BIT.TRIP Dev Gaijin Games Changes Name to Avoid Racial Slur

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BIT.TRIP Dev Gaijin Games Changes Name to Avoid Racial Slur

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The term "Gaijin" carries negative connotations for some people.

Gaijin Games, the developer behind the psychedelic 8-bit sidescrolling BIT.TRIP series has announced that it is changing its name to Choice Provisions. Why? Because the word "gaijin" carries with it some negative connotations for foreigners living in Japan, that the developer wishes to avoid.

In a blog post, developer Dant Rambo explained that "No matter how you may feel about the word 'gaijin' personally, I think it's fair to say that some people out there view it as a negative term," adding "Being the upbeat, positive folks we are, the last thing we wanted was for people to be offended by our name."

"We are but humble purveyors of video games, and the end goal of all the work we do is to make people happy. Ergo, we're changing our name to Choice Provisions."

Rambo said that while games that are already release will still carry with them the old Gaijin Games title, all new titles will be developed under "Choice Provisions," with the notable exception of the BIT.TRIP series.

For a little background, the word "gaijin" comes from the Japanese "gai koku jin" - which translates to "outside country person," or foreigner. When you drop the "koku" from the middle of the word, gaijin takes on the literal meaning of "outside person" or "outsider," and is considered an offensive term by many foreigners living in Japan.

The term is controversial and is avoided by Japanese television broadcasters. To put it to you this way - as a foreigner living in Japan, a Japanese person would never call me gaijin to my face, unless he was looking for a fight.

Source: Choice Provisions

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Cultural differences can be a pain in the ass, but good for them.

Soooo...why did they pick 'Gaijin' in the first place? Did they not know what it meant but thought it sounded cool, like people who get asian symbol tattoos without checking that it is actually what they think it is?

It's always bugged me that a Russian developer had chosen a Japanese word for their name, were they trying to jump on the Japanese craze band wagon or something?

CriticalMiss:
Soooo...why did they pick 'Gaijin' in the first place? Did they not know what it meant but thought it sounded cool, like people who get asian symbol tattoos without checking that it is actually what they think it is?

Gaijin is a Russian company.

Whilst, it's fair a lot of English speakers are aware of the connotations of the word, it's unfair to assume that the same penetration of understanding is found in the Russian culture which the company was founded.

To look at it without context, the word means "foreign", or "strange" and such and such. Thus, it's probably just lost in translation from Japanese to England and then to Russian.

CriticalMiss:
Soooo...why did they pick 'Gaijin' in the first place? Did they not know what it meant but thought it sounded cool, like people who get asian symbol tattoos without checking that it is actually what they think it is?

They new what it meant they were just so small they didn't think anyone would care, but Warthunder has been successful is getting bigger and is now available on PS4 so rather than wait for criticism they change now.

Edit

This article has made a mistake.

Gaijin Games has changed there name to Choice Provisions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaijin_Games

Gaijin Entertainment who make WarThunder haven't changed there name
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaijin_Entertainment

Might want to note that War Thunder is developed by Gaijin Entertainment. The people who made IL-2 and Birds of Steel, not the BIT.TRIP series.

youji itami:

CriticalMiss:
Soooo...why did they pick 'Gaijin' in the first place? Did they not know what it meant but thought it sounded cool, like people who get asian symbol tattoos without checking that it is actually what they think it is?

They new what it meant they were just so small they didn't think anyone would care, but Warthunder has been successful is getting bigger and is now available on PS4 so rather than wait for criticism they change now.

Edit

This article has made a mistake.

Gaijin Games has changed there name to Choice Provisions
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaijin_Games

Gaijin Entertainment who make WarThunder haven't changed there name
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaijin_Entertainment

You're absolutely right. Who would have thought there would be two "gaijin" studios out there? My bad.

Choice Provisions, eh? I gotta say, a game developer isn't exactly the first thing that comes to my mind when hearing that name; not that it matters, of course.

oh come on, sometimes i think the modern world is way too sensitive

bunch of baka gaijins

CriticalMiss:
Soooo...why did they pick 'Gaijin' in the first place? Did they not know what it meant but thought it sounded cool, like people who get asian symbol tattoos without checking that it is actually what they think it is?

This has always puzzled me. I never looked at the name and thought "AH AM AFFENDED!" but I did wonder why they would choose a name like that.

Uriel_Hayabusa:
Choice Provisions, eh? I gotta say, a game developer isn't exactly the first thing that comes to my mind when hearing that name; not that it matters, of course.

Maybe they're going into market research or something like that. The name would totally make sense then.

NuclearKangaroo:
oh come on, sometimes i think the modern world i way too sensitive

bunch of baka gaijins

Yeah, why would they want their studio's name to reflect their attitude?

Only a gaijin can call another gaijin "gaijin."

So if they'd chosen "Nigga Games" or "Gweilo Games" would it have taken as long for them to change to something less offensive?

Mirroring earlier sentiments, why did they imagine it was okay in the first place? Ignorance isn't an excuse, it's not like you can't just google the meaning behind anything nowadays.

