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Are "Ironic" Western Visual Novels hurting the VN Genre?

Castile

Member
Dec 1, 2017
3,436
Same deal with those blue school swimsuits, am I correct? I think they were also turned into a fetish thing also subsequently replaced
As for that, I know some school have change it to a two-piece swimsuit, they now have shorts, but it isn't a wide country change as bloomers to shorts. You still see one piece swimsuits enforce in certain schools.
 

catswaller

Member
Oct 27, 2017
504
User Warned: Inflammatory Commentary
sorry is the question whether the pedo sex game genre will be harmed by people making harmless gag games
 
May 13, 2019
632
As for that, I know some school have change it to a two-piece swimsuit, they now have shorts, but it isn't a wide country change as bloomers to shorts. You still see one piece swimsuits enforce in certain schools.
I see. Thanks for the clarification.

This whole chat reminds me of a thread I recall reading here about British schoolgirls complaining about her uniforms being turning into fetish fodder.
 

Dee Dee

Member
Nov 2, 2017
1,459
I'm just gonna throw this out there that it seems like most of the ironic VNs (or at the very least most of the noteworthy ones) seem to be almost exclusively about romancing males, which is honestly feels a tad troublesome to me. Like, people are down to mock this genre, but only the subset targeted to women/gay men.
Well, not speaking for all of the target group (clearly) but as a woman I really appreciate that Otome are often much more light hearted, wacky, less about the physical aspect, and a lot about crazy plots and fantasy settings. Like: Pirates, Detectives, Time Travellers, Boy Bands... I like that the genre is much more diverse and fun (and also parody) driven than the games targeting male relationship fantasies.
For example, I wouldn't want to play a super realistic dating sim like the Love+ games or Summer Lesson, where you get super up and personal with the virtual other.
For how much I love Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side, the petting minigame was definitely more offputting than appealing to me as an example. (Konami trying to bring their superior groping tech from Love+ to their girl games...)

I much prefer stories where you can, but don't have to self insert, where the protagonist has a bit of back story with the characters involved and you just live vicariously through someone else for the most part. I think that also then lends itself a lot more to humor, since you don't have to make sure the main character equals the players and needs to feel like they are the King at all times.

I think it's natural that the more funny and ridiculous stuff gets born out of the more light hearted Otome therefore.

But I also think that DDLC and Katawa Shoujo are excellent examples of (straight) male targeting games from Western devs that "didn't respect the genre" and created something cool from it as well.

Edit: Man, that just made me remember that one of the single best Otome out there, Hakouki, is based on REAL LIFE SHINSENGUMI WARRIORS, like, down to historical details about their lifes and death all. Otome is a great genre, and whoever believes dating Colonel Sander's Pressure frier defies the sanctity of it, needs to read more of the fun ones.
 

Zero-ELEC

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,470
México
Look, ironic ADVs/VNs are... iffy, in that a lot of the time they don't give a whack about the thing they're parodying and there's a certain level of... I don't want to say disdain, but, like, upturned noses at the genre of games they're working within.

Now, there's some shit in this genre that's gross. Yes, of course, it's unfortunately a shitty situation, about games in general, but yes the genre take a beating because of it, but like y'all don't give a what about about "good" ADVs/VNs either. Apparently nobody cares.
sorry is the question whether the pedo sex game genre will be harmed by people making harmless gag games
And this is just bull generalisation. The idea that the entire genre is that, is not only ridiculous, but disingenuous. It's unfair to games in the genres that care for the things they do.

Like, no one talks about Eliza, a fantastic Western "VN" with not a single ironic bone about its "genre", acting as an emotional journey through the usage of therapy, how people fit in society, how automation affects people, and a bunch more stuff.
 

jonjonaug

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,699
Someone wrote a VN recommendation article for Crunchyroll that reads almost like a response to this very topic. Loads of variety here: https://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-feature/2019/09/11-1/an-explorers-guide-to-the-wonderful-world-of-visual-novels

Almost everything here has an LBGTQ+ focus too, come to think of it.

With regards to the topic: In the past three or four years we’ve received localizations for a ton of famous, highly regarded titles in a variety of genres with more on the way. Some of these titles have been large influences outside the scope of “just VNs” too. Indie English language VNs have also made large gains recently, no longer can you simply count the number of good ones on one hand.

The KFC parody thing has probably received more media coverage than all of these titles put together, which is why some fans are getting a bit fed up with it.
 
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Siggy-P

Avenger
Mar 18, 2018
5,648
Parodies only hurt the games that are bad enough that the mocking applies to.

If a visual novel is genuinely good in its own right it will not be harmed one iota by a parody of others in its genre.



Edit: And, I ain't too familiar with them but the VN parodies I've seen are at least seemingly earnest and made in good faith rather than straight up mocking or looking down on visual novels and the people who play them.
 

Schopenhauer

Member
Oct 27, 2017
174
If by hurt you mean, expose those who were not aware of the genre to said genre then yes, it hurts it badly.

This is all just based on faux twitter outrage anyway, give twitter a second or two to get distracted by some other inane topic and all the supposed controversy will be forgotten.
 

deepFlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
14,016
Skimmed the thread. Been thinking about this a lot the past few days since it keeps popping up on Twitter for me. I want to say I actually personally agree with a lot of the Twitter criticism I’ve seen, but I think a key thing is that a lot of it’s far less “this hurts the reputation of the genre” and way way more “it’s frustrating to see games like this get more attention and for it to be reported on like this”. That’s a pretty big difference!

