The main aim of this book is to provide a critical analysis of Japanese videogames through a focus on culture, demonstrating that videogames are as much a site of cultural negotiation and identity formation as literary and filmic texts have been regarded in the past. Japanese anxieties over politics, social dynamics and science are visible not just in traditional artistic forms but also in new media such as manga (comics), anime (animation) and videogames. The book argues that games have media-specific qualities that set them apart from other art forms, such as the player’s feeling of close identification with the main character, deep immersion in the gameworld, and decision-making strategies that affect the outcome of the narrative. Players of games embody the main character of the narrative which make the thematic concerns of the text stay in the reader’s mind long after the game is finished. Games are thus highly effective texts in terms of social critique.
Looking back over 50 years of games from Japan, the book finds a wide range of artists and writers working in and across different genres and categories of games to reflect, and reflect on, Japanese contemporary society and what concerns the Japanese people. As such, this book will be invaluable to students and scholars of Japanese culture and society, as well as those interested in game studies and the digital humanities.
Part 1: Japanese culture as playable object
1. Katamari Damacy: nostalgia and kitsch
2. Packaging the Past in Ōkami
3. Japan and its Others in fighting games
Part 2: Ideology and critique in Japanese games
4. Absentee parents in the JRPG
5. Nuclear discourse in Final Fantasy
6. Bioethics meets nuclear crisis
Part 3: History, memory, and re-imagining war
7. An uncomfortable genre: the Japanese war game
8. Hiroshima and violence in Metal Gear Solid
9. The colonial legacy