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Fatal Frame 5 censored for NA. Your opinion? [roundtable]
 
"Welp" is kind of a fun word. It's got sort of this air of resignation to it.

Welp! Reviewers have confirmed that NOA has taken out the unlockable skimpy bikini costumes in Fatal Frame for the US. They've instead been replaced by a Zelda and Zero Suit Samus outfit.

Personally, I'm not too torn up about the lack of outfits (that visible plumber's crack was just ick to me), but some FF fans are overly livid about this. Hyperbole about selling Wii Us aside, I can sort of see the complaint about arbitrarily cutting things out of an M-rated game. What do you think?

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Posted: 10/19/15, 20:16:29
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@Anand Well, WayForward is VERY publisher driven from what I hear, so I don't know how much that affects their own projects. But my point was that we don't really know who makes these decisions and how much of the team are ok with them. Like pretty much all of Yacht Club is ex-WayForward so that is like 4 or 5 people? and pretty much every one of them I spoke to so far (I think 3 of them?) specifically cited that as something they weren't comfortable with but had to go along with while working there. Was it just them, or were there more?

I was thinking about this earlier and the question that popped into my mind is "Who exactly are we saying is being censored?" It's a simple question when an individual makes a game that later gets censored, but when a whole team does it becomes a lot more complicated.

If we're talking about a dev team as a whole, there are probably a whole variety of opinions on these kind of things being put into their games to begin with, let alone opinions on them being replaced. Most dev teams are too big to say any one thing was the vision of the whole team. For all we know 51+% of the team were against the inclusion to begin with, so it wouldn't make sense to say the whole team's vision is being censored without the knowledge of how many supported the decision.

If we're talking about whichever individuals made the specific decision to put this stuff in, fine, I guess? But we have no idea whether those individuals had the blessing of the rest of their team or not. I've heard a lot of stories from ex-AAA developers about one or two people up top deciding something is going in while most of the rest of the team opposes it, and guess what? In it goes, because ultimately these are capitalist businesses and the people on top make the decisions. If someone on top decides "sex sells", good luck to the individual artists who disagree.

So yeah, my only reason for bringing up Yacht Club was to point to an example of dissent among the actual developers that didn't really lead to anything other than them having to go along with something they weren't comfortable with. The sexy women in were certainly not THEIR artistic vision. So whose artistic vision exactly were they?

As far as your actual question, yeah, I have some issues with primarily male dev teams deciding to overtly sexualize most to all of their female characters, but we have all gone over this a million times before and I don't want another tropes thread here. I'd rather focus on the question of who is actually making these decisions to begin with and whether we can really just assume they are the "vision" of the whole dev team or not. Because based on my knowledge of how these things work, that'd be a very poor assumption.

To flip things around a bit, a very GOOD assumption is that every individual working for a company has a vision for what they would love to do in a game and 99 times out of 100 the final product won't reflect their vision much, because marketing, publishers, team conflicts, etc. When do we decide that is censorship of an artist's vision versus basic teamwork in a for profit company?

Like, does anyone really think individual game developers working for AAA companies have much artistic freedom to begin with? Because I can point you to a few ex-AAA developers to talk to if so.
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:08:44  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 03:14:38
@Zero
Honestly, I don't think a whole dev team can ever share a 'vision', unless it only consists of a handful of people. Someone's gotta steer the ship!

Not to dwell too much on the WayForward thing, but do you think they shoudn't be allowed to use their signature art style (which is probably Matt Bozon's signature art style)? Would you be pro-censorship, in their case? Like, would it please you if a publisher mandated that all of the characters be covered up and... jiggle-free?

I'm not sure how much the "AAA" industry has to do with this discussion. I mean, do any of us doubt that they're largely designed by marketing teams?
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:17:22  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 03:20:55
Actually now that I really think about it I have talked to a LOT of ex-AAA developers who cited over-sexualized women as something they were not comfortable with at their last job, and exactly zero that cited I dunno, what would be the opposite... over-prudeness as something they were not comfortable with at their last job? Very anecdotal, but my own personal conclusion is that, generally speaking, game developers are forced to over-sexualize women at a significantly higher magnitude than they are forced to under-sexualize women, so... I can't get too up in arms about this kind of thing in regards to developer freedom and vision. If we really cared about developer freedom and vision we would have to support a shift to a significantly different game market.

