Misunderstanding

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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby G3n0c1de » Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:27 pm

The porn scenes can be turned off at the player's choosing, but this was originally designed as an h-game, and it is being executed as such. But KS is not just "more porn." It has a very strong and thought out story the likes of which isn't seen in the dime a dozen mega porn VNs.

But KS in an educational setting? That is an interesting idea, but I'm almost sure the devs would not want any class to use KS as a teaching tool.
It's a good thing Shizune is deaf, she is the only one who can stand (not) hearing "Wahaha~!" over and over.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby griffon8 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:37 pm

Well, Act 1 is still a separate project. Maybe they'll leave that available to download after they're finished.

But it will still be an ad for the full game. Guess that won't help much. :?
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Mirage_GSM » Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:56 am

I suspect there wouldn't have to be too many changes to make KS suitable for teens.
Act 1 is perfectly suitable for kids - the worst part I can think of right now is Rin's comment on Hisao's pants problem - and if that is an indication for the rest of the VN, basically the one or two H-scenes per path would have to be rewritten or replaced with some romantic non-H-scene or other.
Of course that is if one of the girls doesn't get pregnant, but in the three month time-frame I think that is unlikely.
So, yes, I think that it might be a worthwhile thing to make a 14+ version of KS, and I would definitely install that one instead of the H-version if it was made, but I don't think it's going to happen.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Aura » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:13 am

Man I lost the first version of this reply and this second one isn't quite as good (and the first half is not really a reply to OP). Anyway:

The topic of portayal of sex has been subject to a lot of discussion, speculation, prejudice and expectations ever since this project was created. Though there are forces pulling to different directions, all of us have had to pick their stance a long ago.

Generally speaking, I think that KS is not trying to make a statement about disability. Sure, the angle we chose is that disability does not define a person, and we think a lot about how we portray disability, but there is no moral in KS, apart from a subjective one a reader might find.

While the fact is that there are things that are inappropriate for youngsters, there is a bigger issue behind it. Does the inclusion of sex, possibly explicit, possibly even something one might call "porn", into something that might be called a "serious" work devalue the latter? While this depends on a lot of factors, I think the answer is more likely to be "yes" than "no". It's simply a part of a more universal issue. Just like a heartwrenching drama might be ruined by an inappropriate slapstick comedy moment, a work can be ruined by an inappropriate sex scene (and it's harder to not make sex scene feel inappropriate). A concrete example that comes into mind is Saya no Uta, a decent horror visual novel that was completely ruined for me by the explicit porn and rape scenes it had. Notable is that the fact it had sex or even rape didn't spoil it, the way those scenes were handled did. From this I conjecture that it would've been possible to display those events in a way that would've felt appropriate to me, and to extend, appropriate to most mature audiences. The leagues of movies that have sex scenes support this observation. Speaking of movies, another example I think about often when I think about portrayal of sex in visual media is the lovemaking scene in Zack Snyder's movie 300. It's basically as close to porn as you can get in a Hollywood movie, but I don't think it necessarily devalues the rest of the movie for me. I admit though, considering how often I wonder about that scene it very well might've ruined the entire movie for me. Still, it seems that there is some invisible, intangible line where "sex" turns into "porn" (here I use "sex" as shorthand for acceptable portrayal of sex and "porn" as shorthand for unacceptable or distracting, devaluing portrayal). If we go to Katawa Shoujo from here I'd say that the sex (not porn!) scenes that I made for KS do not devalue it for me, because I took EXTREME care that the scenes and their visualization would not cross the line of acceptability for me. I expect that others disagree, after all this kind of thing is awfully subjective. My developer colleagues have different opinions as well, and they have made their points of view come alive in the parts of the game they made. However, my stance is that just like I try to portray disability in a humane and compassionate way, so do I try to portray sex and sexuality too. I do encourage you to give me a chance to show it.

There are some things here that I can't talk about now, when the game is not released. After everyone has had a chance to read the sex scenes and see the stylistic choices, I might write something about the thoughtwork that has gone into making them.

