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Replaying 2023

Replaying Japan 2023

The 11th International Replaying Japan Game Studies Conference at Nagoya Zokei University.

The theme is "Local Communities, Digital Communities and Video Games in Japan."

Day 1: August 18th

Jean-Marc Pelletier opened the conference talking about Nagogya Zokei University and the campus we are at. Then Keiji Amano talked about the structure of the conference. He mentioned the Prince Takamado Japan Centre Essay Contest. Finally Aki Nakamura from the Ritsumeikan Center for Game Studies.

Nökkvi Jarl Bjarnason, Japan and the Rise of National Game Studies

Bjarnason is from the Iceland. He has a hunch that locally minded game research is on the rise and is often done from a national perspective. He looked at paper titles that had a locality in the title to see what places were mentioned. He found looking only at titles missed some. The limits of his survey is English papers. He only looked at explicit appeals to locality. He also ignores other types of publications like "Video Games Around the World" or "Gaming the Iron Curtain". Nor did he look at non-gaming journals that might talk about game studies.

His data showed a jump in 2018. He noted a paper about "Regional Game Studies" by Liboriussen and Paul Martin (in Game Studies.) Papers now look at duality of local game culture - it can be looked at from the local perspective or as a representation of the local in an international perspective.

He has a problem in that the majority of the locally themed research is defined by nationality. Regions are not dealt with much. Locality and regionality aren't really considered. There are issues also around origins. Are origins relevant? Is this a form of authority.

National game studies for him would look at national elements in a game or looking at something from a national perspective. He talked about what Japan Game Studies might be. He noted that far more games are about "Japan" than other nations. Why is that? Is there an orientalism where Japan gets seen as exotic?

There are interesting questions about how locality is identified. Is a paper on a game known to be Japanese a "Japanese" game.

This paper was excellent. You can read the extended abstracts here.

Marek Mikeš, Zdeněk Záhora: Are Japanese Games Really Special?: A comparison of representation of Japanese and Western games in Czech gaming press

Mikeš and Záhora looked at Japaneseness in discourse in Czech game magazines. How do the journalists in the Czech republic refer to Japan and Japaneseness. To do this they took the 2 biggest Czech game magazines from 1994 to 2019 (247 issues). They also compared explicit mentions from 8 countries. They also found Japan mentioned far more often than any other country. USA and Germany were the next mentioned countries. Reviews of games developed in Japan when reviewed were much more likely to mention Japan than games from other nations. Reviewers were more likely to stress the Japanese authors.

They showed a percentual distribution of all mentions over time. Japan was prominent, but more prominent in 1990s. There were exceptions. 1994 France was the most mentioned. 2003-5 saw Germany mentioned. Some of this could have had to do with whether consoles or PCs were the most popular gaming machines.

They showed examples of opinions about Japan and the Japanese game industry. They showed some clusters of opinions like:

  • Negative opinions - weird, bizarre ...
  • Sterotypes - erotic games, weird games,
  • Japan game elements - complex stories, distinct visual, dificult
  • Positive - original, innovative, fresh
  • Neutral - specific elements, market information

The position of J games is special in Czech magazines. Focus on "otherness" of games. There were game related stereotypes (like on JRPGs).

Phillip Casey Holbek, Cultural Marking of the JRPG

Holbek is a recent grad from the University of London. He started the origins of RPGs. In Japan there is more interest in grand narratives. There are pre-defined characters, limited narrative choices and turn-based comabt. There is integration into pop culture (manga and anime.) JPRGs appear mostly on consoles vs American RPGs on PCs. The Xbox unites the two and that is when the JRPG term appears.

JRPGs now are embedded in a media mix. They are now "odourless" - purged of cultural references to make them "transinsularity". The Cool Japan marketing aims to make JRPGs internationally successful. There is a split between local games only played in Japan and games designed to be internationally sold.

He talks about the case of Final Fantasy. After FF 7 there is a change in technology and graphics. FF 12 becomes more of an open world. FF 15 is another shift with real-time combat and open world. FF has changed through the years while sharing certain elements like the odourlessness.

Japanese developers and critics don't talk about JRPGs. It is a term used in the West. FF gets shoehorned in the category. It is a stagnant label now.

