Welcome to Hentai Land: An Interview with LewdGamer

headerIntroduction

So far most of our interviews included those we often call creatives. People passionate about design, developing, music, gaming and so forth. They create their own content, putting their best effort at providing us with high quality material. Their importance in our daily entertainment cannot be overstated. There is, however, another group whose contribution doesn’t receive the proper attention. It’s those who review and promote the content available out there, those we use as sources to discover new titles and opinions. They are the ones that help turn new titles into successful projects while preserving past masterpieces. Especially in the underground such efforts are rare and mostly overlooked. LewdGamer, a newly founded  website dedicated to promoting hentai games, wishes to become a digital home for fans of the genre. I asked Ryan, the site’s founder, to tell us more about his interesting project.

Neko-chi (N): Introduce yourself to us.

(R): Hello! I’m Ryan Caldwell (R) aka LewdLogic, and I am the owner of LewdGamer (LG).

(N): How did you come up with the concept for LewdGamer and what were your first steps towards materializing this idea?

(R): I came up with the idea of LewdGamer when I noticed that mainstream gaming media never take adult games seriously. Instead of looking over these titles and judging them on their own merit, they are usually looked down upon. I saw that there was a medium that was not being covered fair or properly, and I decided to tackle this by creating a site in the hopes of creating a healthier and more stable environment for the adult gaming industry and adult content creation.

(N): Can you gimme a synopsis of your team members?

(R): LewdGamer’s internal staff is still building. Considering that we just started this year in January 14, there’s still a lot of building to do. Some people have come in and been let go or have left on their own accord. LG is doing fine, but there’s still a lot of things that we need to do and take care of.

We are still looking for new writers who want to jump on board, but I have found it rather difficult to find people who can cover the material consistently and objectively due to the nature of the games.

(N): There are numerous websites made by game developers and/or artists. Not to mention a ton of amateur blogs with hentai content. What separates LewdGamer from the rest of the competition?

(R): The idea of LG is to push this type of material to a wider audience. The issue I see is that there are plenty of people who would play these games, but don’t know they exist in the first place. LewdGamer’s mission has grown since the beginning, and what we want to do is to create an environment that not only talks about games, but also celebrates the type of material that we cover. For example, we also give artists a platform to be featured on our site, as well for the sake of spurring the market.

We hope that these kind of features help inspire others to join together to make games and improve their content. The idea is unification. We see a lot of segmented communities spread around, and we want to bring pieces of those communities together to help build a healthy community that’s willing to push the material to the next level.

Adult content is pretty far behind compared to mainstream gaming, and I feel that we can fix this by having LG serve as a professional outlet for covering games and other adult content.

(N): What does the LewdGamer team define as “creative adult content”? What titles go under that label and what not?*

(R): What we define as “creative adult content” are games that effectively combine gaming with adult erotic entertainment. There exist a lot of titles out there that have implemented only one of these elements in a satisfactory fashion. LewdGamer is always on the look out of for games that not only have merit as pornography, but as proper games as well.

Even if a game does not include pornographic material, we still cover games that feature sexually suggestive subject matter. We label those kinds of titles as “ecchi” on our website.

(N): LewdGamer provides, among other things, the latest news from the industry, editorials, (p)reviews and satirical articles. There’s a lot of content even though you’re a recently founded page. How much have you evolved ever since your first days, how satisfied are you with your current state and what would you like to add in the future?

(R): Like I’ve said before, we have evolved greatly since the inception of LG. We have already gone through three iterations of LewdGamer, with the third being the current incarnation; however, it is true that I’m nowhere near satisfied. There’s plenty more for us to do and plenty more angles that we need to cover, but I also have to realize that we are still relatively new. We are already starting to feel the growing pains of such a mass following coming to the site. It’s a stressful situation, but I’m sure we’ll manage to get through this easily. I have high expectations for our second year, where we will be doing much more coverage internationally. I also hope to get some panels going.

(N): What made you invest time in organizing streaming events? How important do you consider this feature to be and what would you tell someone to convince them to participate in the events?

(R): We created our own live streaming platform as a response to other streaming sites being adamantly opposed to erotic material being streamed on their platforms. Honestly, our streams are just for having a good time, sitting back and relaxing with others. People enjoy our commentary on a lot of hentai anime and games that we watch and play.

We have also been thinking about opening up our services to other adult content creators and are looking towards entertainers on YouTube, as a way for them to stream adult games without worry of being banned from other platforms. Our streams also serve as a good time for our audience to interact with the staff, as well as ask questions pertaining to the site and the content that we are streaming currently.

(N): What are your information sources for your “News” section?

(R): We have a database of sources for more mainstream titles and topics, but for more obscure titles we go to blogs, forums, and even imageboards. We also make sure that all of this information is verified before publishing.

(N): If a random hentai fan wanted to contribute to LewdGamer what would they have to do? Do you have any criteria for accepting or refusing to publish articles?

(R): We have not gotten to the point where we can accept fan contributions. For right now, if people want to apply to LewdGamer, you can do so by emailing me at contact@lewdgamer.com. With that said, we do plan on a fan contribution system to be implemented in the future.

