6 mins read

So there’s a little game called Conception: Please Have My Baby that has been released in Japan on the PSP. Amazingly (though likely under a different name), it is coming to the west too.

By all accounts it’s a really good game. Produced by Spike Chunsoft, it’s got reliable pedigree behind it, and the trailers and critical reception in Japan should see it become a cult hit in the West. But it’s also highlighted for me a hypocritical, borderline offensive trend in the west that I have felt it’s high time I commented on, and boiled down it’s this: games (almost always Japanese games) that are high in sexual content (whether perceived or genuine) are derided while violence (FPSers being the tip of the iceberg) is glorified.

Want proof? Wander into a typical game forum and mention Conception: Please Have My Baby or, even better, Love Plus. Contrast it to the reaction you’ll see over a hyperviolent game like Call of Duty or a Grand Theft Auto game. Fans will be fans regardless, but where those that criticise Call of Duty will do so for the flaws they see in the game itself, those that criticise the sex-heavy games criticise the people that play the game. There is little discussion out there about how Conception or Love Plus play. Rather, they have been labelled as “games for perverts” and dismissed on that basis.

For perverts, right?

In extreme cases it borders on racism. Have a look around, I guarantee you’ll find comments on “those weird/ sick Japanese,” out there in relation to these games. A week later the people that pass those comments will shake their heads as they type onto Twitter or forums about how incorrect the latest study linking Call of Duty to real-world tragic shootings is.

In other words, there is a built-in hypocrisy in mainstream gaming culture and the assumption that while violent games are kosher and people are able to emotionally distance themselves from them to enjoy the experience, those games that include sexuality are only for people that are unable to emotionally distance themselves from the game. The assumption is that the only way to enjoy a game like Conception, or Love Plus (or any of the games on this list, while we’re at it) is if you’re also the kind of person that goes hunting for a schoolgirl underwear vending machine if you’re in Japan.

But why is this? It’s a good question and it would take a far better sociologist than me to explain it comprehensively, but the reasons are cultural. Japan, for all its conservativeness, is a relatively open society when it comes to sexuality. Historically Japan has not been substantially influenced by the sexually repressive religions, and so somewhat paradoxically the culture that has a million different cultural rules demanding who you can address in what fashion has relatively few taboos about sex. It’s not being progressive (like parts of Europe, which have broken away from tradition to become liberal nations), it’s just a non-issue.

For perverts, right?

This has given rise to an unusual sense of humour that doesn’t always translate in the west. Sometimes it does, but when it hits a raw nerve of sorts – an area that, like sex, is still an uncomfortable topic in the west – much of the humour gets lost. The Atelier games, or Hyperdimension Neptunia, and I’ll be my house that Conception is the same – these are funny, charming games. Love Plus, for all its reputation, isn’t even about sex. It’s a teen romance story, little different to a movie like Ten Things I Hate About You.

Occasionally a Japanese developer gets away with the sexual content, but that’s only when they frame it in terms that westerners understand. Grasshopper Manufacture is the ideal case study here. Shadows of the Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw (especially Lollipop Chainsaw) are filled with sex, but because the developer, Goichi Suda, has framed his games within the grindhouse genre, the associations there have earned his games a pardon from the western gaming community. Most Japanese developers are not trying to make games specifically for western audiences though. GUST sure isn’t, so a lot of the character of the games GUST produce is lost in translation.

And that miscommunication has unfortunately put people off games that are actually quite good. If we’re able to talk about Call of Duty without spending ten paragraphs on the violence and the impact that’s going to have on the brains of young children, then we should be able to talk about these Japanese games without wasting words qualifying whether they’re perverted or not.

Completely wholesome!

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  • I get where you are coming from, but come on. Take the canceled X-box Kinect title Milo for example. The game isn't made in japan yet you have people that are glad that the game is canceled. They call it "a pedophiles dream." Anyone that was looking forward to title is a pedo, no ifs, ands, or buts. But thing is that game had so many great concepts that used Kinect to it's full potential. Despite that, since the game featured a boy, "pedophile" could not be disassociated with title. So hypocrisy? Not so much. 

  • You're talking about one game (which didn't even have sex, as far as I'm aware. I'm sure you're intelligent enough not to equate the existance of a boy in a game as a game for pedophiles, so I'll take your word for it).

