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nobinobita
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"Most influential women in Japanese Games" , posted Sun 7 Sep 04:43:post reply

Hey Everybody!

I'm doing some research for an article. Could use your help. Who do you feel are the most influential/important/coolest/most admirable women in games in Japan?

Here's my list so far

Kinu Nishimura
Artist
One of the most badass artists to ever walk the earth. She's created some of the most iconic characters and images in the gaming world. Her work on Street Fighter has had a humongous impact on countless artists all over the globe.

Tomoko Namba
CEO and founder of DeNA
One of the 50 wealthiest people in Japan. Perhaps the most successful woman in Tech. And it was all self made from videogames. She helped create the current environment where mobile games absolutely dominate.

Keiko Erikawa
Co-founder and figurehead of Koei
Also one of the top 50 wealthiest people in Japan (#34). Heads one of the most successful, influential game studios out there.

Ayami Kojima
Artist
Main artist behind Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, a longtime favorite in one of gaming's most beloved series (did you know that every 10 minutes an indie developer attempts to Kickstart a Metroidvania?) Brought a new level of fine arts skills to videogame art. Really raised the bar on how beautiful men could look in games too!

Yoko Shimamura
Composer
One of the most iconic and influential game composers in games. She's written tons of the most beloved tunes in videogames. In my opinion she's stayed more consistently impressive and relevant than any other game composer.

Reiko Kodama
Game Designer, Artist
One of the most storied game designers in the early history of games. She was instrumental in creating so many of Sega's early hits, most notably Phantasy Star, where she was the main designer, writer, character and environment designer. To this day I still wish Sega would do a Phantasy Star that returned to its 8bit and 16bit roots.

Mari Shimazaki
Concept Artist
She created Bayonetta! Bayonetta was the most memorable new character of that generation of games for me. She was also a lead artist on many other notable Platinum Games including Okami and Godhand. She also did all my favorite costumes in Soul Calibur 5. She's one of the most notable artists working in games today.

These are the most notable/succesful/influential women I can think of off the top of my head. I know there are many more.

Who are the women in Japanese games that you most admire? (also please let me know if you have any additional thoughts on the people I've listed, or if I got any of my information wrong)






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Sun 7 Sep 04:47]

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Gieflos
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"Re(1):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 07:40:post reply

While Yoko Shimomura is definitely tops when it comes to female composers, you could have a complete other feature on composers alone.

Mari Yamaguchi

Junko Tamiya

June Chikuma

Kinuyo Yamashita

Satoe Terashima

Manami Matsumae

Michiru Yamane

Mieko Ishikawa

Miki Higashino

Eveline Fischer

Soyo Oka

If you have an 8-bit/16-bit melody stuck in your head there is a good chance it was from a female composer! Very excited to read your article when it goes up.





[this message was edited by Gieflos on Sun 7 Sep 07:45]

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"Re(1):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 08:01post reply

Sorry, I can't check right now, but Sakurai's wife has been working with him for a while and she's the one responsible for the menus (and UI ? not sure) of his game at least since Smash Wii, if not before. So these types of menus that are the most recognizable part of a Sakurai game (from smash to Kid Icarus) are actually his wife's.

Don't sure if it qualifies for "influential", though.

I also discovered during the Bayo direct that the producer of Bayo 2 was female? Not sure about her name or CV...





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"Re(1):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 09:04post reply

A lot of "heavy hitters" have been mentioned already, but off the top of my head:

Soraya Saga (illustrator, designer, writer):
Worked on Romancing SaGa Final Fantasy IV, V and VI and wrote a treatment for VII (along with her husband, Tetsuya Takahashi) that eventually turned into Xenogears. Worked on Xenosaga after that before she was tragically taken off the project.

Mutsumi Inomata (illustrator):
Long-running character designer for the Tales series.

I can't immediately think of many more who have worked on multiple projects and might be considered influential. I suppose Michiko Naruke (the Wild Arms composer) might count.





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"Re(2):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 10:03post reply

Mie Kumagai

Ayano Koshiro

Miki Morimoto

Kazuko Shibuya

Tomoko Sasaki





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"Re(3):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 11:43:post reply

Um, can we add Yoko Kanno to the list? She may have worked on alot of anime, but she actually started her big break in...games! (Romance of the Three Kingdoms on PC-8801) And I believe games are still relevant in her field, as I recall her composing the soundtrack to Ragnarok Online 2.





