Assassin's Creed III dev says press gives a pass to Japanese games

Alex Hutchinson claims many Japanese games have "gibberish" narratives, but are not criticized by "subtly racist" gaming press.

Assassin's Creed III creative director Alex Hutchinson has taken a shot at Japanese games and those who critique them. Speaking to CVG, the developer claimed the narratives in Japanese games often leave something to be desired, and reviewers give these games a free pass.

Hutchinson claims the press exhibits a biased appreciation for Japanese games.

"Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish," he said. "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."

Hutchinson's remarks came as a response to a question regarding how Nintendo is able to release new iterations of long-running franchises every year without drawing much criticism. To this, Hutchinson remarked, "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."

Ultimately, Hutchinson said he thinks games should be judged on a simple scale of "is the story any good?"

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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wiouds
wiouds

So he is made that games that need to be translated from a different culture that have different ideals are not held to the same stander that his games are. What is wrong with him?

xeis-net
xeis-net

Ask a native American which is worse the re-writing of history glamorising their people's genocide or the press giving Japanese games an easy ride.  Better subtle racism than the blatant racism of AC3 imo/

UNSCSpartin
UNSCSpartin

For a bunch of people who are supposedly professing open mindedness, your not being very tolerant of his opinions and point of view.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Alex Hutchinson belongs pretty much with the stereotype of people that doesn't understand japanese culture or want to even try to.  I'm a guy who prefers games from the east more then western gaming myself and I gotta say theres a ton of games that are out or been out this gen that are pretty freaking amazing pieces.  But of course saying that one side of the coin is better then the other is just foolish.  Alex you may belong to a big name label but your a Dbag get over yourself..

csward
csward

Hutchinson is an idiot. Japanese narratives are just as bad, but the (noob) press is unfamiliar with that narrative, so sometimes they do get a pass, just like Gears gets sometimes.

 

I mean, which Japanese games is he talking about? Final Fantasy 13 or 13-2? Ok, the narrative is poor there. Dragon Quest? Hilariously poor. Zelda? Sophomoric and boring. Resident Evil? Again just dumb and poor writing.

 

The few games that have well written narratives these days are coming from Rockstar Games or indie devs.

 

Frankly, I'm amazed this guy is speaking publicly when he sounds so ignorant. What a fool. Nintendo games have gotten more criticism  than I've ever seen since there was a Nintendo, it's kind of sad how their games haven't evolved. 

 

Man, this guy is really kicking a dog when it's down. Not cool.

hector1313
hector1313

Well, if we were to consider AC on "is the story any good?", I guess the series would have stopped at Altair.

 

Perhaps the gibberish narrative of Japanese games has more to do with the translation, as opposed to the story itself? I wonder what a Japanese-translated AC would sound like to a native Japanese speaker.

DevilD2005
DevilD2005

I think the subtle racism is on his side. First off, they rebuild the ground up when it comes to each FF itteration. They are each their own stand alone game. Assassins creed tells you to fork 60 dollars over to get the next chapter of a narrative that seems to be more drawn out with each game. He criticises thier games, As for AC story, it gets more convoluted as it goes on. Give me Persona 3, a masterpeice in story telling, over AC any days. And yes, Persona 3 is HIGHLY Japanese, filled with crazy babble, but I shed a tear at the end of the game, where as AC tells me, TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT 3 INSTALMENTS! 

 

BTw, the only reason im looking forward to AC3 is DESPITE its story. The ship to ship combat looks amazing!

BushWon04
BushWon04

Well Ill give him one thing, Japanese games arent the pinnacle of storytelling. I still think they've yet to release games on new gen consoles that compete with what FFVII, Suikoden 2 and Persona did on earlier gen consoles. On the other hand, most FPS like Gears of War or Halo have crap scenarios as well. I think though the Western RPG(Mass Effect, Dragon Age, NWN, Kotor, Fallout etc...) has set the bar so high over here that when your playing most american games, including non RPG's, you can also find the idiotic plots laughable or just plain boring. I guess the developers in North America can see it as a compliment, that the bar is set higher for them.

TKandPBC
TKandPBC

I'd have to agree with this guy. For as many story-centric RPGs Japan churns out, I can't remember the last time I was ever impressed with the writing. More often than not, critically acclaimed games like FF8 have some of the most miserable dialogue, plot and (most importantly) characters I have ever experienced. It's holding us back as an industry.

 

I, for one, cannot wait until To the Moon Episode 2 comes out. Teach em how it's done!

