People who rage at Fez and Phil Fish for his japanese game comment
Fish is right, even if he put the point insensitively. It's not impossible for Japan to produce innovative games, but it's increasingly rare.
Japanese game development is a very different and, I would argue, much less healthy environment than its Western counterpart. A lot of this can be explained by two factors:
- Independent development is relatively rare in Japan. For various arcane reasons mostly related to social expectations and corporate culture, it's much "easier" in Japan for a company just to "buy" an artist--that is, hire them basically forever--than it is acquire the rights to some portion of that artist's work by contract, or to hire them for the span of a single project. This is, for example, a large driving force behind the apparent decline in the quality of Square-Enix's core product lines: Square-Enix has in essence become a horribly bloated company of hundreds of artists waiting for a game to work on, rather than a company that designs games that then require artists. This also contributes to a culture of nearly pathological risk aversion in Japanese game development--because "buying" an artist is an extremely costly endeavor, there is an exceptional amount of pressure to crank out sure-fire sellers, which generally means more of the same (I know there are similar trends in western development, especially with production-line FPSes, but Japan really does take it to a whole new level).
- Japan has a subtle but deep-running streak of xenophobia. There is a general cultural bias against foreign goods and ideas; this is strongest against Japan's neighboring countries but it applies to some extent toward the West as well, and it extends in the gaming space. The relative failure of the 360 in Japan isn't for lack of trying--there is an extremely strong perception of the 360 as "the West's console" and the PS3 as "Japan's console". The home field effect is vastly stronger in Japan than it is in any Western country, where the market share of the consoles are much closer. The same facts apply in development: there is a large amount of cultural pressure to make games "the Japanese way" as opposed to "the Western way", with the unfortunate consequence that tons of good new ideas get ignored while the accepted ideas become increasingly inbred and stagnant.
So there you go: the culture of Japanese game development has produced bloated, risk-averse publishers pushing recycling increasingly stagnant and inbred ideas with virtually no indie scene to rely on for new ideas, while Western development has taken pretty much every good idea Japan had and leaped lightyears beyond them.
Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?
Japan totally has an indie scene, you just don't see it because you're not Japanese. Cave Story? Touhou Project? All the games that get released each Comiket? The games are certainly there.
"The world is a sphere. That means that the east is connected to the west, and the north is connected to the south." ~Enrique, Skies of Arcadia
It's hard to input on this discussion considering the fact that people are perhaps going into questioning art, but all I could say is that I agree with him. The last Japanese games I played that really screamed game developer love was Lumines, Child of Eden (both developed by Q? Entertainment) and The World Ends With You, which took original concept after original concept and oozed personality (and Jupiter's game catalogue did to start, check out Game Boy Camera for an example on fresh and interesting design).
Like western games, I see very little I like, with various cliches, standard game designs and ideas being used across the board on both sides, hence why I loved FEZ so damn much, and cherish these rare instances where I can remember what it felt like to not play a game like it was a chore. Japanese games however due to their culture are more cookie-cutter than Western games. There really is no independent scene due to the way business and work ethics are, everyone is copying off each other or using some old, worn game design and just in general everything, whether it be incredibly exaggerated female characters, story sequence direction and character design, aren't being innovated or influenced by something outside of Japan, apart from rare instances, where the chances are it's being dragged down by something else that was mindlessly borrowed.
You may enjoy that, and i'm in fact very happy that you do, as I enjoy so little from the games industry these days, but Japanese games clearly aren't being as progressive, and this can be based on factual data through trends, products and analysis.
To conclude, i'm happy that he just thinks Japanese games suck, I barely enjoy any game I see or play.
there is an extremely strong perception of the 360 as "the West's console" and the PS3 as "Japan's console"
This is funny, seeing as the majority of Japan-only titles concentrate on the 360, while the PS3 gets all the Western ones.
there is a large amount of cultural pressure to make games "the Japanese way" as opposed to "the Western way"
I'd say it's the other way around. Most of Japan's recent creations went to crap because they westernized their game mechanics -- and failed at it.
everyone is copying off each other or using some old, worn game design and just in general everything, whether it be incredibly exaggerated female characters, story sequence direction and character design, aren't being innovated or influenced by something outside of Japan
You, Phish and other people in this thread need to realize that the entire place is not only about trash like Squeenix, Gust and NIS.
That's just the first quarter of 2012.