Localiser demands his name be dropped from game credits after KKK reference removed

“I saw the forceful change of this as an act of censorship”

By James Batchelor.Published Thursday 27th April 2017, 2:01pm GMT

An member of a publisher's localisation team has requested that his name be removed from the credits after disagreeing with the company's decision to remove a Klu Klux Klan reference from one of its games.

The title in question is Akiba's Beat, a forthcoming Japanese RPG developed by Acquire and published by XSEED. An employee of the latter, Tom Lipschultz, has posted on the company's forum to explain some of the changes made from the Japanese version to the English one, where he made his stance on the issue clear.

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The change with which Lipschultz takes umbridge is a sign that - in the Japanese version - reads "KKK witches". In context, this is a parody of Japan-based light switch manufacturer NKK Switchs, but XSEED and Acquire have decided to alter this to "ACQ witches" in the English version.

"This is the most egregious change [in my honest option]," Lipschultz writes on the XSEED forums. "I personally felt "KKK witches" was pretty funny for its shock value, but when I mentioned it to my coworkers, they... were not as amused."

He acknowledged that there are many reasons to change this reference, but while some are "legitimate localisation concerns", he believes most of the reasoning "involved personal offense, worries over offending others, or worries over stores not carrying the game due to this 'controversial' inclusion".

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Lipschultz continued: "I fought this as best as I could, since I saw the forceful change of this as an act of censorship (minor though it be, and even understandable though it be)."

Speaking later to Kotaku, he elaborated: "It's not being changed to aid the player's comprehension (though there are absolutely some in our office who make very valid points as to why it's appropriate to change for localisation reasons, which I don't want to downplay or discount), but to avoid offending people and to avoid the possibility of retailers protesting the game's release."

In the end, Acquire decided to change it themselves, although Lipschultz believes XSEED would have insisted it be altered anyway. XSEED EVP Ken Berry told Kotaku that after the team explained to Acquire what the KKK to English-speaking players, the developer "immediately responded that they had no idea the sign could be taken that way in English."

Lipschultz notes that the Japanese version still retains the "KKK witches" sign, with "ACQ witches" only appearing in the English version.

"It is due to this change, and specifically due to my initial misconception that we'd directly asked the devs to change it, that I asked to have my name removed from the credits of Akiba's Beat, and thus - in accordance with company policy, which I was well advised of beforehand - removed from XSEED's company credits altogether, meaning I will not be appearing in the credits of any future XSEED title."

The policy in question, which Lipschultz also included in his post, states that: "If someone is ashamed to be associated with one of our games, then they are ashamed to be associated with the company as a whole and won't be credited in future games either."

Interestingly, Lipschultz plans to stay with the company. In an email interview with Kotaku, he explained: "XSEED has gainfully employed me for over seven years now, my coworkers are all great people (even if I strongly disagree with them on a lot of things), we work on great games, we have a really solid approach to quality localisation, and... I mean, I've been given carte blanche to air my grievances in public. What other company would even consider something like that?

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"The downside of facing censorship issues bothers me on principle, sure, but there are a mountain of upsides to counterbalance that, and I really can't stress enough that overall, this is a great company to work for, and the people here really do care a great deal about video games."

Lipschultz previously argued with XSEED over the removal of character ages in Senran Kagura, a series of fighting games that revolves around scantily clad girls that are often younger than 18 in the Japanese releases.

Read article on GamesIndustry.biz