Cries of censorship have grown louder with the recent release of Fire Emblem Fates. A few changes have rubbed gamers the wrong way, as gameplay elements and a story beats were removed to match American sensibilities.
After years of fighting to recognize games as art, it’s easy to see why this could be viewed as censorship. The original vision has, by appearances, been compromised for the sake of cleaning up a narrative and not offending the sensibilities of some. There are good arguments to be made against this practice, to be sure. However, the moves have been decried with a level of vitriol we don’t often see. Amidst record sales for the series, social media has been flooded with calls to boycott the games and stop these seemingly corrupt practices.
The story goes a bit deeper than these arguments allot for. Despite fan backlash, these changes are comparatively minor. We have seen larger changes implemented in the name of localization before, and these decisions can come from any number of sources. Not only does the background to these decisions matter, but the unique nature of the game industry can show us why these changes are not necessarily the dastardly “SJW machinations” they may seem. Even if they are misguided decisions, perhaps a frenzy is not the way to argue them.
I am not a fan of the term “clickbait.” It’s often used as a way to negate a person’s opinion without actually addressing the content of their statements. It’s most often associated with “SJW” (or Social Justice Warrior) topics, such as those discussing racial/gender biases in nerd culture. Sometimes, however, it’s the most appropriate term. Sometimes, an article is just pushing buttons for the sake of pushing buttons, whipping up a frenzy over a perceived slight to gain notice. I’m not even innocent of this, though I assure you I only do so with the intention to entertain and not to witch-hunt.
There are a few topics that geek culture is easily riled over, and these are easy topics for clickbait. The Star Wars prequels, the Matrix sequels, the Schumacher Batman movies, and many more are targets of nerdy rage whenever mentioned. There’s a common thread across most of these—they’re new entries in a cultural darling that don’t quite match up with their predecessors. Many use the same shorthand for these entries: they don’t exist. “It’s a shame there was only one Matrix movie!” “I sure am glad they stopped making Star Wars movies after Return of the Jedi!” “Final Fantasy ended after FFX!”
And hey, look at that last one! Final Fantasy is a series near and dear to my heart. The games are great comfort food to me, and I have fond memories of sharing those games with friends and family. Today, a friend posted a Cracked article about the decline of the Final Fantasy series. There are plenty of reasons to have lost interest in the direction of the series. I’m not here to defend some of the odd choices Square Enix has made regarding the series in the past few years. Rather, I’m here to examine the flawed logic and pointless rage that drives one to write an article like this, and the witch hunts that spawn in the comments soon thereafter.
Mostly, though, it’ll be fun to take the piss out of some nerd rage.
Twitter has been abuzz about Cards Against Humanity lately, primarily (though not entirely) spurred by the Shut Up & Sit Down review that hit yesterday. It’s actually something worth reading- a thought out and well written take down of controversial game. There is definitely discussion to be had regarding celebrating free speech vs using that speech to punch down at underrepresented and marginalized groups. I have never been easily offended (having lived a life where the worst I would get called is “nerd”), so it’s valuable to hear about things I have never had to experience. It makes me a more well-rounded person, and forces me to consider lives outside my scope of experience. That’s part of the reason for this blog- to expose readers to a life that has taken a different turn than their own.
I’m not going to talk about that, though. I’m going to talk about the hop-ons derailing an interesting discussion to put on their “I’m So Smart” cap and sneer down at the unfunny masses.
I love to really dissect a movie. Good or bad, whether I liked it or not, my favorite thing to do after a movie is to spend the next hour or two discussing it. My wife is my most common partner in this, as we tend to like about the same level of analysis and we see most new things together. And this goes beyond movies- games, TV shows, books, any media I consume is ripe for a nice, long discussion. But not everyone is in the same boat. Plenty of my friends pass simple judgement and carry on, with some even disliking voicing a negative opinion. Some see differing opinions as an opening to an argument, rather than a discussion. Countless internet arguments have spawned from reviews that fans disagree with. But sometimes, the discussion itself is the best entertainment possible.