Hrodwulf666
Hrodwulf666

I don't like the Aesthetic of Japanese Games design... there's a vastly different psychology behind a lot (NOT ALL) of their entertainment. No amount of press coverage is going to change that or the differences in our mentality or societies.

vault-boy
vault-boy

Well, considering most 'story driven' Japanese games are centralled around angst and pretty much nothing else, I have to agree. Yes, Japan has a lot of games with good stories but when they get games with a bad one people don't really give a shit (except in a few rare cases like FFXIII). Either way, both Eastern and Western games really need to get better with there story telling. Theres a reason why Mass Effect sold millions of copies. Same with FFVII, Dragon Age, etc. We like a good story!

zyxe
zyxe moderator

kind of like how i rate games: are they fun to play? i see his point.

deadmonkey76
deadmonkey76

I think this guy is a duche but he has a point. the story of most asian games and movies for that matter suck bad the acting and story telling is just plane ugly take metal gear the story is absolute junk a two year old could have thought it up as far as final fantasy I consider it art beautifully rendered even thouh the story is not that great. mario was a stroke of genius it was developed for a younger audiance and did not concentrate on story telling zelda metroid contra were all great games

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

I don't think games should be judged on their stories at all;  The story is merely a driver - and a backseat one at that.  Further, narrative and story are two completely different things; narrative is story-telling.  Huge difference.

 

You can't throw the two around as the same entity; they're not.  They're siblings.  Sometimes, one of them needs to wear a helmet and live under close supervision for the rest of their lives.

 

Sounds more to me like sour grapes, and coming from someone that can't differentiate between a game's story versus how that story is conveyed, it's utter tripe.  Now, comparing Bayonetta against Gears of War is like pitting Black Adder against The Tudors.  Their stories AND story-telling are totally opposing styles, and for totally different purposes.

 

Plus, you're a developer; what the fuck do you know about writing a plot and fleshing it out?  Don't quit your day job.

jpnelson82
jpnelson82

I agree with absolutely nothing you've said. Japanese devs get a pass because so many game journalists love Japanese culture, they adore manga, anime, hentai, and know exactly what a "tsuba" is. Hint it's part of the "fuchi." So if you know the mythical origin of the "Hamon" you can be a games journalist, and no wikipedia, they know their hannae and tatamae.

Soldano999
Soldano999

To me (i'm european) it feels like a lot of american games are pretty much an obvious marketing plan with generic characters, steroids, muscles, boobs, gangsters and guns and that can be fun, but also really really disgusting, bad taste and low key when t gets too generic and commercial. Well the same cultural flaws applies to japan, it's full of androgyn teenagers, long dialogues to say nothing that this guy calls gibberish, bizarre sub-quests and dungeon monster hunting, insanely cheesy love stories, and psycho-bizarre sci-fi story twists that sometimes are really hard to get.

 

In this mess, Nintendo is pretty much the only developper that manages to release games that are universally appealing, and for that they deserve the attention, this is what this guys fails to understand. Mario, Zelda and Metroid have never been my favourite games, but i've played them all and they always delivered.

Revenant_Evil
Revenant_Evil

So, basically  what's this guy is saying is that white people who like Japanese video games are being racist against white people. Wow, makes perfect sense to me.

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

Is everybody in ubisoft stupid or what?  What was this guy under a box when Other M and Final Fantasy XIII have been called out for having downright terrible writing.

 

And please Gear of war or your stupid dragged out AC series are not gold either so relax. 

 

Make a story half as good as Metal gear then talk. If not STFU.

Danyelrd
Danyelrd

I don't know why they give so much attention to comments like this!

He is only expressing his thoughts!!!!

Just like some are doing here!       VVVVVVVVVVVVV

revanknight
revanknight

He's sparking a cultural skirmish on feeble ground! Every culture has its cliches and those cliches are adapted into media form. They have their masterpieces and their tankers just like we do. For every Gears of War there is a Mass Effect. For every Bayonetta there is a Final Fantasy. It's all relative.

vaibhavp
vaibhavp

but japanese games, a lot of times have better gameplay (dark souls). or are atmospheric and tell story by asthetics (soc, ico)

sortajan
sortajan

about two games into the series the plot felt like it was just stalling for time until they came up with an ending. we see desmond jumping around and think "shit just got real," and then we spend another few games in the animus any goddamn ways.

EvilTyger
EvilTyger

Is the Story Good? Re-release your entire series. Either dump the modern era, or at least dump the Animus and make Desmond an archeologist peicing together the story.

 

Also, stop skipping the 2nd to last chapter. It's really disconcerting to be going from swords and knives and horseback one moment to shooting phasers from holographic doppelgangers the next.

theshonen8899
theshonen8899

Ironic, Assassin's Creed's story makes as much sense to me as Metal Gear Solid.

wyan_
wyan_

All his claims are belong to just.

calvinsora
calvinsora

To shoehorn video game appreciation to one simple question is ludicrous. I can't believe that the creative director of a series I genuinely love can be so close-minded. It's such a grievous oversight to claim that games should have predetermined criteria that it has to fulfill, games should be judged based on what level of engagement they transport the player to. This is beside the fact that gaming, even though the power of narrative has grown exponentially in the medium with every passing year, isn't built on a foundation of being a story-telling experience. It's an interactive one, where you can use your own will and skills to shape, engage or otherwise affect a particular world that the developers have created for you.