(N): How important is funding for LewdGamer? What extra features would you be able to provide if you had more money to invest?

(R): Funding LewdGamer is definitely important, considering the fact that we are growing rapidly and covering the cost is starting to get expensive. In spite of this, I refuse to put advertisement on my site that would deter readers from coming back. There’s a lot of bullshit advertisements out there, and I’ve already declined a few offers from people who want to put “make your dick bigger ads on my site. We pay attention to the design of our ads, as well as make sure that they are not invasive and don’t deter from the readers experience.

Unfortunately, these decisions do come with consequences. To mitigate those, we have created a Patreon as a way for people to contribute to our site. I’d rather the community support us directly instead of having to resort to advertisers, but the reality is that we can’t really grow as fast as we could and cover as much as we should if we don’t have payment. Once we have more stable funding, what LG can achieve will be far greater than what we’re doing now.

The full potential of the site is nowhere near realized, and I’m really excited to see where we can go. LewdGamer is not about just games, it’s also about celebrating adult gaming and the culture that surrounds it. This means that we have a ton of avenues to cover.

(N): What potential do you think exists out there for the hentai market and how can LewdGamer help improve the industry’s standards?

(R): Porn has always been one of the most stable markets in business; however, porn games have definitely lagged behind when compared to the rest of the mainstream industry. There are plenty of reasons as to why this is the case, and this is something that LewdGamer is already planning on covering in detail in the future. Despite these reasons, there are already some successful developers that are using Patreon. The audience is there, but without a central hub for people to come to, a lot of content out there goes under the radar. One of LG’s missions is to give everybody a fighting chance to receive coverage. Marketing is not everybody’s strongest suit, and even some of the best developers may not get the attention they need for them to continue making quality products.

As for LewdGamer improving the standards of the market, all we need to do is continue to do what we are already doing. We cover these titles fairly, as well as give proper criticism to games that do poorly, and hope to remove the stigmas that surround these tiles by shedding light on good quality. We understand that the industry still needs to grow, and that a lot of developers have limited amount of resources for them to make their titles. We want to motivate them to make games at the best of their abilities and serve as examples for other people to aspire for.

One of the big reasons why the market hasn’t grown as fast as it should is because a lot of people don’t know that these games exist, or devs don’t know that they can make a good amount of money selling these titles. Once they find out that this is something profitable, I’m sure we will start seeing a flood of more titles in the future.

(N): There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the quality of the gaming press. On your Patreon introduction you emphasize the importance of transparency and ethical standards. While I was surfing through your website I noticed the background filled with a MangaGamer ad for the upcoming Euphoria release and so I can’t keep my urge to ask you; in a small community where many people know one another how can you ensure transparency? How can I, a random fan and potential consumer, be certain that you promote or disapprove games entirely for their quality or lack thereof? And how do you balance the need for transparency with the equally important need of working with hentai distributors/developers/artists?

(R): The gaming press is definitely getting a lot of flak recently, and to be honest, this flak is well-deserved. In order to maintain ethical standards, I have an administration section that doesn’t write. Instead, my administration section takes care of gathering the material from publishers and distributors. Once that material is gathered, the information is sent out to my writers for them to take care of. There has, however, been some special cases were some writers may have discovered leads on their own, and, if needed, disclosures are added when applicable. At the end of the day, it comes down to trusting and hoping that my writers are making the best decisions while keeping an eye on them.

In essence, though, some things just come down to trust, and I feel that the issue with a lot of mainstream gaming publications is that they choose to not only shit on their own audience, but they have also broken that barrier of trust with them due to previous infractions and very questionable decisions being made when it comes to specific titles. I find it sad that eventually, the man in charge ends up simply not caring, allowing for poor coverage to slide. You can be damn sure that I will always try my best to do things right.

I’m not going to say that LG is going to be perfect all the time. I’m sure we will make mistakes. What I see sites not doing is addressing those mistakes when they happen, as well as passing out punishment to the people who deserve it. If mistakes are indeed pointed out, we own up to it and make changes if needed. The community that supports us is very intelligent, and will promptly tell us to correct ourselves.

(N): One of the most noticeable things I saw on LewdGamer is that you’ve dedicated an entire section to articles about censorship and legislation. This reminded me of an older interview we had with hentai artist Eldrik. He told us that “People jokingly say that the Internet is for porn, but it’s not. Not more than the real world is, at least.” Do you agree or disagree with that statement and why? Is there room for porn regulation or should it be either completely free or abolished?

(R): A portion of the innovations that we have seen today is partially because the porn industry is known for taking far more risks with new technology that gets developed. In a way, the porn industry does act as sort of a testing ground for technological advancements in media. The Internet is not entirely comprised of porn, of course, but I would argue that the Internet has improved it because of these types of advancements.

We believe that with real people in porn, there should be some reasonable regulations to protect sex workers and porn actors/actresses. When it comes to drawings and animation, however, we tend to think that it’s not nearly as a much of a big deal because of the fact it’s fiction. You can’t physically and mentally scar a drawing. In the end, we classify it as artistic expression, and being that we are adamantly against censorship, you won’t be hearing complaints from us about these depictions.

(N): Hentai, as a genre, has many sub categories of fetishes and mixes between them. How open do you think gamers are to viewing new material that goes beyond what they regularly like?

(R): While there are definitely people who have their own personal tastes and what they prefer to see in their porn, art has a weird way of introducing new things to people who may have never been exposed to the material in the first place. Generally, people who are into the kind of porn that we cover are usually already open to discovering new material.

Essentially, there are certain fetishes that serve as a gateway drug to other kinds of more eccentric tastes, and of course we at LewdGamer feel the need to drive people further and further into the depth of their own perversions and depravity.

(N): The biggest part of the modern hentai market is Japanese based. However there have been various interesting projects coming from Western sources too (i.e. Kyrieru, Projekt Wolfenstahl, etc.). Is there any true potential for the latter to develop or will the industry keep being dominated by Japanese developers?

(R): Pornographic video games have existed on both sides of the world, but depictions of sexuality and violence in particular in the Western hemisphere have always been looked down upon by society at large. The East, specifically Japan, were always more open in showing sexual acts in fiction, and the topic itself wasn’t much of a taboo as it is in the West. This helped the Japanese adult gaming industry to flourish and become as huge as it is now. While Japan and Japanese developers have over two decades of experience compared to the West, the scales have been slowly balancing out. We have also seen a lot of Japanese developers reaching out to the West in recent months, getting their titles localized. We hope that both sides will work together to create amazing titles, rather than trying to one up each other.

As for the Western scene, right now is a great time for western devs to enter the market. Plenty of adult artists are beginning to team up with programmers to develop games. Thanks to things like Patreon and Offbeater, western devs have managed to find a way to fund their projects and live off the money they make developing games. One of the first highly funded adult titles is TiTs (Trails in Tainted Space), which is a project being made and lead by Fenoxo, the developer of Corruption of Champions [1]. Fenoxo made over 100K in support of creating Trails in Tainted Space. If more quality titles enter the market we will see more support coming in order to make their games a reality.

Additionally, thanks to new digital stores opening up, such as Mikandi and Kimochi, developers can also find more platforms to sell their games on.

(N): A common opinion I hear about hentai games is that they’re simply Fanservice material and not “real games”. As both a fan and someone who is actively promoting the genre how much truth do you think such statements hold? How important are other aspects such as storytelling, gameplay and graphics/music in games focused on erotic content?

(R): People have to understand that when it comes to creating something, everything does have its place. Straight up “in your face” porn is just as fine as porn with a narrative. When it comes to games though, especially side-scrollers, bad game design choices and clunky gameplay is no excuse no matter how good the porn is. I feel adult game makers need to try to get over this hump in order for us to move forward.

If you’re trying to make something interesting, all aspects of the product matter at the end of the day. We like porn just as much as the next pervy guy, but we need to not dumb down the quality of other aspects for because it has tits.

(N): A heated subject of discussion when it comes to modern erotica is representation and violence, with many people supporting the idea that watching “extreme” content (i.e. rape, s/M, vore, guro, etc.) can influence gamers’ mentality and belief system negatively. Even if we disregard genres like ryona that are primarily focused on such content there’s a lot of “dub- or non-con” content in regular hentai titles. What is your stance on the subject and how do you argue for it?

(R): First of all, there is no real evidence to suggest that any “extreme” material in pornographic and violent games makes people want to go out in the street and rape the first man or woman they see. If this was the case, plenty of other media would have already had the jumpstart is driving society to chaos would be under the same scrutiny and be shut down. It is another example of the simple division of fantasy and reality.

(N): What’s the biggest misconception people have about hentai fans?

(R): The biggest misconception I feel that people have regarding individuals that enjoy the content we cover is that they are “stupid”. Some of the most intelligent people I have ever met are also the biggest deviants I have ever met in life. I feel that the reason this is the case is because it takes a very open and educated mind to explore certain kinds of fetishes.

(N): Give me your top 5 of favorite hentai titles.

(R): Just off the top of my head:

1. Kuroinu kedakaki seijo wa hakudaku ni somaru

2. Hatsu Inu The Animation

3. Eroge! H mo Game mo Kaihatsu Zanmai

4. Taimanin Asagi

5. Alignment You! You! The Animation

(N): Let’s imagine that a saint devoted to protecting hentai lovers comes down to Earth and tells you they’ll create your ideal hentai game. What would the result be like?

(R): All I want is Super Mario Galaxy with porn. I’m a simple man.

(N): What should we expect from LewdGamer from now on?

(R): To continue to help usher in a new age for western and eastern porn game enthusiast alike!

(N): Thank you for doing this interview with us. Anything you wish to share with our readers?

(R): Make sure to check out the site! And if you’re interested in writing for us, make sure to contact the site and thanks for the opportunity.

Footnotes

1. Neko-chi’s sidenote; I love Corruption of Champions and especially fans of text-based and furry should check it out.

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