Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese Problem, Not an American One

March 10, 2009 -

In an opinion piece for Slate, game journo Leigh Alexander ties up the loose ends on the recent controversy surrounding RapeLay, a particularly despicable PC game which migrated from Japan to the retail pages of Amazon.com via a third-party merchant.

After the news broke. Amazon, which almost certainly was unaware of the game in the first place, quickly banished it.

Alexander views RapeLay and its ilk as a largely Japanese problem:

It's an old cliché that the more repressed a society, the more extreme its pornography—but more upsetting than RapeLay is the social environment that birthed it. The premise here is that a wealthy man is out for revenge against the schoolgirl who had him jailed as a chikan, or subway pervert. The epidemic of chikan is an enormous problem in Japan, particularly in major cities...

While the moral outrage from the New York City Council and Web sites... is obviously well-placed, there's little hope that legislation or activism can stem the perversion. Not only is RapeLay rooted in a social illness that's embedded in Japanese society, it's just one game in a niche industry that's more closely related to the porn business than to the video game world.


Comments

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

In culture and popular culture killing is much more acceptable than rape. We have wars all the time (which causes lots of death), and manslaughter exists. In films heroes usually kill lots of people (usually for a "good cause").

Rape is an entirely different matter and there is never an acceptable reason for it.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

If culture said you could go around beating your wife would you still be behind it?


GTA worse than Rapelay

It can quite sensibly be argued that the GTA games are worse than Rapelay.

People often tout GTA's "freedom" as a reason that GTA is morally better, but that actually makes it worse because GTA does not assign any significant lasting consequences to your actions. GTA's story will treat a mass-murdering player no different than a player who only kills when necessary. Killing innocent bystanders unrelated to the game missions has only the most trivial consequences (raising your wanted meter), which can be easily erased through various means (evading cops, pay 'n' spray, etc). To make matters worse, the player is always portrayed as some sort of cool anti-hero, no matter how senselessly murderous he is. It can be argued that GTA sends the reprehensible message that mass murdering innocent people is morally equivalent to a few self-defense killings.

As for Rapelay, while it has no GTA-like "freedom", it also never tries to excuse the player's actions. The story clearly presents the player as an evil, corrupt character. Furthermore, in Rapelay you cannot escape the lasting consequences of your actions. There are no "good" endings for the player; the closest thing is simply delaying the inevitable "bad" endings. It can be argued that despite its shocking content, Rapelay sends the message that rapists will eventually pay dearly for their "fun".

Rapelay portrays evil actions, but the game structure and story doesn't try to justify it or gloss it over. GTA permits evil actions, but at the same time provides numerous ways to escape the consequences and sugarcoats it all with "criminal bad-ass" attitude.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Yeah I'm very displeased with Dennis's views on this. Is it really more despicable than Manhunt? Apparently just because it involves rape, that automatically means this game is worthless, despicable, trash that deserves to be censored. Uh-uh. Not in my book. I'll defend this game just as ferverently as I ever did GTA or Manhunt. Thank you Andrew, NovaBlack and gamadaya.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Yeah, well if you're like me, you don't have much of a choice. I've been ranting too long about free speech to be able to condem this game. But to be honest, it's probably easier for me than most people. Rape is a very sensitive subject, but for some reason it doesn't bother me any more than murder and violence, which would be not at all. Now if, for example, an anti-gay game were in this position, I think I would have a harder time defending it. I honestly don't know if I would complain if it were banned. I guess I'll have to wait for something like that to come out to see if I have the stones to defend it too, but for now I think I'll go a little easier on Dennis.

Maybe I'm having a very easy time defending this because I don't believe that the creators of this actually condone rape. To me, that's the most important thing. If the KKK were to make a racist game, it would piss me off so much more because I would know that that is what they actually believe in.

But yeah, thank you for your appreciation. I've always thought that what seperates the men from the boys is the ability to stick by your beliefs, even if it is more convenient to temporarily abandon them.

