Monday, March 14, 2016

"Journalists" are mad because they don't understand localization...


It's bad enough that people are willing to champion things like Collusion , cronyism, Tabloid tripe masquerading as informative and investigating Journalism, (Hi Patrick), Now we have to deal with articles basically insulting our intelligence, simply because we won't sit back and purchase something that started off as a promising game and in the process of it's localization, if you can call it that., was neutered into well this..

I say “insulting our intelligence”, because that's all it really does. If the writer had any intention of pissing anyone off , then this article missed the mark, entirely. It just makes a series of childish insults, half-assed assumptions and generalizing with broad strokes that would make Bob Ross blush.

While I'm sure the insulting nature of Mr Andrew Todd's article was geared to bring the so-called “Gamergater” (he must be channeling his inner Devin Faraci) into fits of rage and frenzy that can only rival that of Guts from Berserk. In reality, all this did was make me wonder how life is on the farm? Because with an approach such as this, i'm sure you've been spending your entire life around scarecrows with strawman arguments like these!

I decided to set aside some free time, and focused my attention on this, because I find this whole written “thing” interesting and according to past relationship history, I seem to be a glutton for punishment. Long story short - Challenge Accepted.

For the sake of not putting people through the atrocities that you put me through in having to sift through the perfunctory pontificating persecutory delusion of the first two paragraphs

I decided that I am only going to focus on the points of relevance, here. If you, dear viewer, want to suffer through the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune to read this. I'll leave the edition for you to check out. You were warned.

Also, I'm going to bypass a lot of the personal drama concerning both Rich Amtower, and Alison Rapp. Since I've already said what needed to be said about Treehouse and it's wacky denizens. Despite their association with the topic they're merely symptoms and not the root of the problem, itself. Basically, I'm here to discuss Censorship and Localization, and why your argument, which seems to only use Rapp and Amtower as shields to cover up what is otherwise a rather weak argument. Without further ado...
This time the fury is ostensibly about localisation, which to most people is an unknown niche of game development. Localisation is the process of translating, editing, and adapting works from one language or culture to another. It’s something that’s done across media, and to a degree it’s an invisible art. Even the word “localisation” - to make something local - implies that done correctly, a work should feel more or less like it came from the region in which it’s being marketed and consumed. And that involves making changes to the text. 

 You seem to have cut the end of that statement short. I'll stow my suspicions and give you the benefit of the doubt, here. Logically, Due to the nature of translation, changes do have to be made to the text, but only in the sense of making the text understandable and familiar to the region in which the text is being translated. Elements like metaphors, pop culture references, slang terms or things that may not be culturally sensible like giving the finger, obscenities or things that would be considered outright pornographic may have to be changed for particular audiences, but that depends on who the target audience the game or material is being marketed to.

I want you to remember the term “Invisible art” for later, Because I'm sure he's going to blow his own argument with this statement before we're through.

Before we get into this, there’s a distinction to be drawn between government censors cutting content and studios changing content for localisation purposes. The former definitely takes place, but we’re talking about the latter. A crucial part of this controversy is the conflation of the two.

Fresh from the ACLU website..
Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.

In the case of Fire Emblem Fates, there are a number of changes made in the localisation A “petting” minigame has been removed; if it were animal-related, I’d be up in arms too, but it’s actually about petting the faces of female companions. Likewise, a sequence in which a lesbian-coded character has her drink spiked and subsequently falls in love with the male protagonist has also been cut. And a number of scenes have had their dialogue translated and localised in creative ways unacceptable to GamerGate literalists.

Interestingly enough how up in arms were you about Pokemon amie? Or Nintendogs and Cats? More personally, have you ever been in a relationship before? I'm only asking that because one of the aspects of a healthy relationship is in fact physical contact. 

She likes a man with a slow hand...

Sure you could just stare at each other intimately, or whatever it is you kooky kids do, these days, but Intimacy is heightened by physical contact. Kissing touching, caressing. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Ironically, after Google searching for a whopping six seconds, I managed to find a Wiki how guide, and the strangest thing happened; They talked about caressing the side of a woman's face while kissing her, as well as massaging her shoulders and tracing your fingers through her hair in order to heighten intimacy.

Just to maintain that this isn't a fluke I took to tumblr, that domain of Porn, Fandoms and sensitivity run rampant, and searched with the words “Trace my fingers over your skin” and
surprise surprise.

