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Square Enix: “Americans Need Believable (Macho) Heroes”


Square Enix has once again been heard to explain why it is it thinks Americans will only accept muscle-bound old men as heroes.


The speech given by Square Enix developers with US-Japan joint development experience at CEDEC 2010 is summarised by an attendee as follows:




The importance of “believability” is strongly emphasised in the North American market.

Why are American characters always older guys? This can be explained with reference to “believability.”

For a protagonist who triumphs against adversity to be believable in the eyes of players, they want him to be tough and highly experienced.

This isn’t limited to characters – in “Fallout 3” you see the example of Nuka Cola, which gives health when drunk but also poisons the body with radiation. At first this doesn’t seem realistic at all, but when you consider the setting is post-apocalyptic it becomes “believable.”

This was one of the major points they were keen to emphasise – in fact they reiterated it repeatedly throughout the presentation.

In other remarks, they were heard to tell the audience that any joint development with foreign developers “is best avoided” because of the potential for communication problems – it appears Square Enix did not have a happy time attempting to work with non-Japanese developers.

RPG fans hoping for a letup in the comically clichéd efforts of Japanese developers to succeed in the west, almost invariably by providing muscle-bound old men as heroes, seem set to be disappointed – Square Enix and company already have their minds made up as to what a title needs to be a success in the west, in spite of their repeated failures to actually deliver any successful titles based on these perceptions.

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  • Anonymous says:

    Someone show me where the hell Shephard, Altair, Alex Mercer are overly muscular or old!

    Someone point me to the wrinkles on Kratos face (the only wrinkles he has are from his constant rage-mode).

    I don’t think you ever had a “old” protagonist in GTA (which couldn’t improve the game either but then again I would know no way it could be improven for me at all).

    Someone may get the sales for FFX/FFXII and show the to SE. Granted Auron probably is the FFX take on a “muscular, experienced” man but he’s as unbelievable as the rest of the scantly clad crew (at least he has half of a fashion sense, even though no one knows what that bullshit with the arms supposed to be) – the most believable still being Kimahri who doesn’t even TRY to be real. If I’d want to be blasted by believable and real things I could just go outside of my friggin door (sadly though the way people act outside of the glowing screen is just as stupid as inside….)

  • >they were heard to tell the audience that any joint development with foreign developers “is best avoided” because of the potential for communication problems – it appears Square Enix did not have a happy time attempting to work with non-Japanese developers.

    Or: “if at first you don’t succeed, pretend you were never a team to begin with and blame them completely”.

    SE should be making mistakes. Repeatedly. And should be learning from them patiently. They could have a huge advantage over other J developers looking to get a piece of the Western market by being first, but all they do is quit like a stubborn brat child as soon as his falls, scuffs his knee, throws a tantrum, insults the other kids and goes home to mummy.


  • Anonymous says:

    Believability is the correct keyword, however, Square isn’t digging deep enough. The real problem is that Square is still trapped in the moe illusion, thinking that they can just keep pulling their character personas out of old eroges, make it “T-rated” and get away with it.

    We unfortunately do not live in a world where people casually spout long monologues about their personal problems, while stoically looking over a balcony toward the horizon, and follow up by having personal growth in that moment and making a resolute decision about how to live their lives. these characters might become more “believable” if we saw a scene of them rehearsing that bullshit.

  • Its kinda true thought, i dont care if an JRPG has 14 yo girls fighting against giant monsters because its unrealistic anyways.
    But if they suddenly were to put a 14 yo in a more ‘realistic’ game like say Crysis 2
    it would just be retarded…

  • We don’t meed big bulky hyper-masculine men or anything. We’re just tired of whiny little bitches like Cloud Strife who don’t evolve past being whiny little bitches. I’m tired of Square trying to tell us what we like to explain their failures. The character designs are NOT the problem… it’s the lame attitude that comes with it.

  • Americans still love good JRPG’s.

    Note that I said “Good” JRPG’s. Most recent releases just really haven’t been to speck. They aren’t fun, they’ve cut out what gamers love in general in favor of overly clichéd and hyper-simplified plots.

    Granted, this doesn’t apply to every title of course.

  • Yes, Altair IS very macho at the start. All it earns him is a knife in the gut. Before posting a character on a macho man list, you should really know whether the character is a macho man or not.

    Another thing, how are these men old? most look early 30s at most, some even look mid 20s. The only old man I see in that list is Sam Fisher, who is a seasoned veteran, so it makes sense that he is old.

  • Base on this game I know what we need in video games now. We need more fat teenagers, you know the ones who eat fast food everyday. Oh and for the girls they need to have braces and glasses. Oh and don’t forget the mass zits/pimples/black heads because when they are fighting for ultimate good against ultimate evil like they are gonna have time for facials. Last for smart characters they need to be geeky and lack muscle mass. (glasses are optional but that annoying nasally voice is mandatory). Oh and angsty teens have to be emo. Close enough to the real world for you yet?

  • America only likes bald, older muscled men. Japan only likes spiky-haired, young girly men. Frankly, both positins are pretty stupid.

    And this “foreign is awful” mindset on Squeenix is odd, considering one of their top selling franchises, Kingdom Hearts, is a joint effort with a foreign partener.

  • Oh and they think they are so superior with their hero that looks like they took female pheromone up the ass?

    If we “north american” gamers have trouble with “masculinity” it seems that japanese “gamers” have trouble with their homosexuality, seeing how they make all fucking male protag look like woman.

  • I await your demise, Square-Enix.

    1) You can’t out-macho the experts in the field. Just like all american-made wannabe anime sucks. Play to your strengths.

    2) I grew up playing games about yellow balls eating ghosts, moustachioed plumbers eating mushrooms, robot boys shooting other robot boys, karatekas shooting fireballs, and blue hedgehogs and I LOVED THEM ALL.

    SCREW REALISM. It’s gameplay and concept that will win the day. If I wanted realism I would join the god damn army.

  • Um, Agent 47 is basically Golgo 13.

    But anyway we need more protagonists like Caim from Drakengard. How many mute bloodthirsty child killing psychopaths do you see in JRPG games today? Instead we get this Persona 3 faggotry.

  • As an American, I loathe the super-macho manset (primarily Gears of War sort), yet also dislike the wimpy underdeveloped hero also. Unless there’s, as they say, believability. If my wimpy dude suddenly is performing these awesome combos with a huge ass weapon, I’m going to either be laughing going “THIS IS AWESOME” (if done comedically) or going “what the crap is this?” (if done seriously).

    Even during FFXIII, I was watching Lightning going “She has scrawny legs, how is she so tough?”

    I like how they highlighted Francis in L4D though. They omitted the average black guy, the chick, and the old man. Not to mention, L4D2 also has some pretty different characters – and I love playing as Coach or Nick for the fun factor.

    It’s not that Americans want the macho badass, I don’t think, but we want the BELIEVABILITY as they claim. It sucks they keep presenting us with the same old grizzled man-face-dude, but I’d take that over doe-eyed man-child any day.

    Although! FF12 did it right for me in a way. Balthier and Basch were extremely likeable and relatable on a visual basis. They were good looking, slightly older, and seemingly had experience. Vaan, I couldn’t relate to at all – a girlish man-child. I dunno, just my two cents.

  • I personally hate the term “macho” because of the mindframe and behavior set that go along with it. Macho is not where its at for me.

    I think that jrpgs work for Japanese and western ones work for the west. Leave it at that. I would compare it to say, western artists trying to to draw manga. Its not manga, it’s manga-style and although different from japanese manga, it works for whoever likes it.

    The point is that there are many different views on what is “macho” and what works for one may not work for another. SE should concentrate more on developing a great game regardless of the appearance of the protags. Afterall, if a game is fucking awesome, who cares what the main char. looks like?

    Macho does not always = greatness.

  • i prefer my heroes looking like heroes ….you know people that look experienced in their field and have instincts created by years in the fray. people who can understand that situations are dire enough not to waddle off to rescue chickens and or farm gold as a side job while the princess/goddess/priestess is hanging by a thread to her desperate and sad life.

    not a 12 year old who gets a wooden sword and suddenly learns how to control mystical powers that let him take on things that go from cannon fodder slimes to god of war ish generals in a time frame of months even weeks.

    is that so wrong?

    • Only if there is no variety.

      I have not seen ANY variety this generation. Same bad JRPG’s. Same boring cash-leeching WRPG’s. Same dull BLOOM & BROWN FPS. Same ignorable sports games.

      Story, (Re)Playability, Art Direction, Common Sense…all have taken a back seat to “GRAHFEX = GUD GAHM”.

      I haven’t turned on my 360, PS3, or Wii in MONTHS. Maybe a year for my 360. I’ve been playing my DS, PSP, & PS2 instead – which have games that are actually, you know…ENJOYABLE.

