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20952911

The impact of Japanese culture on the gaming industry

The impact of Japanese culture on


the gaming industry
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Dissertation
2015

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The impact of Japanese culture on the gaming industry

Contents Page

Introduction What are Video Games?.....................Page 3

The ascendance of Japanese culture in video


games..............................Page 4

Impacting Western game design, the calm after the


storm.........................................Page 11

Japans Console Culture The Rise of Western


Dominance...................................................Page 20
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Introduction What are Video Games?

To put it simply, a video game is an electronic device that uses a video device to give the user
feedback through visual means. Taking what we know from the current generation of video
games these electronic devices are widely distributed across different platforms, which can
come in the form of computer games consoles or even the home PC. While the beginning of
the video game industry saw games being played on arcade platforms, the future brought
about handheld gaming that can come in the form of mobile devices or handheld consoles.

Typically a video game is played with a gaming controller, which either correlates to an
external or internal piece of hardware. As the hardware has been advancing in the video game
industry, new technologies have come into play that further indulge the players need for
feedback. While the norm for computer games was either a gamepad or a keyboard and
mouse combination, now technology allows the user of touch screens and camera utilities
within the games themselves.

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The ascendance of Japanese culture in video games

The Japanese gaming industry was well established during the 1970s, having an already
booming market in Japanese electronics and childrens toys, so it was no wonder that the
industry managed to stretch overseas to the West and become a major influence for modern
day game design. Home consoles became a niche market in terms of the competition for
arcade machines, especially with the release of games like Pong and Space Invaders, and this
later spawned a number of clones from competing companies. While these games have been
firmly cemented into the first steps of the gaming industrys rise, none created as much of a
worldwide reach in the 70s as Pac-Man (1980) did. Champagne (2013) talks about;
how the coming of Pac-Man changed the way developers thought about games, and
brought on an incredible maturity to the gaming industry.
The creation of Pac-Man introduced a completely new icon in gaming history and gave the
world a look into Japanese culture through the visualisation of a pizza shaped hero eating
pills and dodging ghosts. Unlike many of the games that came before Pac-Man had his own
personality, and while the characters themselves had no sort of motivation or goals the use of
cinematic scenes created a sense of immersion that felt completely new. Kohler (2005, p23)
states that;

Pac-Man was the first game to make use of cinematic scenes, and that through these
scenes the player could be introduced to the different personalities that were created
for the ghosts and Pac-Man himself.
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The 1980s would bring about a new kind of game that was completely alien to the industry,
and in 1981 the world would see the greatest gaming icon ever created.

Donkey Kong (1981) became a worldwide success under the influence of Shigeru Miyamoto,
even though the original concept was designed to mirror the gameplay of Nintendos earlier
success, Radarscope. Through the use of iconography the real star of the game, Mario was
cemented into gaming history as the biggest icon ever and was a clever depiction of early
Japanese storytelling. Kohler (2005, p37) explains that;
the idea of the unassuming guy who succeeds against the odds is a common theme
in Japanese storytelling.
Mario is represented as a hardworking and heroic character, however his body structure
speaks differently to the player, allowing them to be immersed with this everyday person and
in turn engage with the moustachioed plumber. King (2002, p79) points out that;
Shigeru created Mario with a deformed frame in mind, which was more in keeping
of Japanese culture in terms of manga and anime.
Mario followed the typical stylisation of Japanese aesthetics with his large head and small
legs, similar to the design of major icons like Mickey Mouse, and the reason behind such
recognition was the same reason why Pac-Man was a huge success, the game introduced a
personality. Previous arcade games saw the player partaking in recreational activities and
didnt do much on expanding themselves past that, whereas the likes of Pac-Man and Donkey
Kong created a new influx in the making of a game that inspired many titles in the future.
Picard (2013) makes a point on Japanese culture in the likes of Mario, and that;

