We live in a brand new age for video games. A decade or two ago, calling yourself a gamer had a stigma to it. You were a loser who lived in your parent’s basement while real athletes would go travel all over the world and make tons of money. Now, professional gamers, thanks to the proliferation of e-Sports, go to different countries to participate in tournaments to win huge pots of prizes while real athletes… still do the same thing. But the mere fact that a person who plays video games can do the same? That’s revolutionary!
Of course, with this comes new sweeping changes. The most recent example came out of EVO Japan, specifically, Team Ninja’s program showing off their latest fighting game, Dead or Alive 6. Right during the tail end of the presentation, the feed was cut off. Why? It’s because, as explained by EVO head honchos’ Mr. Wizard and MarkMan, they had to pull the stream because it went against EVO’s “core values.” That’s how Mr. Wizard stated it anyway in a tween, which he soon had to delete because of some serious backlash.
I forgot to mention that Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive 6 show was only cut from the Twitter side of things. The stream still continued on OpenREC, which is what Japan uses to stream their video game shows. So what the heck happened? What was so bad that EVO Japan had to cut the Twitch feed but not with OpenREC’s stream?
I wasn’t there, unfortunately. I came in later and people in the stream were already spamming stuff about “core values,” which became the meme of the entire EVO Japan tournament. Thankfully, there are already people who have diligently copied the video feed just before they sent it to black. And, after watching the video… well, you judge for yourself.
Personally, I’m of two minds regarding this. But not just with EVO Japan’s decision to cut the stream. I’m also of two minds regarding Team Ninja’s presentation and how they’re going back on their word regarding the new Dead or Alive and how it’s going to be less reliant on lewdness. I’ll try to tackle all of them and give my final thoughts on the entire situation at the end.
First, let’s go talk about the EVO Japan’s pulling the stream. The general consensus, which is the fighting game community at large, is that it was rather dumb for them to do that. I’ve been playing and watching video games and video game tournaments for a good decade now and, honestly, what Team Ninja showed during the Dead or Alive 6 presentation was par for the course for a long, long time.
Also, I don’t think what they showed was entirely all that bad. It was juvenile and lewd in nature; I’m not denying that. Team Ninja did focus a lot on how you can put the characters in compromising positions and then zoom in and out using the game’s camera system. The gravure models they hired, Saki Yoshida and Yuka Kuramochi, attempted to duplicate Dead or Alive’s signature “jiggle physics” for the crowd.
But in the long run, it seemed incredibly harmless, especially when there are much worse things on TV today! Heck, there are so many shows out there that parent watchgroups and SJW groups have complained about, saying they’ll warp our kids minds! I don’t think this should be one of them.
On the other hand, however, I don’t really blame EVO organizers for cutting the stream. In fact, I’m kind of amazed it went for as long as it did. Maybe it’s because they were speaking in Japanese but they only stopped the stream just before it was slated to end. Now, I’m no prude or anything but, if you look at it from a commercial and moneymaking standpoint, I get why EVO felt the need to put an end to it.
When you do see Mr. Wizard’s now deleted tweet, it does seem hypocritical to talk about how it went against their “core values.” They allow more violent games like Mortal Kombat in their tournaments but childish lewd acts are banned? Well, yeah. For better or worse, this is the path EVO and other big-named fighting game tournaments will have to follow if they want to make the big bucks that only e-Sports can afford.
A lot in the fighting game community have been focusing a lot on the “core values” part but totally skip the part about the part stating they had to “protect their brand.” They want to avoid ruffling anyone’s feathers, especially if they want to grow. Like it or not, they’re not catering to just the hardcore fighting game community anymore. They also have to think of their sponsors and endorsements. And with that on their mind, they have to take into account how the sponsors and endorsers perceive them. They have to avoid any possible bad press and having a stream that featuring women demonstrating their jiggle physics might make them seem like a sleazy company. Yes, EVO is a major part of the fighting game community but they’re still out to make money from all those sweet, sweet sponsorship deals. And, honestly, they need those sponsors if they want to grow.
It may seem like I’m throwing Team Ninja under the bus but, truly, I’m not. In fact, I do understand why they demonstrated their upcoming Dead or Alive fighting game the way they did. It’s not because of the saying “sex sells” (even though that is a part of it) but because, let’s be truthful here, the Dead or Alive franchise is known for its “jiggle physics.” That’s how they’ve promoted the franchise for so long!
