WEEK11: Games for Girls: From Visual Novels to Dating Sims

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Bishoujo games in the 90s

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Recent Bishoujo games

Bishoujo game reminds my childhood. I used to play bishoujo games with friends. I thought about why I played bishoujo games that time. In the 90s, I could only use modems instead of expensive wire Internet cables for the Internet or multi player games. Thus, it was very common to play video games or computer games which didn’t need to pay extra money with friends.

I remember bishoujo game that time was very hard to complete because there were only a couple of ways to complete games. If I chose the wrong options, I had to start it over, so sharing information with friends was very important. It is different from recent simulation games.

It was closed to dating simulation game. In the 90s, sim games were based on stories rather than characters. Every single turn users had options to decide characters’ action. In order to date the girl successfully, users had to choose a proper option. For example, if users chose the some options that character didn’t like, it would be very hard to complete games with the happy ending.

However, it is very different now. New bishoujo games have many characters, and these characters have different features. Thus, when users play games, they are more focused on characters’ action instead of stories because recent bishoujo games don’t require specific answers for specific endings. It means game companies separate the playing part and the ending part, so users just need to enjoy playing games with their characters regardless of limited actions.

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Why bishoujo games have been changing?

I think the first reason is the development of technology. Developers can have more stories and characters. In other words, recent bishoujo games have more options to choose every single turn, and users can play more times with different stories. Many other game genres have shown broad stories with great graphic and sound. It means game players’ standard is higher than before.

However, most bishoujo game companies are still very small, so it is very hard to invest a lot of money for them. As a result, I think the quantity of contents is bigger, but quality of game stories is worse than before.

Another reason of this changing is a new trend in game insturies. Characters are very important in games and other media mixed nowadays. I already talked about otaku culture in Japan a couple weeks ago, and this new trend is shown in bishoujo games as well. Users want to have their favorite characters and they also want to have figures or any other products which are based on their favorite characters. Thus, most bishouju game companies chose this way for better profits.

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WEEK10: Japanese Role Playing Games

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JRPG is normally based on PC or video game consoles. Some JRPG games support online gaming, but mostly it’s designed for single users. There are some differences between JRPG and RPG. A lot of JPRG includes Japanese culture such as Shinto. JRPG also has a story that developers want to tell users, so there are not many chances exploring games users themselves compare to RPG. However, JRPG has one distinctive feature that makes users keep playing. JRPG usually has one part for players to dig which is called Yarikomi(やり込み) in Japanese. It is very interesting because even if many different users play one game, they can make the difference on this part.

shenyong6345_030Atelier series can be an example. These are basically RPG games. However, players can create new items by synthesizing resource they can get from missions. Developers made this function very variable. It means there are a lot of combinations to create new items. It could be another amusement sharing and bragging their new items with other users. I think this feature matches very well with Otaku’s desire. As the picture shows, another difference is it’s far from complicated 3D graphic even though Japan can do.

 

Most JRPG also has a turn rule. I think it shows different culture. 31The first thing come to mind of a turn rule was Igo(囲碁). Igo is a popular sport in Japan, so there are also manga or anime based on Igo stories. Igo has the same turn rule. It makes users think about next steps to win games. Moreover, they can’t return the previous turn even if they make mistakes, so it makes users think very carefully.
I think these difference more clear nowadays. I feel Japanese game companies want to more develop these features for users who like the feature of JRPG.

Virtual relationship with Tamagotchi

1. What is Tamagotchi?

The word Tamagotchi(たまごち) is the combination of the Japanese word Tamago, meaning egg, and the English word Watch. The Japanese company Bandai released the handheld game in November of 1996. After that, Tamagotchi’s success spread throughout the world. As of 2010, over 76 million Tamagotchis have been sold worldwide.

2. History

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Development of Tamagotchi Devices

As we can see, Bandai has released a lot of different Tamagotchis. In December 1997, Bandai added in a function where players were able to physically connect two Tamagotchis and interact with each other. It was also possible to obtain a baby pet by connecting a Mesutchi (female Tamagotchi) to an Osutchi(male Tamagotchi). Later on, this interacting function became important in following Tamagotchi models.