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the contribution of Nintendo in Donkey Kong was to bring a specific personality to


video games, one which later became a strong influence in the development of video
games in Japan as well as globally.
The success of Donkey Kong in the West assured Nintendos dominance in the video game
industry, through the introduction of narrative structure and personality (while inserting key
aspects of Japanese culture into the functionality of the game) and this inevitably revived the
home console from the crash of 1978, starting with the release of Super Mario Bros in
1985. While Donkey Kong had a narrative, the game was solely based on getting a high score
(like any arcade game at the time) but Super Mario Bros expanded further on the narrative of
the game and created something more. Narrative was commonplace in Japanese games at the
time, but Marios new challenge was to save the Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom from
the evil King Koopa (with the help of his brother Luigi), and the immediate difference that
players saw in the game itself was that the focus was not to get a high score, but to save a
virtual princess from a virtual fire breathing king. Kohler (2005, p57) talks about;
the challenge of Donkey Kong was to get the highest score possible by replaying the
same levels over and over, while Super Mario Bros was the first game in which
completing the story was the only goal of the player.
The cultural aspects of Japan shined throughout this game, whether it would be from the
Deformed anthropomorphic lizards or even from the colourful backdrops of the Mushroom
Kingdom, and symbolism became key to the design process. Players were easily able to
differentiate a Koopa turtle from a Goomba through the representation of expressions and
colour palettes used in Super Mario Bros, and so the Japanese/Italian hero became ever
popular throughout the world. While the success of Nintendo flourished in the 1980s and
inspired many games to adhere to their cultural values (such as Dragon Quest and Final
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Fantasy) there would be an even greater representation of Japan in the form of a monster
collecting game

Pocket Monsters (or Pokmon as it came to be in the West) was designed in 1996 in Japan on
the Game Boy, the newest innovation in gaming technology at the time. It followed the story
of a young boy who faces adversity with the help of the Pokmon that you capture along the
way. While the game uses RPG elements that were similar to other games created around that
time, such as Final Fantasy V on the SNES, the game itself was fundamentally different than
anything that had previously hit the West because of the representation of

Japan it brings. Allison (2004, p36) states;

What makes Japan successful in its market of games, cartoons and comics is not
simply technological or business prowess, but what some call the expressive
strength of Japanese creators. For these reasons, Pokmons success as it travels so
popularly and profitably around the world has been watched with great interest back
home.
The creation of a cultural phenomenon in Japan that expanded its reach around the world
made an impact that would be hardly forgotten, for many reasons. Pokmon stood out from
the games of that generation because of the introduction of acquiring knowledge for a greater
purpose. The classification of these creatures through a device called the Pokedex was an
uncommon sight amongst games of this generation; typically players fought and defeated
opposing creatures for experience gain, now the player is given more information about the
inhabitants of this virtual world, encouraging the player to engage with this world in a

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meaningful way. The Pokedex itself was an encyclopaedia that immersed the player with a
ton of information, and in order to gather more information they would have to progress
further into the game and expand their knowledge through catching and defeating more
Pokmon. According to Buckingham (2004, p22), he states that;
it makes for a considerable degree of longevity: to commit to Pokmon is to commit
to a long-term engagement, which poses some significant challenges in terms of
finding, processing, remembering and applying information.
The Japanese gaming industry had introduced a new mechanic to the world, the completion
of an archive of information. An important thing to note is that this information that is
needed to collect is that of a creature, a living thing. Each Pokmon created a brand new
personality unbeknownst to anyone at the time, and it was the players job to find out all they
could about these fascinating creatures.

