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Dragon's Crown, George Kamitani, and being stupid on Facebook
by Christian Nutt on 04/23/13 03:10:00 pm   Editor Blog   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

So George Kamitani, the artist behind Dragon's Crown, stuck his foot in his mouth and said something really stupid on Facebook.

So let me explain what he said and why, why it was stupid, and why I'm offended. I lashed out on Twitter, and I think that my response, while genuine, was also rather perplexing to some people. But that's Twitter for you: its immediacy means that you get a realtime feed of thoughts and feelings as they happen.

Kotaku's Jason Schreier took George Kamitani to task for the character designs in Dragon's Crown, an upcoming game Kamitani's studio, Vanillaware, is developing for Atlus. Many of characters are incredibly over-the-top women in ridiculous states of undress.

Aside: What bugs me -- maybe not Schreier, as I didn't read his original blog post -- is not so much their bodies as their FACES. With the Amazon, that pretty, petite face stuck on that massive body -- it's surreal and it cements the reality that the male gaze is at play here.

All the same, the art is so over-the-top that it comes across as ridiculous (to me, at any rate) and hyperstylized. As someone pointed out to me on Twitter, it's a riff on the Boris Vallejo style fantasy novel cover: Barbarian women in bikinis. The effect is so strange that I actually don't find it all that offensive. But I can totally understand why people do, and I certainly wouldn't tell them not to. Especially today...

Kamitani responded to Schreier like this:


If you can't read the caption, it says: "It seems that Mr. Jason Schreier of Kotaku is pleased also with neither sorceress nor amazon. The art of the direction which he likes was prepared."

Now, let me address what's going on here.

This is casual homophobia. What Kamitani is saying is "if you don't think my characters are sexy, check out these dudes." Yes, it's pretty tame, but it's still damaging, and I'll explain why.

First, yes -- it's not intended to hurt anyone's feelings, but that's the problem with it. If the person who makes the joke assumes that it doesn't hurt anybody, it's because he's assuming that nobody who might conceivably be hurt by it is paying attention. Either he thinks Dragon's Crown isn't for them, or he thinks they don't like video games, or that they don't even exist -- who knows what?

Second: Being gay is a punchline. This is lazy humor. Lindy West writes about this really intelligently a lot (I'd go find her posts on this for you, but I'm too busy to do it and she's too great, so just strap in and take a spin through her writing yourself.) Lazy people make gay jokes, because they know they can get a laugh with no effort.

Third: The picture is of large, muscular, bearded guys. Gross, right? Who could be sexually attracted to that? Well, me, for starters. While the actual picture in question doesn't do it for me, that's broadly the type of guy I like. So now I feel stupid because George Kamitani thinks this is ridiculous.

So here's where I'm at when I see his comment. Normal morning, and then suddenly, I find out that the creator of a game I'm looking forward to thinks I'm invisible to him, then that I'm ridiculous to him, too. And my immediate reaction is to feel betrayed.

I feel betrayed specifically because of the game that this is, and who this creator is.

Dragon's Crown is a niche game. All of Vanillaware's games are. When Odin Sphere appeared I was floored -- so floored that, in my previous life as a consumer-focused game journalist, I grossly overrated it simply because of what it represented: beautiful 2D art and complicated action-RPG gameplay. It pushed my buttons, and I wanted to reward it, whatever deficiencies it might actually have.

And with that game, I became a fan of Vanillaware. Over the years, I've really been pulling for this studio -- the underdog. As Dragon's Crown began to attract negative attention for its character designs, I stayed out of it, because I just am so happy that the studio even exists that I don't want to jinx it.

There are not a lot of studios pushing the art of 2D graphics like Vanillaware is. Barely anyone is producing high-resolution 2D games anymore, and Kamitani, while idiosyncratic, is also incredibly talented. It's a niche that I am ecstatic to see filled.

And then this. I'm hurt because I feel that Kamitani played me for a fool.

He didn't, of course. He doesn't even know I exist; he doesn't know anything about me. In fact, his comments rather suggest that, don't they? If Kamitani knew he had gay fans, he probably wouldn't say things like that. That's the point.

So, no: What Kamitani said wasn't tantamount to true, virulent, Proposition 8-style homophobia -- the kind that knows I exist and is determined to make it as difficult as possible for me to do so.  The kind that in fact is deliberately designed to negate me.

It's just an offhand remark -- it's even ambiguous enough that I had to explain why it was anti-gay to people on Twitter (which is partially what inspired this blog post.)

Am I overreacting, though? Whenever this topic comes up, people good naturedly suggest that -- and, in my view, that's adding insult to injury. It wasn't that bad, was it? Well, sure -- if it doesn't affect you, it isn't that bad.

At my heart I'm just a gay dork who likes video games way too much, and on that level -- that's where it stings. Not the journalist, of course. Not the professional. Not the guy who knows that things are changing in the real world day by day.

But I'm a gay nerd. For Kamitani, that's apparently half okay and half impossible. And you don't want the people you respect to negate you. It's that simple.

To turn it back to "Gamasutra material," so to speak, I'd just urge developers out there who are speaking publicly to not forget that just because you don't know somebody exists, whatever their gender, race, sexuality, religion, ability -- however they might differ from you or from your conception of your audience -- doesn't mean they don't. And they might like your games. So be thoughtful and respectful.

It's that simple.


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Comments


Chris K
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Have you considered that perhaps it was commentary on the western industry's obsession with big, thick guys as protagonists?

Thongrop Rodsavas
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It could be. However, judging from replies he gets on his facebook for posting this, I very much doubt this very much. Jabbing at the western's obsession with big man doesn't require three big guys clinging to each other, touching their naked half body.

It's true that you could interpret this in many many ways, but if he actually think carefully and realize that he has gay fans and they could take this as a jab to gay people, he would have stopped and done something else. Say, drawing a non-big breasts sorceress, for example.

The fact that he didn't and this happened, most likely means that he didn't think about the gay audience. Doesn't matter what his intention was. The harm is already done, unfortunately. It's good that he apologizes though.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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What's left out of Christian Nutt's article is what Jason Schreier said about George Kamitani, where he calls him a "14 year old boy that was probably cheap to hire"

George Kamitani is an industry veteran whose been making games since the early 90's.
He's been a games designer, producer, director, artist.
He founded his own company, Vanillaware, which is known for its distinct visual style, all done by Kamitani. He is a very rare breed, a man who is extremely versatile, an artist who creates games.

And Jason Schreier dismisses him as a 14 year old boy that is 'cheap to hire'... by the own company he founded.

Kamitani responded to accusations that he 'only sexualizes women!' and "dwarves aren't a sexual fantasy!" with a playful drawing of three very happy, very sexualized muscular bearded men. He then hoped Jason could enjoy Dragon's Crown.

Jason never apologized, demanded an apology from Kamitani (which Kamitani gave), and continues his attack on Kamitani.

That is the full story, the one that wasn't written on this Gamasutra article.

It should also be pointed out that Christian Nutt's reaction to the drawing of smiling, burly men was "FAG joke!!" You can see his use of hateful, demeaning, homophobic language on his twitter right here:
https://twitter.com/ferricide/status/326750771083358208

You can see more anger spurred use of the word 'fag' in other defenders of Jason where they cry "he called Jason a FAG!!" and are up in arms:
https://twitter.com/aegies/status/326734022942273536

These people who so casually use demeaning language are the ones writing this article, and many more articles on 'games journalism'

Mike Jenkins
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@Andy Lee Chaisiri

The sad fact is that in the world we live in, you're allowed to attack and berate someone as an individual, but the second you make a slightly off color joke regarding someone's sexuality, race, sex, or religion then someone like Christian will vilify you as part of their agenda.

Christian Nutt
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I can't see how the conversation started being relevant. Yes, Schreier kicked it off in a childish way -- but this post is not about Schreier. It's about Kamitani and his response, which was totally of his own volition. He chose to respond, and he chose *how* to respond.

If a kid insults another kid, the average kindergarten teacher will say something like "just because he started it doesn't mean you have to finish it." In other words, there's not a person on earth who doesn't know you don't have to respond to a cheap insult.

Even if it's defensible that he struck back, he certainly didn't have to strike back with a gay joke. As I said, it's lazy and alienating.

As far as calling me a homophobe, well, good luck with that. "Fag joke" was a bitter response *to* homophobia, not an expression *of* it. If you can't see that I would posit that you are not really paying attention to what went on here.

Cedrian Lex
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Christian, the point is that it is not a gay joke. It is a joke at the fact that the writers have no problem with over-the-top male characters, while they freak out at the slightest sign of an over-the-top female character. Its a joke that the western industry portrays men this way, which is fine - I don't care - but can't allow artists to portray women that way. The fact that you can't even understand that, or see that, even when its said straight at you in the top comment, betrays your prejudice. Its staggering, actually, how often I see this. People are so trapped in their own context.