There sure are a lot of posts talking about so called “petting” I wonder if this would translate well in a game, but I just don't know what kind of game would allow it. Touch being a foreign concept and all to these strange people of the future..

I've pretty much explained the “Gay conversion therapy” nonsense argument, but I do want to point out something interesting in addition; The term “Lesbian coded” which seems as ambiguous as Soleil's sexuality is actually just a matter of people trying to shoehorn their own opinions into a fictional character's sexual preferences. Youtuber, Mrperson0 managed to import his friend's Japanese Save file into the American version of Fates and recorded the infamous "Soleil support conversation" . As it turns out, instead of having been slipped a magical mickey, Soleil was blindfolded and then given a visualization exercise to pretend that all her male allies were female. 

So, using a magical drink is totally wrong and gross, but the Pepsi taste test method. That's where it's at! Since the S rank conversations usually end in romantic bliss, let's see if this “Lesbian coded”individual let's him down easy...

Wha.. what the... but.. she's a lesbian-coded individual. This can't be!

Well... so much for interpretation.

The moral of the story here, kids is - never let people tell you who you are.

Edits to tone down Japanese sexuality have gone on throughout gaming history - bust size sliders have been removed, characters have been aged up, costumes have been made less risque - because the kind of content that’s normal in Japan just ain’t gonna fly in the United States.


Oh, I'm sorry that's an American game. It's so hard to not confuse American bust sliders with Japanese ones. Let's move on. Nothing to see, here.

GamerGaters believe Nintendo has “censored” the game, but it’s hard to call a private company adapting to the social norms of a new culture “censorship” when the original version can still be imported and nothing has been actually banned. They simply know that the phrase “freedom of speech” sounds good, and just like in cases of feminist criticism, they’ll invoke it whenever they feel like their ability to leer at cartoons is being curtailed.

Nintendo has historically been notorious for censoring it's own content and the content of 3
rd party developers. In fact thanks to Nintendo's monopoly on the home console market, 3rd party developers back in the 80's had strict content guidelines that had to be met in order to gain the opportunity to be granted a chance to release a game on the NES and SNES.

These practices had remained in place until the early 90's when the ESRB was first established as a means of allowing the Games industry to police itself, and to get provocateurs like Senator Joe Lieberman and Marilyn Droz, a popular anti-Videogame violence crusader at the time (Think Pre Jack Thompson and Proto-Anita) off of their backs.

By the Mid 90's Nintendo's censorship practices had contributed to some severe mistakes, one being the release of the most benign version of Mortal Kombat imaginable, and had caused many of their customers to jump ship to Sega which offered titles that suited their new found tastes. Nintendo eventually adapted to the ESRB ratings and relaxed their grip on 3
rd parties. This is the reason why we got games like Conker's Bad Fur day, the Resident Evil games, and more recently, a fully intact version of Bayonetta 1 and 2.

However, it seems interesting to note that with all of that behind them, there seems to be a more tightened grip when it comes to handhelds, where they still have market dominance. Logically, if adults are purchasing a game, they should be able to handle the subject matter presented, sexually charged content and all, but With the things happening to Bravely Second, the sentiment seems odd. Whether this is part of Nintendo of America's concern of children getting their hands on said product regardless of rating, or just the company being fearful of inciting Nintendo's wrath, there seems to be some form of censorship taking place be it self imposed or otherwise. .

But compared to games like Senran Kagura, the Skinship mini game in Fates is extremely tame by comparison. Which makes the removal that much more strange.

As for the dialogue, this is where localisation gets super interesting. Localisation isn’t merely translation - if it were, Japanese games would never sell internationally, because they’d be borderline impenetrable. Literal translation ignores and often ruins crucial elements of communication like idioms, cultural references, wordplay, and humour, resulting in a need for creative adaptation. Check out this script posted by a #TorrentialDownpour participant, with the US localisation on the left and a more literal translation on the right:

If you'll look at the literal interpretation compared to the English localization, you'll notice a few things. Mainly, A lot of dialogue was left out in the English version, here, and a lot of unnecessary dialogue was put in. That changes the entire context of the scene. The original intention makes the scene feel tense by comparison and shows an element of character. This makes even more sense when we realize that Henry, in his original Japanese incarnation was an victim of neglect and Child Abuse. Due to his rather cruel upbringing he tends to be socially awkward and fails to grasp certain elements of morality. This is why the context of the scene was so important.

