Let’s Talk About Dungeon Travelers 2 and “Ecchi” Content

The story so far: In the beginning, Polygon’s Phil Kollar posted an article called “Atlus can do better than this creepy, porn-lite dungeon crawler“. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.

With apologies to the late, great Douglas Adams for the bastardisation of his quotation, it’s worth exploring this subject a little further, if only to counter the extreme negativity of Kollar’s article — negativity which, frankly, appears to come from a position of ignorance as to what games such as Dungeon Travelers 2, the game under scrutiny in the article, actually involve.

You see, it’s okay to like ecchi or even hentai content. It’s also okay to not like ecchi and hentai content. Where it stops being okay is when someone who doesn’t like these things starts calling for publishers to stop catering to people who do like these things.

Why? Because if these games continue to exist, people who don’t like them have the option of not buying and supporting them with no harm done. If they don’t exist, meanwhile, the people who do like them have no option — they simply have to go without. And that doesn’t strike me as terribly fair; it would be a case of certain individuals having the power to act as the “morality police” on behalf of people who may not share their ideological viewpoint.

Is that a problem? You’re damn straight it is; let’s explore it in a little more detail.

Dungeon Travelers 2 is likely to be fairly par for the course with regard to its ecchi content, but the fact it's published by Atlus is seemingly what particularly attracted Kollar's ire.
Dungeon Travelers 2 is likely to be fairly par for the course with regard to its ecchi content, but the fact it’s published by Atlus is seemingly what particularly attracted Kollar’s ire.

My personal objections to the attitude on display in Kollar’s article have nothing to do with the oft-quoted protestations that progressive types are “not trying to take your games away” — even though this particular article makes the rather stern assertion that publisher Atlus “not only can but should do better” and, by extension, implies that they should really stop bringing these disgraceful, perverted games over because they are somehow A Bad Thing.

Polygon’s piece speaks from the same position of cultural ignorance that led to a vitriolic piece regarding Senran Kagura from the now-defunct Official Nintendo Magazine.

No, my main objection to the piece comes from the fact that Kollar is prepared to take a heavy-handed moral stance on a game that hasn’t been localised yet, that he hasn’t played and, judging from his comments, doesn’t appear to know a great deal about. He is, in other words, speaking from the same position of cultural ignorance that led to this vitriolic piece regarding Senran Kagura Burst from the now-defunct Official Nintendo Magazine. As you’ll know if you read my own piece on the Senran Kagura series as a whole, those games are a lot more than just “life and hometown” — as, indeed, are many other modern Japanese games that tend to be written off on the grounds of “fanservice”.

Let’s take Dungeon Travelers 2 specifically for the moment. I haven’t played the game either due to the fact it’s not out yet — the new Vita version only just hit Japan — but knowing what I do about Japanese games that tend to get talked about in this way, I found Kollar’s claim that “the goal is not to get one of the game’s many women to fight alongside you or to forge a deep relationship with them; it’s to eventually see them naked and probably doing something demeaning” rather hard to swallow. So I decided to look into things a little deeper.

Well, just the trailer casts aside one of Kollar’s arguments immediately; just 30 seconds in, the trailer asks “do you have the dungeon-crawling skills to form a party of female adventurers and seal away powerful monsters?” That sure sounds like “getting the game’s many women to fight alongside you” to me.

Just 30 seconds in, the trailer asks “do you have the dungeon-crawling skills to form a party of female adventurers and seal away powerful monsters?” That sure sounds like “getting the game’s many women to fight alongside you” to me.

Then there’s the official site, which is currently in “teaser” mode at the time of writing, but still manages to point out that the game allows you to “unlock sub-events while exploring to get closer to the girls in your party”. That sure sounds like “forging a deep relationship with them” to me.

And then we come to the crux of the matter: if you watched the trailer, doubtless you’ll have noticed a number of scenes throughout that appear to be pretty sexual in nature. Their exact context isn’t particularly clear in the video, but given that the girls are in various states of undress throughout each of these brief teasers, it is a fair assumption to make that these scenes are somehow sexual.