Kieran Nolan: Fictional Arcade Game from Akira's Harukiya Bar

Nolan talked about arcade game that shows up in Akira. He is looking at a fictional space. He researched the animation cells and other documentation that has more information than the anime. They would shine light through the

The game is F1-Race - it is a driving game iwth a holographic display with a trackball. Later there is Space Shooter and then a game Reader Man. There are some un-named cabinets that show up.

Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon: Revisiting Street Gaming Culture: Community and Urban Space in the mid-1990s Virtua Fighter Cultural Scene

Jérémie talked about how the urban environment influenced games and vice versa. He talked about how ring names might mention a neighbourhood like "Shinjuku Jacky". Then there are excursions that create an alternative cartography of space. Players will go through the city finding sites from the games as the games reproduce spaces. Jérémie called this a critique.

In questions Nolan talked about speculative design where a technology that doesn't exist like a holographic game could be speculations. The designers wanted something familiar and yet unknown. We can read the

Jérémie talked about how a subculture can or should provide a critique of society. Did the players really think of themselves critiquing the society and city?

Yasuo Kawasaki: A Survey and Analysis of the Regionality of Social Recognition of Japanese Game Center: Focusing on Discourse in Prefectural assembly

Kawasaki has been studying regulation of Game Centers in different prefectures.

Since 1985 there have been regulations concerning game centers (arcades.) Most prefectures prevent children under 16 from entering after 6 p.m. Now things are being eased in some prefectures allowing youth to go in after 6pm if accompanied.

The most common discussion related to "game centers" is in context of youth protection. Arcades seen as place youth want to go that is of concern.

He compared Chiba and Ibaraki. In Chiba the discussions started from the "Invader" craze until the 2000s. Now they are relaxing things. In Ibaraki they are more concerned and have maintained regulations.

In Chiba GCs are seen as something like Karaoke while in Ibaraki there are concerns about delinquency.

Data on delinquency is that it is dropping, possibly due changes in what is seen as a problem. Youth don't need hang-out spots like GCs with social media. Thus most prefectures are relaxing rules. Ibaraki is the exception.

Vincenzo Idone Cassone: This Must Be the Place. the Representation of Game Centers in Japanese Popular Media Fiction

Cassone talked about "playces" as spatial conexts for play. He is looking at popular media and how they represent playces. He takes it further and looks at how games show playing in game centers. He looks at manga, anime, and games. His framework is looking at the architectural and urban properties represented. He also looks at the ludic activities performed in the space. What are the players' aims, values, and identities. Finally he tries to examine the interaction between the diegetic dimension of playces and players' experience through gameplay.

Some of what is emerging includes:

  • In 70s and 80s GCs are praised and feared. In Game Center Arashi you rarely see game centers. Instead you see Arashi in competitive situations.
  • In the 90s GCs are now normal part of urban landscape. You see more glimpses of GCs. We see also see tributes in videogames to arcades. You get filtered representations that are modern, coloured etc. Or you get problematization.
  • At the turn of the century arcades are more associated with history of gaming. Things set in the past. You have more attention to social interaction in GCs.
  • Cool Japan shows entertainment districts where things are extra-ordinary and GCs are included.
  • In 2010s there is nostalgia, especially fighting games.

Shengyao Li: The Introduction and Development of Tabletop Role-Playing Games in Japan

Li talked about TRPG (Table-top RPG). What are TRPGs? Dungeons and Dragons is a famous example and possibly the starting point (not from Japan.) In TRPGs typically have maps and are often called conversation games in Japan. D&D was introduced late to Japan which lead to a different evolutions of TRPGs.

Li then talked about the history of TRPGs. She sees there are three periods. The earliest materials are in SF Magazine in 1982. There was a TRPG in 1982 called TACTICS. Traveller and later Roads to Lord followed. Activites by Hitoshi Yasuda became the promary factor in the interest of war gamers in TRPGs.

Period 2 started with the release of Dungeons and Drangons in 1985 in Japan. A magazine Warlock in a Japanese version helped with the culture.

Period 3 started after the success of Record of Lodoss War. The game led to a novel. The team produced other games (?)

The popularity of the TRPG Sword World and others led to anime fans playing TRPGs which complemented the existing playing groups from military war gaming.

Li looked at magazines (?) and did content analysis to see if her periodization was right. She looked at the number of pages dedicated to TRPGs in different magazines. She also interviewed people.

