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.

XBOX 360: Microsoft finally agrees - it sucks balls.

Microsoft has allocated over one billion dollars to extend all XBOX 360's warranties by 3 years, because so many of the machines are going bad.

The glitches, and the bad publicity, could weigh the company down as it claws for market share in the highly competitive console market. In May, the Xbox 360 ranked No. 2 in unit sales behind Nintendo's Wii, but still beat out Sony's Playstation 3, according to data from NPD Group.

Recall the failure rate of these things?

Bach said the company made some manufacturing and production changes that he expects will reduce Xbox 360 hardware lockups, but he declined to identify the problems or say which others might remain. Microsoft said it will record a charge of up to $1.15 billion for its fourth fiscal quarter, which ended June 30, to cover the additional costs associated with the warranty extension.

I'd love to know what gamers can expect to go wrong...

Matt Rosoff, an analyst at the independent research group Directions on Microsoft, estimates that Microsoft's entertainment and devices division has lost more than $6 billion since 2002.

Microsoft has written down larger amounts in the past - more than $10 billion in the late 1990s related to investments in telecommunications companies, and more than $5 billion related to antitrust issues - but a $1 billion write-down for one division in one quarter is significant.

"It suggests the problem is pretty widespread," Rosoff said.

I'm sure Microsoft is making this public before E3 so that it can focus on other news during E3, just as when Nintendo revealed that Project Revolution's name was the Penis, I mean the Wii. Honestly I've gotten used to that name - you can't make penis jokes when your 2 year-old says "Wii?" But I digress.