Examining a wide range of Japanese videogames, including arcade fighting games, PC-based strategy games and console JRPGs, this book assesses their cultural significance and shows how gameplay and context can be analyzed together to understand videogames as a dynamic mode of artistic expression.
Well-known titles such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Street Fighter and Katamari Damacy are evaluated in detail, showing how ideology and critique are conveyed through game narrative and character design as well as user interface, cabinet art, and peripherals. This book also considers how ‘Japan’ has been packaged for domestic and overseas consumers, and how Japanese designers have used the medium to express ideas about home and nation, nuclear energy, war and historical memory, social breakdown and bioethics. Placing each title in its historical context, Hutchinson ultimately shows that videogames are a relatively recent but significant site where cultural identity is played out in modern Japan.
Comparing Japanese videogames with their American counterparts, as well as other media forms, such as film, manga and anime, Japanese Culture Through Videogames will be useful to students and scholars of Japanese culture and society, as well as Game Studies, Media Studies and Japanese Studies more generally.
Table of Contents
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
Rachael Hutchinson is Associate Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Delaware, USA. Her publications include Nagai Kafu’s Occidentalism: Defining the Japanese Self (2011) and Negotiating Censorship in Modern Japan (2013).