I’m not saying that the Dead or Alive games aren’t good fighting games. I’ve played through most of them and its battle system is really refined. Each character feels balanced and I would say it’s probably much harder to really excel in, which is probably why I was never good at any of the Dead or Alive games. But, in all honesty, that’s not why most people were initially drawn to it. We all know it was the girls and the “jiggle physics” that made fans stand up and take notice. Heck, they even made Dead or Alive Xtreme, a spinoff franchise that puts most of the female characters in swimsuits! That’s how unashamed they are about promoting the sexual aspect of the franchise!
So, I don’t think anyone was surprised that Team Ninja’s presentation of Dead or Alive 6 heavily focused on the rather sexy aspect of the game. Even if you weren’t familiar with the franchise, the mere fact that they had Saki Yoshida and Yuka Kuramochi, two popular gravure models in torn up shirts and short shorts, on stage should’ve been a huge giveaway regarding how they were going to promote the game.
Also, it shouldn’t be all that shocking that Japan would do this kind of thing. Japan will do stuff that may seem really weird outside their country. Their culture is, in my opinion, one of the most liberal and one of the most conservative countries at the same time. They have a lot of pornography… but they censor most of it because it’s illegal to show genitalia in the country. Like I said, it seems weird to us but that’s just the way Japan works. So when they show lewd images on a video game stream, which would be out of place to most audiences, that’s essentially Japan just being Japan. That’s why it was still being streamed on OpenREC with no problem; Japan didn’t have a problem with the show!
But, at the same time, Team Ninja was being rather duplicitous. When the game was first shown in last year’s E3, many fans noticed that the trailer didn’t reveal much of the female player’s skin and the “jiggle physics” were downplayed significantly. During an interview with IGN, the team said that they were making a concerted effort to make all the females less sexualized. And it seemed like they were making good on their promise. A lot of the costumes still have some “sexy” qualities to them; Honoka, I don’t even know how you can fight in that one outfit without your breasts popping out (you’ll know it when you see it). They still look much more conservative than before, at least until we get the DLC costumes in the future.
But by stating that they were scaling back the sexiness, I don’t think EVO was prepared with the show they got. Like I said, Japan let it rock because they’re fine with that sort of thing. The Western EVO team, on the other hand, had to scramble as they just didn’t want to be associated with what was happening.
I totally understand why Team Ninja promoted the game this way, even though it was counter to their statement that Dead or Alive 6 was going to be less sexual. Like the EVO team, Team Ninja is a business and they’re in the business of making games that hopefully sell well. Although there is a contingent of hardcore Dead or Alive fans that just play it for the strong gameplay, the franchise is always going to be a franchise mostly known for its T&A. It’s just a fact that they can’t shake off right now. So, of course they were going to show off the rather raunchy nature of the game. They had to appeal to the fan of the franchise that love the sexy female characters.
In my opinion, both EVO and Team Ninja were at fault. EVO cut the stream for business reasons but saying it was because of “core values” was just a transparent attempt to say that they did it because they didn’t want to lose sponsors. Team Ninja promoted the more sexy gameplay elements that Dead or Alive is known for, even though they said they were veering away from that direction. Basically, they did what they did for understandable reasons but just went about it the wrong way.
The past is the past. What can they do in the future to avoid this kind of mishap from happening? Well, I would say that the organizers of the tournament should demand what presenters are going to show as well as explain the tone. In turn, developers and presenters should be open and honest about it to avoid any embarrassing moments like, you know, cutting the stream. This should be done at least a week before the actual show so they can work things out if there are any “core values” that are being trampled on. Additionally, streamer can put something on a disclaimer on the livestream. Put a little blurb on the bottom that says “the opinions and core values of this show may or may not aligned to the broadcaster’s views” or something like that. This will remove any kind of liability if people do get offended.
So, yeah. EVO and Team Ninja put themselves in between a rock and two soft places when they didn’t need to. I just hope this doesn’t put a damper on the future of both organizations because, honestly, I would love to see some high level Dead or Alive 6 matches on EVO in the future.
What do you think happened during EVO Japan and what could have been done to avoid it? Let me know in the comments section below!