Pragmatic VN gaming: Some common sense
For better or worse, the VN localization industry in America and other Western nations is expanding rapidly, primarily due to the efforts of aggressive localization companies such as Mangagamer and Sekai Project, but also due to the increased interest on the part of at least some Japanese VN companies in making a few extra bucks through localization.
I say 'for better or worse' because the increase in localizations has actually begun to outline what some of the biggest problems with VNs are, for those living in the West. What I've put down below is basic guidance... not all of which I follow myself, but which is mostly common sense (which a surprising number of new Fuwans seem to be ignorant of).
1. Piracy- To be blunt, prosecuting consumers of pirated games is a waste of time, and most companies are quite well aware of this. So, most of the fallout for this kind of thing is going to keep hitting the websites and individuals who promote the distribution end of things. A few examples will most likely be made of outspoken pirate consumers (the idiots, in other words), but the problem here is almost entirely ethical for most. Tell me, do you think it is right not to pay for content if you happen to have the money needed to pay for it?
2. Lolicon content- Seriously guys? When I saw that Maitetsu was getting a localization, even though it was an all-ages one, alarm bells went off in my head. Someone is inevitably going to put up an h-patch for the game, and that is going to cause a huge amount of controversy later on that could be a huge blow to the industry, in the short run. Loli content is one of the two nuclear bombs of Japanese eroge, and it is the one that honestly bothers me the most personally (not so much morally, as in a pragmatic sense).
3. Rapegames- I'm going to be blunt... considering the degree to which Western culture has come to consider rape a mortal sin, do you really think games focused around rape and extreme sexual situations (ie the entire Maggot Baits game) are safe for the industry to localize, if you consider their potential to backfire? There is no conceivable way that these games could be considered anything other than obscene by any reasonable critic (not a community one, in other words), and in the long run, games like these have an enormous potential to castrate the localization industry.
4. School-based games- Sadly, the excuse that 'all the heroines are over eighteen' is only going to take you so far in some countries... to be blunt, a judge is unlikely to listen to that kind of protestation if, for whatever insane reason, you end up dragged into court.
Common sense issues
1. I don't think anyone has any business telling us we can't import Japanese games, including VNs. However, as a matter of common sense, you should probably avoid importing anything with a lot of content linked to the numbers 2 and 3 in the section above. I don't mean to piss on your bonfire, but if you are going to buy something with that kind of material, at least have the sense to use digital download purchases and/or don't display the packages for that type of eroge where casual visitors can see them.
2. Figurines and other side-junk- Within reason, there is no reason why a fan of a particular bit of otaku media shouldn't order figurines, statuettes, oppai mousepads, etc to decorate their room or gaming space. However, keep it within reason... I've seen otaku friends of mine go insane and overpurchase, even going into debt, over buying swag. If you aren't rich, have the sense to focus on the main material first, then expand at a reasonable pace into the swag. To an extent, the same can be said of the games themselves, considering the costs of the actual purchases plus import costs.
3. Anonymity is your best friend. Don't pull stupid crap like linking your Facebook profile to your dlsite or getchu account... for that matter, don't link them to your Fuwanovel account, if you are a fan of 'deep' eroge content. Leaving that kind of data around for casual skimmers to find is just plain stupid.
4. If you are a fantranslator, number 3 applies emphatically unless you are about to go 'legit' by handing your translation to a localization company.
5. During scandal times (like when the media is making a big deal over an eroge-related issue such as during the infamous Rapelay incident) have the sense to take cover and avoid conversing on rapegames and lolige publicly.
6. Know the difference between being open about your libido and being excessive *remembers Steve*
A final comment
Needless to say, almost all the issues above revolve around controversial sexual content. Part of that is that many people, both inside and outside the VN fanbase, have trouble marking the difference between fiction and reality when it comes to otaku media (an insanity that I can understand but am long past). As a legal argument, it (as in the argument that figments of an artist's or writer's imagination, as opposed to real women, cannot be considered underaged and cannot be considered victims in any way, form, or fashion) actually has a lot of merit... but that doesn't mean that they'll rule in your favor, in the end, lol. The West is prudish, to the extreme. There is no telling when religious interests will slip a noose around our necks, and general moralists are just as bad. I'm not perfect about taking my own advice. I'm a VN junkie, and I really don't have any morals when it comes to my search for good VN stories. I might be disgusted by some content, but that won't prevent me from experiencing the story, lol. However, a lot of the people around me seem to be utterly unaware of the risks of being an eroge reader... and I felt I had to put this out there, for the 'public' good, even though I'm certain I've already pissed off the anti-censorship and pro-piracy parts of the community, lol.