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lalalei2001

Gaming Magazine Letters

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I dunno about you, but one of the highlights of any gaming magazine for me, especially Nintendo Power, was the letters column. I loved seeing people like me write in about games and systems they liked and disliked, and company-specific magazines and their letters are fun to reread for the console wars stuff as well as other letters that only get funnier in hindsight. Earlier i read a really melodramatic PSExtreme letter about how Analog controllers sucked and the d-pad was better and couldn't stop giggling.

What are some of your highlights from gaming magazine letters?

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I actually just read one the other day that blew my mind.  It was from a British computer game mag from around 1994.  Apparently, in a previous issue's review of a WWII flight sim, they had used the word "Jap" in one of the captions and a member of a Japanese Civil Liberties organization wrote in to tell them that such terminology was offensive. 

The editor then had the audacity to tell him that he was wrong and that it wasn't offensive - that neither the editor nor anyone on staff considered it an offensive word, it was simply an abbreviation, and emphasized the fact (as if to prove their point) that had the word "Japanese" been used instead, they wouldn't have had room in the caption for the rest of the sentence.  As "none of the members on staff is of the age to remember any of the war," they argued, "the word certainly doesn't hold any of the connotations for us as it does for you."  They then closed with the classic "I have nothing against the Japanese - in fact, my brother is married to a Japanese girl," which somehow apparently excuses them to be able to use offensive slang, guilt-free, whenever they like.

A simple apology would have sufficed, but no, they had to dig the hole deeper.  Unbelievable.:o

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8 hours ago, kitsunebi77 said:

I actually just read one the other day that blew my mind.  It was from a British computer game mag from around 1994.  Apparently, in a previous issue's review of a WWII flight sim, they had used the word "Jap" in one of the captions and a member of a Japanese Civil Liberties organization wrote in to tell them that such terminology was offensive. 

The editor then had the audacity to tell him that he was wrong and that it wasn't offensive - that neither the editor nor anyone on staff considered it an offensive word, it was simply an abbreviation, and emphasized the fact (as if to prove their point) that had the word "Japanese" been used instead, they wouldn't have had room in the caption for the rest of the sentence.  As "none of the members on staff is of the age to remember any of the war," they argued, "the word certainly doesn't hold any of the connotations for us as it does for you."  They then closed with the classic "I have nothing against the Japanese - in fact, my brother is married to a Japanese girl," which somehow apparently excuses them to be able to use offensive slang, guilt-free, whenever they like.

A simple apology would have sufficed, but no, they had to dig the hole deeper.  Unbelievable.:o

 

The only thing I find wrong with that scenario is the fact you think they should have apologised.

The simple fact is that most nationalities have had their countries abbreviated or icons associated when it comes to nicknaming cultures, especially in the 1900's.

  • Australian = Ozzies
  • New Zealand = Kiwi's
  • UK = Brits, Scot's, Irish etc
  • USA = Yanks
  • Japan = Japs

Then there are the subgroups like nigger's, Nazi's, Jews etc which are certainly more offensive given the context they were/can be used for.

It would be fair to say that the use of Jap could be construed towards the second group as a result of the animosity by people over what they did to China in the 1930's and everyone in the Pacific during WWII. I am pretty sure the older generations who suffered at their hands during those times have a completely different view of Japan even today, than you do. 

In reality, the publisher of the article was probably a childhood reader of Commando comics where terms like Yanks, Krauts, Japs, Eyeties (Italians) and so were used on just about every second page and didn't think much of it given the WWII article he was penning.

Note that I neither condoning NOR denigrating what was written. In many ways the world has gone overboard catering to the politically correct brigades out there. I personally think the context of the word in relation to the article is the important consideration. Movies and literature made in the 1900's are a product of the time they were created and should be viewed that context. We shouldn't be trying to rewrite history by censoring content but by providing viewers with the information on why certain terms might have been used in a particular title. Education is far more valuable in the long run .....

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I see your point but I think you may have misinterpreted the situation and assumed that the offensive term was being used in an historical context, which it wasn't.  Neither the letter nor my comment have anything to do with past usage of the term.  It doesn't matter if "Jap" was a common term used in the 40s, 50s, 60s, etc.  The point is that in the year 1994, it was no longer an acceptable term to use.  It wasn't being used within the game itself to give it "historical flavor," it was simply being used by the writers of the magazine as a substitute for the word Japanese.  The letter writer, being Japanese himself, took the time to try to educate the magazine staff that such terminology is no longer acceptable and is offensive to the people it is being used to describe.  And then they told him that he was wrong and his offense was misplaced.

I understand that some people think that changing any behavior at the behest of others is a sign of weakness and bowing to the pressure of being "politically correct," but come on. 

If I call you "(fill-in-the-blank)" and you tell me that you find that name offensive, which of the following would make me less of a dick?

  1. "I'm sorry, it wasn't my intent to offend you.  I'll keep that in mind in the future."
  2. "What's your problem, you big crybaby?  There's nothing wrong with the word "(fill-in-the-blank)," and I'll call you "(fill-in-the-blank)" if I wanna."

 

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I think the term was actually have been used in the historical sense was what I was alluding to.