More importantly, however, is the fact that you've actually admitted to leaving out the other half, and the whole context, of the event in your article. Which is just poor reported. I understand that you have an opinion, but objectivity should be what you are striving for, at least.

Christian Nutt
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No, it really shouldn't.

- This is not a report or a news story. It is a blog post. I realize that the distinction may be lost, particularly as (a) I am a staff member of the site on which this blog post was posted, but it is not news. It is my feelings and thoughts about something that happened and (b) it sure doesn't exist on other sites. But for me and for Gamasutra it definitely does.

I mean, it's clearly not "news." That much should be obvious to anyone.

- This is not about Jason's original assertion toward Kamitani. It is not about sexism in Dragon's Crown. It is specifically about Kamitani's response and his WORDS as much as the picture he posted -- in fact much more about his words.

Position clarified?

Kataya Feduro
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Guess I'm a little late to the party, but I agree with Christian - even if the imagery could be seen as making a different point, the words clear up any confusion whether or not this is a homophobic slur.

"Just making the sorceress a playable character with strong abilities shows a gender openess that is completely lacking in a lot of contemporary 'teenage' male fantasies like Infamous and Uncharted to name a few. If we're going to start criticizing game artists for pushing gender agendas then lets call the dice where they lie."

Wow. Just, wow, Dario. As a woman, I'm supposed to be thrilled that a dev is so forward-thinking that he created this hypersexualized monstrosity for me to play? This thing with breasts that flap in the breeze? Breasts that would create enormous back issues, and that are not even half-contained by completely impractical and inappropriately sexual clothing that would not stay on in reality? Never mind the ability to move/breathe - not sure how big a part they play in this game, but devs should really try wearing a corset before they ever draw a woman of action wearing one. Seriously, the only ideal this plays to is male fantasies about powerful women (and believe me, as a powerful, athletic woman who does jujitsu I can attest that it is a huge demographic). I don't know if this character is meant for men to play and ogle, but it sure as heck wasn't created by someone who respects women and sincerely wanted women to play this character.

So no, excuse me, but anyone who thinks that is even remotely throwing a bone to women is so completely divorced from reality that I don't know where to begin.

And yeah, I'm a little testy. I'm sick of games like this. I'm sick of women being portrayed as giant pairs breasts on a pair of legs. I'm sick of developers who reduce women down to their breasts and sexuality. I'm disgusted that young female gamers are brought up in a gaming culture that apparently sees women as sexualized balloon animals. To use the term "female" loosely, I'm sick of being told I should be happy that there are any playable female characters at all. That maybe I should focus my criticism on those who don't make playable female balloon animals, and that not including playable balloon animals at all is somehow worse.

Big, strong, powerful-looking men are absolutely not the equivalent of this. I'm really tempted to draw something that would be. Unfortunately there is a double standard about male and female chests, so for a remotely similar effect it would have to be a barely-covered phallus and balls that are bigger than the character's head, and wearing a Speedo that doesn't provide complete coverage. And you better believe the phallus and balls are going to flap around obscenely every time a strong breeze comes up or the character does magic.

Yeah, that image is exactly ridiculous and demeaning as the trailer for Dragon's Crown looked to me (though in reality not quite as demeaning because men just aren't sexualized that way day in and day out). Do you want to play EVERY game you own as a magical phallus with legs? And not just for the lulz...but knowing this is how others see you, the primary thing the world values about you, and how it wants you to look? Are you going to be thankful to developers for respecting you so much that they include a playable phallus? Are you going to claim "just making the phallus a playable character with strong abilities shows a gender openness"?

No. The game industry has a serious problem with women. Most male devs, journos, and commentators don't seem to notice or care, but the only reason you don't hear even MORE about this from 'gamer chicks' is we are so used to having to put up with this garbage. We wouldn't have hardly any games to play at all if we refused to play those that dehumanize women - those that disrespect our potential for strength, intelligence, competence, athleticism, and non-sexualized value, never mind our ability to be the lead character. But turning us into animated blow-up sex dolls is going too far - I play lots of games with no playable female characters, but Vanillaware and its juvenile artwork will never see another cent from me. Their "gender openness" is as real as the sorceress' gigantic flapping windsock breasts.

Kataya Feduro
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Actually, I have one more point to make.

The depiction of women isn't the same as a man drawing how he'd like to look, or a persona he'd like to take on once in a while even if only in fantasy - a powerful alpha male who saves princesses from towers and always gets the girl. This is a man drawing how he'd like a frequently marginalized group to look, and drawing them in a way that further marginalizes them.

Imagine if the game industry were mainly run by women. Imagine if these women always drew all male characters as an extreme caricature that most men would not want to play or be seen as...let's say they made all male characters embody the worst stereotypes about gamers - socially inept, pimply, unattractive, weak, out-of-shape basement dwellers who live with their parents and only have dating success with the NPC women in their games. And imagine this was in every title that you wanted to play, and you had to choose between either playing as an pimply basement dweller or a woman. And imagine women saying you should be grateful they included playable men at all. And that the women who churned out the latest batch were just mimicking others who had done so over and over again in the past, therefore it's okay. Imagine this continued decade after decade, and decades and decades of complaints fell on deaf ears.

Men drawing women in a singular way that dehumanizes them is much different from men drawing versions of themselves that reflect something many men WANT to be. Empowering versions that, I might point out, are the complete opposite of the stereotypes about the gamers who play them. Coincidence? It's also much different from men drawing a variety of men ranging from the stout dwarf to the androgynous Link to the moustached Italian plumber to the muscled manly man - in other words, not seeing men as one-dimensional figures where only someone with a certain outward appearance can be a hero, or even exist to begin with. I can only think of one or two games where a female character doesn't have big breasts on display....and one of those is Mrs. Pac-Man. Who, in the artwork, is still sexualized with lipstick, eyeshadow, high heels, sexy legs, and ridiculous poses.

You know, if one was being uncharitable...one might imagine the guys who haven't had much real-life success are the ones who see women as one-dimensional sex objects. But I know better than to stereotype - sexists come in all flavors.

Nick Raymond
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The thing is that yes taken by itself George Kamitani made a jab at someone for not liking his art using what you could call a homophobic jab (I say that simply because I have never met Kamitani and so I dont know his views on homosexuality) . The thing is though that the Jason Scheirer's article was not some thing decrying Kamitani for using an art style based on fantasy like Vallejo or Franzetta but was to simply accuse Kamitani of being a juvenile and made a jab basically saying that Kamitani draws like a 14 year old. Even today Schreier's comparison was to God of War and comic books while the actual influeces vary from Franzeta to Harryhausen and obviously some major influences from both classic Greek as well as 16th century paintings.

Yes Kamitani was wrong to return Schreier's insults (and they were insults not constructive criticsm) but I dont think its right to try to make this about something huge when we dont really know Kamitani's views on homosexuality. I am still going to buy Dragon's Crown because that's what video game needs more of in an era were more often than not the character design is simply the voice actor.

The same can not be said for Jason Schreier's articles, video game journalism doesnt need more people who are more obsessed with how many page views their articles received instead of actual critques.

Christian Nutt
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I never saw Schreier's original post, but I don't think "eye for an eye" is a way to go. But even if it is, and Kamitani wanted to make fun of Schreier, fine -- but why do it in this way?

John Warren
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Kamitani's behavior shows us very specific things about how he feels about homosexuality. You don't have to have an explicit, hateful ideology about homosexuality to express something homophobic or heteronormative. Ignorance, while not necessarily malicious, can certainly harm others. I think that's the case here.

Andy Wallace
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Kamitani's views on homosexuality aren't what matter here. The point was not that he could be homophobic, but that he just didn't even consider that he might have gay fans when making his (fairly immature) comeback. That kind of invisibility sucks, and nobody wants to feel like their identity was used as the punchline of a joke.

He probably isn't a bigot, but he did assume that all of his fans are heterosexual males.

Nick Raymond
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You are right the response to Jason Schreier would be to ignore him instead of making a gay joke. That's the way you should handle websites like Kotaku because they feed on creating scandals. The response Kamitani made was exactly the response Kotaku hoped for.

Homosexuality is not a joke and when it appears in stuff like anime it does make me uncomfortable. Despite being hetrosexual myself I can certainly see why you would feel like you are invisble since the stuff aimed at gay men (as opposed to female otaku) tend to be drastically in the minority.

Keith Thomson
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I don't particularly think that English is Kamitami's main language, so I'm not at all sure it was a gay joke at all, but rather something that didn't translate well from japanese. People sure jump to conclusions...

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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You'll notice that on twitter that Jason's 'defenders' are crying out "he called Jason a FAG!!". Using hateful, demeaning words to describe male sexuality (Christian Nutt being one of them, I looked).

Kamitani was responding to accusations that 'only the women are sexualized!' by showing that yes, a burly muscular man with a full beard IS also sexual. He oiled them up and showed them having a good time.