    How is that proof that every game that features sexual themes is for perverts? Manhunt 2 and Mortal Kombat got banned in Australia, too. Does that mean that anyone who plays any game with violence is a psycopathic killer, "no ifs, ands, or buts"?

    And furthermore, the point of the article was as much about how these games get labelled as "for perverts" before anyone has even played them. You haven't played Milo, and I'm certain Lionhead didn't come out and say "yep, we made this game for perverts." Therefore your reaction is no better than if a someone decides sue Activision for causing a high school shooting with Call of Duty without ever having played the game, or had it analysed by actual trained psychologists.

  • can't disagree based on my knowledge but my question is: how is violence perceived in japan compared to america?

  • Japan has a sensitivity towards certain kinds of violence – nuclear weaponry, for instance, tends to offend and the nuclear bomb had to be removed from that town in Fallout 3.

    But otherwise Japan is, historically, a martial nation, and get along just fine with violence. There are plenty of hyperviolent games made by Japanese developers that go well in the market, and even the FPS genre is starting to pick up over there as gaming reaches a broader audience.

  • this is not a good article man.

    you are merely basing your judgement on 1 out of 10 internet who talk about Love Plus.
    if there are 8/10 community on the internet talking about how perverted the game is, then we have an issue, since it's only 1 out of 10 community of the internet, this is nothing.

    It's like people who complain about Spiderman 3 Sam Riami movies while you have others who did enjoy them.

    And ecchi and violence have two different settings. Western are addicted and known for violence while Japanese are known for sexual themes.

    You make any games in Western today and people will always want blood/gore/violence.
    You make any games in Japan today and people will want a female that looks like a hoe or some sort of sexual theme or innuendoes.

    stop trying to defend Japanese games over the content they use and attacking American gamers who complain about them. Like I said it is 1 out of 10 which is pointless and not 8 out of 10.

  • The fact that you think that I'm "defending" anything implies that you think I feel the need to defend the content in some Japanese games. That proves my point. I don't need to defend the content because it's not wrong in the first place. The Japanese make good games. That there's sexual content in it is irrelevant and westerners get so hung up on it that they forget there's a game under the exposed bosom.

    (For the record, the Japanese are just as capable of developing hyperviolent games. Go play Ninja Gaiden 3). 

  • you are defending them because you don't know what they are talking about.

    Ok think of this scenario.
    You have a good friend, he's into child porn. You know he's wrong to be looking at pictures and you keep nagging to him to stop the crap he's doing. Yet your friend complains you love mature porn.

    Please tell me which one is the wrong doing the most? obviously the child porn. This is how many people from Western see things, from our eyes and point of view, half of what Japanese displays in their games are wrong TO OUR eyes, but from their eyes it's ok.

    Take a look at the controversial game Rapelay, the studio who made that game has been making other similar games much like Rapelay. Rapelay is an old game I think developed in 2007 and got it's controversial in 2009 or 10. The controversy was so much that it was brought upon the UN (women's right) to call for a law of ban on that game and Japanese sexual theme kind of games. The studio themselves and distributors even blacklisted Western countries against distribution.

    Seriously, who in their right mind in West would approve and support Rapelay- a game about you playing as a rapist?
    again you can bring up another violence game such as Manhunt, a game you play as a killer and killing people in gruesome ways. But remind yourself that people took action against the game that made it got banned.

    This is why people complain about Japanese games and their sexual theme. What is this lollicon or lolipop Japanese theme? even though they are little girls in anime drawing, it is still child porn, like it or not!

    Basically the themes and contents that are in Japanese games and gets distributed, have the right to judge by us. Because it may not suit our taste. Because they are Japanese, it suits their taste and it is alright. I've seen stuff that I was expecting to be released in West but was not, this was done because of localization and judgement- Western will not like this particular type of game or theme. A game like Berserk on PS2, after seeing the gameplay on Youtube, I knew why it would have failed in the West. Or Shenmue The Movie, I knew why it was exclusive to Japan (and even RELEASED IN THE CINEMA) because the west would not enjoy it (even though the edited version came out later on Xbox)

    And Ninja Gaiden 3 was violence because it was aimed towards the West. Japanese do make violence games but it isn't part of their trends.