In the full context of the original scene, Henry makes his case and explains why euthanizing the dog will ultimately save it from a slow death of starvation. But that point is completely lost in the US version and instead we're left with something resembling comedy. Olivia stating
“You want to kill this thing to appease your Dark God” isn't even remotely accurate to what she's really saying.

This is why the notion that “creative interpretation is a good thing” fails, because by completely altering the original context of the scene, you managed to erase the character's depth and change the context of his character completely, only leaving us with a shell of what could have been. But of course, why have any form of emotional depth, and growth when we can just laugh off poor Henry's traumatic past. Which creates interesting implications about how we treat males victims of abuse in this country, but that's a discussion for another time.

 GamerGaters are outraged about these, but the fact is that liberal localisations read way more naturally than literal ones. It’s kinda cheesy, but “poor little doggy” sounds much more like what an English speaker would say than “a dog has collapsed here.” Another example features a Japanese song about fishing, which when literally translated feels sort of clunky, lacking rhyme or rhythm, but when localised is a somewhat clever Dr Seuss reference. Gamers decry the reference as “laziness,” but in practice, it requires a lot more effort and intelligence to create English equivalents than it does to generate English translations. What gamers seem to want is “all your base are belong to us” - the kind of poor, literal translation that gave rise to the localisation industry in the first place.

This argument starts out on a leg as lame as the dog in the scenario. First of all, that line of logic will only result in bad writing. Characters speak based on their established personality. This is done in order to tell the difference between the characters and make them seem more three dimensional. “A dog collapsed here” can be reworked into something that flows smoothly yet still retains the personality of the character. “This dog looks hurt” or “Oh, this dog looks injured.” would suite the character more than the cheesy “poor little doggy” line. And the sad part is, it only took me four seconds to rework those two examples.

Since we're on the topic of writing, let's talk about Effie, a character who is large framed, yet very soft-natured. there is an interesting Juxtaposition there and if implemented properly could have made for a good character, but instead of actually working with the source, it was decided to go with a stereotypical “muscle head” character. What a missed opportunity! Instead of relying on the source material, The Localization suffers from the effortless use of depositing memes, and trying to reinvent the wheel. The result of this is a game that literally set localization back thirty years into the past!

Speaking of laziness, did you know that Toplan rushed that infamous Zero Wing intro out to meet the European release date of the Mega Drive game? That's literally how the “All your base” thing happened. And as well all know, the Japanese and their love of using English words sans proofreading, creates strange and wonderous things.

That must be a really big effin' sale.
It’s important to note that localisation isn’t limited to games. It even happens between English-speaking territories: see Harry Potter’s “Philosopher’s Stone,” “jumper,” and “letterbox” becoming “Sorcerer's Stone,” “sweater,” and “mail slot,” or Demolition Man’s Taco Bell references changing to Pizza Hut internationally, or Crocodile Dundee losing much of its Aussie slang upon US release. Pixar goes a step further and localises everything from character names to signs and newspapers in its films; the UK trailer for Inside Out even had Riley’s dad internally watching a football match (“soccer” for America - see? Localisation!) instead of hockey.

What you're referring to, here is elements of a film that is changed for cultural sensibilities. There's nothing wrong with that. However, Swimsuits are a cultural norm in America, as are caressing faces as a means of showing affection. If we're going down that road, Native Americans are a cultural norm here, which is funny to mention that because much like in real life we decided to erase them and parade around cowboys for Bravely Second. Don't even get me started on that art book with the missing art that appears in the game. My friends and I have been importing art books for decades, why would I even want to invest money into that when I can go to Amazon and get the better product, there? 

There's something to be said about presuming the ignorance of bookworms..
Also it's interesting to note that “philosopher's stone” was changed to “sorcerer's stone” due to assumptions that American children weren't familiar enough with the term to gain the correct impression of the title. However in the Full Metal Alchemist Anime (which came out two years after the first Potter film), The Philosopher's Stone was one of the major plot points of the series, and was explained in enough detail for American audiences to be able to grasp.

This also leads me to believe that there is something to those claims that a lack of understanding of cultural differences leads to bad choices in localization, and this strange idea that everything that comes to the west has to be dumbed down for western audiences to grasp.