[this message was edited by sfried on Sun 7 Sep 11:49]

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"Re(4):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 18:20post reply

One of the most important women in horror games: Satô Naoko! Scenarist of Silent Hill 1 and 2, SCENARIST OF SIREN THE BEST HORROR GAME OF ALL TIME, game designer of Gravity Daze.
Basically, the buddy of Toyama.





nobinobita
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"Re(4):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 18:32post reply

Oh my gosh, thank you all so much! This is a treasure trove of information!

quote:
If you have an 8-bit/16-bit melody stuck in your head there is a good chance it was from a female composer! Very excited to read your article when it goes up.


Wow I was always vaguely aware that many of my fav game composers were ladies, but I had no idea that they absolutely dominated the field like this!

quote:
Sorry, I can't check right now, but Sakurai's wife has been working with him for a while and she's the one responsible for the menus (and UI ? not sure) of his game at least since Smash Wii, if not before. So these types of menus that are the most recognizable part of a Sakurai game (from smash to Kid Icarus) are actually his wife's.

Don't sure if it qualifies for "influential", though.


Michiko Sakurai did indeed do all the UI for those games. I would say she's extremely influential. I've seen UI designers reference her work in almost every social/mobile game I've ever been a part of. There are few UI artists with such a distinct style.

quote:
I also discovered during the Bayo direct that the producer of Bayo 2 was female? Not sure about her name or CV...


Are you referring to Masami Narita perhaps?
http://platinumgames.com/staff/masami-narita/

quote:
Worked on Romancing SaGa Final Fantasy IV, V and VI and wrote a treatment for VII (along with her husband, Tetsuya Takahashi) that eventually turned into Xenogears. Worked on Xenosaga after that before she was tragically taken off the project.


Man, there are a surprising amount of really awesome husband and wife duos in games! Was it ever explained why Soraya Saga was ousted from Xenosaga?

quote:
Mie Kumagai

Ayano Koshiro

Miki Morimoto

Kazuko Shibuya

Tomoko Sasaki


Wow, a lot of my favorite games are in the resumes of these women. Virtua Tennis is perhaps the best version of Pong ever made, and I loves me some Actraiser 2. That game had a really cool narrative! I love the ending, where you watch a statue of the Master slowly erode over time, and he's totally ok with it! I really liked the idea of a god so benevolent that he doesn't care if people shower him with adulation, he just wants them to be ok on their own.

quote:
Um, can we add Yoko Kanno to the list? She may have worked on alot of anime, but she actually started her big break in...games! (Romance of the Three Kingdoms on PC-8801) And I believe games are still relevant in her field, as I recall her composing the soundtrack to Ragnarok Online 2.


Holy cow, that's news to me!






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Professor
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"Re(1):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 18:39post reply

You pretty much nailed the big names Nobi! I'd place Keiko Erikawa as the top of "influential" female figure in the Jp game industry, followed a tad behind by Tomoko Namba.

Btw, can you tell Hokutoandy that I replied to his question on the BBS about successfull comiket circles? Thanks in advance!



Some other names I can think of:

Miwa Shouda
Former planner and scenario writer for Square/Enix. Worked on numerous titles including Radical Dreamers, Saga Frontier, Legend of Mana, FF12, Last Remnant.

ALPH LYLA
Capcom's 4-female music team

Misato Mitsumi
The queen of adult games

Junko Ozawa
Composer for many of Namco's classic and more recent titles such as Tower of Drugaga, Sky Kid, Rolling Thunder, Galaga Legions

Chikako Yamakura
President of Gambarion

Emiko Iwasaki
Former director and designer at Arc System Works





nobinobita
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"Re(5):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 18:50post reply

More amazing ladies of Japanese games.

Just found out that Ancient Corp. (developers of the Story of Thor/Beyond Oasis games) was founded by Yuzo Koshiro's mom, Tomo Koshiro!

http://www.the-nextlevel.com/features/developers/ancient/history.shtml

She was a pianist who taught her son how to play piano at the age of 3. Ayano Koshiro (mentioned above) is her daughter. Just noticed Moby Games has her credited as scenario writer for Actraiser 2, but she's actually the Art Director according to the ending of the game! My god I loved the art in that game so much! Talented family!

Also of note:

Emiko Iwasaki
Lead illustrator on various Guilty Gear titles. She was also director of Battle Fantasia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emiko_Iwasaki






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nobinobita
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"Re(2):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 19:01:post reply

quote:
You pretty much nailed the big names Nobi! I'd place Keiko Erikawa as the top of "influential" female figure in the Jp game industry, followed a tad behind by Tomoko Namba.

Some other names I can think of:

Miwa Shouda
Former planner and scenario writer for Square/Enix. Worked on numerous titles including Radical Dreamers, Saga Frontier, Legend of Mana, FF12, Last Remnant.