      • What it sounds like is that you are a jaded gamer who is only content with the games he grew up with. If it’s not your thing, it doesn’t mean it sucks. It ESPECIALLY doesn’t mean that everything sucks, because there’s no way you tested all these current gen games to see whether they were good or not.

  • As something of mentioning, since some of the examples above are trained soldiers in their respective games, how many years does it take to make a grunt soldier?

    18-20 years from birth to entering the service fully trained. And it’s even more to make a soldier capable of either commanding large numbers of subordinates or performing special forces operations.

    From that perspective which is based in real-life, it’s foolish to think a child 12-15 years old could be as trained and as capable as a soldier several years his senior. I don’t give two s–ts about the muscular-ness of some characters (which makes it seem like anyone who bench-presses more than twice a week is overly “muscular”).

  • Does it really have anything to do with realism?

    I get a larger “Fuck yeah!” feeling when I see some manly man punch a villain in the face then save the world whilst walking away from an explosion. It’s simple, it’s entertaining, it’s not at all serious.

    On the other hand, there are tastes for people who want to see someone develop from a child whining about the (irrelevant) past to getting a grip and doing the right thing. That appeals in an entirely different matter.

    Neither are better, or more right. It’s entertainment, and people seek it in different ways.

    This is actually why SE should stop making interactive novels if they want to make a bigger impact. The ability to actually play a role makes it easier to have an appeal to people. Those who want a coming of age story can have a character with development, and those who want a badass, manly man can pick all the manly options.

  • Personally I think the main idea here is time.

    Most gamers in the western world want the biggest guns/baddest tanks/most devastating bombs in the shortest amount of time possible; because they either don’t have / don’t want to invest the time to grind for eons before finally getting to a point where they can kick ass.

    If you’ll notice, most of those games listed up there do exactly that – allowing you to jump right into the action. The ones that do have a “level up” system make sure that it is not that much of a priority and used more to add flavor to the game rather than dictate your success. For example, Mass Effect 2 has experience and levels, but it is quite possible to beat the game without any serious leveling.

    For that most part, successful western games allow you to start feeling like a badass pretty much from the outset, and rely on other things to prolong the experience (good enemy AI, organized waves of enemies, variety of tools of destruction, co-op necessity, etc.)

  • The reason Japanese games fail isn’t because of any of that bullshit. People read books with child protagonists/young teens all the time. Look at Shannara, The Wheel Of Time, Dragons Of Pern, etc. The fantasy genre is chalked full of children doing incredible things, and people gobble them up.

    The reason Japanese games fail is because they by and large are terrible. It’s that goddamn simple. The characters are cookie cutter and poorly characterized, the plot is vomit inducingly generic, and nothing interesting ever happens.

    Zelda sells. The protagonist is a child/teen, but it sells millions of copies. That’s because it’s good. And all those bad japanese games don’t sell because they aren’t.

    It’s really that simple. America has a penchant for violence and machismo; this has caused some pretty mediocre games to sell tons of copies. But that isn’t why Japanese games don’t sell. Japanese games don’t sell because they are inferior products.

  • sorry that some American characters aren’t

    cartoony looking i don’t hate that your characters can do unbelievable task seeming like

    a skinny colorful haired boy can jump super high or carry big shit and have super strength i mean kind of think about it most shit you have to offer is acceptably unrealistic because its a game but just because Japanese people almost have a hard time attaining the body , built and athleticism look that most american and a lot of other races can obtain does not give you the right to bash on them and make false media garbage , i mean seriously have you looked at yourselves?

    just keep making your anime games and pretend your them and give your people hope that someday they will also be able to punch a 6’5 ft tall professional fighter and take em down regardless of theyre skinnyness as long as they look cool and animated theyre powerful !!!!

    p.s. im asian and i don’t appreciate the other race bashin ~

  • japan stfu stop making shit up….. those are all the games you got out of hundreds that america made that makes no fucking diffrence -.- i hate it when people just wants to start shit . . . it’s just games . . . i mean seriously america has so much more to offer,

    what do you have to offer?

    porn stars?
    awesome technology? ( if its not a gundam keep it )
    cause 80% of the shit i see is made in china wherever i go,

    • RaspberryKisses says:

      lol troll harder. i love anime and manga and porns and wierd stuff. And what US have to offer. Fat? Bombs on innocent population? Movies? Stupidity? your Crazy Religious Christian sects?? or Racism? well i don’t need any of that shit so GTFO

      • Everyone knows Japan has nothing to offer other than..

        Well nothing anymore.
        Anime is all targeted towards pedos and virgins now.

        Their games are medicore at best.

        and their culture? Yeah sure. Japan is a joke.

  • The extremes of both demographics are just silly. In Japan, you have wafer thin teenage boys, and in North America, you have a bunch of rocks wrapped in skin.

    We need more characters like Solid Snake, Leon Kennedy, and Balthier. Characters who kick ass using their brains and skills.

    I think it’s worth noting that all three of those characters are Japanese in origin, but weren’t actually designed to be Japanese.

  • The wrongness of their discussion offends me. The only thing all of these people share in common is not having a lot of hair on their heads. If anything, you could conclude that Americans like their characters to have short hair. That’s about it.

    The Force Unleashed’s main is an average sized male. Grand Theft Auto has a completely different looking main every game, and GTA4’s main just happened to look like other people on this list. Or do Vice City and San Andreas not exist anymore? Assassin’s Creed, Prototype, and Infamous leads were also average sized males. God of War and Too Human leads are muscular, but they are mythological gods if I’m not mistaken.

    An arguement COULD be made that Americans prefer heroes that aren’t pretty boys, but there’s a big difference between not being a pretty boy and steroid overdose. Besides, Square Enix themselves have proved this arguement to be untrue with the success of Kingdom Hearts.

  • Cole from infamous
    all the playable characters to date from AC
    most of the main characters in GTA
    Starkiller from force unleashed
    and i think the main character from prototype

    all of them were/are in there mid to late 20’s at most that’s not OLD that’s making your characters the same age as there intended market

    see WE acctually get to have childhoods so we don’t need to relive them vicariously through a game

  • If anything trying to rely on psychology to originate a compelling game is kind of misguided, at least for americans I guess. Sure, a lot of these heroes resemble comic book characters, but in both scenarios their masculinity is more incidental to the subject matter than anything. You don’t really believe that a 98 pound weakling can take 20 bullets to the chest and soldier on, even if it’s only slightly more believable that a guy with a movie star physique might. That said the believability is only a minor factor compared to the gameplay. If it were a major factor you wouldn’t see an endless succession of super soldiers taking on 40 foot tall killing machines with their bare hands, it makes for exciting gameplay and that’s why these games sell (same for comic books!). I think these people might have a point insofar as it makes for an easier inlet into a game, but to keep people playing and not returning your product, you need exciting gameplay. FF13 was frankly tedious and confusing plotwise and the characters were just plain annoying, it was a turn off and it overshadowed any good aspects that might have been in the game. And yet games like FF4 with ancient graphics seem much more compelling. Why? If square-enix can figure that out, maybe that will help them make games that won’t turn off americans and detract from the things that they CAN do well.

    PS: Half life is if not one of the most popular games, certainly one of the most well known, and yet the hero is almost completely incidental to what made that game what it is. Like a fair amount of game heroes, he doesn’t even speak! Talk about a psychological red herring.

  • While having small children with chicken bones wielding Claymores and whatnot may be fine for Japanese, I guess I’m sorry for liking games where the heroes look like they need athleticism to look athletic?
    Of course, considering that they are literally confusing men for women, like that recent post on “Kayo Satoh” and apparent fascination with small children, I’m not really surprised.

  • Square enix just doesn’t know american audiences, famous amaerican loved characters have come mostly from capcom. Not because their believable, but because capcom used action movie tropes. Square enix, seems to be stuck int their own world and don’t know that americans don’t want realism, but they want their characters to be like them. Someone down to earth but with amazing rugged talent.

  • now lets rip their arguments apart by using the list on the top of the page, shall we?

    Mass Effect: The Hero is a Spectre, former N7 Alliance SpecOp. Sure he has some muscle but one of my Instructors during basics had twice as much muscle as male Shepard. He has exactly the build you would expect of someone of his background and profession. Also somewhat averted as a huge portion of ME players prefer the female Shepard.

    GTA-4, Nico Bellic: Almost the same as Shepard, except that he wasn’t a SpecOp, at least it wasn’t mentioned during the game or I simply missed it. He is also not your typical GTA Main Character. There was a good article on the escapist once that explained the differences between Nico and the other GTA leads.

