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Author Topic: A discussion on localisations and censorship  (Read 7710 times)
Eusis
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« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2006, 05:05:32 PM »

I dunno. Some things just are't important enough for me to care about, such as alcohol, plus something like that can be changed while leaving it open enough to let you interpret it as alcohol /anyway/ while not beating you over the head that it's not; Grandia's a good example of 'beating you over the head that it's not' while something like Cider in FFVI I thought was alcohol anyway. I don't care about cigarettes either, but unlike alcohol the only things you can do are either removing it entirely or leaving it there.

Not all situations are the same though, and for some things changing them in such ways gets more annoying. DDS is a dark and mature title, so trying to chop that down to a T rating would be worth of getting pissed off over, and doing something like removing alcohol in that, while not very important to the story, would be more irritating simply because if you can handle the rest of the content, the liquor is just fine. Example that comes to mind where that kind of hacking just doesn't work is Rurouni Kenshin on Toonami; it was just too bloody at times to be on at that schedule. Meanwhile, it really doesn't matter for a game like Tales of Symphonia or your standard Mario RPG. ToS is so light hearted that it wasn't worth jeopardizing sales over something as minor as alcohol, and even if the job with covering it up in M&L and PM2 is blatantly obvious, having booze in either of those games feels out of place anyway.

Like John noted, it isn't limited to things brought over from Japan. The Matrix example he listed is fucking horrendous, and what they replaced many of the original words with makes lines like 'son of a submariner' seem offensive. Hell, it isn't even limited to stuff released here getting censored, games like SMT had to have minor details changed  from console to console, and /Skies of Arcadia/ got the cigarettes cut when ported from the Dreamcast to the GameCube. I think we oughta just be thankful that people are caring less and less anymore.

Edit: Hidoshi wound up posting before me. Ah well, I wanted to add something anyway.

You're confusing EP and IS, and I really don't see the problem with Nazis short of actually siding with them. IS doesn't do this as far as I can tell, and we've had plenty of games and movies where Nazis are antagonists; it kinda perplexes me when they worry about those while games here casually do it, and this applies to other issues as well. If anything, I think it was the timing of the game's release and the 'hey look, teens with guns!' thing that screwed it over, since it was released in Japan around when Colombine happened. People have calmed down about it now, but we still have those scars.

As for 'commercial art', I think it's important to consider just how important an offensive aspect is to the story and point of what they're doing. If it's there to prove a point and not merely be offensive, then I want it kept at all costs, and at worst tuned down while retaining the message and meaning. Something like the inclusion of alcohol doesn't count more often than not in this regard. :P

Oh, and the thing I wanted to add: for dubs and subs I tend to be neutral, but leaning a bit towards subtitles. Unless you know the language or whatever, listening to it in japanese is going to be like smearing vasoline over your TV screen; you get the general idea, but you won't be able to tell the finer details such as nuances on specific words that well. And if either it's a really good dub, or the dub is more fitting anyway (I don't expect to hear japanese out of the mouths of Americans, and vice versa), I'll stick with that. Also, nine times out of ten I hate including battle cries and the like in battle, so if I can switch it to japanese and just make it a bunch of nonsensical jibber jabber shouted throughout, I'll gladly do so.
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Cauton
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« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2006, 05:25:42 PM »

The last set of replies have been really intersting, and in a way they have opened my eyes as to why this kind of things happen. As I said before, I live in a soeciety where religion doesn't play a very big part in the every day life any more. As such, I don't find the "God is evil" symbolism offensive - quite the opposite. I think those kind of storylines raises interesting questions about how religion affects people, and how good intentions can be twisted. While I understood that it would offend and upset some parts of the religious crowd, I wasn't aware that even non-christians were so sensitive to it.

The same goes for smoking, alcohol and sex, I guess. While we don't exactly have any of them in children's entertainment over here, we are a lot more tolerant of it. Casual nudity, or smoking, doesn't really raise any eyebrows here.

While I still don't like the practice of altering content, I have a little more understanding of why it happens now. I also realise that it will probably never go away completely, as long as the American society doesn't change drastically. I guess I'll just have to put up with it, and get on with those japanese studies. :)
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Professor Gast
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« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2006, 05:29:15 PM »

I only play Japanese games these days, so I obviously can't tell what gets lost during the localization. Then again, translating a text or script or whatever always means interpretation (to a varying degree, of course). Since companies obviously try to reach as broad an audience as possible to maximize their profit (or at least reach return on investment), it is quite understandable, that they will cut out a few minor (possibly offensive) sentences or features, if they can get an ESRB Teen instead of a Mature rating and/or avoid criticism and lawsuits from various lobby groups that way.

As John and Mark already mentioned before, there is no game market where "everything goes". Sure, you can easily turn Christianity into a force of evil in Japan, because only 1-3% of the population are Christians. If you would turn certain historical personalities (even the A-Class war criminals who were convicted at the Tokyo Trials) or God forbid, the late Emperor Hirohito into villains, I can gurantee you, a good deal of people will care and the ensuing backlash won't be a piece of cake.

