These are comments about Loneliness, Otaku, and Rehabilitation
A few comments this week, on a trio of well written articles. My favorite read of the week was by Jeremy Parish on 1UP — a balanced article considering the otaku culture in Japan, the economy’s affects on gaming, and the rut so many Japanese games are stuck in as a result.
On “Indie Loneliness” by Cliffski’s Blog
I hope you’ll agree that the commute to work, walk to your desk, and occasional chat with a co-worker can occasionally even add the creative process. Just interaction and getting outside can trigger inspiration in weird ways. I’ve got a typical job in an office, but otherwise I spend as much time writing as I can.
I’ll admit I’ve taken vacation, not gone anywhere, and just sat in my house writing all day for about a week straight. While I did get a lot done, it does get strange after a bit. I never felt lonely, but less connected, less in tune. Ultimately the things we make are for people and if you’re not around and seeing and talking to people, you can forget what the tendencies of everyday people are. It’s a balance.
Cliff, can I make a suggestion? You should get together with some indie dev pals and do a podcast, not to talk about work necessarily, but just chat about whatever. I’d listen to it, and I’m sure a bunch of others would too. And maybe it would help to hear and chat with some like-minded fellows on a routine basis.
On “Rehabilitation” by Electron Dance
I don’t typically write often enough to run into this problem as much as the more comprehensive writers out there; in my position, I kind of like the compulsion to play more games that I get from occasionally writing about them. I have so many other interests besides games. Games both long and short format are taking up the smallest section of my hobby pie chart in a long time. Writing about my experiences with games is a fun exercise for me that I hope a few other people find compelling, or entertaining. Needing to play games in order to be able to write about them is like a kind reminder whispering, “Hey, you used to play games all the time. They’re still fun, dummy. Take a break and find something to play.”
I’m always interested in finding a cool, obscure title, but generally I just play whatever I’m itching for. Right now it’s Super Hexagon in a big bad way. There’s a couple of titles I want to check out, but I’m constantly sucked back to Super Hexagon. I don’t mind really. I learned something about myself playing it, and I’m trusting that the next thing I’m pulled towards will also have something to teach me.
@Switchbreak — I think don’t just think it’s affinity we gain for games we spend inordinate amounts of time with — I think we gain insight also. Mass Effect, KotOR, Halo, and Splinter Cell are all series that I’ve spent remarkable amounts of time on, and learned a bunch from, much of which was past the 40 hour mark.
@ShaunCG — I think 8-10 hours is a good time, maybe even a little long for most games. I think for a while we’ve been lamenting that length in single player campaigns, but more often I’m thinking that’s an appropriate time if it’s robust and well paced.
On “The Truth About ‘Perverted’ Japanese Games” by 1UP
It’s sobering to consider that while capitalism can drive innovation, it can also stifle it when pandering to a clearly stagnant motif or genre is the easiest way to cash in, as opposed to daring on a more diverse creative approach. I’d like to see some of these Japanese developers (especially the smaller ones) take a chance on somthing daring, something different, and use whatever place entertainment has culturally to try and shift the tide of what’s happening to the Japanese game market. You list a few examples that seem to be trying to take up that cause.
I think this speaks to how much the economy as a whole influences the entertainment industry. When things get bad, publishers/studios take less chances. And while it’s easy for me to sit in my chair and type away about how devs should take chances, it’s a much harder propositions for them, with a responsibility of providing for themselves and their families if that risk doesn’t pan out.
What’s more, while I’m sure there are those in Japan who would like to see less of an otaku culture — you mention political activists as an example — these same people may not necessarily anticipate, or enjoy, the economic affect of trying to instigate a shift culturally, through a change in media. If you change part of what’s selling (the smut, for instance, but in more comprehensive ways also), you may alienate that broad otaku audience, receive backlash, reduce sales, hurt the overall economy (to some degree), and wait a signifcant amount of time to potentially see a change in the tastes of consumers.
It is a complex issue, and I applaud you, Jeremy, for handling it so even handedly. Great piece, sir.