Thoughts on Abuse?

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Aiurax
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Thoughts on Abuse?

#1 Post by Aiurax » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:50 pm

I'm making my first game using Ren'Py and I was wondering what the overall consensus on abuse in otome games is? Is it generally a taboo?

I was thinking of having mild physical and heavy verbal abuse. I know that it is not 'the norm' to introduce abuse in a GxB dating simulation, but I am hoping that it would enhance the story (rather than deter from the actual plot).

The abuse consists of sister-sister bickering: except one-sided and escalated.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#2 Post by Anthy » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:17 pm

As long as it's not glorified relationship abuse.

Dude, female-on-female abuse is INCREDIBLY common, in shoujo manga, real life, etc. so... I wouldn't worry about it. Sadly many girls tend to be critical of each other when they don't see eye-to-eye. Usually it's more verbal/indirect bullying than physical, but yeah. Though it's better to incorporate it in a way that won't make it seem like it's nothing more than plot device to make character X victimized and sympathetic so they can be rescued by character Y.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#3 Post by Camille » Mon Oct 10, 2011 1:38 pm

I think it's fine to include it as long as it's clear that the abuse isn't right/a good thing. You shouldn't have the abuser be glorified and rewarded for their behavior, for example. ...unless you're going for some sort of super negative message, but then I think people might be turned off. XD;
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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#4 Post by Aiurax » Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:11 pm

@Anthy - Yes I know it's incredibly common in manga and real-life, but I couldn't recall many otome games having abuse as a theme. Especially physical. And don't worry. I was hoping to incorporate it as an obstacle; not as a plot device to be rescued.

@Camille - Oh. No worries about that. The abuser is there to be hated.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#5 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:14 pm

This reminds me of "A Drug that Makes You Dream".

The story line with one of the girls - Shiraki - involves bullying and abuse at school. It's supposed to be a commentary about bullying in Japanese schools, and I guess it works in that regard. However, I never played the game again after completing that storyline, even though there are two other separate storylines in the game to follow and I usually replay VNs.

Why did I not play again? Because the abuse storyline made me HATE the main protagonist (the person I'm supposed to be in the game) with a passion. I mean, as a storytelling device, the game maker's were sort of stuck, in that the protagonist had to be present to witness bullying and abuse, and if the storyline were to continue he couldn't stop it. But STILL . . . .

I hated the main protagonist because he was a coward, weak, and timid. Anyone that would let a girl he liked be tormented to the point of attempting suicide in front of them without stepping in is a horrible human being in their own right. But the guy narrates to himself (as VN protagonists are want to do) about his reasons for not acting, like being singled out by his classmates for abuse himself, etc. So you know, making excuses as to why he is a coward and letting all this go on.

Now, maybe that was illustrating a Japanese mindset or the problem specifically in Japanese schools, but I couldn't help but think how easily it would be solved if happening in front of me, personally. Because I have seen the same situation when I was in school. The solution? Stand up, even in class, walk over and hurt the abusers. (I always gave verbal warnings for them to stop first. But only once.) Now, I went to school in America, in the 1980s (before schools started calling the police for every damn thing), but this WORKED. Someone abuses someone else, you abuse them even more. Like training a dog. You don't bother them if they aren't bothering someone, but the moment they do, you give them immediate and painful feedback - in excess of their own abuse.

Spoiler:
Eventually they use this solution in the game as well - the bullies have proceeded to using knives and stun guns, so the protagonist and his girlfriend put them in the hospital, but not before making them think they are going to die.
So the abuse storyline ending up making me dislike a beautiful and well-done game. So you have to think about how your abuse storyline will work, how it will be solved, how the player will become aware of the abuse, and what they can do about it. Abuse is a hard situation to resolve, and either involves ignoring it and getting away from the abuser (moving, etc.), escalation of force (abusing the abuser so bad they stop abusing, etc. law enforcement uses this method for adult abusers), or the most difficult solution, talking and having serious discussions with the abuser and getting them to see the error of their ways. (Sometimes not possible.)

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#6 Post by papillon » Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:42 pm

If the abusive character exists for no reason other than to be evil and hated by the player, that can be a problem too - in a way, it trivialises issues that in real life tend to be more complicated. Remember that it's likely that at least some of your players will have either been in abusive situations at some point or known someone who has. Usually, the abuser doesn't walk around with a giant "I'M A VILLAIN" sign over his/her head, and it's often difficult to get out of these messes because outsiders insist that the abuser is a good person and therefore it can't be abusive, or that it's not really that bad, or that the target did in response is just as bad and therefore it's fair and not a real problem.

You definitely want your hero to triumph by the end, but if you make it too black and white and simple to recognise and fix, people who've been there may feel angry that you make it look so easy.

