‘Whore of the Orient’ Shows Gaming’s Growing Maturity – Complaints Show A Reluctance To Accept It

Published On September 2, 2013 » 1467 Views» By Wade Smit »

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Today, KMM’s (Kennedy Miller Mitchell) game, ‘Whore of the Orient’ came under fire by a disgruntled Jieh-Yung Lo, a councillor in the Australian city of Monash.
The criticisms he leveled at the game were at its title, specifically the use of the word “Orient”, which in Australia is a racial slur. As a result, Jieh-Yung suggests the best course of action would be a name change. So what about the book ‘Capitalist Nigger’ or ‘The Help’? Both titles can be seen as racially offensive, and if this is truly his concern, would he not rather have all racist allusions or even outright slurs removed from the titles of books, films, paintings, music? I would think no, lest he wants to be a frontman for Artistic Censorship.

Games have rarely had such provocative titles in the past because there was always little justification for that. In modern games we’re seeing an increase in the frequency and quality of grittier, mature stories, covering all sorts of subject matter with a talent and weight of films and novels — something that’s been aspired to by developers for a long time. So when an issue like this comes up, where a game title genuinely offends someone, I just want to ask them if they would do the same if it were a book.

Most likely, they would not. Books get more creative leeway than games and that should start meeting its end soon. ‘Whore of the Orient’, originally conceived by Team Bondi, has been met with skepticism and may not even end up being a very good game, but what it’s important to realise is that that’s irrelevant. Artistic license and choice should be welcome when games are growing as fast as they still are. How else will we escape the self-evident cliches of game names? KILLZONE doesn’t necessarily need an emotional, esoteric title, of course, but if Guerrilla Games wanted to call it The Adventures of Space Nazis, that’s their creative prerogative, and whether or not it’s a justifiable title will be discussed by the community no doubt. That’s constructive and will enhance the quality of games, not censorship.

Sometimes it feels like the world doesn’t know the breadth of games right now — because they don’t. Games are marketing tools, educational tools, entertainment of multitudinous genre, a storytelling medium, a visual medium, and even an auditory medium in which truly beautiful music is made — completely endemic in style to games. But the world will retain that games are for kids. Even as they ignore age-restrictions and blame games as influencing kids to murder.

It’s time the world starts treating gaming with respect. There are games for children just as there are paramount books and films and music, and the same applies for mature audiences, so when a game entitled ‘Penis and Vagina BattleWars’ is released with cuddly characters on the box art and a rating of 3+, complain, by all means, please. But when it’s called ‘Whore of the Orient’, (which refers to historical facts and not the modern Australian slur) and it’s specifically  restricted to an older, discerning audience, leave it be.

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