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Former Official Nintendo Magazine Writer Thinks Senran Kagura is “Damaging the Industry”

senran kagura shinovi versus ss 2

Chris Rooke is a former Official Nintendo Magazine writer, and he has taken to his soapbox to collectively lump the Senran Kagura series, the Dead or Alive series, Code of Princess, and so on together into a group of games that he thinks are alienating in their target audience, because of their sexual nature.

He cites the Entertainment Software Association, saying that their estimates put the male to female ratio of gamers to about 55 to 45% percent, respectively. Coming from this, he also states that there are more women gamers over the age of 18 than there are boys younger than 17 playing games. To cite the report by the ESA directly, their numbers are women over 18 at 31% and boys age 17 or younger at 19%, both of which derive from the previously mentioned totals of 45% versus 55% percent, respectively.

Here’s where his blog gets nasty, and he completely trashes the Senran Kagura franchise, specifically the first game to be localized in the West, Senran Kagura Burst:

“Senran Kagura is one of the worst types of game around. It’s insulting to the intelligence of gamers, damaging to the reputation of the industry, and alienating and harmful to women (both inside and outside the gaming community and industry). So, do yourself, and the wider community a favour: don’t read articles about its release. Try not to Youtube it. Avoid reviews. And certainly don’t buy it.”

I think there are a couple of problems with his argument. For one, I know lots of men who are over the age of 17 who buy and enjoy these types of games, the games with lots of fanservice. Most of them are just like me, they grew up heavily influenced by Japanese culture, whether it be from anime, games, movies, or maybe all three. Getting into games like this that have lots of scantily clad women with wild features kind of just came with the territory after a certain point.

Next, I wanted to point out that claiming that these games are made only for teenage boys is a disservice, and it’s the same kind of bile that people like Jason Schreier from Kotaku spew out all the time. I don’t want to get off topic, but one of his glorious outbursts involved alienating the entire Dragon’s Crown fanbase by saying the game’s art style was made for pedophiles, and as such fans and the talented developers at Vanillaware should be ashamed. Right.

I know my next comment is probably going to get me labeled as sexist, misogynist, and so on, but I’m just going to say it – not every game’s target audience is necessarily women. The creator of Senran Kagura, Kenichiro Takaki, frequently states that the Senran Kagura games are all about women with exaggerated features who get into silly, cute and or naughty situations. One of the recently confirmed games, Dekamori Senran Kagura, is described as a game to “satisfy man’s three desires.

What I’m saying is that the Senran Kagura games are clearly marketed and designed towards men who want to see women with exaggerated features, or a great art style, or even great gameplay. I know that this is the day and age in which everyone is fighting for games to evolve and move forward, to help give credence to the argument that video games can be art, and so on. Going back to my previous statement, not every game has a target audience of both men and women, or even young men and women.

Some games are so ultra violent, it’s pretty difficult to recommend them to people who are skittish towards that sort of thing, the same can be said of games with sexuality in them. In my opinion, this could also be said of any game that features highly detailed sexuality or partial nudity, although the Senran Kagura games at their core feature the exploding clothes mechanic made popular from various anime. The main thing about these games that feature sex or partial nudity is that never do they show off the characters’ naughty bits.

Compare this to a gem called UTE, a game in which you actually lure men into alleyways only to have sex with them. I’m talking full nudity, some scenes even showing penetration. Sure, the art style is crude and meant to look silly, but still. That’s the entire game, and it was even given an honorable mention in the Independent Games Festival Student Showcase from 2011. Instead of this game being chastised for its crudeness or blatant sexuality, it was close to winning an award!

Oh, I forgot, the game isn’t a “weird Japanese game”, and it’s also developed by a woman – so I guess that makes it ok to have full frontal nudity and or sex scenes? I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve seen Western developers getting a pass when it comes to things like these, but for some reason the Japanese get a magnifying lens on their games and the content therein. I know that UTE is meant to discuss the problems women face in society with their sexuality, but that’s not to say that the Senran Kagura games lack a narrative.

If anything, instead of trying to censor these games, an effort should be made to make more games that are targeted towards women. Look at the otome games that have been wildly popular in Asia and Japan, one of which I actually reviewed. In that particular game, you play an intelligent, empowered heterosexual girl who has a bunch of awesome guys to potentially date, although the entire story takes place during a hostage situation. It’s still a really solid game, and quite fun if you’re into dialogue heavy games. Why can’t there be more games like that, instead of people crying to censor games like Senran Kagura?

