Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Name of the Game

KS pulsed through the web in the past week, and most interestingly the Japanese blogosphere and messageboards. As expected, the name of the project sparked controversy, but in an even larger proportion than what I thought it would. To explain what's all this about, the word "katawa" is quite degoratory in Japanese, perhaps comparable to English racial slurs like chink, spic and so on. As you can guess, if we were making a heart-warming visual novel about the hard life of jewish school kids in the WW2 Germany and name it "Kike Girls", it might raise a few eyebrows. Maybe a reasonable translation of Katawa Shoujo would be "Retard Girls", which is equally offensive though not exactly accurate. Anyway, it's a really really bad idea to name the game that, so why? Why?

It's not like we intentionally want to offend, and we did not come up with the name ourselves. The origin of the name is of course Japan itself, with Raita and his original concept picture of KS. Due to the name being readily available from the picture and the general idea of staying as true to it as possible, the name was adopted to the project without a second thought (and I don't think anyone with enough finesse in Japanese was around at the time to point out the problem with the name). Raita is not to blame though, he can name his doujin extras whatever he wants, the reason or blame is in the strange circumstances of the conception of this game.

So why not change the name? We have thought about changing the name for this very reason before (and also because an English game having a Japanese name felt odd to some), but gave up on it because it would be patently stupid. Due to our relatively high profile the project would just end up as "the game formerly known as Katawa Shoujo" and it would change absolutely nothing. So we kept the name, and we probably will even in the future.

Plus, the ideas we came up with for the name were even worse. No really.