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Author Topic: 1up.com Tackles That East Meets West "Thing"  (Read 15218 times)
schild
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on: January 20, 2007, 01:54:53 AM

The article is shockingly good. There are a lot of good quotes from developers that pointed out some things that are so basic that I hadn't thought of them. Here's a bit from Keiji Inafune:

Quote
"Westerners, on the other hand, seem to be excited by the unknown. For instance, as a hunting and trapping society, an American may go deer hunting and encounter a bear. Japanese would be scared by this encounter, whereas the American will probably shoot the bear and go back excited that he got a bear instead of a deer. The unknown encounter becomes even better than the known. I feel this is the key difference."

The bit about the save points is especially good. The whole thing is worth reading if you have the time.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 06:12:36 AM by Trippy »
schild
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Reply #1 on: January 20, 2007, 01:56:23 AM

Also, it's probably best to ignore the ridiculous number of spelling and grammatical errors in the article. I almost wanted to take a red pen to my monitor.
Zar
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Reply #2 on: January 20, 2007, 03:05:01 AM

Listing stereotypical, mostly unsubstantiated generalities does not a good article make.

To clarify, I agree with the main idea of the article -- that societal culture influences media, such as games.  However, the examples and arguments they use to support this idea are weak sauce.  Looking at what you quoted from the article, that Americans are excited about shooting a bear because they were deer hunting because America is a "hunting and trapping society" is crap.  I mean, wtf mate.  This is supposed to support the idea that Americans are "excited by the unknown"?  The rest of the article is like this too -- they somehow construe Japan's traditionally rice-based agrarian society as being a reason for Japanese people enjoying the game Harvest Moon. I am forced to wonder how many Japanese Harvest Moon fans have farmed rice a day in their lives.

Some of the points they make are good, but they back up these points with arguments and ideas that are considered "common sense" or stereotypically correct.  If I were grading this article as an essay I'd write something like, "Good thesis statement, needs more support other than unsubstantiated assertions."

Of course, I could be expecting too much from a gaming website article.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 03:30:28 AM by Zar »
schild
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Reply #3 on: January 20, 2007, 04:18:50 AM

Actually, it's not the article that makes it interesting. It's the developer quotes really - and these are the ideas they use to create their games. It doesn't matter whether Japanese Consumer X has farmed rice. Rice is ingrained in the culture. And for some reason Japan likes their Animal Crossings and Harvest Moons. I like them too, for different reasons. But if a developer's ideas happen to create a game that players enjoy - even if the thought behind it is completely wrong - I'm ok with that. The article gives an insight into the bullshit that goes through these designers heads. That's more than we get from 99% of the gaming articles out there.

Also, saying that America doesn't enjoy exploring the unknown is bullshit. We're OBSESSED with it as a society. Look at Japanese schools and the structure of education and then look at how structured their RPGs are compared to ours. We create worlds. We create worlds where the story unfolds due to our involvement. Without us playing that character and happening upon the story, it wouldn't unfold. Japanese RPGs? Sure, there's exceptions - multiple endings and such. But for the most part, they're less branching than a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You are a character, along for the ride whether you like it or not. Final Fantasy XII is the most recent big japanese RPG and it's a prime example. I happened to call it in the first 5 hours of the game. Your character is just along for the ride. Basically, Japanese gamers are used to and ok with being a follower (does that sound harsh?). It shows in a lot of their gaming. There are very few JRPGs I can think of where the character is the one and only hero. Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil - these are exceptions to the rule. Even KOEI falls in line with Dynasty Warriors and such. You have to unlock (most of the time) the ability to play as The Leader. Often you're just the finest soldier they have to offer.

In America, you are Gordon Freeman, Alex Denton, or Vin Diesel (heh). In Japan, you aren't these characters. At least not outside of Nintendo and Capcom Games (for the most part). And it's arguable that Capcom and Nintendo have a need to support the western mentality - and knew it from the beginning. Ever heard the term office lady or wage worker? No? Because they don't exist in America. I mean, they do, they just aren't the majority. Sure, you've got your salary man. But it's not exactly a running gag in American TV. Great, now look what's happened, I'm about to segue into Japanese TV.

