Assassin’s Creed III’s Hutchinson Thinks Game Journos Exhibit “Subtle Racism”

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.



  1. I get his point, but don’t agree; games like Call of Duty (I’ve never played Gears) have terrible stories because they exhibit repetition in a very boring way, whereas a Japanese game might be far more entertaining and ‘fun’ simply because it is so outlandish. I’d rather have a story full of “gibberish” than another checklist of Russians, nukes and the world being in turmoil!

    • that’s a good point too.
      I think that, generally, the medium of videogames has a long way to go with the way it tells stories and with the stories that it tells. Games like Journey and (it seems) Papo y Yo are doing really interesting things at the smaller end but the big blockbusters – from anywhere in the world – are generally very generic and often really quite immature in the way they’re plotted and scripted.

  2. Japanese games are written by Japanese writers for a Japanese audience. Schoolgirls turning in to Ninja vampires and slaying tentacle beasts are part of the culture in Japan.

    I expect if a Japanese person saw Eastenders then they would have problems understanding whats going on.

    • Erm not because they are thick, but because of the cultural differences.

      • Bit harsh calling the entire cast of eastenders thick isn’t it? :P

    • I’m British and I don’t understand what’s going on in EastEnders.

      • You aren’t supposed to – If you understood it all, the planet would understand how truly naff it all is & the cast would simultaneously implode.

  3. Thankfully all our racism is handled by Mini Lipscombe. He’s a massive racist.

  4. We get so many shooters and hollywood style games that the different style and experience games from the East provide appeal to us as a break from the norm. We should hold our heads high with pride that we enjoy and appreciate the differences as the gamers in the East are a hell of a lot more stubborn. The beauty of being in the UK and also with our cousins in the West is our diversity, we wouldn’t write off a console or game simply because it is American in origin.

    Also want to add I’m not racist, my ex-car was Japanese!

  5. I kind of get his point but I wouldn’t call it racism…
    I like that fact that he just says what he thinks, not what his PR teams tells him to say.

  6. “Of course, if you squint a bit you can see his point”

    Subtle racism? :-P

  7. Games, in my opinion, should just stick to what they are/were good at: GAMEPLAY! The likes of Doom, Mario Bros 3 and Tomb Raider 2 are some of the best games I’ve ever experienced and not one of those gave a stuff about narrative.
    I’ll stick to movies and books when I want to experience a story thank you very much :)

  8. “if you squint a bit you can see his point” sounds like subtle racism to me!
    No, that’s silly.
    I can understand his frustration at trying to write serious games and seeing crazy random stuff being praised more but its not the story that gets me interested in Japanese games. Its the complete madness that comes with them.
    Its not subtle racism its just people being glad they have these incredible, over the top, insane games they can play.

  9. “Of course, if you squint a bit you can see his point”

    That was a brilliant line, burst out laughing at it!

  10. I’d play Bayonetta over Gears of War anyday, just because it isn’t a shooter and doesn’t include generic marines.

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