    Force Unleashed: Hardly leaking any Testosterone. his build is slightly above average.

    S.T.A.L.K.E.R. : Like Nico from GTA-4, with some variations depending on which of the 3 games we are talking about

    L4D: One of the Heros is a salesmen who was smart enough to use some of his freetime to go to the gym and the another one is a young women.

    Too Human: well, he is supposed to be a norse god so… duh! Even though I don’t get it why it had to be Baldur. I mean the guy was a sissy who was killed by a friggin twig!

    Cpt. Nitpick, out!

  • “Response: Japanese only need (fantastical) 14 year old heroes”

    Stating opinions as facts make it true. Wonderful, so now I can narrow-mindedly spout the same amount of bullshit too. You think you got us figured out with your little presentation?

    The sheer amount of overconfidence is so endearing.

  • Maybe the panel is only giving the answers that they know their stuffy old bosses want to hear.

    Or maybe they’re all idiots and saying the most racist and easiest stereotype was just faster than doing any real research.

  • Oh for goodness sake I’m getting sick of this ‘all-or-nothing’ mentality of Japan.
    In their opinion, male protagonists are either effeminate and girl and Japanese style, or macho muscle bound beefcakes and American style.
    Is it impossible to comprehend that there are scales of men? How about just a normal dude whos not a huge pro-wrestler and also not a wispy twig of a man.

    Besides, most of the games they’ve pointed out are fighting games – if you’re a fighter YOU NEED TO BE PHYSICALLY STRONG! If you were in a situation and you had to choose girly man or muscle man to be your tank, who would you choose?

    And may I also remind the Japanese gamers that the male protagonists of Final Fantasy are also muscly men.
    Guys, get over your hoso-macho fetish.

  • Apparently Link, Mario, & Sonic are muscular men along with Lara Croft and fuckin Samus
    What about Ryu & the rest of SF, Solid Snake, All of the Tekken Characters, Dante, Chris from RE,Cody from final fight?

  • ughhh, im in newzealand
    and games like these pretty much fill the shelves and marketing campaigns here.
    i look at my game shelf and the only ‘muscle’ game i own is ughhmm… devilmaycry??
    i really never care for games like the top pic,
    dont really appeal to girls like me =_=

  • The title should have been “Bad developers make up creative excuses.” Notice that Nintendo doesn’t seem to have problem selling their games in the US, and they do it without an abundance of burly men.

  • The reason y americans have macho looking men is cause of the idea of heroic epic poems. The idea of having big, strong men dates back to the Anglo-Saxons.
    so to say that it is only an american thing is false cause the idea has been used in literature for years.

  • I’d like to point something out.

    Why the hell is the idiot from Too Human on there, but Snake isn’t?

    I don’t care if Snake is from a Japanese company, he screams American hero so freaking much he should be on this list anyways.

    Also, no old school Turok male? Sigh

  • Look at all these limp dick weeaboos bitching about masculine characters. What’s the matter, is the brainwashing you received in public school setting off red flags in your stupid little head?

    Fuck your participation trophy generation.

  • I wonder where they’re getting their information. I wonder if this has anything to do with younger gamers. The ones that grew up with the PSX and X-Box. I find they’re usually the ones with narrower views of what a video game hero should look like.

  • Ha! “Communication problems”!
    That’s just your typical xenophobic drivel. Whenever there’s a situation that goes beyond the boundaries set by the restrictive japanese society, the working ants begin to lose their mental integrity.

    Of course, it’s not like all japanese are xenophobic by nature but there’s a definite underlying tendency to reject almost anything from the “outside” at first. Japanese people who have lived a certain time abroad are usually WAY more friendly (and i mean really friendly, not the fake politeness in Japan itself).
    Of course, japanese who have lived in foreign countries are no longer considered countrymen and women by their own people. Talk about being morons, eh?

    This whole stereotype business is also the reason why it’s such a butthurt to get certain games published in other countries. In case of Squenix, they were even surprised that fans wanted their games with an option for the japanese voice track. Yet another display of how uninformed they truly are about their fans. That includes their japanese fans as well.

  • Obviously Americans need believable things, like an Italian plumber that gets high on mushrooms, and a mute elf in a green tunic with a sword and shield killing monsters all the time, and enormous badass monsters that evolve when you force them to slaughter other monsters that twelve year olds capture in balls which defy physics all the time. Square Enix should stop blaming whatever they feel they’re failing at on their audience and just start making good games.

  • Refer to me as “Devil” if you respopnd to this.

    Listen, the JRPG as we know it has been on life support for a decade now. Final Fantasy XII was a step in the right direction, at appealing to both sides, but Square backtracked and did the wrong thing with XIII.

    I’m not saying everygame needs a bald hero, but we need less JRPGS with the following

    – Childhood friend MOE looking love interests
    – Guys with gigantic swords who look weak and feeble
    – Turn-based battles in the traditional sense
    – Talking animals that are meant to be “cute”
    – Teens saving the world against some stupid threat
    – Relationships that are actually handled like real relationships. Sex, actually saying “i love you”, stuff like that. Too many JRPGs have implied love.

    – More choices that effect the game world. Japanese storytelling has been pretty awful as of late.

    I grewup with Japanese games, and much prefer Japanese art to Western art, but I’ll be lying if I didn’t say the genre has become incredibly stale and hasn’t advanced with the rest of the industry.

    • JRPGs are Japanese in viewpoints, values, art, mannerisms, and all. Western is Western in the same fact. If you are not satisfied thats fine, if you are thats good. The point is that there is no reason to expect the same thing from both sides and there is no obligation for one to cater to the other. Sometiimes you just have to enjoy the experience for what it is.

    • So, Devil, lets get to the bottom of your complaints, these are ofc all opinion based complaints but let me go trough them and state my opinions.

      “- Childhood friend MOE looking love interests”
      This does make all japanese games look kinda odd but then again I tend to ignore that kinda stuff, more on the love interests in general later on.

      “- Guys with gigantic swords who look weak and feeble”
      And this bothers you because? I just would like to know, why does fiction have to be realistic? Ok, simply impossible things without any explanation is kinda stupid but usually these weak looking characters are demons, genetically modified pepole or something like that.

      “- Turn-based battles in the traditional sense”
      Why does this bother so many pepole? Seriously, so what if the battels are slow paced. This is a matter of opinion as always but still for me it dosent matter. Oh and for the record I hated FFXII for that half ass real time battle system.

      “- Talking animals that are meant to be “cute””
      This one I gotta agree on, I try to ignore these as best as I can, but these mascots are always and always will be pointless.

      “- Teens saving the world against some stupid threat”
      I admit the whole “saving the world” story is rather done to death but It seems you have a problem with teens doing this. Well it seems you gave more ground to Squares statement there.

      “- Relationships that are actually handled like real relationships. Sex, actually saying “i love you”, stuff like that. Too many JRPGs have implied love.”
      Ya know what, I think its better that way. The love interest sub-plot is always annoying as shit and I personally dont give a shit about it. So the less its brought up the better. Also why do you need sex in a game? Porn isnt hard to find.

      “- More choices that effect the game world. Japanese storytelling has been pretty awful as of late.”
      It could make the games more interesting yes. But I personally dont expect that from every goddamn RPG.

  • “In other remarks, they were heard to tell the audience that any joint development with foreign developers “is best avoided” because of the potential for communication problems – it appears Square Enix did not have a happy time attempting to work with non-Japanese developers.”

    In other words, “waaaah western developers won’t bow to our every whim and word because we are great Square Enix, maker of the same game 14 times.”

  • Funny how two of their most popular games don’t have macho protagonists
    Kingdom Hearts has kids and Final Fantasy X has a scrawny boy and girl
    It’s about personality and correct choice in vocals, I don’t care if they’re “macho” in fact I’d rather they not be if it’s gonna end up like NIER

  • This kinda reminds me the comparison between American football and European football, One favors brute force while other is about agility etc. Also american music is trying to be so aggressive and manly, I think its laughable at times, this is seriously an interesting cultural thing even though Squares comment sounds rather rasict but I really dont care.

  • Why is Japan so bothered with our heroes?
    They’re probably jealous because they can’t grow facial hair.

    Hell when im playing a game about the best soldiers fighting aliens like on Crisis I do expect the guys to be strong and “macho”, what’s the problem with that? Check out some elite forces around the world and see how many metrosexuals you can find on them.
    I have no problem with female characters but stop trying to shove down our throats your faggy characters Japan.

  • Why can’t we all just GET THE FUCK ALONG? Japan, please start bringing the games we want to America. Like the Tales series. America, stop bashing on “feminine” male characters, and “linear” RPG gameplay. Don’t like it, don’t fucking play it, don’t look at it, whatever. People like different things, and until you all realize that, you’re just going to be pumping out crap releases that no one cares about.

