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XSEED Issues Statement on Trap Controversy

akiba'stripnichegamer8-23-14

This one was a bit lost in the shuffle due to the other big controversy of the week but it is certainly no less of an issue, especially to us as niche gamer fans, and fans of XSEED.  XSEED caught fire this week due to the word trap being used in Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed.  This caught the ire of quite a few people and they quickly took to twitter, tumblr, and all other forms of social media to voice their disgust with XSEED.

To give you some background on the situation transgender people were offended at the use of the word and consider it a slur against transgender people.  Here is the negative connotation of the world directly from the GLAAD website

Defamatory: “deceptive,” “fooling,” “pretending,” “posing,” “trap,” or “masquerading”Gender identity is an integral part of a person’s identity. Do not characterize transgender people as “deceptive,” as “fooling” or “trapping” others, or as “pretending” to be, “posing” or “masquerading” as a man or a woman. Such descriptions are defamatory and insulting.

I can certainly see the problem here from a logical standpoint.  They basically view it as similar to a racial slur and a positive coming out of this for them is that it’s something I never even knew about.  Now I know not to use that word in a casual context the same way I don’t run around shouting out more traditional racial slurs.

Here is where the problem comes in for them however when directing their ire at this particular game and that is the issue of context and artistic integrity and this is where XSEED’s response comes into play.

Click here to read XSEED’s response

XSEED basically says they aren’t going to edit the game to preserve it’s artistic integrity and they mention how the context of their use of the word trap is fundamentally different than the actual slur.  The context part I don’t know if I agree with it, if a word is offensive, it’s offensive.  To sort of go off the example he used in the article, If I’m out at a bar and say “I’m taking a step outside to smoke a fag” I would be shocked if people weren’t taken aback, despite the context of my statement having nothing to do with the homosexual slur.  It’s now known as an offensive word, so I’m not going to use it regardless of the context.

Where I am 1000% behind XSEED, however, is when he brings up preserving artistic integrity.  You see period films, novels, etc. use racial slurs all the time because that was how the world was back then and we would be diving into the issue of revisionist history if we didn’t properly capture how people spoke in say…a film about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s drive for racial equality.

Now, I’m certainly not comparing posting on image boards such as 4chan to something like that, but the concept is the same.  As stated in the article, they were trying to accurately portray the chaotic style of posting on these boards in the game and since the entire game is focused around otaku culture and to a lesser extent “chan” culture, it just wouldn’t feel right to replace it with something else as it’s a very common term used on places like that.

This takes me to a discussion on the concept of videogames as art.  This is the main cause of the inferiority complex that I feel a lot of people in the industry have.  People from other forms of more respected media scoff at the game industry, calling it juvenile and “a joke” and honestly, especially considering the events of this week, whining and insufferable manchildren holding positions of influence, and certain recent censorship issues, I can’t help but agree.  If the gaming industry wants gaming to be considered an art form they can’t be afraid of their game not appealing to every single being on this earth and, more importantly, they can’t be afraid to offend somebody.  XSEED took the right step concerning this, but it’s something you see far too often and far too often the industry violates their artistic integrity in an attempt to appeal to as many people as possible.

So While I certainly sympathize with the people who were offended by this, I feel the use of the word was justified as a snapshot of history if you will.  This might possibly a very minor/irrelevant history yes, but a history none the less and the entire point of history is that it’s something you learn from. In the game the term is used in a negative way and I think this was a great opportunity for the transgender community to educate people as to why the term was used negatively in the game and why it’s offensive to them because lets be honest, most people don’t get it. The only thing they see is a bunch of people on twitter going totally bonkers over something they view as meaningless and the original intent of your message is lost among all the shit flinging.

Both sides of the debate lost the chance to learn and evolve as human beings. I feel the finish line was reached correctly in the end, but at what cost?  People are angry at the transgender community for how they flew off the rails, people are angry at the gamers themselves for being totally unwilling to accept why this situation might be offensive to some, and people were angry at XSEED for the initial non-response response they gave on twitter. Again, the finish line WAS reached as the transgender community got their word out, some gamers expanded their social knowledge, and XSEED correctly preserved the however minuscule concept of games as art.  However, nobody looks good coming out of this.