If you haven’t already, you should read our review of Senran Kagura Burst, it’s a very solid title and totally worth the purchase if you own a 3DS. Instead of dismissing the game as pure sexual fantasy for shock value, we gave it a serious, unbiased review and came out with the realization that the game features not just fun and stylized visuals, but a robust story as well. I sincerely hope that this alienating of Japanese games and developers, regardless of how sexual their games are or how sexualized their characters are, comes to an end.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.

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Brandon Orselli

About

Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive.



11 comments
  1. Jack Ripper
    Jack Ripper
    January 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Well said.

    I think it’s just a misunderstanding between West/East gamer mentality. It’s not surprising; anything with slight fanservice and anime look is considered hentai to most people in the west.

    It’s interesting that he picked those particular games to rip on though especially when he doesn’t seem to know anything about the characters. It sounds like he didn’t play any of the games he mentioned and based his opinion solely on just the “look”. Somewhat ignorant and biased way to look at the games.

  2. Carl B.
    Carl B.
    January 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Brilliant. Hey I know what…if this Rooke bozo is so confident then let’s have the MARKET decide and if this games don”t sell then I’ll believe his figures. Because I’ll tell you what, the DOA series, neptunia series and dragons crown all seem to be doing very well. Let the market decide bright boy, and stop white knighting so some hairy armpit geek girl talks to you on twitter for the first time in your life. Dope.

    Wonder if Rooke has ever heard of Fujoshi. If uou need me to enlighten you….its women who play all those “nasty” games he thinks only pervert males do. Go watch Oreimo (good anime) or google it. These girls exist and love these games too. Its a HUGE set of gamers in japan.

    But no….he wants to live in a fantasy world where the market is ruled by him and escapism is only allowed if it fits his narrowly defined standard of decency. So brilliant and wise.

  3. buddyluv324
    buddyluv324
    January 22, 2014 at 4:24 am

    After having read the article, its obvious that the blogger who wrote it hasnt heard of a little thing called demographics. What blows my mind is that after having hearing so much bitching and ranting from these bloggers, gamers, journalist, developers/publishers, etc. you would think they would use their heads and try to gain that 45% female gaming market they’ve been bragging about so much. There are games out there for the female audience ( more so in Japan than in the US ironically). A few good examples are the Tales of series, Pokemon, Hakuoki, Sweet Fuse and others.

    At the end of the day gaming as a whole isnt always going to have every title with rainbows and bunnies. That’s why theres different genres like shooters, horror, fighting, etc. that gives us various experiences. Just because a title may have some over the top fanservice or something bad happens in a game like violence and murder does not mean we as gamers endorse nor act out those kinds of behaviors in real life.

  4. Carl B.
    Carl B.
    January 22, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Good point, and that’s true…traditional JRPGs tend to be big amongst female gamers too. I spent a few years working in a software etc (Before they became Gamestop after the Babbages buy out) and when you saw a female customer getting a game , or even a female employee talking about what she had been playing, it was always JRPGs.

    Tales is a great example, because its stories have usually been very light-hearted (Maybe less-so for Vesperia) and they focus on colorful environments, non-threatening scenarios/monsters/etc.

    Not to say Tales is “weak” or that women can’t handle a darker RPG such as, say Shin Megami Tensei (I’m sure many do) but it’s a nice level playing field there in those retro JRPG worlds.

    Bottom line is these commentators need to stop acting like they know what everyone wants and just let the natural desires of the consumer continue guiding the hobby. This is all a case of a very noisy immature few that foolishly and egotistically think they can control the entire hobby.

    Hey, if it was up to me we’d be getting new Tales of games every year the way we do CoD…but I know that won’t happen unless the majority of consumers make it happen through their wallet…and no amount of soapboxing is going to change that. It will happen (or not happen) independently from me.

    Which is funny since violence in FPS games is *ok* and the SJW don’t care about it…but fan service in Japanese games? CORRUPTING!!

    All this reminds me of how pissed some people got about Ar tonelico 3’s transformations..how they lose clothes as they gain more power. God I loved that game.

  5. Myles Vitagliano
    Myles Vitagliano
    January 23, 2014 at 4:04 am

    Oh look, another westerner trashing japanese games for being “sexist” and “damaging to women”. They are games jackass and if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, it’s that simple. Luckily Japan doesn’t seem to care about the Social Justice crusade that seems so popular among western gaming journalists these days.

    I actually wrote the review for Senran Kagura on this website and I thought it was a wonderful game that was a great modern beat em up in an age when the genre is practically dead.

    So, do yourself, and the wider community a favour: read articles about its release. Try to Youtube it. Seek out reviews. And certainly buy it.”

