounds.
Jim Sterling gave Deadly Premonition a 10/10 specifically because the 20 dollar price point was a factor that HAD to be considered as a core part of the whole package, this is no different. Robocop was super violent for its time, but the violence was there for a reason. What is the reason? What are you saying? Even if the ultimate reason is something as banal as "Ok, well at the end of the day when all is said and done we just wanted to make lots of cheeky fanservice to sell to otaku." Great. Fucking own it. Nothing wrong with making titty-ta-ta Grindhouse fare, but let's not act like we're talking about masterpiece theater unjustly maligned. If some critic comes after you for you Grindhouse, be prepared to respond to that. And don't fall back on the "it's all about the CHARACTERS" argument or the "I'm not a bad person!" argument because neither of those are what they're criticizing. People still have a right to be offended if ICP talks about stalking and murdering co-eds regardless of how dope the bassline is.
To reference Angry Jack again: "Dealing" with the debate by choosing to ignore and dismiss all criticism is not actually dealing with the debate. I'm not saying anybody here is doing this, for the record, but it's a line I hear a lot when it comes to douchey people being douchey about things which boils down ultimately to some kind of privelege (sorry to drop the SJW P-word in there. Once only, I promise). People typically don't enjoy wrestling with the tension of loving something which they both a) enjoy and b) recognize to have problematic elements. Typically for the audience it's just easier not to think about it. Handwave it. Not deal with it. Not analyse it, address or accept what it might mean on a larger scale if any of the points were true or valid. Just nope nope nope, hands over ears, lalala. Nothing to see here mang, move along.
This is universal BTW - be it gun ownership, bullying, vaccinations, global warming, whatever. To which I say: tough tittes. If you desire something enough to keep it, especially if the thing you love is something that other people strongly despise on moral grounds you have a responsibility to make the case and step up to the fight.
As a person who grew up deeply nerdy in a time and place where bullying was especially rampant I spent years fleeing from jocks and hockey players - constantly being chased by each and every damn person and fearing humiliation on account of my (mostly nerdy and 'outsider') interests, believe me I know exactly what it means to hate the "normal mob". Fuck the Invisible Storm guys, seriously.
Eventually you have to stop running though. Which means turning to fight. Which also means accepting that not everything is defensible -- SOME is, but not everything. The mob can be right as much as it can be wrong.
It is possible to sway the mob with time. To be Nirvana, David Cronenburg or the Gay movement. Turn around, fight, make people see that you have a point, make them sympathize. Sometimes it takes 50 years but it IS possible to bring people around. I would argue that this is what's happened in our lifetimes on the subject of video games as a whole. When Time Magazine did that thing with the nerdy fat guy wearing the VR goggles a few weeks ago the entire Internet turned on them for being desperately out of touch.
You can also however be the KKK and turn around, make your argument and have people 100% NOT sympathize. It depends on what you're advocating.
Normals may be normals but they are not idiots. Jeremy Parish is not an idiot. If your cause has something legitimate to bring to the table - something people will "get" - then people WILL recognize it if you make the case correctly. You can sell something like BDSM to Jane Housewife if you approach with 50 shades of Grey. I've seen it happen.
... but what you CAN"T do is go in front of a the vox populi and tell them with a straight face that men ought to be able to legally rape women
or something because that shit will get you punched the fuck out. By me.
Not all games need to be mature, but plenty already are. In 2015 we can demonstrate a pretty good crop of Journeys and Walking Deads and SpecOpses that speak for themselves on the artistic front. I would argue that gaming still has a long way to go before it can truly hold its head up high and call itself as grown up. Not saying Ecchi games aren't part of a balanced breakfast of being Grown Up either. Grownups can totally have kinky sex in maid costumes and feel fine about it.
"Gamer" culture though -- the culture -- has lots of shameful shit just under the surface that deserves to be called to account. Irrespective of the actual games themselves there are STILL lots of things we need to deal with that ring pretty clearly of a deep systemic immaturity. I'm talking about the shit talking, the SWATTing, the wink-wink-nudge-nudge systemic misogyny and hatefulness of certain tribes, the commercialization, the brigading, the pointless feuds and the bullying, the Console Wars, Triple-A, Industry Burnout and soforth and soon.