Something most of that crit’s touched on, that I agree with, is what this type of “parody” is actually parodying. Because like... honestly, most of these aren’t actually parodying VNs? They tend to feel like they’re riffing off, idk, memes made about jokes some anime did about otoge archetypes/stereotypes or something. Real secondhand, thirdhand even, stuff. And more than that causing a misrepresentation of what exists, that’s also just not as funny? It’s just harder to laugh when what’s joked about isn’t something that really exists, or maybe doesn’t even matter in real context. Like if someone made a comedic action game, but their only frame of reference was fake games they saw in TV shows, or something along those lines.

I just kinda wish people making parodies played more VNs, I guess. They’d be funnier for it! Or if these are really largely inspired by Hatoful Boyfriend, that they’d actually play Hatoful critically/observantly if they’re someone interested in making a game like it, rather than only seeing the surface level. Hatoful is something that tends to be treated as if the serious aspects validate it, but in my opinion the real reason it’s so good is that it’s legitimately very funny! Even the bird stuff is actually used to help parody different character types/gimmicks well, rather than just being a surface level gags (and, well, that even the surface level gags are still good ones is important too).

Though this thread has certainly reminded me that this problem is kinda true for people who already play VNs too? Even here you can see that what people recommend as examples of good VNs tends to be games that are more serious/darker mysteries and such, and ones meant more for otaku/niche(/male) interests. And I certainly have played and enjoyed a lot of those, but that’s not all there is and it’s a little frustrating to see them positioned as the alternative here. There’s great romance stuff out there in English too, with many console releases not targeted at men. Please play Code: Realize... or if instead what you want is a hilarious OELVN with some romance, Butterfly Soup rules. So maybe the genre that’d be hurt by this stuff (and the response to it) is less “VNs as a whole” and more “romance/otoge”.

...and, well, there is that this is literally an advertisement created as streamer-bait. I mean, it’s KFC, it’s not like it’s subtle or the product is unknown, and we indeed “live in a society”, but I can understand it earning some extra anger due to that. Maybe we don’t need to rush quite as much to advertise an advertisement, and so on.

and after all that, finally my other, private, very boring hot take is that if you’re going to call something a “dating sim” you should actually include the “sim” part but that’s a lost cause at this point grumble grumble
 
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SpoonyGundam

Member
Nov 18, 2018
115
My problem with the KFC game and most of the responses in this thread are summed up in this tweet:

Important background information to understand what it's getting at:
  1. VNs are an extremely broad game category that covers many genres and targets many demographics.
  2. Outside of parody games, the only VNs that ever really get media attention are targeted at the usual 18-35 male demographic. So usually pretty skeevy stuff like Danganronpa if not outright porn. (And I like Danganronpa.)
  3. The KFC game is a parody of a specific genre that's targeted towards women, and women are the primary audience for non-porn VNs.
So the end result ends up being a bunch of gamer shitheads on one side trashing the games and people who play them because they aren't """real games""" while a bunch of Woke Dudes™ on the other side trash the games and people who play them because they're superficially similar to the gross porn games that are the only VNs they know about. VNs are all lumped together regardless of content, they become the butt of jokes, good ones fail to get localized or fly under the radar from lack of coverage when they do, and these ironic parody games get made for Youtubers to mock.

The KFC game is really obviously a parody of games made for women, but targeted at men. Even if it ends up good and fun, it's hard for me to not see it as a part of the systemic delegitimization of games made for/by women. The same way media made for women is delegitimized in every other medium! It's pretty gross!

Which brings me to this, to illustrate:


Stuff like this hurts VNs more than a joke about KFC, IMO.
This isn't even from a VN!

It's from an anime rhythm game, another genre popular with women (This specific game has a 26% female playerbase in Japan and in my experience skews more heavily towards women in western fandoms), which that Twitter person obviously is if you spend a couple of seconds to check.

I'm not trying to single you out, since damn near everyone else in this thread is in the same boat you are, and you at least seem to recognize later in the post that you have mental hangups about VNs that color your impressions. So, like... put some thought into the cultural context that led to you developing those impressions in the first place.

But to recap: one sentence into your first post in the thread you reveal that you don't really know anything about the subject, helped delegitimize two genres popular with women (Intentionally or not!), and disregarded a woman's opinion about a genre of games specifically targeted at her demographic, all on the basis of her liking a cute anime character.

And then everyone else agrees.

It's kind of fucked up!

But also not exactly your fault, because the current gaming landscape doesn't really facilitate exposure to much outside of the primary gamer demographic.

Which is even more fucked up!
 

Tfritz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,959
you ever think that maybe people jump on the ironic visual novel bandwagon because they're relatively easier to create than other genres

(furthermore: the idea that ironic otome games are beating on a genre because it's popular with women or w/e is wild when most of the posts in this thread bagging on the visual novel genre are rooted in the perception that visual novels cater to creepy dudes )

(further-furthermore: i do not actually recall kfc ever suggesting games should cater to more than just capital g gamer dudebros??)
 
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Lord of Ostia

Member
Oct 27, 2017
14,131
Anecdotally, the gateway effect that makes narrative sense doesn't actually happen - people who get exposed to DDLC or Hatoful or Ace Attorney don't tend to continue further down the rabbit hole.
I don't believe this, I feel like people who were into DDLC would find any of the other dark subject matter Japanese VNs appealing. And Ace Attorney definitely got people into the genre (along with Danganronpa or Zero Escape)
 

Truxton97

Member
Oct 30, 2017
277
I find ironic VNs pretty funny sometimes,but I also enjoy quite a few VNs especially the good lgbt ones. (I love Butterfly Soup)
 

Striferser

Member
Oct 28, 2017
700
Seeing the response in this thread, it seem it was clear that the mainstream media partly responsible for making that certain perspective with "VN is just dating sims and pedo character!" While vn encompass various genre, with some of the biggest and more popular VN are usually mystery, fantasy, or action with romance playing small part.
 

