Playing the Lame Presents: Dark Souls III, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and the Greater Scope of Player Interests


Dark Souls III, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and the Greater Scope of Player Interests.

In the interest of full disclosure, this isn’t really an article I’m entirely enthusiastic about writing, even though it’s… going to be kind of on the long side, because I do have a lot to unpack here, regardless of my want toward penning it. The reality is, I’m really enjoying 2016 as a year of gaming so far; I’ve played so many games that were good to great now that I honestly feel like this year would be pretty well regarded even if the rest of the year was pure mediocrity. However, that optimism isn’t really something I’m seeing as a shared vision when looking into discussions on gaming news sites and social media. Rather, the past couple of months have featured two fairly involved conversation chains that, at first glance, don’t seem terribly related: ruminations on whether or not Dark Souls (and games of its ilk) should have Easy Modes, and discussions on “censorship” of Japanese games coming to the US (or not, in the case of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3) or, in rare cases, US games. It’s been a very repetitive past few months, in other words, to follow news discussions if you’re a fan of gaming on the internet, especially given that, for the most part, I don’t really have a dog in the fight in either discussion.

Now, don’t get me wrong, at first some of these discussions were interesting and worth considering. I enjoyed reading through the extensive explanations provided by creators whose opinions I respect as they explained their particular perspective on the theological divides, regardless of the perspectives they held on the divide. Unfortunately, as the discussions picked up steam, both fell into the same trap long-standing discussions fall into on the internet. First, they eventually featured people latching onto the topic who didn’t really have anything to say about it beyond diluting the discussion, either repeating talking points from others with no added content or expressing thoughts that didn’t really add to the conversation in a meaningful way. Second, they eventually spawned writings created by people who actively hate those on the other side and refuse to understand that there’s an alternate perspective worth consideration beyond their own, often devaluing the discussion as a whole. The fact that we’re well past that point and these discussions are still happening is a testament to how these discussion topics are basically circling the drain at this point, and we’re not likely to see the end of them anytime soon.

That said, one thing I have noticed while reading through the many, many discussions on both topics is the faintest hint of a connecting thread of conflicting thoughts amongst one specific side of both debates. That’s never a great topic to discuss, particularly because it ends up pissing off someone sooner or later, but let’s be frank: I’m the same guy who wrote articles about how Bloodborne isn’t a perfect game and about how I really wished people would just shut up about Beyond Good and Evil already, so common sense has never been my strong suit.

The one thing I do want to get off of my chest before we start is my own opinion on both topics, just so you understand where I’m coming from in advance. To put it in the simplest terms possible, I fall into what could almost certainly be called the “majority viewpoint” when it comes to both discussion topics.

In other words: I don’t care.

I miss this emote in Dark Souls III.
Pretty much this.

That’s probably not entirely accurate, actually; it’s more appropriate to say that I can’t care about either subject, because neither one in any way whatsoever affects me. It doesn’t affect me whether or not people want Dark Souls to have an easy mode, because (aside from the fact that From Software will never do this exact thing) implementing an Easy Mode in Dark Souls wouldn’t somehow invalidate my accomplishments in the franchise. In the first place, it’s not like an Easy Mode couldn’t just disallow the earning of Achievements or Trophies to allow players who played the game the “correct” way bragging rights, and in the second place, if From Software did somehow decide to implement this thing, I’d totally understand why (to make money) and I’d wholly endorse it because I want them to make money. Further, it’s not like Dark Souls III doesn’t already have an easy mode anyway; if you’re bad at the game, summon two allies at the beginning of most zones (excluding the two that support Invasion Covenants), use a Seed of a Giant Tree, and boom, Easy Mode Activated. I can confirm this because I’ve been playing this exact way with Sean Madson and J. Rose, and it’s hilarious; enemies buckle in seconds, bosses are often more confused than vicious, and if you get invaded, half of the time the invaders get ruined by the enemies before they even get to you. Even without this option I still wouldn’t care, mind you, but my point is more that this is a thing that exists and the world hasn’t come to an end, so y’know, maybe it doesn’t matter nearly as much as either side seems to think.

