In Portugal, you can walk into McDonald’s and order traditional Peasant soup. In Malaysia, you can start the day with a nourishing McPorridge, and in the Philippines, rice and spaghetti are popular alternatives to the standard French Fries. These meals are unique and unavailable outside their country of origin. Put another way, McDonald’s is censoring its menus on a per-country basis.
But wait, if that’s the case, where are all the anti-censorship groups accusing McDonald’s of bastardising its menu for certain audiences? Where are the free-speech advocates claiming their rights have been infringed? Where are the petitions calling for homogeneity worldwide?
Sure, it sounds ludicrous, but this is the exact attitude many gamers have adopted in response to the localisation of games like Fire Emblem Fates and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Why one but not the other? Both are a form of creative expression. Both use different ingredients in different countries. Both change their practices based on consumer feedback. Shouldn’t the same rules apply?
The answer, of course, is yes, but not the kind of yes the anti-censorship folks are shooting for. Video games, like fast food, should acknowledge cultural differences and adapt accordingly. Retain the standard menu, but recognise that tastes and traditions don’t translate 1:1. Localisation is not censorship, whether it be buns made of rice, or, well, no buns at all.
Matt Sayer is 50% gamer, 50% writer, 50% programmer, and 100% terrible at maths. You can read more of his articles over at Unwinnable as well as right here, friend him on Steam here or tweet him cat photos at @sezonguitar