Unless you give the villain a truly glorious comeuppance. Most people enjoy watching someone they hate get what's coming to them. :)

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#7 Post by Aiurax » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:34 pm

@LateWhiteRabbit - I think I have also seen games like that floating around. And I must admit I wasn't tempted to play them (I'm one of those suckers that go for the long-haul romances). In all honesty... I did think that abuse would be a delicate subject, which is why I asked first before putting it into my game as I didn't want the same thing that happened to that game for you, to happen to my game with other people. I do think I'll still put it into my story, but I'll possibly test it out in a beta and see what the response is. And then go from there (meaning either take it out, change it or leave it). One last thing, the Protagonist definitely will not be like the one from "A Drug That Makes You Dream". I would start from scratch again, if it came to that.

@papillon - Even though the abuser is there to be hated. It wouldn't be the only reason. I wouldn't want the abuse to be one-dimensional with a quick-fix, either. And I was also thinking of the drawbacks that you've said too.
I thought a lot about how to create a good enough ending so that the player wouldn't feel cheated or annoyed. Which means that I instantly dismissed any ideas concerning 'You came home and found her dead.' - I mean after going through the whole game and having to put up with her abuse the whole time and then she just dies? I didn't feel that it would be good enough, and as you said, people may become angry at the simplicity. But other than that, I do want it as a theme in my game. I just hope I can do it justice. I guess we will see.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#8 Post by Aleema » Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:41 pm

Anthy wrote:Dude, female-on-female abuse is INCREDIBLY common, in shoujo manga, real life, etc. so...
If there is trash talk, it's rarely to their face. It's always comisserating with other girls behind some other person's back. But I can personally attest to it being about girls as much as boys. If it is particularly harsh, it's because the two of them are considered friends, and I would think that if your friend slights you, it feels particularly bad. Also, everyone's critical of everyone -- men can be harsh on their own sex, too. Just look at any character who is a "pretty boy" or a "wuss" and you'll hear plenty of bashing.

As for the topic: is the abuser meant to be a love interest and we're supposed to take it seriously and look past it? I would probably stop reading. If they're just a character meant to shape or influence behavior in other characters, it's just a story element like any other. I will say that these sort of things do stick out in a reader's mind, and even if the abuser "sees the light" at the end, the reader will not have forgotten what he did, and neither should the character at hand.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#9 Post by Sapphi » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:04 pm

Aleema wrote:
Anthy wrote:Dude, female-on-female abuse is INCREDIBLY common, in shoujo manga, real life, etc. so...
Not really. And if there is trash talk, it's rarely to their face. It's always comisserating with other girls behind some other person's back.
Yeah, either girls in Japan are really confrontational compared to the girls around here, or it's just played up for drama. Like, in shoujo manga, it seems to be a trope for small gangs of mini-skirted girls to do horrible things to another girl. IIRC, in Imadoki!, Tanpopo had her desk graffiti'd, her shoes stuffed with garbage, and a bucket of water dumped on her from a balcony. In Tokyo Mew Mew, I'm pretty sure Lettuce got smacked to the ground by one of her "friends". I'm finding it hard to believe that such outrageous things happen that commonly IRL in Japan.

One thing I will say from personal experience is that most girls who were snotty or rude to me were only able to do so in the company of their friends. By themselves, you could mistake them for decent people. Once I met a girl from my junior high class at the park, who rarely talked to me and didn't seem to like me. We'll call her girl A. However, we were both alone, so we started talking and walking around together. We bought some Air Heads (yummy taffy-like candy) and were having fun. I was shocked that we were getting along so well. Suddenly her friend, girl B, who was a real snob, showed up. There was a total change in girl A's behavior and she left with girl B without much of a goodbye at all.

Strangely enough, although girl B didn't like me, she was always turning around in her desk chair in math class to ask me for help. At the end of the year, when we passed around yearbooks, the only thing she could think of to write was something like "You helped me a lot in math." :lol:

But yeah, anyway, back to the point... my class was full of mean girls, but when you separated them, they didn't have the nerve to be mean. I think there should be a clear motive for your abuser's actions if she's acting alone. It seems like you really have to despise someone to be mean to them when nobody's looking.
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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#10 Post by Aiurax » Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:35 pm

@Aleema - No, the abuser isn't a love interest. And I'm not sure how to rightly reply to the rest... The abuser will shape the Protagonist's overall personality (I mean, how can she not?) but, I don't think it's just a typical story element, either. And I want the reader/player to remember what the abuser did and at the end of the game (hopefully) come away satisfied with the ending.