3. Popularity

There are some reasons as to why Tamagotchi was a big fad at the time. First, Japan had a very hard time economically in the 90s – a lot of companies couldn’t guarantee permanent positions to their employees anymore. As a result, it was very common for both parents to be working instead of having one spouse caring for the children. Therefore, children started to spend more time on their own. Secondly, different housing systems impacted the families. Apartments became the most popular housing choice in Japan because of the increasing population in the 90s. Due to these two transitions, the idea of virtual pets became popular amongst children as a form of entertainment.

For different reasons, Tamagotchi was also popular outside Japan. The Tamagotchi is way smaller and lighter than mobile game consoles at the time, such as the Game boy. This made it convenient for people to carry around. Moreover, it is very easy to learn, with only 3 buttons and basic actions including feeding, playing games, and medicating. Furthermore, it was affordable, priced around USD$17. On the other hand, the Game boy which was the most popular mobile console at the time cost USD$90. Lastly, the media contributed to its fame. Playing Tamagotchi became controversial by that time because of some reasons such as distracting class, driving, and work.

4. Interface

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Tamagotchi has only 3 buttons like the picture above, so it was very easy for everyone to learn games.
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Users can play a simple game with Tamagotchi such as “Rock, Papers, Scissors”, and it can make their virtual pet in a good mood. This is an important part of playing Tamagotchi.

tam2tam1tam3tam4tamsnaktamsictamctameattam5tamzzztamrabtamoldtamliptamhairtamdieangel

These show how Tamagotchi grow up. Most importantly, it displays virtual relationships. At the end of the stages, the Tamagotchi will grow up to be an adult out of 6 possible adult characters. The resulting character will reflect how users discipline and care for their virtual pets. The virtual relationship you build with your Tamagotchi is a very important aspect of this game and it is the reason why people become more attached to their virtual pets.

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The important part of Tamagotchi is it displays virtual relationships. At the end of the stages, the Tamagotchi will grow up to be an adult out of 6 possible adult characters. The resulting character will reflect how users discipline and care for their virtual pets. The virtual relationship you build with your Tamagotchi is a very important aspect of this game and it is the reason why people become more attached to their virtual pets.

5. In other media

The success of Tamagotchi has influenced other media such as music, animation, and tv animated series.

Tamagotchi: The Movie was released on December 15, 2007 by Toho Co. The movie’s first English release was a direct-to-DVD version, released on June 3, 2009 in Australia. The UK DVD was released on September 14, 2009 via Manga Entertainment.

<Every Lovely in 1997>

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Since its debut, Tamagotchi has made its way onto several gaming platforms such as PC, Mobile game consoles, and even regular video game consoles.Tamagotchi is now available with smartphones as well. Bandai tried to keep the interface of original Tamagotchi on smartphones.

Virtual relationships in Tamagotchi were not fully developed. However, it was the first game that brought users into the game to listen to what their pets or virtual partners are saying. It has a significant meaning in gaming history because many game companies saw the potential of integrating virtual relationships into games. More recently, games such as Hatsune Miku project Vita, Pokemon X and Y, animal crossing, and even RPG games show outstanding virtual relationships. For example, many RPG games adopt this idea in order to get players to become attached to the game. Even in rhythm games, like Hatsune Miku project Vita, having good relationships with other characters is a prominent part of the game play. Pokemon X and Y also contain virtual relationships, where users can have advantages or disadvantages when they fight with others depending on their relationship with their pokemon.

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This pictures shows how other games includes virtual relationship as a part of gaming.

7. Conclusion

Overall, Tamagotchi opened up the possibilities of virtual relationships on all platforms of media. For example, Vocaloid, which is a virtual singer in Japan, is a big part of entertainment in Japan with a worldwide fan base. Although we don’t really notice, virtual relationships have become a pervasive component of a variety of entertainment.