Frank Mondelli, “Sealed Alone in the Dark”: Decoding Braille in the Pokemon Series

Mondelli talked about some Pokemon which you could only acquire if you could read braille messages. The three pokemon are titans from the past. Rumours spread about these having to do with the horrors of nuclear war. There are issues of cultural memory and issues of disabilities. The three don't have eyes, but dots (like braille.) They had short legs and graphically meant to belong to the same family.

How is the braille presented in the game? The braille shows up in long complex side quests. There are fond memories of these quests - they are cited as favourite quests. People had to learn to decode braille. There was an "Indiana Jones" historical quest aspect to fan memories of the quests.

As there were no explanations in the game fan reactions could make up what they wanted. As there was nothing about disability and blindness the Japanese theories about these thought they were victims of war. Fan communities were convinced that the map corresponded to part of Japan where there were bombings.

How does this fit with representations of disability? In games you have blindness represented by blind characters. Other scholarship looks at games accessibility. The braille in Pokemon has to be seen - it is not really meant for non-sighted people. Then you have game mechanics. There is an argument that there is eugenicist mechanics that associate disability with less points or competency.

Mondelli proposes ludonarrative appropriation. He sees the braille showing up as an appropriation of braille for puzzle design. There are games with sign language as a puzzle. It doesn't have to be a problem.

Edogawa Ranpo in "The Two-Sen Coin ???" there is a puzzle using braille. Braille as a puzzle seems to show up in different media.

He wants to see if there ways in which players learn empathy through these representations.

Lillian McIntyre: Under the Summer Moon: community and queer Longoing in the Tanka of Splatoon 2

McIntyre has found a collection of poetry in Splatoon 2 a colourful post-apocalyptic game. She is talking about the Octo expansion which starts with a Basho haiko. The poem sets the stage with a lingering war memory that is both humorous and tragic.

She then talked about the painfulness, the messiness that one can find in games. In this expansion you can find 80 poems that are fragments of memories and you get them on completing levels. She talked about both the Japanese which has a classical mode and the English which loses that. The poems reframe the enemy as possible friends. The most interesting poem suggests a same sex attraction.

Day 2, August 19th

Felania Mengfei Liu, Ruijia Li, and CC Kang: Institutionalizing Game Preservation: Game Archive and Its Ecology Niche in Chinese Game Industry

Liu started by asking what is the function of a game archive. She called it a Mobius loop. It is both a means and an end. She talked about Foucault and how an archive can be a set of discourses transformed through history.

China has a booming game economy. There are museums, male and female players, shops, and the largest game company anywhere (tencent?). Alas the government is not supportive and there is a lot of competition and therefore a lack of trust so companies don't trust archives. There is the worry of being copied.

Another factor is the game companies that are successful don't know why they are as there is no history. Liu has been working in the indie area and trying to create connections to industry and trying to create game studies associations. In discussion with others like collectors they have gotten to know major players. There are four

  • Game museums - funded through ticket sales and national funds. There aren't really any museums.
  • Elite collectors - there are private exhibits by wealthy collectors. They get funding from ticket sales and some venue rental sales.
  • There are game shops that sell to players. Some of the shops get commercial support and call themselves museums. Income is from selling games. They also get donations from companies like Sony.
  • Game archives - She is developing an archive called "Homo Ludens Archive" and trying to get support.

Government doesn't recognize games as a popular form of media. Public also doesn't support gaming as teachers strongly warn about gaming. Shops are one of the main sites of community building.

She sees the purpose of an archive as not to support players, but instead to support the public and developers. She sees her archive as protecting not just games, but also a healthy ecology. They do oral history and interviews, game referencing, and so on.

In China it is hard to break from the cultural shackle of the Confucian legacy. The Junzi are not seen as gamers. She studies the 25 histories to see how gamers were represented. Gamers are jesters, tyrants, incapable, sychophants, hermits, comcubines. Playing is seen as a diversion from serious "real" business. Thus they run public exhibitions in proper knowledge hubs like museums. They also challenge views about gaming and gamers. Bringing parents and children into exhibits engages the people who object to gaming. She also tries to train teachers to use games in teaching.

In China there used to be 30 magazines and no there is only one left. This means that memory loss is faster. The internet is not stable in China. She described how an article she wrote (or was interviewed?) which won a prize has now disappeared.