I really feel like this is a willful misinterpretation by Jason, who refuses to apologize for calling the Founder/Artist/Designer of Vanillaware, George Kamitani, a "14 year old boy that's cheap to hire".

There is a huge problem with arrogant, snarky writers who would rather demean than understand, and this is just that problem come to light.

Dane MacMahon
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@ John Warren

Kind of a side note, but are we lumping heteronormative in with homophobia in all cases now? I hope not. You can be heternomative and still support gay rights.

John Warren
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@ Dane MacMahon

Oh absolutely not. I guess I listed both because I'd have a hard time characterizing Kamitani's response. That's a potentially dangerous proximity I created and didn't mean to. Thanks.

Badr AlOmair
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Great Article. I do wish George Kamitani handled it in a more classier way. Initially as a Vanillaware fan, I tried to explain his response (in a backwards and long winded manner) as a combination of language barriers and other cultural miscommunication. And that it was his attempt at sexualizing the male dwarf character archetype (who is often compared against the Sorceress) to "balance things out".

but now I'm convinced that it was just a straight personal response and it is offensive. And I think even he realized that too as he had deleted that FB post.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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As a Vanillaware fan myself, let me explain what was going on.

The attack on Kamitani is "he hyper sexualizes women!" and "the MEN aren't sexualized the same!!"

Kamitani replied to this by drawing an image of muscular, bearded men having a good time. To show that sexualization is about context, that yes, even something HYPER MASCULINE can also be HYPER SEXUAL. He then hoped Jason could enjoy Dragon's Crown with a smile.

This is very good natured of Kamitani to take the time out of his day to sit down and draw that lovely image of happy burly men. It is unfortunate that Jason chooses to not apologize for his insult that began this, he demanded an apology (and Kamitani even gave one).

What is deeply disturbing is this vitrolic response towards a gay image. You'll see on twitter that Jason's defenders instantly tweeted "he called Jason a FAG!!". That's what they felt anger over. They chose a hateful demeaning word to express how they felt.

Look at Christian Nutt's twitter, he calls that skillful painting "a fag joke", his demeaning language expresses what he really feels.

Adam Bishop
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Kamitani's response does not say "Men can be sexualised too" it says "If you don't like my drawings of women you must be gay." Maybe Kamitani just didn't translate what he meant properly into English and it's just a misunderstanding, but the way his response on Facebook is worded pretty clearly comes across as "LOL you must be gay!"

John Warren
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Thanks for this article. I don't think you're overreacting to feel hurt by Kamitani's response. There could be a tone we're missing from his response since it's written, but either way I think it was the wrong way to respond to the criticism. The punchline, regardless of tone, is "lol I guess he's gay," which is totally unacceptable. Glad you shared your thoughts! Hopefully everyone will learn something from the experience.

Mike Murray
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I really hate Kotaku.

Kujel Selsuru
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It probably is one of the top 5 worst gaming media outlets on the internet.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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The sad thing is, there ARE writers on Kotaku who don't resort to sensationalist attempts to gain viewers. They're largely ignored... or poisoned into sensationalism.

I've seen it happen with my own eyes. The previous article on Dragon's Crown simply said "this game is beautiful!"
the next article was Jason's, titled "They really need to stop letting 14 year old boys design games"

the NEXT article after that, by the same author who said "this game looks beautiful!" now goes "omg what a ROIDED UP VIKING". I was watching snark cancer spread in real time, man...

It really makes me angry that this is the state of 'journalism' in our industry. These are the people who write about how their industry needs to "mature" and be "taken seriously", yet they will call industry veterans like George Kamitani, a man who has been designer, producer, director, artist and FOUNDER of his very own company, a "cheap to hire 14 year old boy"

You'll also notice this network of writers covering each other. This 'Christian Nutt' writing this article instantly went on twitter to tweet "Kamitani called Jason a FAG!!" in outrage. It is humorous that in this article he calls Kamitani a homophobe when Christian himself is so ready to use hateful, demeaning, homophobic language. Jason Schreier's other defenders have also been throwing that word around.

Are THESE the kinds of people videogame developers are beholden to? If things stay as they are, yes, and that is truly vile.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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By the way, if you check alexa.com you'll see that Kotaku's audience is MORE exclusively white and male than White Supremacist online communities.

and THOSE are the people who say "games need to mature!" as they trash the real creators of the industry to drive more hits to their articles.

Jimmy Albright
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I'm going to play devil's advocate here.

1. Kotaku staff are NOT paid by page views or hits, they are paid salary that is not dependant on traffic or individual page views. This has been confirmed by Stephen Totilo (EIC) among other Kotaku and Gawker staff numerous times.

2. Totilo is a pretty standup guy. On quite a few occassions I've called him out (aggressive questioning, would probably be more accurate) on behavior or reporting that didn't sit right with me. Every time he has personally responded (through twitter or on kotaku directly) about the situation and even if I didn't always agree with his stance, his integrity to defend it was always something I admired especially among the 'fire and forget' articles that you see quite often on other sites.

3. One of the newer members of kotaku (Patricia Hernandez) has written some great stuff on gamer culture, covering a wide variety of topics that I don't think I've seen on some of the more mainstream sites. Furry Expos, the culture behind youtube montages and interviewing some of the popular twitch/justin.tv streamers are just some examples of interesting reads.

Andy Lee Chaisiri: As far as analytics go, I've never heard of alexa.com nor do I understand how an API (apparently, it's a toolbar? lolwut?) would determine the race of largely anonymous traffic to a site.

Alfa Etizado
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Jason screwed up. So did Kamitani, in a terrible way that proved Jason's criticism.

Jason should've published a proper article discussing the issue instead of a click bait. What he did was the sort of reactionary article that he published that pushes people away from an issue. You can't be aggressive if you want people to care about the issue Jason so sloppily tried to approach.

Eric Furtado
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I think you're reading way too much into the response. He didn't say anything about being gay being "gross." He didn't even say, nor imply, that the dwarves were gay. And I certainly don't know where you came up with Kamitani thinking that gay nerds don't exist from his single sentence. I read it as: " You don't like my women drawings? Here are some of my men drawings". The fact that the only answer to "if you don't like my women, you must like men" is a bit of a childish response, but what do you expect after being subjected to a childish insult in the first place? Not everyone always takes the high road - they're human. You say Kamitani should have taken the more mature option, but don't give Jason Schreier a pass for throwing mud from down there in the first place.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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Eric Furtado, if you look up Christian Nutt on twitter you can see his first response was "a FAG joke!!". His hateful, demeaning language towards homosexuals already speaks volumes on why he considered Kamitani's playful drawing of muscular, bearded men so offensive.

Michael O'Reilly
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Was very nice to get your perspective on this. I'm a straight dude, so it's hard for me to really judge the effects of this stuff.

THAT SAID, there is the issue of the language and cultural barrier. Language barrier is a big unknown and homosexuality, historically, in Japan is... weird by our standards. Both very much more part of the culture while also not quite protecting it from humor and derision. In my experience (again as a straight dude, so what you think about any of this would be interesting to me) they seem more willing to sorta embrace homoerotic subtexts in ways that are a bit tongue in cheek but still serious (Fist of the North Star comes to mind). So when I see a well rendered and very well done bara-esque picture of 3 drawves that clearly took more than a few hours to make, well... outside of the context, it doesn't feel very mocking to me. It actually seems, out of context, to be kinda sincere. I mean, as an artist, I don't think I'd be willing to spend a few hours drawing, rendering and shading a picture like that to make the type of joke he did. I mean that's basically "I'm calling you gay buy spending hours drawing something really gay" and that seems to have the opposite of the desired effect.

While we can't know what he meant (or if he meant exactly what he said), I'm dep down hoping it's sorta like what Eric Furtado said: "Oh well you don't like that I just sexualize ladies. Well here. Here you go". I can't in good conscious assume thats what he meant to say, but I can't take the facebook post at face value because there is a lot of lingual and cultural value. I think we should just be happy he took it down and people on tumblr are reposting the artwork non-ironically.

Christian Nutt
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It's hard to say, isn't it? And knowing what I know about Japanese culture vis-a-vis homosexuality, which is much more than a little but far from expertise, muddies things further and leaves me without anything to base a firm conclusion on, either.

Carlos Leituga
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You'd think that kotaku from all the places would understand Japanese culture and take that into consideration in their "opinion articles".

Michael O'Reilly
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Yeah, Kotaku is an awful drama inducing rag publication, but it IS more useful to talk about George's response. Kotaku is beyond redemption, but Vanillaware is worth caring about.

Anyways Christian, yeah.. this is confusing. I wish I knew someone who could better comment on this. But regardless, because I forgot to write it before, I wanna thank you for delivering what I've always thought to be the most important lesson -- to stop and think. I think no matter how we slice George's intention, stopping and thinking would have still helped him save a lot of face in that exchange.