ALPH LYLA
Capcom's 4-female music team

Misato Mitsumi
The queen of adult games

Junko Ozawa
Composer for many of Namco's classic and more recent titles such as Tower of Drugaga, Sky Kid, Rolling Thunder, Galaga Legions

Chikako Yamakura
President of Gambarion

Emiko Iwasaki
Former director and designer at Arc System Works



Thanks professor! I wrote that last post before refreshing the page and seeing yours :P
Wow, so many great additions!

Misato Mitsumi! Man, this list is gonna get a lot longer if we delve into the world of doujinshii, eroge and otome games. Otome games are pretty popular in Chinese speaking countries. I bet they could be popular in the US too. Maybe Hatoful Boyfriend can lead the revolution!

quote:
Btw, can you tell Hokutoandy that I replied to his question on the BBS about successfull comiket circles? Thanks in advance!


Will do!






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[this message was edited by nobinobita on Sun 7 Sep 19:02]

nobinobita
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"Re(5):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 19:52post reply

quote:
One of the most important women in horror games: Satô Naoko! Scenarist of Silent Hill 1 and 2, SCENARIST OF SIREN THE BEST HORROR GAME OF ALL TIME, game designer of Gravity Daze.
Basically, the buddy of Toyama.



WAT

I feel ashamed that I've never committed her name to memory before now. Silent Hill 1 and 2 are two of my very favorite games. And Siren, well, Siren was so scary I couldn't actually play it haha. I don't have a Vita yet, but when I pick one up, I'll be sure to pick up Gravity Daze, especially after Pollyana's glowing comments about it on the Cafe.

Silent Hill 2 is widely regarded as having the best narrative in all of videogames. I wonder why Naoko Sato isn't better known. There's very little information about her in the english speaking internet.






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"Re(3):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Sun 7 Sep 23:20:post reply

Hi Nobi, to be honest, I am not sure I understand what kind of profile you are researching. It depends where your article is headed. I would suspect given your previous articles that you should focus on artists.

Unless your article is actually an entire book on female jobs in the industry, the list you are proposing in the OP is kinda all over the place. Mainly, I find very strange to put Erikawa and Namba in the same list as all those other people.

Erikawa and Namba are not even in the same conversation as the other people listed here. Erikawa is super duper influential in the entire industry since the late Nineties. Her company is valued higher than Capcom and she has ties with almost every Japanese company. No disrespect for the great job of the aforementioned composers but this is like brainstorming a list of important African-Americans through History and randomly dropping Obama in the middle of the Wayans Brothers. Namba officially retired but probably still has a huge influence on her company.

The Big Boss of Ganbarion, Yamakura Chikako, is also a woman, and the same might go at Ancient which - as far as the legend goes - is owned and operated by Koshiro's mother. Those are the only female CEOs that pop through my head rightaway but there must be or have been a few more. It's definitely uncommon to see women in such position of power, just like everywhere else.

Some companies have prominent female producers and directors, such as Nintendo for various games (check the Iwata Asks interviews), Capcom (many prominent female roles for MH3G) or Platinum (the Bayo2 producer Kuroda mentioned by Iggy). Hudson used to have one prominent business lady (Hiromi Tomisawa) for all international affairs before Konami closed shop. But how do you measure the "influence" of a character like Tomisawa? This is the kind of industry figure that managed everything behind the scenes and probably nobody who hasn't worked closely with them would know or remember their name.

If your goal is to talk about the acceptance (or not) of women in the Japanese industry, I think the producer or director job (like Kodama in the Sega MarkIII days) is more significant to measure progress inside the JP industry than checking up on artists such as illustrators and musicians. And even among those I'd put someone like Shibuya of Square above other artists because she was heavily involved in the technical and structural aspect of games.

On the other hand, if you want to talk about a direct impact on the look and identity of games, and therefore focus more on the cultural impact of Japanese women, then you should probably forget about CEO/managers/producers.

[edit] Spelling mystiques...





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[this message was edited by chazumaru on Mon 8 Sep 04:53]

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"Re(4):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Mon 8 Sep 01:07:post reply

I'd agree with Chaz's note that the Jotei Erikawa and Namba are in a completely different category from the rest of the names listed in this thread. They're probably the only two figures that actually have recognizable influence to the "industry". That said, I naturally assumed from the movement of this thread that we're brainstorming names of noteworthy women in the Jp game industry regardless of dev or market!