  • A wise man (ok, me, but I know what I'm talking about here) once said that the only people who have a right to criticise a culture are those who have existed within a culture for long enough to understand that culture.

    If it is as you said that people are criticising the Japanese culture that has lead to the production of this game, then it's even worse than I originally opined. What is criticism of another culture without understanding the culture? Racism. If you can't establish a measurable negative impact on society through a cultural quirk (and Japan has a lower rape rate than almost anywhere in the developed world), then it's ignorance, if not racism, to persist in that criticism. 

    There is no more proof that a game like Love Plus leads to rape than Call of Duty leads to a kid picking up a gun and shooting up his school. Not that Love Plus is even about sex. The other problem I mentioned is that people criticise the likes of Love Plus and Conception without even having a clue what the game is actually about. 

    By all means no one is forcing you to play these games. But the fact remains that not you, or anyone else, has grounds to label these games "perverted" or the people that play them "perverts." That was what my opinion piece was about, remember. 

    (Rapelay was a very poor example. I am clearly talking about games with sexual themes here, not pornographic games. That's a different story entirely, and anyone who has an unhealthy interest in pornographic games is just as perverted as anyone who has an unhealthy interest in film pornography. And there are plenty of westerners that enjoy porn, so that's a whole other kind of hypocrisy).

  • lolz how is it racism?
    to me it is perfectly fine to what Japanese can do and produce in their movies, games and anime. Japanese always make bizarre stuff which are weird to me and to many people. Reason why we always see the word "weird" used whenever someone is talking about Japanese. This is fine and perfect because that is what makes them unique. Are they complaining about this? NO

    Calling it racism is far stretching, again exaggerating things, you are simply backing up the Japanese. There is no racism in this, it is merely judging without understanding. Just like you said about someone not understanding another's culture will see things weird and differently.

    And funny how you completely ignored my scenario example about child porn:/

    I don't know the crime stats in Japan, but rape is the biggest concern, rape or sexual harassment. Go to the train station and see how women get groped all the time. There ARE far unaccounted/reported crimes about rape, remember that half of the women don't even report rape crimes because they are embarrassed or afraid.

    I don't know what Love Plus is or Conception, but let the west complain about it! It's not as if this complain is like Rapelay controversy. Like I said before 1 out of 10 internet community are only complaining about the game! If there are more than 1 out of 10, believe me I would have heard about this news. I'm all about the gaming industry and it's news.

    Please define perverts and why people associate a content as perverted.
    -"A person whose sexual behaviour is regarded as abnormal and unacceptable"-
    Japanese has a lot of that kind of sexual behaviour, take a look at their Game Shows, it has "pervert" content description all over it.
    In the end we are not Japanese so it is perverted and strange, and bizarre to us but to them it is normal.

    You are taking this out of proportion, making a big deal out of nothing. Rapelay was a perfect example in my eyes.
    It is obviously clear from my analogy and your theory that you are clearly defending them, but it is perfectly fine to defend.
    You are not Japanese, although you accept the things they do, even watching Loli porn aka Child porn (which you ignored from my post). Yet defend the Japanese because of how Western judge their games.
    Why don't you come up with a better article: "How ignorant the Japanese are towards Games development and disapprove of 'Change' in their game design".
    Not by making a defending article about what 1 out of 10 people on the internet complain about 2 particular "perverted" games localized to the West!

    I don't care about the contents Japanese put in their stuff because I'm not Japanese but if these bizarre contents starts to make their way to distributed and localized goods for West and they displeases me, I will complain! 

  • I can see your point, which leads to a bigger issue:  where is the line in what is considered child porn?  How come the west perceives one anime character as wrong and perverted, and the Japanesse perceive it as ok?  And what is the definition of "ok" in this context?  We assume the Japs are some what turned on by it, but maybe they have a different experience: maybe to them, it's funny, humoures, perhaps even satirical?  In which case, does it make it any worse then a western comedian making jokes and pedophiles?