Apollo

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
2,644
My problem with the KFC game and most of the responses in this thread are summed up in this tweet:

Important background information to understand what it's getting at:
  1. VNs are an extremely broad game category that covers many genres and targets many demographics.
  2. Outside of parody games, the only VNs that ever really get media attention are targeted at the usual 18-35 male demographic. So usually pretty skeevy stuff like Danganronpa if not outright porn. (And I like Danganronpa.)
  3. The KFC game is a parody of a specific genre that's targeted towards women, and women are the primary audience for non-porn VNs.
So the end result ends up being a bunch of gamer shitheads on one side trashing the games and people who play them because they aren't """real games""" while a bunch of Woke Dudes™ on the other side trash the games and people who play them because they're superficially similar to the gross porn games that are the only VNs they know about. VNs are all lumped together regardless of content, they become the butt of jokes, good ones fail to get localized or fly under the radar from lack of coverage when they do, and these ironic parody games get made for Youtubers to mock.

The KFC game is really obviously a parody of games made for women, but targeted at men. Even if it ends up good and fun, it's hard for me to not see it as a part of the systemic delegitimization of games made for/by women. The same way media made for women is delegitimized in every other medium! It's pretty gross!

Which brings me to this, to illustrate:

This isn't even from a VN!

It's from an anime rhythm game, another genre popular with women (This specific game has a 26% female playerbase in Japan and in my experience skews more heavily towards women in western fandoms), which that Twitter person obviously is if you spend a couple of seconds to check.

I'm not trying to single you out, since damn near everyone else in this thread is in the same boat you are, and you at least seem to recognize later in the post that you have mental hangups about VNs that color your impressions. So, like... put some thought into the cultural context that led to you developing those impressions in the first place.

But to recap: one sentence into your first post in the thread you reveal that you don't really know anything about the subject, helped delegitimize two genres popular with women (Intentionally or not!), and disregarded a woman's opinion about a genre of games specifically targeted at her demographic, all on the basis of her liking a cute anime character.

And then everyone else agrees.

It's kind of fucked up!

But also not exactly your fault, because the current gaming landscape doesn't really facilitate exposure to much outside of the primary gamer demographic.

Which is even more fucked up!
I agree with a lot of what you have to say here. I also recommend people check out this piece by Ana Valens. She goes in on why journalists often have to cover games like the KFC game, but also how in doing so how many VNs and other indies (often made by marginalized people) get lost in the shuffle. The situation is fucked, and even if you don’t agree with what’s in the OP or the article, I hope people will at least try to empathize with those who feel burned by all this.
 

Hanakotoba

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
129
Nothing wrong with more games, people who want this stuff might end up checking out more VN's. This won't really hurt them, as a while ago most didn't see them as real games, sucks but that's what it is.
 

Suedemaker

Member
Jun 4, 2019
137


Stuff like this hurts VNs more than a joke about KFC, IMO. The twitter profile in the OP uses an avatar that looks like a child making the "I love you" hand gesture. When even one of the very best early examples of the genre, snatcher, includes a scene where an adult man walks in on a 14 year old girl in the shower.

I know not all VNs are like that, but that's very honestly what I think of when I think of the genre. It's just a mental association I have. When I saw the KFC news, I thought it was lame humor, sure, but it didn't repulse me like the mental association I have with VNs does. I wish I didn't have that mental association, because I know there are struggling small devs fighting to overcome it, and that association is hurting the.
Pretty much came here to say this. All of the super creepy borderline inappropriate VN's have completely turned me off the genre. I have a hard time being interested in 999 and VLR because of the other VNs out there even though I know they are nothing alike.

Also, didn't know anything about the KFC thing until I opened this thread. I genuinely don't pay any attention to VNs and almost actively avoid them because of the creepy stuff out there.
 

Hanakotoba

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
129
Pretty much came here to say this. All of the super creepy borderline inappropriate VN's have completely turned me off the genre. I have a hard time being interested in 999 and VLR because of the other VNs out there even though I know they are nothing alike.

Also, didn't know anything about the KFC thing until I opened this thread. I genuinely don't pay any attention to VNs and almost actively avoid them because of the creepy stuff out there.
That's a bummer really, usually there's a massive database for knowing what VN contains what. If you just look what you are trying to avoid it's rather easy. Also all VN's are not eroge's. There are some just basic story telling VN's out there, that don't have any focus on sexual activity.
 

Krejlooc

Indie Game Dev
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
18,190
This isn't even from a VN!
You completely miss the point. Whether or not it's from a VN or not, THAT KIND OF IMAGERY IS ASSOCIATED WITH VN. When the very example of "angry tweets" about the sanctity of VNs come from accounts decked out in this stuff, that's the association VNs have. They are much more hurt by "moe" in general, and fans that adore it, than a KFC parody.
 

SpoonyGundam

Member
Nov 18, 2018
115
(furthermore: the idea that ironic otome games are beating on a genre because it's popular with women or w/e is wild when most of the posts in this thread bagging on the visual novel genre are rooted in the perception that visual novels cater to creepy dudes )
To be clear, I don't think KFC or the developers of the game set out with the specific, conscious goal of undermining women's entertainment. It just happens. That's why it's systemic! The game itself is just an indicator of a larger issue.

The general gaming audience either doesn't care about VNs or only cares about VNs targeting adult men, the games media specifically caters to that audience and rarely covers any other kind of VN, people come to the conclusion that VNs = weird porn games because that's the only thing they ever see, VNs become a subject of mockery and scorn, and also just happen to be a style of game popular with women that nobody hears about because it isn't profitable for the media to address them.

