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Alex Hutchinson: games journos show “subtle racism”

Friday, 17th August 2012 10:57 GMT By Nick Akerman

The Assassin’s Creed III creative director believes Japanese games are critically favoured by the press.

Alex Hutchinson, who has taken over the creative reigns from Patrice Desilets, has launched a peculiar attack towards games journalists. In an interview with CVG, the Ubisoft man indicated he feels critical reception towards Japanese games is always unfairly favourable.

When asked how Nintendo continue to resurrect the same franchises, Hutchinson provided a blunt response.

“You want my real answer? I think there’s a subtle racism in the business, especially on the journalists’ side, where Japanese developers are forgiven for doing what they do. I think it’s condescending to do this.”

“Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish. There’s no way you could write it with a straight face, and the journalists say ‘oh it is brilliant’.”

“Then Gears of War comes out and apparently it’s the worst written narrative in a game ever. I’ll take Gears of War over Bayonetta any time.”

“It’s patronising to say, ‘oh those Japanese stories, they don’t really mean what they’re doing.’”

Hutchinson quickly moved on by saying he’s glad people are talking about the narrative in Assassin’s Creed III.

“The best thing about it was that people had a view. That was perfect. People were debating it. We had no interest in writing about the patriots or the defenders of king and country. I mean, these are very boring stories. It’s funny to see these debates online, and we just gave up trying to communicate on it because the game will speak for itself.”

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48 Comments

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  1. Mike

    He’s right.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. KrazyKraut

    http://t.qkme.me/35sy9t.jpg

    Why racism? I would say its bias and not racism.
    Hope the yakuza dont get him.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Fin

    I def agree with that. Have a quick look at the scores Nintendo games get.

    NSMB2 is getting 7s and 8s, despite repeatedly being called old and stale.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Da Man

    Oh well, at least Bayonetta doesn’t have a 1000 pages long script with Teh Boss.. erm, asserting her point for half an hour in a tragically ludicrous ending.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Ali

    Took 10 years for a dev to have balls to say that. I 10000000% agree… I hate journalists more and more and the fact tha I am not a fan of Japanese games, anime and even culture adds more to it. No disrespect intended…

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Old MacDonald

    Wow, with that headline I wasn’t expecting him to, well, be right. But he is. It’s not just journalists, though. You see it in forums, comments threads, et.c. as well. Gamers have this weird thing about Japan.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Ali

    He is my favorite designer now…

    #7 2 years ago
  8. DrDamn

    There’s a difference in scoring to some extent, but it’s down to personal preference, nostalgia and how these things fit in the context of the overall game. Racism? Really?

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Aimless

    He’s trying to unify all the views of people writing about games, thus is inevitably wrong. I saw reviews praising Gears 3‘s story whilst others trashed it; opinions in action.

    If you want to take the games press to task over something, I’d suggest baiting headlines.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. OrbitMonkey

    I think it’s more that journalists are in denial over the sheer amount of shit Japanese devs are shovelling out now. So they give them a easier critical grilling, rather than facing the harsh truth that the land of the rising sun has sunk in terms of game design and storytelling.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Dragon246

    Utter bullshit. Just because american history is up his ass and he cant make a franchise as best-selling as like mario, Final fantasy ,pokemon, metal gear etc. does not mean japanese games are getting worse.
    I will take ff7 over ASSASSins creed 1,2 or 3 any day, matter of personal choice.
    If anything, journalists here are more critical of japanese games. See articles like “decline of japanese games”.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. friendlydave

    “Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish”

    And assassin creeds story is what? A masterpiece?

    I’m not here to defend Japanese games at all but this sounds to me like someone hurt his feelings and he has gotten all angry.

    Plus what @11 said.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Gadzooks!

    Thing is the Japanese have a very different view of things. What may be mundane to them could be fantastical or quirky or even gibberish to us, and regardless of perceived writing quality that can be refreshing. Sometimes gibberish ( to the western mind) scripting is the reason a Japanese game works. I don’t think Katamari for example would be so wonderous with sensible story or dialogue.

    That doesnt really imply racism (positive or negative), just a love of diversity and quirkiness.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. OrbitMonkey

    @11, Mario and Pokemon are not story driven, FF series dove up it’s own arse and Metal Gear is a convoluted mess, needing 200 hours of cut-scenes to make sense of it all.