The term is often just translated as "barbarian".

It doesn't bother me that much; for a developer who does a lot of pixel-art games that hearken back to the eight-bit era (when Japanese companies ruled the field), calling oneself "gaijin" just seems kind of jocularly irreverent. But I can see how others might be offended.

You know I had all the translations pasted in here and wondered why anyone would get miffed over such an ordinary word, but then realized we are on the internet and what would people be doing with their time if not pretend to be offended...

P.S. You are all potatoes. Ya I said it!

Cartographer:
So if they'd chosen "Nigga Games" or "Gweilo Games" would it have taken as long for them to change to something less offensive?

Mirroring earlier sentiments, why did they imagine it was okay in the first place? Ignorance isn't an excuse, it's not like you can't just google the meaning behind anything nowadays.

They probably didn't care.

1) Who on Earth would even be offended by being called a gaijin
2) Even if someone is somehow offended by it, it is their choice
3) No one should care if you chose to be offended by something as benign as a video game company using the derogatory Japanese word for foreigner

Clearly they care now, probably because they think they're getting popular are they're following the standard Ultra-Sanitary-Political-Correctness sentiment.

Change the name if they must, but 'Choice Provisions'? Sounds like a food company.

CriticalMiss:
Soooo...why did they pick 'Gaijin' in the first place? Did they not know what it meant but thought it sounded cool, like people who get asian symbol tattoos without checking that it is actually what they think it is?

In the actual press release, they stated that they chose Gaijin because they were developing games that reflected their favorite games from yesteryear, most of which happened to be Japanese-made games. So, being cheeky, they named themselves Gaijin. They were initially just three devs who hit it off and decided to make games together. However, as they grew, their funny little name just wouldn't fly anymore. So, a change had to be made.

Mr.K.:
P.S. You are all potatoes. Ya I said it!

My second cousin's step-sister's aunt is Irish and I find your remarks to be in very poor taste...I demand ban hammer!!!

On a more serious note, I think this is just more of a publicity stunt. I know over five gamers and none of them asked for this change.

Well we have to avoid the possibility of offending anyone. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go play some Gender Neutral Pac Person.

I never knew about the word 'gaijin' but it's cool that they've changed the name of their company to be a little more sensitive.

Choice Provisions is a shit name though. It doesn't sound game related, it sounds like an IT company or something.

I think the dev is just being way too PC over this if you ask me.

I'll admit, I thought gaijin was the correct word to use, literally just meaning foreigner. If I may ask, what is the PC term in Japan for a foreign national?

Whenever I've talked to Japanese people on the internet and they word gaijin in brought up they always tell me its not meant to be offensive it's simply just the word for someone who's foreign. I don't understand why people are taking offense over this?

Steven Bogos:
To put it to you this way - as a foreigner living in Japan, a Japanese person would never call me gaijin to my face, unless he was looking for a fight.

Wut? I lived in Japan for 3 years and I was called "gaijin" to my face by practically everyone. It can be used as a perjorative, but most of the time it's just "non-Japanese".

That new name isn't doing it for me. I think they must be pretty bad at coming up with these. Then again, I'm not exactly a pro myself... herp derp real name on a forum...

I get wanting to be PC ((wondering if they finally saw Fast and the furious Tokyo drift or something)) But it's a bit of a shot in the foot if people are reporting "Hey the bit trip runner guys changed their name to be less offensive. if people know them by their name before at least.

Callate:
The term is often just translated as "barbarian".

It doesn't bother me that much; for a developer who does a lot of pixel-art games that hearken back to the eight-bit era (when Japanese companies ruled the field), calling oneself "gaijin" just seems kind of jocularly irreverent. But I can see how others might be offended.

Sure, if you're reading Sankaku Complex or lurk /jp/ or /a/.

Gaijin could mean outsider (gai = outside) while gaikokujin would be something along the lines of a foreigner (gaikoku = foreign country). The difference between those two is that the former is more general and could be used to indicate exclusion of an individual (eg. from society).

For that matter, the original slur for Westerners arriving in Japan was nanbanjin which does mean "southern barbarian."

Korskarn:

Steven Bogos:
To put it to you this way - as a foreigner living in Japan, a Japanese person would never call me gaijin to my face, unless he was looking for a fight.

Wut? I lived in Japan for 3 years and I was called "gaijin" to my face by practically everyone. It can be used as a perjorative, but most of the time it's just "non-Japanese".

This. I've never met other gaijin who would be offended by that term.

外人 (outside person) isn't even a racial slur. It can be used as a pejorative, but it's not offensive by default.

It's really just an informal form of the word 外国人 (foreign-country person), though some people even go as far as using 外国の方.

Japanese is a high-context language, so you should be able to understand the intent of the phrase.

Also, "Choice Provisions" is kind of a weird name. Makes me think it's a food company or something.

Porygon-2000:
I'll admit, I thought gaijin was the correct word to use, literally just meaning foreigner. If I may ask, what is the PC term in Japan for a foreign national?