(Aside: before people start scrolling to the comments to helpfully inform me that I should be gitting gud, do note that I reviewed the PS4 version of Dark Souls III and played through that almost exclusively offline, with no assistance, so I’ve already gitted plenty gud, and both of my associates have beaten the majority of the games in the Souls series unassisted, so they’ve gitted plenty gud themselves. Further, I routinely summon Mound Maker and Rosaria invaders in combat zones and basically let them kill me to basically provide them with free Covenant items as a community service, because I know Invasions suck this time around and I’m not a complete jerk. So, y’know, shut up.)

I also can’t particularly care about the censorship discussions that have been going on over the past few months because I’ve been alive during all of the console generations, and I’ve seen plenty of games come out that have been edited far more than the games people are upset about now. Does anyone remember the days when the original Persona featured modified artwork that, among other things, changed the races of all of the cast, or how an entire subquest was removed? How about the days when we didn’t even get Persona 2: Innocent Sin because there was a gay character and Hitler was in it? How about Working Designs translations of video games, just, in general? I mean, sure, it’s not ideal that we’re seeing changes made to upcoming games, but do you realize how many games we’re getting NOW that we wouldn’t have twenty years ago? Do you think games like Trillion, Senran Kagura, half of the Atlus RPGs we see in a given time period, Criminal Girls, and Fire Emblem: Fates would have come out in the 90’s? Remember, we didn’t even SEE a Fire Emblem title in the US from Nintendo until 2003, which was seven games into the series at that point, and we didn’t even see the first Mother game until 2015. This isn’t even a Nintendo problem, either; let us not forget that Sony of America rejected, in addition to P2:IS, multiple Sakura Wars titles, Shadow Tower: Abyss, and multiple proposed Working Designs releases (to the point that it killed the company). Hell, they didn’t even release Demon’s Souls, a game they bankrolled (or more accurately, Sony of Japan did), in the US; Atlus had to bring the game to the US, and the gaming world would probably be a whole lot different if they hadn’t. Compared to the situation of twenty years ago, I can’t really be motivated to care that some characters are having their boobs and butts covered up or their dialogue removed in some games, because it used to be so much worse.

With that out of the way, let’s talk Dark Souls.

Of the two discussions, the discussion on easy modes in general and Dark Souls wanting for an easy mode in specific is the one that’s generated the larger volume of professional interest from game critics and pundits, and it’s probably the one that’s generated the most interesting arguments on both sides overall. These discussions have actually, for the most part, been quite illuminating, especially when the authors break these opinions down in ways that are at least somewhat supported by the game and the expressed intent of its creators. One of the best discussions on the subject I’ve found so far comes from one Cameron Kunzelman, who collects some of the more complex anti-easy mode discussions available at present from Matt Lees, Chris Franklin and Adam Smith and dissects them from his own perspective, and it’s outstanding on both sides. All four authors have something interesting to say on the subject that defends their own perspectives appropriately, be it Lees arguing the narrative value of the difficulty, Franklin arguing that the games would be fundamentally different experiences without the difficulty, Smith arguing that the difficulty is part of the core appeal, or Kunzelman arguing against these points in sequence, and it’s honestly quite enjoyable. Everyone has a unique stake in the discussion, a different perspective that ultimately gives the difficulty in the series a fresh perspective and value, and it’s honestly a joy to read these pieces and take in what the authors think on the subject, whether you agree or not.

On the other side, there’s Forbes.

This is canon, by the way.
In lieu of any sort of a confusion emote, please enjoy the image of me using Make Contact in front of a giant brain with eyeballs.

No, really.