---------------------------------

Internet troll > internet paladin

-------------------------------------------------------- Believe in something! Even if it's wrong, believe in it! GET OFF MY PHONE! -Glenn Beck

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

I find it interesting that everyone’s in an uproar over this game, yet one of the major releases this weekend is the remake of  Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left. A large part of the story deals with the brutal humiliation, rape and murder of two teenage girls by a small gang of criminals. Yet I don’t hear anyone getting upset over the release of this movie. And while it’s not all the movie is about, it is a significant part of the movie and lot of the subsequent actions (taken mostly by the parents of one of the girls in revenge) are a direct consequence of it. Taking all that into account, then, where’s all the outrage over this? Or are we simply applying a cultural double standard here?

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Its another case of "but its the player choosing to do the act" rather than "the viewer seeing someone else performing the act" - It kind of ignores the distancing effect that results from the control method of the game, but then so do the people who use that excuse for making such a big deal about this.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Now theres a scary thought - A high shelf for 'adult' games, just like we get for adult magazines right now.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

I can't believe people are trying to analyse the content of Rapelay and the purpose of the game. As the article states the game is closer to the porn industry than the gaming industry.

The whole point of Rapelay is to be used as a masturbation aid. It's as simple as that, it's porn.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Also rape is not a Japanese problem, RAPE is the WORLD WIDE problem with no easy answer.

Also isn't anyone suggesting that the Hentai games are more likely to help people UNDERSTAND how horrible rape is?

I firmly believe that rape in the bible was ment to help people understand that rape has been in human society for a long time but at the time was not considered to be criminal until the feminist movement in the 70's and 80's.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Ummm rape has been criminalized for a DAMN long time, definitely FAR longer than the 1970's.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

The Japanese are 'in another castle'.

Besides, it was America who did this to Japan after they dropped the bomb on them at the end of WW2.

Japan suffered such hardship and emotional stress, but in a good way this was also the reason why many Japanese Animation characters have those cute big eyes that I like so much.

Either good or bad, Japan Animation (Anime) proves that we live in a verry ugly yet beautiful world.

I don't care what anyone says about Anime, I love it and I will always support it no matter what anyone says.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

 

Nice anime reference, LOL.

"Besides, it was America who did this to Japan after they dropped the bomb on them at the end of WW2.

Japan suffered such hardship and emotional stress, but in a good way this was also the reason why many Japanese Animation characters have those cute big eyes that I like so much."

 

For some of you who don't understand this.  Look back at your anime history.  Remember, Osamu Tezuka use Disney animation as a great influence over his work and also what anime is today.  Without Disney, we wouldn't have anime today.

@ TboneTony,

I applaud you for supporting the anime industry.  I'm more worried about anime haters on Youtube siding with critics like Vaz just because he attack a hentai game.  If Vaz attack manga/anime next, then the haters may forgive him and support this guy.  Just imagine what happen if JT decide to attack anime next.  All the haters may end up siding with him, they're willing to hate GTA just because JT attack anime/manga for them.

 

in other news:  Police in Taiwan blamed the manga, GUNNM (Battle Angel Alita) for murder.  You can read it here at ANN 

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

I hear you loud and clear about the Anime haters.

But there is one thing we should all know,

Anime has been attacked before but the mainstreem news media never really took much notice and interpreted it as just Violent cartoons.

Also knowing that Videogames were more popular than Anime, that is why videogames get targeted allot more.

So I would be cool and calm about this one until some Hentai titles become more popular, then we would have something to get worried about with the mainstreem media.

Not even Legend of the Overfiend was enough to get Anime into big hot water simply because it was popular, but it was not MEGA poular with the kids.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

 

I know video game is more popular then video game.  Anime and manga are getting more popular also.  They will eventually be on the same level as video game.  About the anime haters, I already met some of them that can become the new Jack Thompson.  I wonder how long till anime haters become Lawyers, Activists, politics, and psychologists and start blaming anime/manga for violent crimes.  You want to bet they'll take words out of Thompson's mouth like Murder Simulator.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

I don't understand - How can dropping an atom bomb be directly related to the emergence or continued development of the stylings of anime? Am I missing something or is the phrasing of that post just throwing me for a loop?