Take some time and watch some. A lot of it's unbearable, but 90% of the shows I see (which seems to be the vast majority of JTV) involve some average dude, working in an office to make rent (or some other profession), and his destiny catches up to him and he does something spectacular, but not too amazing. He never totally becomes the leader.

Basically, the mentality is different. Completely. And some parts of the article touch on these things. And that's what makes it good. The writer obviously didn't entrench himself in Japanese culture to come up with the points he made, and he's obviously not very well versed in the English language - which hurts it (and makes the editor look like an asshole). BUT, I happened to enjoy reading what the developers said. You know, that whole save point thing hadn't even clicked with me til I read it.

Edit: I wasn't saying that Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid are JRPGs... heh.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 04:20:49 AM by schild »
Mr. Right
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Reply #4 on: January 20, 2007, 11:24:27 AM

The article is shockingly good.

Green text missing?
Raging Turtle
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Reply #5 on: January 20, 2007, 11:32:18 AM

That little hunting snippet was hilarious. I also liked:
Quote
It's easy to see why the Japanese might enjoy a farming game -- the nation has a strong agrarian tradition

Um, yeah, not a good article.  It read like something a journalism student might half-ass the night before an assignment was due.     
Strazos
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Reply #6 on: January 20, 2007, 01:34:15 PM

Yeah, there were a lot of good quotes from different devs that article. At one point I was going to write an article on the same subject, but with no info from actual devs, it would have sucked ass, so I dropped the idea.

And on the agrarian tradition thing...last I checked, the US also had a strong history of farming, but nowadays no one wants to be a damn farmer.

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Hoax
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Reply #7 on: January 20, 2007, 01:55:40 PM

I didn't mind reading it, it asn't eye opening persay but it was a good collection of scattered observations in one place.  Thx Schild.

A nation consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual's morals are situational, then that individual is without morals. If a nation's laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn't a nation.
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Simond
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Reply #8 on: January 20, 2007, 07:01:58 PM

Quote
The United States of America is the source of a huge number of modern inventions - the automobile, the television, the computer, and many, many others.
Wrong from the very first sentence. Not the best way to begin an article.

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Reply #9 on: January 20, 2007, 07:40:42 PM

Especially since you can challenge the claim of "American" for all three of those inventions.

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Engels
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Reply #10 on: January 21, 2007, 12:55:24 AM

Television's first encarnation was ascribed to a Scottsman! A fellow called Baird. Some Brit and German dudes did some work on CRTs before him, however.

As for cars, well, just type in 'automobile' in Wiki to get the skinny there. Aparently lots of people involved, very few americans, if any.
Quote
Most historians agree that Nikolaus Otto of Germany built the world's first four-stroke engine although his patent was voided.[citation needed] He knew nothing of Beau de Rochas's patent or idea, and invented the concept independently. In fact, he began thinking about the concept in 1861, but abandoned it until the mid-1870s.

Internal combustion engine automobiles were first produced in Germany by Karl Benz in 1885-1886, and Gottlieb Daimler between 1886-1889.

As far as computers are concerned, its hard to pin down what the technical definition is. If you want a programmable punch card machine, you can go back to as far as 1801 to some french dude who made a programmable loom. If you consider binary a requisite, then you can push the date forward to 1941 to some German engineer called Zuse and his Z1 computer. The Atanasoff-Berry Computer came on its heels, and that was the first American contribution. After that, most 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation computers were created by American manufacturers of one sort or another.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2007, 12:59:35 AM by Engels »

I should get back to nature, too.  You know, like going to a shop for groceries instead of the computer.  Maybe a condo in the woods that doesn't even have a health club or restaurant attached.  Buy a car with only two cup holders or something. -Signe

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Stormwaltz
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Reply #11 on: January 21, 2007, 02:55:56 PM

Look at Japanese schools and the structure of education and then look at how structured their RPGs are compared to ours. We create worlds. We create worlds where the story unfolds due to our involvement. Without us playing that character and happening upon the story, it wouldn't unfold. Japanese RPGs? Sure, there's exceptions - multiple endings and such. But for the most part, they're less branching than a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You are a character, along for the ride whether you like it or not.

