Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page! We hope you’re all having a lovely Friday. It’s nice and sunny here so my cat is having a thoroughly pleasant time going back and forth between sunning herself in the garden and coming in to lie on the rug and cool off a bit. I, meanwhile, am guzzling cold drinks as I continue to wrap things up for the week.
It’s been a reasonably prolific week for the Letters Page, with a nice selection of quick notes from people. As always, your contributions are very much appreciated — whether you have something simple to ask us or some more detailed thoughts on a particular topic you want to share.
You can drop us a line at any time in the week either using the form at the bottom of the page or the main Letters page on the site. And on that note, let’s get started!
Fan letters are always welcome
I haven’t written to Rice Digital for a long time. I was just passing by here to tell you that you are an inspiration, and your work gives me strength and hope. Thanks also to all the editorial staff who allow the site to work great.
Hi Kerift, and thank you so much for your kind letter. Your words are extremely welcome to hear because I can vividly remember my own frustration at the general state of the mainstream games press a few years back, prior to me joining Rice. When big sites did pay any attention to the sort of things we cover, it would often be to deride it and insult those who enjoyed it — and since I knew first-hand how important this stuff could be to people (because it’s important to me!) I desperately hoped I would one day be in a position to make a bit of a difference.
I can’t say for complete sure how much of an impact the work I and the team here at Rice have on gaming culture in general — but what I do hope we’re providing (and what your comment suggests we *are* providing) is a nice place where people who enjoy all sorts of different games feel they can come and hang out, enjoy themselves and celebrate the things they love without fear of judgement or derision.
However ridiculous a game might seem to outsiders — take something like Seven Pirates H as a great example — there’s always going to be some people out there who really like it and can draw some sort of inspiration or comfort from it. Their reasons for that are entirely their own — but it always smarts a bit if you see someone trying their best to tear down something that has become important to you.
With that in mind, we’re just going to keep doing what we do — celebrating the games we love, talking about the media we enjoy, and just having a jolly nice time from day to day. And we’re more than happy to have you along for the ride!
That middle ground
Watching the not-E3 presentations last night I was struck by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a great middle ground between big-budget hyper-realistic brown triple-A games and off-the-wall indie games that are lol so kooky you’re a bear running a B&B isn’t that WACKY? Not that there’s anything wrong with those for people who are into them, but a bit of celebration of something in between would be nice, don’t you think?
Hi Aoi, and thanks for your contribution to the Letters Page. I agree entirely, though there is a sort of plausible explanation for why things are the way they are. It’s to do with the fact that the “middle ground” you’re talking about tends to already have a pretty committed, loyal audience, and as such they don’t spend a ton of time and attention on big marketing campaigns such as E3 presentations and the like.
I was actually having a similar discussion to this with someone on a Discord I frequent last night, and we were talking about companies like NISA and Idea Factory as good examples. Both of these companies put out games that do well and are perfectly happy pootling along without doing a huge E3 presentation, and it’s because people who know they’re into the stuff they publish already know what’s coming and are pretty much guaranteed to preorder, regardless.
That does raise the question of how they attract new audience members, though. At present, word of mouth seems to be their most effective approach. It’s certainly how I came to be involved with franchises like Neptunia, Senran Kagura, Gal*Gun and the like in the first place — I heard about them from other people and felt inclined to check them out further.
All that said, remember that E3 (or equivalent) isn’t the only big event in the year — and, being an American event, is always going to favour western stuff for the most part. For Asian stuff, events like Tokyo Game Show and New Game Plus are “our” E3 — and often there’s a lot more exciting stuff (and a lot more gameplay footage!) seen at events like that than there ever will be at E3 or whatever replaces it.
On top of that, a lot of individual companies are starting to take the “Nintendo Direct” approach, too, where they showcase all their stuff on a regular basis without tying themselves to a big “industry event”. eastasiasoft are particularly good at this with their seasonal showcases, and a number of other companies are starting to do more of this sort of thing too.
So don’t give up hope! E3 and its ilk was never for that middle ground; it’s always been for those with budgets to blow to… well, blow them. I remember a time when you wouldn’t see indies at E3 either, so the fact that we see weird and creative stuff with almost equal billing to Boring Brown Shooter XXIII is a noteworthy development from over the years.
Feeling hot hot hot
Are there any games you have bought or started playing primarily because you found the main character (or a main cast member) attractive?
Hi BunnH, and thanks for your contribution to the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page. This is a great question — and one that I think deserves a full article, so I’ve pencilled that in for next week. The short answer is, of course, a resounding yes — and thankfully for the most part it has rarely steered me wrong.
There have been a few exceptions over the years, but for the most part if I feel some sort of connection with the main characters of something — even if that connection is as simple as being attracted to their appearance — I’ll forgive most things, simply because I want to spend more time with that character.
I won’t presume to speak for Lilia, but from the things she says when she writes about otome games, I’d say this appears to definitely be an important factor for the otome audience. Otome games will, it seems, appeal to people specifically because of the design of their main cast — or the voice actors who are playing them. If you get that not-so-elusive mix of swoon-inducing character design and a voice actor who you particularly love, you should be in heaven.
I feel like this perhaps isn’t the case quite so much in games with predominantly female casts… but I don’t know. I just said there’s a bunch of stuff I’ve played because I have the hots for the main cast, didn’t I? Let’s ponder it more next week — thanks for the great idea!
And that’s that for another week. Thank you as always for your ongoing support and your kind letters — and we’ll see you once again next week! Loveyoubye!
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