Friday, July 06, 2007

Why Japanese Hate First-Person Shooters and Westerners Hate Dating Sims

A friend of mine came up with a good answer to an earlier post:

This brings up a great question... why do Japanese people dislike First Person Shooters, and conversely, why do most North Americans hate (dating) Simulation Games? I'm struggling to think of what aspect of Japanese games makes them uncomfortable with FPS (too in their face?), or Westerners and dating sims (too lamer/loser?). I have no idea.

My friend's response:
Ooooh! Good question!

Mind if I speculate?

Personally I believe (from the experience of knowing a few Eastern gamers that have floated through the Gamer's Club I'm part of) that Americans, actually western gamers in general, love immersion. The good ol' "two hands on the control, giving everything to the game" type of attention. We, myself included, like to see ourselves as part of the game world, rather than as spectators or advisers from outside the screen.

FPS games and "American-style RPGs" cater to this need more easily than the more distant and social-oriented Dating Sims (Look at Japanese Dating culture and you figure this one out), 3rd Person Action Games, and RTSs.

Eastern Gamers typically make and play games that are less direct when engaging the "self" of our imaginations, though (as we all know) they are definitely NOT less difficult. More social situations from a 3rd person standpoint, more planned decision making, less split-second confrontation (unless we are talking about startle scenes in a horror game). They like our RTSs for example, but never really got the hang of HALO. (Not that I did either...but that's another topic.) The most recent Japanese fellow that has joined the club loves Warhammer 40k: Dark Crusade, Age Of Empires3, Empire Earth, and Titan Quest. However when it came time to play Team Fortress Classic, Unreal Tournament 2004, Battlefield 2, or Call of Duty he was clueless. It took some time, but now he ranks fairly consistently in the upper mid tier of the club in FPSs and seems to get a real kick out of playing them.

Now that I've described what I've observed, here's my theory:

I think the real answer is more closely tied to the social generalizations of our cultures than some would like.

In short, we are just playing to our stereotypes because those are the ones we are used to, comfortable with, and in a way (deep within our unconscious) wish to perpetuate.

We all have the ability to branch out and enjoy other things, it's just that the games that most closely reinforce how we and others view ourselves are the ones we are more drawn to play. :P

Funny thing to me is that our game tastes evolved this way, it wasn't until the advent of proper FPS and console RPG games that our tastes divided. Granted...between Galaga and Centipede there wasn't nearly as much variety. :P

I think he's pretty much hit the nail on the head. The core issue is how our given cultures are used to identifying with the world around us.

I also find it insightful that gamers, as people normally do in other situations, can broaden their horizons. I have had that experience with many of the strange games I've played on my (black not pink) Nintendo DS, and when I've tried out dating sims, which usually makes me want to undress Maria Alejandra.

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