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8 comments
  1. Firion Hope
    Firion Hope
    August 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    The whole thing is just so ridiculous on so many levels. Xseed is a translation company, they did not make the game or choose the language which people should realize. I’m glad they decided to keep it and how they try to avoid censorship like certain other localization companies, but they basically said they’ll try their hardest not to use it in the future and they had to discuss whether to keep it or not. That might just be PR nice talk or I might be misinterpreting it, but it worries me a bit.

    But honestly I don’t think they should’ve even apologized. They’re talking about FICTIONAL characters, in a fictional game. It’s not real in any way. It would be another thing if they called someone IRL that who wasn’t comfortable with it a trap, but they didn’t. It was one fictional character calling another a mean name, that’s nothing to get offended over. I don’t understand why people think fictional characters should have rights like they’re actual people. And all that’s ignoring the context of which the character who says it is meant to be a scum bag, which makes it even more ridiculous. Or the context that more often than not it’s a friendly term of endearment anymore especially online much like “nigga”

    I think there’s one thing in common between this, the Zoe Quinn thing, the Phil Fish thing and any other similar controversies(aside from SJWs)

    And that’s that people like to play the victim way way too much.

  2. Mark Jackson
    Mark Jackson
    August 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    The word has been used in translations for years I’m surprised it only became an issue now, wherever in localized manga,visual novels or anime. I’ve only ever heard the word used in relationship to Japanese characters. What are even alternatives to this word as their are different circumstances that don’t really covey the same meaning. I don’t know anyone that’s ever used the word in mean way but their normally talking about something they like. Himegoto is airing this season with the same translation.

  3. RPGEndBoss
    RPGEndBoss
    August 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Hasn’t the internet been using “Line Trap” and “It’s a trap” in memes for the last 7 years? Good lord, they need to get a grip.

    Here, I’m Irish, can someone call me a drunken irish mick? I’m also white, so call me a cracker and a honkey too while you’re at it.

    Guess what? It doesn’t bother me.

    Names and words and phrases do not define a confident person. Your actions do. I think these overly sensitive idiots that chase after every single word that offends them are so horribly insecure that they have trouble even getting out of bed in the morning.

  4. 33
    33
    August 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    This is ridiculous. It’s like getting upset that a film about racism and slavery uses the word “nigger”. No shit. That’s how people talk(ed). (Pretty much as you said in the article).

    Not to mention “trap” is one of the best compliments you can give a crossdresser/transsexual: it means they were successful in their endeavour. I realise the context is slightly different in this game than other times the term is used but damn.

    I’m more annoyed that XSeed apologised. They did nothing wrong and you can’t apologise to these people – they’re never happy and will just do it again next time.

  5. B.E.
    B.E.
    August 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Just for purposes of a bit of variety, I’ll take the opposite view on some points. First, yes its well within XSEED’s right to produce the content they want, they should not be forced to bow to criticism.

    People seem to take that fact however and expand it beyond what it deserves. No, no one should be forced to do something they do not wish too due to criticism, but that does not imply that things people do are not also open to, and sometimes utterly worthy of criticism.

    To note, if a group of people find a word offensive…the fact that you don’t, or the fact its a new concept for you doesn’t also render said critism completely invalid. I’d say the “artistic merit/cultural snapshot idea is just an an excuse/example of this. That would be like arguing “I’m ignorant of a phrase the minority it represents finds offensive, therefore it should be allowed to exist and immune to criticism in media until such time as I am offended..”

    Please note I did not say ‘should be immune to censorship.’ I’m also not gonna sit here and explain why one group might be offended by something. The fact I am stating is purely, just because something doesn’t bother you doesn’t render it a utterly invalid critism. Works that offend people should be open to said critism..just as said critics should be open to critism themselves. Said critism should not however be “You have no right to hold that opinion as it differs from mine, stfu moron’ or the like.

  6. nonscpo
    nonscpo
    August 23, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I’m more concerned about that opening picture. Why are you torturing us with a picture of the original AkibaStrip for the PSP over the sequel which got a Vita release in the west? Xseed has already stated they have no plans to localize that game.

  7. 33
    33
    August 24, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Added to all of this, after Hatsuu defended the localisation somebody said they’d hurt themself over it. Now she’s gone silent over guilt.

    https://twitter.com/hatsuu

  8. LostGryphon
    LostGryphon
    September 10, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Frankly, they would have saved themselves a lot of ire if they’d have just used the term “Hideyoshi”… but then Hideyoshi is really the only Hideyoshi. So it’s a wash.

    Seriously now, these sorts of people are making it all kinds of unfun to be a gamer. Or internet goer, come to think of it.