As for younger audiences, the problem is a bit difficult. That KS appeals to you (and you are not the first) as an instrument to instruct or communicate acceptance of disability speaks to me of the sad, sad state of portrayal of disability in our culture. And for once, I'm not being self-deprecating. It's evident that KS, or at least Act 1, somehow managed to do at least something right with the topic, however it is greatly lacking in its treatment of the themes, because it's really about something else. To create a haphazard analogue with a reference already used before, it's like using the movie 300 to communicate appreciation of ancient Greek history. While the movie might've gotten some things done right and because it's less boring than a history text book, it feels appealing for the purpose. It is quite possible that someone, having seen the movie, is inspired to read about the real history of the city state of Sparta, maybe even all of Greece, but that's not what the movie is for. Similar line of thought goes for KS. That aside, I do understand that the inclusion of sex closes the door for KS from having parents recommend it to children, teachers to students or even just simply anyone to their friends. Still, with the exception of the sex scene toggle, KS is made with no considerations for the reader's sensibilities, be they due to young age, cultural background or moral norm set. That is because we can't decide what we should conform with and what not. To illuminate the issue further, let's say we made a version with the sex scenes completely removed. Now, some parents might feel concerned that the swearwords KS has cross the line for their kids, so we have to make a version with no sex scenes and no cussing. Enter the people who are offended by Kenji's rampant misogyny and antifeminism. So, we have to make a version with... See? Sex is the obvious big one and we made that toggle, but that is where it ends (unless we decide otherwise). KS comes as it is, if you can't handle some of the content we can't bend backwards to make it palatable especially for you. While it's possible that sex is the only issue that is big enough that people start drawing lines, I'm not at the moment inclined to go down that path. Further, even if we made a "clean" version of the game, it would only take one Google search for an industrious youngster to find out that they are getting a censored version from their parent/teacher/whoever.

From your choice of words, especially "it could be so much more", I interpret that this aspect strongly devalues KS for you, and I think that is very unfortunate. Someone thinking that a work I made is good is wonderful, but to consider recommending it to another person is a great honor for me, and I feel sorry that KS outgrew for you the box it is in. Similarly, the prejudices surrounding the visual novel medium (and to some extent the entire otaku subculture) close some doors from KS. I guess, in a world devoid of compassion for disabled people, maybe KS could be more than a simple love story, a story that speaks of humanity and the world of disabled, of the grief of otherness and exclusion. But a bit idealistically (you can laugh), I object: KS is exactly what it is, nothing more. It is the world that should be more openminded and accepting.

I'm gonna put this on blog. Why can't every thread OP be like this?
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Red_Machine » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:57 am

I honestly don't know how I feel about the H-Scenes. I may turn them off, I may not. If there were none, I wouldn't complain. Neither am I going to complain that there are.

There are certain situations that I would be damn happy about having H-Scenes in, for eaxmple the hinted possibility of a Hisao/Shizune/Misha threesome, the prospect of which makes me think "OH HELL YEAH!". However, even though she is my favourite girl, I would be quite happy to play Hanako's path with the H-Scenes turned off. But, I suppose that's just due to the way I feel about her: I'd rather hug her than anything else.

But as it is, I think that the OP made a very fair and reasonable comment about his feelings on the matter, and Aura responded in kind which says a lot about the dev team. Thatnk you both for the interesting reading your posts have made!
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby scott1and » Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:32 pm

Red_Machine wrote:I honestly don't know how I feel about the H-Scenes. I may turn them off, I may not. If there were none, I wouldn't complain. Neither am I going to complain that there are.


I feel more or less the same about the H-scene's. If they don't affect the story I may turn them off, but as I have lurked these forums for quite a while I would like to enjoy the game in it's entirety. Likewise if they suddenly turned around and said they couldn't include the H-scene for whatever reason I would not feel sad yet neither would be ecstatic about the news, it would just have happened and nothing more.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Aura » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:47 pm

Ellume wrote:I believe it was in regards to my interpretation that the game did make a statement about disabilities that caused my emotional highs and lows -- it was my misunderstanding. I tend to admire works where the intention is to create goodwill, respect, appreciate, etc.


I think that if a piece of work invokes feelings of any kind, be it the intention of the creator or not, it is a good thing. Certainly, our intention is to bring the reader closer to disabled people through our stories, it just is not the point. And even if it's not our point, for anyone who gets positively inspired from reading KS, there is a hidden statement somewhere in there. Indeed, I believe that as a creator it is not my business to tell people what to think or feel about my works.

As for the whole sex and appropriateness thing, it's generally a bit unfortunate I suppose. The TMNT example is great, but would you try to make a young audience version of, say, 120 days of Sodom? I'm not saying that KS is anywhere near that bad (it'd probably be no harder to adapt that TMNT was), but that there are also things that lose too much if you strip all the mature content away from them. Maybe 120 days is a bad example because it's frankly disgusting, but maybe you get what I mean. Anyway, even though that certain "wider audience" is closed from KS, and even though it does bother me whenever someone won't touch KS because of what they think it is, or what they think we represent, I do not regret including the things we do, not even the ones that I personally disagree with. We are not trying to reach everyone, or anyone at all with KS. If someone happens to find it and like it, that is great, but that is also the full extent of what we hope to do. Besides, it is very fitting of a game about disabilities to be prejudiced against, and little children's eyes covered when it walks by, no?
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby pollardy » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:29 pm

i came to ks expecting a ok h-game, but instead if act one is anything like the rest i got a story. and thats good, saya no uta was one of my favorite vn's and it is true the sex made it impossible for me to recomend it to my friends and when i talk about it i leave out those details and its a great story, i just can't show anyone how to d/l it >.> with your game i hope it reads like a adventure book, and a play combined. readers should look for the kind of art they want in this world and experience it, they should not have any input into an original piece of art, though something like ks is open so some places i could see changes and such from a viewer but nothing structural.

