Let's be clear here, these are my personal thoughts on the game and the public who enjoys it. I'll state clearly that I have not played the game, nor have any intention to. This is by no means an attempt to insult or villainize the "game's" growing fan-base; merely my thoughts on it. Don't like it? Well, poo on you!
- Merely skip to the end if you want the short version. This'll take a while.
It starts with a thread. "Don't Knock It Until You've Tried it", started by MattyFTM. Think publishing rights, think great smile on the front of your People's magazine equivalent, teeth like pearl and eyes like shallow graves. You know the look. This is someone who's made it.
I suppose that in a way, he did; with this single post, that has by now amounted to a good 16 pages worth of people being guided into the arms of 4-chan's long-running project, and finding themselves enjoying it. (Did that sound wrong to you, as well? Bet you can't place the reason other than an inherit reaction to "4-Chan".) But before this gets out of hand, let's step back and establish what this is and what we're talking about. We're talking about Katawa Shoujo, a visual novel-type free "game" that apparently has torn at many heart-strings, weaving a net of intrigue in regards to the social acceptance of disability, as well as how the people (or flat saucer-eyed sex-dolls, it's really pretty subjective) "suffering" under the misfortune of having a disability deal with said issues on an emotional, psychological and social level. In a term, it's a dating game exclusively centered around amputees, etcetera.
Now, who am I, why am I writing this, where's the beef, why am I shovelling cultural snow by making a pile of no-sense nonsense like this? I'll keep it brief. I'm a gamer, and an avid bomber; I enjoy violence in games. I enjoy sex in games. Both can add to the experience if done right. I'm a bit of a lovecraftian and enjoy the strange; and let's be honest, that translates into the bedroom. That said, I live by a certain system, let's call it a codex.. And much like hand-made hoover-attachments, my system is beginning to wear out it's usefulness as new and improved and easy becomes all the more attractive. There's been very few games over the years that I've found repulsive due to their content. Hell, I've enjoyed that to a measure. Killer 7 remains one of my favourite games, and it's pretty hard to top in terms of visual and implied disgusting extavaganza.
So, here's a game about dating disabled girls, and at first, as so many others, I was sceptical. A game about disabled girls.. About understanding these disabled girls.. About the disabled girls' view on life and their own tale and fears.. About dating disables girls.. About awkwardly undressing disabled girls.. About fucking disabled girls. HOLD ON! WHAT?! Hit the breaks; let's inspect the nature of this.
At the very core of an experience, an interactive one, we have a role we'd like to live out to a point; we play action games because we want to relieve stress and simply have fun. We play strategical titles because we enjoy how it makes us think according to a different rule-set. We enjoy RPGs because we like to explore, and shape our own future in a way we never could in the non-digitalized advanced capitalist society we live in. (Why? No fucking goblins is why; and a whole other mountain of concepts, but you know the drill.) We play porn-games because.. Well, mainly because we want to get off. And I am no doubt simplifying here, but that's what we're doing here; we're trying to boil it down to it's basics. "We", you exclaim in shock; "no, your misguided concepts are far from mine own"; if you're thinking along these lines, see the top. This game, at it's core, is a romantically-charged drama that has you follow different routes in order to land with one, or possibly more, amputees.
An awkward concept.
After having read through the thread mentioed at the start of this thread, a real russian-doll situation, (to which there's a link at the top of this beautifully constructed topic, just look at it shine; you'd never know it'd get me killed by a horde of gamers with probably a full set of limbs), I find that for the first time in gaming history, I'm just appalled. I'm not bored, I'm not sighing in exhasperation. I feel nausea at the back of my throat; perhaps less at the concept of a game that includes sex-scene with a girl with no legs, but at the idea of that so many people have come to find this not appalling, but appealing. I don't particulary mind people without legs having sex, good for them; sex is good for the soul and the psyche, not to mention the body, but that's not the point. We're not seeing past people's exterior flaws in order to find the beauty that's been hidden beneath layers of pain and self-awareness, coming to engage with them in romantic communion because we've come to truly feel for them.
No, we're going into the experience, fully expecting to do so; under the premise of "disabled girls, go!" (Think Social Link Go!, a cheerful jingle, perhaps some children's laughter in the background as ambience) We're putting ourselves into a certain mind-frame before stepping into this "strange new world". The protagonist himself is disabled, and only then is he able to engage with this strange, new race. Females? Disabled people? That's the thing that bugs me. It's a concept. It's a novelty.
The strongest, and most repeated, arguement I've heard for this title is that the disabilites don't define the characters. So, what I'm being told is that people were shocked to see that women without legs actually had a personality that went beyond their own self-pity? OH, MY LORD! And there's my problem; there's the sickening aspect of this entire scenario. Not that people found something to like in what I've heard to be a well-written "game", but the mind-set in which people approached it. I reckon some good 80 % will say; "I only wanted to try it out because I wanted to know I was right in looking down on it." Let me be clear on this; this is what we, in the business, refer to as an "excuse", something we tell others, as well as ourselves. There's been great, GREAT interest in the game due to it's controversy, not due to it's well-written story, fine art. Not due to the prospect of fucking girls, but fucking girls specifically with disabilities; and there's the difference.
So, maybe I've grown old; maybe I'm just getting tired of shovelling cultural or sensual snow, maybe I've finally found a moral perch from which I can look down on you sorry cretins living out your miserable excuses for a life (MANIACAL LAUGHTER! MANIACAL LAUGHTER!) - But hey, you know what? That's the thing about opinions, they tend to change depending on your perspective.
- If you're in for the short version; here's where I finish my death-warrant.
-To synopsize and lastly fully explain, I dislike the notion of this game due to the fact that it centers on disabled people as a novelty. It has clearly won many over due to it's fine writing, and as such; I won't peg the title for what it is. Had any of these story-lines been included in another visual novel that presented one disabled girl as an equal among others more fortunate, I'd have applauded it for the chance it took; here's one burned girl that can stand among a school-idol, a timid heavily-busted beauty and hold her own due to her personality and her courage. Not that I particulary enjoy visual novels, but hey; people deserve to be treated as equals. What I dislike is what we've made out of it, and the fact that people go into this game with the mind-set that they're not dealing with people able to feel, everyday people; but that they're visiting a zoo.
Is that how you'd like to be seen if you were in this situation? Think about it; it'd certainly how you'd feel if someone described you the way you've been describing the characters in the "game".
Enjoy the game, duders; I won't hold it against you. No, this is merely my opinion, and I'm certain there's you out there who had pure, yet horny motives for playing the game; you're alright in my book. And at the end of the day, I can say "Hey, I've got something to hang on the wall; I drew the line for what I'll accept in gaming." And ain't that a novelty?
I hope you all enjoyed this "little" post.
This is Do_The_Manta_Ray being cool at your school, retreating to my bed and maybe a round of DOTA in the morning.
@Video_Game_King: By your immediete agression about three minutes after I posted this wall of a massage; I assume you read the entire post, rather than just see one thing you didn't like and go straight for the throat. The "Localized Title" is a joke as it's an english game with a japanese title, and finally. I'M SORRY! I'M SO SORRY I SPELLED IT WRONG! OH, GOD! WHATEVER SHALL BECOME OF MY SENSE OF DIGNITY AND PRIDE? Calm down, duder.