The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
User avatar
PartridgeSenpai
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 2486
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:27 am
Location: Northern Japan

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:02 am

dsheinem wrote:After reading the critique I think that the main takeaway is, for PS, that the “intent” by the creators doesn’t really matter near as much as the “impact” of their narrative/dialog choices for certain audiences. In other words, there are enough collective signals provided in the game to make this interpretation one that at least some players will walk away from the game with. This makes it worth dissecting.

To support this, you can certainly find lots of evidence online that the character has been taken up as or otherwise referenced and understood to be a transgender character by especially modern audiences. If you can understand that, then it is certainly reasonable to see how PS and other players might read Faris as an early example of a transgender character in gaming that is subject to a series of microagressions that are grounded in some pretty shitty stereotypes that are tied to (especially Japanese) constructions of that gender identity. It also tracks that this has consequences for subsequent portrayals of transgender identity in the medium.

I thought it was an interesting read, so thanks for sharing.


Thanks! This is definitely one of the pieces I've written I'm most proud of ^w^. You really hit the nail on the head with that summary though. That's more or less exactly what I was going for.
-----
@Pierrot

There is absolutely plausible deniability for reading Faris that way in the Japanese original (and especially the English translation). I won't deny that you have valid points in that regard. But dsh really sums it up nicely that the intent doesn't matter so much as the impact. This is how I read the character. It also doesn't actually matter if Faris, the character, self-identifies as a man or not for the purpose of my piece. Gender IS presentation (both how you interact with people and how they in turn interact with you), and Faris' experience mirrors that which actual trans and gender non-conforming people face to the extent that even if that wasn't the intent of the author, that was the effect for me.

PresidentLeever wrote:Ok, gotcha. I can't say there was anything making me think there was more to her/them than "tomboy" behavior when I played the fan translation, but it's been years now and I guess some nuance got lost. Would be cool to get confirmation from the devs on it.

Are you a native speaker yourself?


I'm not a native speaker, but I've studied it in school for 8 years before moving to Japan earlier this year, so I like to think I'm pretty decent even though I'm nowhere near fluent XP. I've been playing RPGs in Japanese for a couple years now, and I'm definitely a lot more confident than I was when I just started playing them. It's fantastic reading practice ^w^
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
User avatar
MrPopo
Moderator
 
Posts: 22916
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:01 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by MrPopo Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:07 am

dsheinem wrote:To support this, you can certainly find lots of evidence online that the character has been taken up as or otherwise referenced and understood to be a transgender character by especially modern audiences. If you can understand that, then it is certainly reasonable to see how PS and other players might read Faris as an early example of a transgender character in gaming that is subject to a series of microagressions that are grounded in some pretty shitty stereotypes that are tied to (especially Japanese) constructions of that gender identity. It also tracks that this has consequences for subsequent portrayals of transgender identity in the medium.

See, this was the fundamental problem I had with the interpretation the first time I read it. It's the old "everyone is Jesus in purgatory" problem. Especially when the textual reading of the character ("I act like a male because it's expected of pirates") is just as good an explanation as the subtextual ("I'm transgendered") reading and most likely to be the intended one. And one piece of evidence towards the textual reading is the nature of Faris's job outfits. The wind crystal jobs all feature Faris in fairly conservative clothing, but with some hints that Faris is female; the black and white mages are the two that point this out the most. The white mage has a hood, just like the other females (whereas the males have their hood down), and the black mage has a full robe while the males have poofy pants. Then in the other crystal jobs, when Faris's gender has been stated as female, the clothing becomes more explicitly feminine and shares more traits with the outfits of Lenna and Cara.

Which is not to say that someone couldn't find inspiration in Faris as a transgender character, or to use the various examples of interactions as textbook microaggressions to someone who is transgender. But I think it's flawed to say "Faris is a terribly written transgendered character" if the character is not intended to be written as transgendered. It would be like saying that Butz is a terribly written black character.
Image
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
User avatar
dsheinem
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 23109
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 12:56 pm
Location: Northeast Pennsylvania

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by dsheinem Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:34 am

MrPopo wrote:But I think it's flawed to say "Faris is a terribly written transgendered character" if the character is not intended to be written as transgendered. It would be like saying that Butz is a terribly written black character.


That TV Tropes article has quite the way of presenting the postmodernist “Death of the Author” critique, but the dismissiveness implied by that article aside...from that type of perspective PS’ take has merit. I don’t know that PS said that Faris was intentionally written that way, but I did think that they were suggesting that Faris could reasonably be read that way (especially, for example, by transgender players or by people first encountering ideas about gender presentation when they played this game as kids, people who are familiar with some of the polysemy of Japanese pronouns, etc.). It’s a queer reading, for sure (it reads against more “obvious” or “intended” or “surface” readings), but that type of postmodern criticism is much less about hermeneutics (“this is the TRUE deep meaning, supported by authorial statements and my expertise in translating symbols”) and more about demonstrating the impossibility of any “neat” or “definitive” read of any text.
User avatar
marurun
Moderator
 
Posts: 9865
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 8:51 am
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by marurun Fri Nov 22, 2019 10:07 am

One way of considering this is that what an author intends is important, but an author does have a responsibility for at least some potential readings of their creation. There's no way an author could consider every possible reading, and that expectation would be absurd, but an author should step outside their own viewpoint at least a little to consider a couple other likely interpretations of their work. There are too many creators now who simply say, "It doesn't matter what you think, that's not what I meant." But creativity that is meant to be presented to an audience is communication, and a communicator has some responsibility for the reception of their work, not just the intent.
B/S/T thread
My Classic Games Collection
My Steam Profile
The PC Engine Software Bible Forum, with Shoutbox chat - the new Internet home for PC Engine fandom.
User avatar
PartridgeSenpai
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 2486
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:27 am
Location: Northern Japan