You and I both know that if you walk one inch off the path of the "official" Neptunia artbook it's nothing but big dicks penetrating Noire and Nep all day every day on DeviantArt and Internet backwaters. I don't need Jeremy Parish to tell me so. This is truth: inseparable from the big picture, in the same way that Trucks and beer cans are inseparable from Football. I'm not saying that I believe it's deviant or dangerous, not saying that only bad people fap to pictures of Tharja or that God judges you if you have a naked pinup of Liara T'Soni inside your gym locker. God probably faps to that ovopositor sex toy prop that was making its way around the internet last week. ORZ. The Internet reflects us as we truly are, fanfic and all. Let he who is without sin tweet the first stone.
That said, not everything is defensible when all is said and done. Critique is OK. Debate is OK. It is OK to like problematic things while simultaneously accepting their problematic qualities. It doesn't make you a bad person. One man's creep is another man's treasure, but you have to respect the argument and the arguER or it all goes to hell.
Mature? Immature? True face of humanity? Nothing to see here?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "A Bitch Iz A Bitch"
Oh, shit. I guess there's one less bitch you gotta worry about.
Let's describe a certain female. A female with the disease of character
and attitude. If you will, a snob. However, in a view of NWA...
A bitch is a bitch (bitch)
So if I'm poor or rich (word up)
I talk in the exact same pitch
Now, the title bitch don't apply to all women
But all women have a little bitch in 'em (yeah)
It's like a disease that's plagues their character
Takin' the women of America (yeah)
And it starts with a letter B
It makes a girl like that think she better than me (bitch)
See, some get mad and some just bury
But, yo, if the shoe fits wear it (wear it)
It makes 'em go deaf in the ear
That's why when you say 'hi' she won't say 'hi'
Are you the kind that think you're too damn fly?
Bitch eat shit 'n die (ha, ha)
Ice cube comin' at you at crazy pitch
(Why?) I think a bitch is a bitch
'Who the fuck you think you're callin' a bitch you little ? muthafucka?
I dunno who the fuck you think you're talkin' to. Let me tell you one
muthafuckin' thang, I'm not a...' [Eazy E] 'Bitch, shut the fuck up.'
Yo, you can tell a girl that's out for the money (How?)
She look good and the bitch won't phony
She ain't no dummy she's right the ...
Yo, bitch fuck when I'm driving
See a young nigga that's striving
You're thru' without a BMW
That's why a bitch is a bitch
I guess, or ether P-M-S
Here, test the girl that's kinda snobby (a'ight)
And I bet you dis a nigga is her hobby
And after she finished the test
Write today a B-I-T-C-H
And watch her get mad 'cause she know it's true (she know it)
But a nigga like me, I say 'fuck you'
Do like Ice Cube, slam her ass in a ditch (slam her ass)
'Cause a bitch is a bitch
'Why I gonna be a bitch?'
'I ain't call you no bitch. If you'd listen to a goddamn song it'd tell
you what a bitch is.'
'Fuck the song 'cause I'm not no muthafuckin' bitch.'
'I didn't say you was a bitch.'
'Fuck you, punk-ass nigga!'
'Fuck you, bitch!
'Fuck you! Who the fuck you think you are?
'Fuck you! Suck my dick, bitch!
I once knew a bitch who got a slack
'Cause she playing me like she was all that
A bitch can be your best friend talking behind your back (yeah)
About who's fucking who and who's getting fat
Look at yourself for me, (look bitch)
Now do you fall in this category?
Or you're the kind that won't bleak
'Cause you don't think, yo, shit stinks
Luckily I haven't had a drink
'Cause I'll down you ass
Than I'll clown your ass
'Cause the niggas I hang with ain't rich (I ain't rich)
We're all saying 'Fuck you bitch!' (Word up!)
Now, what I can do with a hoe like you
Been your ass over then I'm thru'
? that you see Ice Cube ain't takin' no shit
(Why?) 'Cause I think a bitch is a bitch
There you have it. The description of a bitch. Now ask yourself,
are they talking about you? Are you that funky, dirty, money-hungry,
scandalous, stuck-up, hair piece contact wearing bitch? Yep, you