Taking this into account, one of the major influences of Japanese culture in Pokmon was the
cuteness that each creature represents. Japans culture was partly based off the term
kawaisa which means cuteness. A major Japanese media export was anime and manga,
which often expressed this style. This style is rather unique, as most Western animations
opted for more realistic visualisations and interpretations; Disneys animated films, while
targeted for a younger audience, had very realistically proportioned characters and were
designed to look as human as possible. Anime characters are often depicted with exaggerated
features, particularly face and height. Many Pokemon show this as the majority of the
Pokemon that would be deemed cute are often small, round and presented with oversized

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features. An example of this would be in Pikachu, the mascot of Pokemon, who is depicted as
a short, fat mouse with a squashed circular body shape and displaying a typical
Baby face, as discussed by Isbister (2006, p10). However, not every Pokemon looks cute.
Mewtwo and Charizard are much larger creatures with more intimidating features: their eyes
are triangular in shape, a common feature on anime characters that tend to be either serious or
play the role of the villain. They are often depicted in aggressive stances, Charizard is often
shown breathing fire into the air and Mewtwo always stands upright, with a much more
serious expression on his face in contrast to the much happier looking Pikachu. The cuter
Pokemon tend to be more passive in the animated series, often seen being very friendly with
their trainers and other Pokmon. The more aggressive Pokemon are more likely to be seen
fighting with other monsters and, in the case of Charizard, unlikely to listen to their trainers
unless exposed to a battle they deem worth their while. These differences are integral to
Pokmons success as it allows it to appeal to different audiences; some people like the idea
of fighting alongside their virtual companions and some like to train a team that they feel will
dominate and look cool. Contrasting to Japanese cuteness is the American idea of coolness
and Pikachu is a representation of both. He has predominantly cute features but can display a
determination to win and is a very competent fighter, lending to a more cool look.
Pokmon tailors to the realistic values of home life with the training of animals and the bond
thats created with them; this is a major part of Western society. The expansion of the
Japanese culture inside of the game can be boiled down to the of the real life home values
that Western society brings, for example, the ten year old boy leaving home to live a different
life. The sensibilities and values of the modern home are left behind by the player as they go
out and explore this world they live in, meeting the various inhabitants along the way. Allison
(2003, p14) points out that;

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Japans cultural industries have touched a pulse in the imaginations of millennial


children in this era of cyber-technology and post-industrial socializationby
blending flexibility and fantasy into technology that is conveniently portable,
virtuality that is intimately cute, and a commodity form that is polymorphically
perverse.
It is this yearning for another culture that is a major driving force behind the success of
Pokmon. Just as players want to find out more information about the different worlds of the
Pokemon games, so to do they wish to find out more about Japanese culture as a whole.

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Impacting Western game design the calm after the storm

After looking through the founding principles of many beloved Japanese video games, it is an
understatement to say that Western game design was influenced greatly by the popularity and
hype that Japan, and Nintendo had created. Of course Japans current gaming mascot Mario
was easily recognizable to anyone around the world at this point, the height of his popularity
extending further as the years went on, and this was due to the fact that his design was aimed
at Western audiences in addition to Japan. This became a trend that spanned across the years
to come, with games that predominantly featured a main character with characteristics that
appealed to the West. Upon the release of the Sega Genesis, the aforementioned company
was in dire need of a flagship game that could contend with the current Nintendo market, so
in order to stand out of the crowd Sega introduced their very own mascot, named Sonic the
Hedgehog.

The battleground was Japan, the year was 1991, and the victor would receive the title of
Gaming Giant. Sega and Nintendo were now butting heads for the crown, and their fighters
were Mario and Sonic. Both characters represent different cultures, but also form a
foundation of the Japanese cultural background of iconography and stylization. Sonic
however, aimed to become something greater than MarioSega wanted their new mascot to
hit the Western market by storm, and they did. The blue hedgehog became a worldwide
phenomenon and hit hard on both fronts, in Japan and in America, and created a rivalry that
would last decades. McNerney (2014) points out that:

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The extraordinary speed and exciting gameplay in Sonic the Hedgehog, the first game
in the series, was unlike anything that consumers had seen before. By being so different (and
so unlike Nintendos Mario Bros.), Sega was in a position to declare the games rebellious
lead character as the personification for what videogames could become. Speedy, splashy, inyour-face, and always infused with a cool dude attitude.