Nick Raymond
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Its Kotaku a website that once made an article about some guy having sex on a bed with sonic covers. The goal of any Kotaku article is page views, that's the problem with most video game websites were quality is second to making sure people read your articles usually by insulting the developer/publisher. Articles with constructive criticism like this is rare in video game journalism.

George Kamitani has apologized showing that in this arguement he can and will be the adult.

Mike Murray
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This article illustrates why Kotaku doesn't deserve the hits or attention they get. They thrive on riling up the masses and making issues much larger than they are. Failing that, they will flat-out create controversy. Anyone remember that whole "Sambo" Scribblenauts debacle? They have a shady history, and frankly I'm sick of seeing Kotaku's name popping up on sites that should know better than to link to them.

Christian Nutt
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It's true -- they do gin up controversy and has been pointed out, Schreier's original post was far from mature. But there's also no need for developers to rise to it. This, however, is not a post about Kotaku. Emphatically.

A W
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Can we agree that calling anyone out on thier sexuality as if they where a preteen just learning about sex is demeaning. The clickbait article was a knee jerk reaction from a white male about making art styles of characters that appeal to young adolesent teenage boys. That in and of itself is a biased view. Men do not have universal taste in sexuality. Nor do woman, but media assumes as much because the thought of universal appeal sells well.

The gay comment was a juvenile kneek jerk reaction to the criticism and does come off as a homophobic jab given the context it has been said in for a long time. However this is one country to another, and male and female sexuality has some simularities in westernized culture. But the problem has always, in my opinion, come down to under repesentation and over representation of what people consider pleasing. What has been represented in entertainment the most? When something under repesented is represented,is it done in a tasteful manner that doesn't offend over half of the posibble consumer base? If it does is offend a large group of people is that the intent of the content?

Maybe knee jerk reactions get us talking about these things but I feel like It's harder to push under repersented lifestyles because of fear of the unknown mob that will insue. I feel more offended by some off handed comment that suggest men are being heterosexual adolessents because of thier visual taste, and I feel that if the response to that was a bit more clever or sarcastically snarky it would have come of as better recieved, but it would have still had that offencive stench of the 'lol are you gay' punch line. So both of them failed in engaging thier viewpoint on the matter because each one comments assumed that people are more generalized in appeal than diverse in lifestyles.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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Now, you can choose how the man that calls George Kamitani "a cheap to hire 14 year old boy" takes it, or you can look at it another way

Jason Schreier used very insulting language on an industry veteran, George Kamitani, saying that he can only sexualize women, that the males aren't as sexualized.

Kamitani gives a playful response, if you are going to complain about sexualize women, have some sexualized men. They are men resembling the dwarf in Dragon's Crown, the character decried as "un-sexual"

That's the humor of the response, that sexuality is really about context, he has managed to make BURLY MUSCLY BEARDED MEN even MORE sexual than the object of Jason's scorn.

That's the humor behind it, but Christian Nutt calls it a "FAG joke". That's what he wrote on twitter, he chose to use the most demeaning, hateful language to express homosexuality, to express his disgust at this image of burly, smiling men that Kamitani drew for Jason.

Christian Nutt
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Andy, I was a little brusque above, but you've kept repeating this accusation so I think I should address it directly.

I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding here. I'm gay. I was expressing my frustration and hurt at what I perceived (and continue to perceive) as a joke at the expense of gays.

Maybe this is another cross-cultural miscommunication, but my use of the word "fag" was specifically to express exactly how Kamitani's comment made me FEEL, not as a demeaning term to be wielded *against* gay people. In other words, I saw his joke as anti-gay, and thus used that term to label it as homophobia.

This is fairly common use in English, especially among the gay community, of which I am a part. But perhaps it doesn't communicate at all outside of native English speakers or American English speakers -- or even the San Francisco Bay Area. I honestly can't say.

Yes, it was uncareful language but I was absolutely not feeling careful. I was feeling demeaned, and that initial tweet was my expression.

If you perceived my tweet as homophobic language it tells me that I should choose my words more carefully in the future. Like Kamitani, I have to be aware of my potential audience.

Eric Furtado
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FYI, the Kotaku article has been updated to say that Kamitani apologized:

"UPDATE: Kamitani sent me a message this afternoon, in Japanese. Wired's Chris Kohler helped me translate: "While the picture of the dwarfs was meant to be a lighthearted joke, after it became bigger than I thought it would, I reflected on the rashness of it. I am sorry. I have no hard feelings about the article."

Carlos Leituga
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Thank god for good PR agents.

Carlos Leituga
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"So now I feel stupid because George Kamitani thinks this is ridiculous."

I wish people stopped reading between the lines when there's nothing to read. Or was it an assumption? How about assuming that Kamitani himself is gay or bisexual? Oh no, now he's throwing his sexual preferences at poor Jason.

No, he wasn't bashing any particular sexual orientation and yes, it was a lazy gay joke (wasn't that what Will & Grace was, didn't watch much) but what he basically said was that if Jason didn't like the girls, he's probably gay and should like that set of art instead.

No one is talking about how generic the dwarf is (always a short, bulky, bearded guy) or that the wizard has a feminine look. The current hot topic is equality and taking jabs at an artist depiction of the female body guarantees those sought out clicks.

Stop it, everyone. Gender equality is an important issue and all of these so called game journalists are diluting the issue with their constant bickering of "I bet some women are offended by this so let's hinge on that hot topic and call it sexist".

Ian Uniacke
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"he basically said was that if Jason didn't like the girls, he's probably gay and should like that set of art instead." This is the crux of the issue to me though. The issue is not whether or not the men are portrayed as objectified sexual objects as well or not...it's the fact that Kamitani has reduced the topic to "everyone loves either penises or boobs". Which is an extremely juvenile point of view.

Carlos Leituga
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Yes, he's heartless, leaving out people that like both. :)

Jason's first post was immature and Kamitani's response was juvenile. I see no problem with both. But there was no need to write another post and make this look like part of a bigger, more important issue rather than just commenting "haha, oh that joker", since Kamitani was poking fun at Jason and not insulting him nor anyone. He even later commented that he liked Kotaku in his facebook post.

I think everyone needs a bit of leeway and I fear that isn't going to be possible in the near future since someone will always find a way to be offended by something and be too vocal about it.

I want to be taken seriously, but I can't contain a fart joke now or then. I'm doomed. :(

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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A survey of my "men and women who like men" friends say their favorite is "the Fighter, he's a towering man and when he takes off the helmet, has a gentle face"

... and one guy liked the dwarf, because he is a squat muscular bearded guy hahah.

Ian Uniacke
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I feel like Kamitani's response reinforces Jason's opinion. The implied message, to me, is "hey man stop complaining about all us (14 year olds) objectifying women and their boobs...it's just a bit of fun". So I feel this response both objectifies gay people and implies objectification of women at the same time.

The "cultural barrier" argument just seems like rubbish to me. You don't get out of being called a racist/sexist/homophobe just because that's the cultural norm. Sure we can be more sympathetic to that person (eg Kamitani) and I don't suggest making him feel like he is a bad person. But it's important to call out bad behaviour when it occurs, regardless of the country of origin.

Nick Raymond
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Except that Kamitani is not objectifying women, the creation of the Sorceress and Amazon (especially the Amazon) were an homage to fantasy art of the 40's to 60's. How many 14 year olds draw homages to Frank Franzetta?

I would rather not lose George Kamtiani who is one of the last great art designers we have in gaming just because his homaging something that you object to.

Jacob Germany
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@Nick
1. Frank Frazetta's art is much, much better

2. Having a famous artist as inspiration doesn't absolve moral concerns. A comedian could put on black face to sing and dance, but the idea that it can be seen as an "homage" doesn't make it any less offensive.

I would rather not keep artists who feed privileged memes in an industry with a severe diversity problem simply because you like him.

Arthur De Martino
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Except the entire point of his art is taking Frazetta's and exageratting it. It's so silly calling it offensive.

Mostly because in this context, it's pointless to be offended. So you are offended someone took a Frazetta and made a style out of it. So what?

Also, so what Frazetta's better? You can only ape an style if you are superior to it?

Diego R Pons
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Facebook is a social media, and you must be responsible for anything you post.

I wonder what image would Katamani would have created as a response if a woman wrote the article instead of Jason Schreier. Would he have posted something he thought a woman would be attracted to? Would he have dismissed her or aknowledge her?

As a gay developer... yes; I share your feelings, even though I'm not attracted to the kind of men depicted in the image. And it's unrealistic for everyone to share them at this point (we're not at that point yet), but I think everyone should understand them.
Is it OK then to make such jokes only in private, when we know no-one can hear them or see them?
Does that make them OK? I guess that's a separate discussion.

