Localizers admit to proactively censoring games for western audiences

Yakuza Like a Dragon

Localizers inside the gaming industry have admitted to proactively censoring games for western release.

A recent article from The Japan Times covered the role of localization when it comes to bringing Japanese media to English-speaking audiences, and a handful of statements in particular stood out.

One statement from Franck Genty, the senior localization manager at Bandai Namco attributes some of the changes to the #MeToo movement and that they need to tell Japanese game developers dress their heroines”.

“We tell them that the cleavage is a bit too exposed, or the skirt is a bit too short… Before, they weren’t very flexible, but they’ve become more proactive on such subjects.”

Fans have been concerned about how activist localizers could encourage censorship in games being brought westward, but rarely have they spoken so brazenly about it. It’s a problem that came to mind when Sony Computer Entertainment restructured as Sony Interactive Entertainment and moved from Japan to California.

These proactive changes encouraged by their western counterpart has led to Japanese developers anticipating the desires of localizers. Masayoshi Yokoyama, the executive producer of the Like a Dragon (Yakuza) series explained how they now seek out the opinions of localizers when developing the game.

“Many representations which were normal in Japan in the first Like a Dragon games are no longer acceptable today… We ask our teams in the United States and Europe to read the game’s script, and they tell us if they see things that wouldn’t be acceptable in their country.

While the problem of censorship in gaming localization has long been known, it’s still smoldering compared to the recent flashpoint in manga and anime. Recently localizers have had to justify their position after The Ancient Magus Bride began to simultaneously publish in Japanese and English thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Even voice actors that have embedded themselves in the industry have reason for concern as fans can now re-dub anime with AI using more accurate translations.

However for gaming, it’s modders instead of AI at the forefront, restoring cut content.

This is Niche Gamer Tech. In this column, we regularly cover tech and things related to the tech industry.



A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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