    And perhaps there's another angle to be considered.  Perhaps perverted games about child porn and rape could help those that commit those acts contain and control it better.  Statistically violent crime has been declining over the last two or three decades.  Some people believe that maybe violent media help reduce physical aggression, at least towards other people. I certainly think it's true: although I know people that have worked up alot of issues from playing online games 24/7, hardly any of them have the capacity to commit a real violent crime.  They certainly have no interest in fighting a real war.  One of my friends even admitted that if it weren't for all the time he spends on Xbox live, he'd either be in jail or dead.  So, could games with/about immoral sexual themes actually help people manage their perverted sexuality better? 

    Forget about child porn, I think the western attitude towards sex in general is wrong.  Most "men" these days can't even look a female of their own species in the eye, let alone fulfil their biological purpose of reproducing.  There needs to be less sex, more openess about sex.  Sex shouldn't be a tabboo of any kind, we should be able to address it for what it is.  The western tries to push it down, talk about it in secret, with people they trust.  No wonder they sexualize EVERYTHING, they can't express their sexuality in a normal way, so they have to add tits and abs to everything they do.

  • I think you nailed it in your first paragraph – a lot of the moe otaku games are actually the Japanese sense of humour. They're actually poking fun at the same group of people that westerners think the games are made for. A lot of the humour gets lost in translation if you don't know the Japanese culture fairly well though.

    As for child pornography, that is an entirely different issue. Japan has laws as strict as any otheer western nation around child pornography. The difference is that the culture is more open about sexuality. Moe otaku is not pornography. It's self referentially sexy in a humourous way, but Japan makes a clear distinction there, where western culture tends ti be far more one note (ie skin = pornography).

  • "You're talking about one game (which didn't even have sex, as far as I'm aware. I'm sure you're intelligent enough not to equate the existance of a boy in a game as a game for pedophiles, so I'll take your word for it)."

    This is exactly the point I made earlier.  In the west, they push it down and try and pretend the problem isn't there, so they end up seeing it in everything.  Hence, a game that features a little boy in it, is instantly connected to pedophelia in the typical modern western mind.  Making the connection isn't wrong in itself, just make your jokes, accept it and move on.  Then it doesn't become an issue.  And as you said about the Japs, it's a non-issue for them.

  • what is considered right and wrong depends on one's culture just like GamesandBiz put it and explained.
    How do you considered who is weird and who is normal? if you follow what everyone's is doing is that considered normal? Sometimes you have to judge what is right and wrong even though some people are following this act.
    Is it right for people to traffick women? the ones who do think it is right because there's money to be made, whereas us and others think it is wrong and are trying to stop again. Again things ending up between Good and Evil.

    Lolicon is part of Japanese culture, a trend or sub-culture (from my opinion). I just want to hear the majority of Japanese opinion and input of what they think of lolicon, because half of the stuff you see Japanese do and produced are essentially not "approved" but Japanese citizens. Why would the company who develop a game like Rapelay ironically Rape and sexual assault being a problematic crime in Japan, how can the company keep on making similar games like that and people of Japan are not complaining? Perhaps they do but the complaints and news are not being reported or translated.

    What about the Japanese Tsunami? when other Japanese were trying to help the fallen and stranded, we had other Japanese men using this opportunity to rape helpless and innocent women. So I believe half of the stuff Japanese people do are not approved by other Japanese citizens, they just don't speak their voice on it or think it is important because they are not physically harmful.
    Yet you guys think half of the stuff they do are right despite not being a Japanese breed.

    It's like going to Africa where people cast voodoo spell against each other, from your point of view, you would say it is perfectly fine for them to keep casting voodoo spells against others because "it is their culture".
    Please look at my post about the Good and Evil. Many will think doing this act is fine while others will think doing the act is wrong! We cannot determine what is Normal and what is Weird.

    LOL…people who commit crimes and those acts should be jailed man! What a silly excuse! –"I am mentally retarded as I view killing people as fun, give me violent games to keep me sane and in control"–. Please get real! One who keeps on doing bad habit will always continue to perform the bad habit like it or not.
    Throw him in jail and shower him with violence game to keep him sane, or go to Mental hospital to get treated.

    Again you sound like another Japanese defender just like GamesandBiz, the problem with two of you is that you are making it a big deal. Why do you care about what 1 out 10 people complain about? If 5 out of 10 are complaining, then you can add your input. This article is not even an open letter to the people who complain about Love Plus or Conception.

