OKAY SO…for those of you who don’t know, splatfests are semi-regular events in Splatoon 2. Basically, a choice is offered, everyone picks a side, and for a whole day everyone fights in matches. At the end, the popularity and battle results are tabulated and a victor is chosen. Topics in the past have included Cats or Dogs, Cake or Ice Cream, and most recently Pulp or No Pulp in your OJ.
Also recently, Splatoon 2 had DLC released titled Octo Expansion, a difficult single-player campaign which allows you to play as an octopus-based Octoling (instead of a squid-based Inkling) in multiplayer should you finish the story.
In what I assume is an attempt to commemorate the DLC, the new splatfest is going to be Squids versus Octopus or, in other words, Inklings versus Octolings. This makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable, I hope for understandable reasons. Especially considering the lore of Splatoon, in which Octolings and Inklings are traditionally opposed people and Octolings have only recently joined the Inklings after choosing to flee a totalitarian regime. And we welcome them with…this. Hello! Welcome to Inkopolis! We demand you fight against us to determine which is superior!
Literally all of my friends are, at best, distressed by this splatfest to the point where we’re not really sure if we want to participate. Both because we love Inklings AND Octolings and don’t want to have to pick and also because we don’t want to pick a side in a debate of this nature. What do y’all think? Are me and my friends thinking about this too much? Or did Nintendo not think about it enough?
I mean, they kind of play a little bit with comparing the experiences of Octolings to those of other minorities whether it be racial or otherwise. It’s kind of odd that they would do this. I guess it also kind of depends if they only allow you to play as the one you chose?
They’ve already confirmed that if you choose Team Squid you’ll play as an Inkling and if you choose Team Octopus you’ll play as an Octoling.
Given that the base game had exactly one black person in it who was a sexually objectified octoling, a race of people in the series that up to then had only been presented as villains to be shot at in the single player, and the games use of American hip hop themes as a quick way to seem cool (which to be fair I don’t know a lot about Japaneses street culture so this bit may very well have not been intentional but there’s something going on there for sure) I would say being very uncomfortable is VERY fair
I don’t know a TON more than you, but Japanese hiphop tends to have been heavily influenced by American hiphop but kind of has developed its own thing.
Yeah and that’s sort of my reservation there is that it may well be it’s own thing but still has some elements that when taken into our context and in the greater context of the game raises more eyeballs than it might in a different context. Which I guess is jut how context works now that I think about it
Anyways it’s a thing worth thinking about in regards to this is all
Are you seriously implying that Japan doesn’t have a rap scene (which the entire aesthetic of splatoon is based on by the way) because not only is this incredibly wrong its also fairly offensive
I’m always trying to be conscious of the implied or suggested messages behind things, but I’m having a hard time reading anything into the politics of the splatfest here. They introduced a new character type into the mechanics of the game and are trying to do a tie in with the games existing modes.
Is this the race war I’ve been hearing about from the right for so long?
On a serious note while I do think there is a read of Splatoon that paints this Splatfest in a rather negative light, I do think that read involves a bit of a reach, or at the very least a generally deeper understanding of the lore than the average player has.
That said I still think that it’s a legitimate read of the game and if it’s giving you bad vibes thats valid and understandable.
Which also means this read is probably not as much of a reach as I believe it do be
Splatfests have always been fun and harmless because the teams are intentionally really vapid, preferential choices. This one is incredibly uncomfortable because it suggests that a character’s race is a benign preference you can choose between like your choice of food condiment, rather than an inherent part of their social identity.
And also because it encourages people to make garbage dogwhistle racist jokes, which should be the last thing Nintendo should ever want in relation to their games. They didn’t think this through at all.
No I’m implying they do stuff like this:
What I don’t know is rather it’s because the Japanese hip hop scene is still drawing from the American one in such a way that they could be absentmindedly recreating stuff like the above without thinking about it, or if they’re going out of their way to draw from it at which point they’re either ignoring the context around the above imagery but should still know that having a race war contest is a bad thing, or they do know the context and somehow still thought this was a good idea? I can’t imagine that’s the case but if anyone would do that it’s prolly Nintendo
EDIT: And to be clear I do over state the degree to which they are drawing from it in that first post I won’t deny that and that’s worth pointing out for sure.
The situation implies that the usage of cultural imagery is less a respectful, thought out one meant to encourage diversity and free expression, and instead makes it seem like Nintendo are simply pillaging the styles of other cultures for the sake of adding flavor to the visual aesthetic.
Plus there’s the discomfort when you start asking questions about the nature of the setting when the Octolings are heavily influenced by black culture, namely the idea that they’re only “liberated” from control of the Octo army via the sound of Inkling music.
Normally you could give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt and not look too deeply into it, but when they do tacky thoughtless stunts like this Splatfest, and also have dialogue within the Octo Expansion openly mocking sentiments of race-blindness(*), they start begging questions about what they’re implying through the use of this imagery.
(*) the joke is fine and well intentioned but is directly invoking real-world politics of race
I’m not saying that anyone else’s feelings are invalid, but personally I just can’t tie the Splatfest, something that seemingly exists outside the rules of the world, into the greater fiction. The Splatfest frequently involves things that just don’t or shouldn’t exist in world. Why would any of them know about Autobots vs Decepticons or what Pokémon even are? How can they know what mayonnaise is when all land based life is extinct and there are no egg yolks? Why would any inkling be in favor of a water slide when water kills them?
To me it seems pretty clear that the Splatfest is not actually a reflection of the world or lore of the game itself. If it was, then most of them should involve everyone walking around shrugging trying to figure out what the hell they’re even fighting on behalf of.
Actually I believe the established lore is that they are receiving these splatfests from what they believe is some sort of spiritual source, while actually being messages sent from back when humans were alive that are somehow only now being received. Not to mention, the results of the final Splatoon 1 splatfest are referenced in the Splatoon 2 story mode. They absolutely are a real thing in-world.
I think in this specific instance, there’s a decent chance that the creators are drawing from (and in some cases mimicking) Japanese rap imagery. The current Japanese Hip-Hop scene seemingly* also cribs and riffs on the imagery around Tupac and Biggie fairly often. So Splatoon 2 is probably more inspired by Japanese Hip-Hop than by the things Japanese Hip-Hop are influenced by.\
- Somebody with a deeper knowledge of non-American hip-hop trends please fact check me.
Which leads to even more problems, because several of the Splatfests like this one and the Callie/Marie one clearly reference modern day in game. You can’t be getting signals from the past about evolutions that wouldn’t happen until long after humans have gone extinct.
This is what I mean when I say it doesn’t really reflect the actual world itself. It’s kind of a half assed justification for an in world event that doesn’t really impact the game world.
The promotional tie-in Splatfest dialogue imply that those properties more or less just exist within the universe.