Ryū Ga Gotoku’s Japaneseness in Local & Global Contexts: Challenges of Cultural Translation
Video games are cultural artefacts, and therefore shaped by their place of production and makers. Japan dominated the video game industry for the latter part of the 20th century, but what was the influence of their Japanese context?
While Japanese games have been discussed throughout the lens of other media (manga, anime), few studies have looked into their historical industry specificities or cultural influences, which this thesis explores. In order to move away from an often Western-centric approach to game design and cultural analysis, this thesis uses testimonies from Japanese developers and uses local, Japanese cultural elements to identify Japanese cultural specificities in games, before using the franchise Ryū Ga Gotoku to illustrate these findings.
Finally, in an industry where many local products are expected to go global, how are these cultural specificities handled when games leave Japan? To answer this question, this thesis explores SEGA’s localisation approach to bringing the Japanese franchise to a global audience, using the context and localisation theories that have shaped Ryū Ga Gotoku’s Western iterations.
Table of Contents
- Chapter I – Making Games in Japan
- I-1. A Historical Overview
- I-2. Emergence of Japanese Game Design
- Chapter II – Japaneseness in Ryū Ga Gotoku
- II-1. Introducing Ryū Ga Gotoku
- II-2. Kamurocho’s Sekaikan
- II-3. Shō and Ten: The Importance of Side Content
- II-4. The Japanese Humour of Ryū Ga Gotoku
- Chapter III – Towards a Global Ryū Ga Gotoku
- III-1. Changing Perceptions on Japanese Games
- III-2. From Ryū Ga Gotoku to Yakuza
- III-3. Lessons from Localising Ryū Ga Gotoku
- III-4. Relaunching Yakuza in the West
2019, as part of my Games Design BA (Hons)