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Video Games - Lost in Translation? 509

Posted by simoniker
from the different-strokes dept.
MikeDawg writes "No, it's not a case of 'All Your Base Are Belong To Us'. MSNBC is running an article about the relative popularity of some game hardware and software in the West vs. the East. This article covers the phenomenon of games vs. culture and why video games that do well in the U.S. generally don't do well in Japan, and vice-versa." The piece notes of the Japanese market: "American-made consoles such as 3DO (released in Japan in 1994) and most recently the Microsoft Xbox (released in two years ago) never seem to attract consumers in large numbers. Games such as 'Enter the Matrix' from Atari, and 'The Lord of the Rings' by Electronic Arts, both released [in Japan] last year, often vanish... without leaving a trace."
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Video Games - Lost in Translation?

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  • I agree (Score:5, Funny)

    by tgv (254536) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:41AM (#9004731) Journal
    Lost in Translation would be an excellent title for a new video game. You can only win if you don't get the girl at the end.

    You are in a maze of straight streets with bright neon signs, all alike.
    > north
    You are in a maze of straight streets with bright neon signs, all alike.
    > north
    You are in a maze of straight streets with bright neon signs, all alike.
    > north
    You are lost in translation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:43AM (#9004736)
    not because it's unpopular, but because no one can get the zoning permits!
    • by Powercntrl (458442) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:56AM (#9005045)
      Penny Arcade called, they want their joke back.
    • by swerk (675797)
      This is a sweeping generalization, but popular culture in the US says "bigger everything!". Bigger food portions, bigger cars, bigger film special effects, big everything. It's trendy and cool.

      Japan's popular culture shares some things with the US, more and more all the time it seems, but one thing that's notably opposite is that smaller is trendy. Big is cumbersome or wasteful or just generally un-cool. Small cel phones, small cars, small game consoles.

      But it doesn't stop with the physical size of th
  • Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flingles (698457) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:43AM (#9004738) Journal
    Games such as 'Enter the Matrix' ... often vanish... without leaving a trace."

    I wonder why :/
    • Re:Obviously (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Killjoy_NL (719667) <`slashdot' `at' `remco.palli.nl'> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:50AM (#9004770)
      Personally, I loved the first 3-4 levels of the game, going into bullet time mode and kicking the living bejezus out of the people, but I also see that they could have done a LOT better.
      The only thing the game REALLY had going for it was the story, but as a wise man once said, a game can't be good unless it has good gameplay.
      • Re:Obviously (Score:4, Informative)

        by Hast (24833) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:28AM (#9004949)
        I recommend that you play Max Payne and/or Prince of Persia instead. Both have a similar "time dilation" mode and both are vastly more playable than EtM.

        The idea with EtM was pretty good, but it was extremely poorly made. The models looked like Max Payne 1 era, and that game is pretty old. The animations were so bad it was funny. Watch a guy "climb" a fence and you'll see what I mean.

        If they had developed it for a few more months it could have been a good game though.
      • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Informative)

        by Erik Hollensbe (808) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @04:24AM (#9005357) Homepage
        Repeat after me:

        Games based on movies SUCK. The inverse is also true.

        (Repeat until you stop buying them.)

        This gross generalization was brought to you by someone who thinks gameplay is more important than story. Movies have story going for them, not gameplay (for what I think are pretty obvious reasons).

        Pong is highly addictive and didn't have a ton of cut and paste FMV and rendered versions of Keanu and John Rhys-Davies. Why do you need this?

        Anyways,

        </rant>
        • Re:Obviously (Score:4, Insightful)

          by aixou (756713) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @06:21AM (#9005666)
          I beg to differ [nintendo.com]

          Would you like your foot shaken or stirred? :-)

          • Re:Obviously (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jez9999 (618189)
            Hmm. I never really saw what was so fantastic about Goldeneye. Wasn't it just another FPS, with average graphics, a rather limited storyline, 3 different difficulty levels, and about a 1FPS framerate if you didn't have a memory expansion pack (try playing the jungle level without one)?
        • Re:Obviously (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @07:47AM (#9005973) Homepage
          Games based on movies do almost always suck, going back to Goonies for the Nintendo. They're created as part of a marketing campaign, not because someone thought of a good game that people will like.

          Having said that, I thought Enter the Matrix was cool. Not because the gameplay was that excellent (but it was ok) but because they elaborated on the movie universe with the plot of the game. In the second movie, Naobi shows up and says "the machines are digging" but doesn't really explain how they know that. When you play the game, you find out why she knows. That's a big step up from the mindless Star Wars Pod Racing and those type of movie based games.

          The other reply mentions Goldeneye for N64. Yes, it's one of the top 5 games for that system. Yes, it's based a movie. But the feature that made that game famous was its deathmatch, which has nothing to do with the movie.

          -B
    • My best guess would be that the Japanese don't buy into the whole "good movie == good game" idea. If I recall correctly, they prefer the "good anime == good game" concept.
  • by ErichTheWebGuy (745925) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:44AM (#9004741) Homepage
    ... The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life.

    Also, as I recall, the game was wildly popular in both regions. Granted, it was a Japanese game ported to the US market. But, aren't most of the best games in the US? My experience with "enter the matrix" was that it sucks!

    IMHO, this is another case of results being skewed to some agenda.
    • by IntelliTubbie (29947) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:47AM (#9004749)
      ... The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life.