About a month ago, Erik Kain wrote a piece in response to an op-ed from International Business Times that stated Dark Souls III needed an easy mode, where Kain essentially argued 1.) no it doesn’t, and 2.) it already has one. (Aside: how weird is it, if you’re older, to realize Forbes and International Business Times are writing competing articles about Dark Souls?) This then inspired another Forbes writer, Dave Thier, to write two pieces explaining not only why Dark Souls needs an easy mode, but why believing otherwise is tantamount to elitism, whereupon Kain wrote a follow-up article explaining that no, such a belief isn’t elitism. Aside from the fact that two Forbes writers got paid to write responses to each other about DARK SOULS, the actual points contained within aren’t… particularly interesting, to be blunt about it. Kain’s core thesis of his first article is fine in theory, but he starts the article off arguing that the games aren’t that bad (which is often a common argument of people who are good at the games), then argues that magic users are often better off early on (not always true, especially in Dark Souls III until the recent patch) and some Covenants offer better player survival options (I presume he means Way of the Blue, which was jacked up until the recent patch, so, not so much), among other less than useful points. Thier, meanwhile, uses the “difficulty limits the appeal” argument in his favor from jump which, aside from being unhelpful in the face of games that move nearly two million units per release, isn’t a compelling argument to From Software and almost certainly never will be. Both also argue on the concept of elitism, with Thier arguing the ‘git gud’ mentality is elitist, while Kain argues that the game being designed as intended isn’t elitist, because it’s fine to have things that cater to a specific group of people. It’s a very circular discussion that hits all of the points we’ve been hitting since the first game came out, and the fact that we’re a month removed from these posts and the discussion is still going on speaks volumes about how far downward it’s gone since then.

The discussion has been largely carried beyond its normal length, however, thanks to the release of an Alpha Demo for Nioh by Koei Tecmo, which is largely considered to be their version of Dark Souls. That doesn’t mean “the Dark Souls of whatever,” either; the game feels like the developers looked at Ninja Gaiden, held up Dark Souls next to it, said “Yeah, we can do that,” and got to work on a Team Ninja developed Dark Souls experience. If you missed the Alpha Demo, I’ll probably write something about it sooner than later, but it was fine in the ways you’d want such a thing to be fine, if perhaps geared more towards the sort of player who enjoys Dark Souls for the difficulty to the exclusion of all else. I brought Nioh up not to discuss its difficulty or experience, but rather to note that in the wake of the Alpha Demo (and its fairly challenging systems) the “easy mode” discussion picked up steam for a bit, carrying the topic on for far longer than any reasonable person would expect it to go on. You’d think that by now the discussion would have mostly petered out, I’d expect, but you’d be wrong once again, as only a few days ago Koei Tecmo released the results of a survey they conducted on the Alpha Demo, which people… weren’t all that thrilled about, shall we say. This has sparked another round of discussions on elitism versus “gitting gud” and the values of easy modes versus the values of artistic vision, and it’s taken a discussion topic that’s fun for a few weeks and turned it into “The Song That Doesn’t End.

Don't blame me, I only linked the song, you clicked the link.
Lamb Chop Troll Face.

Oh, and this isn’t even taking into account the Star Fox difficulty discussion, which I’m not even going to get into here because I’m bored just thinking about it.

On the other side of the coin, the discussions about censorship have mostly been uninteresting from the beginning, largely because they all fall into the category of assuming that the changes made are invariably for the worst. The first thing to understand, of course, is that while this specific iteration of the discussion has been going on approximately since Fire Emblem: Fates was released, the discussion as a whole has been going on a whole lot longer than that. I first saw parts of it pop up when Fire Emblem: Awakening was released in the US, but tracking the discussions back a ways shows that they’ve been going on for years now, but often follow games that are lower on the public visibility totem pole. Niche games have been the subject of this sort of discussion for years, as Criminal Girls and Yakuza III fans can likely attest, but those sorts of discussions haven’t really been publicly visible unless you’ve been on the inside of those communities. If you weren’t paying attention to those games, you almost certainly didn’t see the discussions that spawned from the changes made, leaving these sorts of discussions as something for the diehard fans to partake in, outside of the visibility of the public sphere.

They… weren’t any more compelling back in those days, mind you, but they did exist.

Though really, given the choice between
Basically Japanese dating cafes were removed but the dating was kept in, so Kazuma would just pick up random girls at the Burger Mart. It’s as dumb as it sounds.

