The final Rice Digital Friday Letters Page of 2021

The Rice Digital Friday Letters Page

Good afternoon all! After a brief break for Christmas last week, we’re back once again with the final Rice Digital Friday Letters Page of the year! And we’ve got some absolutely fantastic letters for you this week — thank you to everyone who submitted something, as it’s been a pleasure to read some more substantial thoughts as well as the usual questions and prompts.

I’ll say this again at the end for good measure, but I’d like to thank everyone who has been part of the Rice Digital community this year and helped make the site what it is — here’s to an even more vibrant and lively 2022, with fun articles and videos for you to enjoy and awesome comments and letters from you lot for us to enjoy in exchange! Sounds like a fair deal to me.

We’ll be reviewing the way we handle submissions for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page in the new year, so more news about that when we’ve figured things out. For now, please continue to either use the widget on the right of every page or reply to the Rice Digital Weekly Digest to get in touch!

Let’s delve into the mailbag!

Original source unknown — let us know if you know who was behind this!

Better late than never

Dear Rice,

I am writing to wish you all a Merry Christmas. Thanks for your work, keep it up!

Happy holidays and happy new year from your number one reader!

Kerift


Hi number one reader, and thanks for your letters! Sorry we didn’t respond to your Christmas message right away, but we’d already clocked off for Christmas Eve by the time you sent it and were off down the boozer to get lashed. (Actually, I was driving three hours in the pouring rain to go and see my parents for Christmas, but the thing I said before makes my social life sound more exciting than it actually is.)

And thanks for your regular contributions to the Letters Page, too — it’s always nice to see people coming back week after week to say their piece. A few of you have written us multiple messages this year, and I’d like to encourage any more of you who enjoy chatting with us to contribute as much as you want. We have absolutely no problem with “regulars” on this page, so don’t worry about us getting sick of the sight of you or anything. If anything, it’s really encouraging when we see the same names time and time again!

If you’d like to hang out with the rest of the Rice community, don’t forget we have a fun Discord, too, which is a great place to hang out, meet like-minded people and chat about your favourite games, anime, manga, beautiful boys and gorgeous waifus. Or discuss your forbidden love for Sonic Heroes.

Anyway, a belated Merry Christmas and a timely Happy New Year to you, Kerift — and to all the rest of you reading this!

Letters page: Luminous Arc 3
One of many reasons to play Luminous Arc 3

Full Metal Mailbag

Dear Rice,

I’ve been meaning to write you for a while, and figured the end of the year is as good a time as any to finally do it. I have two major points of interest I’d like to discuss, and they will be rather lengthy, so please bear with me.

Firstly, as you may already be aware, Version 1 of the Luminous Arc 3 English translation patch released a couple of days ago on Christmas Eve. I’ve been playing through it and aside from some minor grammatical issues here and there, it’s fairly well made and is very enjoyable.

The writing is generally engaging, both in regards to the characters and the plot, and the gameplay is solid with every character having distinctive strengths and weakness. With that said, I’m curious if you all have any plans to cover it or write a small retrospective on it like you have some other fan translated games. It’s definitely a good game worth trying out, if a little lengthy when going for 100% since it necessitates you playing through it three times, but even playing it though just once is well worth your time.

Letters page: Muramasa
Full Metal Daemon Muramasa

Secondly, I’m also curious as to whether anyone on Rice has gotten a chance to go through Full Metal Daemon Muramasa yet. I’ve only gone through the Hero and Revenge/Nemesis routes so far, and they were both well done and moving.

When I initially looked into Muramasa, I was somewhat concerned that it was one of those stories that is overly critical of heroism and justice for no good reason, but experiencing firsthand made me realise that is not the case. You can tell that the people who worked on it had a deep love and appreciation for the subject matter that the game discusses, that the game is the result of three years of the staff pouring their blood, sweat, tears, and soul into it.

On top of that, it has a lot of genuinely funny moments that help to break up the more serious aspects of it so that you don’t get overwhelmed. It’s definitely not for everyone, but for those that have an interest in the subjects that it covers, it’s a great ride.

Lastly, I would like to say thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and I wish everyone who sees this a Happy New Year!

Alfred Scott


Hi Alfred, and thanks for your hefty letter — it’s always a pleasure to have something like this to get stuck into, so I encourage anyone who, like Alfred (and our next contributor), has something substantial to say to just get in touch and say what you want. This isn’t a forum filled with zoomer teens with an attention span of two seconds; we very much welcome what other places might refer to as a “wall of text”. Hell, we’re responsible for plenty of our own walls of text ourselves, so it would be hypocritical of us to curtail our readers’ contributions, no?

Anyway, to address your points in turn: firstly, thanks for letting us know about Luminous Arc 3. Lilia is our resident Luminous Arc expert, having extolled her love for Heath from the first game back in January of last year, so I’ll be sure to put her on the Luminous Arc 3 case as soon as might be convenient for her, assuming she’s up for it! Can’t promise when that will happen, but we’ll do our best to give it some coverage since you made such a convincing case for it!

Likewise for Full Metal Daemon Muramasa. I follow a number of the people responsible for the localisation on Twitter, and it’s been inspiring to see their excitement and pride in the project — particularly with how much of a challenge the whole thing doubtless proved to be for them. From everything I’ve heard, they did a really good job, so I’d definitely like to cover it — as with everything, it’s a simple matter of finding the time to squeeze it in.