      Wow, that guy must have done a LOT of acid.

      Cheers,
      IT
    • by Shwilmo (750573) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:54AM (#9004793)
      ... The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life. Also, as I recall, the game was wildly popular in both regions. Granted, it was a Japanese game ported to the US market. But, aren't most of the best games in the US?

      Yeah, but what about the games that have made a huge impact on the US game market but haven't left a trace in Japan? What about Doom? Half-life? Those two games are easily two of the top 5 games of all time, yet they barely sold at all in Japan.

      And also, what about sandbox-type games? They talk about the "relative" success of GTA3 in Japan, but when you compare the sales, there is a HUGE gulf in overall sales between Europe / America and Japan. Furthermore, other "sandbox"-type games have broken the bank here in the US but sold comparatively poorly in Japan. Games like the Sims and the Civilization series are pretty much only hot sellers in the west.

      Furthermore, am I the only one who notices the gulf getting wider? I mean, modern western games just appeal to me significantly more than the overly-anime inspired games from Japan. I haven't enjoyed a FF since the SNES, I don't like Resident Evil or the Onimusha series, and I think Nintendo games just aren't appealing anymore. Instead, games like GTA3, Halo, and Madden are the bread and butter of most college-aged males video game experiences here in the west. I think it's an important distinction to make.

      • by ErichTheWebGuy (745925) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:00AM (#9004825) Homepage
        What about Doom? Half-life? Those two games are easily two of the top 5 games of all time

        Agreed. In the US. The main difference, I think, is the huge culture difference. Look at the Samurai, vs. the American soldier. For example, Americas Army Operations vs. the later versions of the Final Fantasy series. One appeals to one cultire, while the other appeals to the other.

        games like GTA3, Halo, and Madden are the bread and butter of most college-aged males video game experiences here in the west. I think it's an important distinction to make.

        I rest my case. :-)
      • by Jameth (664111)

        Furthermore, am I the only one who notices the gulf getting wider? I mean, modern western games just appeal to me significantly more than the overly-anime inspired games from Japan. I haven't enjoyed a FF since the SNES, I don't like Resident Evil or the Onimusha series, and I think Nintendo games just aren't appealing anymore. Instead, games like GTA3, Halo, and Madden are the bread and butter of most college-aged males video game experiences here in the west. I think it's an important distinction to make.

      • GTA3 and Halo may appeal widely across the West, but does Madden really sell that well outside the US? I'd be interested to see a comparison between what sells well in European markets compared to the US and Japanese markets. I think you'd see some sort of mid-way position then.
    • by Woogiemonger (628172) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:05AM (#9004854)

      I used to LOVE to play The Legend of Zelda. As I recall, that game was made in Japan, by a Japanese developer, even based on many elements from his real life.

      I wonder if a game popularity's diversity of region is based more on level of detail rather than what the game is based on. I read some of a book, "Understanding Comics" by Scott McCloud, and while I do think some of its contents is debatable, one thing I couldn't argue with was.. the more abstract a character, the easier it is to think of the abstraction as a representation of yourself, and thus relate to it. So with the older games such as Zelda, Metroid, Pac-Man, and even Space Invaders, I can see them having a region-independent fan base as opposed to more realistic games like John Madden Football or Lord of the Rings.
      • I wonder if a game popularity's diversity of region is based more on level of detail rather than what the game is based on.

        You have an excellent point. The more specific the game, (or more specifically the plot and entire social platform) the more likely it is that it will only be tied to the region for which that game was targeted.

        Again, I think either the author of the MSNBC story has an axe to grind, or did not think through the implications of the statements that he made.
  • Well no wonder... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BEI01 (567185) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:44AM (#9004742)
    Games such as 'Enter the Matrix' from Atari, and 'The Lord of the Rings' by Electronic Arts, both released [in Japan] last year, often vanish... without leaving a trace."


    Yea, well, there is a reason. Both of those games were crap here in the U.S. as well.
  • by graveyardjohn (672128) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:47AM (#9004751) Journal
    The reverse is also true, but to a lesser extent. Nintendo are not doing so well with the Gamecube (at least in the UK) and this is sometimes down to the perception that the more cartoon-like graphics visible on Nintendo hardware, like the recent Zelda game, are childish. In the west, violence, aggression, sport and speed sells bucketloads more.
  • Regimented psyches (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paul Townend (185536) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:47AM (#9004753) Homepage
    I think the most interesting part of the article was:

    Japanese players do not like being thrown into an arena in which they are given very little instruction," said Hideo Kojima, creator of the popular "Metal Gear Solid" games.

    "You can head in any direction, 360 degrees. They say, 'What am I supposed to do? Give me hints. Provide me service instead of just throwing me into this arena


    I guess that in Japan, society is a lot more regimented and order-driven than in the west, and so they'll seek games that are similar..... If only they'd start buying more of my favourite genre (point'n'click adventure games!) - more might be released then! (although I guess instead of games like Syberia and Syberia II, we'd end up with stuff like "Puzzle puzzle cow fan 3400"...but at least it'd be a start!
    • by linzeal (197905) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:15AM (#9004892) Homepage Journal
      My friend just got back from japan and could not believ how much they liked Microsoft Train Simulator" [amazon.com] and that ilk, I forget the name of the subway one though. Any hints?
    • by alphaseven (540122) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:16AM (#9004898)
      I guess that in Japan, society is a lot more regimented and order-driven than in the west, and so they'll seek games that are similar.....