 

I could go on ranting about his last sentence alone, but he also spouts incoherence in regards to an entire gaming culture. To even imply that gaming journalists are racist, however subtly, is to me equal to a pouting child that can't handle that the world's views don't completely align with his own. There are plenty of Japanese games with gibberish narratives (though he didn't appear to see the inherent randomness and carefree nature of Bayonetta's story), as there are plenty of Western games with terribly poor narratives (many FPSs, I'm afraid). The reason Nintendo manages to come with the same ideas again and again is that they use those ideas in completely different settings, building new experiences around the familiar. There's nothing intrinsically qualitative when it comes to things being "innovative" or not, good games are good games, and Nintendo simply excels at making them.

hartattk
hartattk

"Hutchinson said he thinks games should be judged on a simple scale of; is the story any good?"

 

So at what point did gaming morph into interactive cinema experiences, because i was under the impression the most important part of a game is actual gameplay.

sonicare
sonicare

I think he is being a little dismissive of japanese games.  They may seem like gibberish to him, but that could be because of a cultural barrier.  Sometimes we may not understand the different themes or concepts, just like foreign gamers may have trouble understanding games centered around Canadian and US gamers.

 

I will give credence to his criticism that Nintendo gets a free pass on iterations of mario, zelda, and metroid.  HIs company has been bashed for putting out assasin's creed, splinter cell, etc. sequels but Nintendo doesnt seem to get as much press for doing the same thign.

Falru
Falru

Wonder how often this guy uses the word weeaboo.

RapidFirE53211
RapidFirE53211

Call it "gibberish" or whatever you want, Japanese games tend to present much more unique and interesting narratives.

 

I don't really think this guy has a right to criticize narratives as gibberish when the whole AC series is based on ideas about genetics that were refuted hundreds of years ago and that anyone who has ever taken a class in biology would know are BS.

BestJinjo
BestJinjo

Story is important in games but not over gameplay. If I wanted a complex twisted story, I'd watch a movie or read a book.

Falru
Falru

 @TKandPBC That just means JRPG's aren't your thing, which is fine.

 

That doesn't mean "Japanese writers suck" as this developer is implying.

Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

 @vault-boy Mass Effect had good storytelling.  However, it has a shit story; not only is it pure plagiarism, it's pointless.  Final Fantasy VII also had shit storytelling due to a crappy translation, and the story was questionable as well.  Final Fantasy VI had it beaten there.

 

Japanese stories are also not based purely around angst; more often than not, the main themes are love and loss, revenge or a world on the brink of armegeddon.  They generally use the same romantic themes as North America, they just hide them very well.

jpnelson82
jpnelson82

By the way, if you can write those words out in any of Japan's three writing forms, you also can be a games journualist.

deadmonkey76
deadmonkey76

 @Jestersmiles metal gear a story lol a two year old could have thought that up the story and the acting are exactly what you would expect from a japanese game hidio kojima tries  so hard to be like miamoto mario rocks and is one of the few good games to come from japan

EvilTyger
EvilTyger

 @sonicare In defense of Nintendo (a system I haven't owned since 64), each new iteration of those games is pretty different from the last. (To the point where Zelda has no narrative cohesion.)

bicelis
bicelis

 @RapidFirE53211 The genetics thing is just an aspect on which the game is based. It's a tool. That's what Sci-Fi does - creates a non-existent (not yet anyway) device or tool or setting in order to develop a theme, a story and say something to the audience. AC Series, granted, are a bit stretched, that's what the need to make profits does. But also they are rather deep, interesting and quite complex. It's not Oscar worthy, sure, but quite good.

Revenant_Evil
Revenant_Evil

 @AceCometh I suggest you recognize when someone makes an interpretation of what they believe to be the implication of what someone else has stated.

calvinsora
calvinsora

 @deadmonkey76  @Jestersmiles It seems you fail to even understand MGS's story, so I don't think you can comment on it. I don't think a two-year old would grasp the ideas of nanomachines so easily.

DIGN
DIGN

 @deadmonkey76  @Jestersmiles I'm sorry, could you please explain the whole Metal Gear series from the beginning for me? ...no oh alright you can STFU now.

vault-boy
vault-boy

 @EvilTyger  @sonicare Nintendo hasn't done anything different with there series since the original Metroid Prime eith the exception of shitty motion controls. SMG2 felt like a less fun version of SM64, putting it in space doesn't change that and it never will.

RapidFirE53211
RapidFirE53211

 @bicelis

 

In my opinion, the game would be better off without any of the sci-fi aspects. I think the whole assassins vs. templar conspiracy aspect would be more than enough to make the game sell well.

 

At least for me, the whole genetics thing in AC takes itself too seriously to the point where the fact that it's completely wrong is really noticeable.

bicelis
bicelis

 @RapidFirE53211 Well, yea, maybe. I can see how for some it would be like that. However, this device lets us to traverse through various time periods and characters. And then we sum up and analyze the events through Desmond. Desmond and the present time is a way for the player to combine the various experiences. I agree, it would be possible to do the game without any present time stuff, however multiple games are a bit different and we would not care as much for the events of the past if we didn't have the present/future to worry about, I guess..The games do not really reiterate the whole Animus device that much and thus they do not remind me that often that it is a sci-fi device :)