From the article:

For a little background, the word "gaijin" comes from the Japanese "gai koku jin" - which translates to "outside country person," or foreigner.

"Gai koku jin" is the more PC term.

Mr.K.:
You know I had all the translations pasted in here and wondered why anyone would get miffed over such an ordinary word, but then realized we are on the internet and what would people be doing with their time if not pretend to be offended...

P.S. You are all potatoes. Ya I said it!

I don't think you understand how racial slurs work. The word "nigger" is derived from "negro" which literally translates to "black". Calling someone black, or a "negro" is not inherently offensive, but I doubt you would call a black man a negro to his face.

Japan is a very exclusive society, with over 97% of it's population being native born Japanese. Thus, you can see how calling someone an "outsider" can be offensive, particularly to those of say, Korean or Chinese descent who have been living in Japan for several generations.

It's similar to calling Mexicans "illegals" in America - the term implies that they are outsiders who are not welcome in "your" country.

Hope this helps you understand.

derping_muffins:

Wut? I lived in Japan for 3 years and I was called "gaijin" to my face by practically everyone. It can be used as a perjorative, but most of the time it's just "non-Japanese".

This. I've never met other gaijin who would be offended by that term.[/quote]

I'm assuming you are a white, westerner. The term can be particularly offensive to Chinese and Korean Japanese, especially their kids who are of mixed race. You can imagine how it can be offensive to these kinds of people, who despite often being born and raised in Japan, can spend their whole lives trying to fit in to Japan's incredibly exclusive society.

Adzma:
Well we have to avoid the possibility of offending anyone. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go play some Gender Neutral Pac Person.

Oh you filthy disgusting racist: Pac Person is yellow! As in the racial slur for Asians! TURN YOURSELF IN IMMEDIATELY OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES!

OT

Gaijin Games changes their name to Choice Provisions, only to raise the troubling implication that some people who are gay and gather food are choosing to be gay. Being a Russian company, they are immediately arrested for "promoting homosexual propaganda" and are sentenced to 20 years hard labour in a Siberian salt mine. When the sentence is passed, Siberian rights groups complain that the sentence promotes stereotypes of cultural backwardness in Siberia by insinuating that there are only brutal prisons in that region. The judge then changes the sentence to 20 years hard labour in a trendy modern Siberian cafe for hip people.

Cartographer:
So if they'd chosen "Nigga Games" or "Gweilo Games" would it have taken as long for them to change to something less offensive?

Mirroring earlier sentiments, why did they imagine it was okay in the first place? Ignorance isn't an excuse, it's not like you can't just google the meaning behind anything nowadays.

It depends on how much you know about the word you want to use though, while "nigga" is pretty well known to be a racial slur, most people thing "gaijin" just means foreigner. And the one time I've heard "Gweilo", it was James Hong saying it to a fat guy, so I just somehow knew it was offensive.

Novaova:
Only a gaijin can call another gaijin "gaijin."

Gaija' please, don't use the full word!

Steven Bogos:
For a little background, the word "gaijin" comes from the Japanese "gai koku jin" - which translates to "outside country person," or foreigner. When you drop the "koku" from the middle of the word, gaijin takes on the literal meaning of "outside person" or "outsider," and is considered an offensive term by many foreigners living in Japan.

This is commonly believed, but as I understand it factually incorrect. I recall reading somewhere that there is a historical record of Japanese people using gaijin to refer to unknown strangers to their village well before any recorded use of gaikokujin and well before significant international migration would create the need for the word in the first place.

The term is controversial and is avoided by Japanese television broadcasters. To put it to you this way - as a foreigner living in Japan, a Japanese person would never call me gaijin to my face, unless he was looking for a fight.

I would say the term is more controversial because it assumes foreign ethnicity dictates in-group/out-group identity. There are many in-groups I should be recognized as part of based on my participation: my job, my neighborhood, my friends, etc. If people in my in-groups call me a gaikokujin they're factually describing my nationality as not-Japanese. If they call me gaijin what they're implicitly saying is that because of my foreign-looking face, no matter what I do, no matter how much I adapt to this society, no matter how much I contribute to this society, I'm an outsider and unworthy of the group membership many Japanese people receive automatically when they participate in those groups.

A lot of Japanese people don't realize the degree of insult the term entails, largely because they mistakenly believe that it's simply short for gaikokujin. On the other hand, I can't even remember the last time anyone Japanese used that term in my presence. I probably use it far more often when talking with other foreigners as a part of expressions like, "Gaijin bar" or "Gaijin SMASH!"

As for the company now known as "Choice Provisions", well, I suppose it's an alright gesture. I don't know anything about them but just from what I've seen about how Japanese people tend to consume games, I don't know if I expect them to have had any presence in Japan in the first place. So their previously calling themselves "Gaijin Games" may involve a racial slur, but it's not exactly likely to influence Japanese people and make the slur more commonly used. So it's a small gesture, but at least it's a gesture in the right direction.

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