Assassin’s Creed developer says narrative in Japanese games is "jibberish"

Posted on August 19, 2012 - 11:00am by Ryan Conway

In an otherwise solid interview with CVG’s Rob Crossley about the development process of Assassin’s Creed III (although I don’t think it counts as a new IP), creative director Alex Hutchinson made some rather unfortunate comments that has caused quite a bit of controversy on the web these past couple of days.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, Hutchinson basically accused gaming journalists of favoritism, stating they tend to forgive storytelling flaws in Japanese games, while judging the plots of western games to harshly. Oh and if your not critical of this “jibberish”, you’re being a racist.

“I think there’s a subtle racism in the business, especially on the journalists’ side, where Japanese developers are forgiven for doing what they do. I think it’s condescending to do this. Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish. There’s no way you could write it with a straight face, and the journalists say ‘oh it is brilliant’.”

He would go on to use Gears of War and Bayonetta as examples.

"Then Gears of War comes out and apparently it’s the worst written narrative in a game ever. I’ll take Gears of War over Bayonetta any time. It’s patronising to say, 'oh those Japanese stories, they don’t really mean what they’re doing.'"

I can honestly say I enjoyed both Bayonetta and Gears of War for what they were (a crazy grindhouse story and modern war story in a sci-fi setting) but I also think both have their fair share of flaws (Bayonetta’s plot is confusing and Gears'  has some unlikeable characters).

As far as his claims against the gaming press are concerned, I think they’re pretty unreasonable. If some critics prefer the fantasy aspects of certain Japanese games over the gritty realism of certain titles developed in the west, that’s a little something I like to call “personal preference” not racism. Besides, there are plenty of Japanese games that get criticized for bad writing, like Final Fantasy XIII and Metroid: Other M for example.

As long as critics put their personal preferences aside (well, within reason of course), evaluate individual games for what they are rather than the genre they represent, they can still come up with a fair and accurate score.

Hopefully the Assassin’s Creed brand won’t be negatively impacted by these unfortunate (and hypocritical) comments and we can get back to having fun, enjoying our games of choice, and (if you're a fan) looking forward to the launch of Assassin’s Creed III.  

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