      Grand Theft Auto sold surprisingly well in Japan, but I sort of wonder what they're doing in it. Maybe they're just driving around, obeying traffic signals, listening to the radio, watching the sunset...

      • Not always true... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Goonie (8651) *
        If I recall correctly, Japan is infamous for its illegal street racing. The tuning gear for their sports cars now imported to the US comes, to some extent, from that scene.
      • by RESPAWN (153636) <caldwell@@@tulanealumni...net> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @08:04AM (#9006079) Homepage Journal
        Maybe they're just driving around, obeying traffic signals, listening to the radio, watching the sunset...

        One of my friends had a PS2 waaay before I did. When we finally got her to buy GTA3 she was doing exactly that in the game. Stopping at stop lights, changing radio stations, etc. The rest of us finally had to yell at her "What are you doing!? You just stole this car, so why aren't you driving it like you did?"

        Hell, she was paying more attention to traffic laws in the game than she does in real life.
    • by Threni (635302)
      >>"You can head in any direction, 360 degrees. They say, 'What am I supposed to do?
      >>Give me hints. Provide me service instead of just throwing me into this arena

      >I guess that in Japan, society is a lot more regimented and order-driven than in the
      >west, and so they'll seek games that are similar.

      I dunno...Mario 64 is pretty `there you go - do what you want`, and that's Japanese AND it was pretty popular.
      • >>>"You can head in any direction, 360 degrees. They say, 'What am I supposed to do?
        >>>Give me hints. Provide me service instead of just throwing me into this arena

        >>I guess that in Japan, society is a lot more regimented and order-driven than in the
        >>west, and so they'll seek games that are similar.

        >I dunno...Mario 64 is pretty `there you go - do what you want`, and that's Japanese AND it was pretty popular.

        As far as which level you went to, yes. But that was only in a c
    • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:08AM (#9005080) Homepage
      " I guess that in Japan, society is a lot more regimented and order-driven than in the west, and so they'll seek games that are similar."

      Interesting point. But I would offer that they do actually like things that aren't order-driven. A lot of japanese anime focuses on a person who gets tossed into a situation where they have no idea what to do, and they have to figure it out. And I wouldn't be saying that if it wasn't such a stereotyped plot, its ridiculous.

      Perhaps, they would prefer a game which didn't make it seem like someone was rating them on how they did (ie. points, score, etc). A pure simulation, but as crazy as they wanted.

  • Travellers blog, (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Killjoy_NL (719667) <`slashdot' `at' `remco.palli.nl'> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:47AM (#9004756)
    I've been to Thailand a few times and since I don't expect the taste in games to be that much different from Japan's I'll add my 2 cents here.

    In Thailand, there are a LOT of internetcafes, almost every streetcorner (and a lot of stores between them) have them.
    Last time I went (may '03) the game of the day was Ragnarok Online.
    It was almost the only game I saw being played there .
    The other game I saw being played there was C&C Generals.
    The game my gf (yup she's thai, in case you're wondering) was/is playing is Rollercoaster Tycoon 2.
    In all the time I've been there, the only FPS being played there (in a mall, some comps set up as a lan with broadband access) is Halflife Counterstrike, but I don't think that one really counts since it has had a long enough time to get there.

    Back 2 UT2K4 I go, my FPS of choice at the moment.
  • Americans want gritty, realistic stuff. Japanese want weird stuff, cute stuff, and 8-year-old girls getting raped by tentacles. I mean hell... would YOU want something like Enter the Matrix when you could be watching a little girl have simulated sex?
    • by Killjoy_NL (719667) <`slashdot' `at' `remco.palli.nl'> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:55AM (#9004802)
      Yes, there are some anime that have tentacle rape in there, those anime are for the fetishists (sp?) that like that stuff.
      It's sad that one of the first anime to come out of japan was Urutsokidoji - Legend of the Overfiend.
      It was released in the UK and the Netherlands under the Manga label and after a lot of people saw that, they thought "WE MUST PROTECT THE CHILDREN FROM THIS CRAP".
      I think this is a shame because there is so much GOOD anime out there in all genres.

      Comedy: Urusei Yatsura, Ranma
      Action: Noir, Cowboy Bebop
      Drama: Saikano, Grave of the fireflies
      Kiddy: Pokemon, Digimon, etc

      Well, you get the idea. And it just now dawned on me that you were probably trolling.
      Ah well, I got to write a nice piece anyway :)
    • and that's why the "Tentacles in the Classroom 2004" bill was passed yesterday, revoking all previous kiddy-porn and bestiality laws on a federal level.
    • I've watched quite a bit of anime, have over a terrabyte of it, and have yet to ever see a tentacle rape show. Graphic sex, yes...graphic violence, yes...tentacles, no. I don't know if the parent is trying to be funny or is just harping about something they're uneducated about.
  • by jabbadabbadoo (599681) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:49AM (#9004762)
    Having worked in the gaming industry, I know that Eastern consumers definitely have a different taste. The "Americanization" process is going extremely slow.

    Stuff like wording, colors and game titles that are cool in the states and in Europe can be interpreted quite differently in Japan.