Chances are good, however, that for many people, their first exposure to the ins and outs of the discussion was when it was announced that one of the changes made to Fire Emblem: Fates was the removal of a storyline that several fans likened to “gay conversion therapy”: a character, Soleil, has issues around cute women, so the protagonist decides to help… by drugging her with a drink that makes her see men as women and vice-versa, which eventually allows the two to bond over helping her overcome her fears, and in the end they get married. While the storyline isn’t quite as bad as many interpreted to be, you can perhaps see how it could be… problematic, to be sure, and Nintendo opted to cut the discussion altogether rather than try to deal with the fallout of letting it go through as-is due to how it was interpreted, which caused a whole bunch of people to lose their shit over the removal. If this was your first real taste of the controversies, you can perhaps be forgiven for thinking that such scenarios are the norm in this environment, as this particular scenario is one that has a fairly robust backstory and isn’t really cut-and-dry conceptually. On one hand, it’s easy to see how people could have been offended by the story, especially since the US does have dramatic problems with gay conversion therapy being a very real and dangerous issue that continues to exist even today, despite the extensive amount of damage it’s done. Taken from that perspective, it’s not difficult to see how people on that side of things would not at all want a storyline that dealt with something even relating to the topic to make it into the release. On the other hand, the actual translation reads more like a goofy Shallow Hal setup, and Soleil is never stated to be gay, so you can also understand how contextually this might have been an overreaction to interpretations of the text, rather than the text itself. There’s a lot here to unpack, is the point, and it’s clearly a discussion that has a lot of nuance, much of which only came out as the discussion was ramping up, making it a clearly complicated, involved conversation point.

On the other hand, if your first exposure to such discussions was the Tracer or R. Mika butt stuff, I can totally understand if you have no idea what the big deal is, because in those cases, the outrage was… a lot more subjective.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of these discussions by now, but in brief, over the past few months, a lot has come up about character models being changed by the developers for various reasons. Tracer from Overwatch had a win pose changed from one which was out of character to one which was in character, R. Mika in Street Fighter V had one of her camera angles changed to not focus in on her butt, several of the costumes in Tokyo Mirage Sessions (and one costume in Star Ocean 5) have been changed… the list really does go on. All of these changes generally have three things in common: the original content was sexualized (or, in the case of another Support conversation in Fates, violent) in some way, the final content was perceived to be less sexualized (or violent, though the Tracer pose mostly isn’t), and people decried the changes as censorship, which it is in the most basic of senses possible. Nintendo has been put on blast by many people in the internet community for their changes (some of which, admittedly, are more nonsensical than others) and, while they’ve opted not to respond (at all), for the most part people have opted to ascribe their own rationales for the changes. That said, in some cases the companies outright said why they were changing the content, such as when Bandai Namco stated they were toning down the blood in God Eater 2 to get a T rating or when Blizzard stated they were changing the Tracer pose because it didn’t fit her character, and it didn’t change anything. I mean, Nippon Ichi just announced Criminal Girls 2 is getting a US release, and explained in EXTENSIVE detail that they have to make some, frankly, obvious changes to the game because they consulted with the ESRB and were told the game would basically get an AO if released in its current form, which would be financially unreasonable for them to deal with, and people are losing their minds over it. Hell, a Google Image search for ‘Tracer Butt’ now reveals about a hundred horrible fan-art renditions (and a couple fine ones, to be fair) of Tracer’s ass, all with such wonderful phrases as “You triggered/offended luv?” because Blizzard explaining themselves changed nothing. It’s literally a case of people being upset because of change, and no amount of explanations reduced the responses in any way.

Mercy is still my girl, though.
For context. Also because Tracer has a nice butt.