    Also, if America likes “manly men,” and “realistic” games, why isn’t Monster Hunter more popular?

  • Seriously, these comments make me want to kill myself.
    Japan, just keep making the games I love, fuck everybody else.

    More lolis, womens, handsome main characters, interesting stories, worlds where I can escape reality, and great gameplay, instead of the most crap we get here in West/Europe.

    That way, I can still play those games I like.

  • I can probably agree that we have a more need for realism in the background. As in some of those games, Fisher is an former soldier and now a spy. Shepard from ME could be quite young but still in his 30’s. Most of these heroes have a more real-life realistic background with education and such. Not like Gundam series where they give out top secret, super advanced, top notch military equipment to boys who just had their sweet 16. But i still watch and play those things if i find them good enough. Hell, if I can i will always play as a female char in a game.

    But one thing that the most of you is missing is that SE in this says to avoid working with “foreign” (at least in their case) developers. Probably they have a real problem with understanding “our” developers work-process. So if more game developers in Japan heeds SE suggestion the games from japanese developers will probably get even more bad, due to not looking for new influence and try and develop new cool games.

    In my own humble opinion i think that most japanese developers try and talk to non-japanese developers, steal their ideas and remake them to something more japanese, instead of catering to an ultra-coservative market that only want to play the same game in different itterations.

  • Agree with Square, as 30yrs old gamer I absolutely HATE and want to Puke when I see teenage or kiddie like character.
    Im not a pedophile and I want to play with character that close to my age or at least 20yrs old, it makes the game much more be livable for me.
    Kids and children are not heroes, they pedo traps and have to be totally erased from every game.

    • Right, Americans are gay… that explains why the main character in Final Fantasy 9, 10, and 12 were men who looked like girls.

      I think that honestly, the reason that my fellow American gamers are not buying up the Japanese games is because we are sick of getting the short end of the stick. We only get about half the popular game title releases, and the versions that we get are frequently censored out the ass. I was looking forward to Nier, until I found out we were only getting Gestalt. Yeah, thanks again Japanese market for screwing non Japanese consumers.
      At lest when an American developer makes an international release, we don’t do more than just translate the game.

  • Do American’s need Macho Muscle bound hero’s? Not really. Who is one of the best fictional hero’s of all time in American Entertainment? Luke Skywalker. This character is not muscle bound or anything but a young man. It has only been in recent films that they use more muscle bound hero’s. But people like Captain Jake sparrow and Neo are not muscle bound. Harry potter anyone? Where is the age and muscles on that guy. I think that Square Enix has a hard time relating a story arc to Americans because of the Cultural differences in society. Every Society has a different set of cultural inflections making it difficult for other cultures to understand if they don’t know the meaning behind the reference. A simplistic reference would be language and its many accents and slangs. A person in Texas talks different then a person in New York or in England just as the English Language would have different slangs in it from those from India and the Asian Countries who speak it. Just because people live in a different area of the world and are affected by different influences.

  • What is “believable” and what is “real” are two entirely different concepts. The general american public is very adverse to anything that deviates from their beliefs, even if its reality thats in opposition with their beliefs. Square fails to understand that.

  • Funny how I haven’t felt inclined to play any of those games used in the example chart. I bought my PS3 hoping to be able to avoid this kind of bullshit.

    Hopefully this mindset doesn’t bleed over to other developers that have actually delivered a good game in the last ten years.

  • Squaresoft is just complaining, because they are so out of touch with anyone except FF fanboys, and otakus alike.
    Square enix, you guys are done, Bioware has your number.
    Like they wasted their time “researching” this,
    while it’s clear that the Shooting genre is king in America,
    Japan has its fair share of Macho badasses,
    from Ryu, Solid Snake, any Belmont, the Tekken crew,
    If you’re having trouble relating to the “elusive” American market, look at what Konami, Capcom, Sega, and Namco are doing… making great cutting edge games.
    Somehow, Square Enix has dropped off the radar,
    good riddance, Jap-crybabies!!!

  • This long time American gamer is as tired of huge, grunting roid addicts as he is of girly boys who dress themselves out of garbage bins.

    A something in between would be nice. I don’t care if it comes from Japan or the states.

  • “Top-down production” –> entrusting cigar-smoking, crack-snorting executives to “do” game design, rather than, y’know, people actually employed at the company as game designers.

    “Top-down production” –> cigar-smoking, crack-snorting executives “at the helm” issuing commands such as, “I don’t care what the hell it looks like on the PS/3, just meet the (arbitrary) coding deadline I gave you!”

  • Aww boohoo, sounds like the weeaboos aren’t going to get their pedophilac, effeminate main character with the obligatory 12 year old girl with breasts that would make a grown woman feel insecure in their vidya gaemz anymore.

    Such a terrible shame. How will the industry survive, what with Japan’s 16% of worldwide game sales no longer happy. Its called business, fuckwads.

  • Well if you replace any of the above characters with the 16 year old school boy, who is the star of every J-game, you would have an believably, short game.

    I wish they had made a collage of all the main characters of Eastern games that sold well over here in the West. It would probably still be a manly, if a bit short, list

  • Thats rich comming from the people who have made a clown god,the gunblade,The intire kingdom hearts series.and moogles.
    Or what about the unrealistic character designs.
    Or the fact that sence FFx the seem to be confussed as to who the real hero is.

    If you ask me realism in a Square game is just a vien attempt atbest and they should focus on clear cut fantasy.Having Elements of realism isnt the same as being realistic.And square enix needs to know that their past few protagonists could of been left out of their stories completely without changing much.
    Vann and penelo espeacaly.Id rather see more of that bart dude.He looked like a rock starwith those sun glasses.

  • *sigh*…

    Quit overgeneralizing, Squeenix. I can only barely hear the cries of your future employees when you inevitably crash into the dirt and fail.

    Squeenix’s games have been a continual downturn of fail ever since Final Fantasy 12 came out, and it’s almost like they’re trying to find excuses as of why their games are failing outside of Japan. Why don’t they look at what Team Persona was doing–you know, making the old JRPG formula fun, accessible, and even, dare I say it…fresh? There are a lot of Japanese-made games with Japanese conventions that do well outside of Japan…the problem is that in their deluded minds, they’re not even going to consider acknowledging that. It’s just easier to say every game that’s good outside Japan is about a bunch of space marines killing aliens, have a whiny bitch fit, and then move on to continue on their steady decline like nothing happened.

    Instead of just crying that Americans/Ukranians/Spaniards/EVERYONE WHO ISN’T JAPANESE likes beefy macho men with huge guns who jizz testosterone, overly realistic games that are LOL SO HARD, why don’t they just reassess their current formula and try to think outside the proverbial box for a change? Instead of making the same boring RPG over and over (LOL Infinite Undiscovery, anyone?), try to breathe some life in the medium that they did best. I don’t see the spark that Squaresoft used to bring into their games anymore. I just see something dead, lying there on the ground and waiting for the final stake to be driven in it.

    TL;DR Squeenix, don’t use your own generalization (The day I consider characters like Nico Bellic, Cole McGrath, and Alex Mercer as ultra-macho men is the day I go blind. Unless their definition of beefy and macho is ‘not a girly man’, I don’t think these guys fit the bill. Badasses, yes. Beefcakes? Fuck no) to make excuses why you’ve been failing miserably in the West (or rather, the Japanese perception of ‘the West’) for the past few years. It’s not going to work.

  • Examples where this isn’t true:

    -Any Pokemon trainer
    -Link (starts as a kid in OOT, and he’s not all that beefy, especially the Windwaker version)
    -Super Mario
    -Lara Croft
    -Jill Valentine (she was the favorite Resident Evil character for a long time)
    -Samus (it was actually awesome when you found out she was a woman)
    -Ness (Americans have been wanting the Mother series forever)
    -Not to mention all the cutesy characters like Kirby and Diddy Kong that Americans love.

    And with “believability” where do some of those characters in the picture factor in?

  • the problem with americans as a whole is that they LACK imagination and thus only focus on “believability” because they want to “believe” if the events of the games they play are even feasible and wish it were real. this in-turn stems from the fact that MANY american parents are too lazy to teach their children the difference between fantasy and reality thus we hear reports of kids getting hurt and/or killed for re enacting scenes they see in said games/other media. also the american gamer (and americans as a whole) have this “insecurity complex” about themselves so when they play a game they want to feel some kind of empowerment over the world that felling of “invincibility” if you will as well as having the game lead having an appearance to match. the main reason why they need said matching appearance comes from the fact that american society is one that DOES judge a book by its cover despite futile attempts made WITHIN THIS SAME society to reverse this logic.

    as Einstein once said: “imagination is more important than knowledge”

    my opinion is if the U.S. lacks imagination they therefor lack intellect (and parental skills) and thus leading to the pretentious puritanical “follow the leader” society that continues to exist to this day that embraces ignorance and “realism” over intellect and fantasy.

    also for the record I’m an american myself and im just stating what I’m seeing in my country for a quite while now and i don’t see any sign of it improving for the better anytime soon.