    Violent games ARE popular in Japan, but mostly the violent games doesn't focus only on blood and spilled guts. They want focus on the art of fighting.

    Is the culture to "blame"? Of course. So the gaming industry must adapt.

    • by CyberDruid (201684) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:16AM (#9004897) Homepage
      Violent games ARE popular in Japan, but mostly the violent games doesn't focus only on blood and spilled guts. They want focus on the art of fighting.

      And on breast bounce.

      • by Tackhead (54550)
        > > Violent games ARE popular in Japan, but mostly the violent games doesn't focus only on blood and spilled guts. They want focus on the art of fighting.
        >
        > And on breast bounce.

        Yeah. Tomb Raider would never take off in the West.

    • by Jameth (664111) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:20AM (#9004919)
      Bullshit filter? What are you talking about. Japanese games are every bit as much bullshit as American games. You're telling me Tekken isn't bullshit? And that it focuses on the "art of fighting"? Say what? Japanese fighting games are completely unrealistic, with no relationship to the "art of fighting" whatsoever (sole exception being Bushido Blade).

      If you want to focus on the differences in cultures, the article pointed out the much more major one: Americans like to have no boundaries and Japanese like to have clear direction. Japanese players get confused with a lack of defined goals.

      As for another one of note, Japanese gamers tend to prefer a sense of community, while Americans tend to prefer a sense of personal success. That only really shows up much in MMORPGs, at least as far as I've seen. Look at Legacy of Blood: it is doing very well in Asian areas (particularly Korea, I think) but has done jack squat in the US. This is most likely because the play requires that you interoperate with other players on a massive scale. You need to have some sort of community. For similar reasons, Japanese MMORPG players are more likely to use something because it looks cool, while American players are more likely to use something because it is useful.
    • For someone who apparently "worked" in the gaming industry, you sure do make a lot of sweeping generalizations that are pretty much inaccurate and stupid (such as implying that Americans like violent games because they focus on blood and guts, rather than gun-based combat). Furthermore, your title of "Their brain has a bullshit filter" pretty much makes your credibility fly out the window. If that was the case, how come they pick up hentai games and horse racing sims so readily?
  • 3DO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moocowsia (589092) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:51AM (#9004774)
    Hmm.. Maybe the writer didnt notice that the 3DO did horrible in the US too... Which might be an indication of why it did bad in Japan. Crap is crap, if you send it to Japan its still crap.
  • Just maybe.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by exigentsky (771810) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:52AM (#9004779)
    Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly and hence prefer better quality entertainment with a solid story and more things to do. They consider video gaming much more of an art, an investment, almost a career. Extremely talented video gamers are close to worshipped, especially in strategy games such as StarCraft. Maybe they also like and want to support their own video game industry.

    In addition, "Enter the Matrix" and "The Lord of the Rings" were abysmal games developed quickly to take advantage of the sucess of the movies their based upon. Of course, these movies are exceptionally popular in the US, and it is sure that rabid fans will buy them because they feature their favourite charachters. However, in Japan these movies are not so popular and without playing on the success of the movies, they really do not appeal to many.

    Even American game networks such as GameSpy, GameSpot and many others rated these games poorly. As usual, most games that are spin offs of movies suck, god I still get nightmares about the Survivor game. [http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/survivor-ultimate-editio n/5505p1.html]

    Don't be suprised that games which base their success on culturally dependent factors such as how well a movie is received, rather than how good the gameplay is don't do well in other places than where the movie is popular.

    • by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:08AM (#9004864) Homepage
      Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly and hence prefer better quality entertainment with a solid story and more things to do.

      I hear ya. I just can't get into US demon-screwing cartoons. They just don't have the same depth as the ones made in Japan.

      • Re:Just maybe.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jameth (664111) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:24AM (#9004935)
        I hear ya. I just can't get into US demon-screwing cartoons. They just don't have the same depth as the ones made in Japan.

        It's really true. I can't remember the last time I watched an American porno with a plot to it, but Japanese porno is actually very good. If you doubt me, rent Kite. If you get the wrong one, it might not be a porno and you might think it's just a decent movie.
    • Re:Just maybe.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shwilmo (750573) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:18AM (#9004909)
      Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly and hence prefer better quality entertainment with a solid story and more things to do.

      I would be careful here. I think it's pretty clearly stated in the article, and been said many times in this thread, that "more things to do = bad" in Japanese gaming culture. They like games with single storylines and definite direction. Example: As a western gamer, my favorite RPGs of the past two years have been Morrowind and Knights of the Old Republic. Those games both offer a HUGE variety of things to do. Yet both are decidedly "non-Japanese" because they have very open, branching storylines. Games that are played like storybooks are much more popular in Japan than here.

      And to counter your point about "blowing things up pointlessly," I could say the same thing about you training your characters up to level 99 so you could beat Ruby Weapon (or whatever), whereas at least when I'm playing Halo I'm sitting in a room with my friends enjoying healthy competition. It goes both ways, don't assume that one side is inherently "better" than the other.

