It’s funny. If you read a lot of the forum and blog posts from 4LS, you’ll find that a lot of them want to retain their anonymity. I’ve never been ashamed of Katawa Shoujo, but I suppose that I do have one regret. Let me tell you about this in a round-about way.
As some of you may have guessed by reading this blog, I have grown up quite a lot since starting Katawa Shoujo. Back then I was a T-shirt wearing, shift-working bachelor who was content to work in an interesting and inspiring industry.
Now, however, I am well upon the path to senior management, I have a beautiful wife and daughter, and I’m helping a hell of a lot of people to do the job I was doing 5 years ago. Best of all, it was an organic evolution between then and now.
And now, I’ve been invited to meet with a not-for-profit organisation’s Board. They are looking for a new director, and they have somehow managed to find me amongst the flotsam of volunteers. I’m not going to mention their name (lest they find out who I really am), but I do have to mention that they are based around words; prose and poetry, spoken and written.
So now I’m torn. Sure, I have enough professional merits to go into an interview and probably have a good shot at landing a position on the Board. I’ve even written quite a lot of widely circulated tutorials and editorials in my industry.
But part of me is screaming to let them know about this other, hidden side of my keyboard-stroking. “They’re progressive” my inner self cries. “In fact, they might like the fact that you wrote cripple porn!” For everything that I write under the moniker “cpl_crud” will forever be associated with Hanako’s bittersweet tale. A quick Google reveals this blog, the Mishimmie, and the Katawa Shoujo blog.
If I were to drop this mask and adorn a new one, then I would essentially lose my credibility. I would have to start again. My confidence tells me that I could probably build up a certain fanbase again, but it would be like sacrificing my current position in this industry, re-join the ranks of the freelancers, and do it all again. And I don’t think I’m ready for that.
So, to my regret – sex.
Very early in the production of Katawa Shoujo, we discussed the concept of having sex scenes in the game. Because of the phrasing of the original Raita drawing, it was implied that Katawa Shoujo was going to be a “dating sim,” in full graphic ball-slapping nudity.
When I started taking a more central role in the project, I started to question it. Everyone seemed to have some opinion on it, and with pressure from some of the more vocal members, we decided to leave the sex in. I was a fence-sitter for a while, but once we made the decision (and in the name of progressing) I decided to stick with it, on the condition that it didn’t turn into a fuckfest (which, as we all know, it didn’t). Also, in my mind at the time, I was okay with letting my circle of friends (at the time) in on the fact that I was working on a cripple porn game (as they so quaintly put it).
It’s the one thing that I wish I had thought about a bit harder. It would not have been impossible to delete. I know almost all of the devs struggled with the sex scenes in one way or another, and they don’t really add that much to the story. Sure, in most other novels you have sex scenes, sometimes graphically described. In fact, I’m pretty sure that one of the books I had to read at high school, “Tomorrow, When the War Began” graphically described a sex scene between two 16 year olds. But when you combine that with disabilities and cartoon-ish graphics, you’ve got a mixture that is a little harder to swallow.
I wonder if any of the other devs are ever going to find themselves in this situation…