They have develop successful indie games and they support children and publics to develop games.

She showed a graph of all their initiatives which was amazing.

She described an interesting history of game studies in China. They tried to create a regional DiGRA wing, but at a certain point were told that it was illegal. They tried to create an informal network of scholars, but that has been hard. There is also distrust from industry as many scholars are critical of video games. Then there is a problem with Taiwan.

Toru Kawakatsu (Representative of "Petit Depotto"): Sustained topicality for the community created by the game design

Kawakatsu worked in the game industry and then became an indie developer and Research Fellow at the Nagoya City University. Becoming an indie developer leads to a lot of issues:

  • no money
  • no environment for development
  • no celebrity

So he started Petit Depotto with three other developers. They are self-funded for game-development and sales. Their motto is "make games you want to play, not games you want to make." The challenge of dealing with the lack of support is a research question. They want to make a living.

What does it take to be an indie developer ... Money. He talked about user innovation when users become prosumers and develop products they want rather than what industry provides. Indie development from users happens in many industries.

When you have no money you have to have good concepts and in Japan there are lots of people with ideas.

There are burdens to game development. There is the issue of online game maintenance support and continuous promotion. He then talked about ways to maintain topicality including 1) unexpectedness, 2) extremity, and 3) empathy.

The first game they developed was Unholy Heights where you manage a building full of monsters for the Devil. Then they created Gnosia which looks a bit like a visual novel and it has done well. Gnosia is disguised as a human on a spaceship. The goal is to find Gnosia. It is a story game but knowing the story isn't all. They make the world but players do different things in the world. Players can pick their strengths, gender and so on. They can choose NPCs on the spaceship. The game is a bit like the party assassination game. Even if it has predefined text the stories can be endless. This overcomes the weakness of novel games where, if a streamer streams the story then no one wants to play.

They were worried that with unpredictable mixes of texts there would be weirdness. This turned out to be an asset. The unexpected behaviour ends up being fun given players interest in unexpectedness.

He ended by talking about how games are more than entertainment.

Okabe, Amano and Rockwell: Japan’s Labor Shortage Crisis and the Future of Japanese Game Companies

After lunch I presented a paper on work Tsugumi Okabe, Keiji Amano and I did.

Marc Llovet Ferrer: A consideration of the recent academic literature on the Japanese video game industry through a critical lens: Disentangling current topics, approaches and debates

Llovet is trying to do a comprehensive study looking at the activities of the Japanese game industry. He is not looking at player behaviour or the games, but the activities of companies in the last 10 years. He is mostly looking at academic work.

The most comprehensive book is Koyama (2023) "History of the Japanese Video Game Industry." Llovet gave us a brief history of the industry. He talked about the 1990s and the decline of consignment fees by console manufacturers. He talked about the recession in the early 2000s and reasons from technical capabilities, cell phones, the complexity of development. There is a spike in 2006 due to the Wii, but then things fall again. It seems that new consoles create spikes, especially Nintendo consoles.

In terms of geography it is highly concentrated in Tokyo with 70% there. Even in Tokyo most of the companies seem concentrated.

Developers as workforce is discussed in the literature, but there isa tension between talking about the workforce as stable and then unstable. There is a lot of heroic literature looking at specific individuals - their personal histories and so on. There is a lot on doujin developers, but little on indies. Smartphone game developers underesearched.

Common problems mentioned include:

  • Uncertainty regarding the future
  • Gender segregation
  • Deterioration of relationship with workmates
  • Lack of autonomy and creative agency
  • Not showing in game credits
  • General busyness and distress at workplace
  • Overtime and crunch time

Innovation is a hot topic now. This tends to be general discussions which align innovation to commercial success which is rather uncritical. Can innovation be quantified. What is the place of creativity. Developers talk about not being able to express themselves. Is there a contradiction between businesses saying there isn't enough innovation while developers say there is little creative freedom. This raises the question, what is innovation in games?

He closed on some issues like:

  • The game industry changes fast and the academy doesn't
  • There is a chasm between economic sciences and game studies
  • There is a lack of critical approaches
  • He also talked about how game design schools are closely tied to industry

Barbora Šmirinová: Auteurial admiration and the co-constructed, solo-developer cult of personality in the Touhou Project fandom

Šmirinová is looking at the Touhou project community. She is trying to understand the impact of Zun on the community. The Touhou project is an doujin project developed by ZUN. It has been around for 20 years or so. She positions herself as a fan.