    • Maybe Japanese people are less obsessed with blowing things up pointlessly

      So, let me get this straight. The random destruction of RPGs is not pointless, where you commonly have 'random encounters' which have no value whatsoever, but an FPS with every target you fight is carefully placed to add to the challenge is pointless? Perhaps you meant that Japanese people are averse to realistic violence?
    • HAHAHAHAHA (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NEOtaku17 (679902)
      I take it you've never seen Battle Royale, Suicide Club, and Dead or Alive(all very popular with Japanese youth). Please do not portray Japanese culture as more violent then The States, it is just plain wrong.
      • Re:HAHAHAHAHA (Score:4, Informative)

        by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:22AM (#9005125) Homepage
        I've seen all of those except for Dead or Alive, and can also add Battle Royale II, Audition, Ichi the Killer (Anime and film) and can definitely say that the Japanese can do violence exceptionally well. They can also add far more atmosphere to their films and don't usualy feel the need to fill every moment with sacrine music, which can add more tension. Tarrantino is quoted as saying he released the Kill Bill film with the major fight scene in black and white for the US audience because they can't handle the same level of violence that a Japanese audience can.

        The main difference I suspect is that the Japanese movies are not simply about kill counts. They have storylines, deep characters, and are often more insightful into the people they portray. US films on the other hand seem to me like they spent all the budget on explosions and special effects and forgot to pay the script writers to put in a plot. This is telling to me of the cultural differences between the two nations. Both enjoy a spot of violence, with Japanese violence being the more horrifying for me personally, but the Japanese want a story to go with it and some characters to play the story.

  • by djcreamy (729099) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:55AM (#9004800) Homepage
    Maybe we in the United States are a bunch of closet serial-killers due to the violent, malicious video games we so actively enjoy....

    ...but look at their hentai. Have you ever seen bodily fluids used (and reused) that way? Do all girls wear those uniforms? Should cartoon figures really do *that*???

    I'm torn between rejecting the Japanese altogether or forming the United States of Japan where the best of both worlds collide in an all-out FPS blood sport of bukkake and tentacle rape. Who's with me?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      My thats taking two stereotypes to extremes. But for argument's sake lets accept them. I would much rather live in a society where sex is open and taken to excess (except rape of course) than one where guns are open and violence is taken to excess.

      Obviously the US is not a country where everybody carries guns and shoots everybody else, nor is Japan a country with only perverts and gropers.

      • Why "except rape"? Rape is certainly an excess, as is gun violence. There is no such thing as a society "open" to sex yet immune to rampant sexual violence, pedophilia, and diseases.

        I'm not saying violence is better, only that I wouldn't be so quick to choose one over the other. Sex sounds nice, hell who doesn't like sex, but some people have some wicked sexual vices.
        • There is no such thing as a society "open" to sex yet immune to rampant sexual violence, pedophilia, and diseases.

          *cough*Holland*cough*

          Seriously, there's less sexual crime in Holland than just about any other western country.

  • It's true the market isn't the same. Cause the culture IS not the same period.

    Sure the market will migrate a little, they are getting McDonalds and a little of Western culture. But do they really need to? I mean is the western culture gonna dictate the gaming scene for all?

    I'm in Canada, so I'm influence mainly by the big country south of me.
    But I don't like FPS either, I like more brainy, self-involving nature of RTS or RPG style games.
    I'm hardly playing games anymore, the last thing I touched was so
  • Think about it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tokerat (150341) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @01:59AM (#9004818) Journal

    In Japan, stuff like animae and manga is wildly popular, it features intricate storylines, often times fantasy based. That's one thing the Japaneese get that I've noticed western audiences never seem to notice: You can do ANYTHING with games, movies, stories, or art...so why stick to simulating real life?

    The western world, on the other hand, has Hollywood fever, we like car chases and action, we like sports events watched by millions, we like reality. Kind of depressing if you think about it, almost like we're so fed up with REAL reality we find it amusing to play in a pretend-yet-realistic world. Either that or I've also noticed that some Americans, especially the current generation of teens, seem to feel like they're "retarded" or immature for using their imagination. A shame, to say the least.

    I won't speculate on what this means culture-wise anymore than I have done at the risk of trolling, but if game-makers want to sell well internationally, they need to realize they'll either need to rely on seperate product lines tailored to the specific culture of the region, or (and this I'd like to see) start to bridge a cultural gap and create a game with elements of both cultures' preferences, and see how well that sells.

    I think Japan would enjoy some more excitement action-wise in their games, and the western world needs to learn to explore their imagination more and do some problem-solving/puzzle type stuff. A nice healthy blend.
    • Re:Think about it (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jameth (664111)
      Anime isn't wildly popular there. That's a myth. Anime is also for children in Japan, just as it is in the US.

      Also, much of Hollywood is hugely successful in Japan. It is the gaming industry which has trouble, not the Movie industry, the Music industry, or the TV industry.
    • Remind me to stand in the opposite direction of Japan, since you appear to be jizzing all over it.
  • The relative success of "Grand Theft Auto III" in Japan may be a sign of changing tastes, but violent games are still far less popular in Japan than in the United States.

