It really is time for me to start working on that giant queue of stuff that people have asked me to look into and maybe talk about. This means those random article requests that I've buried in the bottom of my brain for some time, or random little errands like piano music requests - yes, Depravo, I haven't forgotten your Final Fantasy cover request for Sleepy City Treno! I intend to actually start on that really soon! *coughs* Well, anyway. Enough of that. Today's topic was provided for discussion by Hyro-Sama and by golly it's a really interesting piece for me because I played a lot of the type of games that the discussion topic goes into. It's interesting because this topic hits close to home, being an OCD perfectionist who hates these little typos. And with that, today's subject is about poor video game writing, which can boil down to several different factors. With Hyro-Sama having presented me this article from USGamer via JPGamer at first I brushed it off thinking it wasn't too relevant, but I gave it a more thorough read and I realized that I had some stuff I wanted to say about this issue. One of the things that I really found to be true was that video games have a bit of a problem when it comes to perception, where we as gamers seem to find that gamers make the assertion that games in general suffer from bad writing, which by itself is a weak form of criticism when spoken of alone without justification. When we look at games, there are always going to be the nonsense and illogical titles that seem to have no real flow or logic in its text, and that can be due to the way the game was scripted, but there are definitely other parts of the script itself that can be accounted for. More often than not, we see games that have been rejected completely on the basis of bad writing, and I'd love to be able to explore some of those reasons. Factors like translation. Translations It happens with fan translations, it happens with things that we input into Google translation, heck, it can even happen in big titles. Often times, these bad writing remarks due to translation arise in games that have originated in the East, like Japan or Korea. I still can't believe that this was in the game. Thankfully, gaming translations have improved dramatically. We should hopefully be well beyond this point, but sometimes, these issues still occur. For those that have played a title both in the native Japanese and American tongue, there are often some things that are changed in the script, which can impact the writing in a negative way. Why could such a thing happen? Playing translator is no fun, and they're bloody difficult. I've tried being a translator for a student that was studying abroad in my neighborhood, and it's pretty hard because there's a barrier because something that might be funny on one culture might not make any sense in another culture. It's a conundrum that raises a question about whether or not the original script should be used, or whether it should be modified so that the audience being targeted actually knows what's going on. We might just flat out dismiss something because we simply don't understand another country's humor. An example based on what I had been reading was the series Spice and Wolf, a chain of light novels that took a pretty long time to get rolling for us in North America. Now, the North American translation was absolutely splendid, explaining foreign elements so that readers don't quite get so lost. On the other hand, some fan translations existed that kept all of the Japanese text intact, with honorifics and cultural puns. Is there a limit to where we need to draw that line in saying something has bad writing without looking at the text itself in comparison to its culture? Illogical Scripting We've seen those games, games where the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese, plots that are incredibly absurd. We've seen scripts where the dialogue looks like it was written by a five year old. Does that mean it automatically has poor writing? Could we definitively say yes here? He had so much potential but he ended up as a wasted opportunity! On one hand, I have Call of Duty. The scripting is just distasteful and droll, and then you have the criticism about the plot being bad, with the defenders pointing at the gameplay to make their point - that gameplay was all that really mattered and that no one played the game for plot. On another hand, you can have a game like Pokémon, which gets slammed by people because the plot is childish and a complete turnoff. Look at its anime counterpart, which has done the same song and dance script for the past decade. Does that necessarily equate to bad writing? How do we even classify "bad writing?" Is bad writing considered writing that isn't for its target demographic? Is bad writing an illogical mess? Is bad writing translation error? Is bad writing coined because it tried to be friendly to its audience by modifying the script so that its audience might actually get the joke/characterization? Hurry Up and Finish, I'm Bored Already! Time after time I continually see games being dismissed on the grounds of bad writing. But instead of flat out saying why the writing was bad, take a second to explain why exactly you found it to be such. Did you think about why it might be that way in the first place? Could it have been to target a specific demographic or audience in an attempt to get their players to understand the joke? Could it be a translation problem? There's a lot more to this iceberg, but that's all I have time for today. Let me know what you think in the comments below!