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

I know it sounds dumb, but I hear that a lot of anime creators openly admit to the huge influence the dropping of the atomic bomb had on them. It does sound weird that one event could have such a big impact, but the A-bomb was different. Imagine if you found out your biggest enemy had the power to effortlessly destroy you, and they gained that power pretty much instantly. It would be like getting attacked by god, and I'm sure it looked that way from the point of view of the people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

---------------------------------

Internet troll > internet paladin

-------------------------------------------------------- Believe in something! Even if it's wrong, believe in it! GET OFF MY PHONE! -Glenn Beck

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

whoa whoa whoa, back up!

The premise here is that a wealthy man is out for revenge against the schoolgirl who had him jailed as a chikan, or subway pervert.

RapeLay actually has a plot behind it?!

granted though, even if he was jailed over a misunderstanding, he's just proving her right.

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Indeed Rapelay does have a plot but the player character wasn't arrested due to a misunderstanding.  He actually does sexually assault the three gals on the subway and is arrested for it.  However, his father, who is some big shot politician, uses his clout to get the charges dropped.  His son then enacts his "revenge" on the three gals and ends up pushed in front of a subway or stabbed to death by one of the girls.

Not only is there a plot, there's a bit of a moral there too.  Maybe even a bit of sociopolitical commentary (although that's a bit of a stretch).

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

I knew about the endings, just not the beginning

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

However, from what I understand (I haven't played the game directly so tell if I'm wrong). Those endings are not the only endings. You can "get away with it" and I'm pretty sure once you clear the game with the "good" ending (the one where you don't die) you get bonus things like a gangrape sequence or getting to chose the combination of girls you rape (which brings in the context of incest into the whole thing which just makes it that much worse).

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

As far as I'm aware the only two available endings are the two I described.  The other sequences you describe are in the game but again, as far as I'm aware, they become available after a certain point in the game, not after you beat it (no pun intended).

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

So which of us is going to be the first to break down and actually download and play this thing?

My wife and I share a computer so I'm looking at you.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

I've actually been trying to get my hands on this thing for a while, but I'm on campus right now. They don't really approve of file sharing, and somehow I don't think downloading a rape simulation game is going to improve my odds of not getting in trouble. Maybe I'll do it when I go home for spring break. And yeah, I'm just going home for spring break...

---------------------------------

Internet troll > internet paladin

-------------------------------------------------------- Believe in something! Even if it's wrong, believe in it! GET OFF MY PHONE! -Glenn Beck

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

If you wan't to buy it for me I'll give it a play through.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Yeah I'm sure you'll understand if I don't want THAT to appear on my credit card statement. But based on what I know, and thank you Chakan for correcting me above.

The only actual actions the player can undertake are rape and sexual assault (the subway groping at the beginning).

But based on the research I've done (which includes talking to some people online who claim to have actually played the game, but independent write-ups confirm this) there are the endings you described Andrew.

But you can successfully (in a sense) complete the game by "breaking" all three women at which point your character reveals his plans for sellign them into sexual slavery.

At that point the game ends and you now have the "freeplay" option which gives the options of:

Blowing up a girl's skirt, undressing them, inserting objects but not actually touching them (Nozoki mode)

The chikkan mode

2P mode in which your character can have sex 1-on-1 with any girl

5P mode in which the player and 3 other men gangrape a chosen girl

Shippo mode in which the player rapes 2 or 3 of the girls at once.

The two negative endings you described do exist but are not the only possible endings. I guess they are the only real "endings" in the traditional sense as successful completely merely opens up the free-play options. The narrative, in that sense, never real "ends."

As for Mr. Chakan above: I hate to drag out this classic but, given his statements on this thread (especially since I CLEARLY wasn't directing my post at him)

Obvious troll is obvious...

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

Aww bum.  And here I thought I was going to get a free game.

Yeah, I knew about all the "freeplay" stuff but just considered that part of the main game.  Any idea how the game endings are triggered?