She has run a pilot qualitative online questionnaire of fans. She approached fans through online communities and direct email.

She then talked about charismatic authority - an idea from Weber about a way to achieve power. A key feature is that it has to be recognized by those affected. She talked about the demotic turn in celebrity culture and how celebrities are co-created. She talked about characterisation, but I missed the point.

ZUN is seen as a inspriring multi-skilled artist. ZUN's music is inspiring of other doujin composers. She also sees a theme of Zun as an aspirational solo developer. Fans see Zun as someone trying things to help others. ZUN's approach to the community allows people to follow him and build on his work. ZUN manages to resist losing his authoritative legitimacy despite commercialisation. ZUN is successful in maintaining his authenticity as a doujin solo.

ZUN has become a character by appearing with a hat, beer and patterned shirt. He is co-created by the community. There isa personal musical character (entrance) theme which others build on. This co-construction allows the community to maintain itself. His character creates a space for fan creation - effectively creating a charismatic community.

Homeira Baghbanmoshiri: Analyzing the “cultural identity” of the game: through the comparison between The Witcher and Final Fantasy game series.

Baghbanmoshiri talked about how RPGs are a form of new medievalism. They are second order simulacra. She is trying to understand how these simulacra are created.

She is using Bakhtin's idea of chronotope (space and time). She has adapted the idea of the chronotope. She is comparing The Witcher 3 and Final Fantasy. The Witcher is based on an Eastern European medieval imaginary. This is the dystopic view of the middle ages. It isn't a Disney world. Instead it tries to look "real" by showing it has history and it does that by showing that there is death, destruction and decay.

She showed how the basilisk is different between the two games.

She talked about FF blends time periods and genres. There is time travel and castles. Witcher has a one grand unified chronotope while FF is a blending of everything from doujin to sci-fi.

How does she use the idea of chronotope?

There is a difference between postmodernity in the West and in Japan. In Japan simulation is normal and doesn't try to replace (simulacra) the real. In West the simulation tries to be consistent and immersive.

Martin Roth: Domestic and Transnational Play Cultures on YouTube: The Case of Animal Crossing

Roth is interested in how play is increasingly "displayed" or displaced on video streaming and other platforms. These platforms are more than paratexts, but play spaces of their own with their own practices.

There is research on YouTube. It offers a complex spatiality that oscillates between cosmopolitan to local. How can YouTube be approached? What is a region on the platform? He has chosen to focus on language - Japanese, Korean, Chinese.

Roth looks at YouTubers and the comments on their videos. He talked about one where the YouTuber does hanami (flower viewing) in the game during Covid. The game is available in Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea. He gathers 99-100 most viewed videos in each languages and the metadata and comments with digger pyg. They classified the videos following a rubric.

He created network graphs of the videos and commentators on the videos that showed the language spaces and a shared space between Korea and Japan. He also created graphs by language and classification. Walkthroughs had a lot more Chinese viewers.

He showed a neat slide of user co-occurence (community?) He wanted to connect users commenting on the same video.

He found that lets-play videos tended to be regional (all viewers from the same language). Parodic ones were more likely to cross languages.

Day 3: August 20

Panel on International Collaboration

I was part of a panel on international collaboration with Eleni Stroulia and Victor Cervantes (U of Alberta) and Jeremie Wright, Aki Nakamura and Ruck Thawmas from Ritsumeikan. Some of the points made:

  • Collaboration takes time and work
  • One has to recognize differences in culture of research
  • One also has to develop a shared language
  • It is important to be explicit about the goals of the collaboration and issues like credit
  • Collaborations are productive if they take baby steps that build trust

Why bother with collaborations? One reason is that certain questions, like questions about Japanese game culture can only be dealt with in collaboration with Japanese scholars. I also find that interesting questions benefit from different perspectives. Finally, Eleni pointed out how collaboration is rewarding in and of itself if you like people. She collaborates with people she likes.