    Japanese games are getting so bad they are increasingly farming out to western devs to rescue their franchises.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Da Man

    I agree, #13. But that’s another topic entirely. Obviously noone would complain against Dynasty Warriors as opposed to Metal Gear Solid or Resonance of Fate.

    Although what’s sad is how every time this topic is being raised people ignore and forget all the well done jap things which underperformed (like Vagrant Story or Ico) and cite some bullshit mess like Final Fantasy as examples.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. AHA-Lambda

    idk I can agree with what he is saying to a point, but if what he says is true then why do the games press keep saying the Japanese games industry is “doomed”?

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Dragon246

    @15,
    Actually I like Valkyria Chronicles more than any japanese game. So pathetic how awesome games like these dont get any audience.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. Freek

    What? Everybody is critical about japan and it’s tendency to remain in the past rather then move.
    The reason GoW’s storyline was critized was because Epic was talking it up and presenting it as this great narative (instead of foccusing on it being a fun shooter), obivously you are going to be critized if you do not live up to that.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Deacon

    This guy is a bloody nonce and I completely disagree with what he says. It’s all subjective and it’s all individual taste.

    Agree with #9 – the baiting headlines are getting a bit much of late.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. The_Red

    I agree with him about the bias thing BUT:
    ” I’ll take Gears of War over Bayonetta any time.”

    Really!? You prefer a crappy serious story over something that was meant to be an over the top satire like Bayonetta? Seriously? I am in the camp that believes many critics are harsher on western devs but Gears of War is NOT and example of that. If anything, it was a rather overrated title in most departments INCLUDING the horrible story.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Ireland Michael

    Guy’s talking through his ass.

    Most journalist have been *criticising* Japan for the last few years for their inability to move with the technology, limiting the experiences of their games, and the huge drop in quality of JRPGs in general.

    He’s living in a bubble.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. absolutezero

    The Western games industry pumps out just as much, if not more levels of utter utter shit than the JP industry does right now.

    This time though, even the complete fucking mess titles sell bucketloads by ramming in some unlocks and a half arsed levelling system.

    Assassin’s Creed is a series written and developed with the English language first and foremost. Its a confused fucking mess. I expect more from something thats never had to be translated by a third party. Its also amusing that someone thats worked on a series where the magical reveal is ANCIENT FUCKING ALIENS is casting doubt on anyone elses stories.

    So for every Mass Effect stilted shitty writing mess I have to put up with I have to listen to a tonne of people telling me its the fucking pinicle of development.

    The major problem here is he just compared something that was billed as having a serious great story that was integral to the game (Epic even hired one of those fancy pants proper writers and everything remember) to fucking Bayonetta a game whose story is set dressing for the gameplay inside it.

    Fuck that. Its a fucking game not a movie or a book. Sure story is nice but if Gears of War is the result of an actual attempt to create a good video game storyline then im pretty happy with most of the gaming press being huge racists. Rather that than them trying to say that the story in Gears made it better instead of laughable.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Amaterasu

    I can literally NOT BELIEVE THIS! Alex Hutchinson accusing other people of RACISM. Mind you, this is the same person that made the following statements, about the protagonist in Assassin’s Creed 3:

    ““We had to go down to the Mohawk cultural center to get a guy to pronounce it into the phone.” Many of the Native American names in the game were “excruciating,” Hutchinson remembered. “Some of them had so many vowels we said ‘fuck it, give us another one.’”

    Talk about CULTURAL AWARENESS and RACISM! The Assassin’s Creed Series has some of the most terrible and pseudo-historical writing in the whole business. This shit would not stand in any other narrative format than a video game. The pseudo-historical conspiracy elements are only matched in their bluntness by the developer’s blatant disregard for the cultural specificities of the ethnicities they exploit for their games.

    It started with a shitload of orientalist clichés in the first game, went on from there to the fake Italian accents in AC2 and culminates in a highly superficial (duh, tomahawks and feathers) and disrespectful version of native american culture.

    Say about bias in gaming journalism what you will. But a company like Nintendo has never managed to put ANY piece of writing as pretentious, disrespectful and, YES, racist, into their games as the makers of the Assassin’s Creed series.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Da Man

    Fak fak fak fakety fak

    Certainly ultimately.

    Quite frankly in the end.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. absolutezero

    dawwwwwwwwwww

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Ireland Michael

    @23 Holy shit. Seriously?