Also for example, if we're talking simply about influences to the Jp game industry, Kinu Nishimura wouldn't be considered significant because of her works at Capcom, but moreso as one of the pioneers in game artists making a successful career after exodus from their companies and going freelance.



And yes Mrs.Erikawa, I still remember your really bad attempt at trying to launch a game rental system in Japan





[this message was edited by Professor on Mon 8 Sep 04:21]

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"Re(5):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Mon 8 Sep 05:56post reply

Ooh, a favorite of mine I just remembered is Atsuko Fukushima, who is the illustrator for the Popolocrois series. She's better known as a key animator for Akira and Kiki's Delivery Service, among other things.
quote:
One of the most important women in horror games: Satô Naoko! Scenarist of Silent Hill 1 and 2, SCENARIST OF SIREN THE BEST HORROR GAME OF ALL TIME, game designer of Gravity Daze.
Basically, the buddy of Toyama.


Wow, yeah, shame on me for not knowing this.

quote:
Man, there are a surprising amount of really awesome husband and wife duos in games! Was it ever explained why Soraya Saga was ousted from Xenosaga?

Whatever it was, it was evidently quite ugly, as Saga herself was quite vocal in her distress after it happened. I want to say it was on Namco's end, not Monolith's, since Monolith had her work on Soma Bringer later. My memory on this is a bit fuzzy, so I'm open to corrections, if anyone knows better.

Anyway, she had worked on a setup for the Xeno series that was supposed to be six games. The amount of unused material in Xenogears really shows how much work was put into it. Evidently, Namco had a different direction in mind that no longer required the creator of the series. Although I am very fond of her and her work, it may be that she was taken off the project because she was being inflexible and hurting progress. Even if that was the case, it's a heartbreaking situation.

Perhaps she's happy with everything right now and gotten over Xenogears getting killed, then Xenosaga after it, though in my head, I won't feel like justice is served unless I see her name when I start up the new "Xeno" game.





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"Re(6):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Mon 8 Sep 17:15post reply

Interesting topic indeed!

Before contributing a few names to the list, let's take one thing into account. It might be difficult to keep track of notable female talents on the JP gaming industry because many Japanese women choose to be listed as males on the games credits; that is, they use aliases keeping their real surnames but changing their names to masculine ones. The reason is, supposedly, avoid harassment online. I was surprised when I learned about this practice but, while not the norm, it seems to be somewhat common nowadays.

However, there are many reconigsable female game makers in Japan, to be sure.

Let me add Junko Kawano to the list. She began as a character designer for the first Gensou Suikoden and, from there, she went up the ladder and became game director for many other Konami titles on the late 90s-early 2000s. including the not-so-great GenSui IV, where she still did some memorable character designs anyway.

Aya Kyogoku, scriptwriter of some Zelda titles of late and creator of Animal Forest, is one of the main heads of Nintendo's new generation. Her dialectic duels with Miyamoto during the press release of Twilight Princess were memorable, but I can't find the link to them for the life of me.

And I do remember that some of the main heads behind Hotel Dusk and Last Window, a well loved saga here in the cafe, were a bunch of somewhat young Japanese ladies as well. Kind of surprising for hard-boiled, noir kind of games such as these...

Outside their traditional roles of music composers and character designers, lately there seems to be quite a lot of female scriptwriters in Japan. And it's becoming more and more common to see them assuming direction tasks as well; I guess seeing see some female producers as well is just a matter of time. Perhaps when this current generation of female game creators grows a bit older and gets a bit more experience?





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"Re(4):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Mon 8 Sep 17:51post reply

quote:
Unless your article is actually an entire book on female jobs in the industry, the list you are proposing in the OP is kinda all over the place.


I agree. A list is definitely the wrong approach. It would be better to break this up into multiple articles and organize people based on their field. So maybe I'll write one article about women founders and CEOs. Another about women composers. I can definitely go on forever about how awesome Kinu Nishimura is just by herself.

I definitely don't want to attempt some kind of impossible, comprehensive list ... which is actually what inspired me to undertake this endeavor in the first place.

When Gamasutra posted its list of the most notable women in the industry, not a single Japanese (or Asian) woman was nominated.

When Edge-Online created their list of the top 100 women in games, they only included 1 woman from Japan.

To leave people like Tomoko Namba and Keiko Erikawa out of these lists is just mystifying (to say nothing of all the other women who are very culturally significant).

Japanese women are routinely left out of the conversation when it comes to women in games in the English speaking press. This doesn't make sense when Japanese games are culturally significant to gaming populations world wide, but much of the press continues to talk about "the industry" as if it only included North America and a little bit of Europe. I feel this omission a great disservice to everyone.