This foundation in the design of Sonics characteristics immediately hit a spark with Western
audiences, who craved a character with a personality that they could aspire and even relate to.
Taking this into account, it was no wonder that Sega created a saga of games that would
periodically come face to face with Nintendos greatest mascot and still hold up in todays
market. With newer instalments of the Sonic franchise came new characters, with new
personalities that werent seen in any Mario game and offered a new kind of experience to
both Japanese and Western audiences. Sonic and friends were slowly becoming a gang, and
through the interaction with themselves their personalities became apparent. This was a
dynamic that is still a part of Western culture today, cultivating the idea of a group dynamic
between friends that brings out their different personalities, therefore leaving the player more
invested and engaged with the characters within this digital world.

With the branching of companies into the West, new games were being created throughout
the years that gave off the appeal of Western culture. One of the many success stories came
from the corporate giant themselves, Sony. Being a Japanese company would help Sony
branch out into the West with their entertainment division, known as Sony Computer
Entertainment, to set a standpoint for which they could create their very own console to rival
Nintendo and Sega. The Playstation Home Console was unveiled on December 3rd, 1994 in
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Japan and then marketed to the U.S. through their newly established branch, aimed
particularly at a more adult market. The audiences for video games had always been steadily
increasing in age, and Sony was the quickest to jump on that fact. Using the knowledge of the
current state of video game design, the company began to market their console towards the
adult populace, something that out of place in the current market. However, the games that
would create a popular standing in both cultures came about in 1996, in the form of a
bandicoot named Crash.

Crash Bandicoot is arguably one of the most successful stories of translation between
Japanese and Western culture, with many reasons as to its success being its design in general.
Creating a new icon in this current market was a tough process, considering the mascot king
Nintendo had recently gained complete superiority over Sega and other companies at the
time, but Sony aimed to prove that their console could compete just as much as Sega did.
Crash was essentially a product of Japanese game design, following the features that were
prominent throughout the mascots of Nintendo and Sega. Welchy (2015) points out that:

The game was praised for its graphics and unique visual style and would go on to
become one the bestselling PlayStation games of all time.

The enlarged head and small body, the exaggerated expressions throughout and the
personality that enables the player to connect with him personally were all conditions
throughout the designs of Sonic and Mario, and became a familiar feeling in the design of
many beloved game characters to come.

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While Japanese and video game design had a heavy focus on appealing to children through
fun loving characters with emphasised features, there were many different games sold on the
PlayStation console that were specifically aimed at adults, because of Sonys knowledge on
their target audience. One such case of them hitting the nail on the head was in the game
Wipeout, developed by Psygnosis (later named Sony Computer Entertainment Studio,
Liverpool). Being based in Europe meant for some pretty interesting games, and Wipeout
was a design that was specific to the current genre of racing games and evolved past that. The
futuristic design, accompanied by the night club soundtrack that it is still now famous for,
created an atmospheric experience that gamers would remember for decades. In the UK,
Wipeout was extremely famous for its soundtrack in particular, due to the fact that night
clubs would even use the music for their own remixes. Techno music was a large part of
European culture during the 1990s and Wipeout was designed specifically with that in mind,
right down to the soundtracks that would be released a year prior to the games release.
According to Campbell (2012), he states that:

Sony management, having smartly bought Psygnosis in order to get PlayStation off the
ground, celebrated its win with night-club installations. Wipeout became the companys
mascot for a generation of kids who had grown up with NES but didnt want to grow out of
games.

While not a commercial success in Japan, Wipeout became a cult classic for gaming that
merged the design of a Japanese game, with a soundtrack fit for Western culture to create an
experience unlike any other at the time.
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The differences between Japanese and Western game design were not as apparent as they are
in the present, as video game design was still relatively new and many games followed the
same formula for decades. However, a type of game that eventually branched off into its own
genre was the RPG (or Role Playing Game). In an RPG, the player would follow some kind
of progression, whether it would be through building a character level or finding gear to
improve themselves, and press on through a story that centred around the world the player
was thrown into. Considering this formula for this particular kind of game, it wasnt
surprising a genre was formed from its rise, due to the fact that it became a popular trope
among game developers to design a world to immerse the player in.

