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Columns What The Hell Is Wrong With Japanese Games?

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Da Dego, 6 Jun 2008.

  1. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    I thought Sailor Moon was the prequel?

    The development of a country used to be measured by it's nuke-e-yar capability. I think it could be measured more accurately with game development, as it shows a more citizen-based tech understanding. It sounds silly, but It puts North Korea back on the toilet seat.
     
  2. kt3946

    kt3946 What's a Dremel?

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    I can see Joe's points in his article, but really, the differences all stem basically from cultural context. JRPGs draw from the mindset of their designers, which tend to be Japanese, or at least, heavily steeped in Eastern culture. Western (Euro/American) RPGs stem from the cultural mindset of its designers.

    You will always see these cultural contexts brought forth in the artwork that these artists and designers produce, since they are all produced by humans. The human condition uses these contexts as the fuel for producing the artwork, and can be easily tied together. Hence why music, paintings, sculpture, architecture, and even books can be derived geographically based upon particular cultural elements located within the work, simply because those elements are parts of the designer/author/artist. Those parts are directly influenced by the people/place surrounding them. Not in a 'group-think' sense, but more in a influencing aspect. Such as how certain 'masters' can influence the artwork of their students.

    But if you dissect the issue more clearly, you can identify some of the more cultural and sociological aspects. Take for instance the stylistic and design approach differences between Western and Korean MMOs. Western MMOs tend to focus on the player as an 'actor' in an experience. They are the central core, and a primary role within the story telling relationship within the game.

    However, in Korean MMOs, the protagonist is more effectively, just a 'part of things'. While some focus is on the player, it's more in the manner of how the player is involved in the larger aspects of the environment. Essentially, how the player 'fits-in' into the framework of the society or function of the community which they intend via the game.

    As a result of this, Korean MMOs tend to have larger interaction requirements than Western MMOs do. Guilds/Clans/Grouping is more heavily stressed, in addition to PvP and community interaction. Single-player aspects tend to be an 'afterthought', or merely a means to get the character started into the community, as opposed to a primary aspect of the design. As a result, the games tend to be extremely difficult from a 'solo' perspective, with both 'mobs' (in game monsters/antagonists) being very difficult, and often considered 'hard-core' in nature (you're expected to almost always be in a group). Fair-play doesn't necessarily mean everyone is on an equal footing, but more along the ideas that everyone starts from the same place.

    This also is reflected in the community features, with most Korean MMOs having Guild/Clan/Group architectures based upon Eastern ideals. For example, Eastern ideals generally revolve around a large number of people organizing their desires and extending them onto a particular 'hero'. The group works to establish the 'hero' and help them by sacrificing their individual goals/time/player to move the individual 'hero' forward, and the group (as it is the hero's responsibility to lead the group to victory). Such can be seen in how in-game 'loot' or 'booty' is distributed, with groups, generally giving the 'hero' primary pick of the spoils, with everyone else using the cast-offs.

    Western MMOs tend to be organized quite differently. They tend to establish the solo player perspective first, with the community and group features as 'add-ons', to allow the individual to better communicate with their friends. In addition, grouping is characterized by a peering function, rather than a hero-worship style. As a result, individuals in a group are given equal status, as opposed to any form or hierarchy. Grouping/Community functions tend to be functionally based, as opposed to any strict hierarchy, and general expectations is that 'everyone' pulls their own weight towards the goal.

    This is also reflected in their RPGs. Western RPGs tend to revolve around the single individual 'taking on the world' (as you aptly put), as opposed to a 'group' of heros.

    There are also major stylistic differences, in that the Eastern game designs tend to take a more 'fantastical' approach, as opposed to steeping themselves in 'realism' like Westerner's do.

    Whether this is a true/solid/consistent preference remains to be seen, since the two cultures have so little interaction with each other. However, considering how Japanese Anime/Manga has started to become more influential in Western culture, we may finally see some of these particular bonds 'breaking'.

    I tend to prefer both. The semi-realism of Western RPGs provides are much easier mechanism of attachment Since it is closer to the individuals sense of 'reality', it is easier to identify with a particular character. Not as much detailed back-story is necessary to place the character in the game universe, since much of it is similar to what one would expect normally.

    However, the sheer fantastical nature of JRPGs can also be very stimulating. It's a total 'mind-break' from the reality we're so ensconced in, that it becomes a fun or fantasy-land experience. It may take a bit more effort to get the player to identify with the characters and the universe, but at the same time, that extra story-time often builds a much more complete picture of the protagonist/antagonist that the player/reader/watcher can become more involved emotionally with the character.

    For example, take FFXI. Even though it was a JRPG, things were very stylized with a Western influence. However, it had a fantastical approach for the storyline and setting based upon Easter ideals, which forced you to be much more involved in the story (to understand what is going on). As a result, it was one of the few games that I actually found myself becoming emotionally 'attached' to the character, as opposed to just 'playing' it. This made the experience very satisfying, and at some points, gut-wrenching when the plots took a turn. Artful storytelling at it's best.

