MoeGamer? WTF, dude?
Yep, MoeGamer. It’s a site about modern — and not-so-modern — Japanese (and Japanese-inspired) video games and visual novels, with a particular (though not at all exclusive) focus on those titles that adopt the moe aesthetic; that is to say, the distinctive, clean lines and puppy-dog eyes of characters specifically designed to elicit feelings of affection or even love in the reader, player, viewer, whateverer.
Moe culture is strong in Japan, and it’s been making headway into the West thanks to the work of publishers such as those found in the “Friends of J-Gaming” sidebar over on the right. And yet despite the growing Western audience — an audience that is very dedicated to and passionate about the things it loves — there’s relatively little time devoted to this aspect of interactive entertainment in the mainstream press.
In fact, to be honest, it’s quite rare for Japanese games in general that aren’t from big-name publishers with a ton of marketing clout behind them to get the time of day from the mainstream press. And so it’s up to little sites like this to fill the niche and give these games the time and attention they deserve, not to mention preserving the history of fantastic but underappreciated classic Japanese series.
So, what, you’re going to review games?
Not exactly. Rather than regular game reviews, this site will instead incorporate a variety of different articles about these games. Some will be review-style critiques. Others will be in-depth explorations of characters or narrative themes. Others still will be celebrations of broader aspects of the medium.
Through a combination of “cover games”, which I’ll spend a whole month providing coverage of over the course of at least four articles, and one-off articles about other games and phenomena, I hope to build MoeGamer into a valuable resource for anyone interested in Japanese video games and visual novels — or those works heavily inspired by the Japanese way of doing things.
MoeGamer’s not a blog or a news site. Don’t expect a flurry of daily news stories or immediate knee-jerk opinion pieces based on current events — though you can expect a bit of slightly more timely, immediate commentary during the weekly GameCast, the site’s new “podcast as a visual novel”. (EDIT: The GameCast is currently on hiatus, but I’d like to bring it back at some point! The original episodes are still available for download.) Instead, you can expect detailed, comprehensive breakdowns and analyses of a variety of games and visual novels from both yesterday and today.
Note: this means that articles focusing on narrative aspects will typically contain unmarked spoilers, because you can’t analyse something without talking about it!
A lot of the games you cover are from ages ago.
An important part of the MoeGamer philosophy is the idea of the “late review”. That is to say, rather than rushing to cover a game the second it releases and scramble to meet an embargo, all the main features on this site are written after a thorough exploration of a game from start to finish. That means at the very least playing it through from start to finish, and preferably seeing all its endings, possible routes and hidden extras. This latter aspect is particularly important for visual novels.
Being an independent site allows for complete creative freedom to cover things in this way. And not only that, it also allows for the opportunity to revisit past titles that may have passed the mainstream press by completely — like visual novels, which are routinely ignored if they’re not produced by a member of the fashionable Western indie crowd, even if they have notable cultural significance.
A strong message I want people to take away from this site is that good games and creative works are truly timeless, with much more interesting things to be discussed about them beyond their week-one sales figures. Consequently, the games you’ll see covered here will run the gamut from up-to-date modern games to retro classics, taking in everything in between in the process.
Also, I write long-form pieces in preference to other forms of coverage such as video, though I have started experimenting with this over on YouTube. This is because I grew up with games magazines and long-form writing in general, and personally speaking I’d rather read a meaty, well-researched article than watch someone react to a game on YouTube. I know I’m not alone in this, so by writing the sorts of articles I want to read I’m hopefully providing more of what my audience wants to see, too!
What’s your stance on adult content?
I’m all for it. As a strong believer in games (and visual novels, which I’m inclined to think of as a medium in their own right) as art, I think it’s important that creators are able to explore adult, mature subjects and even break some taboos where they think it is appropriate or desirable to do so.
Video games are, by their very nature, a safe place to explore and live out fantasies without hurting anyone. So even in the case of the most… let’s say “challenging” material, I feel it’s important to consider the creators’ intentions when composing those scenes rather than immediately jumping to a negative conclusion and pejorative descriptions. As such, you won’t find any condemnations of creators for a bit of adult (particularly sexual) content in their games here; rather, you’ll find explorations of why this content exists and why, in some cases, it’s important to the work as a whole.
As for the site itself, you’ll find frank and unashamed discussion of these mature themes in the text, but images won’t get any more explicit than underwear or perhaps an occasional bare nipple. In other words, the site is mostly safe for work, assuming your work doesn’t mind you wasting time reading lengthy ramblings about games and visual novels.
What do you think about censorship?
I think you have to know when to pick your battles. Obviously the ideal is that we get full parity between Japanese original versions and the localised editions we get in the West, but this isn’t always practical or possible for one reason or another, particularly when it comes to console releases, where platform holders are notoriously strict — and have different tolerance levels in different regions.
When edits or cuts happen, my attitude is “I’d rather have this game in edited form than not at all” — particularly if the change is something minor and largely irrelevant to the big picture, like not being able to look up a character’s skirt in an optional model viewer tied to DLC, or the lack of a boob slider.
Games getting outright refused classification, banned from sale or accused of being things they’re not though? That’s unacceptable. The rating systems are there for a reason, and responsible adults should be able to make their own decisions on what content to consume.
Where edited content has a noticeable impact on narrative or gameplay, I’ll mention it. Where it’s a minor example such as those listed above, I don’t really care, to be perfectly honest! You may well care, and that’s entirely your call, no judgement here — but I’d rather spend my time and energy talking about the game and narrative as they exist in the form most readily accessible to the English-speaking audience I form part of.
Something something clickbait.
You won’t find clickbait on MoeGamer. Articles have an informative headline that indicates what they’re about, and the introductory paragraphs before the jump will give you a flavour of what the full piece is about.
MoeGamer is entirely funded out of my own pocket and generous Patreon donations. Any ads you see are, at the time of writing, due to the site being hosted using WordPress’ free plan (albeit with domain name mapping); with sufficient Patreon donations I’ll be able to do away with ads altogether and add some additional site functionality in the process, but there’s a way to go before that happens.
If you’d like to help out, drop by my Patreon page and pledge a little each month to help support the site and allow me to expand it over time. Your Patrebucks help keep MoeGamer a clickbait-free zone, as well as showing your support for good-quality writing about Japanese and Japanese-style games and visual novels.