One issue we talked about is funding. How do you get funding to support collaborations given that funding usually follows national lines. Some ideas include:

  • There are a small number of international grants (in the sense of grants that go to more than one team in different countries.) The Transatlantic Platform is one, but Japan doesn't seem to be part of it.
  • The real question is not money, but resources to do research. Sometimes you can get resources without funding.
  • Look around and network in your university. There are often resources available if you look.
  • A way to get things done is to collaborate with others with complementary skills. A small group of grad students can do wonderful things and develop presence. If you have the right people you might not need funding.

Dr. Masaki Seki (Pediatric Psychiatrist, Okute Hospital)

Dr. Seki gave the second keynote. He talked about the concept of ibasho (sense of place to be). It is a strange word in Japanese. It originally meant iru = to be and basho = a place. It has a psychological dimension that it got from the phenomena of school refusal - futoko. Some kids may not feel at home in school and some also don't feel comfortable at home either. Therefore people tried to create third spaces where kids felt at home and they were called free schools.

There are conditions for ibasho

  • a sense of identity is part of ibasho
  • the need for other people (without others you don't have ibasho)

The places where you can be at home have changed over the years. The playground has changed from places with nature to vacant lots and streets. Doraemon often plays in vacant lots. In the 1950s children were of the neighborhood and everyone knew them. With the change in places and urbanization the parents have to then look after kids.

There is a shift from community to parents and then the places change to where the parents can look after them. Safe playgrounds and parks become important. Hideouts and natural places become less popular and this has an effect on the psychological development. Children who are allowed to play on their own have on average twice as many friends and rank higher on happiness scales. The freer the children, the better psychological outcomes.

When kids go to school things start changing. When they enter school all their classmates are friends. By high school they have only a set of friends with shared interests - the gang age. These kids play where they can't be seen and do naughty things like smoking. And this is how they build friendships. Kids that can't join in the gang don't have friends and start disliking school. If they don't feel ibasho at school or home they look for other spaces like online games.

He then talked about the history of games. The early games didn't have any characters. It is in the 70s that you see characters like Space Invaders. There wasn't really a story. In the 1980s you start getting story elements. With role playing games the story becomes much more important. These draw on table-top RPGs. By 1986 large stories become popular like Dragon Quest. These are enjoyed by a solo players, but eventually you get multiplayer games like the Pokemon games on the Gameboy which you could connect to play against another. This creates a place to be as you get kids connected and others watching the game. From that start you get more and more RPGs that can be played by multiple players. You have endless small stories and time to form friendships with other players.

If we look at relationships in communities of gamers we see different types of players: killers, achievers, socializers, and explorers. These became places to be. Online you also have anonymity so you get these pure relationships. You don't know much about the others. Yet people build intimate relationships. These games like Minecraft and then social media spaces became very important places for kids to feel at home.

Minecraft has been used in treatment of children with psychological problems. Likewise Pokeman Go where you out in the real world. Pokemon Go communities are closer than MMO communities.

He talked about games we should have to provide ibasho - games where you can have informal relationships, games where you can build a hideout ...

Then he talked about about game addiction and all the factors. There is research on all sorts of aspects like communication affordances and competition. The core issue for game addiction is poor self-control or gambling disorder, not really games. Communication in games can become a place to get together after school. Animal crossing also has a dimension.

There is also data on more and more children having problems staying in school and games are an alternative or part of the issue. In junior high school it is as high as one out of 20. Some kids refusing school also start refusing family. Others keep good relationships with family.

He gave an example of a kid that retreated it got worse and worse. There was bullying and so on. When not at school he would play games. He would talk about Minecraft. His mother got worried. They eventually convinced parents to let him make Minecraft a place to meet others and be. The mother's attitude started to change and she started to say positive things. More and more the boy played in the same space as his mother. In short a game like Minecraft can be a life saver.

His message for game developers and game studies people is to think about how games can be safe spaces and spaces of growth.

Haryo Pambuko Jiwandono: Scoreboard Kaizen: Understanding performance grading in Japanese digital games

Jiwandono talked about how scoring is managed in Japanese games. He contrasted Western ideas about games like Huizinga who argues that games facilitate freedom despite constraints. Japanese games have less individualized personalization. They are more likely to emphasize rigorous training and perfection. He connected this to Zen. Kaizen is a central tenet of Zen. It emphasizes perfection that is harmony between person and environment. Japanese games typically are not open worlds and have only one way to advance and then do performance grading. It fits with idea of performance. In Metal Gear Solid, for example, you get more points if you use stealth.