 Subtitling, the film world’s principal method of localisation, is an intriguing realm that - again - is an invisible art. You can always tell the difference between literally-translated subtitles (the extreme example being the famous “do not want” Darth Vader meme, which originated because there’s no single Chinese word for “no”) and subtitles that have been rewritten to capture the dialogue’s meaning as opposed to its words. I recall Gareth Evans asking, in the leadup to the release of The Raid 2, whether fans “prefer literal translations or subs that try to capture the tone.” The response was dramatically in favour of a translation that captured tone; the first two responses, in fact, were me, saying “capture the shit out of that tone,” and BMD’s Sid, saying “definitely definitely not literal.” Taking the responses to that tweet as a microcosm (and also applying common fucking sense), it seems like the film world is way more receptive to adaptive translation than at least parts of the gaming world are.

  Comparing games to movies., because translating dialogue for two to three hours of film is exactly the same as translating up to and sometimes over fifty different characters in multiple scenarios, some of which may not even be seen during any given play through. I know he's doing it because movies are more his strong suit, and he uses that line of thought as a crutch in his arguments, but still. Not the same.

But for the sake of humoring Mr Todd. There's a blog on Mangastream's website that goes in great detail about the difference between both literal translation and context-based translation, either can be good depending on the situation, and yet neither say anything about the translator loosely interpreting the material while adding things that were never there in the first place. Additionally why is it that fans who love the series can understand this logic and put forth maximum effort in retaining something faithful to it's original vision, but a localization team who's being paid can't even do the job they're being hired to do, properly?

let's go another route...

Since you love to throw movies in as an example, I'm going to use a form of verbal judo to take your argument and use it against you.

Let's say we were to take Stanley Kubrick's
A ClockWork Orange, Paul Verhoeven's cut of the 1987 film, Robocop, and David Chronenburg's cult classic Videodrome and watch them back to back.

I'm sure you would tell me that these are relatively iconic films in their own right, and are fantastic as they are. But, instead of viewing them as they were, let's instead watch the Edited-for-television versions with stilted dialogue changes, removal of any graphic violence and sexual situations for the kiddies, and huge cuts to the overall film to fit the confines of a restrained television station time slot.

Now, because I'm a masochist, Let's take those edited for television versions and turn them into Blu-Ray and DVDs and proceed to sell them to people, and when they proclaim that “Hey, this isn't the version of the film I wanted!, it's heavily censored, and it's missing whole portions of it's content” Let's respond to that with “Well, the creative adaption versions are actually the best possible version we can bring to this format, due to cultural sensibilities and all that. Enjoy your product” and when they protest further we'll then respond with “You close-minded pleb, you just want to see ass, titties and gore. Get out of here, Baby-man and go watch porn!”

First of all, the film purists would have both our heads for even humoring that idea, and Secondly we would probably be greeted with all manner of torch and pitchfork at the gates. If you have a problem with this scenario, then why the hell do you think that it's alright to do this to gamers?

 So what is it about Fire Emblem Fates’ localisation that has these folks so vehemently angry? Tell me, oh prognosticator of the impoverished, Oh mighty omnipotent being come down from the heavens to read my thoughts and project my will unto the masses. While you're at it, tell me why I'm supposed to shut up and spend money on a version of a product that I'm not satisfied with, or why I should just ignore the obvious dips in quality created by a localization team who decided to do unnecessary tinkering on an already finished script. Or maybe you would like to explain how the issues with removing minigames and support conversations aren't censorship, according to places like Kotaku, and Gaf, but When Criminal Girls: Invite Only is released in the westwith pink smoke covering the screen Kotaku and by extension, Mike Fahey is like OH LAWD, ya'll infringin' on mah freedoms!!

It’s likely significantly thanks to the sexual nature of the cut content, given the mob’s predilection for scantily-clad anime avatars and its well-documented hatred for anything that might push culture towards showing fewer boobs. But it also speaks to a closed-minded idea of what localisation is. Localisation isn’t about exactly replicating a work in another language; it’s about migrating that work to a different culture. In that sense, Nintendo’s been remarkably successful - if it weren't for the trumped-up controversy, localisation would never cross your mind.
I believe the only one here who fails to understand what they're talking about, here, is you. From what we've read so far, It's rather easy to tell that you're clearly out of your depth, and you're working with multiplex levels of projection. If you were trying to make a point, do so. Don't pad your argument with vague generalizations and insults, and stop using the names of others to shield yourself from criticism of what is obviously a weak argument to begin with.

With that being said, I think we have a good idea of who the closed-minded person in this situation is. Go back to talking about Movies, Mr. Todd. Because you clearly fail at understanding video games. But I'm sure you'll blame Gamergate and “Dem Animu Tiddies” as a response to this statement.


-I'll see you next bossfight

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