I will grant you that it's definitely more roundabout than the usual ways that media for women gets stigmatized, and (at least here) nobody is doing it intentionally. Which is the most frustrating thing about it! "Child porn is bad" is something that everyone can get behind, so even well-meaning people end up perpetuating the idea that VNs are gross and worthless after only ever knowing them as porn games and parodies of porn games (and sometimes ace attorney). Most people just aren't aware that there's a female audience for these at all.
I agree with a lot of what you have to say here. I also recommend people check out this piece by Ana Valens. She goes in on why journalists often have to cover games like the KFC game, but also how in doing so how many VNs and other indies (often made by marginalized people) get lost in the shuffle. The situation is fucked, and even if you don’t agree with what’s in the OP or the article, I hope people will at least try to empathize with those who feel burned by all this.
Thanks for this. It gets across what I was trying to say, and I'm glad it focused on the indie LGBTQ VN scene. I didn't really feel comfortable addressing those because I know of them, but don't really know anything about them.
 

Dee Dee

Member
Nov 2, 2017
1,459
  1. The KFC game is a parody of a specific genre that's targeted towards women, and women are the primary audience for non-porn VNs.
My apologies, but I keep taking issue with the implication, that VNs or Otome targeted at women are somehow by definition less prone to problematic content than the stuff targeted at a male audience.
That's just not true.

There's straight up 0 Otome I can name of the top of my head where the female protagonist doesn't get abducted/kidnapped/incarcerated/knocked unconscious at one point. The only ones I can think of are the Tokimemo Girl's Side games and maybe Girlish Love Revolution, and those were never even localized.
And then those also have stupid shit in them like the headmaster that stalks you and invites you to a date by the pool (you're a student), the crossdressing fashionista friend, "practicing" the groping mini game with your underage neighbor... Girlish Love Revolution is about losing weight to get a boyfriend, and is problematic on a whole other level.

Nearly every Otome I played has a route where you can date the serial killer/a psychopath that straight up drugs you to never leave him/a minor/your teacher/someone in a family-like relation to you.
All of these are problematic relationship power settings, and in nearly none of the cases they were handled well (the one case I'd fight for is dating your maths teacher in, again, Tokimemo GS 1).

Even good/cute stuff like Hakouki or Code:Realize works with physical pain as a metaphor of the pains of love that your husbando would take upon him to be with you. There's gorey stuff to illustrate devotion. It's not a healthy view of relationships, and it's understandable it turns some people off of the whole thing.

This is, of course, because these are illustrating fantasies, fetishes, dreamlike dramas - not everyone playing these scenarios will imitate that in life, but a lot of these stories are turning really bad, harmful relationships into something to fantasize about.

There's pornographic content and pedophilic depictions in Otome just as they are in male-targeting romance sims. Interesting enough, there's a whole subgenre of Otome with male gay pornographic depictions to appeal to heterosexual young girls that would be too shy to watch actual heterosexual sexual acts, but still like to fantasize about the male body and male devotion.
Otome are also problematic. The fact that they appeal to women doesn't make them exempt from criticism or the bad reputation that they earned for themselves.

Again, funnily enough, I have yet to see if anything like that shows up in the KFC-game - which at least has the advantage to overplay the whole thing as a big joke or parody of the usual shit, similarly how the partridge ends up killing you in Hatoful Boyfriend if you try to romance it.

And then you bring up the fact that the depictions of carefree underage girls are often not even in VNs or dating sims, and often come from games that target women as a main demographic.
And I agree with you, but does it really make it better that the game is played mostly be women if you still get illustrations like this:

 

Budi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,369
Finland
As you removed the Tweets, I have no idea what are the so called "valid concerns". I'm not really super familiar with the genre, which is exactly why I think I'm perfect to answer if this game hurts the reputation. I'd say no, I don't see any reason why it would. I'm sure I could find dozens of VN:s that in my eyes hurt the genre much more. Hunie Pop is western right? Is that considered ironic? I'd wager it hurts the reputation more than the KFC game does. I've finished Hunie Pop, it was "good" like The Room is "good" (so not actually good, but funny because of how stupid it was). Was Hunie Pop similarly criticized by the same people? I have bit of hard time buying this "making fun of genre for women" argumentation. Though someone did point it out in the trailer thread that datings sims aimed at women aren't a rarity. Have many women actually complained about this KFC game? I'd like to hear from them.

Edit: I realized that I'm conflating VN:s and dating sims in my text. Though the KFC game is a dating sim and Hunie Pop has visual novel style presentation. I'm well aware that all VN:s don't have dating elements, many have basically no interactivity at all other than hitting space bar to scroll text. There's plenty of other genres than romance for VN:s. Imo tt's bit odd that the discussion of this KFC game is framed around VN:s rather than dating sims. Since the game advertises itself as a dating sim first and foremost.
 
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justiceiro

Member
Oct 30, 2017
4,028
Never heard of the KFC stuff until now. Anyway, let me ask: did Pepsi man ruined the endless runner genre?
 

scare_crow

Member
Oct 28, 2017
2,882
You completely miss the point. Whether or not it's from a VN or not, THAT KIND OF IMAGERY IS ASSOCIATED WITH VN. When the very example of "angry tweets" about the sanctity of VNs come from accounts decked out in this stuff, that's the association VNs have. They are much more hurt by "moe" in general, and fans that adore it, than a KFC parody.
*chef's kiss*
 

deepFlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
14,016
As you removed the Tweets, I have no idea what are the so called "valid concerns". I'm not really super familiar with the genre, which is exactly why I think I'm perfect to answer if this game hurts the reputation. I'd say no, I don't see any reason why it would. I'm sure I could find dozens of VN:s that in my eyes hurt the genre much more. Hunie Pop is western right? Is that considered ironic? I'd wager it hurts the reputation more than the KFC game does. I've finished Hunie Pop, it was "good" like The Room is "good" (so not actually good, but funny because of how stupid it was). I have bit of hard time buying this "making fun of genre for women" argumentation. Though someone did point it out in the trailer thread that datings sims aimed at women aren't a rarity.