Dungeon Travelers 2's lineage as an indirect descendent of ToHeart2 -- an eroge, at least in its PC incarnation -- means that any and all suggestive content it has should not be in the least bit surprising.
Dungeon Travelers 2’s lineage as an indirect descendent of ToHeart2 — an eroge, at least in its PC incarnation (pictured) — means that any and all suggestive content it has should not be in the least bit surprising.

While Dungeon Travelers 2 isn’t narratively connected to the first Dungeon Travelers or indeed ToHeart2, it shares themes and mechanics — and it would be rather out of character for Aquaplus to put out something that didn’t involve pretty girls and relationships.

It’s a doubly fair assumption to make when we consider the somewhat convoluted lineage of the Dungeon Travelers series as a whole: the first Dungeon Travelers game (which we haven’t seen in the West, and which is unrelated to Dungeon Travelers 2 in narrative terms) was a spinoff from Leaf and Aquaplus’ romance visual novel ToHeart2, a game which was originally released on PS2 and subsequently ported to PC with erotic scenes added.

Dungeon Travelers, in turn, was an expanded “all-ages” (i.e. free of explicit depictions of sexual acts, though still featuring suggestive scenes) port of a dungeon crawling RPG featuring ToHeart2 characters called Final Dragon Chronicle: Guilty Requiem, one of four games included in ToHeart2 spinoff package Manaka de Iku no!!, which contained ero content. While Dungeon Travelers 2 isn’t narratively connected to the first Dungeon Travelers game or indeed ToHeart2, it shares themes and mechanics — and it would be rather out of character for publisher Aquaplus to put out something that didn’t involve pretty girls and relationships, since even its one-on-one fighting game Aquapazza features an in-depth visual novel-style story mode not unlike that found in Persona 4 Arena.

Okay. So, to return to the point, there is almost definitely lewdness of some description going on in Dungeon Travelers 2. Here’s the big question, then:

So what?

Problem? Lid certainly doesn't seem to think so.
Problem? Lid certainly doesn’t seem to think so.

I find myself asking this question any time a Japanese game with any degree of lewdness hits the market, whether the game is overtly sexual (like Criminal Girls or, in places, Ar Tonelico), if it uses fanservice in a satirical manner (like in Omega Quintet and Hyperdimension Neptunia) or if it uses suggestive or even explicit scenes to make a point about relationships (as seen in Time and Eternity, where the fanservice scenes reflect the protagonist’s sexual frustration, and as seen in eroge in general, where sexual scenes are used to represent a relationship progressing to a new level of intimacy — not always with happy results). So what?

The double standards between the public and press’ collective attitudes towards violence and sex in video games have never been more apparent than they have been following the aggressive rise of “progressive” politics on social media.

This isn’t to handwave away this content or pretend it doesn’t exist, mind you. Quite the opposite, in fact. While ecchi or hentai content is never the primary reason I personally come to a Japanese game, when handled effectively — and it is handled effectively far more often than mainstream critics like Kollar give it credit for — I am genuinely pleased, since I greatly respect any game willing to treat the subject of sexuality with any sort of sensitivity. Hell, I greatly respect any game that is willing to acknowledge that sexuality is actually a thing at all, since the double standards between the public and press’ collective attitudes towards violence and sex in video games have never been more apparent than they have been in recent years following the aggressive rise of “progressive” politics on social media.

Let’s take an example from another dungeon-crawling RPG that featured ecchi scenes — though to a somewhat lesser degree than Dungeon Travelers 2 appears to.

Demon Gaze was fairly light on the ecchi content, all told, but on the few occasions where things got a little steamy, the game handled these scenes with confidence and without shame.
Demon Gaze was fairly light on the ecchi content, all told, but on the few occasions where things got a little steamy, the game handled these scenes with confidence and without shame.

Demon Gaze was a fantastic game for numerous reasons, not least of which was its solid, Wizardry-inspired dungeon-crawling gameplay. But this was just one of several reasons I found it particularly noteworthy. Arguably the reason I found myself more drawn to Demon Gaze than any other first-person “gridder” dungeon-crawler I’d ever tried in the past was due to the fact that it actually bothered to fill its world with well-realised characters with whom you gradually developed a relationship as the story progressed.