In reality, many of the changes made were made because the people behind the games wanted to either present the games in a way that maintained the perception of the organization as a whole while also ensuring the games were available to the largest possible audience that could acquire them and, in most cases, the characters retained their unique flavor, and that’s not a hard reality to understand. I mean, in the case of the R. Mika and Tracer situations, it was clear the changes certainly weren’t for censorship reasons; Tracer still ended up with a butt shot (just a funny one this time) and as far as Street Fighter V goes, I would counter any argument of censorship with “Laura Matsuda’s alternate costume.” Meanwhile, with TMS, FE:F, GE2, CG2 and Star Ocean 5, the reasons almost certainly come down to a combination of “wanting to ensure the game gets a ‘T for Teen’ rating” (or in the case of CG2, “avoiding ‘AO’ ratings”) and “changing the game because of cultural differences,” and honestly, those are the changes that are going to ensure the game gets into the most hands possible. It’s understandable that some people are upset over the very idea of change, especially when some perceive these changes as being made to capitulate to groups they disagree with, but in the cases where they weren’t made for artistic reasons, they were almost certainly made for monetary reasons. Does that mean all of them make sense? Certainly not; I’m still not completely certain why Nintendo changed or removed some of the dialogue in Fire Emblem: Fates or why Capcom even bothered to change the camera angles in Street Fighter V, for example, given the context of the situation, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I also don’t think most people would’ve given a damn about the Star Ocean V edit (though I don’t think the creator even cares that much since he laughed it off when he expressed he regretted the edit). That said, the majority of the decisions made clearly come down to some easily understood rationales, and it’s not hard to see why the companies would choose to make the decisions in light of understanding those rationales.

To bring this together, as I’ve mentioned a few times, no, most of these discussions aren’t really compelling to someone who doesn’t care one way or the other; to be honest, I’ve mostly included the above as a form of context, not because I wanted to compel you to feel any way about them. That said, as I was reviewing the “easy mode” pieces, I did notice something that I did find to be rather compelling as an argument, such that it motivated me to put this together. Most of the arguments themselves don’t do a lot for me, mind you; on one hand, “it’ll make more money!” isn’t a strong argument to some companies, particularly not From Software, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t be that hard to implement an easy mode in Dark Souls, and while it’s not elitism to believe an easy mode isn’t necessary, it sure is elitism to tell people they’re wrong for wanting it, no matter how noble your intentions. There is, however, one core argument that I’m honestly willing to grant a certain degree of credence to, and it is the defense that not everything has to cater to the specific whims of the person asking for a thing. The rationale, put simply, is that there are some products that simply exist in a fashion such that they are meant to appeal to those who hold a specific belief structure or set of interests, and no one else beyond them. While it’s perfectly fine to project upon those games that you wish they were more accessible to you, they needn’t change to accommodate this wish, and their creators are free to produce the game they feel is best.

In other words, the mentality of “it’s not for you,” while it’s not the most eloquent or pleasant point, is absolutely a valid one.

I mean, did you PLAY this?
It’s also probably the only reason Chulip exists, at any rate.

I’ve had to consider that mentality a lot recently, actually, while playing the beta of Overwatch. In theory, I love the game, because it has within it everything I could ever possibly hope such a game could contain. The game feel is outstanding, the characters are instantly recognizable and memorable, and the game honestly just feels like everything I wanted Brink to be before I discovered it was too busy being Brink. In practice, however, I also know that it’s not really the sort of experience I’m entirely invested in, for one simple reason: it’s a multiplayer-focused game to the exclusion of all else, and all of its lore and world building is entirely in service to a game that’s not going to do anything to advance that. That’s fine, honestly, and I’m totally allowed to wish that this was a game for me as a player, but it’s not, and I honestly have to accept that and either not buy it or buy it and play it in the limited capabilities where such a game would work for me. That’s the thing, though: it’s okay that there are games that aren’t for me, and while I can be sad about that thing, and even write a column about that, I can’t hold it against Blizzard or the players who do want this game that they get to enjoy the game wholly for what it is just because it’s not for me. I get that, and while I appreciate that some people want to play Dark Souls and can’t, I feel like they should be able to get this too.