Edit: I realized that I'm conflating VN:s and dating sims in my text. Though the KFC game is a dating sim and Hunie Pop has visual novel style presentation. I'm well aware that all VN:s don't have dating elements, many have basically no interactivity at all other than hitting space bar to scroll text.
I mean... I know little about Hunie Pop, but I thought that was actually more of a dating sim than this is?

Games like this use “dating sim” despite actually lacking sim elements; it’s kinda used as shorthand for “VN with romance” (which is kinda personally frustrating?). Though I also would still usually refer to proper dating sims as VNs the majority of the time.
 

Budi

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,369
Finland
I mean... I know little about Hunie Pop, but I thought that was actually more of a dating sim than this is?

Games like this use “dating sim” despite actually lacking sim elements; it’s kinda used as shorthand for “VN with romance” (which is kinda personally frustrating?). Though I also would still usually refer to proper dating sims as VNs the majority of the time.
Well this game advertises itself as a dating sim first and foremost, that's what it says in the Steam summary which is linked in the OP too. "Welcome to the most delicious dating simulator ever created. Do you have what it takes to be the business partner of and win the heart of the most famous chicken salesman of all time?" Hunie Pop also has the match-3 game bolted in, in this there's apparently some cooking minigame. The game advertises how your decisions affect the chances for friendship and love. I'd assume the cooking minigames are somehow linked with the relationships too. So atleast for now it seems there's interactivity with the romance. Of course we need to see more to find out.

This game has made me look into VN:ns bit more and discuss them, I guess that's a positive for the genre.
 
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Psychonaut

Member
Jan 11, 2018
2,378
The first VN I played was Dream Daddy. Since then I've played Hatoful Boyfriend, DDLC, Butterfly Soup, a little Danganronpa, and the Zero Escape games are waiting on my hard drive.

How about instead of gatekeeping, you can breath for a second and realize that these games actually gives normies a window into your hobby that they wouldn't look for if all they saw were gothic depression sims and anime tiddy powerpoints.
 

Nishastra

Member
Oct 27, 2017
170
You completely miss the point. Whether or not it's from a VN or not, THAT KIND OF IMAGERY IS ASSOCIATED WITH VN. When the very example of "angry tweets" about the sanctity of VNs come from accounts decked out in this stuff, that's the association VNs have. They are much more hurt by "moe" in general, and fans that adore it, than a KFC parody.
So you're saying that ignorance of what VNs are hurts them, moreso than a corporate advertising gag VN that is instantly much more highly-publicized than any legitimate VN?

Do you not see the A to B here? "Gamers" in general have no clue what VNs are like. The stereotype is "dating sims" (although they don't know what that means either) and porn. So, KFC makes a parody VN, based entirely on that stereotype, and it is instantly all over the place.

The problem isn't the existence of the KFC game, it's that nearly every VN that gets western media coverage is like this: A one-note joke on what VNs are perceived to be. Even when they're actually good, like Hatoful Boyfriend, the coverage will stop at "lol dating birds".

The fact that you personally don't know any better isn't actually much of an argument.
 

SpoonyGundam

Member
Nov 18, 2018
115
My apologies, but I keep taking issue with the implication, that VNs or Otome targeted at women are somehow by definition less prone to problematic content than the stuff targeted at a male audience.
That's just not true.

There's straight up 0 Otome I can name of the top of my head where the female protagonist doesn't get abducted/kidnapped/incarcerated/knocked unconscious at one point. The only ones I can think of are the Tokimemo Girl's Side games and maybe Girlish Love Revolution, and those were never even localized.
And then those also have stupid shit in them like the headmaster that stalks you and invites you to a date by the pool (you're a student), the crossdressing fashionista friend, "practicing" the groping mini game with your underage neighbor... Girlish Love Revolution is about losing weight to get a boyfriend, and is problematic on a whole other level.

Nearly every Otome I played has a route where you can date the serial killer/a psychopath that straight up drugs you to never leave him/a minor/your teacher/someone in a family-like relation to you.
All of these are problematic relationship power settings, and in nearly none of the cases they were handled well (the one case I'd fight for is dating your maths teacher in, again, Tokimemo GS 1).

Even good/cute stuff like Hakouki or Code:Realize works with physical pain as a metaphor of the pains of love that your husbando would take upon him to be with you. There's gorey stuff to illustrate devotion. It's not a healthy view of relationships, and it's understandable it turns some people off of the whole thing.

This is, of course, because these are illustrating fantasies, fetishes, dreamlike dramas - not everyone playing these scenarios will imitate that in life, but a lot of these stories are turning really bad, harmful relationships into something to fantasize about.

There's pornographic content and pedophilic depictions in Otome just as they are in male-targeting romance sims. Interesting enough, there's a whole subgenre of Otome with male gay pornographic depictions to appeal to heterosexual young girls that would be too shy to watch actual heterosexual sexual acts, but still like to fantasize about the male body and male devotion.
Otome are also problematic. The fact that they appeal to women doesn't make them exempt from criticism or the bad reputation that they earned for themselves.

Again, funnily enough, I have yet to see if anything like that shows up in the KFC-game - which at least has the advantage to overplay the whole thing as a big joke or parody of the usual shit, similarly how the partridge ends up killing you in Hatoful Boyfriend if you try to romance it.