    Maybe it's just that they don't fall for it the third time. Makes me think about the US people :-)

    My nephew got all three LotR games for his gameboy. I have finished the first one, but the second and third are the same (walk and shoot, absolutely[sp] no story in it) and I couldn't be bothered playing them.
  • by skogs (628589) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:04AM (#9004843) Journal
    but those games sucked. 3DO, while an excellent console, was poorly marketed and suffered from poor business decisions as well as lack of game developers due to Nintendo's monopolizing practices. XBox...come on. The dang thing isn't really doing that well here either is it? Yeah it is surviving, but barely. We were all surprised when Sony was able to make a good console. Xbox is a nice unit to be sure, but it is basically a full fledged computer, not a console.
  • Music? (Score:5, Informative)

    by aitsuda (633462) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:04AM (#9004848)
    Any article which starts "despite the success of american music and movies in Japan" has got to be questionable. Japanese music and idols dominate the charts; a few foreign groups / singers hit a niche market.
  • For examples of things that failed in Japan, they mentioned things like Mortal Kombat and the X-Box. However, they started out the article with mentions of The Lord of the Rings, Enter the Matrix, and the 3DO.

    Why start an article with all of the crappy examples? Does the author want to convince people he is full of crap? I almost wrote the whole article off after that first paragraph.

    Who writes this stuff? Ah. Steven Kent writes this stuff. Steven Kent, if you ever read this, that was some real bad placem
  • by trouser (149900) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:15AM (#9004888) Journal
    they also eat strange food and they've got a different word for everything. It's weird.
  • Dead Horse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wan-fu (746576) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:20AM (#9004920)
    Is it just me or has [slashdot.org] this [slashdot.org] horse [slashdot.org] been [slashdot.org] beaten [slashdot.org] enough [slashdot.org] already?

    I'm pretty sure that by now, everyone knows that certain games and genres just don't translate well.
  • I wonder if... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shirai (42309) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:28AM (#9004952) Homepage
    Okay, I may be burning Karma here on a data point of "1" but I'm curious. I am Japanese and have played games all my life.

    But I get incredibly sick and disoriented playing FPS. I've tried on several occasions thinking that my vertigo might improve but have finally given up knowing that I will just feel sick in the end.

    I can play GTA, Tomb Raider and many a third person games and I love any racer but FPS just makes me sick. I wonder if Japanese (or Asians) are in any way pre-disposed to not orienting with FPS for some reason. Maybe it doesn't make all Japanese sick but maybe we just aren't built for it. Kind of like the fact that, generally speaking, we ain't built for milk (lactose intolerance in asians is high).
    • Re:I wonder if... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Headaches are often due to the freqency of the monitor being too low, 60hertz is very low end, and causes me headaches, 75 hertz is better, playing Farcry with a 9800 pro at 1280x1024 at 75 hertz. But still causes headaches or vertigo now and then, 100 hertz is very good, for the most part no problems then, but 120 hertz which most monitors do not support is where you want to be if you have lots of issues with gaming. That or get off a crt and move to a different monitor even though none of the other moni
    • Re:I wonder if... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jussi K. Kojootti (646145) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @05:42AM (#9005549)
      Maybe it doesn't make all Japanese sick but maybe we just aren't built for it.

      Some industry people agree with you. This is from Scott Millers (3DRealms) blog [typepad.com]. See especially point 2.

      Compared to Europe, the Asian territories (specifically, Japan) are more challenging for selling Western games. There are three high barriers for us to overcome to be successful over there:

      1) aesthetics - you've probably noticed a predilection for cuter anime style characters in Japanese games. Namely, there's a preference for characters to have slightly larger heads and larger eyes, and for environments to use a high contrast color palette. This is out of sync with the more realistic style that most of us Western game designers employ. Crash Bandicoot is one of the best selling U.S. developed games ever because they designed their characters from the ground up to be compatible with Japan.

      The disconnect we have with Asian-style aesthetics is only going to be exacerbated as the average age of US gamers (currently 28 years-old) continues to increase. As adults we're obviously going to want more realistic and less cartoony games.

      2) camera - games that have fast moving cameras severely limit their audience in Asian nations because people there have a tendency to get dizzy or sick from jerky movement. First person shooters are almost impossible, and 3rd person action games with simplistic follow-cams are just as bad. I remember a specific instance when working at a development company in Yokohama where I was playing a game of Descent and my Japanese co-workers had to avert their eyes from my screen because they were getting nauseous!

      Games like Ratchet and Clank 1 & 2 are huge in Japan partially because their camera spin speed is very slow, and they use smart, well dampened algorithms to avoid jerkiness. This was intentional because these guys were thinking about the Japanese market from day one.

      3) difficulty - games that are too difficult or punish the player too often have trouble in Japan too. People tend to get lost in complex 3D space, so I remember reading a post mortem on Sly Cooper (I think) where they said that they added lots of infomration sign posts, arrows, and clues to help guide Japanese players through their levels.

  • Different strokes for different folks =)

  • by tukkayoot (528280) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:53AM (#9005038) Homepage
    Most of the people I know who've played Grand Theft Auto III tell me how think it's great that they can jack any car they see, recklessly drive around and perform little tricks, run over whores, then get out and beat children with a baseball bat.

    While playing like that can be a fun diversion, it gets old pretty fast.

    The real core gameplay for GTA3 for me, though, has been the missions that you're given the course of the main storyline. Right from the beginning of the game it's made very clear where you can get missions to advance the game plot, and it's always pretty obvious where you get your next issue to advance the linear game plot.