One item I didn't see mentioned in the article was the Japanese focus on group consensus. Edwin P. Hoyt's "Japan's War" suggests this has its basis in the feudal period. If a daimyo's councilor gave him bad advice, the councilor would be obliged to commit suicide to redeem his honor. As a point of self-preservation, Japanese poltics evolved as a system in which no one person can be blamed for a bad decision, the theory being that you can't afford to lose your entire ruling council because of a bad call.

This has trickled down through the whole society. No one is comfortable with risk, or rocking the boat. In extreme cases, a bullied child will be asked by his teachers "what did you do that got their attention?" Linear games would seem to follow from this cultural quirk.

Point of annoyance:

Quote
The police guard of the era, known as the Shinsengumi...

No. The Shinsengumi were a 300-man volunteer militia in the Kyoto area, only existing during the 1860's. They were a loyal to the Tokugawa shogun during the Meiji Imperial Restoration. Basic fact checking For The Lose.

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schild
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Reply #12 on: January 21, 2007, 02:59:52 PM

Everything we learned we learned from Rurouni Kenshin.
Yegolev
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Reply #13 on: January 22, 2007, 12:12:25 PM

An interesting article written by a dingaling.  There are certainly differences, such as this thing I have laying around:

Quote from: Peter Payne
A core concept that any pop Japanologist needs to know is the often-quoted-by-gaijin-who-are-experts-on-Japan phrase "deru kui wa utareru" (DE-ru KOO-ee wa oo-TAH-reh-ru), which translates as "the standing nail is driven." This describes the tendency of Japanese society to react unfavorably to those who don't conform as they should, and force them back in line -- individuals who stick out too far are "hammered down" and put in their place.

I'd buy the notion that Japanese, in general, are less comfortable with sandbox games.  The notion of Americans having a more anti-authority mentality is also not without merit.  So, yes, it's a very interesting article due to the comments from the designers, as Schild said.  Being based in truth doesn't matter so much if these ideas are still a main influence on game design.

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Riggswolfe
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Reply #14 on: January 22, 2007, 01:08:29 PM


About the only part of the article that smelled like bullshit was the part about "Japanese don't like hard games, they like easy games. Foreigners ask for the harder stuff." It seems like most hard games I've ever played are from Japanese developers. Unless by foreigners they mean Korean gamers.

"We live in a country, where John Lennon takes six bullets in the chest, Yoko Ono was standing right next to him and not one fucking bullet! Explain that to me! Explain that to me, God! Explain it to me, God!" - Denis Leary summing up my feelings about the nature of the universe.
Sky
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Reply #15 on: January 22, 2007, 01:15:27 PM

I like rice.

JRPG sucks.

Stephen Zepp
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Reply #16 on: January 22, 2007, 02:27:05 PM

I have some pretty eclectic tastes in bedside reading material, and recently started re-reading "Myths To Live By" written by Joseph Campbell--basically, a set of lectures he gave over dozens of years related to myths and how cultures evolve from them, mostly focused on religion but not exclusively.

It's decently dry reading (enough to fall asleep to, which is the idea!), but he discusses quite a few concepts of eastern vs western myths and beliefs, and how they evolve into cultural behaviour standards.

Based on the book at least, Stormwaltz' points about group consensus are right on, in both "near east" and "far east" cultures. Not only are cultural descendants of the far eastern myth structures "not comfortable" with risk or non-conformity, but avoidance of such is built into their belief structure at the very bottom.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2007, 02:29:21 PM by Stephen Zepp »

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Jain Zar
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Reply #17 on: January 23, 2007, 07:38:05 PM

Well, it explains why I hate linear JRPGs at least.  I hate authority.  I hate conforming.  (I wouldn't know how to fit in if I tried.  So why even bother?  Fuck em!)
I also laugh at ridiculously colored outfits that don't make any sense whatsoever.  (HAY GUYS I AM THE ELITE COMMANDER.  ITS WHY MY GIANT ROBOT IS RED AND WHITE.  SO YOU CAN PICK ME OUT EASIER AND KILL ME.)

A shame the article didn't explain Japan's fetish for girls who are well under the age of 18 though.