And then you bring up the fact that the depictions of carefree underage girls are often not even in VNs or dating sims, and often come from games that target women as a main demographic.
And I agree with you, but does it really make it better that the game is played mostly be women if you still get illustrations like this:

Oh, sure. I didn't mean to imply otome games are free of criticism. They have a lot of similar problems other media for women have with relationships/sex/body image/etc. There are good conversations to have there, and I'm pretty curious if there are indie VNs around that tackle that kind of subject matter in a more healthy way.

It's just really frustrating when this conversation is ostensibly about either VNs as a whole or specifically the otome games that inspired the KFC game, but always inevitably shifts to the issues with a specific subset of male-targeted porn games and people are like... resistant to the idea that VNs other than those exist in significant quantities.

For the last point: I see it as a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. The design for that costume is obviously pretty awful, and even a lot of more modestly designed outfits are framed in a really male-gazey way in the art, and even some story stuff can toe some uncomfortable lines at times. But it is incredibly, vitally important to have female characters in games that women actually want to play, that women can actually identify with, and that interact with each other over things other than male characters. It's shaky sometimes and probably not entirely intentional, but it's definitely progress.

Like, as a specific example, the girl from that Twitter avatar that people are treating like staring into the Ark of the Covenant? Her main thing is that she's self-conscious about her height because she's very tall for her age, and she eventually becomes happy about it with the support of her older friends. It's not especially complex and it's a fairly minor thing if you look at the game as a whole, but it's a real, relatable, normal issue that a lot of women face at some point in their lives. There are a lot of other body positive characters like that in the game, and that's really great and important. Anyone who wants to deny that or dictate what's acceptable for someone to like can fuck right off.

My take is that if someone finds value in a character like that, stuff like this popping up occasionally doesn't negate it. It can turn people away from the game before they find a character they'd identify with, which really sucks, but a lot of people have undeniably found something worthwhile in these games regardless. Love Live, [email protected], Bang Dream, etc definitely aren't perfect by any stretch, but hopefully the market will prove itself and some future games like those end up at least cutting down on the questionable content, if they aren't targeted at women directly (And actually star women, sorry SideM (though that's also important in its own way too)).

You completely miss the point. Whether or not it's from a VN or not, THAT KIND OF IMAGERY IS ASSOCIATED WITH VN. When the very example of "angry tweets" about the sanctity of VNs come from accounts decked out in this stuff, that's the association VNs have. They are much more hurt by "moe" in general, and fans that adore it, than a KFC parody.
Yes, I know that's what you were trying to get at. It's not a very good point because the thought is only half finished at best.

"That kind of imagery is associated with VN." Ok. And? Why is it associated with VNs? Does it really reflect VNs as a whole, or just ones you're familiar with? Why do you know the VNs you know about? Why don't you know about others? Would you feel the same way if you knew about more VNs? Why do you recoil at the sight of an a͜͏̯n͓̮i̶̢͓̘͙̟͞m̕͏̺͈̮̬̭̮͓e̶̟̮̳͉̣͜ͅ character a woman chooses to express herself with, ignoring the actual points she makes about a subject she's more knowledgeable than you about?

If you actually believe this:
I wish I didn't have that mental association, because I know there are struggling small devs fighting to overcome it, and that association is hurting the.
Then put some critical thought into the situation and work through your hangups so you can stop contributing to the "All VNs are the same" myth.
 

Krejlooc

Indie Game Dev
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
18,190
So you're saying that ignorance of what VNs are hurts them
I'm saying that the undeniable, ubiquitous presence of MOE around any and all conversations regarding Visual Novels is hurting them. Considering that entire person's argument revolves around perception (how "ironic" games are all anyone will think of when it comes to Visual Novels) it seems rather silly to try and pretend like talking about how you cannot talk about VNs without seeing that kind of creepy imagery is somehow off limits or not relevant. It's no coincidence that the very first image I saw when I came into this topic was that. If you want to make an argument about perceptions about Visual Novels and harming their reputation, you can't ignore the elephant in the room. Someone being "ignorant" matters absolutely none when you're talking about general perception. It's not like their perception doesn't count or something.
 

Krejlooc

Indie Game Dev
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
18,190
Then put some critical thought into the situation and work through your hangups so you can stop contributing to the "All VNs are the same" myth.
The irony of this kind of post coming in a topic about gate keeping "ironic" VNs from public perception.

And miss me with this "EVEN WOMEN" bullshit, don't use women to shield Visual Novels from their extremely creepy reputation.
 

Mobyduck

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,411
Brazil
I agree with a lot of what you have to say here. I also recommend people check out this piece by Ana Valens. She goes in on why journalists often have to cover games like the KFC game, but also how in doing so how many VNs and other indies (often made by marginalized people) get lost in the shuffle. The situation is fucked, and even if you don’t agree with what’s in the OP or the article, I hope people will at least try to empathize with those who feel burned by all this.
I love Ana's writing, and I had seen that article before. As she herself puts it, the issue is not simply with visual novels, but with the fact that most indie games are not covered because they don't get hits, although this controversy is a good starting point for the discussion.

It's a sad state of affairs, specially with, I believe it was Rose who said this, how these indie games made by queer people, so easily forgotten, are the ones more prone to change the status quo of the genre and bring new things to the table. Unfortunately, what gets hits are the things aimed at your average cisgender straight white man.
 

SpoonyGundam

Member
Nov 18, 2018
115
The irony of this kind of post coming in a topic about gate keeping "ironic" VNs from public perception.

And miss me with this "EVEN WOMEN" bullshit, don't use women to shield Visual Novels from their extremely creepy reputation.
I never said this game shouldn't exist or people shouldn't be able to enjoy it, just that it's a supremely shitty situation that it's one of the only kinds of VNs that get any sort of media attention.

