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…

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24 thoughts on “Regrets?

  1. I’m currently getting a degree in management and one of my teachers for the Investigation Methods class wanted us to fill our CV and send it to her, she said that the more things you have worked on, the better, for instance, artistic qualities that you may have or if you had collaborated to make anything of the sort.

    So, basically in my opinion, you should totally let them know about Katawa Shoujo and that’s not just a porn game (although, it technically is) , but just an inspiring story of sorts.
    You should totally go for it.

    1. You may be mistaking “Getting a job as a writer” with “Getting a spot on the board of an organisation.”

      One of these roles involves being a creative spark that lights the way forward for a new generation of thinkers. The other one is supposed to do the same thing, only with corporate governance skillz (sic) and not cripple porn.

      I do get what you’re saying, and I have referenced KS in spheres where it is appropriate. However, if you do become a member of a board you are, for want of a better expression, the organisation. That’s a whole different level of accountability.

  2. Just stating the obvious: there are so many few people that get (or would get) past the “cripple porn” phase.

    “Am I sure they’re one of those few?”

    “Is telling them really going to work on my benefit?”

    “Is it actually worth telling them?”

    “Do I have anything to lose?”

    You may have asked yourself these questions already, but have you thought about this post’s title yet?

    “Will I -regret- doing it?”

    1. Ah, but you see, what I regret is not siding with the non-sex camp. Or at least the non-porn camp. I believe that sex had a place in Katawa Shouju, but if we avoided the porn then we would have had a totally different product.

      1. I got that, I too myself wish you guys would’ve gone for the non-h VN side, as it would have been easier to tell people about it. All of the above questions are meant towards your next possible audience, the organization you’ve mentioned. KS could turn out either as a big yay or nay on your résumé.

        I think you should simply ask yourself if you could end up regretting telling them about it. If not, then I guess you pretty much know what to do.

  3. Well I hate to break this to you, but your secret’s pretty much out, since you do link to your professional blog in your profile. I’m not going to go spreading it around, but anyone who’s wanted to know your IRL credentials probably does, and if you do get this position… Well, it wouldn’t be hard to do something. Just FYI.

    But as to the brewing scandal, I’m not surprised that you view KS as your “secret shame” as a serious writer. God knows that’s how I feel about my fanfiction. But really, I could never seriously call KS “cripple porn.” There’s a definite line between having sexual content and being porn. KS certainly has sex, as a lot of literature does, but sex is really the absolute least of it. I’ve never even heard of any KS fan playing this just as a wank aid (they’d have to be the most patient masturbator ever). We play it because it’s really, genuinely moving in a way that this medium so rarely is. Have you read the forums? Hundreds of people don’t go around professing that porn games changed their lives forever. All that given, I would still find this situation pretty uncomfortable if I was in it. But the same, I would, if confronted, at least have some hope, since I could present the game as it actually is, in contrast to the inaccurate label.

    1. True, but the link is one-way. I have discussed a number of different projects (like Higurashi) with work friends, but this one is still just a little too-far left-feild.

      I should also stress that this isn’t me going for a new job, and in fact should KS become public knowledge in my “real” life then there would be no scandal. I link to my professional (albeit neglected) blog here because I honestly want more people to understand the world that I live in, and there is a slight chance that one of the readers here is either in IT or Theatre and might benefit from it.

      I think the issue here is the culture of the organisation. I’m not sure what I’m going to be walking into. I imagine that, as an arts organisation, that they are quite liberal, and would see any volume of work (such as KS) as a worthy achievement. But there is also the image of the organisation. As a board memeber, your stance on everything becomes the stance of the entire organisation; you are forever linked (well, so long as you remain on the board).
      Since I’m not sure what they think about such things, I’m not sure how to react. What I do know is that I would produly present a PG-rated Katawa Shoujo to a literary arts group, and I regret forcing the explict (as opposed to “sexual”) content into the game.

      1. I agree with what you’re saying. We all know what KS is and how it’s impacted so many lives, mine one of them. While the organization may be fine doctrinally with what you helped to create, the real issue is communication or in this case lack thereof. If I was a close friend of yours in this organization and had no idea about this VN you helped write, I’d wonder why you’ve chosen to hide it from me all this time versus talking about it from the start.
        If I had been in your shoes, I would’ve done the same thing. I would’ve been proud of what KS is and is becoming. But this one piece of the puzzle that I chose not to speak louder on would’ve been a reminder of my going with the crowd and not feeling confident enough to say “hold on a second”.
        It stinks that you are in this position. Just know that no matter your choice, there is an enormous amount of guys here that have your back after you helped us to deal with some pretty heavy baggage from our pasts. Your VN created a brotherhood that won’t fall apart very soon, as I don’t think any of us want to loose the support that we’ve gained from this.

      2. While I understand how KS might be something you don’t always want to brag about, I think it would have been a mistake to try and water it down just to make it more palatable to some audiences (whether it’s VN readers or someone evaluating a resumé). Really good art challenges people’s assumptions, and there’s usually a large contrast between a first impression of KS vs. a final opinion.

  4. I think all of us reading would understand that KS isn’t quite cripple porn, and that the sex scenes added to the story.

    But I’m sure that there are some people – the majority, probably – who don’t know enough about KS to understand that, and don’t care enough to want to understand more (which is completely understandable).

    If I were in your shoes, I’d err on the side of caution.