This paper is a continuation from his previous paper looking at Zen in games. He is thinking through how Japan is a philosophical inspiration for games.

There was an interesting discussion about different schools of Buddhism. The Buddhist school that is behind Nagoya Zokei University is at the other end of the spectrum from Zen. Zen believes you can achieve enlightenment alone while the other end believes it has to be achieved in solidarity.

Michael Hemmingsen: eSports and Movement Compression

Hemmingsen talked about movement compression. His work is meant to be descriptive not evaluative. To say that soccer involves less compression doesn't mean it is better or worse.

He then talked about sport. Sport are games that typically involve physical prowess. What then about eSports. Do they involve physical skill? He argues that eSports involve movement compression. In eSports skilled movements are "compressed" along certain dimensions. In soccer you can kick a goal in different ways - the different movements are compressed into one outcomes (a goal). Same in eSports where you can press the button in different ways.

He gave examples of digital golf games.

So what? He talked about this helps us understand the differences between sports and games. Helps us harmonise contrasting intuitions that eSports and not quite the same as sport. The movements in the eSport golf is genuinely different from the movement in "real" golf.

This paper was the first time I've hear a serious attempt to understand the differences and continuities between eSports and Sports. In questions he discussed the issue of tools. What is the difference between archery and rifle contests. A rifle is a tool that compresses movement much as a video game might. We also talked about the implementation of rules in code/machine vs implementation in a referee. He discussed practices and how they can be different. He also mentioned how eSports folk try to make the case that eSports are sports and this can be a way of trying to get access to the funding and status of sport culture.

Victor Fernandez-Cervantes, Eleni Stroulia, Ruck Thawonmas, You Xiao, and Febri Abdullah: Virtual Gym with Juicy Effects: A Study in Engaging Serious Silver Games

Victor talked about the waterfall effect of aging. It is important to exercise the body and challenge the mind safely at home. He showed an interface for a virtual gym that can be personalized. The movements of the avatar guiding you can be changed according to a grammar. They have XML files that describe postures and the avatar goes from on to another. The player then tries to imitation the movement and the system tracks them. Then he talked about coordination games.

Then he talked about "juicy effects". These are effects that make environment more interesting and give you more satisfying feedback. He showed a video of play. The virtual gym uses the Oculus. It can provide a virtual playspace or augmented space. When people play they collect data that can be used to adapt the game.

Their experiment was to see if the juicy effects would make the game more attractive to the seniors. Can they make it more attractive to play for seniors. Greater engagement will promote behaviour that is healthy.

Lightning Talks

We then had lightning talks.

Hironori Fukui: Relationship between pachinko and the older adults

Fukui is studying behaviour of elderly in pachinko parlours. The result is that they often are trying to escape from loneliness and kill time. In addition to gambling they also eat and drink and interact with others and walk and so on. The result is reflection and feeling guilty. He talked about how there are more men then women. He had an interesting categorization system.

Shin Matsuda: How to Pass the Game on to Future Generations in Japan

They have created a game library to pass down games to the next generation. He talked about how a non-profit library can copy materials for preservation including video games. But, games are too complex. Alternatives are collecting paratexts like design documents and so on. Alas the game may still stop being playable.

Hiroyasu Kato: The Emergence of Professional Gamers in the United States

Kato talked about what makes for a professional gamer from amateur. There are career issues, skill issues, psychological skills, and thinking. He interviewed a professional about how his career evolved.

Yang Siyu: Cyber World War 1: A case study about conflict between normal players and cheaters in Battlefield 1

Siyu talked about Cyber World War 1 game. It is a game that has many cheats and cheaters who then obliterate others. He contrasted the views of cheaters and non-cheaters who are forming their own customized servers and spaces. There are servers where there are anti-cheating systems. The official servers let you cheat. Then the anti-cheaters then found a way to insert anti-cheating into the official servers which led to attacks on servers.

Cheaters are in effect setting up their own game with its own rules. The anti-cheaters, on the other hand, have their culture.