    …or…as the old saying goes “ignorance is bliss” i suppose….

  • If the game is good, it doesn’t matter. Mario and Link have been getting away with being unmuscular for years. All of this is just a flimsy excuse from panels that have nothing better than to do than exploit racism for a buck.

    Weak, Japan. Weak.

  • they should’ve just tried making a ‘macho character’ game themselves instead of whining about it in front of the projector. i thought the japs were good at innovating stuff not originally their own?

  • Here’s an idea, why don’t they set up some polls and actually ASK us what kind of heroes we like instead of making these assumptions? I’m sure they’ll find that American is a big place with a lot more diverse tastes than they seem to believe.

  • Actually I thought the women in the upcoming Gears of War 3 looked pretty hot, even if they have an extraordinary amount of armor on them to fit the style.

    I wonder what western developer Squeenix had such a bad time with. Could they be referring to Disney and the Kingdom Heart’s partnership, or whoever the jackhole was that pointlessly screwed up Nier?

  • I don’t think Japanese game designers have the proper cultural mindset to fully understand what Western gamers want. The same way Western game developers can’t appreciate Japan’s love of bishonen heroes.

  • Final Fantasy XIII at least had a hero with hair on his chin. At least they changed it up from all the young heroes who look girly.

    I don’t mind age either way. I just want a well developed character above all else. Old Snake is older than all these US heroes, but I don’t like him more just because he’s a worn veteran.

    I do think that Japanese games need to mix it up more often, especially in RPGs. I know the audience might relate more to young heroes, and the US could do with more clean cut, inexperienced types.

  • Square Enix, your games aren’t being ignored because their protagonists are nancy-boys out to save the world, they’re ignired because they’re started to suck, plain and simple. The Americans who “love big-muscled guys” are still the same ones who loved Final Fantasy. You know, back when the title was actually worth shit.

  • I never played “believable” jrpgs. (or at least i dont know any because of the lack of knowledge)

    But i never played jrpgs because of the fact they were realistic/believable. i always like those “epic” fights against good and evil, with weired monsters, strange abilitys etc.

    But i also like Gta, Sc2 with Raynor and Findlay or Fallout3. But those are complete different types of games. somebody already said it. Squeenix shouldnt go the line with muscle packed old guys, but do their own thing. it is nearly a complete different Genre between western and jrpgs / games. at least so fas as i know that.

  • Final Fantasy 7 sold how many copies in America?

    Has NOTHING to do with a need for ultra masculine heroes (you make the character from fallout yourself, and he never really looks particularly masculine anyway, what the fuck was the point of all that?). Square Enix are just being a pack of dumbasses.

    FF13 hit the bargain bin pretty fast in Japan too so maybe they should reexamine making shit games. Or perhaps people are just tired of the same old shit, who can know.

  • Snake is not a musclebound man (especially old snake) and the franchise is huge over here. Sqeenix should make more male leads following that example. Bad ass does not necessarily mean an MC roids up.

  • I really think that they are just using this whole macho thing as an excuse for not being more innovative with their titles.

    Yes, American games have mostly muscle bound balls of testosterone, but Americans will still buy JRPGs if they would actually make them more innovative. Notice how a lot of those games up there are ones that were made with brand new combat systems and how many of them are actually very fun games that i actually enjoyed. Square needs to step up and realize things like Final Fantasy need to be revised in their gameplay. If the JRPGs would try and make their actual gameplay more fun then they would get better sales in the US.

  • Why does Square-Enix not have the slightest clue how western gamer’s think? Dude, this is game design 101 material! Immersion, the ability to suspend disbelief, relatable characters – These are things kids coming out of college know, so why don’t the people at Square-Enix? Westerners are primarily males who grew up in a sports-loving manly social culture. They can relate to beefcake soldier guys because it is partially who they are and partially who they want to be and could conceiveably be. Additionally, westerners can actually see a future ahead of them, thus playig as an adult works for them. Maybe adulthood is a miserable fate worse than death in Japan, but that’s just not true on these shores.

    Square-Enix is so freaking out of touch, it’s not even funny. I don’t lose any sleep worrying about the Japanese game, anime, or manga industry tanking. If you can’t adapt to the world around you, then you need to die out.

  • I’m an American Male, and I prefer my RPG protagonists/antagonists to be the slender/bad ass/pretty types.

    I hate playing as wrestler-like, manly men. Its gay.
    I rather play as agile females. FF13 was linear as hell but you have to admit that Lightning was a pretty badass/beloved character, while being very rape-cute.

    I don’t know where Enix is getting their facts about what American’s want. It just seems to me that the CEO notices a trend that all the best selling games have bulky guys on the box and just arrogantly says that we’d only accept that kind of hero.

    God forbid that God of War, Halo, Uncharted, Gears of War, Call of Duty, Splinter Cell, and ect… are fun to play or have good stories.

    • Exactly. They’re taking from the Majority of the American population. You’re part of the minority, sorry to say. When it comes to business and selling, companies have to target the most people possible. In this case, it’s the people who like buff dudes as their protagonists.

  • Oh yeah, right Japanese don’t work with stereotypes.
    It’s just a question of preferences. I’m playing L4D lately, and I’m sure I don’t want a fag like Cloud to star in that game. When I play tLoZ, I don’t want Link to look like some sort of an escaped prisonor.

    Why do people think preferences are facts? Americans could complain about Japanese for their preference for fags as characters too. For me, it’s only important that they deliver great games, and if the characters are suited for the job, I’m content.

  • Kinny Riddle says:

    And this is why Solid Snake is popular in the western market compared to most other Japanese game characters because Hideo Kojima gets the western (mainly American) gamer mentality absolutely spot on.

  • The “western” body image is warped by proliferation of steroid abuse and the idolatry of athletes who use them.

    Whereas the Japanese take the fact that we value physical beauty above all else.

    I don’t know why there can’t be a middle ground. More cool dudes like Auron from Final Fantasy X for example, though I guess you can’t really tell if he’s super ripped or not under the clothes.

  • Well, knowing from what I’ve seen, Some Americans have macho guys as protagonists usually because they are okay with guys like them. It doesn’t stop there, you see every action figure, TVs and Movies with all these man so muscular. This macho man concept been like this since…way back then maybe in the 1950’s or 60’s in America. I know some of this because I’ve been in school learning this stuff. I can remember how may eyes widened after seeing screenshots of a Action Figure Man all bulked up in muscle in the present times, before that, the action figure guy from the 60’s was plain. There wasn’t too much muscle, but was still noticable.

    Children or Teenages in JRPGs on a coming of age journey is okay in Japan. They’re comfortable with it for the most part. Some of us realize that some people do give a darn about the character’s looks. I never thought any JRPG character as a coward. Some guys may be that way in the start of a video game, but they start developing chracter and become greater than they imagine.

    Even though I don’t care much about what a character looks like, some do. That’s what you guys are debating about right? Sure I’m american, but I don’t like too much muscled guys that much. Call me a pussy if you want, but I’m just saying. There’s nothing wrong with musculed guys, I just don’t like them when they are too bulked up or I see too many of them in video games.

    • Dragon Age has guns?

      Don’t get me wrong, I love both JRPGs and WRPGs (gasp, blasphemy!), but the majority of Western RPGs are Medieval or High Fantasy based. The “manly men with big guns” appear mostly in shooters and action games.

  • Pretty much all of the games shown in that picture have loads of graphic violence. It’s obvious they’re going to have adult protagonists when you’re going around slaughtering people like in GTA or Prototype.

  • Japanese likes 16 year old kids in puberty as there heroes

    North Americans like full grown men and women that actually HAVE life experience to face the ‘events’.

    Which is more beleivable? hummm…

  • I guess it all comes down to what ‘believable’ means eh.

    I see the average American ‘hero’ as a cross between Al Bundy and Homer Simpson.

    None of those images looked any more believable than GI Joe and Sgt Rock.

    Those pictures only say one thing to me, can’t use a razor, and likely have enough steroids in them they want to fuck men. Probably half of them are closet gays.

    Only good for putting in a speedo so you can encourage women to masturbate.

  • Uff, when will they learn that its NOT at all about being macho, but just an adult or at least someone who looks like it. Of course having an adult as a main character, the story has too be adult too (more serious, possibly less fantasy and maybe more sci-fi etc…). That’s just what western ppl like.