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

um...I had this game a couple of years before the story broke, and I have it installed right now (I tend not to uninstall stuff unless I'm hurting for space)

So I'm gonna go ahead and say me

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

I read there is no "good" ending, it just goes on like Space Invaders and that the unlockables are unlocked as you play

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

First i would like to thank Leigh Alexander stereotyping the japanese as a nation of subway rapists, way to go, good one.

Secondly its probably worth pointing out that japan has the lowest rate of sexual assult of any industrealized nation.

Many researchers are coming to the conclusion that greater availibilty of porn leads to drastic reductions in the rates sexual crime, in japan after lifting a total ban on porn saw its sexual assult rate plummet.

Now personally id rather be fork stabbed than play rapelay or anything like it, but if it stops freaks from going out and doing that kinda shit, than why should we ban it, when we should be fighting the things that actually do cause people to commit sex crimes.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Japan is also widely believe to have one of the highest rates of UNREPORTED sexual assualt.

The lower instance numbers have to be evaluated in light of the fact that a BOATLOAD of sexual assult goes unreported. Which is true in most societies. Rape and other sexual assault crimes are virtually always the most underreported crimes.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Rape can be unreported almost everywhere.

Even in the US, Canada, UK and even Australia.

The only rape or sexual assult cases that do get noticed is mostly when someone in fame or political power is caught up in a scandal,

but most of the time it goes unreported mostly because victims are too scared or no one believes the victim.

Sometimes I feel that it is also because society still has this stigma about rape that they just don't want to hear about it.

Perhaps we have to thank the Hentai games for letting us understand that rape IS a horrible thing.

Also not all Hentai games have rape, only just a few minority ones,

Most Hentai games involve a really deep storyline with different nods to issues in society.

If you have played a Japanese Visual Novel that is a Hentai game or even based on a Hentai game, you will understand there is more to the Visual than just sex.

TBoneTony

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

I played a few hentai games back when I was a teenager, mostly for kicks. You're right the vast majority of them do actually try to be more than just straight porn. Which frankly is one reason I think they don't catch on even with the porno crowd over here. American perverts don't want their sex interrupted by actual storyline.


But from what I understand about RapeLay it doesn't really have that going on.

And you're right that underreporting is a problem everywhere (didn't I say that in my post?) but Japan is widely believed to have a rate far higher than other western countries, grossly out of proportion to its population.

The rape stigma is stronger in Japan than in other societies. It's probably only beaten by the rape stigma in strict Islamic countries (where a rape victim is considered guilty of adultery or of being alone with a man not her husband).

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

not wanting to play "Devil's Advocate" here, but many subways in Japan have "Female-Only" cars to combat the problem.

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese

All this because of some British asshole who would rather pay more attention to what people are selling on the internet instead of doing the job he's paid to.

When Jack Thompson runs his mouth, does anyone really care what he has to say anymore?

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Despicable again? Any clarification as to why yet?

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Yeah im STILL confused by this...

i normally agree with GP 99.9% of the time (And love the site) but every time this game is mentioned its got some snide comment made about it. I mean on a personal level.. yeah no problem finding it 'despicable' .  Thats a persons right. It was more the comment that amazon 'did the right thing' pulling the game from shelves that irked me somewhat...

I just dont understand why on one hand virtual murder of thousands of people in GTA is fine and not 'despicable' but rape in this game is.

Personally.. yeah i wont ever want to play this game. But meh, i dont think at all it should be banned.

If somebody else wants to play it, i have just as much right to stop them, as jack thompson does to stop me playing GTA. ... none.

Else its hypocritical...

I dunno just cant see the justification.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

I'm with you on this.  I don't understand why GP consistently loses the plot on this one issue.  We simply don't need GP trying to impose moral standards on the rest of us.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Opinion is a opinion, last time I checked there was nothing here trying to pressure anyone into changing their opinion.