    This man should not be riding the creative reigns of this franchise. *Especially* not this franchise.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. ManuOtaku

    When asked how Nintendo continue to resurrect the same franchises, Hutchinson provided a blunt response.

    “You want my real answer? I think there’s a subtle racism in the business, especially on the journalists’ side, where Japanese developers are forgiven for doing what they do. I think it’s condescending to do this.”

    “Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish. There’s no way you could write it with a straight face, and the journalists say ‘oh it is brilliant’.”

    I dont think is a thing of nintendo only, all the manufacturers have great games, like mario, uncharted and halo, the thing he is not seeing, willingly or not, is that when you make great games, people will continue to buy them, especially if they love the series, mario, uncharted and halo are not for everybody, but if they keep making good games on those series, and move those series forwards bringing something new, the followers will keep buying them, because they are good, it doenst matter if the are story driven or not, if they are fun and with good gameplay, they deserve the gamers support.

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

    Had you play folklore, valkyria chronicles, xenoblade, muramasa,lost oddisey, asuras wrath,eternal sonata this generation, my impressions based on your statement is that you havent, so please play more japanese games and then post your opinion on that.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. absolutezero

    Folklore was more or less exactly what he was talking about, its gibberish. Confused celtic gibberish.

    I loved the game, but it was for the game part of it and its art direction less so the story or how it was delivered.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Ireland Michael

    @27 @28 Well, the stories of most Japanese are undeniably gibberish, nonsensical trash, but I’m not really sure where he’s getting the idea that people are championing them and giving them more credit than their deserve.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. ManuOtaku

    #28, 29 Ireland and Absolute, well maybe iam biased here, because i love anime also, and anime can be considered gibberish and nonsensical, it will depends on the person that see it, is very subjective, but as anime and the games i listed, made me look for more information about the subject theme on the anime/ videogame, like Evangelion or Folklore, in Evengelion i research the Lilith story and in Folklore the Celtic stuff, and with el Shaddai it made look for the book of enoch and all that tale, therefore those animes and games put on me the desire to know more about the subject theme, because i love them and i related to the story, i have yet to found something on those lines in Eastern developers, because as much as good the stories are, very well developed and all that, they are pretty much conventional (war, betrayal , love, etc), thats what i did try to say.
    p.s well prometheus, blade runner and the 80´s version of clash of the titans are the ones that come into my mind, that evoke that need to me too, in the eastern side of things, but i havent yet remember a game.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Mace

    Meh. Differences in style. I do think Japanese games can sometimes be more interesting. Like those Team Ico games or Metal Gear Solid and of course Nintendo games would be completely different and not in a good way by a Western developer. Or see the Western failings of Silent Hill. The difference in style seems to be that they DO have a style.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. absolutezero

    Good point Manu.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. DSB

    You’d have to be fucking nuts to call that racism.

    @23 Good point. I think it’s kinda pathetic to make games with stories as lousy as Assassins Creed, and then whine that others who make bad stories don’t get slammed for it quite as much.

    Wouldn’t it be a better idea to try and improve your own work, instead of bitching about that of others?

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Ireland Michael

    @30 The likes of Evangelion are a rarity as far as quality goes. There is just as much utter rubbish in anime as there is in any other genre and medium

    #34 2 years ago
  35. ManuOtaku

    #34 agree Ireland, and thats precisely my point in anime i did had that example, in western games too with folklore and el shaddai like i mentioned, the funny thing is that is not the case with any eastern games so far that i can think of , therefore calling them trash and gibberish i think is too much IMHO.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Ireland Michael

    @36 But most of them *are* trash and gibberish. Just like most anime *is* trash and gibberish.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. ManuOtaku

    #37 Iam not discussing that, but if i compare the Western vs Eastern in terms of games, the balance in my eyes go torwards Western IMHO, like i said they had enticed me to go beyond the story and caring about the subject theme, something that is yet to happen with any eastern game, and thats the funny thing because according to Hutchinson is the whole opposite.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. OrbitMonkey

    @23, I can’t be arsed to put in the link, but google racist Nintendo games… You might need to get of your high horse to reach the keyboard mind.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Old MacDonald

    11, 21, et.c: We don’t get all those “Japanese devs are doomed”-articles because journalists think they’re doomed. We get them because that’s what people in the games industry think. And most of the people who are quoted saying this are … Japanese.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. Dragon246