Having said that…

One of the more interesting patterns I’ve also seen is that, among people who have actively discussed both points is that, in many cases, people who express that it’s fine for Dark Souls to not appeal to you also object to the censorship in the games listed above, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why, because these are, to be blunt, hypocritical viewpoints. I can imagine that some of you reading are annoyed with that expression, but honestly, consider it this way: the argument goes that a company is allowed to decide what content should be in a game and in what fashion that content should exist, and it’s okay sometimes, but only when it agrees with your personal tastes and interests. When it’s From Software making a game that’s difficult for some players to complete, that’s okay, because in order to make forward progress they need to “git gud” and no one should change the games to accommodate because some games are meant to be a certain way. When it’s Blizzard agreeing with a poster rationalizing that a specific character’s pose doesn’t fit in with their character theme and changing it, though, then it’s a problem because you don’t think it should be changed to accommodate that point.

In other words, it’s fine when games aren’t “for you” until they’re not for you, at which point it becomes a problem.

Now, before anyone takes off to the comments to point out how such-and-such game was censored and it’s the change that’s the problem, I’d like to immediately counter that argument with a simple question: do you really feel that way? The reason I ask is simple: in the wake of the Tracer situation, this was the response cycle from a good number of people:

1.) Immediate outrage/snark that Blizzard would change the animation at all,
2.) Intensified outrage/snark that Blizzard did so because one guy suggested it, and
3.) Immediate “oh, okay” responses when the replacement animation was also of a butt.

Relax, I think Ian's fine; he's just the most famous example I could find.
For example.

If you were that person, then you’re not upset because of “change,” you’re upset because of specific changes that, on some level, make the experience different for you. The idea that the game wasn’t for you anymore, because someone did a thing you didn’t like, put you into the scenario where the game was being aimed in a direction you weren’t happy with, and you didn’t care for it… until the replacement animation showed that, oh, no, never mind. In a very broad sense, it’s not the change in general that’s concerning to you, it’s the fact that things are changing in ways that you don’t like that’s the problem, and that’s fine, but all this means is that you’re mad because a thing has changed in a way that makes it, again, not FOR YOU anymore. I mean, I understand, to be sure; I was disappointed when From Software nerfed the Fume Ultra Greatsword, so I get the emotional response, but being publicly angry about it isn’t going to change anything. You can write articles about how skimpy clothes would expand the overall audience and market share of Tokyo Mirage Sessions or draw pictures of Tracer’s butt all you want, but it’s not going to get those things patched back in to appeal to you. The creators have moved in a direction that they feel is more in line with their ultimate interests and vision, and if that means the game isn’t for you anymore, that’s fine to them, because it’s done in service of making the game for a different group you’re simply no longer a part of.

On the other hand, if you weren’t that person, and you’re still upset about the change, then sure, I can appreciate that change is your particular issue, but that’d be akin to being upset because From Software releases any patches for Dark Souls III because it changes the experience in any way from the original. You’re allowed to be disappointed that this thing happened, but things eventually need to be changed in order to make a product the best possible product it can be in the eyes of the publisher, and sometimes this involves changing things people are just fine with. Sometimes shortcuts have to be patched, sometimes weapons have to be nerfed or improved, sometimes boobs have to be covered up, and those are just parts of how the game industry is now. Change, in general, is a part of virtually every game that exists in the marketplace at this point, and whether or not you like it has no impact on its happening. Again, I understand; I was frustrated with the majority of the changes made to Castlevania: Harmony of Despair post-launch, as they changed the experience in several key ways that not only put me off, but put my group of friends that I played with off as well. It happens sometimes, and no amount of objecting changes the fact that I spent money for a game that, based on the decisions of the developers, wasn’t for me anymore. The reality is, I didn’t have a say in that decision; Konami decided that they wanted to move the product in a direction that was no longer for me, and I could either accept it and play or accept it and not play, because I wasn’t the only audience for the product. The changes happening here are no different: they’re being made to get the games into the hands of specific audiences (be they broad or narrow), and if a change happens to make a product fall outside of your frame of reference, that’s fine; not everything needs to be for you, and if a change makes something so, that’s how things work sometimes.

