Tekken 7 producer and director Katsuhiro Harada has hit out at "ill-informed" criticisms of his character designs, especially those that feature scantily clad young women.
In an interview with Eurogamer, the outspoken game creator said that his critics failed to appreciate cultural differences. He said that depictions of women in swimsuits are no different to dressing up for holidays.
"The swimsuits was a good example," he said. "People who don't even play the game, they maybe just hear that there are swimsuits in it and then they say, 'Woah, you have these girls in sexy swimwear, what's wrong with you? You're such male chauvinists etc.'
"You have these girls in sexy swimwear, what's wrong with you?"
"But, what they don't know is that it started off in the arcade and it's a season line, like you do for Christmas, Halloween or whatever. And it's not just the women. Robots have them, Kuma, Panda, the male characters have swimwear. It's not like we're trying to sexualize the female characters at all. But they don't go and look for that info before they criticise. So, that is pretty frustrating."
Harada faced criticism back in 2014 for the reveal of a character called Lucky Chloe, a cat girl-style J-pop fan who wears lingerie and a tutu. Following online disapproval, he threatened to restrict the character to Asian and European markets, a threat that was later explained away as "trolling" by a teammate.
More recently, Harada engaged a tweet thread in which a fan asked if swimwear characters would be appearing in the West. He joked that the fan should "ask your country's SJWs" later adding that the tweet was "not for females." The original tweet was later deleted.
Games from East Asia sometimes feature depictions of women that attract accusations of sexism. In the last few years, games like Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, Street Fighter 5, Bravely Default, Dragon's Crown and Final Fantasy 15 have been criticized for sexualized portrayals of women characters.
"There's a guy in his underwear, that's inappropriate."
"One thing that's perhaps scary about some of these ill-informed criticisms is there's a character called Ganryu," added Harada. "He's a Sumo wrestler. But to someone who doesn't know Sumo, they might just say, 'there's a guy in his underwear, that's inappropriate.' But it's a very important part of Japanese culture. Without knowing that, to so easily make criticisms, is maybe a dangerous direction."
He said that changes to individual games would "depend on the country." A spokesperson for publisher Namco Bandai told Polygon today that there is "no official word" on the status of swimwear characters in the respective U.S. and Japanese console releases of the game, which has already launched in Japanese arcades.
Tekken 7 will be released on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One next year. You can read all Polygon’s Tekken 7 coverage here.