Bryan Hikari Hartzheim: Cameo Kojima: Metatextuality in the Metal Gear Solid Series

Hartzheim talked about cameos in games. In games there is a wide range of cameos starting with figurative cameos with text like "created by X". More common are visual cameos. Hideo Kojima shows up. Then you have auto-graphic cameos for a message beyond self-promotion. Many of the cameos were embedded by programmers who may not have been credited. You can also have easter-eggs that make some sort critical comment on the game or society. The cameos can also talk to anxieties towards labour conditions. Kojima and Konami had tensions that Kojima may have represented.

Yoshihiro Hino, Víctor Navarro-Remesal, and Beatriz Pérez-Zapata: Is there an academic community around Japanese games in Spanish game studies?

Hino talked about the study of Japanese games in Spain. He is interested in studying how the Spanish academic community constructs knowledge. He talked about the academy as a community of practice with habitus and capital. There is a association of Japanese game studies.

Hirokazu Hamamura: The Evolution of Game Media

Hamamura gave the final keynote. He was a founding editor of Weekly Famitsu. He is the director of Kadokawa Group Holdings, Kadokawa Group Publishing, Kadokawa Games and Walker Books. He talked about the evolution of gaming magazines.

There was an era of PC program submission magazines like ASCII. Many game designers who would later become well known started programming PCs. There wan't any thing like "game designers" then. There were people who gathered around PC part shops like the folk who founded Hudson.

There were magazines focused on the MSX (a popular Japanese standard computer architecture.) Hamamura got interested in that community. Hamamura saw the possibilities of computing and joined the ASCII magazine. He talked about some of the people he met through this community who went on to great things.

At the time of the emergence of the Famicom there were actually a lot of competitors. The Famicom later dominated the game market. Specialized magazines dedicated to the Famicom emerged like Family Computer Magazine and Famicom Tsushin. Hamamura learned to think of the Famicom as a toy and focus on user experience rather than looking at technical issues.

Then there was a boom of cheat codes. This led to a million copies sold by Famimaga. Then there were other consoles like Sega Mark III and PC Engine and media like Famicom Tushin began to position itself as a comprehensive gaming magazine.

Game strategy books became very popular.

In 1991 with the increase of game titles there is too much to cover so they move to weekly (from monthly) to stay comprehensive. Famicom Tsushin becomes the number one gaming magazine in terms of circulation.

Famicom Tsushin worked with game shops nationwide to provide the magazine for free distribution. This promoted the upcoming games and the magazine. In return for distributing free magazines the shops were expected to share sales figures that allowed Famitsu to then report on sales. They also had a branded sticker.

Famicom Tsushin was on of the few magazines reviewing games. The Cross Review becoame a popular content. They sent printed strips of reviews for titles that made it into their Hall of Fame to cooperative stores. This affected sales in the stores.

In 1994 the PlayStation was introduced and it was so popular that they changed the magazine name to Famitsu (from Famicom Tsuchin). As the PlayStation used a CD for distribution games could be quickly reproduced which made the Cross Review more important. If a game did well the distributors could quickly make more copies for the stores.

Shonen Jump had a larger circulation and they began to move into the game magazine terrain. They had a Famicom Shinken section. Shonen Jump eventually developed a magazine called V-Jump and the Jump brand game to influence the gaming industry.

The publishing market peaked in 1997 with the web coming in. In 2000 Famitsu launched in All sorts of free walkthroughs on wikis and websites made magazines less useful. Magazines like Famitsu responded by trying to be faster. They would get advance copies and beat the amateurs. They also had to shift from releasing in print first to releasing online first to be fast. They also tried to make their information trustworthy by having named curators.

Mobile phones saw the popularity of i-mode. Initially simple casual games and then large social gaming sites like Mobage and Gree emerged. Famitsu Mobage and Famitsu GREE were spun off and sold through convenience stores. These were to introduce people to games on their phones.

Realizing that smartphones were increasingly important and that the game industry was changing they realized that needed an app. Now game information has shifted to web media like video platforms so they now have FamitsuTube and have begun collaborations with video creators. Now influencers are also central.

We now have a mix of different media and publishers seem to be losing influence and I'm guessing they aren't economic any more. What is next?

The End

That was the end. We then had closing words. We thanked Keiji Amano who did the organization. Keiji announced the PTJC Essay Contest winners.

We were reminded about the Replaying Japan Journal.

Finally we had an announcement of next year which will be at the University of Buffalo and the Strong Museum in August 2024



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