    GTA3 is about as non-linear as the Final Fantasy games, really. There is a main plot that you are generally ushered towards completing, but there are also a few "sub-quests" and mini-games that you can fool around with, or you can just play around and explore. A lot of games that are popular in America just aren't quality games. They are successful due to marketing, gratuitous violence, ect. Japan is a different culture so marketing has to be done differently, and gratuitous violence doesn't seem to be as appealing to them. However, a game like Grand Theft Auto III, which is genuinely well crafted can apparently enjoy some measure of success.

    Generally I prefer Japanese games myself. I think many American games cater to a younger, less mature audience, while Japanese games cater to a older, more mature, intelligent (but creepier) audience. I love the games that Nintendo produces, and though lately I haven't been a big fan of RPGs in general, I generally prefer Japanese style RPGs to American ones. And though I don't have any particular aversion to graphically depicted violence in video games, I don't really see it as a selling point, nor do I find cute, cartoonish graphics in a game a turn-off, if it's done with style. I also would prefer to see hot a hot girl depicted in a game than blood splattering everywhere. American games do sometimes try to give their games sex appeal, but it's done in a really crude manner... see BMX XXX, or Lara Croft, who is simply frumpy compared to hundreds of virtually anonymous chicks in Japanese fighting games, RPGs, ect, ect.

    I wish more American companies would take a hint and focus on producing quality titles rather than producing lame franchised garbage and using violence and crudity (and yeah, I know, at least we aren't obsessed with tentacle sex) as an attention grabber.

    A lot of American games are really fun and inventive, and there are going to be good games made here that simply don't hold appeal to most Japanese, but there's a lot American developers can learn from the Japanese, and there's a lot U.S. gamers could learn from the Japanese as well... namely to look past the surface of a game and how it's marketed and pay attention how it actually plays. The Japanese could take a hint from many American games though, and remove a little emphasis on storyline... no, I don't want to read through pages and pages of dialog or wait through hours of cutscenes when I'm playing a game, even an RPG.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @02:58AM (#9005052) Homepage Journal
    either. So what?

    Has this auther ever considered the possibility that the consoles were designed with certain markets in mind?

    Microsoft and Sony could have planned to make systems that would sell most heavily in the US while Nintendo planned to make the GameCube the champ in Asia.

    From the introduction of the original PSX until the demise of the Dreamcast there were 3 big players in the console game market. They all did fairly well for most of that time. Because there are enough customers to go around. One could even argue that if a company tried too hard to get all of the customers, they'd lose the ones they already had by taking too many resources away from the things that they were doing well.

    MS, Sony and Nintendo are each getting a slice of a really big pie. So what if they targeted their products towards different segments of the market?

    LK
  • by kir (583) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @03:09AM (#9005085) Homepage
    I've been here (Japan) for 8 years. I was here when the PS1, PS2, and the Xbox were released. IMHO, the XBox failed in this country for one reason:

    Sony has completely saturated the market here. I can rent/buy PS2 games in pretty much every conbini (convenience store - 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Sunkus, etc.) in Japan -- even in "remote" areas like Yatsugatake, Aumori, etc. Hell, I think one can buy a PS2 in Doit (think HomeDepot, Lowe's, Wilkinson). I've been to some stores where they only carry PS1/2 goods (Kotesashi Seiyu in Tokorozawa for example). Of course, right before the Xbox was released here, Sony opened the spicket (sales, promotions, etc.).
  • by TwistedSpring (594284) * on Thursday April 29, 2004 @05:50AM (#9005583) Homepage
    So they don't like our stuff, and I can understand that, the cultures are different. What I cannot understand is the western adoption of all their games like Pokémon, Zelda, etc. The voice actors (if they exist) are dreadful without fail, the character animation is ugly, the plots are simply missing or stupid or full of the sort of crackpot magic and legend nonsense that the japanese seem so keen on, and it's only in recent years that they've even managed to get the English translation sort-of right. Some arcade games like the latest incarnations of Tekken still have japanese text in-game. They clearly just don't care about the western market, but throw their products at it anyway, where geeks lap it up because it's all mystic and oriental and looks like anime which has pretty girls in, and kids lap it up because they don't know any better and it's the only stuff available for their N64/GameCube/GBA/Saturn/Dreamcast.

    The reason the Playstation is seen as a little more "badass" or mature than Nintendo's or Segas consoles is because it does not try to sell itself explicitely on a flagship character. Lara Croft is a possible example, but Sony didn't adopt her as a mascot, they also don't seem to shut out developers as much as Nintendo or Sega did. It's pretty much impossible for a smaller company to ever get a game released on a Nintendo system because Nintendo are such control freaks when it comes to content and finance, and their media is stupidly expensive to produce.

    In Japan, they don't like our games because they have games made for their tastes over there which they prefer, which is pretty damn obvious. The two examples of western games given ("Enter the Matrix" and "Lord of the Rings") were both movie tie-ins and thus are really crappy examples. Perhaps UT or Q3 would have been better. I don't care if Japan doesn't like the games the west produces, so what? I care that the balance in console gaming is Mostly Japanese vs. Western Shoddy Attempts By BAM! Entertainment. It's a real shame the market is swamped by all these different Pokemon and Bomberman games that are all the same game in different coloured boxes, and are about as inspirational as a paving stone.
  • by sielwolf (246764) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @08:11AM (#9006131) Homepage Journal
    This is the great divide in Japanese versus Western cinema as well. Western/American cinema is representational in that it follows a definable logic, that there are rules that the entertainment follows. One of the greatest crimes an artist can do is "cheat" (i.e. break the rules). The killer chasing the coed is trapped in the sewer, now he's in front of her! This would cause Western audiences to throw a fucking fit. Even the highly fantastic (The Matrix) are judged about being "fair" to their own logic.