  • This article is right. Anyone who has doubts look at how TERA was censored and handled in the N.A. and the comments associated with it. Because a stomach and leg.
    Westerns believe anyone who plays these games are perverts bound to cause real-life damage. Not only is this borderline racist and paranoid but it's obvious that America has a deep-seat hatred for anything sexual. Especially if it comes from Japan. Which is sad because the same americans that cry about video-games are probably the same ones who go to parties drunk and have "sex" with everyone, or let their friends or family-members do it. Or dress inappropriately in real-life themselves.
    This country is filled more with politically correct "E FOR EVERYONE" when it comes to games. All the blood, gore, and head-busting explosions and violence in FPS shooters is good and fine. I find that ridicolous people can see so much blood and violence and cringe at seeing a leg on some fictional cartoon character in a game.
    The only way this can change is for people to start protesting against fictional characters and games being needlessly censored because it'll "offend" some moral-bound christian ethnic person out there or soccer-mom that views video-games as a source of real life, for little kids, and for nuns. And these are games marked M and up.
    FPS/WOW/COD players are one of the worst generation gamers out on the market right now. And the western market caters to them now. Year after year the video-games become more and more violent and it's "Acceptable". But anything fantasy, anything sexual or a tiny hint of sexuality is deemed the devil's hell spawn.
    I hope some day the market returns back to being more diverse like it was once before. Maybe it'll happen in 30-years but if people don't stick up for their rights to enjoy entertainment like anyone else then we'll simply be seeing games, manga, and anime disappearing from America completely unless it's "DragonBall" or "Naruto".
    And the only way that can happen is for people to start pushing for their freedom of speech through politics. Because if one game or form of work is censored, it affects all of us. And knowing America it's bound to have everything get so tight where you can't even play a game with someone's stomach showing without it being illegal! Totally ridicolous.
    America needs to stop being such pilgrim nuns against anything sexual in entertainment industry of gaming and shows. If it's marked for the appropriate age-group because of the content then it shouldn't be a problem. Especially when it's just fiction. If you can see heads exploding and bodies flying then mature people should be able to see a leg or a thigh on a fictional character.

  • Xion your a typically example of a FPS fanboy and a Xbox360 "uber kool" guy probably from the facebook generation crowd.
    Anything that doesn't fit the "violent" quota of gaming is considered offense, trash, and those who play those games as offensive, trash.
    Anything that Xion doesn't like will get censored, EVEN if Xion never buys the product, never plays the product, and never bothers to realize that there are other forms of entertainment and fictional purposes out in the world or cultural references in said products.
    That's the entire problem and don't act as though there is no racism involved because there is. Comments like Phil-Fish, the typical attitude of the MMO western that says "All asian games suck, are grindfest" and the attitude of anime/manga being even below comic-books is ostriching.
    Your allowed to enjoy your head-blowing, body crushing, BioShock Big-Daddy type games anytime you want where the games stimulate killing hundreds of people labeled as "NPC" and "It's just a game" with no judgements.
    But at the same time ""players"" like yourself want to restrict and trash-label the very PEOPLE who choose to play the non-Bioshock games. Who could be anyone, male or female, ""White"" or Asian, Black or Hispanic. Because something as ridicolously silly as skin showing on the stomach, the leg, or the arm.
    And for your information all your "Big-Boobed" games your playing probably came from the inspiration of asian-styled artist on board working in the design department of that game. So when you see a very attractive, non-boxy, pretty looking character in an advanced game it's probably because an asian did the art-design.

  • i see 'judging' is your speciality eh?
    yes I love FPS, my first was Doom 95. But i favour Hack n Slash Action any day over FPS.

    No I dislike Xbox 360 even though I had one before, I own a ps3. I dislike facebook as I use Google+.

    I've grown tired of violence, I wasn't affected that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 removed dismemberment and blood nor NInja Gaiden 3 not having blood.

    Western are used to FPS and violence while Japanese are used to their fetish ecchi and anime. To each is own, and I won't be surprised if you are Japanese yourself or Chinese. Japanese say American games are big beefy men, FPS, Action and violence. While American say Japanese games are all about lilcon, anime, robot, kids saving the world in RPGs and ecchi.

    and last, spell my f**ing name right!

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