    Characters in Japanese RPGs tend to be children and teens, of course there’s nothing wrong with that. The only problem is that these games are meant for children and teenagers. You can’t expect me to play these games after I turn over a certain age.

    Yet I can still play with no problem western games. Why? Cause they are more adult like. And lets not lie, if you are a kid or an adult you will like western RPGs the same, which CAN’T be said for Japanese RPGs.

  • I don’t think that ‘believability’ is the issue. It strikes me that Americans have gotten their idea of what an action hero should be spoon-fed by Hollywood – the last place where believability counts for anything.

  • If I may approach this from a slight tangent:

    A *lot* of fanfic takes the main character of a show and twists them very much into the “tough and experienced” stereotype. Rebelling against ‘bad’ (though often over-exaggerated) authority figures, setting off on their own to be rid of the problems that troubled them before, be able to kick anyone’s ass that came after them, often becoming revenge-themed, etc, etc.

    Basically, turning them into the above western stereotype of the hero. Now personally, I almost always find these types of stories to be irritating and offensive (weak plot, poor dialogue, motivations are “because the author said so”, etc); they usually feel like they’re written by young teens. There’s no attempt at empathy or sympathy with the characters, just “I’m gonna go blow shit up”.

    The games mentioned above seem to cater to that same type of individual, the one who wants to be the tough, experienced badass (ie: young teen buying market, up to young adult who grew up on that). I think SE’s conclusion that this is based on a desire for “believability”, however, is misguided. There is certainly a drive in the US market for these kinds of games, but it’s more that it meshes with the general culture’s media immersion in these types of characters (everything from Rambo to Terminator to Alien, etc).

    The drive for ‘realism’ is inherent in the need for such in movies (somewhat less so now with CG, but it’ll be a long time before it really changes), which build the basis for the type of hero desired in the games. Japan, however, doesn’t have the movie industry that the US has, and the culture’s media productions tend to be more fantastic in general (ie: anime).

    Also, as mentioned, they seem to be more interested in the -process of becoming a hero-. This actually relates to something said by the GM in my old gaming group (paper & pencil RPGs): low level characters and campaigns were just more interesting than high level ones. You don’t have the power to just trounce any problem that comes your way, but have to think and get creative to survive. The American mentality, though, seems to want to -start- at level 20 (in D&D terms), and not have to deal with all the boring stuff of doing the work to -get- that powerful.

    JRPGs force you to level up (grind) from a very weak starting point up to the point where you’re ready to take on the world. The US games tend to be types where even the idea of levelling up is nonsensical (eg: sports games of established franchises, FPSs, etc), and the only issue is how good the player is at controlling said character (and of course available gear). The US heroes have -already- done all the training and work needed to become good; the player just has to step in at ‘hero’ level. The image of the characters reflects that, with 15+ years of bodybuilding and mission training. The JP game, however, says, “It’s gonna be yeaaaarrrs before you’re that good. You’re just a little highschool dweeb right now.” And the character imagery reflects that.

    The JP approach seems to be, “Work hard and someday you could be the hero, too.” The US approach seems to be, “Here’s all the cool stuff you could do if you were the hero.” The JP side lacks on the payout side (the cool stuff you can do when you’re the hero, as the game tends to basically be done by that point), while the US side lacks on the work ethic side (just want the “insta-cool” button).

    • There is some sort of leveling involved in alot of those games mentioned above.

      The games without it require you to get “real” experience at playing the game. Especially the multiplayer games. I doubt someone can go out and get first in every COD game without investing 50+ days worth of play time and even then there will be people who are better than you.

  • More like most Japanese games that get localized are complete shit & you basement dwellers believe they’re actually good. Capcom, Overworks, Jupiter, Platinum & Atlus are the only good JPN devs left these days, stop pretending garbage from constant rehashers like NIS & Gust are any good.

  • I would like to remind the uninitiated amongst us that the Occident, the place in regards to here, is the birthplace of surrealism; many popular artists and authors produce works that are anything but real.

  • Japan and America (Europe, Russia) are different worlds apart – the culture and the its media.

    Japan: Moe = $
    America (Europe, Russia): Macho = $

    See the difference?

    Games in the US tends to have the main macho (masculine) “man” (in their late 20s or so) be the hero (or crook) with big weapons to save or annihilate the world (what I see in a lot of western games). Games in the US has more ‘realness’ and tends to stick to the laws of physics… Sadly, I have the slightest interest in them.

    While games in Japan have more young moe-fied adults (which I’m so~ attracted to XD) trying to beat themselves up into a man or woman and save the world while at it. But remember that Japan’s games’ are mainly “fantasy” that isn’t reality-like in most cases and would go against the laws of physics with characters having big guns and swords. Still, I like it…

    Oh, all I’ve seen on the list of games on top is mostly shooters – none that would interest me one bit. Almost all those characters in there has a mugging face on them… I can’t get moe-fied by that!

    I’d choose moe over macho any day!

  • You know what, this comment made by SquareEnix represents just how out of touch with the gaming community it is. You see, back in it’s prime, Square produced epic games, with a formula that worked. There were some tweaks to it here and there, but fans loved it. Now, they are flogging a dead horse with this formula, it hasn’t changed, and “western” gamers want more. Yet they’ve completely missed the point with their shallow analysis of trends in American games. Sounds like they didn’t even play the games mentioned above, but looked at the instruction booklet and said, hmm, macho bald heroes, Eureka! that must what drives millions of American gamers to buy games!
    No wonder they have a hard time working with other developers.
    Look at other more sucessful Japanese companies, Konami, Solid Snake is bad ass! Capcom, Ryu and Ken are iconic guys (maybe Americans like Sagat more since he’s bald and old?) Epic fail SE.

  • solution, you get to create your own hero

    developers give us the tools!

    every gamer will be happy, and developers will have more work! awesome deal

    we should be able to make dfc lolis cuz the are the best on every aspect, fuck you “machos”

  • Why are the east and west going at it so much more lately? Shouldn’t they be uh…making games? They should stop saying why they don’t like the other side and prove it(better stuff can sometimes come out when people try to compete in something).

  • Fools!! who need character!! gimme better story and gameplay!!
    even faceless master chief can told better story than bunch of lame emo teenagers with anime dialogue,
    even old sprites classical final fantasy can give me better story than those lame bishounen characters with flashy moves….

  • half of those guys aren’t even musclebound(though most of them ARE badasses in their own rights)
    I do prefer male protagonists yes, but that is because more than half the time that is what the situation calls for, as long as the character gets shit done in the end I really don’t care

    and it isn’t like the US is the only country that play these games, it is true that there is a bit of ignorance in the country and there are people who refer to good games with anime-like protagonist stuff like “jap fags” or respect it but still hate it but that isn’t what makes up the whole country I doubt it even makes up a majority, all countries have their own style simple as that

  • Sigh this is why i hate the western games market. It’s always the same. Dude with too much muscles infiltrated topsecret base and kills his enemies with sheer testoron overdose moves.

    And instead of working on good gameplay or intresting story they just make the graphics look over the top. Which i frankly couldn’t give a ratsass about.

    Go go enix make some more bullshit games i will definitely not buy.

  • So you all like games like … tales of vesperia over Prototype or Assassin’s Creed? Lets get real. The only J games i played were FF7 and some game with a guy that pwns some evil guy with a blonde long hair :/ .

    J Games are meant for ppl in Japania-Land . I for one don’t understand how the hell you can even play such a game. J games have way too many stories in my opinion :/ WAY too many. Oh and lets not forget… the only good J-games that you made were the street fighter series. And no its not a masculinity problem here.

    So on the short notice…

    Don’t like what I said? Well then you are a retard. It’s only an opinion -.-‘ something that 99% of the people on this site don’t understand what it is.

  • Well its easier to identify to characters like that , while Japan gives you Yuri Lowell and you go WAIT THAT IS A GUY ?

    Also as anon 17:57 said its not only US. Europe and Russia also like masculine characters. Yes masculine not MACHO, but seems Japan can`t see difference between them.

  • if SE starts putting macho men in every game thats released in the west like they did for Nier, then this game company will be dead for me.

    I guess SE doesnt realise that their problems are in gameplay and story in their games, what, do they think that putting a macho character as a main character will change anything.

    Instead of catoring to two different markets, they should just keep making what they want because lets be honest i dont play japanese games for their western flavor

    no one cares much about the hero when playing games…its about the fun you have enjoying them…and all the games mentioned above are fucking GREAT… I guess that japanese are all into the fantasy stuff and shit…like in their animes…thats why they like `em more thant the others…but hey…no one FUCKING cares… this is pointless talking…everyone plays what he pays for(or steals)…and he doesn`t give a FUCK about what others says…

  • I want to play a badass not some emo kid trying to save the world. Also it’s not just America that prefers badass protagonists just look at the Witcher, Metro 2033, and many other European made games.