The scene carries genuine conflict; the sight of her in bed is unmistakably erotic, but you can’t help but be aware that she appears to be suffering, leading to a uniquely dry-mouthed moment where it’s difficult to look away even though you know that now is really not the time to pop a boner.

Chief among these was Fran, the owner of the inn that acts as your “home base” between your numerous expeditions into increasingly perilous dungeons. When the game starts out, Fran is all business, but over time, you gradually come to understand one another better. You strike up a friendship that eventually looks like it might cross the line into something more.

By the time you reach a scene in which you find a feverish Fran in bed, clad only in some rather impractical-looking lingerie, you’re well and truly invested in the relationship, and this moment carries meaning. It also carries genuine conflict; the sight of her in bed like this is unmistakably erotic, but at the same time you can’t help but be aware that she appears to be suffering, and this leads to a uniquely dry-mouthed moment where it’s very difficult to look away even though you know that now is really not the time to pop a boner (where applicable).

It was, in short, a scene that was powerful and effective at advancing the narrative and the characterisation of both Fran and the player-protagonist.

Sweet Fuse from Idea Factory's Otomate label is one of the few otome games that have made it West. It was great! More, please!
Sweet Fuse from Idea Factory’s Otomate label is one of the few otome games that have made it West. It was great! More, please!

I’m not going to deny that there’s a huge and unreasonable disparity between the provision of fanservice aimed primarily at a heterosexual male audience and that aimed primarily at any other specific demographic — though it’s worth noting that this is a situation that is more of an issue in the West than Japan due to publishers and localisation companies seemingly being hesitant to spend time and resources bringing otome, yaoi and yuri games over. These games exist, they’re just not getting localised at the same rate.

If games such as Dungeon Travelers 2 and titles like it are truly “for all intents and purposes, a porn game” then why do they attract such dedicated, passionate followings whose conversations are inevitably far, far more than “which girl is hottest”?

It’s also worth noting that the industry as a whole is taking baby steps in the right direction in this regard, with organisations such as MangaGamer, Aksys Games and Idea Factory International all making a point of acknowledging these other demographics with games aimed specifically at them. Not only that, it’s also worth noting that just because something isn’t aimed specifically at you doesn’t make you incapable of enjoying it. I — a heterosexual dude, if that wasn’t abundantly clear already — played and adored Otomate’s Sweet Fuse, for example, an otome game brought to the west by Aksys, and I’m actually rather curious to play something along the lines of MangaGamer’s recent yaoi title No, Thank You!! Conversely, titles and franchises like Hyperdimension Neptunia and Senran Kagura have heterosexual and homosexual female fans just as passionate and dedicated as their male counterparts.

But why, and how? If games such as Dungeon Travelers 2 and titles like it are truly, as Kollar says, “for all intents and purposes, a porn game, or the closest you can get to a porn game on the PlayStation Vita” then why do they attract such dedicated, passionate followings whose conversations are inevitably, in my experience, far, far more than “which girl is hottest”? Why do these people — including myself, I’m happy to admit — get so riled up when inflammatory pieces such as Kollar’s diatribe are published? And why would these people get so defensive about what is strongly implied to be their wanking material?

Even Senran Kagura, one of the most notoriously lewd franchises on the market, handles sexuality with confidence -- sensitively when characterisation calls for it, and with an endearingly cheeky sense of humour when the mood lightens.
Even Senran Kagura, one of the most notoriously lewd franchises on the market, handles sexuality with confidence — sensitively when characterisation calls for it, and with an endearingly cheeky sense of humour when the mood lightens.

The answer is pretty simple, and if you’re reading this you probably already know it, but I’ll spell it out anyway. It’s because these games are not porn or wanking material, even when they include explicit sexual content. Oh, sure, nukige is a subset of Japanese games that very much does fit these descriptions — though even the most gleefully gratuitous nukige tend to at least make something of an effort with story and characterisation, in stark contrast to the Western “gonzo” porn style, which is arguably the nukige subgenre’s closest analogue — but we’re not talking about nukige.

