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ASK Wheels
Big Papi Edition
  November 1st, 2013

11/01- 7:00PM EST

Welcome to RED SOX WORLD CHAMPS edition of Q&A. I'm kind of out of my mind with baseball glee but I will do your best to answer your RPG related questions. You know now that I think of it, Baseball is kind of the RPG of sports...

Ortiz Grand
                                Slam
Papi

On to the questions!





The Letters
Culture club

"I'd love to read a deep analysis of Japanese culture to figure out the origins of our speech differences."

You ask, I deliver... well, sort of.

First, perhaps the biggest difference between Japanese culture and American culture is our view of how the individual relates to society.  To put it simply, American culture - such as it is - is individualistic, based on Locke's views of the social contract.  As such, to a greater or lesser degree, we think of things how they effect us first and how they effect others second, in most cases.  Japanese culture encourages the reverse (this is also true of most Asian cultures that have been influenced by Confucianism, which explains a lot about why the Chinese put up with the Communist Party despite their foibles).


Wheels

Interesting, I think I had some idea of this but not quite to how deep an extent it goes.

To see a very simple and obvious (though often-overlooked) example of this, all you need to do is look at how the Japanese write and say their names... to be specific, the way they put their family name first and their personal name last.  To a greater or lesser degree, during the process of socialization, Japanese youth are encouraged to see the world in regards to how their actions effect others first and how they effect themselves only as an extension of that concern for others.


Wheels

So they still do this today? I ask because I'm always confused when a Japanese player joins Major League Baseball and it seems like they're doing First Name/Last Name instead of the reverse, so its unclear if they've Americanized their names or what.

Other elements of old Japan also showed this, the most obvious of these being Bushido, the samurai warrior code whose complex rules of the duty and honor were a way of life to the men of that caste previous to Perry coming along with his cannon a century and a half ago.


Wheels

Amazing that this still has an effect on their society so many years later. I guess the expression "the more things change the more they stay the same" would apply here.

Also, the way one's family lives (as well as one's friends) in Japan will reflect on the individual and vise-verse.  An extreme example of this is a young man who wants to become a police officer.  If he has the misfortune to be the son of a murderer or a thief, the barriers to him even entering the police force (or even a good college in some cases) can be unreasonably high looking at things from an American perspective. 


Wheels

Well I wouldn't say that would be completely different here, but certainly not to the same extent.

I could also go deeply into the influences of Japan's native animistic religion (Shinto) and Buddhism on how their culture works, but religion is always a land-mine on the internet, so I'm going to stay away from that. 

I hope you enjoyed my little lecture.

Sincerely,
Travis Lucius



Wheels

I did very much! I'm likely going to have to try and dig up some good books on the subject because I'd love to find out more about it. We as people often get too tuned in to our own culture and cultural perspective, so I find studying different ones fascinating. Feel free to provide further analysis if you want!

Final Fantasy by Committee

Ignoring the insanity of having a committee design anything creative in the first place, who would you have put on Square's new "Final Fantasy Committee"? The current makeup is Kitase, Tabata, Yoshida and Toriyama.

-Shaymin


Wheels

Where is Kawazu? How on earth is the Maestro not involved here? That's my obvious answer. I think a mistake here given the international appeal of the series is not having anyone from their Western teams involved. That would be my take on it. Seems to be a panel of the usual cast of characters and I really think they need to mix things up a bit if their goal is to improve the series.

Quest for Feedback

Dear Wheels,

Is the column just a farce now?  I find myself rarely visiting the site anymore due to its severe lack of RPG news, outdated design, and a mock of my favorite feature, the Q&A, and I have visited this site since late 1998.  It's kinda sad to see.

Sincerely,

Ian Bathelt

AKA
DaetaXero
WarmCoat


Wheels

I am completely open to feedback, negative or positive, but I really have no idea what you hoped to accomplish with a post that boils down to "you suck." We have a hardworking group of volunteers at RPGamer who are always trying to improve, so if you have issues you should tell us what they are so we can do are best to improve. I would love to make Q&A better but I need details, and just so the readers know, you did not respond to my request for details on what precisely you don't like.