  • I wouldn’t exactly call Cole, Galen, Altair, Nico, or Agent 47 macho. Manly, yes but definitely not macho. Macho is a parody or at least it is to me.

    As for me, all I want is for the main character to not be emo and whiny.

  • I don’t get it, believable heroes, but a good pictured have fictional powers that may or may not be possibly with the development of science. Believe me, I’m trying, look, I’ve been at it for over half an hour and I STILL can’t force choke my old teddy bear on my shelf. Putting off producing lightning from my fingertips at a later time, perhaps replaying Dragonage may help me.

    • Believability/Realism =/= Reality
      Its more believable that man aroung 30s who trained for most of his life and were in few war conflicts will be able to save world than 16 years old brat who just fount that he is chosen one and have mystical powers he never heard of before. You can even add mystical elements to it (that man could have trained magic or fighting with battleaxe twice his size) but that logic is still valid.

      • I think it in itself “saving the world” is a large scale to begin with, something small is never that bad, as long as it can be built upon well. Though I do agree with the viewpoint of the teen brat hero concept that has been used so many times, let alone how many of them usually have the “bumbling idiot” quality to it.

        However, I wouldn’t mind playing as a character from his/her childhood in a relatively good time to the point of said adulthood. (NINTENDO, YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THIS, for gods sake, you did it so well with Legend of Zelda back in the day)

        • There are games like Bully. Funny is that main character in Bully is in fact only child version of heroes mentioned above. Whatever, its more interesting than whiny teens from JRPGs.

          By the way, with friend we were thinking about a RPG game concept where whole game would be limited only by start and end of a war in which player can but dont have to take part. You could make character with any skills, stats and age and game would offer at least 2 suitable backgrounds justyfiyng it. I would really like to see game like that.

  • I’m sorry but I can’t accept a 12yr old as a realistic hero, but either way, I can play either types of games and still enjoy both.

    I feel sorry for people who can’t enjoy both W-RPGs and J-RPGs, more for me.

  • I don’t know what are they thinking but I think the illogical of their stories and plots play a big part of their recent problem. They better find a good writer and game designer first before worry about the look of their character.

  • actually i think i know why americans think muscles= good

    its because most highschool students in the USA play rugby and perv on cherrleaders

    its just a cultural difference, the hero of the game shouldnt make you hate or like the game if you ask me..

    its the depth of a game that makes it good or bad

  • Their saying Halo and Starcraft is realistic…

    Seriously, they just don’t understand that we just like new experiences that make us feel like we’ve lost our virginity, whether it’d be to war, violence or sex.

      • That little “degree” even got it’s own name, it’s called “suspension of disbelief” and it’s essential in all storytelling, but especially so when it comes to fantasy, sci-fi or similar stories.

        What it basically says is that we, the audience, are prepared to accept certain things because “it comes with the package”. For example, in a fantasy setting dragons, trolls, dwarfs and elves comes “with the package”, so we accept them, they fit the logic of the story even though clearly they are “unrealistic”.
        However, if stuff starts contradicting the logic of the story, the suspension of disbelief starts shattering and the story gets less and less enjoyable. Even though we for example might accept dragons and elves in a story, we still expect humans to behave as humans, we expect gravity and other stuff to at least somewhat work the same, and so on.

  • These characters maybe looks similar but who cares – most of them are from FPS and Hack&slash games and who cares whats their character, what matters is how good the game mechanics are. And in Mass effect, which is pretty much only RPG on this list, you can choose your character.

    One thing that Im slightly sorry for is the new Star Wars game protagonist. In SW most heroes were young and emotional or somehow otherwise interesting (Luke, Anakin, even Kyle or Mara). But they suddenly made such ultimately uninteresting dumb looking idiot as main character. Oh, is it even right to call him character?

  • because americans think that having a pretty face is actually gay.

    what’s wrong with someone looking handsome? i don’t get it that big muscles being more muscular = Male according to them

    you can look pretty at the same time being male. i always see dumb people bullying others because of their face not being muscular or because they look weak.

    *sigh can’t beleive square fell for this.

    for example:

    i watch jdrama yet americans will say to me “errr that’s gay you should watch shows that involve guns, blood spatter all over the floor cursing and so on, because people who watch drama’s are gay durrrrrrrr”

    fucking ignorant fucks(not all)

  • This is all rubbish and a slight bout of ignorance by Square Enix. Its not a case of the character but characterisation. Many of these game get lost in translation with the main protagonist not relate-able to westerner consumers because of the cultural gap. It’s this cultural gap that they need to tackle instead of looking at ascetic.

  • For some reason Japanese are fixated on us how we like Macho looking characters.We want a Character are interesting sure it’s believable around the age of 25-40.

    Remember Zone of the Enders sure It was all about the Mecha in that game but It was all about a little kid trying to survive by fighting impossible odd’s against him and that was believable and that game manage to become successful.

    • That’s because in Japan macho men tend to be considered homosexual. So in other words they keep pointing this out to try to insinuate that the rest of the world is gay.

      Or to keep it short, they racist.

  • They should just get over these superficial stuff already… east and west, everyone of them. Besides weak looking characters with an axe 10 times their size isn’t always bad, look up ‘gap moe’.

  • Well I guess they make a valid point in believability. Im sure if for some unknown reason the world would need saving it would be a guy in his 20’s or 30’s not a 16 year old freshmen in highschool.

  • Square Enix has never had the right to give pointers in the gaming world.
    Squaresoft, maybe. but Square Enix is a ball in the process of being dropped. its just a slow descent.

    your priorities need to be reassessed, SE.

  • lets make this clear Japanese just don’t want america to have quality games from them it’s not that their titles suck completely its that they choose the worst titles to port over to achieve any success for a international market for what ever franchise they may be inclined to market.

    In basics they fuck themselves over.

  • …The audience I think they are talking about are the ones that play sports games……To this day i will never understand why the HELL you would play a sports game when you can just go outside and play it…seriously.

  • They are somewhat correct, I’ve always hated how effeminate Final fantasies heroes were. I didn’t mind cloud because at least he looked somewhat normal, like a lanky muscular nerd. But tidus? They have “manly men” in the series but they are not the main character.

    Characters in Squaresoft games tend to be fairly off the wall. The only game I think had almost normal characters was final fantasy 8, with Squall and everybody. Squall was a pretty manly guy even if he was a bit emo, that swordfight near the opening with seifer was pretty bad ass.

  • Not this again.
    I generally don’t care what the characters look like, I can go with out whiny little brat that complain about everything. I don’t care how stuff dies in the end if it’s from a giant gun, big ass sword, or blasting them with magic, I don’t care dead is dead and in the end isn’t that what matters?

  • Not sure about Japanese VGs but, I don’t like how they all claim amnesia.

    What about all those “realistic” 80’s and early 90’s anime where there were lots of those manly macho men, heck everyone forgot about DBZ already?

    Didn’t DBZ video games do well in Japan?

  • BoooHooooo Weah noah halve success sukkseeedehng in aha malket whele da audiense noah has twilce da “Suspension uf Disberief” uf a FulSuit Rifestyler…. And they Allest us if we just fall back on Pilate Rori Hentai! BoooHoooo!!! Weltern Foelen Devil es Evril!!!! BoooHooo!!!

    Please forgive the “Politically Incorrect” rant playing with “Engrish”, but really they should have and DO have some darn COOL stuff, notably their historical “Samurai/Ninja” dramas. And other things, like Vampire Hunter D and Fist of the North Star were amazing, inspired by western influences and then on their own tangents that both played tribute to and challenged their own genre.

    And I especially love “Cutey Honey”. Really, seeing the US release of “New Cutey Honey” and the translated Manga made me like the idea of a “Superhero” again when in the “West” that genre was being deconstructed; Miller’s Batman, Marshall Law, Watchmen…

    I mostly like real old-school “Pulp” type adventure though. Sword swinging barbarian and “Planetary Romance” adventures, tough detectives and bold explorers, gladiators, boxers, sailors, etc…

    It’d be nice to get some old Pulp mags (or the scanned files) to some of these writers and artists… Really, you don’t have to “Master” English to understand and enjoy these;-) They were written in a “Lower Class” level of dialect and the stories were “Cinematic” in presentation.

