In Response to “Heart-Wrenching Hentai” from The Escapist Forum: Well, I tried to read it from a more open-minded point of view, rather than with the (quite justified, I think, though I don’t make the accusation that it is accurate) instinct to view it as a desperate defense of jerking off to little girls. I think there’s a message to be had here, though it may not be the one the author implies.
This is what I took away: Can you really understand a (sub)culture unless you subject their porn to the same general kind of scrutiny to which you subject their art? And since I think the answer is a resounding “probably not,” this makes a pretty good analysis. Pornalysis, if you will. It didn’t seem like that was the purpose for which the article was written, but then again it is difficult to write about controversial smut without being conscious of its moral context, however more interesting its absence might make it.
– Bongo Bill
I think h-games (or just visual novels in general) get a lot of bad rap because people are quick to judge them. Most people can only see the bad ones that are already in their mind, so they are quick to dismiss the genre.
However, many of these games actually deal with more serious issues and are more focused on a creating a good story than most Western games. Since these games have nothing to rely on but their story, art, and voice acting, many of them put a strong priority on creating a thought-provoking or moving story. These games aren’t all just about sex since many games don’t even have sex scenes or are forcibly added to sell more copies.
One of the best types of these games out here is Ever 17, which doesn’t contain any sex, yet the game doesn’t lose any of its impact. In the game, a group of people are trapped under an underwater amusement park. The game shows how each person copes with the situation differently, how they struggle to maintain their sanity as a group in a desperate situation, how they got into the situation they’re in (figuring out the mystery of the situation is a big part of the game) and other themes which would ruin the story if I told them here. I’ve never played a Western game with a story that even comes close in comparison to how gripping this game is (Don’t judge this game by its demo. The demo is a mashup of the game to introduce all the characters.)
A major h-game released in the US recently is Yume Miru Kusuri, which deals with themes that most people have experienced in high school, such as bullying, drugs, and the difficulty in finding a meaning or direction in life.
When you play some of these games, you need to approach them with an open mind. You have to realize that not all the games are rife with sexual fantasies, rather many games deal with serious issues that are rarely seen in Western games. The moniker visual novel is a pretty accurate description since these games are a lot like books with art and sometimes voice acting. If you try any of these games that focus on a story with an open mind, you won’t regret it.
In Response to “Fear and Laoding in Games Journalism” from The Escapist Forum: I found it refreshing to see someone finally attempt a more constructive look at video game journalism and reviewing. And while I appreciate that sentiment, it is unfortunate that your article cites some of the very same sources that tend to produce poor game writing themselves. Put differently – if you want a fair, thoughtful analysis of the quality of game journalism, why would you be asking game journalists themselves? The people qualified to make judgments on the quality of game journalism certainly are not those most deeply financially invested in it. Chuck Klosterman demonstrates precisely why having professional writers is truly important: compare his article with any of the mass-media columns you offered at the beginning of the article – there can be no doubt that trained, professional critics are a necessity.
And finally, to answer your challenge, there is already a movement of writers attempting to make the very connections between human truth and games as an expressive medium! Not to sound punitive, but had you spent the time exploring other sources of game writing than the mass-media stuff that you presented, you would have found a treasure-trove of philosophers, scientists, artists, writers, psychologists, sociologists, and “ludologists” who have been trying to break through the superficial technofetishism of the mainstream media. These writers all serve a different kind of audience however – one that does not immediately translate to the kinds of audiences that buy advertisement-laden gaming mags, ‘read’ Kotaku, and rush out to buy the newest Halo game for their 360. In fact, most of these writers are writing about games published years ago! Most importantly – these folks are also writing their own informed analyses of just how the game industry can change through strong, ethical, lyrical, writing without the financial burdens that mainstream media faces.
In response to “The Open Source Canon” from The Escapist Forum: In the early days of the public net, there was a site that was similar to this general idea. It contained a pirate story, where many of the characters were real people. Players would read the previous story entry, and then email to the author what their character would do, given the circumstances laid out. The author would then compile all of the responses, and come up with the next chapter, adding in his own dramatic flair. At times, he (she?) would post a request for new players, and then work them into the storyline. Other times, characters were killed off. Though it sounds like an RPG, it came across as a continuing online novel, and there were no skills, items, dice rolling, and such. Perhaps it was ahead of it’s time.
In response to “Pinball Revived” from The Escapist Forum: Ah, very nice article! I think there’s kind of a reputation among the most recent class of hipster gamers that pinball “sucks.” They could stand to be taught otherwise.