In any case, I don't think you overreacted, as I don't think offended women overreact either when they make their voices heard, just like they recently did. Only then society identifies problems and acts on them.

I'm glad Kamitani apologized; because that means he got something good out of it. When people get hurt -yourself or others- usually there's a great opportunity for learning.

Carlos Leituga
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No, you make a good point. He'd probably draw some sexy long haired wizards. :)
But seriously, since that first post that Kamitani replied to I was wondering if there were any women that wrote positively or negatively about Dragon's Crown. Anyone got links?

James Margaris
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This is a good question Carlos that I think strikes at the heart of something that hasn't been touched on here: a lot of the discussion on whether or not something is sexist is dominated by men and their puritanical concerns about boob size and exposure, rather than by women and what their actual concerns are.

On Neogaf right now the author of the article is arguing with actual women who say they don't really see the big deal about the game and how they find it somewhat lame that a single man somehow speaks for all women.

It seems to me that in general this discussion, when dominated by men, is often off-axis and in some ways almost a form of sexism itself - speaking for women without bothering to ask any how they feel, focusing almost exclusively on cleavage. Typical men!

Here's another angle on the game: it has 6 playable characters, 3 are female, all three have very different body types and only one can really be called conventionally attractive. Which in many ways makes it a positive outlier. But instead the story is merely that depicting big boobs is something all you ladies out there should be offended by, and how a niche Vita game that will sell 60k copies is the game that should be made example of.

Bioshock Infinite has zero playable female characters, the main female protagonist is someone in the "you'll want to save and protect her" vein, in mechanical terms exists to aid the male hero, and by the way looks like Real Doll: Disney Princess Edition. But her cleavage is at least partially obscured by a corset worn voluntarily, so it's all good.

Ian Uniacke
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James: Firstly you are reducing the argument from "objectification" to "what people think looks good". So you're arguing AGAINST a straw man. You talk about the 3 characters and that only one is 'attractive'. That's personal taste but all three of them are completely sexualised when compared with their male counterparts.

Secondly, you are claiming that one man can't speak for all women (last I checked I don't think he claimed he was), completely invalidating his right to an opinion. Then hypocritically you are claiming that a handful of women on neogaf speak for the entire female population. An individual not being upset by something doesn't mean it's not offensive nor potentially damaging.

Jacob Germany
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Maybe I'm in the minority, but after looking up the details of this controversy, instead of thinking both sides were wrong, I kinda think both sides aren't really all that bad. The original article simply mentioned how puerile the artwork was (it really is awful, and this isn't even mentioning the disjointed tiny-pale-soft-face on the Amazon's large-muscular-tan-body) while response basically said "If you don't find the women I draw sexy, ur gay lolol".

Sure, the original article wasn't a lengthy dissertation about the state of the portrayal of women in the game industry, but it wasn't meant to be. It was meant to be a joke about the blatant pandering to the "OMG BOOBIES" crowd. Kamitani's response is a little offensive (making homosexuality a punchline as the article says) but I don't see the deep homophobic implications that Kamitani doesn't acknowledge or want gay fans.

In the end, it kinda seems like everyone is starting (yet another) internet war over nothing.

Jim Beckett
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As a twink and trap loving homosexual this is the best thing I've seen from a creator defending itself against the vile cancer of gaming journalism. But maybe I just hate myself.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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Hahah, that's great to hear!

Now, how do you feel, as a homosexual, about Christian Nutt, the man accusing George Kamitani of being a homophobe, calling that drawing of burly dwarves a "FAG joke" ?

You can see it on his twitter right here:
https://twitter.com/ferricide/status/326750771083358208

You can see more anger spurred use of the word 'fag' in other defenders of Jason:
https://twitter.com/aegies/status/326734022942273536


Remember, THESE are the people who are claiming to represent YOUR interests. These are the people getting retweeted to spread hate for Kamitani and defending the kind of sensationalist, demeaning journalism that dismissively calls an industry veteran a "14 year old boy"

Zack Wood
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Well, what you wrote is clear as day to me, but I guess it's still news for a lot of people.

However, I seem to lack the ability to get offended by stuff. Maybe I'm too numb, but I basically expect people in charge of game companies to be ignorantly dismissive/oppressive to gay people, so it's just a pleasant surprise if they aren't. But maybe I should start holding them to higher standards.

Anyway I'm glad you explained for people what comments like his imply and are based on.

Randall Stevens
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I also enjoy when someone tells me what someone else is thinking and what implications their actions were meant to have. I like it almost as much as people (who aren't self righteous at all) telling me what is and isn't acceptable to joke about. I sure wouldn't want to have to decide for myself what is okay, or god forbid hold a belief that everything is open for jokes.

The good part of this piece is how Christian describes how the comment made him feel. That was genuine. Everything else is nonsense. He doesn't know gay people exist or could be playing his game? Really? I can totally see how one statement can lead only to this rather severe conclusion. And you are glad that he explained to people what to think and what someone else is thinking. Damn. This kind of shit is crazy when Glenn Beck does it, but I guess it's totally okay here.

Zack Wood
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Christian explained what Kamitani's comments are saying beneath the surface and the assumptions they're built on. That's just reality, it's not anybody's opinion or something anyone "has to believe," unless you think that people have to believe in reality. Whether you feel offended about it or think other people need to feel something about it is up to you. Personally it doesn't really rile me up.

What Kamitani intended doesn't necessarily matter- people make comments that are unintentionally dismissive and oppressive all the time. You don't have to care or think or feel anything about that, but I think we should at least be able to acknowledge it. Personally that's the part I enjoyed more than how it made Christian feel.

Michael Stevens
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100% with you. Schreier's original article missed the point by miles and miles and was one of many recent Gawker articles to try and capitalize on feminist frustration by picking a fight where there genuinely isn't one, but Kamitani's response (while slightly ambiguous) takes this game completely off my radar. I doubt I'll be buying another Vanillaware game.

Nick Raymond
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So your response is to punish one of the last few game developers (and Publishers in Atlus) who are actually trying tomake games they want to make instead of games that are going to sell 5 million copies. I buy Vanillaware games because I know that I am going to get a unique game with a good story. I buy games that Atlus publishes because I know that they have a high quality because Atlus has a good eye for video games.

Don't come crying to me when the only triple A games left are Call of Duty: Zombie Warfare 3.

Michael Stevens
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I don't want to go any further off topic than this; I'm sure Atlus will be fine if I sit this one out.

Atlus is not a AAA developer or publisher, but is also not a public service that needs to be defended. They're a mid-sized brand of a holdings company. I have dozens of their games, and I think some of them are the best games ever. Probably my favorite publisher, even if These days they're just as quick to monetize and leverage and pander as anyone else. If you think they're the "last great" anything you've missed out on some really great stuff going on elsewhere.

I'm not punishing anyone by not buying a game I'm no longer interested in. It's not as dramatic as that.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

evan c
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I was a 14 year old boy once. Should I feel offended and ask for political correctness?

Gawel Ciepielewski
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Since every meaningful thing, either positively, or negatively, that I could conceive, was already said in the comment I just want to make a digression about the art:
Being a pretty regular straight dude, I find the burly dudes with beards a more appealing picture - it looks a bit better, the characters' are built slightly more believably, they're faces look in place on their bodies (unlike the amazon), and they seem to have emotions. So, yeah, I find the way this "Amazon" picture is trying to pander to my heterosexuality insulting.

David Paris
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Hmmm. It is hard for me to understand your exact perspective since I am not beset by the same pervasive gay is negative vibes that you probably get from many aspects of society. In this case to me all of the artwork is exaggerated to the point of being a bit silly and I'm not seeing a big anti-gay jab in this.
rn
rnI find it a bit more interesting that you correctly point out that the first image has this hyper-thin model face stuck on the hugely muscled large woman. Face liposuction? Or at least face bone reduction since she's not exactly sporting any fat to begin with.
rn
rnMy feeling is that he's not particularly dissing on your lifestyle or tastes. Consider for a moment - if the original artwork had been a big burly and underclad fellow which was then badmouthed, and he responded by offering a piece of art depicting some hyperthin women mud wrestling, would he have been insulting heterosexuality?
rn
rnSo yes, I fully acknowledge that there is a great deal of cultural anti-gay bias that pervades many 'normal' interactions, but I wonder if in this case you are looking for offense where none really needs to be there. It is easy to be so pissed off by the subject in general, that you overapply the search for examples.
rn
rnI guess only you can truly decide that. Best wishes.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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Actually "gay is negative" is the driving force behind this article

Look at how Jason Schreier's defenders on twitter are outraged over that "he called Jason a FAG!"

https://twitter.com/aegies/status/326734022942273536

https://twitter.com/ferricide/status/326750771083358208

and the people who use this demeaning, homophobic language are saying they are on the side of right?

David, you can also see on this comments page that there ARE homosexual men on Gamasutra commenting, and they do not take offense, some actually enjoy the image of hunky masculinity Kamitani drew!