And personal political agenda aside, I just want to highlight the careers of creators that I admire, whether its because they're hugely successful, or because they're just incredibly talented and capable (even if their work is now obscure). I loved Actraiser 2! I want people to know who Ayano Koshiro is!






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"Re(7):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Mon 8 Sep 17:53post reply

quote:
I

However, there are many reconigsable female game makers in Japan, to be sure.

Let me add Junko Kawano to the list. She began as a character designer for the first Gensou Suikoden and, from there, she went up the ladder and became game director for many other Konami titles on the late 90s-early 2000s. including the not-so-great GenSui IV, where she still did some memorable character designs anyway.

Aya Kyogoku, scriptwriter of some Zelda titles of late and creator of Animal Forest, is one of the main heads of Nintendo's new generation. Her dialectic duels with Miyamoto during the press release of Twilight Princess were memorable, but I can't find the link to them for the life of me.

And I do remember that some of the main heads behind Hotel Dusk and Last Window, a well love

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --


Thanks so much for the info! Oh boy, I've really bitten off way more than I can chew.

nteresting topic indeed!

quote:
Before contributing a few names to the list, let's take one thing into account. It might be difficult to keep track of notable female talents on the JP gaming industry because many Japanese women choose to be listed as males on the games credits; that is, they use aliases keeping their real surnames but changing their names to masculine ones. The reason is, supposedly, avoid harassment online. I was surprised when I learned about this practice but, while not the norm, it seems to be somewhat common nowadays.


That's TERRIBLE. But again, thanks for the info!






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"Re(5):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Mon 8 Sep 19:27post reply

quote:

When Gamasutra posted its list of the most notable women in the industry, not a single Japanese (or Asian) woman was nominated.

When Edge-Online created their list of the top 100 women in games, they only included 1 woman from Japan.

To leave people like Tomoko Namba and Keiko Erikawa out of these lists is just mystifying (to say nothing of all the other women who are very culturally significant).

Japanese women are routinely left out of the conversation when it comes to women in games in the English speaking press. This doesn't make sense


I think the articles' goal was honorable but the authors simply stopped searching further once they had enough names to fill up a respectable list (100 names or so). Considering some rather random choices in the Edge list as a clue, those names probably all came from their collection of business cards and contact lists. As such, it would make sense that journalists from Edge and Gamasutra, who travel to japan less and less according to their output and their ever diminishing presence at TGS, have had few Japanese contacts (let alone female ones) in the past few years.

If my guess is correct, it's really just a question of intellectual/professional laziness (same as that "Capcom is on sale" discussion we had a few months ago), rather than a conscious or unconscious dismissing of the Japanese industry.





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"Re(6):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Mon 8 Sep 22:31post reply

It's not for me to measure influence, but for what it's worth, I enjoy the work of Kumi Tanioka, whom I know mostly thanks to the fantastic FFXI soundtrack (she's worked on several other projects - most at S-E - , including apparently some arrangements in the incoming new Smash Bros game), and Senno Aki (a.k.a. TONKO), whose style eloquently set the tone for the Last Blade series.





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"Re(6):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Thu 11 Sep 11:00post reply

quote:

If my guess is correct, it's really just a question of intellectual/professional laziness (same as that "Capcom is on sale" discussion we had a few months ago), rather than

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --


Working in Beijing got me used to hearing western devs casually remark things like "Oh typical sexist anime graphics" when talking about Japanese games, even when they're punching hookers in GTA and running around with naked girl party members in Dragon Effect :l

The funniest thing I saw was an American guy trying to convince a Chinese girl that she should stop playing the games she likes 'cause they have sexist Asian artwork.





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"An addition" , posted Thu 11 Sep 12:31post reply

I'll add a name that hasn't been mentioned yet: Sasou Ayako-san.





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"Re(7):Most influential women in Japanese Game" , posted Thu 11 Sep 13:29:post reply

quote:

Working in Beijing got me used to hearing western devs casually remark things like "Oh typical sexist anime graphics" when talking about Japanese games, even when they're punching hookers in GTA and running around with naked girl party members in Dragon Effect :l

The funniest thing I saw was an American guy trying to convince a Chinese girl that she should stop playing the games she likes 'cause they have sexist Asian artwork. '

I'm completely unsurprised. It's hilarious in one sense, and also depressing in another. I continue to find it amusing that Westerners are utterly oblivious to the female exploitation aspects of many of these games too (QV the entire male case of the Tales games)





[this message was edited by red falcon on Thu 11 Sep 13:32]