The same thing can be said about the US and Europe. Just look at the controversy surrounding the US release of Xenogears back then. If the game had been released in Europe, very few people would have complained about it. On the other hand, I have seen very few people complain about Return to Castle Wolfenstein in the US, while the release of such a game in Germany would be a big no-no for obvious reasons.
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Marona
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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2006, 07:51:45 PM »

Censorship in the US is very interesting this day in age because the constant progression from generation to generation is becoming a lot more apparent. On a different tangent - When compared to Japan, its fairly easy to say that the population is way more concentrated in many of the same beliefs and what a standard citizen has been exposed to. Now if you took a handful of standard American citizens - odds are each one of them would differ in many aspects drasticaly since our population consists of fragments of other populations (also note that US culture also has a tendancy to shield the younger generation from all that reality has to offer, unlike a more liberal concentrated country like Japan). From these results its fairly easy to see why our censorship has to really cator to meet standard acceptance so the game can be sold to a wide audience without receiving hate mail or a reason to blame somebodys negative actions on video games (ex. a certain "religious" fanatic against video games).

Back onto my opening statement, when the new generation start aquireing jobs in the censorship department, I have no doubt that new doors will open up as our tendancy to "shield youth" and "everybody has to suffer for one persons blunder" will steadily evaporate over time. All in all the progression movement takes time but definatly accomplishes a lot in the long run (womens rights as a prime example), and im sure its a just a matter of time before modern movements like gay marriage will be a lot more open in society. While video game censorship is nowhere close to basic and complicated human rights, weve come a long way and are still pushing.

For another statement - as it was mentioned in other posts, there are certain issues that vary country to country that will always remain as they are. For example, we will never expect to see a game called "let's destroy the twin towers" on US shelves or "Hiroshima the RPG" on japanese shelves, and I really wouldnt expect them to.
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Lucid
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« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2006, 09:18:27 PM »

Quote
at Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy X. The Church is evil, God is evil

For FFT, I think you're not seeing the whole picture in what they were tying to portray in that part of the story. I believe they were showing that even though bad people took control of the church(the Lucavi controlled temple knights), faith in what is good wins out in the end. The church itself or God is never portrayed as evil in FFT, it's how faith can be manipulated by a group of evil people(controlled by devils no less) to a sinister end.

As for censorship, aside from those small cultural things like references NA people might not get or whatever- I am against even small changes due to objectionable material. Video Games will never shed the image of toys or immature pasttimes if things are censored to shield youth from whatever it is.     What I'm trying to say is, that as an interactive medium video games will never expand much or grow if the creative part of it is stifled somehow. Censorship isn't the sole attribute in that kind of stagnation though. There's things like the wholely immature views about sex and violence the gaming industry developers have in general.

I don't think I would actually not play a game unless it was something substantial that was censored though.
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Hidoshi
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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2006, 01:43:53 AM »

I'd agree with you if not for the point on St. Ajora. Ajora is an analogue for Jesus, and as we find out in the end, is also a demon. Thus the entire basis for the Church in FFT is evil disguised as good. I take serious issue with that.
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Ruem
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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2006, 12:05:02 PM »

Quote
Thus the entire basis for the Church in FFT is evil disguised as good. I take serious issue with that.



Nobody's asking you to "stand behind" anything, to quote the phrase you used several posts earlier.  Refraining from raising your voice and saying, "I object to the false portrayal of christianity," does not mean you're, in fact, supporting it.

Smoking, in our world, has killed just as many people as any one christian ruler who slaughtered innocents in the name of God. Maybe not so false a portrayal.

I take serious issue with censorship... shame on anyone for whining about how the japanese portray our majority religion. We do it perfectly? Now I can be sure in my belief that all asians paint their face white and hop around singing chingchong chong chow

I dunno, i guess my main question is: where's the line?
Some don't like smoking, some don't like seeing christians without halos over their head, some don't like a penis. What else are we gonna not like in five years, swords? They staaaaaaab people.

Oh, I smoke and I'm christian. Censorship is wrong.
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Angelo
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« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2006, 12:16:55 PM »

Cauton, my point was: consider the context.  There are differences in intent between the normal act of censoring (it's the person's job to search for and remove sensitive or objectionable material...such as a military public affairs office or children's book editor), and a localization effort.  In the latter, the primary focus is language translation and cultural adaptation.  Some instances of culture clash won't cause commotion, but some will.  They will go overboard sometimes and we should be critical of that, but we shouldn't treat those people with the same disdain rightfully deserved by the publishers who slash a work to pieces to protect some political or religious agenda.
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Cauton
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« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2006, 01:09:18 PM »

Angelo:
I understand you point, and I agree. In hindsight, using the word censorship perhaps wasn't the best choice, as it carries the denotation that you're talking about. There is, after all, an ocean-wide difference between changing the content of a video game, and banning books and persecuting journalists, even if the the actual meaning of the word is descriptive of what takes place during these localisation processes.