Sex and art have been inextricably tied together for thousands of years. Not everyone wants sex in their art, and that’s fine. The problem comes when the people who don’t want sex in their art start to try and dictate what everyone should or should not be comfortable with.

We are, however, talking about games that happen to feature sexual content ranging from lightly titillating to full-on explicit, all in the service and context of atmosphere, emotional engagement, characterisation and the depiction of realistic, believable relationships. We’re talking about games in which you’re invited to become uniquely intimate with characters that you, in many cases, spend tens or even hundreds of hours with. We’re talking about games that acknowledge the fact that attraction — be it sexual, emotional or, more commonly, a combination of both — is a natural and beautiful thing, even when it involves a fictional character. We’re talking about the very essence of moe, in other words, not to mention the fact that the presence of sex doesn’t immediately invalidate anything else the work has to say; a deeply mistaken assumption that all too many critics seem to make.

Sex and art have been inextricably tied together for thousands of years. Not everyone wants sex in their art, though, and that’s fine; no-one is saying that every game needs sexual content. Where the problem comes, then, is when the people who don’t want sex in their art — or, more specifically, don’t want explorations of sex that they disagree with or find objectionable in their art, since even Kollar claims in his piece that he thinks “there should be more games featuring sex” — start to try and dictate what everyone should or should not be comfortable with.

Akiba's Trip was another game that fell victim to moral outrage from people who didn't play it. Despite its central conceit of stripping synthetic vampires to burn them up in the sun, it was actually fairly light on the fanservice and told a rather charming, heartwarming tale with a nigh-unparalleled atmosphere.
Akiba’s Trip was another game that fell victim to moral outrage from people who didn’t play it. Despite its central conceit of stripping synthetic vampires to burn them up in the sun, it was actually fairly light on the fanservice and told a rather charming, heartwarming tale with a nigh-unparalleled atmosphere.

In other words, it’s time that critics such as Kollar and the many others who parrot the same predictable talking points at every opportunity acknowledge the fact that if games are to be taken seriously as an art form — and they absolutely, positively should be — then we must all understand that sexuality is something creators should be willing and able to explore as they see fit. It’s time that Japan’s efforts to explore and push these boundaries — sometimes very successfully, sometimes less so — are recognised, celebrated and explored with nuance and, preferably, an understanding of their native cultural context, rather than dismissed with the most superficial of ill-informed criticism. And it’s time that those who already recognise the cultural value of these games — and who in most cases appreciate them for far more than the size of the heroines’ knockers — stop being demonised by critics in perceived positions of “authority”.

Or, to put it another way, as my good friend Mr Matt Sainsbury over at Digitally Downloaded said in his own excellent editorial earlier today, it’s time we stopped calling Japanese games with sexual content “creepy”.

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19 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Dungeon Travelers 2 and “Ecchi” Content”

  1. There’s nothing I can add to this conversation that you and Matt haven’t already said. I’m just so tired of people who claim to be open-minded and supportive of people of all types, who champion inclusion and understanding, trying to tell me what sort of explorations and representations of sexuality are right and wrong, or that I’m allowed to enjoy. I like the violence in Dead Space, but not the violence in Battlefield Hardline. I don’t think that EA “could and should do better” because I’ve agreed with the content of some of their published materials, but not the content of others. These arguments are coming from fundamentally intelligent people, educated, experienced with good heads on their shoulders. I don’t understand where these leaps of logic come from. These days, I have a serious case of deja vu in regards to all the research I did in grad school about to the Comics Code of the 1950s.

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    1. I’ve seen the Comics Code stuff mentioned a few times by various people, but I don’t know a lot about it. From a bit of cursory research (i.e. a couple of minutes on Wikipedia)… yes, the comparison seems pretty apt.

      It needs to stop.

      As I’ve said numerous times before, I have absolutely no objection to feminist criticism of games, and welcome an era in which we can use sociopolitical frameworks to analyse games as works of art.

