Cultural Differences in Gaming

Whether you’re an avid player of western titles of Japanese games, it’s clear a day there is a big difference when it comes to the content and themes in these products. Growing up and throughout most of my high school years, I played mostly Japanese titles like Final Fantasy and Castlevania. I have openly stated that I’m not the biggest fan of FPS and at the time where shooters were the basically the only thing western developers were shelling out at the time, the western market was basically nothing but a crap fest of guns and knives (also the toxic community of these games didn’t help my case; as well as my overprotective mother.) At that time and even now, I always felt as if western titles missed a lot of things that made Japanese titles so enjoyable. Now I’m happily enjoying a lot of western titles like American McGee’s Alice (one of my favorites of all time), Overwatch, and really want to get into the Fallout franchise, but when I think back, the content inside these games and the difference in each country’s culture is what really kept me from trying such great titles.

Have you ever noticed when a Japanese title gets a low score in a western game reviewer; like 6-6.5/10, but then a Japanese game reviewer like Famitsu gives the exact same game a high score of 38/40. This can also be looked at as a cultural difference. This scoring is something I see mainly with JRPG’s.While RPGs have flourished in the states in the past couple of years, the only ones that have established their place in the American market are names that have been around for decades like Final Fantasy or the Souls series and even then those games contain western style elements of gaming; whether it be art design of mechanic wise. A majority of these games are made to appeal to fans that live in the games home base of Japan. Character, story, humor and even sexual themes are common to a particular group of people.

While personally, I’ve never lived in Japan (as m. uch as I want to), from someone who plays a lot of Japanese titles, these differences between these games and western titles is blatantly clear. These differences aren’t just limited to games, the same can be applied to both businesses and especially censorship. Ever notice how in certain anime, primarily those made for children they use a certain phrase or wording, but when it’s localized into English some lines don’t make sense, comes out of context, and all in all seems every juvenile; censorship, but that’s a whole other talk.

At the core though, it all comes down to preference. Western gamers prefer something simplistic like a shooter while Japanese gamers may prefer something a little more complexed like an RPG.

To this, I recommend you watch a YouTuber by the game of Gaijin Goombah. As an American that not only studied both the language and culture of Japan but was well as lived for a few years, he has a clear perspective of these cultural differences.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the differences affect games in any way?


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