Header art by jadf. Original source: 4chan
Hello everyone! With Christmas imminent, we’re getting ready to close up shop for a few days and enjoy all the festivities and food of the season — but before we did that I wanted to pen you all a quick note and show my appreciation for your support of Rice Digital this year.
When I joined Rice Digital in January of this year, I was excited and a little nervous; I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was quickly welcomed with open arms by both our amazing team of writers and all the people who work behind the scenes to keep Rice ticking along on a daily basis — and it didn’t take me long to feel like I had absolutely come “home” to a place where I belong.
I sincerely hope that when you hang out here at Rice Digital, you feel the same way, too. You can probably tell from the things that we write that we’re not attempting to be just another gaming or anime site that blasts things out to meet embargoes and deadlines and bait those all-important clicks; every one of us here is absolutely passionate about the things we love — and the best thing about the team working Rice right now is that everyone has a slightly different set of things that they love, too.
If there’s something that particularly attracts our attention, we’ll dive deep into it — even if it’s maybe a little older, or even if it’s something that barely warranted a whiff of coverage in the mainstream media. Where else are you going to find five and a half thousand words of character analysis on Blue Reflection: Second Light?
And, on top of that, we do our absolute best to “find the good” in the things that we write about — even when there are things to criticise. We know how frustrating it can be when you love something and a publication you read goes and shits all over it — as fans of Japanese video games, we’ve been there all too often ourselves — so we always make a point of highlighting the things that are worth liking, even if there are also plenty of things that some might have trouble getting past.
We’re a small team, so we’re not able to write about absolutely everything — but between us I think we cover a nice cross-section of the things that are worth talking about, and in doing so we each demonstrate our own distinct specialisms and areas of knowledge. Even before joining Rice, I’ve always been a strong advocate for publications specialising in something rather than trying to take a scattershot, shallow approach to covering everything — and I think we’re striking a pretty good balance here.
I’d much rather read some in-depth, knowledgeable thoughts about something specific — and perhaps a little off the beaten track — than variations on the same old comments about whatever the Big Game of the Month is. Of course, sometimes the Big Game of the Month has things worth talking about that are relevant to our interests — but on the whole, I much prefer it when we celebrate those smaller titles that otherwise don’t get all that much attention.
I have a few things I’d like to take aim for in the new year, so please indulge me while I talk about each of them in no particular order!
Those of you who have stuck around for a while may recall that back in July of this year, we were having a few problems with a certain commenter who had been making a lot of people — both staff and readers — feeling rather uncomfortable. After dealing with them pretty decisively and establishing some straightforward community rules in the process, things have been much more pleasant around here — but I get the impression that some people are still a little hesitant to step into the comments after this individual had been around and dominating the “conversation” (and I use the term loosely) for so long.
They’d seemingly been a fixture in the comments long before I arrived, and thus I guess people had come to expect that it wasn’t worth stepping into the comments lest they attract the ire of this individual. A reasonable assumption — but one which I can assure you is no longer something that you need to worry about. With that in mind, I’d love to see some more conversation down in the comments section in the new year — the Rice writers and I always love to chat with you about what we’ve written about, so don’t be shy!
On that note, the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page has been a fun time, and I’ve been happy to see a few contributions each week. Given the size of our audience, though, I’d love to see more letters — answering them each Friday is a real highlight of my week, and a great opportunity to talk about things that we might not have covered in our standalone articles.
What I might do is rethink the way in which you submit those letters — despite me mentioning it frequently, I feel like a lot of people miss the “Write to Rice!” widget over on the right-hand side of the screen, assume it’s going to be an annoying “chatbot” or something or are simply concerned about their personal information. While the widget collects absolutely no personal information other than the pen name you choose to give it, I completely understand any possible concerns, so with that in mind I’ll rethink how we do that for the new year.
Speaking of which, we’ve had absolutely no letters this week — I guess everyone is preparing for Christmas, which is understandable — so there will be no letters page today!
Oh, and while we’re on, feel free to join the Rice Digital Discord — there’s a bunch of thoroughly lovely people there who love to chat, so if you enjoy what we do here and want to hang out with like-minded folks, that’s the place to be! I myself will be making a greater effort to hang out there more frequently in the new year — though as someone who has what is at this point fairly well-documented social anxiety, you’ll forgive me if sometimes you don’t see me for a day or ten.
You’ve hopefully noticed the banner for the “Best Visual Novels” page we’ve had floating around for a while now. In the new year, I’m going to put some more of these pages together, providing handy reference guides for things we’ve covered in various genres.
My thinking behind this actually comes from classic games magazines of the ’80s and ’90s — many of them featured “buyers’ guides” in their back pages that were updated each month with big releases and summaries of what the publication thought of them. Doing the same thing on the web makes perfect sense, since those summaries can actually link to our full articles rather than requiring readers to purchase back issues or anything like that.
Thus far I’m thinking that there would be value in doing this for RPGs, shoot ’em ups and possibly one specifically for adults-only games — if you happen to think of anything else that you think would make a good genre guide, please let us know and we’ll look into it.
Any time we write about something vaguely sexual, it brings the readers in in droves. This is obviously lovely to see for us, but it also highlights something important: those who want to read about sexual content aren’t being served by the Internet at large. And with that in mind, in the new year we’re going to continue unashamed coverage of content that is sexual in nature — including hentai manga, anime and video games.
What I think is important and valuable about what we do in this field is that we keep things respectful. While there’s a widespread assumption among the broader Internet population that anything even faintly sexually provocative is purely there for people to get a cheap thrill from, both you and I know that more often than not the significance of this content runs much more deeply than that. And that’s worth acknowledging and celebrating.
This isn’t to deny that some such content exists primarily to elicit feelings of arousal, of course — and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s usually something more to talk about even in these cases. Art in hentai manga can be spectacular; animation in hentai anime can (occasionally) be impressive; the tech used in hentai visual novels can be gobsmacking. And if you want to get metaphysical, there’s plenty of scope to discuss the reasoning behind certain common fetishes, too.
What I’d love to do more of in the new year is strike up some conversations with people who actually work on these games. I know a fair few people who translate eroge and erotic manga on Twitter, so hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to chat to them in a bit more depth in the new year. Please look forward to it!
That’s everything that springs to mind right now, but I’m sure after hitting Publish on this I’ll think of something that I’ve forgotten. No matter, we can deal with that when that happens.
In the meantime, as the clock ticks ever-onward to the time that Santa comes down your chimney and triggers an event battle, I would like to thank you all once again for your warm and kind support throughout 2021 — and wish you all a thoroughly lovely Christmas break. It’s a genuine pleasure — I’d go so far as to say an actual dream come true — to be at the helm here at Rice Digital, and I look forward to spending much more time with you all in the future.
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