“Altered” isn’t really a good word for the headline… “butchered” is. However, that kind of curt language wasn’t what Xseed Game’s Thomas Lipschultz conveyed to GOG.com in a recent interview, where they talked about the localization process and how censorship plays a role in Western localization, especially when it comes to games containing sexual-oriented content. In the interview Lipschultz admitted that games oftentimes making the trip from overseas end up getting altered quite a bit by Western localizers to fit with today’s current trend in purifying the content for our politically correct society.
When asked about the sensibilities between the East and the West, Lipschultz admitted that even despite his best efforts of having a “zero tolerance” policy for censorship, it does get increasingly difficult as some games in Japan continue to push the boundaries, forcing the team at XSeed to make some hard decisions.
Lipschultz explains that the whole #MeToo thing has made things a bit more difficult these days, but in the end he really just wants games that everybody can enjoy, telling GOG.com…
”Recently, however, with all the news that’s come out about systemic sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood and elsewhere, as well as the issues being faced by the LGBTQ community in this modern political climate, it’s become much harder to justify maintaining a zero-tolerance approach – and with a lot of Japanese games starting to really push the boundaries of “good taste” more and more, the looming threat of censorship has become much larger and more imposing than ever, and certainly more of a beast to fight on multiple levels. And it’s really not a battle I WANT to fight – I’d rather just localize games that everybody can enjoy!”
A guest poster recently called out #MeToo as possibly going too far, and indeed it has managed to net innocent victims in its net of shame, with Atari founder Nolan Bushnell getting spurned by the GDC for an award after a witch hunt was set upon the electronics entertainment pioneer.
Lipschultz believes that games that push a little further beyond the boundaries of the West’s current puritanical direction will likely get altered more frequently than not, but that there’s hope that more high quality games like Zwei will make it into Xseed’s hands so that it can eventually reach gamers…
“[…] I believe content alteration will occur a little more often in the West than it has before (hopefully not by us, but regrettably, that isn’t outside the realm of possibility!), while little else will change for the industry overseas. My solace lies in the thought that we’ll just keep getting more games like the Zwei titles to work on: superb examples of classic action JRPG design with content that’s often snarky and a little mischievous, but never crosses the line into offensive territory, and thus isn’t at any risk of being toned down in localization.”
While games like Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE and Xenoblade Chronicles X were butchered at the hands of over-sensitive localizers, there is some hope for the future. We’ve seen games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 make the trip from the East to the West without any censorship, and NIS America has promised that SNK Heroines will also make the trip from the East to the West uncensored. Whether or not NISA will hold true to the promise is another story, but hopefully we won’t have to deal with another case of Criminal Girls 2, where more than 50% of the art was censored.