      I just don’t think a site that originally positioned itself as a mainstream games publication is an appropriate outlet for that sort of thing — at least not exclusively. There needs to be some balance. Sure, post an opinion piece saying that you think this sort of thing is weird and it squicks you out, but it’s worthwhile seeking out the opinions of those who do like it, too, or at least acknowledging them. This is something that these people steadfastly and repeatedly refuse to do, and it leaves them looking rather foolish.

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  2. Im just getting really tired of this meaningless outrage …by those that seem to think of themself as some sort of moral guardian.

    There is so much fucked up shit in the world that you can get mad at … but they choose video games.

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    1. Yup. It infuriates me. And it’s generally pretty hypocritical, too, since any time someone actually confronts them directly on it, they start backpedalling and saying “I didn’t say that!” or “no-one is trying to take your games away!”

      If you don’t dig something, fine. Ignore it. I don’t like Call of Duty, so I ignore it. I don’t like Assassin’s Creed, so I ignore it. I don’t like sports games, so I ignore them. It’s not difficult. And I never, ever feel the need to post vitriolic, hurtful articles casting some pretty serious aspersions over people who do enjoy them.

      Criticise from an informed perspective, by all means. But that is what’s not happening, right now; all I took from Kollar’s piece is “if you like this, you are a terrible, creepy person and probably a pedophile”. That’s not criticism, that’s just attacking your audience.

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  3. The thing that really got to me about the article was how he undercut his own argument. If he wants to argue about the oversexualization of underage girls that’s fine, but then as an example of a “good” game he brings up Persona 4. Really? All the girls in Persona 4 are 16 and under; there are plenty of fanservice moments (gotta have that beach scene and bikini competition); and one of the major subsystems of the game is to date the girl you like with the goal of having sex with them at the end. If he really has a problem with the sexualization of underage women, Persona 4 shouldn’t be the game for him.

    I was just kinda dumbfounded at how stupid his argument was; there are plenty of things to criticize about modern games but this just fell into the “this makes me uncomfortable so its evil” rationale. I’m guessing quick linkbait opinion piece; honestly if this is the stuff that modern “journalists” have to turn out to get by I pity them.

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    1. That’s an excellent point that I hadn’t even considered! Persona 4 has its fair share of suggestive stuff. Everything with Kanji. A lot of stuff with Naoto. Rise’s idol activities. Yukiko practically masturbating through her princess dress. And all manner of implied shenanigans in the various social links.

      But no, Persona 4 is A-OK because you don’t see anyone’s panties, I guess?

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  4. I hope what peoples votes with his wallet buying this game,while more people play the games ,more peoples gonna understand how wrong are this guys telling what are only wank material.

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  5. Another great article, Pete. And pretty much word for word and point for point the arguments that I make as well. Both personally to other people, and at the rare times I post on websites like USGamer. Especially the whole ridiculousness between the way that US writers treat violence and sex.

    Oh, and I can’t wait for you to write more about Hyperdimension Neptunia. It was initially difficult for me to get into the Idea Factory style of rpg, but now that I’m in, I absolutely love those games and am anxiously awaiting Re:Birth 3.

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, it’s crazy, isn’t it? And inordinately frustrating. “We want games to be art!” they’ll cry. “But only the kind of art we like!” Sigh.

      There’ll be more about Neptunia at some point in the near future. I actually haven’t written all that much about it on this site, despite it being one of my favourite series. I’m currently neck-deep in Omega Quintet, so I will probably write at least one piece about that first of all, but I have lots to say about the Neptunia series as a whole, the Re;Birth remakes, Hyperdevotion Noire, Producing Perfection and all manner of other good stuff. Please look forward to it! 🙂

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  6. I don’t know if it’s accurate to say that the “Games Press” has lost its mind as much as it is to say that what is happening is simply a reflection of larger gaming trends and trends in the media. What you’re seeing on Polygon and similar sites is simply a reflection of the larger shift in gaming from a niche audience to a mainstream audience, with the press being the witness and documentarian to this change.

