Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-09-30 13:56 (JST)
Translated by. Matthew Parker
For a short while rumors that the Pope was into JRPGs was a hot topic on Twitter in Japan. If true, it would make you feel closer to the Pope. However, the unfortunate truth is that it originates from a parody article on the satirical site Hard Drive.
A brief synopsis of this event that became big among Japanese Twitter users is that “The Pope likes JRPGs and that he was sad that the Church turned out to be villainous in Fire Emblem: Three Houses.” While refraining from outing the users in question, multiple Japanese Twitter users spread this rumor about.
There was a split between the users that honestly believed it as well as those with their doubts who felt it may be misinformation. Furthermore, when writing this article and searching for “The Pope” on Twitter, the suggested search terms included “Three Houses” and “Game”, showing the extent of user interest.
The original article from Hard Drive was used as the source when tweeting about this rumor. The article itself is titled as “Pope Heartbroken to Discover Church is Evil in Most JRPGs” and it talks about his experience with games. To go over a little bit about what was written in the article, the Pope said in a friendly manner to an audience in front of St. Peter’s Basilica that “I knew we had our critics, but… I didn’t think it was this bad.”
A Cardinal then candidly said that “the Pope likes deep single player games with cool anime characters. He’s not a social guy.” In response to this, the director of Fire Emblem: Three Houses Toshiyuki Kusakihara made an apology stating that “Next game, the Church is gonna be cool as hell.” Of course, the entirety of this isn’t true in the slightest.
Hard Drive is a satirical site which mainly publishes joke articles. Kyoko Shimbun may be the equivalent within Japan. The actual content of the above mentioned article is quite ridiculous and its authenticity is easily determined should you read it carefully even without having any prior knowledge of Hard Drive. The site also has review articles such as “Top 5 GameCubes that I Have Used as Improvised Weapons” and interviews with game characters like Luigi “Luigi Decides He Doesn’t Want to Wear Matching Clothes With Mario Anymore”, which can be seen as joke articles from a single glance.
Even in regards to the aforementioned Kyoko Shimbun, there was a case of users not understanding the true nature of the site and spreading an article of theirs as if it were the truth. The news about the Pope liking games becoming so widespread was also the result of a certain segment of users falling for it. While seemingly not spread maliciously, this incident does indeed show the dangers of unquestioningly accepting all news as the truth. The users who initially spread the rumors have also amended their tweets after being shown that the source was potentially that of a joke site.
This situation this time was a case of the newsworthiness of the information taking precedence, which allowed a clear joke to be accepted and spread as a funny and truthful event. The spread of the misinformation so quickly was likely also expedited by not knowing what kind of site Hard Drive is due to being from a foreign country and the language barrier between them and Japan. In today’s world where information is so intricate and complicated, the legitimacy of any and all information should be carefully ascertained.