    The trick to enjoying “Pulp” adventure is to shut of that “Snooty Intellectual” and just sit down like you are on a roller-coaster and enjoy the wild ride. If you want to see what they can do for comics (aside from Batman, Superman, etc. starting FROM Pulps) look at the more modern “Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus”… Or Dark Horse’s magnificent re-do of “Conan”, suggesting “Rogues in the House” or “The Tower of the Elephant”…

    What they’ve got to do is focus on “The Story” the “Art”. Too much “Well we’ll try to make the next Naruto” commercialized “Take money from demented adult child entombed in room in parent’s apartment”. Take TIME and do a good job. For too long has commercial Japanese art and fiction been “Industrialized”, go back to the “Sporadic but Incredible” format… Some have, like “Robot” and “Apple”… I’m thinking more “Go Euro” ala “Heavy Metal” where an artist makes his OWN DAMN COMIC BOOK and it takes him a FUCKING YEAR or so… But we get Druillet’s brilliant gothic space operas, Moebius’s awesome sci-fi or Gimenz’s stuff, Corben’s modern pulp fantasy, etc. And I’m not just talking the older ones, “Genetic Grunge” and especially “SkyDoll” were both superb…

    Again, no offense meant save my “Engrish” meant to be attention grabbing offensive and perhaps I’m “Casting Pearls” but you got the components to re-invent and re-invigorate your culture/artforms and be the envy of the world, even taking past America’s now too corporate and worse PC (Gaaaahhh!) media. Just tell the “CEO Boss” to just “Sit in youah office and have yoah dick sukked by rittle boy whire we take extla time an doah good job and youah pay us better!” or form your own companies and go direct to the fans with sporadic but brilliant stuff.

  • Although I don’t agree with their implementation of it (if I go the rest of my life without seeing another musclebound bald space marine as a protagonist, it’ll be too soon), they are talking sense with believability. The same can be extended to Japanese vs Western media in general, that is, the Japanese audience seems to have a greater willing suspension of disbelief than Western audiences. Note that the first JRPG that sold gangbusters in the west, FF7, was based on a world that was closer to the one we actually live in than any previous FF game.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that it has to be either a girly-boy like many JRPGs or Marcus Fenix, there’s plenty of room inbetween to work with. Nathan Drake, who’s a handsome guy but also pretty lean is a decent example. Despite it being shown in that picture up there, I think Ezio from Assassin’s Creed is also a deep, well balanced character who’s a cultured pretty boy while also being believable as a badass murdering machine.

    If there’s any barrier Japanese games have to many western gamers, I think it’s the wonky control schemes many of them have compared to what western gamers are used to in our games. The best companies tweak them so they work all around, but if you don’t you end up with something like FFXIV, which until a recent patch in the beta was nigh unplayable without a gamepad, which Square just assumed would be ok because Japanese players prefer gamepads to a mouse and keyboard. I’ve been facepalming with a lot of decisions made with that particular game, though.

    • I disagree about Japanese people having a greater ability for suspension of disbelief than Westerners do.

      I think one of the main reasons why MCs in J games are so young is because they are aimed at a younger audience. Why? Because I would guess that a lot of Japanese adults don’t play games. But also, I think it is generally held that Japanese adults DO NOT HAVE ADVENTURES: Japanese people have a hard time accepting the idea that an adult would do something so irresponsible as leave their job to go off and save the world. When you become an adult, your sense of adventure dies. You become your job and nothing else — unchangable, inflexible, and oh so responsible.

      Western adults still believe that adventures could happen to them. They can still imagine themselves doing something magical, off-the-wall, out-of-this-world. Many would drop everything to investigate something mysterious, or to explore the unknown. So, they like games where such things happen, and can accept the idea that an adult character would be willing to do stuff like that, because *they* would like to do stuff like that. Thus, in the West, you get older players who have issues with imagining older main characters, and even prefer such.

      Furthermore, older players tend to be more sophsiticated and they want their games to have more internal consistancy. If you say that the world has magic and it works in a certain way, then they expect the characters, the setting, and the society to reflect this.

    • FFVII was popular for many reasons, but its setting wasn’t one of them. Western audiences also aren’t in any way lacking in their ability to suspend disbelief. They just don’t particularly like effeminate teenage boys as lead characters in video games.

  • This argument kind of falls apart when players take the girl in any game, but especially Fallout 3 because the Lone Wanderer starts off as a baby fresh from his/her mum’s vagina and they don’t get much more experience than shooting rad roaches from behind a bunch of boxes, before she/he’s thrown out into a post-apocalyptic landscape, with maybe a pistol and suit of armor you nicked from a guard you had to bludgeon.

  • I think they’ve got it. I’m not happy, since that kind of game usually bores me to sleep, but if they want to sell not to a certain subset of the American audience, and instead make a game for “the American audience,” that sounds right on.

    It would be foolish to forget that a lot of that audience also buys their Japanese/worldwide games however.

  • I understand the “believability” aspect, but from that to say “only macho character will succeed in the west” is another thing.

    is not like macho heroes are the only ones with skills, or children with magic powers will defeat every enemy without effort, I prefer a reasonable character that improve with battles

    • Key point: Time

      Most western gamers don’t have the time / don’t want to spend the time grinding up for hours in order to be able to kick ass. Which is why most of the games listed up there really require very little in the way of “leveling up.” For the most part, the most successful games in the western world are the ones that let you jump straight into the action and try to find other ways to prolong the experience (puzzles, floods of enemies, good enemy AI, co-op necessity, etc.)

  • Really, they referenced Fallout 3 for “believability”? Eating 200 year old food and having mostly destroyed wood-frame housing still standing after all that time was anything but believable to me.

    • …but then again Fallout 3 was using mad 1950’s physics and irradiated food does actually prevent it ripening any further so the food does remain fresh….in a sense. As for the wood frame housing…the bombs didn’t hit every house.

      • Radiation is not magic, after 200 years the food will be dust (if that). There are companies that do radiation treatment to food RIGHT NOW and its shelf life is nowhere near 200 years.

        With the houses, it is not about bombs not hitting it but about neglect and rot. If you don’t maintain shit, it falls over.

  • Would love to see 17-19 year old emo-turd, a witless slacker, charged with saving the world, just don’t want to see him whining through 4/5ths of the game.

    Would Kratos have worked as a 17-19 year old wet behind the ears god killer? No. But then neither does 7-8 year olds battling an evil empire.

    • Which is ironic because the majority of the men who think of themselves as masculine studs are actually neurotic douchebags who couldn’t get laid even if you shot at them with howitzers loaded with nymphomaniac ammunition.

  • Gamers aren’t known for being Mr. Olympia, and the majority of gamers are teenagers so it’s only natural for protagonists to be young slender boys. People want to play as a character they can relate to. Using buff old men only makes the player feel bad about their bodies >;(

    • When I Indiana Jones as a kid, I didn’t watch it for Short Round, I watched it for Indiana Jones, one bad ass mofo. When I play games, I don’t want to play as a young slender boy, I want to fuck shit up.

  • I reservedly agree with this premise, especially for FPS, but they dont have to be a middle aged meat head to be realistic. I think Squall (FF8) was an excellent example of a realistic protagonist with an otherwise fantasy setting. And what about Gordon Freeman (Half-Life)? He is one of the most iconic FPS heros out there, while he may be middle aged he’s just a scientist trying to survive. Games being believable in the West is right on the money, but assuming they must be middle aged meat heads is a non-sequitur.

      • Squall NOT being particularly macho WAS my point, he was a reasonably believable protagonist without following the ridiculous notion that characters must be super buff to be a believable hero. His physique is that of an average soldier, in good phisical shape but not exceedingly buff, 20-something year old.

    • To be fair, Gordon Freeman is more like a soldier than a scientist, and the game knows it. There’s a reason one of the NPCs’ lines is, “with my brains and your brawn, we’ll make an excellent team”.

      But yeah, I don’t think Mario is a particularly realistic character, and he’s done pretty well for himself.

      • giascle quoted:

        ‘”with my brains and your brawn, we’ll make an excellent team”.’

        Maybe you can tell me where that is said. I’ve played all the HL games several times and I don’t remember ever hearing that. *Maybe* Alyx says that, but if she does, she’s not being serious.

        The earlier poster had it right about Gordon.

        • Ah, yeah. The scientists. I forgot about those guys. They do say that. My bad.

          I still think it is quite a leap to take that to mean that Gordon is some muscle-bound jock. If you look at his (somewhat more detailed) interactions in HL2, the other significant NPCs all treat him as someone with a pretty high intellect. And I don’t think Black Mesa would hire any dummies for his line of work.

          In fact, in one of the annoucements by Breen in HL2 (when he’s in the prison), Breen says that Gordon is merely a physicist, and “not some agent provacatur”. And when you see pics of him, he doesn’t look all buffed out, either.

          So, you’re welcome to think of him as a soldier, but I don’t, and I don’t think the game (or its designers) think of him as being one. YMMV.