  6. Paul Acevedo
    Paul Acevedo
    January 27, 2014 at 3:42 am

    I think your comparison of Senran Kagura to Ute isn’t very strong. The difference between the sexuality of the two games is that one objectifies its female characters (to an extreme extent) and the other doesn’t. Using a better example for comparison would strengthen your argument.

    That said, I agree with your position. There is nothing wrong with making games specifically for guys or people who like sexual imagery. It would suck if all games were like that, because then there really would be nothing for people who aren’t into that stuff to play.

    I too find Jason and Patricia’s positions against sexual imagery to be highly insulting. Kotaku sends weird mixed messages in their quest for clicks.

  7. UUDDLRLR BASTART
    UUDDLRLR BASTART
    January 27, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Oh, you crazy westerners and your absurd first world problem agendas.

    Boohoo, imaginary cartoon women are being imaginary degraded in imaginary mediums. We must fight for the rights of these enslaved imaginary female denizens, or who will? The male creators who hold them captive? I think not, censor them!

    The western world is in a dire need of a million killing pandemic disease, some sort of famine or a good old fashioned war where their opponents are evenly matched for once.

    Then perhaps they’ll have some actual, real problems to busy their bored little minds with.

  8. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    January 27, 2014 at 8:07 am

    You’re right, using UTE as a comparison wasn’t as compelling – to be honest the only reason why I used it was because of RPS’s recent sex column that just infuriated me, mostly because of their usual crusading against other games, and yet they had nothing but praise for UTE.

    The main point I wanted to put across was that screaming for censorship is dumb and it does nothing for the argument of the game’s content. I think no art form, whether it be games, movies, music, etc is free of criticism, but to outright say it shouldn’t exist or that it should be tailored to other peoples’ needs is disingenuous.

  9. Carl B.
    Carl B.
    January 27, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    The key is not to get hung up on the issue of “Sexual imagery for people who like sexual imagery”. The point I think Brandon was trying to make, or at least the point I often attempt to make when debating this is that there is nothing wrong with innuendo. Also, nothing wrong with scantily clad young women. The problem is that people attach a meaning to games that they shouldn’t. It’s a game. It isn’t a movie where living people are half naked and grabbing each other’s tits. It’s a game. Animated cartooney characters in sexual situations =/= real people in sexual situations.

    If you hear the kotaku crowd talk, they lump lovers of Hyperdimension Neptunia and Ar Tonelico in with pedophiles and baby rapists. That is my point: We could have two chicks licking each other up but if it’s a cartooney game, it is utterly meaningless and unworthy of all the fear-mongering and faux concern that these types post about on their blogs.

  10. Chris Gollmer
    Chris Gollmer
    January 28, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I can get where most people with that mindset come from as games like this which I believe don’t push the idea of imaginative game play mechanics (Mario bros. or Journey didn’t require to these things and are masterpieces of the time) or pose a certain amount of sexuality to boost sales which a disagreement is extremely viable but as to completely push aside and instigate a boycott is highly unnecessary. This medium of entertainment can appease many palettes for men, women, and children but it’s extremely annoying to constantly be berated by political correct consumers. This is a young adult-mature title easily more targeted to males, if one does not wish to buy it then great but don’t implore your self-righteous justice threatening these hard workers their jobs when you aren’t going to buy it in the first place. Especially working on games, it takes a crap ton of work that most people never think about and to have extremely spiteful people dissuade titles without a glance is a huge shame.

    It’s ridiculous how far some people will go to implore an opinion, just let it be a choice. Sales will determine how they go about the series and if one is at a disagreement that adamantly then write to a developer, they do like to hear your opinion if it is valid. I’ll stop from going on about this, it’s ridiculous to say the least.

  11. Deaive
    Deaive
    June 2, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I agree with most of this (except the business of demographics; a game should be made for whoever will enjoy it, not targeted. Any artist should design based on their own preferences, and people who like similar things will enjoy it. Many girls like this game too).

    I think the fact that there are so few games like this is worth mentioning. If the industry were swamped with it, and gamers whose taste is not for fanservice of this kind, then I could understand his argument. It is important that there are games for every taste, and that the industry is not allowed to be sexist. The problem is not the enjoyment of sexy games or characters, but the lack of strongly developed female protagonists. This is changing fast though, as developers themselves diversify.

    It is also worth remembering that fanservice in Japanese media exists very much on both sides of the spectrum. There are lots of games, for example, featuring male characters designed to be sexually appealling, but these are rarely spotlighted. Western developers don’t explore this area enough. If anything, then, western developers are far more sexist.

    We can be feminists, we can be anti-sexim in all its forms and still enjoy fanservice. I’m bisexual. I find this game erotic, but I also like VN’s full of hot anime guys. The sexism starts to fade when looked at in this way.