    In Japan it is the opposite: logic is derived from what is presented to the audience. So if a character walks through a door in his house and ends up on Moon, that is fine since the director is trying to say something. American audiences will expect some sort of rationale for it happening (i.e. that he has some sort of To-the-Moon teleportation door in his house). Japanese art design is authoritative from the creative design of the artist.

    This thirst for "realism" based upon some ruleset drives the Western aesthetic. Look at the games listed as most popular in the US: crime, sports, shooters. These are genres that attempt to capture some authenticity of an experience.

    On the other side you have the Incomprehensible Japanese Videogame Plot: starts reasonably, long character expository dialogue, wierd imagery, enemies dying, enemies revealing their "true form" . The Japanese game is a vehicle for the gamer to experience the designer's 'vision'. The gamer is along for a ride, and his role suppletory to that. The gaming experience improves by how much the gamer can live up to the creator's designs: how well he can sneak and run around in a box as Snake, how totally he can learn the techniques of Forrest Law, etc.

    The US saddles the player with the primary responsibility. He is the engine of the storytelling (generally. Only recently have open-ended games allowed a full realization of this).
  • Final Fantasy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ganiman (162726) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @08:12AM (#9006137)
    Final Fantasy XI Online is played by people all over the world, from Japan to Europe to North America, and is very successful. There are even some (crude) translation tools in the game, so Japanese and North Americans can play together. I'm actually quite surprised this game hasn't gotten more press here on slashdot.

    But FFXI is not the only game with success like that. The entire Final Fantasy series has been popular in both cultures. It is quite possible to develop games that the whole world can enjoy, and Square Enix [square-enix-usa.com] has done just that. And to top it all off, the game is cross platform (both PC and PS2 players are in the same world[s]); something that has never been done before.

    This is the best game ever. Ever. You hear me? Go buy it now and meet me on the Phoenix server (Ganiman, Tarutaru RDM).
  • by eclectic4 (665330) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @08:44AM (#9006415)
    "A lot of people [still] resent the idea of shooting people in games.", in Japan and other places that is.

    See, here in America, home of 12,000 gun murders a year compared to less than 100 in Japan, this makes complete sense. Saying we Americans are a violent group would be an understatement of the ages.

    Liking violent video games is merely a result of the asinine, violent way of life we propel here.
  • Culture shock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@gmail . c om> on Thursday April 29, 2004 @10:07AM (#9007303) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who sees this problem?

    US Video Game companies trying to sell games in Japan based on Western Culture concepts and then wondering why they aren't selling?

    I read that article and one thing kept popping out and was obvious to me, "Violent games do not sell well in Japan". Then I recalled some successful games not developed in the US like Pacman, Tetris, etc. Ok, what if instead of violent video games, we tried to sell maze and puzzle games to Japan?

    Sure US Citizens want to be the big guy with the guns and muscles that uses violence to solve problems, but apparently the Japanese Citizens want to use creativity and thinking to solve problems.

    Start thinking using Eastern Culture, if you want to sell games in Japan. They are not all like us over there. We are like Cowboys to them, John Wayne, and all that.
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Thursday April 29, 2004 @11:23AM (#9008247)
    I was playing a new FPS last night. I am an American. The game is called "Far Cry", many of you are probably playing it. It features a mind-blowing realistic 3D engine, esp. with regards to outdoors. Trees sway in the wind, water laps up on beaches. You need a new-ish rig to run it, but it does inspire awe at times.

    The game takes place on what appears to be south pacific chain of islands, and has an "Island of Dr. Moreu" storyline to it.

    The game features stunningly realistic gun violence. Lots of sniping through the trees, and running into rooms with a SMG on full auto blowing people away. But the game engine practically SCREAMS for a WW2 game to be build with it. In fact, in parts of the Islands you see old Japanese Zeros, rusting in the bush.

    Yet, with the flood of games featuring the US Airborne, or Marines, you could NOT build the game featuring the Japanese soldier as the protagonist. Even though it would be an interesting spin, esp. since the game engine supports boats and vehicles, you could had Japanese tanks and simply epic battles in the bush against Marines at Iwo Jima or other battles of the Pacific.

    Americans would not stand for a game like that. Even though games like World War 2 Online allow you to play Germans, and I think you can play Germans in some Wolfenstein mods, nobody would buy a game where you played a Japanese soldier and fought like that. Least of all, the Japanese. They would never buy a game like that.

    I used to play a game called Warbirds, an online flight sim. There was a super pilot online who flew Japanese planes exclusively. His handle was "Garner". Turns out, he lived in Tokyo. He once noted to our group that what he did was considered socially unacceptable. He didn't tell people he flew a flight sim or pretended to be a Japanese pilot (and was the best damn pilot in Warbirds to boot). He kept it secret, he was a 30-something Japanese "salaryman", i.e. a middle class businessman/salesman, and it was his secret.

    You see many online squadrons and online troop groups that warp themselves in the mystique of the Luftwaffe or Kreigsmarine, whathaveyou. You don't see a SINGLE squadron or group online that wraps themselves in the IJA.

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