Pictures from preview builds of the Wii U’s Xenoblade Chronicles X show that Nintendo may be censoring certain outfits for 13-year old female protagonist Lin Lee.
Censorship of Japanese video games in the west is becoming a more and more prominent occurrence in recent years, as cultural differences regarding the sexualization of young females become more prevalent. While these events of censorship are most often limited to MMOs with high levels of character customization, even the Wii U can’t escape the growing trend. Reports are coming out of Xenoblade Chronicles X preview events stating that the Wii U game is indeed censoring certain outfits within the game.
Lin Lee is a playable protagonist within Xenoblade Chronicles X, a member of the hero’s party. Her character features unlockable outfits which are, for lack of a better description, sci-fi bikinis. These are the sort of bikinis one might expect to see on a fashion stage or magazine cover. That is to say, they are very thin on fabric. The problem being that Lee Lin is a 13-year old girl.
The photos coming out of the European Xenoblade Chronicles X preview event compare the Japanese versions of the outfits with their European counterparts. In the western version, Lee is instead wearing shorts, boots, and extra layers of chest protection.
Another costume. Left is EU version and right JP version. pic.twitter.com/cYPnYTbKq5— 聖剣の騎士 (@_teikage) October 30, 2015
While independent confirmation that the outfits are the same across both the Japanese and European version is impossible to acquire just yet, the photos were provided by a bilingual user who has played the Japanese version of the game. Without confirmation, however, the reports of censorship should be taken as a rumor. Perhaps these are different outfits, perhaps the changes aren’t intended for all regions, or perhaps they will be reverted before the game is finally released at a later date.
This is certainly a case of censorship within Xenoblade Chronicles X, though at times it does feel like that might be more of a misnomer. Japan’s federal law sets the age of sexual consent at the age of 13, though certain prefectures within the country provide extra protections to youth. Those laws, or the lack thereof, are part of Japan’s cultural identity and so the sexualization of one as young as 13 is not as taboo as it certainly is in the west. As such, while censorship is the appropriate term as this is the publisher suppressing content deemed objectionable by the west, it’s more of an issue with regards to localization.
How would one measure the “correctness” of a choice like this? As a piece of art, which a video game certainly should be considered as, it’s difficult to accept any form of censorship — large or small. After all, it was the developer’s original intent for Lee Lin to have the option of wearing these sci-fi bikinis. What does it say about Nintendo that they’d accept this for one region, but not another? Are they recognizing the moral issues at hand, or are they dismissing the moral issues due to potential profit risks or other reasons? Censorship in any situation is never a straightforward concept.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is scheduled for release on the Wii U in North America and Europe on December 4.
Source: _teikaga Twitter