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Regarding Censorship of Visual Novels

Over the course of my life, I've been exposed to many different forms of art. And yet, there's one form that I've spent the past five years of my life trying to encourage, and that's the visual novel. Involving text, pictures, and music, visual novels use computer technology to create a interactive stories. In the right hands, this medium can be used to tell truly great stories that span cultures.

Luca Giordano, The Rape of Lucretia (Oil on canvas, 1663)
Luca Giordano, The Rape of Lucretia (Oil on canvas, 1663)

Over the past few months, the creators of these stories have been hounded with calls for censorship; censorship that we would rightly find abhorrent in other forms of media. Perhaps these censors believe that since the visual novel is a relatively young medium, they should not be allowed to cover same range of material as other art forms — material one can find in art galleries and bookstores.

To the Japanese government, let me ask that you treat visual novels in the same way as other art, sold privately to private consumers. Stories that can be told in books, comics, and movies should not be prohibited simply because they are displayed on a computer screen.

To the creators of visual novels, in Japan and the rest of the world, let me just ask that you resist calls for self-censorship and continue to tell the stories that you wish to tell, and that audiences wish to experience. To do otherwise would be to treat our art as somehow less worthy, and that is unacceptable.

PyTom, Lead Developer, Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine
June 29, 2009