Works Cited

Lockwood, Lisa. “Tamagotchi Reinvented.(Bandai Company Ltd’s market)(Brief article).” WWD2013: Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

“BANDAI CO. LTD. TO LAUNCH NEW LIFESTYLE PRODUCT LINE BASED ON TAMAGOTCHI[R] BRAND IN THE U.S.; NAMES SYNC BEATZ ENTERTAINMENT U.S. LICENSING AGENCY TO ROLL OUT ‘TAMAGOTCHI L.I.F.E.’ PROGRAM.” States News Service2012: Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

Garrison, Laura Turner. “Whatever Happened To … Tamagotchi?.” Fast Company 165 (2012): 46-468. Business Source Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

Bandai.com – Home: Find Toys for Power Rangers, Ben 10, Pac-Man, TechPet, and Various Other Action Figures and Toys. Digital image. Bandai.com – Home: Find Toys for Power Rangers, Ben 10, Pac-Man, TechPet, and Various Other Action Figures and Toys. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

Tamagotchi. Digital image. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

WEEK9: Retrogaming and the Famicom

 

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Retro has been a keyword for a long time in entertainment industries such as music, film, even fashion.

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It shows how retro fashion has developed and adopted.

This retro boom has been seen on gaming for some reasons. First, with the development of computers, people can easily enjoy classic games using emulators. It means that even though people don’t keep old machines, they can play old games on their computers without pricy classic consoles.

 

 

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Retro games in App store

Second, smartphones can be another factor. For instance, many retro games are recreated for smartphones. People, who were born in the 70s and 80s, started to play games at arcade centers. The feature of arcade games that time was easy and simple. In other words, most games were intuitive, so people just needed to insert coins, and they could enjoy games without manuals. It is true that it was hard to complete all missions even though they learn easily how to play games. This simplicity matches very well with smartphone gaming. People want to play games with phones when they have a short free time, so they usually play casual games which don’t take for a long time. Game companies can be another reason of this phenomenon as well because they can recreate retro games with a small budget, and it is also less risky than making new games. However, the biggest reason of retro game booms is people. Game users want to play classic games and still like them. For instance, some peripheral devices are popular like iNVADERCADE or ATARI-ARCADE. The feature of these devices is people can have similar feelings as playing games at arcade centers like the past days.

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People can enjoy mobile games with these device

 

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Mobile version of Sonic

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Mobile version of Prince of Persia

However, I think the most the important factor of retro games is collaboration between classic games and new technology. Retro games show better graphic and sound based on original games. It means while users play retro games, they don’t really feel it’s old dated games. Game companies also adopt new functions to classic games such as gyroscope and touch screen. In this case, users can play the same game but different ways. For example, mobile version of Tetris requires touching screens instead of controlling joysticks. Users can feel the different amusement by playing Tetris with a touch screen. Also, it is not hard to get a small joystick for mobile device to feel original Tetris. Nobody says retro fashion is old dated because it is modified well based on the ideas what modern people want.

Retro game is not just a repetition of classic games. It is contemporary arts which are reinterpreted.

History of Game music and Japanese game music composers

1. History of Game music

1.1 Early history of Game music

     The history of game music has developed alongside that of game consoles. Nowadays high quality game music is the norm, but from the 1980s to the beginning of the 1990s game music was limited by technological considerations. In those days game consoles used cartridges with limited memory and developers had to balance game content and music within the allotted memory and music typically took the back seat. Coleco Vision (1982) had a significant impact on game music history: it was not the first console that had game music but it had a very popular game, Donkey Kong, which struck a good balance between game contents and music. From that point, the importance of game music grew in significance.

Coleco Vision, 1982

 

1.2 Popularity of 8 bit consoles with game music

         Game music was able to be developed because of FM synthesis or Frequency modulation synthesis. Easy and inexpensive, FM synthesis was used for Super Famicom. Game developers could make virtual instrumental sound much easier and more authentic sounding than ever before. This new sound method was incorporated into 1980s games. Donkey Kong (1982) triggered new possibilities for game music, and Super Mario Bros. (1985) and Bubble Bobble (1986) continued to create new themes and exciting melodies that players loved.