Further Tales of Localization

I'm probably going to regret mentioning this, but I had to ask... Am I the only person who absolutely hates the FFXII localization, and most of the other Square-Enix localizations in the same vein? I saw a lot of praise for it in the last Q&A, and I still can't understand it. People say that it makes the characters sound like you'd expect them to in "the dark ages", but that isn't true at all. For the most part, all a lot of localizers did was start using (or even overusing) a lot of antiquated spellings and awkwardly mix in out-dated word forms. It is very, very far from genuine Early Modern English, let alone medieval Middle or Old English, and it comes across as a pretentious attempt to have more depth than it actually has. An even bigger problem is that this hasn't been limited to just FFXII alone.


Wheels

I highly doubt you're the only person that hates it. I've seen others with similar complaints. I don't think the intent was to use Early Modern English, but more to create a faux Early Modern English that fit the setting.

I mean, it's not exactly FFXII, but FFXIV is doing a lot of the exact same stuff and it is really bugging me right now as I play through that game. I'll point out a chain of recent examples I stumbled across. People don't use the word machine, they use the word clockwork. You'd think that would mean they would call clocks "clocks," but no, they call them horologum, and the average person of the world has never even heard of one. Despite using horologum, a word that shares the same root as hour, hours are always called bells. Meanwhile, all of the words they are replacing, machine, clock, and hour, are pretty damn old words that would have been perfectly understandable and widely used in the actual middle ages and early modern period. Many of their roots date back as far as Proto Indo-European, and are common to all the societies that sprung from that culture thousands of years ago. I think FFXIV's localizers even went so far as to just make up words regarding distance (yalm and malm), even though they are clearly intended to just mean yard and mile. This isn't creatively evoking past language, and neither is it a form of creative world-building. This is just obfuscation for the sake of obfuscation.


Wheels

On the whole you aren't wrong in the slightest. I think the intent is to give the world its own character instead of just having a fantasy world that uses all our familiar terms.  The side effect is of course that this can look silly or just be confusing at times. Largely I don't think FFXIV needed to make all these term changes.

A side problem of how widely Square Enix hss adopted some of these translation techniques is that it has destroyed a lot of the uniqueness of its different games. When FFX substituted the modern English machine with the Latin machina, it was a deliberate use of unusual terminology designed to highlight the people of Spira's fear and rejection of machinery and persecution of those who use them. This was why characters in X-2 who embrace technology use the word "machine" as an alternative. This use of language is really interesting, but it would be completely lost in a translation like those seen in XII or later. It also doesn't help when all the Ivalice games, FFIV, FFXIV, Tactics Ogre, and even some parts of FFXIII all sound alike and use the same language. Creative translations should make things sound unique and play to a game's individual quirks, not wash out the differences between very different games.


Wheels

I don't really see what you mean to be honest, the language in those games seems different enough to me, especially Tactics Ogre.

Anyways, it doesn't help when it feels like every major RPG released these days is trying to play the exact same trick regarding language, and are starting to sound alike as a result. I thought that it was kinda interesting when the first Dragon Age used "coin" instead of "money" all the time, but now I'm quite sick to death of it. FFIV could at least use the word "gil" instead! I'll point out that the word money is derived from Middle English, Old French, and Latin, so it is perfectly fine in of itself for any fantasy setting. I guess developers could replace it with the Old English schat, if the word money isn't good enough for them. Ultimately, all they are doing is just reducing the amount of vocabulary they have at their disposal, which makes a lot of dialog more repetitive and less nuanced than it should be.

I think I veered away from just talking about localization a bit there, but that's how it goes. This is one of those things about recent RPGs that has really annoyed me.

-TwinBahamut


Wheels

I think I need some more concrete examples, because what term is used to describe money seems a pretty minor issue, no? Use of language is certainly not perfect in most games, especially RPGs, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over usage of the word "coin" in various RPGs. This should be a good discussion so I look forward to hearing more of your take on it.
IN CLOSING

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