WTF?!? Japan – Eroge/Visual Novel Pet Peeves

Haganai_shark

Against my better judgment, I decided I’d like to write a review on the game Daibanchou: Big Bang Age. You see, Daibanchou is an eroge with RPG elements. For those of you who don’t know, an eroge – sometimes called a hentai game or H-game – is a Japanese video game that features erotic content, most often with anime-style artwork. So you can probably see why I’d be hesitant to post something like this in a public forum. This is not that post, by the way. Look for the review/final impressions in my next post, which should hopefully be up not long after this one. This is more of a warm-up for that review so you can understand my head-space while I was playing it.

To be honest, I don’t play very many eroges or visual novels in general; I think I’ve only ever played about five in total, but that’s not to say I’m not overly familiar with them because when you’re inundated in the culture, you tend to pick up on a lot of things. Truth be told I’m kind of a sucker for an attractive character design and am compelled to discover the character’s origin. Researching trivial things is kind of my forte.

How can I say no to this face?

How can I say no to this?

Personally, I tend to find them a bit tedious and trite in a lot of ways. CG stills of sex scenes do very little for me and the cringe-worthy dialogue and narration describing the sexual encounter in detail does even less for me. But as you may know, many of the romantic-comedy anime shows out there these days are actually based on preexisting eroges that have been stripped down into one route and with all of the sexual content completely removed. These are often referred to as harem shows, and they usually end with the protagonist either choosing one specific girl or never settling and keeping the possibilities open for all of the harem candidates. So sometimes it’s tempting to check out the other story possibilities the multiple routes provide, while also potentially satisfying one’s curiosity as to how all the sex factors in.

That having been said, I have a few problems in general with these sorts of games and I kind of wanted to clear the air and explain why. That’s kind of why I created this blog in the first place (to air grievances, not discuss eroge). Granted, it’s probably a bit unfair to put this under the WTF?!? Japan banner, but given that it’s somewhat related and I’m about to crap all over the eroge format, it seemed only fitting.

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Is A Video Game Minus Game Play Still A Video Game?

This post can be considered something of a illegitimate quasi-incestuous sister post to my last one.

I know the article in question may be old, but I only learned about it a few weeks back while listening to a recent The Indoor Kids podcast. Apparently back in 2006, Killer Betties interviewed Bioware writer Jennifer Hepler to get a woman’s perspective of working in the gaming industry. While she gave several enlightening responses, there were two in particular that rubbed gamers the wrong way, which is a kind way of saying a lot of gamers got up in arms and took to message boards with a vengeance armed only with bad grammar, sexist epithets and the ever-present homophobic slurs.

Here are the offending answers:

Q: What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

A: Playing the games. This is probably a terrible thing to admit, but it has definitely been the single most difficult thing for me. I came into the job out of a love of writing, not a love of playing games… I’m really terrible at so many things which most games use incessantly — I have awful hand-eye coordination, I don’t like tactics, I don’t like fighting, I don’t like keeping track of inventory, and I can’t read a game map to save my life.

Q: If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?

A: A fast-forward button. Games almost always include a way to “button through” dialogue without paying attention, because they understand that some players don’t enjoy listening to dialogue and they don’t want to stop their fun. Yet they persist in practically coming into your living room and forcing you to play through the combats even if you’re a player who only enjoys the dialogue.

Let me first clarify that this blog post is in no way an attack or dismissal of Jennifer Hepler’s opinion of video games. Her answers simply raise a compelling question about the symbiotic nature of storytelling and game play in video games. But while it is not my intention to belittle or go into full-on fanboy rage over Ms. Hepler’s statements, I would still like to address them.

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