Like, what the fuck. I'm literally arguing against the gatekeeping currently going on on with VNs, which directly led to the kind of ignorant assumptions about the games that you're clinging to for whatever reason.
 

Dee Dee

Member
Nov 2, 2017
1,459
For the last point: I see it as a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. The design for that costume is obviously pretty awful, and even a lot of more modestly designed outfits are framed in a really male-gazey way in the art, and even some story stuff can toe some uncomfortable lines at times. But it is incredibly, vitally important to have female characters in games that women actually want to play, that women can actually identify with, and that interact with each other over things other than male characters. It's shaky sometimes and probably not entirely intentional, but it's definitely progress.
I think this is where we should end up with the discussion, to take the bad with the good, or to accept that there's bad elements and still praise it for the good to encourage progress in that direction.
In that vein I would argue we take the bad (KFC sponsored game) as something that can still deliver potentially good - non-harmful relationship story, entertaining game, raise interest in playing fun little stories like that, etc.

There's no need to constantly repeat "NOT ALL VNS ARE EROGE", when such a large number (majority or not) of VNs are Eroge or have problematic content, that neither a free KFC game nor the number of very good games can erase that fact from the public's perception.
You really shouldn't handwave the gross shit away just because there's good aspects of a game - you can speak about both without having to have purely a good or a bad game or genre.
Yes, it's great to have a game with all-female protagonists with relatable problems, capable of dealing with them themselves. But it's not great to combine that with sexualized stage outfits and poses for the merch. You can enjoy the stuff and like the good aspects, but it doesn't nullify the creepy stuff - especially if it pushes people away from it. That's not to blame on the people that dislike it - as you said, let people like or dislike what they want.
I disagree with people trying to make it sound like the we should just overlook the amount of gross stuff, and I also take issue with people assuming they've seen one game and now know them all. Both parties are oversimplifying.

And worst of all, the KFC game has nothing to do with either of these positions. It doesn't convince people that "Not all VNs", but it apparently also doesn't encourage people, that the VN genre can branch out into new experiences and bring new topics and themes into the pool.

My questions:
a) The KFC game seems to have no sexual content, and I'm going to go ahead and say it probably won't have more than a bare chest and a kiss at best, due to it being a commercial product by a big American brand. -> Wouldn't it be a GOOD representation of the genre then? One that shows a more gentle, comedic side? Why are we argueing against it?
b) The KFC game is by a Western dev with a more parodic, wacky approach - basically a Saturday Morning Cartoon compared to an Anime. It's a different creation made with the same tools. -> Isn't it exciting to get more people's takes on the genre instead of gatekeeping the genre to devs that are experienced and well versed with it, so that will just infinitely keep repeating the same framework over and over?
c) The KFC is a free game with lots of exposure. It gets lots of people to try a new experience. -> What if it's like The Mummy game? Or Aladdin? Actually a good licensed game by its own merits (I mean it won't, but we aren't even discussing this, sadly)?

I still don't get why people hate on the basic concept of this. We can talk about how garbage it is, once we played it.
 

Suedemaker

Member
Jun 4, 2019
137
That's a bummer really, usually there's a massive database for knowing what VN contains what. If you just look what you are trying to avoid it's rather easy. Also all VN's are not eroge's. There are some just basic story telling VN's out there, that don't have any focus on sexual activity.
It is a bummer. I think at one point I would have been very interested in more VNs but I imagine Steam's bloat has something to do with it. I'd be more than happy to take some recommendations and maybe add them to my wishlist. I'll get to 999, VLN and ZTD at some point, just waiting on a good sale and to be in the right mood.
 

SpoonyGundam

Member
Nov 18, 2018
115
I think this is where we should end up with the discussion, to take the bad with the good, or to accept that there's bad elements and still praise it for the good to encourage progress in that direction.
In that vein I would argue we take the bad (KFC sponsored game) as something that can still deliver potentially good - non-harmful relationship story, entertaining game, raise interest in playing fun little stories like that, etc.

There's no need to constantly repeat "NOT ALL VNS ARE EROGE", when such a large number (majority or not) of VNs are Eroge or have problematic content, that neither a free KFC game nor the number of very good games can erase that fact from the public's perception.
You really shouldn't handwave the gross shit away just because there's good aspects of a game - you can speak about both without having to have purely a good or a bad game or genre.
Yes, it's great to have a game with all-female protagonists with relatable problems, capable of dealing with them themselves. But it's not great to combine that with sexualized stage outfits and poses for the merch. You can enjoy the stuff and like the good aspects, but it doesn't nullify the creepy stuff - especially if it pushes people away from it. That's not to blame on the people that dislike it - as you said, let people like or dislike what they want.
I disagree with people trying to make it sound like the we should just overlook the amount of gross stuff, and I also take issue with people assuming they've seen one game and now know them all. Both parties are oversimplifying.

And worst of all, the KFC game has nothing to do with either of these positions. It doesn't convince people that "Not all VNs", but it apparently also doesn't encourage people, that the VN genre can branch out into new experiences and bring new topics and themes into the pool.
I agree with all of this, and I'm sorry if it seemed like I was glossing over any gross stuff in VNs.