Given that the years prior to the birth of RPGs would pave the way towards some of the
greatest and most memorable games of all time, its easy to see a parallel created from the
differences in Japanese and Western game design.

In Japanese game design, particularly in the early years of JRPGs, the game would generally
focus on a group of characters that have to save the world on a grand scale. However, the
overall aesthetic feel to the game would make it stand out completely amongst other RPGs,
drawing inspiration from the themes of anime in terms of hardships and turmoil. Even the
overarching design of JRPGs could personify Japanese culture throughout its entirety, using
both colour and themes to give the player a niche experience that you could only find from
Japan. A few examples of this subcategory of games can be found in the likes of Final
Fantasy and Dragon Quest, both developed by the company Square Enix (Squaresoft and
Enix respectively). Both these games adopted the Japanese traditions of storytelling and
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colourful design that the player has come to find as the general design for a JRPG. Metagross
(2013) makes a valid point in:

Japanese RPGs gained such great success stories during their Golden Age due to the
mediums unique ability to tell stories. In early gaming history many game genres had a
difficult time telling compelling, interesting stories and thus players who wished to
experience a great story would turn to roleplaying games.

Because of Japanese dominance in the video game industry during the early years, many of
the tropes that we all know and love became a key design aspect in the creation of their
games, and story-telling was once again an alien concept that became a necessity.

Western RPGs were somewhat different in a few of its design aspects, mainly because of the
Japanese dominance in the console wars and many RPGs released in Europe and USA were
often confined to the realms of PC, which was only particular to Western culture. A typical
Western RPG in the early days of game design would consist of first person gameplay, a lack
of any story within it and a pure focus on the gameplay throughout. While this type of game
was exceedingly popular during the rise of Western gaming in the 1990s, Japanese
dominance would prove the better by companies selling their games across the sea into
Western territory. Games like Final Fantasy 7 and Chrono Trigger became some of the most
popular RPG games sold throughout the West, and it seemed like the attitude of focusing on a
pure action game with little depth was becoming a slight burden for Western game design.
Many gamers turned to Japan to produce higher quality games to be sold onto consoles,

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particularly the likes of Sony and Nintendo, and it seemed there needed to be a shift in the
dynamics of Western game design. A company called Bethesda was very popular amongst
the PC gaming community, and being well established gave them the drive to create a series
of games that would expand on Western game design and even take into themselves some
other well-known themes. This series of games was the Elder Scrolls series, the first being
Arena and released on PC platform in 1994. Arena used a lot of themes from Japanese game
design to create an immersive but Western experience, creating an expansive world filled
with lore and rich with story, while also feeding from common tropes of Western RPGs such
as a medieval concept and an action style of gameplay, along with the ability to create your
own character and name in the world. Metagross (2012) states that:

The Elder Scrolls series by Bethesda aims to create extremely realistic worlds for the
player to explore and enjoy, and the idea of expression allows you to take control of your
own avatar or created self within the game and not play as an established character.

This quote particularly sums up in general the concept of a Western RPG, and the aim is to
create an immersive but realistic world that the player can throw themselves into and carve
their own path into the world, rather than follow a set story line. This became a cornerstone
for future game design not just in the West, but also in Japan and became a major influence
for a very difficult game with a huge following.

Dark Souls was created in 2011 by the Japanese game developer From Software, who was
previously known for creating the predecessor Demon Souls in 2009, and was well known for

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becoming a bridge in the gap between Japanese and Western game design. The game was
exceedingly well known for its difficulty, particularly in its slow but not clunky action style
gameplay and felt more like a Western game to play, due to its focus on player versus player
combat. However, underneath it all the game still followed the traditions of Japanese game
design, such as storytelling and a difficulty that could rival any arcade game, giving new life
to the definition of an RPG. Quoting from Metagross (2012) he points out that:

Dark Souls gained a strong following due to its extreme difficulty, but very open design
which is a hallmark of western games. Dark Souls put a greater emphasis on player versus
player combat, which encouraged competition amongst players. These traits make Dark
Souls feel extremely Western in its design.