Oh wait.  THERE ISNT ONE BECAUSE ITS FUCKED UP.

That shit even infests their damned turn based games.  When I play Super Robot Taisen I am interested in killing robots, not in learning a 15 year oid girl has a big chest and what kind of underwear she has on.  :-(

It limits my enjoyment of Disgaea too.

PERVERTED JAPANESE PEOPLE NEED TO STOP FUCKING UP MY GAMES DAMMIT.  Its not like western developers want to make turn based games anymore.
Strazos
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Reply #18 on: January 23, 2007, 08:20:39 PM

From reading your comments, I am sure you'd get a kick out of this. evil

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Sairon
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Reply #19 on: January 23, 2007, 08:27:26 PM

From reading your comments, I am sure you'd get a kick out of this. evil

Quote
Then, a pet crocodile which liked girls appeared...

Awesome stuff like that can only happen in something Japanese  :-D
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Reply #20 on: January 23, 2007, 08:53:43 PM

A shame the article didn't explain Japan's fetish for girls who are well under the age of 18 though.

Age of consent is 13, I am told.

Why am I homeless?  Why do all you motherfuckers need homes is the real question.
They called it The Prayer, its answer was law
Mommy come back 'cause the water's all gone
Strazos
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The World's Worst Game: Curry or Covid


Reply #21 on: January 23, 2007, 09:02:05 PM

Shamelessly ripped from Wikipedia.

Quote
The National age of consent in Japan is 13 for both males and females, as specified by the Japanese Penal Code Articles 176 and 177. There are no sodomy laws. However, most prefectures have ordinances that prohibit "immoral sexual acts" with minors. The phrase "Immoral sexual acts" is not strictly defined. It is mainly used to prevent minors from engaging in quasi prostitution (e.g. Enjo kōsai). It is unclear if the translated term "minors" refers to children (defined as those aged under 18) or to those who have not reached majority (defined as those under 20).


EDIT: Grammar is hard today.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2007, 10:21:02 PM by Strazos »

Fear the Backstab!
"Plato said the virtuous man is at all times ready for a grammar snake attack." - we are lesion
"Hell is other people." -Sartre
schild
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Reply #22 on: January 23, 2007, 10:19:51 PM

Moving to Japan.

Wolf
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Reply #23 on: January 24, 2007, 06:25:52 AM

Moving to Japan.

So you can hook up with:



As a matter of fact I swallowed one of these about two hours ago and the explanation is that it is, in fact, my hand.
stray
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Reply #24 on: January 24, 2007, 09:30:03 AM

Who is that? He/She is hot.  tongue
Yegolev
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Reply #25 on: January 24, 2007, 10:15:19 AM

That is Gackt, Numba One Supa Staru.  My wife, of course, would fly to Japan to meet him right now.

Why am I homeless?  Why do all you motherfuckers need homes is the real question.
They called it The Prayer, its answer was law
Mommy come back 'cause the water's all gone
Stormwaltz
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Reply #26 on: January 24, 2007, 11:25:05 AM

A shame the article didn't explain Japan's fetish for girls who are well under the age of 18 though.

My opinion, worth what you paid for it. I think it's a combination of youth-oriented culture, stressed-out salarymen trying to relive their relatively carefree youth, and a society far less puritantical about sexuality than the Occident.

EDIT: I remember a few years back reading an article on a English-translated Japanese news site. They were discussing the ever-decreasing age of girls in pornography. One gentlemen who published a magazine featuring junior high girls defended himself by saying (paraphrased); "Hey, I don't publish magazines about grade school girls - those guys are sick."
« Last Edit: January 24, 2007, 11:29:08 AM by Stormwaltz »

Nothing in this post represents the views of my current or previous employers.

"Isn't that just like an elf? Brings a spell to a gun fight."

"Sci-Fi writers don't invent the future, they market it."
- Henry Cobb
Strazos
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The World's Worst Game: Curry or Covid


Reply #27 on: January 24, 2007, 11:44:30 AM

Durr, how old are Jr High girls in Japan, like 12-14?

Fear the Backstab!
"Plato said the virtuous man is at all times ready for a grammar snake attack." - we are lesion
"Hell is other people." -Sartre
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