1.3 16-bit consoles with PCM and the first game soundtrack

     The appearance of the PCM sound chip provided an opportunity for people to hear upgraded game music which had multi-channeled instrumental sound. From this generation of game consoles, developers could save a lot of virtual sounds and sound effects from samples, and the PCM chip could produce game music similar in quality to music industry’s. As game music improved, the game industry was able to produce their first game soundtrack, Video Game Music (1984). This soundtrack is significant to game history because it shows us the possibility of game music industry as an individual part of entertainment. A lot of game soundtracks have been released since Video Game Music. Game music has become a musical genre, and employs many people such as game music directors or composers.

The PCM sound chip was used in 16-bit consoles and enabled more elaborate graphics and music. Super NES and Sega Megadrive were very successful because of this and attracted greater audiences to games in general. Other 16-bit console games include The Legend of Zelda and Sonic the Hedgehog.

1.4 32-bit game consoles

         Using cds for video games brought many changes to the game industry. Firstly, graphics became increasingly sophisticated, Final Fantasy VI for example. Moreover, larger memory capacity enabled developers to create more complex stories. As a result, game companies required greater variety and more developed music in order to avoid monotony. Technical problems such as memory limitations and multi-channel were no longer a problem on 32-bit consoles. Game companies created music not only with sequencing(MIDI) but also using recordings of actual orchestras or musicians, and voice actors were employed as narrators. Virtual Fighter and Final Fantasy are good examples of 32-bit game consoles.

1.5 Music game appeared

     In 1997, a new game genre called Beatmania appeared, originating in Japan and this was the starting point of music games. With the success of Beatmania, a variety of music games such as Drummania, Guitarmania, and Keyboardmania soon appeared. Music games in turn influenced another genre, rhythm games. Prior to Beatmania, music performed a background role; after Beatmania it became apparent that music could play a central role in games. Beatmania was made for arcade centres, but the popularity of music games led game companies to produce music games for home consoles and PCs. This change brought new game music genre as well. Patapon and Rez are examples of this new music game genre. Though they are still based on music, they combine it with other genres such as action and shooting. Although they were never completely successful, they are of interest because game companies took notice and tried to broaden the music game field.

1.6 Interactive music system

     The biggest change of game music in the present is interaction. In the past, game music played regardless of the situation. However, in this new presentation, music is incorporated differently depending on situations or events within the game. The goal of this music system is to guide and help game users when they play games. Users can also sense distance in the sound. It helps players concentrate in games. For instance, when opponents move toward to players in shooting game, players sense the stepping sound is louder. Nowadays this is a not uncommon effect and can be heard in games such as Sonic Colors, de Blob 2 and God of War.

  

2. Japanese game music composers

2.1 Koji Kondo

                     Koji Kondo is a Japanese composer who created the music for the Super Mario series, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox and others. The background music of Super Mario Bros. became so popular that it is still covered by many musicians using a variety of instruments. Kondo’s music is distinctive for it’s unusual chords and rhythms. Classical music is based on classical harmonics, and exceptions are unusual, but Kondo regards the importance of game music is it’s harmonious relationship with the game and many agree. As a result, even though game companies could use improved technology for music, they still use Kondo’s original, less modified music.

2.2 Yoko Kanno

     Yoko Kanno is a famous musician in Japan. Her first career was at Koei as a game music composer. Since, she has expanded into film, animation, and commercial music. Her discography of game music includes Romance of Three Kingdoms, Nobunaga’s Ambition, Uncharted Water, and the Ragnarok series.

Work Cited.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_console
  2. http://www.gamespot.com/features/a-history-of-video-game-music-6092391/
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoko_Kanno
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koji_Kondo
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-code_modulation
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_modulation_synthesis
  7. Moormann, Peter. Music And Game [Electronic Resource] : Perspectives On A Popular Alliance / Peter Moormann (Ed.). n.p.: Wiesbaden : Springer VS, c2013., 2013. NEOS’s Catalog. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.
  8. Childs, G. W. Creating Music And Sound For Games. Boston: Thomson Course Technology, 2007. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 8 Oct. 2013.