It is impossible for anyone to remain completely unbiased in every prespective.   So you can always expect there will be times when you'll disagree with just about anyone

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

It's a blog. Everything you read is subject to his opinion. If you don't want that, don't read it. You can disagree with what he says, but he has the right to say it. And don't forget, the goal of the site is to stimulate a robust discussion.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Alot of it comes down to our socialogical prespective in the difference of physical violence and violences of sexual nature.  In alot of people's view, Rape becomes a issue of intense suffering and psyhcological effects which in the eyes of alot of people as lower then even many counts of murder in some aspects.  Mostly because the effects have been known to ruin the lives of the victums of such actions.  Not to say there isn't such suffering involved with victums of Violence that survive but that's a majority probably views it.

The funny thing is I hear in Asian markets, particularly Japan, it actually the opposite issue entirely, sexual refereneces are not frown upon but scenes of intense violence usually don't hit well.

But more then anything it becomes an issue of oversenstivity and the problem is in hte modern US can become an expensive liability to a business due to the continous issue of frivilous lawsuits and group pressure.  Not ideal, but it's reality.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Regarding whether murder or rape is worse, I was reading the comments section of the Slate article and found a rather heated but interesting comment from a counselor for rape victims, claiming that it's well-meaning but wrong to say that rape is worse than murder.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Heh, I do agree with the article you post to a degree.  What I was stating was the majority view on why violent acts of death are view differently from those of sexual nature such as rape.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

I think the issue is that GTA is not a game ABOUT murdering people. Yes, you do it but the game is about murdering people in the same way a movie like The Godfather is "about" killing people.

Sure killing is a major component of the piece, but is The Godfather "about" killing people? Not really.

There is no other reason to play RapeLay than to well, rape a mother and her two daughters. The story that exists serves only to connect scenes of rape. There's no actual point to the game behind watching your character attack women.

I am wholly opposed to "banning" this game. I have however, perfectly fine with regulating it under obscentity laws in which case it would be a crime (either a civil violation or an actualy crminal violation) to sell it to minors.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

More accurately: GTA is about the act of grand theft auto just as much as RapeLay us about rape. Yes both happen in their respective titles, but the acts in games themselves are 'inspired' by revenge, not malice.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Ahh but your character is confined by the game.

You would be correct if the ONLY action that could actually be undertaken by the player in GTA was to steal cars.  Except it isn't.

GTA is not ABOUT stealing cars, or gunning down random people, the storyline is not ABOUT the violence itself. In a sense the game =/= the violence anymore than a movie like the Godfather = its violence

In RapeLay the story is a tacked on attempt to connect multiple scenes of rape. The only action open to your character, the only thing you can actually DO in the game is rape. There is nothing else. The game is the rape, the only action available is the rape, the only point to playing the game is to rape. It certainly isn't to enjoy the story (anymore than the point of watching a porno is to enjoy the story).

Again, I'm not arguing the game be banned. But it should be regulated under the laws applying to pornography. At it is a despicable game IMO.

Yes any descriptive adjective is going to be opinionated. But I think people forget that GamePolitics is as much Dennis' blog as it is a news source. This isn't supposed to be the CNN of gaming. I guess Dennis just feels particularly strong about this issue.

After all RapeLay is the kind of game that gives gaming a bad name. It's a lightning rod game that, from a gaming activists standpoint, I dearly wish had never been made.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

"In RapeLay the story is a tacked on attempt to connect multiple scenes of rape. The only action open to your character, the only thing you can actually DO in the game is rape. There is nothing else."

Well, except the tedious scenes of chikan you have to go through to get to each rape, but I suppose your "There is only rape" point wouldn't have been as effective if you'd acknowledged that it wasn't actually true.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Ok so the only thing you actually DO in the game besides Rape is commit a lower form of sexual assault.

Fine I admit it. You do more than rape in the game. You also commit sexual assault.

There, happy now?

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

And have a child aborted, and get murdered.

Re: Leigh Alexander: Controversial Rape Game is a Japanese ...

Right on. Ever since this fiasco started, I've been sorely dissapointed with a lot of people who I used to think had the balls to truely advocate non-censorship. Leigh is not one of those people, considering I never really had much respect for her anyway. She is right when she says it's a Japanese problem though.

---------------------------------

Internet troll > internet paladin

-------------------------------------------------------- Believe in something! Even if it's wrong, believe in it! GET OFF MY PHONE! -Glenn Beck
 
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