Vixens of Vengeance
Have you ever felt frustrated because of some completely ridiculous or unwarranted feedback from an editor/coordinator/creative director/whatever? This is bound to happen at least every once in a while in any creative profession, be it writing, visual design, acting, music, etc. These experiences can be incredibly frustrating, but sometimes, we can also find great humor in them. I would like to share one of the latter with you.
Early in my translation career when I was still working on localization for Japanese video games, I was involved in a freemium mobile game, what they call a “trading card game” in Japanese (usually “collectible card game” in English). It basically involves the player collecting cards, each of which has a character on it, with which the player can form a party to go on quests and other adventures where the gameplay is not all that different from a Vegas slot machine. This gameplay is all in the hopes of getting more powerful characters and earning currency to play “gacha” games that literally look like slot machines, the end goal being to get even more powerful characters so you can increase your chances of kicking ass in further battles and whatnot.
And of course if you want to progress faster, you have the readily available option of shelling out your hard-earned cash to do so. The approximately 10% of players who spend heavily on such paid upgrades account for about 90% of freemium games’ revenues. It doesn’t seem very different from gambling, except that you can’t withdraw your winnings. You just get digital prizes. (More on that subject here.)
I hate these games. In fact, many of the video games I helped localize, and not just the freemium titles, were not appealing to me in any way whatsoever. That, plus the low pay resulting from heavy competition among game translators (many of whom are newbies willing to work for peanuts) and client indifference, explains why I eventually left localization. The only redeeming factor of this particular game was the fairly erotic, borderline-porn artwork, which gave me a chuckle every now and then.
My job with this game was not actually translation, but rather creative writing. Each new edition of the gacha game had exactly the same mechanics as every preceding one, but with its own set of unique artwork and characters. It was my task to come up with an English title and one-line pop-up text for the gacha that were based on this artwork and the Japanese names of the characters.
The gacha game I want to talk about came with this art:
I immediately let out a hearty laugh because one of the girls seems like she’s about to caress the plump, nearly exposed breast of her companion, staring lustily as she does so. Then I got to thinking about a suitable title and pop-up. At first there was a slew of sleazy ideas that came to mind, but I immediately ruled them out. Although they were completely fitting, I knew I had to tone things down a little bit since teenagers were also playing the game.
So I got down to more serious brainstorming. These girls are sexy, perhaps they’re mischievous troublemakers, and they look pretty tough to boot. I think we could describe them as vixens, and they don’t seem like they’d hold anything back in a fight. In fact, if you crossed them, they’d probably come at you with everything they’ve got. I think they could exact some awfully mean vengeance. Ah ha! I love alliteration, so I came up with this:
Vixens of Vengeance
And then the pop-up text for these dominatrixes:
Dominate… Violate… Own the battlefield…
Awesome! I even fit in a rhyme. I added the following note explaining the pop-up text:
“Violate” is inspired by the main character in this artwork. (It looks like she’s about to get felt up.) “Dominate” describes the character in the other accompanying art [not pictured here] and happens to rhyme with “Violate.”
I knew this writing wasn’t going to win me any accolades or acclaim. Whatever. I was quite proud of this one, even though I would never want to play the game in my free time. I sent my draft to the coordinator.
The feedback I received was absolutely ludicrous.
Apparently, Vixens of Vengeance was too sexy and erotic for the client. They were targeting players age 10 to 12, so something more appropriate for that group would be greatly appreciated.
Let me show you that artwork again:
Are you fucking kidding me?!
Okay, that’s what I thought, not what I actually emailed the coordinator, but my more professional, polite response to the feedback expressed something to that effect. In the end, however, I had to rewrite with something lame and not terribly creative or exciting.
Later, the coordinator, worried about running afoul of the client’s sensitivities over game text (despite the clearly erotic art), sent me a list of forbidden words for this project. The list is below, but since it’s so long, I want to first share my response:
Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s a pretty funny list. Anyway, don’t worry. I have most definitely not used any of those words.
Okay, now for the list, typos and all, with “Vixen” recently added near the top, presumably because of me. If you’re faint of heart, turn back now!
SERIOUSLY!!! If you are easily offended, stop reading right here! And if you read it anyway, don’t come crying to me on social media or wherever about being triggered or something. You have been warned.
However, if you want a great laugh and to perhaps learn a few new bits of foul language, then please do continue.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end! I hope you found this story as amusing as it was for me. And if you’ve been offended by the list, just remember that I did warn you.
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