Due to this fact, the game reached a new height in the West and is praised highly for its
innovative and conjunctive gameplay, in which it combined the best of both worlds in
Japanese and Western game design.

There are some cases, however where the attempt to design a more universal game comes
with a heavy price, and this came from the name everyone came to for the next JRPG, Square
Enix. In 2009 Square Enix released its 13th instalment in the franchise, aptly named Final
Fantasy 13, and what was expected to be a blockbuster hit spiralled into a blow that still rocks
the company to its core. While the release of Final Fantasy 13 was a success due to its long
build up, the game received many negative reviews from Western audiences for the game
being too linear and pushed the players through very regressive game design. Another main

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aspect of the game that was criticized was the change from turn based combat into a more
action orientated game, what looked more like the remnants of a hack and slash game but
with a much slower pace. This was clearly something that Square Enix had purposely used in
order to gain the popularity of Western audiences, what with the Western gaming market
currently bombarded with actions games like Call of Duty and Halo, so they tried to place
their pin in the West once more. Unfortunately, the perception of a JRPG became that of a
negative one, due to the fact that Western players favoured the more action orientated games
to turn based command battles, which left little immersion for the player. Quoting an article
by Plunkett (2010) it states:

Even before the current generation of consoles was released, it was obvious that the
game market in the West was gaining momentum, and we couldnt ignore it, write
developers Motomu Toriyama and Akihiko Maeda. The sentiment that stood out the most to
us at the time was the increasingly harsh criticism towards JRPGs.

From this article, it is easy to tell that the developers of Final Fantasy 13 attempted to
reconnect Western audiences with a beloved franchise by creating an experience that would
appeal to players in the way an action game would, but also give them the same themes that
you would expect from a Final Fantasy. Unfortunately, this experiment did not take too
kindly with Western audiences, and due to very late focus testing amongst Western players
the developers were unable to implement many of the changes that we would later see in the
newer instalments of the XIII trilogy.

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Japans Console Culture The rise of Western dominance

Japan was foremost known throughout the world as specifically a console culture. Because
of the rise in game development companies throughout the country, consoles became more
and more apparent in peoples homes. Nintendo and Sega were still fighting to reign supreme
over the other, however Sega began to decline a few years after the release of the Sega Saturn
(which was released 1994 in Japan). The Saturn provided nothing new to the console market,
and with the release of the Nintendo 64 and the push to 3D gaming in both Japan and the
West, Sega needed to step up their game. In 1998 the company pushed forward a new console
to fight in the current war, which was the Sega Dreamcast. Following Sonys example of
using a disc instead of cartridges, Sega aimed to create a new craze like the PlayStation did in
the West, and that was to aim for the mass public and rather towards children.

While the Dreamcast would certainly bring a new twist into the console war, with the
addition of online multiplayer and numerous software devices that could connect to it, the
console would fall short due to the cost of manufacturing all the software devices and the cost
of actually making the console itself. Kevingiiford (2013) in an interview with marketing
director Tadashi Takezaki writes:

Its one of those things where the more consoles you sell, the more you lose, so we
had to cover that up with software sales. But those sales werent going up, and at the same
time, we were busy trying to bring the idea of online gaming to users with the system.

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Sega definitely attempted to pull out a console that would connect players via the Internet to
play their favourite games together, and because of this heavy focus the consoles
expenditures would only rise, causing the console to become more and more expensive, until
Sega stopped production of the Dreamcast in 2001 regrettably. Even though the console was
discontinued, the Dreamcast helped pave the way into a new form of gaming that was
completely new to the console industry, and that was online gaming.