@Sapphi - I wouldn't know too much about mean girls in school (I was invisible when I was at school, so mean girls paid me no heed). But I do know a bit about sister-sister bickering, so I'll be using a lot of my own experiences when I incorporate this into my game. And sister-sister bickering is different than school bullies, because it's as Aleema said:
If it is particularly harsh, it's because the two of them are considered friends, and I would think that if your friend slights you, it feels particularly bad.
Because a sister theoretically knows more about you, then her being mean would be much worse. And sister-sister bickering is easier to do when alone, especially if said sister is older (and you have nowhere to run).
My sister had (and still has) Intermittent Explosive Disorder: where she couldn't help but to be aggressive. I'm not sure if I want that to be the reason behind my game abusers actions, but I will take into consideration my sisters outbursts and my own feelings from her outbursts.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#11 Post by Sapphi » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:20 pm

Oh, I totally overlooked that it was sister on sister (or more correctly, I read it but somehow it didn't stick...)

That's a different beast entirely... I'm an older sister. I don't terrorize my little sister (we don't really argue except the kind of stuff like "Why did you turn the hair straightener off?!" "Well I didn't know you were going to use it!!" "I was JUST using it! You kicked me out of the bathroom!" "WELL I DIDN'T KNOW!!!" *slam*

But I think in this kind of case jealousy could be a big undercurrent. Being the oldest child in my family, I got immense amounts of restrictions placed on me growing up, and my sister, being the youngest, does pretty much whatever she wants. My brother and I always complained that she was spoiled: We had to clean our own rooms but my mom would clean her room for her. She got more toys at Christmas because she was younger and therefore cuter than us. My mom gets angry when I let my friends in the house for a few hours, but lets my sister's friends spend the night. Etc. My sister is generally a good-natured person though and we had lots of fun together growing up, so I don't resent her for how she was raised.
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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#12 Post by Aiurax » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:56 pm

@Sapphi - That's the kind of bickering I was on about. The stupid kind that you get annoyed over (but eventually wears off). Except that it's one-sided and escalated. And whilst you hold no resentment towards your sister, there are people that do.

Edit: Re-reading this. I didn't mean that people have resentments against YOUR sister. I meant people have resentments against their own sisters. I didn't want to get that mixed up :wink:
Last edited by Aiurax on Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#13 Post by Aleema » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:20 pm

@Sapphi: Bullying is a horrible epidemic, not only in Japan. But they certainly do have some awful cases of it. =\ I fully believe those things happen, but I won't believe that it's female-only. Maybe more mental that physical, but kids in general can be very evil.

@Aiurax: I had a lot of sister-sister fighting when we were both younger. She was the new kid and being the eldest, that meant I hated her and the way she would copy me and UGH UGH. But she really did love me, but she found out that the best way to get attention from me was to push my buttons, so that's where all the fighting came from. Now that we're both adults, she's quite possibly my dearest friend. I'd like to think that our turbulent relationship in the beginning was like two baby animals play-fighting with each other. And now that we're older, we're closer for it.

And I totally know what you mean that it hurts a bit more ... Like you expect an apology for something you wouldn't demand from someone else. I get really frowny face when I tell my sister I loaned her my favorite thing and she hasn't returned it and she gets defensive, "WELL I DIDN'T KNOW SORRY" ... :( You're my sister!

Haha, are we off topic yet? :D Sorry!

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#14 Post by Aiurax » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:53 pm

@Aleema & Sapphi - I feel like I'm being ganged up on by the older sisters! :D (I, myself, am the younger sister).

@Aleema - You did kind of get off topic :D But it's important for me to know about sister-sister bickering from different perspectives too. I only have the younger sister perspective (and can only guess at the older). So it is informative...

(Is trying to make it look like we're back on topic)

I didn't expect so many replies. But I am happy you all took this seriously and didn't just give off-hand advice. I'll beta test the abuse scenario as soon as possible.

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Re: Thoughts on Abuse?

#15 Post by Sunlit-Dreamer » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:50 pm

I wonder where I should take my stance on this. Seeing I have an older sister (but I never met her personally, but I still have three older brothers).

Concerning me and my little sister...it's kind of a love hate relationship. That gets violent. Really violent. Not the hair pulling scratching type either guys expect from 'cat fights'.

She's the type who will use her fists and make you HURT like heck. With an attitude. Who also beats up our little brother who tends to curse at her and swing at her.

I'll even admit I had fights with her (Again I note. She has an attitude and STARTS fights) when I actually had her pinned down with her mouth covered. I start cooling down and decide to let her go. What happens next? She screams for our mom who comes into our room and slams me into the wall repeatedly while holding me by my hair beating my face with my brush.

Does that sound sisterly to you? No.

I'll say I still have thoughts of hurting her because of the bs she pulls off when her dad and our mom isn't home. But I won't. I got rid of my violent streak years ago and I'm keeping it that way.

So do keep in mind that not all sister relationships stops at arguments.

My younger sister gave me a scar on my face that will never go away. And I won't be forgetting it either.
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