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Nov 22, 2019 10:25 am

I am a very strong believer in Death of the Author. The author's intent does not matter when compared against the effect it has on an audience. If a claim about the effect/meaning of a work can be backed up sufficiently with evidence in the work, then it's as valid as any meaning the author meant the work to have. The intended meaning is just one of many possible ways to read a particular text.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
User avatar
MrPopo
Moderator
 
Posts: 22916
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:01 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by MrPopo Fri Nov 22, 2019 10:53 am

marurun wrote:One way of considering this is that what an author intends is important, but an author does have a responsibility for at least some potential readings of their creation. There's no way an author could consider every possible reading, and that expectation would be absurd, but an author should step outside their own viewpoint at least a little to consider a couple other likely interpretations of their work. There are too many creators now who simply say, "It doesn't matter what you think, that's not what I meant." But creativity that is meant to be presented to an audience is communication, and a communicator has some responsibility for the reception of their work, not just the intent.

I definitely lean far more to the side of author's intent. You're right that an author should be open to the ideal of alternative interpretations, as that can help them be aware of potential blind spots (oh crap, I didn't realize I wrote this character as a racist caricature). But I don't think it is a fruitful endeavor to always look for alternate readings of a work; for every actual intended allegory (Animal Farm for Soviet Russia) there are ten innocent works that have a deeper meaning imposed on them.
Image
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
User avatar
Ack
Moderator
 
Posts: 21292
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:26 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by Ack Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:10 pm

I think you should consider the agenda of the person writing the interpretation. In this case, Pidge noticed something and stayed focused but did not go in expressly looking for this interpretation. But someone with a more extreme viewpoint could go in solely with the intent of a one-sided interpretation. As a result, we have to consider the interpreter's view, which...I mean, it's Pidge. Not exactly someone I see screaming from the battlements to bathe in the blood of foes.

Conversely, it's also not a satirical interpretation, which are sometimes misconstrued. My brother once wrote a tongue in cheek interpretation of Ender's Game where he declared, based on the text, that Orson Scott Card was a mysogynistic homosexual with a child fetish. He got an A for creativity, but others might have read it as a serious take.
Image
Image
I have a movie review website now: https://moviereviewsbyamook.com/
User avatar
marurun
Moderator
 
Posts: 9865
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 8:51 am
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by marurun Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:03 pm

MrPopo wrote:
marurun wrote:One way of considering this is that what an author intends is important, but an author does have a responsibility for at least some potential readings of their creation. There's no way an author could consider every possible reading, and that expectation would be absurd, but an author should step outside their own viewpoint at least a little to consider a couple other likely interpretations of their work. There are too many creators now who simply say, "It doesn't matter what you think, that's not what I meant." But creativity that is meant to be presented to an audience is communication, and a communicator has some responsibility for the reception of their work, not just the intent.

I definitely lean far more to the side of author's intent. You're right that an author should be open to the ideal of alternative interpretations, as that can help them be aware of potential blind spots (oh crap, I didn't realize I wrote this character as a racist caricature). But I don't think it is a fruitful endeavor to always look for alternate readings of a work; for every actual intended allegory (Animal Farm for Soviet Russia) there are ten innocent works that have a deeper meaning imposed on them.


I read this as agreement. I think there's only a couple degrees between us on this.
B/S/T thread
My Classic Games Collection
My Steam Profile
The PC Engine Software Bible Forum, with Shoutbox chat - the new Internet home for PC Engine fandom.
User avatar
MrPopo
Moderator
 
Posts: 22916
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:01 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by MrPopo Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:41 pm

Probably. My initial read of what you wrote was more on the side of Death of the Author. But reading it again I can definitely see that we're probably more closely aligned, with me probably having just a bit more exasperation than you with my English teaches of days past.
Image
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
User avatar
pierrot
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 3921
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:54 am
Location: Banned

Re: Worse Than Nothing: A Critique of Gender in Japanese FFV

by pierrot Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:18 pm

PartridgeSenpai wrote:There is absolutely plausible deniability for reading Faris that way in the Japanese original (and especially the English translation). I won't deny that you have valid points in that regard. But dsh really sums it up nicely that the intent doesn't matter so much as the impact. This is how I read the character. It also doesn't actually matter if Faris, the character, self-identifies as a man or not for the purpose of my piece. Gender IS presentation (both how you interact with people and how they in turn interact with you), and Faris' experience mirrors that which actual trans and gender non-conforming people face to the extent that even if that wasn't the intent of the author, that was the effect for me.

To be clear, I'm not disagreeing with the fact that Faris' speech is written in a way to force the Japanese player into assuming that it's a man speaking, when introduced to the character, or insinuating that Farris couldn't be interpreted to be a gender-queer person. I had originally played a little bit past the 'Faris has lady bits' part of FFV in English, on the PS1, and when I played the it on the SFC a few years ago, I remember being pretty shocked by how masculine Faris' speech was. I fundamentally disagree with this determination of gender, though. It insinuates to me that people don't have any sort of agency when it comes to their own gender, or that because people view one as a particular gender, that is his gender. It insinuates to me that I would have been female as a kid because I was told by girls that I seemed like one of them. It seems to suggest that other people get to decide someone's gender based on interpretations of how that person acts. Am I misinterpreting what you're saying at all?

I'm also not trying to suggest that it's not a good topic for discussion, or trying to shut down conversation. My contention is really that I think it would most matter what Faris feels his gender is.
Image
Return to Games As Culture

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest