Harrassment in the Rom Hacking Community

Look, I just said the other day, and will repeat it here, I have lost interest in ROM Hacking. One of the reasons for that repeated itself today.

A translation hacker recently released a direct translation of Goemon 3 at romhacking.net. it featured a rather rude slur within the original japanese text. This slur was translated into “Tranny” and is said to be accurate of the original japanese phrase, which translates directly into “newhalf” and is apparently just as derogitory.

It’s shameful, sure, but the game was made in a less enlightened time. We can’t really judge the creators for something they wrote 30 years ago, let alone the guy responsible to translating that unfortunate word into something that is understandable to english speakers. I mean, a direct translation is a direct translation. Right?

Apparently not, in the eyes of some people.

Because I am not a trans person, I can’t tell you whether or not this is offensive. For a group of individuals to get angry on behalf of others is honorable in a way, but it also negates the autonomy of the group being defended. I think the harrassers simply pounced when they saw an opportunity to harrass someone from the moral high ground. This practice is in vogue right now. Harrassment ranged from aggressive demands to have the word changed to full blown death threats.

Statistically, it’s impossible for all of these harrassers to be trans and have any understanding of the marginalization they face. Even if they all were, harrassing “Tom” like they did would still have been completely unacceptable.

Mind you, this is a minority of people. They shouldn’t be taken seriously in most cases. The general concensus is that it’s a direct translation and so it should stay as is. Which is in my opinion, reasonable.

The harrassment initially seems to have started at ROMhacking.net, but soon, large websites with a huge amount of clout began using their Twitter accounts to dog whistle for even more harrassment.

The twitter account for Hardcore Gaming 101, which has over 14k followers, made several baseless claims that “Tom” was a right winger and a transphobe. Entirely because he didn’t localize the term to be something less rude. This Twitter account is run by Kurt Kalata, someone well known for having rather extreme opinions. Because of that, it’s reasonable to assume only people who agree with those opinions follow him. That’s how social media works.

While it’s perfectly okay to have opinions, it’s incredibly screwed up to tweet something like this out knowing full well that your equally opinionated followers were going to probably attack this person. Kurt could have easily sent a private message or email to let “Tom” know that he found the slur distasteful, but he didn’t.

SNEScentral, a video game preservation site, continued to fuel the flames of the harrassment campaign by retweeting the above tweet. Adding that because it’s 2020 that suddenly older works need to be modernized, completely going against their aspirations as video game preservationists.

After the unbelievably brutal onslaught of harrassment, “tom” apologized to the mob.

I let “toms” words speak for themselves.

After this uneccessary apology was released, Kurt of Hardcore Gaming 101 had this to say at ResetERA, a forum know for curating harrassment campaigns against game developers. Kind of like some horrible politically reverse 4chan.

Whatever social clout the harassers gained among their peers was had at the expense of the Trans Community.

At best, the harrassers defended a group they don’t understand from a word they assume trans people dislike in the name of moral rightousness.

At worst, they exploited a marginalized group as an excuse to harrass someone because he used a word they dislike.

Who knows the motives, it’s wrong regardless.

I sincerely hope “Tom” returns at some point. He seems to have created some pretty great translations and absolutely deserves to be treated with respect.

Let me end on the note that RHSF does not condone the casual use of the slurs described in the article. Merely, that those that directly translate them from another language should be allowed to do so without fear of harrassment.

If you are interested in trying the hack yourself, you can download it
here from our server unless “tom” asks us to remove it. We don’t want to risk it disappearing from the internet. The people generally in charge of these things clearly cannot be trusted.

Edit: article was edited for grammar.