My questions:
a) The KFC game seems to have no sexual content, and I'm going to go ahead and say it probably won't have more than a bare chest and a kiss at best, due to it being a commercial product by a big American brand. -> Wouldn't it be a GOOD representation of the genre then? One that shows a more gentle, comedic side? Why are we argueing against it?
b) The KFC game is by a Western dev with a more parodic, wacky approach - basically a Saturday Morning Cartoon compared to an Anime. It's a different creation made with the same tools. -> Isn't it exciting to get more people's takes on the genre instead of gatekeeping the genre to devs that are experienced and well versed with it, so that will just infinitely keep repeating the same framework over and over?
c) The KFC is a free game with lots of exposure. It gets lots of people to try a new experience. -> What if it's like The Mummy game? Or Aladdin? Actually a good licensed game by its own merits (I mean it won't, but we aren't even discussing this, sadly)?

I still don't get why people hate on the basic concept of this. We can talk about how garbage it is, once we played it.
It could certainly end up being a good, fresh take on the genre, but I think the most confusing part about this whole issue is that the game itself is almost entirely irrelevant. I also don't think anyone is really arguing that the game shouldn't be made. The title of the thread kind of confuses the issue too, and a lot of people seem to be coming in only reading that.

VNs definitely have an image problem, whether deserved or not. This would probably be alleviated a bit if more people were at least aware of the good stuff out there, but it's an uphill battle because the media hardly ever talks about VNs. They hit outside of the core gamer target demographic and nobody can realistically afford to cover them all. Goofy, wacky parody games fall right in that demo though, so the common image of VNs ends up being "porn, and a few parody games, and Ace Attorney." Which is technically better but also kind of not really? There's a lot more to VNs to that.

People are frustrated that KFC gets massive amounts of free marketing for their marketing game, while other games that actually need the coverage for visibility (And which could theoretically eventually help start shifting public perception of the genre if seen in large enough numbers over a long enough period of time) end up flying under the radar because media outlets aren't incentivized to cover them. It's possible that somebody might play the KFC game, think it's fun, and go on to try others. But it seems really unlikely they're going to dig very deep when they already know going in that "others" are just porn and other parody games. Again, the game itself doesn't matter, it's just part of a larger trend that's been going on with the genre for years.

The issue can also be extrapolated out to how ill-equipped the games media is to cover female/LGBTQ focused stuff and even indie games in general if you want. I probably should have just stuck with the VN angle in that first post instead of overcomplicating the argument.

I don't think there's really a good solution to the problem. It's never really going to be profitable for media outlets to cover the games, and it's mostly just people frustrated with the situation venting about it.
 

Niosai

Member
Oct 28, 2017
903
I see it as an opportunity to bring people into the genre that likely would have never tried it otherwise. Out of every 1000 people who try it ironically, you'll statistically get a few that really like the format and will explore more VNs.
 

Leviathan

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,112
As far as I can tell, most people who play joke visual novels about KFC and pigeons tend to not also play traditional visual novels, so I really don't think there's too much overlap or reputational risk. My sense is that people who are into one just ignore the other.

They are just fleeting memes and I don't think they have really penetrated the actual visual novel scene.
 

Dee Dee

Member
Nov 2, 2017
1,459
People are frustrated that KFC gets massive amounts of free marketing for their marketing game, while other games that actually need the coverage for visibility (And which could theoretically eventually help start shifting public perception of the genre if seen in large enough numbers over a long enough period of time) end up flying under the radar because media outlets aren't incentivized to cover them. It's possible that somebody might play the KFC game, think it's fun, and go on to try others. But it seems really unlikely they're going to dig very deep when they already know going in that "others" are just porn and other parody games. Again, the game itself doesn't matter, it's just part of a larger trend that's been going on with the genre for years.
I feel a lot of the outrage I've seen over the game is very undeserved and seems to come from some snobbish "We need more serious games so the press takes us seriously, no more fun games please" point that I don't get. You also call it a "trend" but I don't see what's wrong with it.
See this tweet:

Calling the game gross for being sponsored by KFC (I guess? I see no other reason) then going on to police people to play a game like "Bury me, my love" or "Telling Lies" instead, which, while amazing games, arent't exactly talking to the same target group in the first place?
If I want to play a game where I can date a pressure frier, I'm not going to grab that incredibly devastating game about a refugee's journey or a asynchronously told story of an identity crisis instead.

A lot of the criticism feels mostly like it's looking down on comedic games and on Otome especially as the butt of the VN jokes, when especially fun and wacky stuff like Monster Prom, Hatoful or Dream Daddies has really helped these games reach a new young adult audience.
The genre can grow in different directions without having to shit on shoddily made fan games or stupid free ads like this as if they are single-handedly dragging down the genre's reputation. It's not like the editor at Kotaku said "Okay guys, let's write our weekly article about Dating Sims, and we could write about the latest Boys Love Novel with the really cool art style releasing at Mangagamer, or this joke game by KFC. Remember, you can only pick one!!"
Attention isn't infinite, but it's not like this game is stealing it from other stuff, when no one had any intention to give it to the other stuff in the first place. For that you have to build an interest in it - and yes, a bit more understanding.
The KFC game won't necessarily do this, but telling people to not even give it a fair shake in the first place doesn't exactly promote the idea that VNs are a broad field with loads of topics and ways to approach them either.
 

Aexact

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,162
The KFC game gets more visibility because it’s nakedly marketing for a big global brand.

From the screen caps I’ve seen, it’s also pretty cutesy about it, a romantic gesture being an overdone description of a how the Colonel fills a tasty bucket of chicken. “Woke brands” and all but it seems like in good fun in the spirit of being an advertisement.

It’s such a niche product that I don’t see many people who don’t play VNs looking to play the KFC game. Having a laugh at a commercial by playing a VN just seems like a further step than most people would take unless they’ve played VNs already and want to see a take on it but with KFC.
 

dunkzilla

Member
Dec 13, 2018
520
I would say the ones featuring sexualised children hurt the reputation more than “ironic” ones.

I don’t think there’s much wrong with the KFC one.