    What you’re witnessing with Polygon is the intersection point of a previously very focused and curated tribal narrative coming into full contact with the larger narrative of the general cultural zeitgeist — the mainstreaming of games awareness – with predictable results. You are correct: What is noteworthy about these publications is that they DON’T speak with the same voice of the people who bought Nintendo Power back in the day but they DO speak with a voice more similar to what you’d find in a publication like the Toronto Star or the New York times — i.e. Joe Western Citizen vs Joe Gamer.

    I think the perception that the games press is alienating its audience is pretty debatable, but it depends on how you define audience. You can argue about whether Polygon is alienating the niche ‘hardcorez’ perhaps, but I’m not even sure that the majority of Polygon’s readers would count as the niche hardcorez audience you describe. Gaming is mainstream now – high schoolers play games, dads play games everybody plays games. I am absolutely Teh Hardcorez and a grown-ass man besides and Polygon doesn’t alienate me particularly (nor does Katawa Shoujo, zing). Mostly they just sound like what the general readership Toronto newspapers would say if questioned about the same topics.

    Whether something is or is not porn, or artistically valid porn (erotica?) and/or whether porn is or is not a legitimate and valid cultural product is a totally fair question to ask, but you must accept that the arbiter of that question in the general view at the end of the day ends up being existing social and cultural norms. That is LITERALLY what Porn is according to its pedantic legal definition: Sexual content perceived to be without redeeming artistic merit that bucks the “polite company” pulse of whatever environment it’s placed inside – which is why the first thing you have to do if you are legally accusing someone in court on pornography charges is to demonstrate how the sampling of sexual material falls outside what would be culturally acceptable. In mainstream culture, for good or ill, Game of Thrones is deemed to be culturally sanctioned, Hentai is not. It sucks for Hentai enthusiasts, but it’s no different than the reaction you’d face if you were vocally into BDSM or any other labeled kink. 50 Shades of Grey is still pretty popular.

    Ultimately, the irony is that both you and Kollar want the same thing: For Atlus to spend its FINITE resources localizing games that fit your definition of what “good” is. You disagree on what constitutes good, but it’s the same argument in both cases. Like both of you, I would personally prefer that they spend their money localizing things that speak to me as a viewer. Interesting Otome or something along those lines wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

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  7. I don’t know if it’s accurate to say that the “Games Press” has lost its mind as much as it is to say that what is happening is simply a reflection of larger gaming trends and trends in the media. What you’re seeing on Polygon and similar sites is simply a reflection of the larger shift in gaming from a niche audience to a mainstream audience, with the press being the witness and documentarian to this change.

    What you’re witnessing with Polygon is the intersection point of a previously very focused and curated tribal narrative coming into full contact with the larger narrative of the general cultural zeitgeist — the mainstreaming of games awareness – with predictable results. You are correct: What is noteworthy about these publications is that they DON’T speak with the same voice of the people who bought Nintendo Power back in the day but they DO speak with a voice more similar to what you’d find in a publication like the Toronto Star or the New York times — i.e. Joe Western Citizen vs Joe Gamer.

    I think the perception that the games press is alienating its audience is pretty debatable, but it depends on how you define audience. You can argue about whether Polygon is alienating the niche ‘hardcorez’ perhaps, but I’m not even sure that the majority of Polygon’s readers would count as the niche hardcorez audience you describe. Gaming is mainstream now – high schoolers play games, dads play games everybody plays games. I am absolutely Teh Hardcorez and a grown-ass man besides and Polygon doesn’t alienate me, particulary (nor does Katawa Shoujo, natch). Mostly they just sound like what the general readership Toronto newspapers would say if questioned about the same topics.