tl;dr keep up the awesome work :)
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Mirage_GSM » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:05 pm

Aura wrote:Generally speaking, I think that KS is not trying to make a statement about disability. Sure, the angle we chose is that disability does not define a person, and we think a lot about how we portray disability, but there is no moral in KS, apart from a subjective one a reader might find.

KS may not try to do it, but in that case it is all the more remarkable that it does anyway.
Disabled characters appear in Anime very rarely and if they do, it is always their disability that is their primary character trait. Nunnally from CG, Shiori from Kanon... Actually that are all that come to my mind right now...
Anyway, years from now I won't remember the double amputee, the deaf-mute girl or the kid with no arms. I will remember the genki sports enthusiast, the manipulating bitch and the spacey weirdo with the hilarious lines. For a setting like this, that is quite an accomplishment.

Regarding turning off the H-scenes, it has been stated before that toggling that option will simply skip those scenes, so it is unavoidable that there will be continuity problems. That's why I probably won't skip those scenes, even if I'd like to.
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griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.

Sore wa himitsu desu.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Caesius » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:32 pm

With regard to the "so much more" thing, it's my opinion that by portraying sex in its entirety, KS in fact has the potential to be "more" than what it would be if it did not portray sex.


I'll explain what I mean. To start with, I often browse the /c/ boards on 4chan in hopes of finding aesthetically pleasing art (and I often do). Rarely does this art have any sexual elements, though often the best images are better described as "elegant" or "beautiful" rather than "cute."

Furthermore, I also frequently browse danbooru, and not always with the intent of finding explicit content. Often I'll look for /c/ and /e/ content just for their aesthetic value. Similarly as above, the best images aren't the nosebleed-inducing ones, but the ones portraying passionate couples and stunning women.

Now on over to the /h/ side of the spectrum. Nothing really changes here about what I feel to be the best images; they're the ones that depict sex as something special rather than an impulsive urge. They're the ones that show the participants as humans mutually in love rather than as sex robots. Sure, it's difficult for a picture to stand on its own as a depiction of "love, not lust" due to a lack of pretext, but it can happen. This is the distinction between "sex" and "porn," "love" and "lust:" doing it because you want to get off, and doing it because you're in love.

Obviously it's rare to find depictions of sex that aren't also porn, because surprise!: Love doesn't often get recorded and put on the internet. When it does it's usually something completely (or relatively?) inconspicuous like someone putting up a picture of themselves kissing their SO as their Facebook pic, or a drawing of Miku and Luka about to kiss and they have butterfly headphones and shit. So when you know that something is going to have sex in it, you usually think, "sex, as in porn." And [arbitrary percent] of the time you'd be right. So why shouldn't you think of KS any differently, you think?

Since the vast majority of tasteful depictions of love don't directly involve sex, it'd be safe to just have "implied sex" and avoid the whole having to show penises thing, right? Now I'm getting to the part where I argue that, by depicting sex and therefore the relationship in its entirety, KS has the potential to be "more." KS isn't just a picture of a madly-in-love couple on a bed about to have passionate, tasteful sex. It can't stop at simply implying sex and leaving it at that. It's a narrative, and to leave out the sex would leave not only a hole in the plot, but an even bigger hole in the development of the couple's relationship.

Maybe you think KS would be "more" if its purpose was to be educational story about people with disabilities. But even though that's part of what it is to some people, that's not and never was its primary purpose. Its purpose is to tell a love story -- or rather, five of them. It's meant to be art, and true to its purpose, it will depict sex in an artistic, emotion-driven way. The sex isn't just some element tacked on 'cause it's expected from a VN; it's there because it has to be in order to tell the whole story.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the sex scenes are treated in KS, and am confident that it will be clearly distinct from "porn." (and hey, even if not, I'm not complainin')
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Mercutio » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:05 pm

Ellume wrote:After all the considerations and contemplations I agree. KS does have the potential to be "more" because of its inclusion of sex, because it seems to try to do it meaningfully. I think that having stories, art, games, etc that try to show sex as something meaningful, beautiful, sacred, etc have a lot of power to influence and help people about the topic. I would be happy to see sex portrayed in a respectful light more often.