That's really the essence of what I find wrong with gaming journalism today, this ignorance, this sensationalism, all to drive more hits.

Arthur De Martino
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I feel the original poster assumes way too much when they call the characters in said picture "grotesque".

Also, there is a character that is pretty much one of the guys in the picture. Maybe the artist was merely showing off his men? "Oh hey you don't like my females, have a sexy picture about my dwarves."

My "bear" loving friend enjoyed the dwarf picture and he intends of picking the Dwarf as his main character once the game comes out.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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Hi Arthur, I'd like to bring to your attention that Christian Nutt, the writer of this article, saw those very bearish, playful dwarvesn and immediately tweeted "a FAG joke!"

https://twitter.com/ferricide/status/326750771083358208

You can see more 'friends' of Jason Schreier tweeting how angry and insulted they are for their dear Jason to be called a 'fag'
https://twitter.com/aegies/status/326734022942273536

These people who so freely use demeaning, homophobic language, are in turn spinning the news to call Kamitani the homophobe!

Seriously, this is crazy!

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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I disagree VEHEMENTLY with this article. I expected Gamasutra to be of a quality above Kotaku.

What's left out of Christian Nutt's article is what Jason Schreier said about George Kamitani, where he calls him a "14 year old boy that was probably cheap to hire"

George Kamitani is an industry veteran whose been making games since the early 90's.
He's been a games designer, producer, director, artist.
He founded his own company, Vanillaware, which is known for its distinct visual style, all done by Kamitani. He is a very rare breed, an artist who creates games. Amazing.

And Jason Schreier dismisses him as a 14 year old boy that is 'cheap to hire'... by the own company he founded. Either he is ignorant (then why is he a GAMES journalist if he doesn't know about his subject?) or more likely, he just wants to insult to get more hits to his writing.

George Kamitani gave a good natured response to the criticism of "you only oversexualize women!" with a loving rendition of three very masculine, very sexualized, bearded men having a good time, very humorous. Kamitani then goes and says "I hope Jason can enjoy Dragon's Crown!". Jason simply replies with more venom, not even apologizing for his insult.

*I've noticed that on twitter that the writer of this article, Christian Nutt, calls it a "fag Joke".

https://twitter.com/ferricide/status/326750771083358208

Is hateful, demeaning homphobic language REALLY the FIRST thing that comes to mind when you see Kamitani respond to accusations of 'only sexualizing women' with sexualized males?

This is a trend of Jason Schreier's "friends", Arthur Gies, expresses his anger with the words "he called Jason a FAG!" More hateful, demeaning language towards homosexuals.
https://twitter.com/aegies/status/326734022942273536

And THOSE are the people who say they're decrying homophobia? Absurd.



Wutipong Wongsakuldej
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I'm also really disappointed to see this kind of article, after being a reader for more than a decade. Looks like a gossip magazine that make uses of conflicts between 2 parties and does not benefit anything to game developers.

What I expected from Gamasutra is articles or news that makes game developer's life better. It's sad to see an article that is created sorely of a closed-mind journalist's anger.

To the topics, I was surprised when I saw the Dragon's Crown's character designs. It's kinda exaggerating the sexual elements of the human bodies, both men and women. But that's all what it is, period.

I don't find the picture of 3 dwarfs posting any homosexual graphic. It may be because I'm from Thailand which I saw half-naked body of men almost everyday, it's kinda norms here (although men hardly touch each others' body).

I'm really good with art, especially art's history or something like that. George's drawing reminds me of Michelangelo's drawing (with, of course, exaggeration).

Christian Nutt
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You've been leaving these accusatory comments all over the piece, but I think I need to finally address one of your points (I covered two others in other comments.)

This is not a defense of Schreier's treatment of Kamitani. It is not a response to it. When I wrote this, I had not even read the original "14 year old" link out article. Schreier is not my concern here.

Yes, his original post is garbage and click-bait. But at the same time, Kamitani chose both to respond to it and the manner of his response. It is really that simple.

Hakim Boukellif
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I don't think this is necessarily homophobia. Yes, the fact that he posted that picture on Facebook suggests that he didn't think that (many) people would consider it offensive, but there's a leap of reasoning between that and him not thinking/caring that he has gay fans, because it assumes that he knew that gay men would consider it offensive, which may not be true. You could say that it's obvious and indeed, it should be, but that doesn't mean that it actually is for everyone. The fact that you had to explain to people why it was offensive already shows this. This may suggest a lack of understanding and empathy, but not an aversion to homosexuality by itself.

As for the imagery itself, it's reminiscent of "bara", a male-homosexuality-themed genre of manga and related media, that unlike BL/yaoi (which is aimed at young women and typically features slender, often near-androgynous men) is centred around men with a more burly physique. Yes, it is often considered comical by people outside of that subculture, but that, I think, has more to do with its dissonance with "conventional" aesthetics than it has with homosexuality conceptually. Like the fat girl with the fat boyfriend in some sitcom. Not very nice to people who look like that or like that sort of thing, but again not suggestive of an aversion to homosexuality itself.

I don't know whether Mr. Kamitani is homophobic or not, but I don't think any conclusions can be made in that regard from this incident.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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Yes, that is very much what Jason and Christian have missed.

Kamitani is responding to Jason's slandering with a playful picture. Kamitani's haters are crying out that "only the WOMEN are sexualized!", that "the Dwarf isn't sexual at all!"

Kamitani responds by showing that a squat, bearded, hairy man INDEED can be as equally sexualized as any woman.

Jason has chosen to spin this into more sensationalism. Jason's 'friends' go on twitter using homophobic, demeaning language, so enraged are they at the idea of homosexuality:

https://twitter.com/aegies/status/326734022942273536

https://twitter.com/ferricide/status/326750771083358208

K Gadd
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Sorry Christian, I think you're simply reading too much into this. There's not a hint of explicit homophobia or even discussion of sexual orientation in Kamitani's original FB post or any of the other content I've read so far. You can interpret his post that way, of course, but it's kind of meaningless to do so because there are other reasonable ways to interpret it that don't involve branding him as a bigot.

You spent all this time writing about what you think the image means, but did you ask him what it meant when he drew it? Did you ask him if he had considered how the image might offend people, and whether that offense was intended, and whether he is sorry if he offended anyone?

In particular, to me it doesn't seem as if it is fair to infer all these horrible things about the image given that it is wholly consistent with Kamitani's previous work and his work for Dragon's Crown. You can apply as much meaning to the image as you want, but in reality, it was simply a response to a Kotaku author calling Kamitani a '14-year old boy'. He drew something a '14-year old boy' likely wouldn't draw without deviating from the game's style, setting, or existing cast of races/archetypes, which to me helps underscore the ridiculousness of the original complaint.

Of course, it's probably not an appropriate response. When I saw it I thought it was a light hearted way to respond to what was an almost universally poor show by someone who claims to be a games journalist.

I understand if Kamitani's response offended you, and won't deny that you have the right to be offended. But in this case I simply see no reason to justify it beyond your personal feelings, and to spend all this time and energy applying your personal feelings to some sort of personal critique of Kamitani when you seemingly haven't even spoken to him really strikes me as an overreach.

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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Kevin Gadd, if you want to see homophobia, check out Christian Nutt's twitter:

http://www.giantbomb.com/george-kamitani/3040-91082/

Where he writes, "a FAG joke!"
It seems that the first word to come to his mind upon seeing Kamitani's playful drawing of dwarves having a gay time was a demeaning, homophobic slur, to 'defend' the sexuality of his friend.

Jason Schreier's other friends have replied in a like mind:

https://twitter.com/aegies/status/326734022942273536
where Arthur Gies of polygon.com writes "he called Jason a FAG!"

and THESE are the people who are calling Kamitani a homophobe!

Kheper Crow
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I actually found Kamitani's response pretty good. If you come into a fight and only catch a person throwing the punch of course they'll be the villain regardless of what led to the punch. That kotaku article was horribly researched troll bait. It's not the whole 14-year old boy comment that mattered, it was that his company was slandered as sexist and degrading to women.

There is really no good option for a small company here, let a large media outlet drag you unreasonably through the mud or try to take a stand. To me I saw those dwarfs more as a way to show, hey we're sexualizing men here too! Since the journalist is a man it will of course make a homosexual reference. I don't think it was intended to offend anyone, just to try to clear the bad air about being a sexist company.

Personally, I am way more offended at the complete immaturity and lack of professionalism of the kotaku journalist. You'd think if you were going to run a damning article that could have significant impacts on another company you would do a tiny bit of actual research. Nope! One silly over-sexual character's in the game, must be sexist!

Andy Lee Chaisiri
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This isn't the first time either. Hideki Kamiya of Platinum games has even expressed his displeasure at Kotaku's journalism before:

http://i.imgur.com/t4uMY.jpg

Adam Bishop
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Kamitani's response pretty clearly implies that if you don't like his drawings of women you must be gay. I don't understand how anyone could fail to see why that's problematic.