WEEK8: Glocalization and the contemporary Japanese game industry

 

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E3 2013, June 11-13 in L.A 

The first thing come to mind of glocalization was this is the way for the future. I want to talk about E3 which is a big game conference in the U.S. E3 show how American game industry has been developing. It actually started a part of CES(Consumer Electronic Show). From the 90s, however, the popularity of games has been higher, and it became E3 from 1995. This big change was possible with many developers and game fans.

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E3 2013, Users are able to participate in gaming

Even though Japanese game industry is bigger, American game industry has a prominent power in the world. For example, the sale of games in North America was $269M which was the 24.7% of whole sales in the world. In 2007 and 2008 E3 went through a huge crisis. They decided to focus on game industry and business marketing instead of games fans. Only few people, who are related to the game industry, could attend the conference. As a result, the conference wasn’t beloved anymore. It shows how much impact the game fans had on the industry.

PS4VS XBOX ONE

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XBOX-ONE, Microsoft

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Playstation4, Sony

   

     

 

 

 

          As we know, Sony and Microsoft(MS) each announced new game consoles on the same day at E3 2013. It was very interesting to compare them. MS showed new XBOX which already includes a Kinect (motion input device), and console exclusive titles such as Battlefield4, Halo5. The hardware of part of the presentation caught users interest, the lack of innovation and the pricetag didn’t.

Later that day, Sony showed off their new Playstation4 with exclusive titles as well. Their presentation was almost the same as MS; except, they differed in how they marketed to the consumers. For example, they promised to promote indi-games. For example, independent developers can publish their games easily with the support of SONY. Moreover, they also encouraged use of the second-hand market, and committed to removing the authentication system which they used for PS3. This authentication system was used to protect PS3 games from piracy; however, it was very inconvenient for users. Furthermore, the price was $100 cheaper than MS’s XBOX ONE. I can’t say the price is more important than other features, but SONY proved they know their users better than MS. They have a big difference; MS was focused on the hardware, and SONY more thought about the whole game industry. For instance, their new policy recognizes that the industry is made of developers, gamers, and even non-gamers.

Overall, from E3 2013, I feel that SONY is on the right track. I don’t agree with piracy, but if this is inevitable, it will be better to find other ways to develop game industries. Globalization is happening, and nobody can stop or change it. I think that when companies do what people want; this is glocalization.

WEEK7: Transmedia

The most remarkable explanation of this week’s readings is Moe. The first generation of otaku enjoyed grand narrative stories such as Atom or Gundam. However, the third generation of otaku people, who were born in the 1980s, preferred entertainments which include Moe. For example, the characters of Evangelion were not based on political stories as otaku were more interested in characteristic features rather than social issues or messages. Because of this phenomenon, the importance of characters grew.

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<Lucky Star>This manga is full with the characters who cause Moe.

Moreover, it affected the database of Moe, which is an important part of the character based entertainment. For instance, there is no message in Lucky star. It only contains different characters that cause Moe. Another distinctive feature of this animation is that it has a lot of parodies of other animations that are beloved by otaku.

The reason why people study otaku culture is because it’s happening everywhere in the world, though it is shows differently. I’m not sure if it can be an appropriate example. The reading of this week reminded me of the television program Big Bang Theory. Absolutely every episode has a different story. Directors or writers might have a message for us, however I am more emotional drawn to the characteristic features than their stories. Each character’s distinctive features cause the stories to have entertainment value. For example, Sheldon is the smartest guy, but not really a social person except his few friends.

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<Big Bang Theory>        They all have distinctive features, and it is consistent

Moreover, he has a lot of weak points even though he is a genius. These features are played upon again and again in the stories, which causes Moe from people.

I don’t think otakus are different from us. Their Moe is just different. Based on Hiroki’s book, I might consume a specific genre of entertainment in order to fulfill certain emotion myself.

 

 

 

This is the part of Big Bang Theory, and it shows well how characters make fun.