it's good to hear you say that, and after reading all the posts on this thread, I have to agree. if I remember right, the devs have said in the past that they want to treat the sex scenes the same way they treat everything else in KS - they're part of the story, part of the character development and all that, not just something thrown in so that someone can get off. when I first heard about KS, I thought it was going to be a porn game, but as soon as I played through the opening scene I knew I was wrong. I'm sure (I trust the devs) that the sex scenes are going to be meaningful and beautiful, because it'll be a natural part of the story for these characters.

something else that this thread got me thinking about: whenever you see a disabled character in a movie or tv show or something like that, they're usually not the love interest or the main character. the fact that KS shows these characters as both love interests and main characters, all of them, puts it ahead of most everything out there. lots of people, when they see a disabled character, all they see is the disability. they don't think of that person as a fully functional human being with their own wants and desires and kinks and all that. being in a wheelchair or being deaf or blind or losing a limb doesn't keep you from finding someone and getting together with them in real life, why should it in entertainment?

besides, if KS was going to be all about sex, there's no way Hisao could have got through act 1 without even getting a hug. or another heart attack. :mrgreen:

had more to say, but it's kinda off-topic. but thanks, this has been really interesting to read and think about.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Ampersandissimo » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:21 pm

Really nice thread. I’ve enjoyed reading it. And, even though it seems as though it’s already concluded, I still wanted to make two points (late as they are).

Firstly, briefly, from my perspective, the main question that I see coming out of Ellume’s original post and the subsequent discourse is whether or not there are circumstances where censorship would either improve the quality of the text, or better communicate the message the text is trying to tell. Aura has already illustrated how trying to adapt a work for varying audiences, particularly when the aspect to be censored is a central thematic aspect of the work, leads reliably to mutilated adaptations than real reflections of the original, so it doesn’t really need additional words. Speaking more hypothetically, I think that since the notion of quality or worth is purely subjective, the criterion for ‘improving’ a text must similarly be so. Although censoring certain aspects of text may make it more palatable for a given audience, it may be making it less approachable for another audience. It’s not really unusual for the creator of a text to assign a value judgement as to which audience it is more important for their work to reach, but it is problematic if that value judgement comes from outside of the creative process.

Secondly, as for the idea that censorship might better convey the message of the original, I find it difficult to believe that this could ever be the case. Partially, I dislike the idea that the ‘meaning’ of a work could be detached from its whole. I don’t mean that a theme or general ‘message’ can’t be abstracted out of any given work, but I also think that it’s a mistake to think of a text as merely a ‘carrier’ for that message. Generally speaking, everything that occurs in a text is a contributor to the message that the text offers, and this is something which exists separately from the degree to which we value or agree with the content of that message. On the back of that assumption, it seems reasonable to suggest that if you change a text in any way at all, you can never really ‘improve’ the message that the text was conveying, merely change it into something else. Taking it further, you could argue that if the text is conveying a different message, then it isn’t the same text at all. Or otherwise, that if there’s something about the original which is fulfilling a function, then changing the original to ‘better serve’ that function would only really be a well intentioned, but ultimately damaging form of sabotage.

I suppose that from this perspective, while I can understand Ellume’s original position, it’s not one that I can say I have any sympathy for. While you could change Katawa Shoujo to be something else, it would almost be a more worthwhile endeavour to just develop an entirely new intellectual property that more adequately served the purposes that Ellume had in mind. Take the example that’s been bandied about of the adapted TMNT cartoon. It’s true that the original comics were vastly different in tone from the 80’s cartoon. It’s probably also true that, so long as the goal was to make more money by hitting the lucrative merchandising market that comes along with the territory of early morning kids cartoons, then that adaptation should be considered a success. But it’s also debatable whether or not the cartoons were really an adaptation of the source, or a completely new franchise which used some of the source’s thematic constructs. Having read the original, I would say it’s also debatable whether the adapted cartoon was as good (if using language like ‘original’ makes sense at all). Or another way of putting it, if the goal was actually to convey the same message in the graphic novel to a different audience, then it failed as soon as they changed the tone of the original. You could probably get away with saying that the process of adaptation is so destructive that such a goal would fail even if they had kept the tone, and just made a more ‘adult’ animated version. Similarly, a Katawa Shoujo created from the ground up might hit a broader target audience, but whether or not it would actually be conveying the same ideas as the original (the things which interested Ellume in the game to begin with) is not so clear. I would imagine probably not.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby checkerthinker » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:29 pm

well, when I initially "discovered" Katawa Shoujo through tvtropes and found that it would an eroge, i felt the same way as Ellume: hoping that it would have deeper meanings in it rather than an eroge. After reading all of these posts, I realized that my initial opinion stemmed from a cultural bias and upbringing. I was never exposed to the idea of graphic sex in a medium that was not pornographic in nature, or what i considered "sophisticated".