I’m also cognizant of the argument that these changes are being made by the Western publishers (in the case of the non-Blizzard releases), and therefore aren’t representing the core interests of the original developers, but these are in-house developed properties that are owned and produced by the publishers, not singular author creations, so who’s to say that it’s unfair of Nintendo of America to modify their art in ways Nintendo of Japan isn’t? Further, who’s to say that it’s unfair of NISA to make modifications to a game when they have the full cooperation of everyone across the NIS team, including the original artists and developers? I mean, it’s not like there aren’t alternative options; Idea Factory tried out the editing route with Monster Monpiece, then, after poor reception, decided they simply weren’t going to bother porting some games to the US because they didn’t want to change some of Compile Heart’s content, which is respectable, but also limits access to the games for some Western gamers.

To put this all into perspective, the situation is as such: when a company chooses to refrain from changing content to ensure Western release, which is entirely their decision and limits access for some gamers, this is fine, but when a company chooses to change content to ensure Western release, which is (again) entirely their decision and allows greater access in alternate markets, this is literal grounds to call for a boycot and disparage the product and (in some cases) the publisher outright. Given the choice between offering the product, in any fashion, to a public that might accept it and (in turn) work to make such products acceptable in the long run, and refusing to bring the product to the market so that such products always remain a marketplace pariah, the option that draws the least ire is to leave these products in their home markets and restrict their access to the dedicated.

Doesn’t that seem a bit unreasonable?

Remember, this isn’t a publisher forcing Scott Cawthon to change something in one of his personally developed Five Nights at Freddy’s games; Nintendo, Blizzard, Capcom, NIS and Atlus are all singular organizations, and each organization and sub-division within that organization has its own artistic interests and visions they want to uphold when producing a product, be it for profit or personal merit. Auteur Theory doesn’t really apply to any game where a hundred hands are involved in the creative process and no one person is the single most important voice, so you can’t really argue that the vision of the experience is in some way being compromised when everyone involved in the process owns a part of that vision. Now, you certainly can judge the companies for adhering to their own artistic values and interests, but that doesn’t make the argument any less hypocritical, since you’re essentially saying one company can make their own artistic choices but another can’t because you don’t like the choices in the latter case. At most, you could argue that changing a game based on wanting to increase the financial spread is creatively bankrupt, which would at least be internally consistent, but 1.) this still wouldn’t cover all of the changes people are mad at (the Tracer edit and about half of the Nintendo changes, for example) and 2.) this also means you’d have to reject products that exploit anything for financial profit, which honestly seems like a horribly frustrating road to go down.

Look, at the end of the day, as I’ve said, I don’t care about these discussions in the broadest sense, because I can see the merits in both sides, but if you’re going to have them, at least be logically consistent about it. I mean, it’s totally fine to like games that appeal to a smaller, more challenge-oriented demographic, and it’s totally cool if you’re the sort of person who finds mechanically complex, challenging games shouldn’t be toned down. That’s an okay belief to have! It’s also totally cool to have the belief that boobs and butts are awesome, and having them be focused on in some games would be pretty sweet since you like those things. The problem is, it’s internally inconsistent to tell some people “this game doesn’t need an easy mode because it’s not for you,” while also saying “this change is one I don’t agree with and you should change it back!” because, frankly, it’s a self-centric, childish way of thinking. At that point, you’re not defending the ability for a company to make a product that’s “for you,” you’re demanding that everything be made for you, and you’re no better off than the people asking for the easy mode in Dark Souls that you’re actively fighting against. If you want your argument to be considered a serious one, and not the ramblings of a small child, the best thing to do is to understand there’s very little nuance to the arguments we’ve been seeing for the past few months, and either try to sound less hypocritical, or stop making them and let the rest of us not care in peace.

In other words, I guess you could say that if you’re going to keep on going on about this, your arguments need to “git gud,” bro, because as it stands now, they’re clown shoes.

It's exactly what it says on the tin, man.
For reference.

Just a thought.