    Whether something is or is not porn, or artistically valid porn (erotica?) and/or whether porn is or is not a legitimate and valid cultural product is a totally fair question to ask, but you must accept that the arbiter of that question in the mainstream view at the end of the day ends up being existing social and cultural norms. That is LITERALLY what Porn is according to its pedantic legal definition: Sexual content percieved to be without redeeming artistic merit that bucks the “polite company” pulse of whatever environment it’s placed inside – which is why the first thing you have to do if you are legally accusing someone in court on pornography charges is to demonstrate how the sampling of sexual material falls outside what would be culturally acceptable. In mainstream culture, for good or ill, Game of Thrones is deemed to be culturally sanctioned, Hentai is not. It sucks for Hentai enthusiasts, but it’s no different than the reaction you’d face if you were vocally into BDSM or any other labeled kink. 50 Shades of Grey is still pretty popular.

    Ultimately, the irony is that both you and Kollar want the same thing: For Atlus to spend its FINITE resources localizing games that fit your definition of what “good” is. You disagree on what constitutes good, but it’s the same argument in both cases. Like both of you, I would personally prefer that they spend their money localizing things that speak to me as a viewer. Interesting Otome or something along those lines wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

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    1. I have two issues with your argument. The first is that there is more of an outsized difference with how the gaming public and companies treat sex and violence than there are in other media, at least since the first half of the 20th century. And if you want the gaming space to ever grow up, that part has to grow up as well. The second issue is that in other forms of media there is still a place for sexually dense art and erotica. But with gaming, if there is “too much”, it doesn’t get pushed to a specialty store, it is refused translation or forced censorship or doesn’t even get made. 50 Shades of Grey has certainly come up with some issues of some stores not willing to sell it or only selling it with plastic wrap on. But frankly even Walmart ended up selling it. The Ao version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ended up filling up landfills after it was replaced with the M+ hot coffee removed version. And that game’s content doesn’t nearly approach 50 Shades, the romance novels that I read on a regular basis have more erotic content. But that is only one example. There is nothing wrong with erotic or ecchi games, and there is nothing wrong with hentai. If you don’t want to buy it, don’t. But preventing it from being made or translated is an injustice, and I personally find it culturally perverse to do so. Mortal Kombat X is breaking sales records and review scores, and Dungeon Travelers 2 gets this.

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    2. I apologize for commenting on a months old post, but this comment demonstrates perfectly the style adopted by many cultural critics, so I feel the need to reply to it.

      Cultural critics can’t claim authority to a “mainstream audience” when sites like Polygon shit on mainstream games. FPSs are looked down upon as perpetrators of toxic masculinity and the glorification of military culture. Although the audience for games like Dungeon Travlers is certainly niche, and we can certainly expect disgust from mainstream gamers for its nature, the audience for overt political cultural criticism is small as well. (inb4 “everything is political”)

      You claim that the mainstream gaming audience demands sanitation, but from my experience, they don’t really care about niche games or are unaware of them. They just want to play games. The targeted sociopolitical critique of sexualized games by a select group of critics is different from the mainstream knee jerk reaction to anime tiddies.

      Your examples are whacked up as well. I don’t think the Dungeon Trawlers audience was represented by Nintendo Power and I don’t think Polygon represents mainstream gamers. And hardcore gaming was composed of different niches, existing withing their own worlds, as opposed to the vauge group you propose to be replaced by the moral majority. Lumping Nintendo Power and hentai games together under “hardcore gamers” is ridiculous, and only works within the context of your narrative.

      The entire article was about why Dungeon Trawlers wasn’t just “anime tiddies” so your definition of porn seems misplaced. Moreover, it seems to reveal your attitude towards these things. Artistic merit is subjective. If there is a difference between pornography and art, I don’t care what it is.

      And finally we have the typical “you’re both the same” argument. Like most abstract arguments of this nature, it falls apart when you take into account real world limits. Why should Atlus, who has spent their limited resources specializing in making a specific kind of game appealing to a specific kind of audience, suddenly produce otome games or nonsexualized mainstream games? There are many sources for otome games, and there are many other sources for mainstream games. We all have demands, likes, and dislikes. Some of them are more practical then others. The article criticizing Dungeon Trawlers was a targeted moral judgement, not aimed at influencing design decision for a future purchase. The video game market is not some abstract freeform economic model where all demands can be fulfilled by all parties without constraints. Companies and consumers have to be pragmatic about these sorts of things.

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