That Time When Western Games Overtook Japanese Games
You are probably like me, or at least a little bit like me, and you grew up around videogames. I’m pushing 30 now and still find myself playing games just as much as I did when I was a kid, which might say something about me or just how the industry has evolved over the past 30 years. It has actually become somewhat socially acceptable for adults to play videogames on a regular basis, especially as it is a very expensive hobby and most of the games are aimed at more mature audiences due to stuff like violence, language, nudity and overall themes.
So if you are like me, you’ve probably noticed how there has been a paradigm shift over the past few years when it comes to gaming. Hell, Atlus is publishing a shooter game that looks like a cross between Unreal Tournament and Gears of War, times have changed. What I mean is that the industry was very Japan-centric for a very long time and as the years have passed there have been less-and-less focus on Japanese developers and ideas and more-and-more Western ideas are becoming the norm.
When you’d say “RPG” ten years ago stuff like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger could come to mind, stuff that came from Japan and had a very Japanese style to it. Now the term RPG brings to mind a lot of different games, stuff like Skyrim, World of Warcraft, Mass Effect and a lot of other Western RPGs while games like Final Fantasy have slipped in quality and popularity over the years.
Western developers have just grown up, is all. Most game developers are either pushing thirty or within that age range where they grew up playing all of these Japanese titles like the rest of us and decided that they wanted to make games. Well, they grew up and now they are making games and some of them are even pretty good at it. That isn’t saying that Western developers are better or have better ideas, it is just a numbers game where there are more Western game developers trying their hand at games than there are people in Japan (well, maybe not, but it sure feels like it sometimes), so of course we are seeing a lot more great ideas coming out of the Western world of gaming.
Then there is also the fact that Western game developers are going to develop games that appeal to Western audiences. A lot of kids growing up ended up with serious Japan addictions because of being so inundated with the culture from stuff like games, films and television series because it was just so different that you had to change the way you thought while consuming these foreign entities.
I think we have finally reached a point where the Western gaming world has become its own entity and we are no longer relying on Japan to be the trendsetters in gaming. We aren’t waiting with baited breath for the next quirky game idea a developer is going to come up with or the next breathtaking piece of art one of them will conceive. When they do happen it is magical, sure, but we now have game developers speaking our language (in more than one way) and that whole mystical world of gaming has become much more controlled and predictable.