This was originally a part of this week's installment of #TheCool and while writing it I felt that this deserved its own space to be heard. So here it is in all the glory! Learn something!
I felt that I would chime in on this censorship issue that made the rounds about Bravely Default this week seeing as I avoided posting in the GAF thread in question for all the no duh reasons you could think of. My stance on censoring content as part of the localization process is this. As a gamer I want to play games as close to the original vision as I can. It is one of the main reasons I import games. Everywhere in the world has their sticking points when it comes to this stuff. America with sexual content. Japan with over the top violence. And depending on where you are elsewhere it can vary depending on who's calling the shots of what you ultimately get to see. This isn't as much of a freedom of speech issue as it is a human right to express ourselves and enjoy what we wish. And sometimes when you take a stand and enjoy what you wish is that people love to label people for whatever reason.
In the case of the above picture I've seen the word pedophile thrown around like a feather and that isn't OK. In today's society that's a heavy claim to throw around and because somebody is OK with something you aren't doesn't warrant that word to be used in that way. And seeing what pedophile is actually defined as is that it may not be the word you wish to use in instances like these anyway. Now when people cross that line and commit crimes that warrant that word being used in the way that it is then that's a issue and the law deals with those who cross said lines as the law says to do so. Now back to the point though. The issue here is with the "self censorship" that this game is being subject to by adjusting the ages of the characters, the dialogue and a lot of the costumes that the different jobs in the game represent. Looking at the content in context is that the changes aren't even warranted. All it takes for a small few to make a fuss to make companies who want to stay in business take a step or 2 back.
The thing is that in the localization process there are things that have to happen in order to make it palatable to a general audience. In most cases when this process takes place is that general audience isn't paying the game any mind and those who do just want an organic experience with the game in a mostly unaltered state. On the reverse side of the coin is that localizing something costs money and because of the ESRB and the Big 3's stance on what will be on the platform is that these changes have to be made or the game won't even come out. I've wanted for years for somebody in the industry to actually use the AO rating but that fear of your game won't sell at major retailers and the stigma that goes with it is that the art somebody could create with that freedom is dampened because people have to make a living. Or in the case of Bravely Default is just leave it as it is and just use the M rating. That is why it is there. For companies to use. But again because companies have bottom lines to deal with is that they take the safe route and do what's necessary to get it to market. I felt that if the Big 3 accepted AO games and that company just sold it online which would keep the children you're allegedly protecting from this content and give a way for the art form to be used to its fullest extent without that fear of the product succeeding.
In the end it's all about the ebb & flow of cultural differences. Even though the view of some will never represent every single viewpoint that exists is that this will continue to be a facet of video games until the form and those in it mature a bit more as a whole and this'll be less of an issue when it does happen. I for one hope that day does come where a game that may have some questionable content is just released as it is somewhere else. It'll save me a couple of bucks and for that company releasing that game is that I won't be as ready to pull the trigger to go to the nearest import site to get the complete experience that the game was created to provide the player before it was altered. One step at a time though. One step at a time!
-Triple Da G.O.D!