Gaming in Japan: Paradise or Prejudice?
Japan is the home of many iconic gaming companies including Nintendo and Sony, but the country’s love of video games runs deeper than you might expect.
When I moved to Japan, my entire knowledge of Japanese culture was based on the Final Fantasy series, and Pokemon. Not necessarily the most authentic or reliable sources. Sadly, there are no little pocket monsters lurking in the long grass here – just cicadas and the occasional snake. But, surprisingly, after living here for a year, I returned to the world of Final Fantasy VII and was surprised to see just how familiar it all looked.
A lot of games are based on the real world, but even the smallest details that seemed like such a novelty in the game are actually everyday sights here in Japan. For example, my favourite part of the story is when you get to spend time in a huge casino/ arcade. On practically every corner in Japan, you will find Pachinko parlours; huge, fantastical buildings filled with numerous arcade games. Very different than the current state of arcades in America and England. For most teenagers, and even adults, spending their free time in these arcades is the norm. The range of games you can find is simply mind-blowing; you can easily spend all day in these places.
Back home, in the UK, arcades consist of claw grabbing machines, and sliding penny games. In Japanese arcades though, and you can indulge yourself in dancing, drumming, and even table flipping games. Just walking down one of the main shopping streets in Kyoto, I counted four different arcades, each one filled with at least fifteen to twenty different games.
It sometimes seems strange to me that gaming is seen as such a popular pastime; whereas the phrase “otaku”, meaning “geek”, carries such negative connotations. There has been no geek revival here, people still stand by the dated image of a bespectacled, pale, nobody who spends all their time in their parents basement. (Not that there’s anything wrong this, of course)! There are no female geeks here, at least not openly. It’s just not cool to admit that you are a geek. But, in another contradiction, almost everyone I meet has played through most Final Fantasy and Pokemon games. Where do the lines exist between cool gaming, and being a social outcast?
Aside from consoles and arcades, one of the biggest gaming markets here is mobile gaming. Everywhere you look, you will likely see a person staring at their phone screen; whether sitting, standing, walking, or even riding a bicycle! There are so many games available on the market, with top sellers being games linked to animes such as: Naruto, Bleach and One Piece; alongside online mini-rpgs. Japan seems to have a “big-kid syndrome” as it’s completely normal and accepted for people of any age to spend their commute, or free time, playing such games. Many foreigners living in here refer to these people as “keitai zombies”. Keitai means mobile/ cell phone in Japanese, so this phrases describes exactly how people seem to act when using their phones.
Being an avid gamer living in Japan has been an amazing experience. There are real Pokemon centres to explore, you can visit the Nintendo HQ in Kyoto, and its perfectly normal to spend all day running around an arcade like a big kid, just don’t call yourself a nerd. However, if you’re a gamer and a traveller, I definitely recommend Japan for your next adventure!
Danielle is a teacher from the United Kingdom living in Japan. If you want to read more about living as a geek in Japan head over to her blog www.geekgirlgoes.com.https://www.gamerwomen.com/gaming-in-japan/https://i0.wp.com/www.gamerwomen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Gaming-in-Japan-with-arcades.jpg?fit=800%2C480&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.gamerwomen.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Gaming-in-Japan-with-arcades.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Featuredarcade games,female gamers,gamer girl,gamer girl in japan,gamer in Japan,gaming in japan,girls playing video games,Japanese arcades,japanese games,Japanese gaming,Japanese mini-rpg,Japanese online game,nerd gamer in japan,Pachinko parlors,play video games,Traveling gamerJapan is the home of many iconic gaming companies including Nintendo and Sony, but the country’s love of video games runs deeper than you might expect. When I moved to Japan, my entire knowledge of Japanese culture was based on the Final Fantasy series, and Pokemon. Not necessarily the most... Gamerwomenco@gmail.comAdministratorGamer Women