Ordinarily, when writing an article based upon a nation’s attitude towards a given subject, the author would take advantage of any surveys that have been carried out, or interview an individual from such a nation. Kotaku’s Richard Eisenbeis took a different approach.
Hideki Kamiya (Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101) of developer Platinum Games often communicates with his fans via Twitter. Oftentimes, Kamiya’s fans would ask him for his opinions on hot topics in the gaming industry–topics such as digital distribution and certain big developers.
On January 5th, Kamiya was questioned upon his opinions regarding developer Valve and their Steam service, as well as his opinion’s on PC gaming. Kamiya responded as one would expect with Twitter’s limited character limit: short and simple, “I don’t know well [sic] about Valve, PC gaming, no interest.” This response suggests Kamiya doesn’t know much about Valve and PC gaming. However, Eisenbeis believes this means Kamiya is “clueless”.
Eisenbeis’ article, “The Guy Who Made Bayonetta Is Clueless about Valve and PC Gaming” is all kinds of wrong. Putting aside the disrespect found in title (referring to Kamiya as “The Guy” and claiming that he “[is c]lueless”), the article already reeks of sensationalism. What could have been an interesting feature about Japan’s attitude towards PC gaming has turned into a poor article about Kamiya, himself.
The article in question focuses on Kamiya’s opinions rather than his nation’s general attitude towards the subject, his central role nothing short of belittling him. The feature reads as, “This Japanese developer doesn’t really know much about PC gaming, but that’s okay. After all, it’s not his fault, he’s only Japanese.” It’s patronizing.
Yes, it’s actually true that PC gaming in Japan is a very niche market. In Japan, PC gamers are considered “losers” even by loser standards. Of course, how do we know that? The article doesn’t really give the reader any cause to believe that Japan doesn’t care about PC gaming. Does it address the social stigma? Does it address the role of the computer in the Japanese household? No. Hideki Kamiya of Platinum Games isn’t interested. Well, neither are some of my friends currently developing games either.
What the article does touch on is the lack of availability of western titles in Japan, or the lack of localisation. Again, the article doesn’t even acknowledge the PC gaming scene in Japan. What about the visual novels–usually considered a videogame of sort–that usually make an appearance in the media as part of the stereotypical geek culture of Japan? What about the indie developer scene in Japan? No, the evidence that Japan isn’t interested in PC gaming is because of the lack of momentum in English language PC games being localized. Let’s not forget that there are countless numbers of Japanese titles that fail to be localized. Japanese Role-Playing Games don’t usually do incredibly well over here either, but that’s not evidence that western gamers aren’t interested in consoles.
Eisenbeis does also point out the lack of Steam support in Japan, but is this really that unexpected? Steam was produced by an American company. How often do companies pass over a product to another country with little effort to ensure that their product still meets a high standard? European gamers are used to being shafted by publishers, so why is it so odd that very few games would even be translated in English? Surely, the fact that both Steam and Origins exists in Japan could also be a sign that PC gaming in Japan is popular enough for our own companies to see value in venturing into? Hell, EA aren’t even that great at supporting PC gaming in the western world, so what hope does Japan have with Origins?
The article fails to deliver any real evidence to make its point. In fact, what was the point? Was the point to explain reason that Kamiya wasn’t interested in PC gaming, or was it to prove that Japan just isn’t interested in PC gaming? This article doesn’t even resolve either question regardless of which were to be the goal, and the writing itself doesn’t even make it clear anyway.
I’m not even going to touch on the second half of the article beyond pointing out that Kamiya’s use of “cloud gaming” may have just been a misunderstanding, quite possibly as a result of the language barrier. The second half of the article suffers from the same problems that the rest of the article does. The tweet that Eisenbeis exploits to portray Kamiya even more ignorant is also rather out of context. The designer further explained that he “[doesn’t] hate cloud [gaming]”. Kamiya’s opinion on cloud gaming is a personal, and not necessarily a cultural, opinion. Eisenbeis’ article even states that twenty percent of Japanese consumers now purchase produce online. That’s a fairly reasonable and large number that certainly shows Japan doesn’t distrust shopping online as a nation.
Using Hideki Kamiya to make an example of Japan was wrong, and the article did a terrible job of trying to even explain his views. Why would anyone care, anyway? Hideki Kamiya makes pretty stellar games. What does it matter that he’s not into PC gaming. He’s not even the one that decides the platform his titles launch on–that job is for the publishers. This article does nothing but reek of sensationalist nonsense that contributes nothing but the trouble that Kamiya received from their fans over Twitter. What’s worse is that, instead of reaching Kamiya for an official statement, they took (and twisted) his views from a website which limits the users in the amount of characters they can use to express themselves.
Richard Eisenbeis’ article, “The Guy Who Made Bayonetta Is Clueless about Valve and PC Gaming” is a sloppy article that offends its subject, fails to explore and express its theme or story, and was poorly researched. Unfortunately, this is the type of standard of quality that Kotaku often delivers. Readers should honestly think twice before trusting their information from the outlet.