Videogames and Japanese Culture
This course aims to acquaint students with the major genres of videogames produced by Japanese development companies, as well as the major critical approaches taken by academics to the study of those games. Issues for discussion include the dominance of console platforms in Japan as opposed to online or PC gaming; different approaches to the roleplaying game taken by Nintendo and Square Enix; and problematic representations of gender and race in specific game texts. We will examine theoretical terms like ‘immersion’ and ‘identification’ and see how these apply to different styles of play, specifically the roleplaying game (RPG), binary combat or fighting game (BCG), and first-person shooter (FPS). We will examine the role of graphics and dimensionality in immersion, especially the effect of increasingly realistic environments. The importance of the cutscene will be examined in contrast to the opening cinematic sequences of attract mode, as well as graphic representation in the normal field of play. Performance will be examined in terms of arcade games and the arcade roots of many contemporary games, with particular reference to Guitar Hero and Rock Band on the Nintendo Wii and the creation of doubled space.
During this course, students will be expected to log a certain number of hours playing game texts from different genres in the Games Lab in Morris Library. We will be using games developed for the PlayStation 2 and 3, including games from the following series: Final Fantasy, Virtua Fighter, Tekken, Metal Gear Solid, Soul Calibur, and Katamari Damacy. Case studies of particular game developers will include the visionaries Hideo Kojima and Tetsuya Nomura.
Honors students will have the opportunity to complete a research essay on a topic related to the course content.