Japan would slowly see to a new competition in the West, the console known as the Xbox.
Created by Microsoft, the West had now begun to place their own foothold in the video game
industry, and with Microsofts reputation with the PC platform, the console would provide
lots of potential for the new form of gaming that was slowly on the riseonline gaming.
With the inclusion of an Ethernet port in the back of the system, the Xbox was able to
connect to a gaming platform called Xbox Live, which allowed players to play their favourite
games against each other, for a price. This move by Microsoft became a massive step into
reclaiming the West from the clutches of Japanese dominance, which recently failed in the
online console market with the Dreamcast. Sinclair (2012) talks about:

Undeterred by Segas failure, Microsoft embraced online gaming as the future not only
for its console, but of the industry as a whole. The company was expecting online gaming to
set its console apart in the market, and committed it in a big way, building an Ethernet port
into every Xbox.
The release title for the Xbox, Halo: Combat Evolved was originally designed to use
Microsofts Xbox Live to create a completely new experience for players, which was a game
that they could all play together using the Internet. However, the game was rushed by
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Microsoft to be the release title for their new console, so the development of the game fell
short and so Xbox Live compatibility was not included in Halo till the second title, Halo 2.
The developers of Halo, Bungie had created an action packed game that followed the similar
principles of many first person shooters, such as Doom and Wolfenstein, but created a unique
experience for players on the Xbox, assuring its dominance in the market. Halo 2 was
released in 2004 with the Xbox Live compatibility that players had been waiting 3 years for,
and immediately online gaming on a console became a true realisation of what Sega was
attempting to do with their Dreamcast, connecting players throughout the world in their
favourite games. Sinclair (2012) states that:

By the end of its first month in stores, Halo 2 had sold more than 5 million copies. By
the time Microsoft had pulled the plug on original Xbox Live support in 2010, Halo 2 played
host to 5.4 billion games. The game essentially defined Xbox Live gaming during the original
Xbox era, a fact that is not lost to the people who created it.

Online multiplayer was firmly cemented into the hearts of players from then on, and has
become a major phenomenon throughout the gaming industry.

After the culmination of years of experience in the making, Japan was slowly declining from
its pedestal as the reigning king of video game design. Online multiplayer was increasingly
progressing into a staple of game design in the West, and Nintendo most of all started losing
their grip on the market. Nintendo had already released the Gamecube, the predecessor to the
Nintendo 64, as a means to keep their foothold in the market. However, Sony and Microsoft

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had now become the competition, creating games for online multiplayer and focusing purely
on the Western market. With the Xbox 360 coming from Microsoft and the PlayStation 3 by
Sony currently taking the market by storm, the competition was going to be fierce. Nintendo
returned fire by releasing the Wii in 2006 for Japan, which was a console that came with a
Wii Motion Controller and a sensor, which would allow the software to respond to the
position of the Wii Controller, creating a whole new step into the future of gaming. The new
emphasis on room multiplayer set the future for the Wii, with new titles being released that
would allow you to emulate certain actions or hobbies, without ever leaving the room. Wii
Sports was the highest selling game for many years after the Wiis release, due to the ease of
accessibility to play your favourite sports in the living room, while also being utilized as a
fitness tool and catered to another audience too. Johnson (2014) points out that:

Sports games were chosen because people already knew the rules. A new type of
gameplay paired with the new controls might have turned new users off, but the goal was to
familiarize players with how motion controls worked.

Overall, the Wii became the highest selling console of all time, comparatively to the likes of
Microsoft and Sonys gaming platforms, and regained the foothold that Nintendo had been
losing since the 90s.

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Closing Statement

Looking at the many years that the Japanese gaming industry has become dominant in shows
how the formula for game design was melded from the tropes of traditional Japanese themes,
the common storytelling of classic mythologies and interesting concepts from art styles, the
anthropomorphisation of animals and wildlife in comparison to the representation of different
cultures in the world, even the exaggerated character designs of our favourite mascots that we
all love today. None of it wouldnt have been possible if it wasnt for the rich, cultural
background of Japan, and the steps it took to create a better future for video game design.

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