The term Jap was a common slang in WWII and it carried over into all manner of associated media right through the 1980's so I didn't read that in any other way. I grew up reading Commando comics during the 1970's and assuming the writer was a similar age he may have been subjected to those terms as well so seeing it used in the context of a WWII game article doesn't seem out of place to me. I guess it's all about perspectives.

There has been all manner of efforts made by conservatives to censor or prevent movies made in the 1930's being released on disc etc because a Chinese was called a derogatory term by todays standards and so forth and it's great to see the publishers pushing back and saying "No, this was how things were at that time" and instead putting a disclaimer at the front of the movie and an article about it in the extra's as a way of educating people rather than simply changing the movie. In The Untouchables would have been better or more historically correct if Sean Connery had said "Trust an Italian to bring a knife to a gunfight"? 

But you're right. If the editor had said it was being used in a historical context rather than "My Sis-in-law's a Japanese" it might have been a little more defensible ...

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1 minute ago, KiwiArcader said:

I think the term was actually have been used in the historical sense was what I was alluding to.

The term Jap was a common slang in WWII and it carried over into all manner of associated media right through the 1980's so I didn't read that in any other way. I grew up reading Commando comics during the 1970's and assuming the writer was a similar age he may have been subjected to those terms as well so seeing it used in the context of a WWII game article doesn't seem out of place to me. I guess it's all about perspectives.

There has been all manner of efforts made by conservatives to censor or prevent movies made in the 1930's being released on disc etc because a Chinese was called a derogatory term by todays standards and so forth and it's great to see the publishers pushing back and saying "No, this was how things were at that time" and instead putting a disclaimer at the front of the movie and an article about it in the extra's as a way of educating people rather than simply changing the movie. In The Untouchables would have been better or more historically correct if Sean Connery had said "Trust an Italian to bring a knife to a gunfight"? 

But you're right. If the editor had said it was being used in a historical context rather than "My Sis-in-law's a Japanese" it might have been a little more defensible ...

Yes, but you're still arguing a different point which I don't disagree with.  I assure you it wasn't used in an historical sense.  If a character in a Commando comic says "let's kill those Japs," that's fine, because it's depicting characters in a different time and place that would have spoken that way.  To have them speak otherwise would be inaccurate.

Hell, you could have characters use that word in a modern setting if the point is to show that the character is racist or at the very least insensitive to current acceptable speech. 

But you can't use an editorial voice and say something like "the detail and handling of the Jap planes is authentic" without being offensive.  And that is what this is all about.

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28 minutes ago, KiwiArcader said:

I guess I'm too old to see the problem. Well, I see it but I don't at the same time :P

You may just be insensitive to the modern sensibilities of that particular word.  It's probably easier to understand by changing it to something else.  Like for instance, it would be totally acceptable and authentic for characters in a film about a slave revolt in the antebellum South to use the word "nigger."  But if a modern-day film critic uses their editorial voice and says "the scene in which the niggers revolt against their masters was powerful," that reviewer has just inappropriately used an offensive word.

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Yep, that's a much better analogy in that "nigger" is a derogatory term while "Jap" to me is just a shortened easier to write or say version of "Japan" with no other connotations as far as I am concerned.

I believe that's why Disney never released "Song of the South" on home formats as the slavery aspect made them uncomfortable even though as a historical document is was very important as it represented the first release of a title incorporating animation with live acting. It's a shame the word will no doubt affect the accuracy of Peter Jackson's remake  of The Dambusters

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3 minutes ago, KiwiArcader said:

Yep, that's a much better analogy in that "nigger" is a derogatory term while "Jap" to me is just a shortened easier to write or say version of "Japan" with no other connotations as far as I am concerned.

I believe that the editor of that magazine felt the same way you do, which is why the member of the Japanese Civil Liberties organization wrote in - to educate him to the fact that to anyone of Japanese heritage, that term being used in modern context is offensive.  Rather than acknowledge those feelings, though, the editor got defensive and argued that the term had no offensive connotations (regardless of intent), which was rude and dismissive of the letter writer's politely expressed point.

Btw, as I live in Japan, I can confidently advise you that NO ONE here would find Jap to be an acceptable abbreviation, so keep that in mind if you ever visit, as you could inadvertently offend everyone within earshot.:)

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The chances of me visiting Japan is pretty much never. The Orient/Asia is just somewhere I have never particularly had an inclination to visit for some reason.

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The thing that fascinates me most in these letter sections are the "correspondence/pen pal" sections you see in some magazines, where they print peoples addresses, age, and interests, and you can just write them a letter.

 

I'm really curious to see what would happen if I just picked one out, and pretended like I wrote it back in the 90s and it got "lost in the mail" for 20 years and was finally delivered 

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5 hours ago, skrefetz said:

The thing that fascinates me most in these letter sections are the "correspondence/pen pal" sections you see in some magazines, where they print peoples addresses, age, and interests, and you can just write them a letter.

 

I'm really curious to see what would happen if I just picked one out, and pretended like I wrote it back in the 90s and it got "lost in the mail" for 20 years and was finally delivered 

I remember those! It's kinda scary how unsafe they'd be nowadays.

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