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Posted by drew10 on Aug 31, 2007

Feature: Japanese Attitude To Gaming

The Japanese seem to approach video games as just another form of media to be exploited just the same as any other and just as open and varied for experimentation as TV and radio are.

Video games in the west seem to still be stuck in a rut of traditional thinking in that video games are just games and nothing more. The Japanese see video gaming as a hobby or a way to interact or even a way to learn and most of all another platform with which they can express themselves. Anyone who doubts my claims has only to take a look at the shelves of the Shinjuku or Akihabara game stores to believe what I am saying.

Software for the PS2 alone in most electronics stores can be anywhere between three rows of shelves 20 foot long to as much as whole floors. Yes, there are that many titles available for widening your gaming perspectives.

Japanese games can range to the most mundane of topics and themes such as running a convenience store or a fast food restaurant to games that bring you to the very edge of your own emotional boundaries (Aeries`s death in FF7 anyone?). Western game developers seem to exhibit little scope and imagination beyond sports and violence. Pretty bold statement, but, think for a second and tell me if I am wrong. (Well… not exactly true but we get the point. Drew.)

Now you agree with me I guess that we can agree that attitudes in the business of video game conception and creation from idea to finished product appear to be vastly different in Japan than from the west and this shows in the quality and range of games.

Unfortunately, and I mean unfortunate for those of you that do not live in this land of gaming utopia, the Japanese are somewhat xenophobic when it comes to not only buying foreign games and consoles, (Hence Xbox failing big time here and the 360 following suit.) but also releasing the games in foreign countries. (This is unfortunately is more down to poor sales of obscure titles in the west. Drew.) Prime examples being various anime related games such as Gundam Wing shoot ‘em ups and the somewhat ignored but sometimes incredibly funny to play bus driving or train driving games which, I think given a little western twist could be huge, which brings me to my next point. (Again Gundam has been released here in many guises however the vast majority of them were shit. Drew.)

The Japanese as a whole see gaming as a mainstream activity and now quite so much as a niche market. But I still think the west has things to offer and for Japan to incorporate into its game making process, for example story-lines and plots seem to be just too over the top and complicated for your average player in some Japanese games I have played. They (Japanese game makers) expect you to be an *Otaku* or anorak to have bought this particular game in the first place. For the most part Western game makers tend to make their games more accessible for bigger markets and ease of play for people who have never played yet still make it involving enough for a seasoned video game vet. The Japanese in order to open up their games and companies to bigger audiences and recognition that they deserve they need to take some lessons from their western counterparts.

Western powers that rule will always hamper attitudes to video games and this is one problem the Japanese do not have which gives free reign to all the variations on games you can think of, some may say that the Japanese in some ways are more liberal and willing to rely on the common sense and responsibility of people themselves to know right from wrong than the west is therefore not needing to make games with extreme content and more focus on the game. But what about Resident evil and metal gear solid I hear you hark are they not extreme to the maximum? The games made by the Japanese for example Resident evil and Metal gear solid have scenes of violence but with a few subtle differences, mainly the killing and violence is in accordance and tune with the whole game and it is dealt with in a manner that creates moral choices and not just seen as a way to have fun `a la` GTA. This all again stems from Japanese attitudes to gaming and social morals in Japan.

Western gaming seems to be caught in a rut of needing to cause a stir or media outcry rather than producing quality gaming experiences, releasing progressively more violent games year after year and only serving to give the do-gooders a new case in which to throw mud at the industry, I have never even seen a news special in Japan even once about violence or effects of games on children as they seem to realise what we already know folks…..it’s a crock of **** (Well apart from that kid who starved to death playing World Of Warcraft! Although you could argue that is a Western game! Drew.)

Let’s all have some more of that Japanese attitude!!!

By
Man in Japan.

Do you agree with the man in Japan? Leave your comments below.

 

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5 Responses to “Feature: Japanese Attitude To Gaming”

  1. MEMEME says:

    Weird. I both agree and disagree. Gaming experiences could be a hell of a lot more creative or diverse, but I’m not sure I want to run a shop or drive a train. Yes, games do not need to have tons of violence to be enjoyable, but some excitement is needed. The old battle is alive and well in the world of games. Do we churn them out to the masses simply to make a buck, or can it be a form of art, or escapism? Parallels to the film industry exist. Do we simply go for blockbuster fodder- that you swiftly forget as soon as it is over- or do we find other ways to engage and entertain people? I for one would like to see a David Lynch inspired video game, but that is just me. Overall, I think a fusion of both attitudes and cultures would benefit us all, but I’m still not going to get excited about driving a bus. Unless there are some people for me to run over. Sorry.

  2. drew10 says:

    That is true enough mememe there is however creativity out there it just appears that nobody buys the more creative diverse titles. Seen the Most overlooked games for perfect examples especially Okami on PS2.

  3. moonhead says:

    Sorry but we need to cut through the crap here the Japanese suffer the same amount of crap releases as we do if not more so. Western tastes really do not want dating games, train driving simulataors (anyone for trainspotting anoraks I think not) or to learn how to cook. I agree there is more variety and in some cases creativity in Japan and before anybody thinks I am Jap game bashing I’m not I love Resi 4, Katamari, Okami, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Shenmue, Okami and others, but how about the huge rut? Japanese RPG’s are in same old tired stories rehashed with a new but totally predictable twist that if anything have gone backwards in terms of story telling since FF VII. Constant pointless random battles, generic character design, tired turn based combat and I could go on here the likes of Blue Dragon and the soon to come Lost Odyssey have all been seen before. Where is the Japanese answer to the likes of Bioshock, Half Life 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Fable, Thief 3, Oblivion, Oddworld Strangers Wrath, The Darkness (again I could go on) all of these are truly creative western games up there with the very best to be found anywhere I know elsewhere on this blog I have complained about the lack of creativity to be found but it is there if you look. Sorry to go on but I think we from the Western world do our own developers down more than is neccessary sometimes and I think that most of our developers are equally as good as our Eastern cousins. However it seems that gaming is working its way into a massive rut everywhere not just the west. P.S Drew how about Theif 3 and Panzer Dragoon Orta for the most criminally overlooked games list. (Comment them in the correct section, Drew!)

  4. Tom Hall says:

    You have to appreciate the Japanese mentality to foreign influence, they call it “Geijiin” which literally means “outsider”. They really could not care less which games might appeal to a western audience, the sales figures in Japan are all that matters to wholly Japanese game developers.

    With the exception of Nintendo obviously!

  5. moonhead says:

    The thing is Tom at the moment all of the big Japanese software houses including Capcom are beginning to lead with more western influenced games. The new Bionic Commando is the first Capcom game to ever be designed by a western developer and even Koei and Square Enix have been making big noises about making more games tailored to western tastes. So maybe just maybe things are starting to change ever so slightly I really do hope so.

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