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

deepFlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
14,017
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.
So... understandably, Twitter being Twitter, there are vast amounts of people commenting on this issue that I do not follow and have not seen commentary by. The tweet you included is one such tweet. I do agree that it’s a very weird bunch of recommendations; as I said a little earlier in the thread, even people speaking about good VNs keep dismissing the genre/content people would want from this. And I’d say that tweet’s list doesn’t lean as far into “the good stuff is dark and serious” but it sure does lean into “here are some things which are entirely different when it comes to focus, genre, and structure, to the point of being irrelevant”.

However... I feel like it would be wrong to not voice that what you describe is simply not true of the vast majority of the criticism of this I have seen on Twitter? Like I really cannot stress enough that a lot of what I’ve personally seen does not talk at all about the “reputation” of the genre as this thread positioned the issue as? Almost all of what I’ve seen has been about “sincerity”- focusing on how it’s this ironic memey advertisement that exists so far away from what it’s supposedly parodying, and that frustration exists in the context of a number of other recent games like it causing similar frustration. Seriously, I think people here may be assuming this is out of nowhere but it is not the first time I’ve seen people talk about this exact topic after such a game gets attention; this is absolutely not the first time this sentiment has come up in these communities and it won’t be the last. And “sincere” is explicitly not about being “serious”; this is from translators/devs/fans who value those exact games you list for the reasons you gave.

Is there certainly that kind of shitty dismissive cricism out there? Sure, that absolutely tracks, I 100% agree that’s happening and am not saying all the crit is what I describe here. But most of what I’ve seen is really not dismissive in that way, because the entire point of the crit is that they want that stuff! They want new devs breaking into the scene, they absolutely want stuff that’s not created by/designed for cishet dudes, they want to see fresh new things attempted even if it’s someone’s extremely rough first project. And this isn’t even really about whether or not this game is worth playing or should be played or if there’s nothing of value there. What they’re rejecting is just a company making a tropey advertisement (this isn’t “sponsored”) that’s not only going to get a lot of write ups but is also going to bait a lot of streamers into playing it, and they’re annoyed about how little attention those more sincere works (and reasonably, ones they worked on in particular) get in comparison. Yeah, Kotaku may never have written about their work to begin with; is it unfair for them to be frustrated by that, though?
 

Tfritz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,959
i wonder how sincere visual novel adaptations of popular light novels are, or the level of sincerity in visual novels that recycle popular plot points from other visual novels like the endless parade of time loop stories
 

Syril

Member
Oct 26, 2017
4,309
i wonder how sincere visual novel adaptations of popular light novels are, or the level of sincerity in visual novels that recycle popular plot points from other visual novels like the endless parade of time loop stories
To be fair time loop is about the easiest plot device anyone could possibly come up with for a game where you replay the same story over and over again to get different endings.
 

SpoonyGundam

Member
Nov 18, 2018
115
So... understandably, Twitter being Twitter, there are vast amounts of people commenting on this issue that I do not follow and have not seen commentary by. The tweet you included is one such tweet. I do agree that it’s a very weird bunch of recommendations; as I said a little earlier in the thread, even people speaking about good VNs keep dismissing the genre/content people would want from this. And I’d say that tweet’s list doesn’t lean as far into “the good stuff is dark and serious” but it sure does lean into “here are some things which are entirely different when it comes to focus, genre, and structure, to the point of being irrelevant”.
If it helps to understand it, I'm reading that tweet primarily as a "Fuck Brand Twitter" thing. Just completely sick of it all, addressing other people who are also sick of it all, and throwing out some game recs in the process. They seem random because that's the point, she's trying to cover a lot of ground to show the variety available, and because she doesn't know the tastes of anyone coming to read her lists. It's not "If you want to play the KFC game, try these instead," it's "If you think the KFC game is some stupid bullshit, try these instead."

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.
They don't have to play it, Youtubers are going to be all over this game.
 

NathanS

Member
Dec 5, 2017
247
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.
Though I'd wager a big hunk of the reason why KFC's game is getting so much coverage has very little to do with being "ironic" or a parody (What was the last ironic/parody VN to get a lot of coverage? All I can think of is "Hatoful Boyfriend" and if you count it "Doki Doki Literature Club") and a lot more to do with "Is connected to a giant corporation that can easily afford to spread the word about its publicity stunt."
 

Catshade

Member
Oct 26, 2017
533
Yea, I think the disproportionate coverage for this game is more because of the goddamn Kentucky Fried Chicken publishing a game (any other genre will probably get similar coverage) and less of 'oh, another one of those wacky ironic VNs again!'

I searched a bit and Polygon, IGN, and Kotaku did made articles about Butterfly Soup (I chose this because people keep mentioning it as one of ignored/underrepresented VNs), but none about two 'ironic' VNs that I can think off the top of my head: Paca Plus (VN where your girlfriend turns into an alpaca) or National Park Girls (where you date, yes, antropomorphized national parks).
 

BassForever

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,500
CT
Don’t most vn’s sell to the eroge crowd for their h-scenes and waifu? That niche is probably self sustaining enough that it’s immune.

On the flip side stuff like Ace Attorney and Zero escape are popular enough with a wider audience to not be impacted by meme games.

I would argue something like Doki Doki Literature Club being free would hurt the genre more, and that only helped expose more people to vns.