Anyway, the point of this thread isn't to debate the meaning of the word censorship, so what about we drop this discussion now? :-)

I have another question to ask you all, since most of you seem to be okay with content being changed to a certain extent:
How far do you think it's ok for the publishers to go, in their desire to make the games more appealing to the american market? rubenxce mentioned earlier in the thread that he would have no problem with the entire storyline being changed, as long as it's good. Is this a prevalent opinion?
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Professor Gast
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« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2006, 01:32:28 PM »

Cauton: No, I don't think it is OK to alter the original story line. Localization is meant to translate a game and if necessary deal with cultural issues, while retaining as much of the original release as possible. After all, one can assume the script and scenario writers in Japan had reasons for letting character A speak line B during scene C. I have never played the Japanese version of Lunar, so I can't tell how the original script looked liked and whether it was any better, but I personally don't think Working Designs' jokes made the game any better. It goes without saying that a literally translated script will sound odd, so you might need to change some things here and there, but one of the main aims when localizing a game should be to retain its original character. I'm well aware that there are certain games (Sakura Taisen for instance) where exactly this process would be very difficult, if not impossible to achieve, though.
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Eusis
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« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2006, 04:50:51 PM »

I agree with Gast, the point of playing these games isn't to play something original they created, it's to play the game that they played over in Japan, or at least close enough. If they want to make their own game and story, they can go do it themselves and not twist another creation to do so. I don't care about all the jokes and whatnot, however; if it's something particularly funny that can be translated well, then I want it kept. But if it's some pun that only makes sense in japanese, then figure out a good replacement or just pretend it was never there.

If something like Phoenix Wright can be translated, I think Sakura Taisen can be translated as a perfectly enjoyable game, even if they have to practically rewrite the jokes. As long as they can retain the spirit or close enough and keep the same sense of humor, I'll be happy. However, I honestly doubt that Sega of America can pull it off.

With all that said, I can perfectly enjoy a game that's ben completely changed as long as it's good, but I /will/ care, and at the very least will find it fairly annoying.
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rubenxce
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« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2006, 05:19:47 PM »

Quote from: "Cauton"
Angelo:


How far do you think it's ok for the publishers to go, in their desire to make the games more appealing to the american market? rubenxce mentioned earlier in the thread that he would have no problem with the entire storyline being changed, as long as it's good. Is this a prevalent opinion?


Well the thing is in my opinion your question has 2 answers.  Do I think it is right for someone to alter the vision, or storyline of their piece of work, the answer would be No.  I dont think you should alter or censor a book/videogame/any form of media from its original creation unless you have to censor something for kids to be able to watch it but then if its not for kids then why are you relesing it for kids in the first place. That was a quick example.  

For me personally do I care that the content on a videogame was change the answer would be also No. I just frankly dont care.

The thing is though when am playing a videogame I only care about 1 thing. That is how "fun" is the videogame to me. I dont care about anything else.   I dont go around looking for extra info on games. Info like developer, publisher, reviews, previews, changes made to a game etc.  I practically only read news coverage cuase that tells me all  I need to know to see what game am going to buy.  So  then I go to a store buy a game and play it, and if its fun I continue to play it, if I dont like it I just add it to my collection or give it back via trade in for another game. I guess the thing is I just don't care. I play the game and thats it. If its fun I continue to play it, I i dont like it I don't play it.  I guess I am a hardcore gamer without being deep into games. I just play the games I dont care who makes them or why they are made.     [/u][/i]
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Eusis
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« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2006, 05:32:52 PM »

I won't deny that video games are far from being works of literary genius, but if I'm buying a game, I want that specific game, not what someone else wanted to create, so the principal of it tends to annoy me more than anything else. Even outside of story/character changes though, there's things like rebalancing difficulty and the like; I generally don't mind that though as long as either 1. the game remains perfectly playable, and 2. if it's too hard, I can at least have the original difficulty options. What Working Designs did with several games is a great example of failing at both, and the original DMC3 sounds like it counts too.
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daschrier
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« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2006, 11:12:47 AM »

In response to the translation issue, DQ8 was interesting in that while it was translated into english, it was done so with a british english style. There were a few terms and phrases that I didn't know, but I went online and looked these terms up and learned something. True, not everyone would probably do this, and if we got a game here in the states that left all the japanese jokes/terms/phrases in, the gamer might be lost. I personally find it interesting to just do some research on something I don't understand, but I'm probably in the minority.

I never understood the smoking issue, and why some games take it out and some games leave it in. Also, smoking a pipe seems to be ok, but cigarettes are bad....interesting.

I also think that many of the sexual innuendo jokes that are put in, especially by working designs, may be funny, but they just seem out of place most of the time.
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Rico
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« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2006, 01:17:10 PM »

Quote from: "daschrier"
I never understood the smoking issue, and why some games take it out and some games leave it in. Also, smoking a pipe seems to be ok, but cigarettes are bad....interesting.

I mentioned this a little earlier.  Smoking gets ESRB "points".  It's also a really easy thing to cut out if you're toeing the edge of a higher rating than you want to get for your game.  While M-rated games have certainly had some success, it's much easier to market a T-rated or lower game on many levels.
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