[EDIT: Apparently I’m misunderstanding the issue at hand. The issue seems to be that the Lin character had several revealing bathing suit/lingerie costumes that were removed from the western release AND that the character creation breast size slider is locked. In reading the outrage on these two issues, I came to the incorrect understanding that people wanted to give the Lin character bigger breasts. Oh well. The commentary still stands - it still applies to the removal of the skimpy outfits, the sexual agency of female game characters, and the vitriol from the gaming community towards devs.]
Of course, #NotAllFans. Of the people commenting on this issue (non-issue?), the opinion seems to be pretty polarized - some people are strongly offended that the bust slider (a modifier used to modify the size of a female character’s breasts) was removed, while others understand the removal of the bust slider, citing cultural differences between Japan and North America. Others still are happy about the removal, citing its objectionable nature.
The point of contention here? The character in question is 13 years old. Her age will be modified to 15 in the western release, but still. We’re talking about player control over the breast size of an underaged character, which is understandably controversial under western standards.
The said character is Lin (possibly renamed to Lyn?), pictured here. I won’t pretend to fully understand Japanese attitudes towards underaged sexuality and consent, but with my Canadian sensibilities, yeah, a breast size slider for this very obviously underaged character does come off as a little creepy.
I do understand and appreciate the commitment to “purity” that some western gamers have; the idea that something released in Japan or other foreign lands should not be modified to adapt to western values and cultural understandings. But this is a bigger issue than cultural differences.
Something that’s been discussed a lot in gaming - at least by YouTubers like Jim Sterling and TotalBiscuit, and on many forums and message boards across the web - is the idea of sexual agency, or the perceived control of a character over their body and sexuality. One character I’ve seen a lot of discussion on is Bayonetta - while the character is usually panned by more sex-negative commentators for her overt sexuality and what they interpret to be objectionable fan service, the character has been equally praised by more sex-positive commentators for the character’s perceived control of her body and sexuality; she chooses to flaunt her body and behave seductively, she is not forced or coerced by the player or other characters to behave in that fashion.
The problem with this Lin character is that she does not have that agency. While breasts - especially on a 13-year-old - are not an inherently sexual thing, player control over that element of the body of a character is done for inherently sexual purposes. I’ve heard the argument from a few women in my life that breast size can often be equated with power or social influence, that creating an MMO character with large breasts, for instance, can sometimes be done purposefully to give the character a more commanding or confident personality. But because the personality and traits of this character are static, the breast size is not manipulated for that purpose; I reckon it’s explicitly sexual, presumably to entertain a target demographic of teenage and college-age males. That element of control this character hypothetically has over her body is, at that point, removed, making it difficult to defend, even for a strongly sex-positive person like myself.
Regardless of all that conjecture, people are pretty mad. In the comments I’ve read, people are claiming excessive censorship, the pushing of a socio-cultural agenda, the ignorance of western minds towards eastern attitudes, and in a sense, those opinions are valid, and worth discussing with open minds.
But when it gets to the point of harassment of localization staff, that’s where the line between fair discussion and barbarism is drawn.
This is one of many threads on the GameFAQs forums where a specific individual has been targeted for a change made to Xenoblade Chronicles X. I will concede that my research has not gone much further than this one forum, because honestly, I don’t want to get lost in hours upon hours of paranoid arguments about gender politics. I’ve been down that road too many times to count, and it just makes you fucking depressed. But from what I’ve extrapolated, the pattern goes like this:
1. Perceive censorship of a product, especially when it relates to sex and sexuality.
2. Look up all female and LBGT employees at company responsible for these changes and bombard them with accusatory e-mails and tweets.
3. Repeat 1 and 2.
I think it’s perfectly okay to be offended when you feel your content is being censored. It’s perfectly okay to voice your outrage, and to inquire as to why the changes were made in a professional and civil manner.
But these witch hunts need to stop. No part of my conscience, not even my inner libertarian that screams to get out sometimes to rant about personal freedom, can find justification for attacking a person in the gaming industry who’s just trying to do their job. If you are offended by something, write to Nintendo. Write to Monolith. Maybe even write to the company that is being subcontracted to localize this product. But for the love of god, we can’t keep targeting people - especially not those of choice demographics - every time we are unhappy with a change made in development or localization. This serves no benefit. See, folks, you THINK you’re “ridding the world of toxic censorship”, you THINK you’re making the gaming industry a more transparent and equitable place by doing this, but you are not.
The only thing you are doing is scaring off talented personnel with very little influence. You are targeting people who just want to collect a paycheque and feed their families. And for what? Because you want a teenager to have big tits? You are going to cause these hard-working men and women stress, you are going to invade their personal lives and accuse them of all kinds of nasties, just so you can have your bust slider back?
That is stupid, and you ought to be ashamed.
Anyway, here are a few of the threads I read before writing this article:
Alison Rapp from Treehouse part of reason for bust slider drama?http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/701151-…
Want to know PRECISELY where on the slider Nintendo locked the breast size?http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/701151-…
CONFIRMED: Lyn Slightly Edited, Bust Slider Removed.http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/701151-…