@Anand What are we talking about exactly? Them making a licensed game for another publisher, or them making their own games for another publisher who happens to be funding it? Either way I can't really care too much about someone saying if we fund your game we have a few rules for it. They're paying the bills, right? I mean, I have a lot of problems with Capitalism putting too much power in the hands of a limited few, but ultimately my concern there is that those in power will use that power to push things towards more conformity. In the case of wanting less sexualized women in a game, that'd be (sadly), a push towards less conformity, which is at least an interesting thing for a Capitalist publisher to push for. Much better than the current state of AAA publisher demands.
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:18:33  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 03:23:53
@Zero
Suppose that the WayForward style IS Matt Bozon's vision, though. His vision for the company that he helped to create. Let's assume that he had assembled a team of like-minded individuals. Do you think that vision should be forcibly censored?

Should Bruce Timm be denied the right to express himself artistically?
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:23:40  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 03:26:01
@Anand Why would we assume that though? We have proof of several developers who worked for him that were completely against that vision. I don't see any reason to assume any team is ever all on the same page unless it is a very small team that came together to specifically do a specific thing. Even then I've seen some supposedly on the same page teams fall apart over artistic conflicts. This is why I mostly try to do everything I am capable of myself.

As for forcibly censored, I don't consider a publisher setting up some ground rules if you want access to their money to be censorship in any way. That's just Capitalism. Part of why indie devs like remaining indie. No strings attached. Censorship would be the government saying you can't make these games, and I would unequivocally oppose any laws that tried to put limitations on games like that.

This is a bit of a different case as the game already exists in a certain form so something is specifically being removed, but still... Nintendo is a company who has a right to make decisions on how they localize their games. I won't always agree with them, but it's not what I'd call censorship. When I think censorship I think outside body forcing change aka the government, etc., not company funding product deciding they want to present it differently in a different country.
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:25:49  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 03:29:48
This specific situation is a form of censorship, but not the purest form. I mean, it's Nintendo's right as the publisher to modify the game in the way it thinks will garner the most sales in the region. But they probably ARE modifying the vision of at least some part of Tecmo. They replaced it with some neat content, but they did remove part of the original product (which is still rated M and targeted solely at adults, due to mature/disturbing themes and violence).

@Zero
Just assume it for the sake of argument. I'm not saying that it's true. I'm saying, IF that were the case, would you be cool with his vision being altered by an outside entity. For the sake of a pure argument, let's say that it would be censored by... I dunno, the ESRB or the government, instead of the funding publisher.

It's just a hypothetical situation.

But I guess you answered it, anyway.
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:30:12  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 03:37:56
Well the ESRB has no power at all to censor anything, although I suppose they could unfairly judge content leading to an AO rating which would then effectively force the team to change the game or not be stocked anywhere. But yeah I don't want the ESRB or the government involved in content decisions at all.

The only exception I could think of would maybe be something like depictions of child porn or something, but even then I kind of feel like... unless it is a crime (I honestly have no idea if watching fake digital child porn is a crime nor do I care to find out) I don't think outside bodies should be censoring it.

I've seen the way some countries censor games and honestly it starts to feel arbitrary. I feel like being popular gets you WAY more scrutiny, for one. So GTA gets banned in Australia or whatever and much more graphic games don't simply because they fly under the radar more.
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:35:11  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 03:38:57
@Zero
It IS arbitrary. That's the point. To judge subjective issues, somebody has to be the arbiter. But nobody shares the exact same beliefs. Censorship is the imposition of one person or entity's morals onto other people. Which is true of laws, in general, maybe, but there should be a limit.

Small government!
Posted: 10/22/15, 03:43:48
Maybe inconsistent is a better word. I mean, not that I'd support government censorship of games either way, but the examples I have seen in other countries seem wildly inconsistent.
Posted: 10/22/15, 04:05:53
Not sure if it's completely relevant for this exact discussion, but I thought it should be noted that the Fatal Frame series has pretty much always had skimpy unlockable costumes that were a big challenge to get. So if it was against their artistic vision to put them in in the first place, it would've had to start much sooner than Fatal Frame 5.

I don't miss the costumes myself, but I actually don't think they'd be that out-of-place. For some reason, horror and sexuality seem to go together a lot. I'm picturing a lot of B-Movie type posters and things. You know, King Kong with the screaming lady in the dress, etc.
Posted: 10/22/15, 04:49:19
TriforceBun said:
So if it was against their artistic vision to put them in in the first place, it would've had to start much sooner than Fatal Frame 5.

Again though, who is "their"? The individuals working on this game might not have had anything to do with the original decision. In fact, the first game came out in 2001, so it's safe to assume that the team has changed a bit since then. And if there was pressure to put them in just because that is how it has always been done in the series, I wouldn't call that an artistic vision.

Pretty much everything and sexuality have been put together a lot, but I can't offhand recall too many movies where the leads were running around in bathing suits / underwear fighting off evil. And if anything it seems sexuality is punished in horror instead of rewarded. It's always the couples fooling around that get killed while the "pure" one survives the night. Assuming anyone survives at all.