    However, most Western influenced RPGs tend to miss these aspects and character building (e.g. who actually bothers to read the quest text in WoW), as part of their assumption that because it is based so much on 'reality', that the player will much more readily become attached. So in some aspects, the Western RPGs suffer. However, because they tend to be so much more 'reality' based, they tend to be far more 'intuitive' and require less effort on the player to get used to.

    There is one final aspect which is often misunderstood or glossed over when it comes to cultural differences. Eastern cultures tend to have a cultural standpoint of 'perfection' when it comes to games/story-telling. New games will borrow from a previous version, or design from another game, and then 're-implement' that design in another manner in an attempt to 'perfect' the particular design attributes that the designer was shooting for. This is often why you see JRPGs with a billion variations of exactly the same combat style. Each one differs slightly from the other, in an attempt to produce the 'ideal' experience the designers were going for. As a result, the games tend to be very 'similar', but when put under the microscope, end up being quite different. This is their cultural design consideration coming forth, in that they will build everything else by hand, but continue to perfect a particular set of elements in every new generation.

    In Western cultures, this is often seen as 'copy-catting' or pure 'sequel-ism'. Derivation #4,232 of game mechanic X. Western players see this as a minus, as opposed to an ever reaching perfection. This leads most game designers to essentially try something completely new every new game (which can often be a positive, but leaves the potential for very successful designs to be discarded). Sequels are often chided in that they may have exactly the same features or game mechanics. In addition, publishers/designers if they do produce a 'sequel', either try to re-invent the wheel which made their game great (thus destroying it), or just re-hashing the original with a few extra flashy bits (thus taking a shortcut and producing a sub-standard product).

    In the end, what you see is what you get in any art form. A clustered, intermingling mass of cultural, sociological, and personal choices brought forth in the produced work.

    What is interesting, would be to see what happens when we start to cross-breed these things in a mad designer fashion. What interesting and new ideas would we get when we share these differences, and would it even be possible?

    That would be what I'd like to see...
     
  3. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    ...And that's practically a column in itself.
     
  4. Mentai

    Mentai What's a Dremel?

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    Wow, nice post kt3946
     
  5. Cheapskate

    Cheapskate Insane? or just stupid?

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    on the Cross breeding games... I think every driving game should have one level that throws reality out the window. Imagine how much fun the old Burnout would be if you had loops, driveable walls, and non earth-oriented driving.:D
     
  6. BurningFeetMan

    BurningFeetMan What's a Dremel?

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    I've never really liked bit-tech columns... They always over dramatise non-issues that no one really cares about. =\

    My 2cents kthx.
     
  7. HourBeforeDawn

    HourBeforeDawn a.k.a KazeModz

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    true they do take it a little over the top for small or insignificant happenings but at least its somewhat amusing. :)
     
  8. 78th

    78th What's a Dremel?

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    one thing i applaud about japanese folks is how they have moved up in terms of technological advancement so much in less than a century, yet still retain a hugh portion of their culture; working out/stretching exercises before working? that would never happen where i work... lol
     
  9. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    We care about them :(
     
  10. Kúsař

    Kúsař regular bit-tech reader

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    Me too :) . Sure there is a lot of people who enjoy reading them.
    Columns written by Brett Thomas are my favourite - although he doesn't write as often(as I would like:D), he always hit the right string.
    Sometimes it slightly changes my point of view, sometimes it makes me think about something I would think about of...
     
  11. CardJoe

    CardJoe Freelance Journalist

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    We've been trying to encourage more writers to sign up now to make a change. There's only so many people in the world who want to stare at our faces on the front page and we're trying to provide a platform for indie developers at the same time.
     
  12. Kúsař

    Kúsař regular bit-tech reader

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    I know, unfortunately my English isn't that good for me to try. The least I can do is to tell you how much I appreciate your effort.
     
  13. ASSEMbler

    ASSEMbler What's a Dremel?

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    Nothing as refreshing as a western blogger masquerading as a journalist pointing out his inability to understand world markets. Well done! I am sure you will go far, oh wise one.
     
  14. xaxaz

    xaxaz What's a Dremel?

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    lol I like playing jRPG's actually, of course not all of them are good but a majority are fairly fun. The Final Fantasy series takes the lead in story telling imo but that's just my two cents. I guess I like these games because I'm an Otaku and really love the Japanese culture and find it interesting.
     
  15. Bauul

    Bauul Sir Bongaminge

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    Oh he will... you'll see. One day, at the foot of your bed, you'll see.


    Now we know!
     
  16. kt3946

    kt3946 What's a Dremel?

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  17. leowheeler

    leowheeler What's a Dremel?

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    i agree too, but what would you say if japan made their own version of grand theft auto, or america made pokemon? it just wiouldnt be as good in my opinion!
     
  18. leowheeler

    leowheeler What's a Dremel?

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    i agree too but i think if japan made their own version of gta or america made pokemon? i think it would be naff! each to their own i think. they do what they do and thats it! i dont think it will ever change
     
  19. paulwebber

    paulwebber What's a Dremel?

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    i agree with both of leowheeler's comments!! but i do wonder what it would be like......hmmmm...
     
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