It just never occurred to me that graphic sex could be more....for lack of better words, enlightening. I assume as one goes through the entire course of the game, one would feel a sense of completeness within him or her self upon reaching these scenes. Having basically developed the character Hisao through the story and deepening his relationship with the chosen girl, i assume that, rather than feeling the scene was shoehorned or pornographic, the player would feel a sense of accomplishment. Love is usually defined (or at least in things I've read) as three parts: intimacy, passion, and commitment. So by the working up to the sex scenes (most likely after sharing the other two) passion is obtained, thus completing this triangle. The sex scenes will most likely be done gracefully and (for yet again, another lack of better words) emotionally, thereby making the scene feel as if it was natural course between two individuals in a close relationship, thus making the scene indispensable.

.......course, i could be thinking too deeply into this and just over analyzing a visual novel instead of focusing my attention on other "serious" works, but those are my thoughts on this topic.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby Caesius » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:44 pm

Ellume wrote:
Caesius wrote:With regard to the "so much more" thing, it's my opinion that by portraying sex in its entirety, KS in fact has the potential to be "more" than what it would be if it did not portray sex.
After all the considerations and contemplations I agree. KS does have the potential to be "more" because of its inclusion of sex, because it seems to try to do it meaningfully. I think that having stories, art, games, etc that try to show sex as something meaningful, beautiful, sacred, etc have a lot of power to influence and help people about the topic. I would be happy to see sex portrayed in a respectful light more often.


Saying that sex should be portrayed as "sacred" is perhaps a bit too idealistic and probably not something the devs are actively shooting for, otherwise the sex scenes would feel unrealistic and restrained. You have the basic idea, though -- sex will most likely be portrayed in KS as a product of positive, healthy emotions, rather than as something horny teenagers do when they're bored.
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Re: Misunderstanding

Postby bowen13 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm

Made an account just to comment on this. The porn, for me, would be a deal breaker without the ability to toggle on/off. I come from a religious family, and consider myself religious as well. Because of this, I have deep rooted moral quams with pornograpy (not necessarily nude or erotic art though, as my parents do in fact own many tasteful works on the subject). For that reason, I've found it hard to get into the Visual Novel community, because it is so widely dominated by porn. I think that there are others out there who feel similarly. As an aspiring story teller/artist myself, I see porn as an inevitable evil for any new medium of story telling. It's just human nature; if you can sell sex with it, someone will. However, I feel that the glut of porn in the VN industry has only served to alienate and hamper its growth as a legitamate artistic medium. It perpetuates the double stereotype that, not only are they just games, they're porn games for lonely shut ins. That isn't to say that it couldn't handle sexuality in a tasteful and mature way, just that few, if any, do. And even if they did, the ratio of porn to tasteful sex would be very uneven. But here-in lies the problem. Because the VN community is notorious for porn, any inclusion of sex will be labeled porn, fairly or not. I would argue that there would first have to be a surge of very good VN games with little to no sexual themes before the VN community could begin to be taken seriously in this regard. Will Katawa Shoujo manage to handle it tastefully? Impossible to say at this stage of the game, but indications make me hopeful. But I think the community should take a good, honest look at itself and ask, "Do these stories really need sex?" As the post said, sex can ruin an otherwise enjoyable story, and the VN industry won't grow until it gets past this, in my opinion.

Now, I am of age to play KS with the safeties off, but I will most likely play it with them on. To often for me, sex is merely a distraction from the story (often because it serves no real purpose). I may give it a run with the safeties off at some point, but I can't be certain. Were I younger, I may not have played the game at all, safeties or no, for fear that I'd be tempted to turn the safeties off, and make KS into a game with porn as its object, rather than the (so far stellar) story. This is the great danger of including sex in something like this. Aside from the obvious problems of alienating certain audiences, it often makes some people disregard the other noteworthy aspects of the project and use it simply as a vehicle to acquire more porn. Rather than alienate people, it draws people in for the wrong reasons. Therefore, my personal stance on the matter tends to be as little sex as possible to get the point across, not only because of my religious sensibilities but because of my personal beliefs about how stories should be told.

That said, I wish KS success, and though it may grate against certain aspects of my personal beliefs, I look forward to playing it.
Last edited by bowen13 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:17 am, edited 3 times in total.
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