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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    Comment by Anonymous
    04:11 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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?

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:27 22/11/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's not an FPS, so the lolhalo fans don't care about it, and it doesn't break laws, so the lolGTA fans don't care about it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:20 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:21 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:01 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:10 05/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:55 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:37 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "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."

    Avatar of RaspberryKisses
    Comment by RaspberryKisses
    03:40 05/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "maker of the same game 14 times" proof or GTFO.. i'v played 7,8,9,10,12,13 and they don't seem to me as "same game".

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:36 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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

    Comment by flood
    04:51 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Uhhh... It's square enix's stAtement about western pro tags being macho. Square nix having such successful games without machos just proves their point even more.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:02 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm talking about popularity in America/Europe, which would mean we don't always need macho figures, we're just given them these days

    Avatar of Abel Liegod
    Comment by Abel Liegod
    03:55 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Japanese heroes are the best, like Kamen Riders!

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:02 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    He sucks! So does Ultraman,
    Spiderman is where it's at bitch!

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:04 25/01/2016 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, if you're looking for a bitch, Spiderman's the place to start.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:54 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    LIES!! Shepard is a Hot Lesbian Woman!

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:32 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    YES!!! or a black guy who fucks blue bitches XD

    Avatar of Darrtallion
    Comment by Darrtallion
    02:50 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Avatar of Zippydsmlee
    Comment by Zippydsmlee
    03:14 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Gee...... I didn't know Americans were so gay...... well...it explains why football is so popular.....

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:32 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:55 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Define which looks girl, for me typical man looks gay, and acts like one. Whilist those who look cool, are cool.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:41 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    apparently in the case of nier, it was the distributer in US that forced SE to replace the lead char with a burly man. But considering many of SE's latest announcement, its problaby just an excuse as they are in a downward spiral and in worst case will crash later...

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:59 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah , it made Nier better though. After playing both versions. Older , Uglier Nier was a much more interesting character. I actually cared about his plight , unlike the younger version.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:26 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:54 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:39 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:04 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    wtf thay have franches from left for dead but thay forget that there are seven other sevivers none of which look that macho rilly. (exepition maby for bill but hes old)

    Avatar of Diorte
    Comment by Diorte
    05:09 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Comment by Anonymous
    05:48 16/12/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Beautifully said, Diorte.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:32 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Avatar of Edsabre
    Comment by Edsabre
    07:18 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hmm... I guess it comes down to personal preference. Play as an aged, buff, bald man or a whiney 15 year old boy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:25 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And no middle-ground in sight.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:17 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:37 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "I wanna be a macho macho man."

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:30 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ayayaya! The Japs are making stupid comments again and america is too jock to deny it!

    All hail the idiots!

    Comment by Anonymous
    Avatar of YotaruVegeta
    Comment by YotaruVegeta
    10:50 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    WOuldn't the idiot be the one who calls Japanese people "Japs" as if h3e was fighting a war in the early 40s?

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:18 05/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    japs japs japs *yawn*

    Avatar of Eienring
    Comment by Eienring
    07:11 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    As long as the characters are interesting and likable, I don't really care about their age, sex, or race.

    Square-Enix just isn't very good at creating likable characters in their recent titles.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:29 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Avatar of zeniselv
    Comment by zeniselv
    06:05 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ok, so what about nier? was that a joke or what?

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:30 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:37 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Most of Them Baldie.

    Avatar of Iowa
    Comment by Iowa
    06:36 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:34 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:21 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Thee weebooism is strong in this site, yes it is.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:35 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    We prefer our anime to be more believable too.
    Eg: Cowboy Bebop, Berserk

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:54 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh but they sure are happy to slap their brand on anything Eidos makes now, aren't they?

    Maybe if JRPG characters were more than shallow archetypes they'd be believable too.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:56 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    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.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:07 04/09/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Mario is muscular, he smashes bricks with ONE MIGHTY FIST!!
    But with all seriousness, yea they gotta sit down make decent game characters like Nintendo did

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