Diego R Pons
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Precisely!
And he did so in a public media.

He apologized; so even himself sees the problem.

Then why some people still attempt to minimize it?
It's purely speculation, but perhaps it's a subconscious attempt to legitimize similar insensitive (perhaps not ill-intentioned) jokes they have done in the past.

Brian Peterson
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The original article was about the unfair oversexualization of Kamitani's female characters. He responded with oversexualized male characters. To me, that's the joke.

If Schreier's article was about homosexuality, I would have interpreted the response in that context, and I would feel the same way as everyone who's upset about this.

But it wasn't, so I don't.

It's also a stretch to put words in someone's mouth when they're not even in a language that person is comfortable with.

I'm usually disgusted with the way gender, race, and sexual orientation are treated in games, but this case seems like the media crying wolf over a joke that is wide open to interpretation. Kotaku and others will continue to do this for the hits, and then nobody will care or pay attention when actual examples of bigotry are pointed out.

[User Banned]
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Diego R Pons
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Perhaps you find it ridiculous because you don't feel affected by the issue.
That happens way to offen with problems that affect minorities.
But problems, social injustice, crisis and even diseases get solutions because someone complained and raised his or her voice.
(By the way: expressiong one's thoughts and opinions is what BLOGS are for!)

I love Vanillaware and love their stuff, and I'll keep buying their fantastic products.
But just like your opinion is that the art is great, mine is that their aesthetics went this time towards the grotesque.
IMO Velvet, Mercedes and Gwendolyn are superb; the Sorceress and the Amazon just look like porn versions of them. Perhaps Vanillaware wanted to increase their sells (sex surely does that), but that always comes with a cost, and that was the adulteration of their art style.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Diego R Pons
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Well... if you're able to feel empathy, perhaps you'll recognize that expressing one's opinion is never ridiculous even if you disagree with the message.

Yes, I agree that taking revenge is never the answer, including attempts to destroy someone's career.
But I hardly believe Chris is trying to do so with his blog. I believe he's just trying to bring awareness.
And I'm very grateful for that.
We desperately need it.
Go into any multiplayer FPS match and you'll know what I'm talking about.
See this link and you'll know what I'm talking about:

http://www.nohomophobes.com/#!/today/

If someone insults your brother, even if offense is not intended, I hope you speak up for his sake and try to bring awareness to the people around you.
You'd be making this world better for him.
People that love me do that for me and I will always be grateful to them.

Ben Lewis
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"What bugs me -- maybe not Schreier, as I didn't read his original blog post --"

Yeah, not a good day for Gamasutra when their writers don't look into the whole story. I understand this is your personal blog, Christian, but it's still hosted on Gamasutra and it's misrepresenting the story here. FYI, Kamitani has since apologized for the confusion.

Lewis Wakeford
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Still, using "Yeah, well you're gay." as a comeback isn't acceptable regardless of whether Kotaku is trolling you. Among other things, it implies that you consider being gay a bad thing.

Maybe in real life you can get away with it depending on the tone you use, but in text form...

Samuel Batista
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Fascinating thing to observe from the sidelines... I get the feeling that most gay individuals (men and women) carry with them the weight of years of abuse and segregation from their peers and become over sensitized to the issue overall. Not to say that people that feel hurt by these types of things in the game industry don't have the right to voice their opinions, but I think there are serious violations of gender equality and acceptance that go unnoticed and don't get the attention they deserve.

Vincent Hyne
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I think, like always, we can come away from this story yet again acknowledging that Kotaku is an atrocious publication, one which will hopefully be visited by fewer people after this.

One can hope.

Nick Raymond
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After this Jason Schreier probably got some memo telling him to insult more Japanese character designers because it gets views. Just this day Kotaku ran an article praising Phil Fish's "Passion for gaming" because him hating on Japanese proves how much he loves gaming.

J G
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Considering Kamitami's constant use of characters like the dwarf who are sexually appealing in ways very similar to certain gay japanese art styles, and japan's different attitudes towards homosexuality than the west's, i don't think this is as offensive as you perceived it to be.

Nick Raymond
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At the end of the day the losers in this arguement is going to be Vanillaware, Atlus, and fans of Japanese gaming, while the winners are gaming websites who specialize in click bait articles (which pretty much just means every gaming website). Thats why you dont see anyone calling out Kotaku because the money is in insulting developers. Nobody in the video game journalist actually wants to disturb that cash cow because that would mean actually creating worrthwhile content to read than something the reader will forget 5 minutes later.

Nope that just means we are going to get more articles by men about how offended women are by Vanillaware while Jason Scheirer argues with an actual woman about how she doesnt feel offended by Vanillaware.

You know because the one thing keeping games down is a guy who runs a video game company with about 20 people whose best selling game sold like 400,000 copies.

Gord Cooper
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I'd say both sides here were in bad taste, intentional or not.

Also, Andy Lee Chaisiri, can you please not respond to this comment with the same misquoting, malformed drivel you've been perpetuating through the entirety of this thread? You browbeat Kotaku repeatedly, yet your repeated posting of the same contextually invalid comments are tantamount to the kind of thread comments you'd see, arguably, on a Kotaku thread.

You've stated your point, now move along.

Nick Raymond
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Checking out PA Report really made me think about the fact that this proves that sex sells. People didnt notice Vanillaware when Grim Grimoire was released, they didnt notice them when Odin Sphere was released, and they certainly didnt notice them when Muramase: The Demon Blade was released. The result is that after about a decade of work Vanillaware hadnt grown at all as they simply didnt have the money.

Its only when Kamitani made the big breasted characters playable characters did people like Ben Kuchera and Jason Schreier actually take notice of them. Now all of a sudden Kamitani is representive of the sexism that exist in gaming despite the fact that until now despite all of Kamitani's games starring women almost always of modest size and clothing his now being presented as this pig of a man who only draws women as big breasted skanks.

Ultimately you see only what you want to see.

N C
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No intention to hurt you Christian, but I do think you are over-reacting.
I will explain why, please keep on reading.

There is this big misconception that every 'comment' carries an 'universal statement'. That everything ALWAYS talks about "the big picture", no matter how indirect the relationship with "the big picture" actually is.

That's one terrible way to look at things, and makes you extremely prone to over-react.

To provide an example:
-----------------------------
I have been told that if I warn my teenage daughter not to "walk alone at night while wearing 'slutty' clothes" then I am implying that "every men is a pedophile rapist, since men have no self-control and will sexualy abuse of every girl who dares to dress slutty". After all, that's "the big picture", right?

That's wrong, from many points of view. On a neighborhoods were rapes have ocurred, those suggestions are actually extremely useful. And that carries no significanse to "the big picture" whatsoever. Accepting the fact one neighborhood is not safe does not carry the implication that "every man is a rapist".
-----------------------------

In this case, you seem to imply that because he made fun of other guy by joking that he was gay and liked "beared muscular guys", then he is implying that you are either "broken" or that you simply "don't exist". After all, that would be "the big picture".

I disagree, I believe that the image was targeted at a particular guy, and had no bigger goal than to make a lame joke which follows the lines "You think amazones are not hot? That's impossible, my amazones are perfect!... Wait! I get it now! Is not that amazones are not hot, is that perhaps you would like these dudes instead :3".

Diego R Pons
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I disagree.
The reply, in the form of an image, was done using public media.
Using public media has its responsabilities, and should assume anyone can see it (especially if you have fans and followers!).
I think Kamitani has aknowledged it and that's why he apologized.

If he sent his image in private to Schreier, the story probably would have been different.
(I'm not sure that makes it OK)

You're right in your last paragraph.
That was his intention. And there's a problem with it.
And it's alarming when our society is still unable to see it.

N C
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Bear in mind his job was on the line. I would apology even if I did nothing wrong, if that would help me avoid scandal/bad-press that could pontentialy destroy my career. So it's hard to tell wheter he "saw the evilness of his ways" or he was just trying to save his source of income.

But I repeat my previous point, you are just reading too hard. Looking for some "big picture meaning" that it's simply not there. It's pretty harmless humor not intended to offend anyone, I trully don't see an issue with that.

Shows like "Will & Grace" or "Modern Family" have never recieved any complains of this nature for doing "immature gay jokes", and that's about 50% of their punchlines.

Diego R Pons
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'Will & Grace' and 'Family Guy' are comedy shows.
A comedy show is impersonal.
Comedy is the reason for their existence and people take them as such.
(And even then they're in constant criticism)

A Facebook page is first and foremost personal.

And again, we're not reading it too hard.
I read it exactly the way you last described it.
The difference is that you don't see a problem with it.

