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Joystiq presents

Here we go again: Doki Doki Majo Saiban

Just when you thought we might be in the clear from Pedobear references, SNK has debuted the official site for Doki Doki Majo Saiban, the suggestive witch-hunting game that had everyone convinced that the DS had gone dirty (at least, in Japan). As you might have guessed, wherever this goes, so goes the tidal wave of rumor. Already we've heard speculation that this isn't the official site (though it certainly seems to be owned by SNK Playmore), because it seems a little risqué and isn't a shining beacon of awesome like most game sites. But here's the thing: it is risqué, as many Japanese games can be, and since it isn't after the same market as, say, Final Fantasy III, where's the need for a glitzy site? Obviously, this one gets all the attention it needs with a few screenshots.

Few games have spurred as much wanton (no pun intended) speculation as this one, and we can't quite put a finger on why. It's certainly not the first sexually charged game in history; there's a long and glorious tradition of such in Japan, a culture that embraces sexual themes in all sorts of media. Nor is it even the first or only such title for the DS. After all, many of the screenshots originally thought to be associated with Doki Doki Majo Saiban were from another SNK game, a maid-themed organizational sim with a mature look. But little details like that get lost in the shuffle, and people instead mention how "young" the characters look. Forget the fact that they're developed as only a woman can be (that's post-puberty), and the fact that adult women are often depicted as seeming younger than they are in such media. Obviously, the fact that they're wearing short skirts means that, despite everything else, these girls are young! It's the equivalent of shoving a lollipop between their teeth and handing them a teddy bear.

What is really troubling, even moreso than the juvenile remarks and references, is that people simply do not seem to realize -- even though we deal with it every day in the gaming industry -- that the market in Japan is not the same as the market in the United States. While we may see this as slightly eyebrow-raising content, it's old hat on the other side of the Pacific. It's violence that raises eyebrows over there. Z ratings (equivalent to our AO) have been bestowed upon games like Dead to Rights and Resident Evil 4. Great games, certainly, but definitely violent. Here, we call them "mature," but the content doesn't really bother anyone who isn't Jack Thompson. Here, it's anything sexual that gets threatened with the AO rating. That alone should demonstrate the difference between the two cultures when it comes to game content.

We'd like to hope that this one just goes away again, preferably without words like "rape" and "pedophilia" being thrown around. All that does is focus negative attention on a system, and a game, which doesn't deserve it. Doki Doki Majo Saiban is not for an American market. Applying our American principles is not only inappropriate, but arrogant as well.

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