    @37
    Just like most western games are rubbish too. If you talk about gibberish stories, aliens and zombies and templar and assassins are also as much thrash as it can get.
    Seriously, bringing personal bias and saying japanese games are shit is the most famous thing amongst game journalists today.
    And most animes are shit? How many of them have you watched? 3,2,1,none? Evangelion is more than 10 years old now and many animes have come to reach that level or higher. Unfortunately animes are getting shorter which results in many of them taking shortcuts in stories and ruining it in some cases. They are not for everyone, but if you dont understand them ,it doesn’t mean they are gibberish.
    Sonething good was said about this by Andy Gavin,who works at Japan studio at developers conference after sony gamescom conference . Most japanese games have smaller teams which results in more unique games like puppeteer, tokyo jungle etc. No western pubs will ever release such a game.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. ManuOtaku

    Guys i was confused with the terms western vs eastern, i used western for japan and is eastern so keep that in mind while reading my posts my bad really sorry, is a very busy morning at work and i didnt drink my coffee yet T_T,

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Ireland Michael

    @41 “Just like most western games are rubbish too.”

    I never said they weren’t.

    “And most animes are shit? 3,2,1,none?”

    A lot. 20 years of a lot.

    For every good anime there are a dozen high-school drama-fests chock full of raging anime stereotypes and contrived, nonsensical storylines,

    Just like for every decent game there are a dozen half assed first person shooters.

    You seem to be under the delusion that I hate Japanese games. I don’t. I’ll probably be playing the likes of Shin Megami Tensei and Disgaea on my death bad. But I’m not going to pretend that most of them aren’t shit when they are.

    That’s true of everything though, be it video games, music, movies or anything else. No reigon has an inherently higher degree of quality than the other. *That* is personal bias.

    It’s pretty typical of the Internet for a person to take an opinion they don’t agree with and automatically assume a negative bias on that person’s part in an attempt to discredit someone’s points, when they don’t actually know the person’s opinion on the rest of it. Good job.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. Da Man

    ManuO, Evangellion really? Just a generic anime inspired by Shopenhauer and Nietzshe, as well as so popular amongst japs psychoanalysis. About seventy percent of it is just angsty bullshit. Ninja Scroll was okay though, I don’t like anime in general, albeit I do like it for it’s minimalistic artstyle.

    I admit when I was around 17 Xenogears kind of impressed me though (I haven’t played it on release, but until a few years later), very similar but this is probably an odd case when a videogame is better than a cartoon series..

    #43 2 years ago
  44. ManuOtaku

    #44 well to tell you the truth i did like it because at some point in my life shinji reflected my personality, i had a lot of shinji in me, i think that made me connect a lot with the series, but i meant more the mish mash of themes, like the lilith, tree of life, references, and all those stories that i didnt knew, it made me look for all those things which serve to expand my knowladge on the various religious themes as well as the pshycological ones.

    #44 2 years ago
  45. Dragon246

    @43
    Sorry, skipped through some of your earlier comments . I just think the general hate persisting against japanese games is sickening. They don’t have as big a market as they had earlier because of the advances made by western game industry . Although I still miss the times when games had solid 20-60 hours of gameplay and story and not 5-6 hour ones like today. Western games have not adopted that except sandbox games, probably because of increasing costs.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. Da Man

    #45, oh? Actually why I dislike them is because I haven’t seen a single anime character (and a voiceover at that) being half reflecting of any person.. They also constantly overdo it with the angst and freudian bullshit, Xg was guilty of that too but then again it was aimed at teens and made sense, which isn’t to say about many of those.. Evangellion is just something ridiculously irrelevant and generic.

    Although.. every time I see an anime I start thinking the director and artist needed to take some tranquilizers beforehand..

    #46 2 years ago
  47. ManuOtaku

    #47 well for me evangelion was good but is not in my top five list, having seen my share of anime is getting each time down on that list, mainly due the rush and almost non budget ending, actually they did run out of money for the last two episodes, but it was the first that force me to do the research of the various themes he did throw, and inmerse me to that world like no other anime before, and for that it will be my reference to this hobby, that and because is a mecha anime one of my favorite genre since i was a kid (mazinger z, gurren langan, gundam, etc), but if i have to recomend you one anime it will be MONSTER, such a masterpiece, it is a little bit long 70+ episodes, but it is a great seinen series, and based on your knowladge i think it will be at least interesting to you.

    #47 2 years ago
  48. IL DUCE

    @1 I agree 100%

    #48 2 years ago