Brandon S
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Hm yeah gonna agree with NC . Here finding the big picture then "Shouting our society " reads to me righteous Moral Western on the side of GOOD fighting evil comes to mind "There a problem with it " American arbitrator and religious judge /jury and thou speak for all humanity " Naturally objective party by there nationality as American or being from a Western country.

. Far the evidence shows if we took this to a court of law , all George did was show a muscular and yes sexualized dwarf picture far from being explicit . He didn't call anyone a Fag .He didn't use any profanity ,He didn't use any Japanese version of bad slang for gay people . That what we know objectively .. Evidence really just incriminate Jason to be honest( (his supporter and all of kotaku are directly using Sexual insults ) And his opinion piece started out as an insult to get clickbaits . Not to mention there hypocrites if you follow kotaku enough they had no problem promoting this game for months on end .

There no subtlety of interpretation" or big picture. First English not even this developer first language and he not apart of American culture or an American/Western intellectual culture, so all assumption about what people culturally understand as common sense end here . Your going to assume he has a complete knowledge of everything that might offend someone in America Culture? It’s illogical and very arrogant

It the same deal with the doll associated with black face because of similarity in visual appearance (Kotaku bigot Controversy number 1034) If the doll had some relationships to KKK Clan imagery US racism European imperialism or even a remote connection to the West I'd entertain the discussion. But it didn't It a cute mascot no different than doremon shin chan or any other Japanese cartoon creations.

I am African American and it hard for me to logically believe that something, so specific to my people social history would even be comprehended in Japan. That symbol doesn't even make sense in other African cultures contexts , my racial identity is deeply tied to US history/society not transcendent of it . (Not even sure how I would explain racial complexity of America to someone in japan. 99.9 Japanese ). You literally can take any symbol and project your own culture onto it regardless of how subtle or obvious the image is to the viewer

. We do this all the time unconsciously . If I find a phallus sculpture in the middle of the amazon, I can start talking about evil /male domination and war relationships to the penis and project all the common generic opinions on the phallus object. I end up looking like an idiot when I find it was really an object from horticultural society that rarely engages in direct warfare and I had zero evidence for any of my interpretation claims . Be aware of ethnocentrism please.

Kevin O'Young
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"How on Earth could my saying I didn't read his original blog post be construed as a defense of it?"

Is this a serious question?
This entire episode hinges on context and you're saying you straight up didn't read all of the context.
Maybe if drawing those three dwarves in that light in ANY context meant you were a gay-hating homophobe of an artist then you'd have an excuse to not read the initial article, but I hope you sincerely don't think that; the artpiece, while a parody, obviously has a lot of work put into it, I'd hate to think just the picture alone would elicit the same cries of outrage.
This is exactly what Kuchera did, report on the response (drawing those dwarves was homophobic) to a response (this art is degrading and drawn by 14 year olds) instead of the "deeper" issues of the initial response itself, imagined or otherwise.
That's unfair.
You can't just skip the initial context and deal with the response on its own.
This is what he means by defending Schreier, you've basically given him a free pass.

Also to proclaim yourself as an actual fan of VanillaWare and to basically ignore the exact same "extreme to the point of repulsive" character designs when they appeared as antagonists or NPCS in previous Vanillaware games (Raijin in Oboro Muramasa, Odette in Odin Sphere) is to put on selective blinders.

But I get that it wasn't about Jason's article at all and its merits or fallacies.
After all what is context in regards to micro-aggressive gay jokes?

Michael O'Hair
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"Many of characters are incredibly over-the-top women in ridiculous states of undress."
Lesson learned: "many" refers to a number greater than at least two, and in some cases "one".

"With the Amazon, that pretty, petite face stuck on that massive body -- it's surreal and it cements the reality that the male gaze is at play here."
Lesson learned: a woman is (probably) still a woman no matter what the body attached her head looks like. I think. The whole problem stems from the question "In our society, what is a woman supposed to look like and act like?" It can be assumed that a physically well-built woman is too masculine to be a woman.

"The art of the direction which he likes was prepared."
Lesson learned: flipping accusations of sexism on their head will very soon be construed as homophobia. Even when an artist seems very comfortable drawing both woman and men of varying archetypes.

Way too many judgements are based appearance without first obtaining or waiting for clarifying details.

Question: If George Kamitani were a woman, would this situation be different?

Christian Nutt
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I dunno. You could easily levy some of the same exact criticisms at Kinu Nishimura for her character design for Code of Princess. I've thought about it, and I don't have an exact answer. Of course, I wasn't wading into that debate here, as I've noted repeatedly.

To make an INSPECIFIC point -- i.e. I am NOT talking about Kinu from this point forward --

I believe in internalized sexism, just like I believe in internalized homophobia, because I lived it. So sure, anything's possible.

joe barnes
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this particular blog post, probably because it is on gamasutra, has a much better discussion than i have seen elsewhere, and there is not much to add except that i must disagree with most of the knee-jerk reaction to the artwork.

in the same way that some have said mr Kamitani was being childish by responding with that art, i think an immediate knee-jerk "gay joke" assumption is a bit of a childish and over-sensitive reaction. mr Nutt, i think that if you and mr Schreier were hurt by the artwork from mr Kamitani, it is regrettable, but i also think that you should have stepped back from your emotional response for a few moments to think about the context of what he was saying and drawing before assuming that he was "obviously" poking fun at anybody for being gay.

i understand that there are very sensitive and anonymous-ly vocal people on the internet, but a man who is an accomplished artist used art to make a counterpoint to an article (words) posted by an professional journalist. perhaps it was too much to ask that outside observers handle the exchange civilly. in context, a fan/follower of kotaku read an article about his work by a guy who is a fan/follower of his own and responded in his own respective medium. to attempt to read anything more into it without *knowing* there is more to it is a great disservice to those involved. seeing as you admit it is quite difficult to know, while i do not wish to devalue your strong emotional response, i also do not think your emotional response should be so quickly voiced when you are both visible and masterful in the medium you have chosen.

if everybody had to be hyper-culturally-aware (am i offending someone in a differnet country/race/gender/class/education level/ethnicity by posting this?), both kotaku and facebook would probably be proverbial ghost towns. the freedom to speak and potentially offend should not be limited to those posting on kotaku. if mr Schreier had to be accountable to me for hurting my feelings by posting his articles on kotaku, perhaps he would also have to publicly apologize or face the administrative firing squad. is that a world you want to live in? i certainly do not. i would much rather both of these men have the freedom to post and speak without fear of losing their jobs, even if one man or the other happens to make me sad or angry now and then.

Christian Nutt
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Yes, but Kamitani isn't "everybody." He's the creator of a game with a high public profile. That counts for something.

James Margaris
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"In regards to the Dwarf image I posted on my Facebook page: This image was never intended to attack Jason. Originally, it was a promotional image that I created for my fan base in Japan, which I posted to the official Vanillaware Twitter account earlier.

We receive many requests from companies to create publicity illustrations for the game, but we never received any requests for the Dwarf. Also, as the game’s street date nears, most retail shops start requesting exclusive art for their retailer-exclusive bonus items. In Japan, these illustration requests can even be as specific as something like female characters in swimwear. In these requests as well, the Dwarf was nowhere to be seen.

So, I decided to unofficially draw a sweaty Dwarf in a bathing suit, with a bit of cynicism towards those retailer requests. I drew 3 of them to show that there are character color variations available."

Hmmm....sounds like this Kamitani fellow is a truly wretched human being.

Christian Nutt
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Honestly I disagree -- I love the fact that he was subverting the paradigm. The retailers want sexy ladies, he wants to draw sexy dwarves to even up the score.

Where he went wrong was posting it with the "lol ur gay" kinda comment/attitude.

Joe Zachery
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Dear Lord another decent site bites the dust! If you guys are only going to allow certain people to join this site. It should be the same on who gets to post their stories.

Christian Nutt
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Yeah. What the hell were we thinking, letting the site's Features Director and 5+ year employee post here? It's like we let ANYBODY use our open blog system!

Leandro Rocha
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You know that he didnt made that pic of the 3 muscled dwarfs to ridicularize no one right? Its EXACTLY the opposite...

fred tam
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"Male gaze"?
So don't slut shame women, but when men express their sexuality, its objectification, yea we get it, male sexuality is simply vilified.
As shield wife explains, this nonsense has gone on for too long now.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkUhW41Qpjg

Time for straight males to come out of the closet and stop pretending to "concur" with the female position on sexuality, male sexuality is simply different, and if the male "gaze" is so harmful, I guess homosexual men are dehumanizing one another at a rate where they must all hate each other now. You have to realize you gain no actual approval from women for taking such positions against your own gender. Men like womens bodies in a sexual way, and that is perfectly valid. Exaggeration is perfectly valid.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eGRoSjp3Ik
Documentary - BBC How Art Made The World 1 - More Human Than Human.
and vilifying peoples "art" because it doesn't fit your taste is simply bad form.


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