Well, here’s your latest videogame media controversy. Assassin’s Creed III’s Creative Director, Alex Hutchinson, seems a little frustrated at those who appreciate Japanese videogames a little more than their western counterparts.
In an interview with CVG, he was asked what he thought of Nintendo getting away with regular iterations in their franchises. His reply will probably not win him many friends in the Ubisoft PR department, or in games media.
I think there’s a subtle racism in the business, especially on the journalists’ side, where Japanese developers are forgiven for doing what they do. I think it’s condescending to do this.
Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish. There’s no way you could write it with a straight face, and the journalists say ‘oh it is brilliant’.
“Then Gears of War comes out and apparently it’s the worst written narrative in a game ever. I’ll take Gears of War over Bayonetta any time
Of course, if you squint a bit you can see his point – sometimes people revel in the outlandishness of videogames and that’s a trait which is often more common from Japanese developers. It’s not exactly expressed in a way that’s particularly diplomatic, though, is it?
Personally, I agree with him except for the insinuation that people like certain things because they’re racist. Lots of people who work in games media started to love videogames at a time when storytelling wasn’t one of the important elements. When videogames had nothing but the art on the side of a cabinet or a paragraph at the start of a manual to set up – and often conclude – the entire narrative, it was mechanics that count. That’s probably why lots of people who choose games media as a career love games with good mechanics and are forgiving of narrative short cuts. Not racism.
Still, it’s probably been a long week for Alex Hutchinson so should we just chalk this one up to jetlag and move on? We’re sure there are plenty who won’t be that forgiving.