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3 responses to “Playing the Lame Presents: Dark Souls III, Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and the Greater Scope of Player Interests”

  1. Dighunter Avatar

    Being dismissive of various concepts inherently weakens your points. If you don’t care about these things then why should I believe you have any stake at all in this discussion? You weigh in with a “No you’re both wrong” opinion, when clearly you’re not affected, and as thus, don’t have a part in the debate, because you’d buy things either way. Like it or not, the two parties with the loudest voices are those forcing changes, and those opposing them: ironically both minorities, because no one wants to be seen as forcing changes, but not many people are so committed that they’d fight back against change either.
    But worst of all is the rise of people close to your camp, “sick” of the discussion, and operating purely out of spite, believing that inflammatory attacks and harassment tactics will make the discussion go away. They rarely attack the arguments because they would rather target the speaker, and have severely unbalanced the discussion because they push people to radicalism.

    In addition, equating gameplay balance changes to thematic changes is a false equivalency. I can thoroughly oppose a change that rewrites a game for Westerners, and be against this type of change, without having to oppose balance patches.
    Rewriting and cutting games that aren’t released yet /=/ balance patches created post-launch
    These actions fall into different parts of the development process and can’t be judged in the same manner. So yes, you can totally be against changes that exist only to increase sales by altering thematic and writing aspects, whilst being totally ok with gameplay balance changes.
    Dark Souls is a unique case wherein said gameplay balance falls into the game’s themes, an oppressive vicious world hellbent on keeping you down; it would simply not be the same experience otherwise.

    1. Mark B. Avatar
      Mark B.

      If you define affected as “tired of both of these discussions and hoping people will, at best, stop talking about them and find something of actual impact and merit to discuss or, at worst, hopeful people might at least mine discussion topics within these spheres that aren’t the same thing ad infinitum,” then sure, guilty as charged, I guess. Though I would strongly argue that no one’s changing Dark Souls III or the censored games in favor of the people making the loudest arguments, so it’s not like it’s even having an impact in the grand scheme of things beyond being tired after nearly three to six months of it.

      I have no idea what the second paragraph was referencing, unless you’re implying that people who want the discussions to end are threatening and doxxing people, which… is both not a discussion I’m interested in having or consistent with trends, but okay.

      You’re welcome to feel that way, but I don’t think it’s inherently a disparate comparison in the least. Both forms of change modify the existing game in such a way that it changes the experience on a fundamental level such that it may put off players, dependent upon their wants from the game relative to the game’s presentation as-is, and in both cases, unless the changes actively “break” the game in some fashion, they’re both modifications made by the developer with the end goal of creating a specific experience that’s to their liking as content creators. It’s about player experience and changing said experience in a way that accommodates the most players or the players the creators want to accommodate. Whether that balance change is meant to appease gamers who want a “fair” multiplayer experience (Overwatch, Call of Duty), to change the focus of play from PvE to PvP (Dark Souls III), or to change mechanics in a way that increases PvE challenge (Castlevania, Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom), there’s not THAT much separating this from a change made to modify the aesthetics of a game. They both change the appeal targets, both modify the experience in a way that’s dictated from the developer’s ideal perspective, and both exist to make the game as accessible as possible to the groups the developer wants to appeal to. Just because one affects the mechanics and the other affects the aesthetics doesn’t make them dramatically different from one another when determining intent, outcomes or responses. I mean, I get the point you’re making, but I don’t think there’s as much of a gap there as you’re thinking there is, especially with the increase of the pre-launch beta for character fine-tuning having identical effects on mechanical structure.

      1. Aaron Sirois Avatar
        Aaron Sirois

        I feel the the “censorship” word is thrown around with too much abandon. Look, if I write something, it gets posted, and then someone else makes changes to it to fit their narrative or values, that’s censorship. If I go in later on and mess with some things, that’s just editing. As far as I’m concerned, Blizzard edited the game. The idea that someone can’t edit their own work because other people liked it the way it was is ludicrous. You can dislike it all you want, it doesn’t make it immoral. Except in the case of George Lucas of course.

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