Hell the plot of the recent It Follows is basically an STD that stalks and kills you, right? Then again in that movie she does survive. But you could still say she was punished for having sex, and lots of other people who had sex didn't survive.
Posted: 10/22/15, 04:58:07  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 05:00:35
@Zero

Hey, I finally watched that a couple nights ago! It was good! I didn't think it was the most amazing movie in the world while I was watching it, but I've found myself thinking about it every so often. Devising plans for how I would kill the monster...

I see everyone say that the movie is about a walking STD, but I think there's a lot more going on there than that.
Posted: 10/22/15, 06:30:59
@Secret_Tunnel Well I haven't actually seen it yet. I just know the basic premise. I'm sure there is a lot more to it. It's not a coincidence that they chose sex to pass this curse with though, it's a sort of long running horror movie trope to punish teens / young adults for having sex.

(I stopped spoiler tagging since it's not really a spoiler so much as the main thing that happens in the movie...)
Posted: 10/22/15, 07:38:28  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 07:39:18
@Zero
Aren't virgins always the ones getting sacrificed in Dracula and stuff?
Posted: 10/22/15, 15:15:50
@TriforceBun Yeah but I mean 80s horror and since. Maybe it is just the "slasher" genre. I've heard interesting theories on why this was a big theme. Aids crisis and all of that. Horror always reflects reality in some ways.

If I think hard on it the really nerdy virgins probably don't stand much of a chance either. Just the mostly pure "normal" people. So maybe you get punished for having too much or not enough sex. Which certainly sounds like how society judges us.

I vaguely recall The Cabin in the Woods playing with this trope but I forget how exactly?

/EDIT Oh, here is it. Major spoilers for that movie...

"The Ancient Ones are kept in perpetual slumber through an annual pars pro toto sacrifice of five young people embodying certain archetypes: the whore (Jules), the athlete (Curt), the scholar (Holden), the fool (Marty), and the virgin (Dana). The order in which intended victims perish is flexible, so long as the Whore dies first and the Virgin survives or dies last."

But I feel like maybe they messed up and assumed she was a virgin when she wasn't or something? I dunno, it's been awhile since I saw it.

I dunno. My main point was just that whether or not sexuality and horror go hand in hand, it's tough for me to see having women run around exploring for ghosts while wearing swimsuits / underwear (I honestly can't tell which it is) as a part of that. It doesn't really feel like a decision fueled by respecting the roots or horror or anything. Also I'd hesitate to call it "sexuality". I mean, I don't know why anyone would dress like that to explore haunted places but I doubt it would have much to do with sex. Unless you mean the viewer's sexuality.
Posted: 10/22/15, 15:41:10  - Edited by 
 on: 10/22/15, 15:52:47
@Zero

Of course it's the viewer's sexuality, lol. There would be zero reason to run around like that otherwise.

The idea that this is done for anything but horny guys who will ogle the on-screen avatars is kind of silly, don't you think? I mean, come on. Let's be serious, here. We can rationalize it all we'd like, but that's why this is there, not to stay true to a genre pairing or anything of the sort.
Posted: 10/22/15, 18:49:36
New Forms said:
From a marketing perspective, I'd venture that the panty-outfits were put in to sell more copies to a Japanese audience and in turn taken out to sell more copies to a North American audience.
.

That would make sense if this were something that had some kind of push, and was being sold in stores.

But not only is this M-rated to start with, Nintendo doesn't even have enough confidence in it to sell boxed console versions. It's a mature game that's going digital only, on the Wii U, at a time when the competition are getting ready to pull out their big guns. Why take out something so minor and arbitrary when the game is pretty much DOA commercially and they've all but admitted as such?
Posted: 10/23/15, 04:48:22  - Edited by 
 on: 10/23/15, 04:50:40
@SuperL It's probably less about this specific game and more about some overall family-friendly image of Nintendo.

Also, welcome!
Posted: 10/23/15, 05:10:26  - Edited by 
 on: 10/23/15, 05:10:50
Thank you.

But see my previous points. The M rating is already contrary to that family-friendly image, and if that weren't enough, there is zero chance of a kid accidentally stumbling into it at a store. And if it's not considered financially viable for a full retail release, I have to assume advertising will be nil, too.

In fact, the censorship is the most coverage this game has gotten since the digital-only thing was announced. It just seems like the horror over the bikinis is much ado about nothing.
Posted: 10/23/15, 05:38:48
Yeah but family friendly image isn't necessarily about the opinions of those that actually purchase the game. There could be concerns that articles about it, etc. could affect their image.

I'm not saying it is a particularly realistic concern but I'd bet this was the driving force behind Nintendo's decision.
Posted: 10/23/15, 06:00:19  - Edited by 
 on: 10/23/15, 06:00:36
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