Letters page: Muramasa
Full Metal Daemon Muramasa

With some games, you can generally know enough about them to write something about them after just a few hours with them — though personally I always prefer to beat a game completely before writing about it whenever possible. But with visual novels, it’s tricky to put pen to paper without having experienced the whole thing from start to finish first, unless you take a sort of “ongoing” approach with it, commenting on each new chapter as you read it or something.

I guess in that sense you can approach it almost like an episodic anime or volume-by-volume manga review — and with lengthy, hefty works like Muramasa that might actually not be a terrible way to approach things. I’ll look into it in the new year, because I know I definitely want to write something about it, but I have, frankly, been holding off due to the time commitment I know it will demand!

Thanks for that. That’s given me some food for thought. Taking on the Attack the Backlog approach with some titles has shown that repeatedly revisiting a game over multiple sessions can work as a format, and a visual novel would seem eminently appropriate for experimenting with a similar idea. So watch out for something along those lines in the new year!

To wrap up, then, thank you so much for your suggestions and your letter — and a very happy new year to you, too. Here’s to a 2022 filled with many more wonderful gaming and visual novel experiences!

Letters page: Final Fantasy XIV
That’s me in the middle, ogling my IRL wife. She’s gone back to being Miqo’te since this picture was taken a few years back.

Morally reprehensible filth

Dear Rice,

On “sexualization”: World of Warcraft is actually a pretty bad example, because its outfits often look completely different on male and female models and its female characters tend to look like they were directly traced from porn models. The same goes for a number of MMOs like Perfect World and Black Desert, where classes are even gender-locked.

A better example would be Final Fantasy XIV Online, where you can look sexy if you want but it isn’t the only toy in the box. Many sexy outfits aren’t even locked to a specific gender.

Having said all that, the author of that piece really hit the nail on the head. Modern “sexualization” discourse feels like it’s less about “women don’t HAVE to be sexy” and more about “women aren’t ALLOWED to be sexy.” They can torture and be tortured brutally, as in the Tomb Raider reboot and The Last of Us 2, but if they wear a cute outfit or appear in a hot springs scene then that’s just pandering to gross men.

Ban this sick filth

Which, of course, erases lesbians like me, because now everyone’s telling us that it’s gross to be horny for women. Or want to play games like Neptunia and Gal*Gun, even though both are FAR more wholesome than any torture simulator.

(I can’t think of any game, including 18+ visual novels, that is ABOUT female pleasure to the extent Gal*Gun is. Which is probably a big part of the reason Sony and Microsoft won’t touch it.)

I’m not saying torture sims are BAD. It just feels deeply ironic that Western gamers, who don’t mind seeing Ms. Croft impaled and threatened sexually, look at the cover of Blue Reflection Second Light and see morally reprehensible filth.

Tama


Well, Tama, I can only sit back and applaud after that wonderful letter. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

In this modern age of perpetual guilt, I always feel a certain uneasiness as a straight white etc. etc. when commenting on such issues — but at the same time I feel it’s important to provide a perspective on them that differs from ill-informed screeds such as the Bloomberg piece we’re both talking about here. And it’s enormously reassuring when people from outside my own specific demographic are happy to show up, put their hand up and say “yep, that’s right”.

You’re not the first person I’ve spoken to who has commented on such issues — though I think you’re the first to talk about Gal*Gun in this particular context. It’s normally Senran Kagura that is highlighted as a series particularly appealing to homosexual and trans women, since while that series isn’t necessarily about female pleasure as Gal*Gun is, it is about taking pride in and drawing comfort from your own sense of identity — even if aspects of your own identity might make you at times feel like you stand out in one way or another.

Letters page: Katsuragi
Katsuragi: responsible for many a sexual awakening over the course of the last decade

The “Long Live the Queen” post I linked to in the article in question — check it out here if you haven’t already — remains one of my absolute favourite pieces of writing on the subject, because it so perfectly encapsulates how important these games are to some people for reasons other than simple titillation. The characters and scenarios in this games carry genuine meaning for people, and help them to understand themselves and one another; I’m not sure you can say that in quite the same way about violent games.

I should probably add that there’s not even anything wrong with simple titillation in the first place, either; we all have urges, and it’s healthy and desirable to indulge them, particularly if you can do so in a safe way. And there’s no safer sex than Gamer Sex.

Anyway, I’m glad you appreciated what we had to say on the subject — and as I say, it’s enormously reassuring to hear your thoughts on the matter as someone who feels erased by a lot of mainstream discourse on the subject. We’re more than happy to welcome you around here and encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts. Because without people speaking up, tripe like that Bloomberg piece becomes the “default” opinion, however ill-informed it might be.

Have a wonderful new year, and I hope we hear from you again sometime!


Whew. That was fun! Keep ’em coming — as I’ve said before, we absolutely love hearing from you, particularly when you have your own thoughts and feelings about things we’ve talked about recently.

As Tama’s letter in particular shows, our shared love for what tends to be referred to as “niche interest” entertainment often sees us shoved off into the sidelines and ignored while mainstream writers who don’t know what they’re talking about spout a load of old codswallop — when that happens, it’s important to speak up. We can do a certain amount with our voice as a publication, but it carries even more weight when you, the readers, also say your piece, too.

Anyway, to reiterate what I said earlier: a very sincere thank you to everyone who has participated in the Rice Digital community in one way or another over the course of the last year — even if it’s simply as a silent reader rather than someone taking a more active role in comments, on Discord or on the letters page — and I wish you all (yes, even you) a thoroughly happy new year.

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