  5. Although you say it didn’t add “that much” to the experience, I think it actually did, well, atleast it did in Hanako’s story. For instance, how painfully quiet and awkward it seemed while reading through it showed how uncomfortable Hanako was, but later on you find out that she knowingly gave up her body to Hisao because she thought he was going to abandon her. Personally, that really added to the impact Hanako’s story had on me.
    I do side with you on the thing about not turning it into porn, however. If you ask me, the sex scenes were put really maturely. They weren’t extremely graphic (in text terms) and they weren’t about being arousing or erotic or anything like that, they were about the development of the relationships between Hisao and the girls.
    So, to put it plainly, it wouldn’t be the same game without them. I don’t think you should regret anything.

  6. Well, a saying a remember is ‘The longer you hide something, the worse it will get’. It may help, or have you screwed over, but keep it in mind.

  7. cpl_crud is right. There’s no need to boast every little single detail about your past accomplishments if you feel uncomfortable about it, especially when you’re about to step into an environment you’ve never been into before and don’t know what kind of reaction you’ll elicit from it.

    Personally, I would keep it a secret for the moment… Give yourself some to get settled in and familiarize yourself with the people around you. If the secret has to come out, then it’ll come out. But at least, hopefully, you’ll have better support and understanding than if you didn’t without their friendship.

    (… Feels like I’m helping someone come out of the closet or something, sheesh.)

  8. Hahaha! Nath seems to have (what I believe, at least, is) the right idea. Best to not throw that out there immediately, but wait until the others have gotten to know you better and have grown more comfortable with you. Even a month’s time can make the difference between shocked surprise and uproarious amusement in your colleague’s reactions. Remember: a stranger telling you about their sex life is unsettling. A friend doing the same is just entertainment. Familiarity eases all things. So, if you really wish to let it out there, maybe being patient is the way to go. Get a gauge on who the OTHER board members are, as people, and then decide whether or not you’re comfortable with sharing this.

  9. I’ll hope it went out all well for you, cpl_crud. I even don’t know if you’ll notice this comment in this post which is over 3 years old.

    I’m very new to Katawa Shoujo and I’ve not read the whole Novel, but Emi and Hanako. Hanakos story had made me cry hard for several days after finishing in an one-take. I’m disabled and while moving with Hanako some very old wounds break up again. Yet, in my 26th year on earth, you made me face them again and I’m more conscious about them. It feels like they can heal better now.

    I also would like to add that KS didn’t feel like cripple porn, but instead with a thoughtful approach on sex. Speaking with a background in sociology, including disability studies, society tends to de-sexualize disabled people which makes them a less worthy. So having some explicit scenes in it is good, in my opinion. It’s a big deal; in that way how it is now on KS.

    Although Hanakos was very special, but remarkable.

    Sincerely yours

    1. Word Press keeps me informed!

      I’m glad to hear that you connected with the story. It continually surprises me that our stories affected and resonated with so many people.

      Thanks for getting in touch, and I hope that you find time to check out some of my other stuff between KS paths!

      1. Oh, I didn’t know you get noticed, but it seem rather obvious. 😀

        It was suprising me also. I never thought something like that could happen, especially I got aware of KS in a (really dumb) YouTube-Top 10 -Vid of ‘most unnecessary simulations”, which show KS as some fetish game. I couldn’t believe that and I got genuinely interested. Luckily comments went crazy on this, too

        I’ll stick around your blog. 🙂 Yesterday I just read both Runner’s Afternoon which is such a beautiful, bittersweet follow-up. I’ll finish KS first to have a seamless experience. Also it’s emotional so comprehensive so there’s a need of time between each route.

        I’ll continue then on your work. 🙂 The influence map for Arctic Gale seem very interesting.

        Oh, don’t wonder if you read something similar at the Thanks-Thread on the KS-Forums in the upcoming days. I’ll write there something, too after finishing. 🙂 I stop rambling now.

        Sincerely yours,

      2. Ha! I never knew we made it to a top 10!

        It’s funny where we turn up

        I’ll be honest though, the only thread I keep an eye on is the “Ask” thread.
        Thanks

      3. You’re not only in this Top10-List, but on Position 1!

        And thanks for honesty. It seems I just did the right thing to reach you. 🙂

      4. Oh! You seem very eager to know. 😉

        I’m very sorry. I led you astray. 😦
        At least a bit.
        It’s a German video and I’ll translated the title roughly (more correctly the title is: Crappiest Simulations).

        There’s one speciality with this YouTuber: On his main channel he interviewed chancellor Merkel, so he’s well known.
        Here the link. I set the position right to KS: https://youtu.be/bpRgWfxqo_w?t=263
        (I’m sure you’ll watch the whole thing just to see your competitors)

        I hope I’m not wrong when I assume you don’t speak German, so I translated that part about KS into English for you. I’m sorry if something sounds weird, but I tried to stay as close as possible to the original and I’m not that good at all.

        [4:26]
        ” Position 1. The ‘disabled girl dating simulator’! Yep, first sounds weird and you need to get used to the topic

        [4:34],
        just because it’s so wicked. Also the girls often portrayed very crappy cliché

        [4:41].
        But what would you expect from a digital dating novel from japan which simply stands out because it’s audience become more odd.”

      5. Ha! More like curious to see what people were saying.
        I was talking to some of the other devs @ Komiket about the level of interest in the game, which was mostly driven by these kinds of reviews. Even negative ones by people who never played the game still generate interest (you’re here now, right?) and yet cost us nothing.

        PR is like a marketers’ wet dream – lots of exposure for little to no cost.

        Thanks for the link!

      6. You’re quite welcome!

        Yep, I’m here – happy and lucky to stumbled upon this! It seems that your well planned scandalous driven viral PR unfolds it’s power also over time!

        But partially I’m also here because of the comments below the Vid. They gave me the final nudge to do my own research. So a vibrant community does also pay off now and then, although it can be a pain in the ass to ‘herd’ them 😉

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