If you’re reading this, most likely you are on the western hemisphere of this beautiful world we call Earth. If not, then you’re on the eastern hemisphere and may or may not be in Asia. Wherever you may be, video games will be played or purchased in different ways. Loyalties to Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo differ depending on where you go, and there are many statistics done yearly to show how gaming is evolving throughout the world.
I love how big our world is, and the cultural diversity we all have. We are all the same, but given access to the same technology doesn’t always mean it will turn out the same. If you were to look at the games that are produced in Japan compared to those in the USA, you can see a striking differences. Just think about American cartoons and how different anime is from them. The same goes for gaming, and even the devices used to play them on.
Let’s go over some statistics shall we? After that, I will go over my personal perspective on the differences I see between each side.
As you can see, these are statistics for the USA only, and they are very interesting to see.
- Most gamers are adults, and male.
- 2 out of 5 gamers are female, so there goes that bias that video games are only for boys (take that, opinions and assumptions)
- 65% of American households play video games.
- Software sales for consoles are at $150+ million, while PC software sales are at $36+ million. Cry PC Master Race…cry me a river.
- The best selling video games were all Nintendo games, though I have to point out that several of them came included with the console, so I’m not sure if that detail was figured in that stat.
Now let’s take a trip over to Asia, and see how games are played over there. Let me make a note here, the statistics are not as detailed as they are for America, but I can make a few notes based on the graphics seen below.
- Mobile games are played more than consoles in Asia. In fact, over $18 billion is spent on mobile alone. This would include the purchase of the game/app, and freemium games (basically a game that’s free but you have to pay to unlock certain features or goods).
- China increased it’s gaming sales in 2012 by 34%, and online games made up 94% of that revenue.
- Arcades and Pachinko is very popular in Japan (only Japan, not all of Asia) compared to the states, where Arcades are rare to find and often empty.
- Video games that require cooperation between players are more prevalent in Asia due to the culture norm of working together in groups.
- Top Platforms: Mobile, social, online, PC
- Expect to see consoles make lots of revenue in China since they lifted their ban on consoles.
Ok, so if I overloaded your mind with numbers and facts, let me apologize. Now, let’s get to my personal analysis of differences between both sides. As a gamer who was born and raised in the United States yet has a passion for anime, Japan and JRPGS in particular I have seen big differences between both types of players.
So let’s talk RPG’s, which is one of the largest and most obvious divide between both regions. When you look at an Eastern RPG (Final Fantasy, Star Ocean, Disgaea, Dragon Quest, etc) compared to a Western RPG (Mass Effect, Fallout, Star Wars: KOTOR, etc) it comes down to several factors that make them unique. Eastern RPG’s tend to focus on groups with a lead protagonist (Cloud, Lightning, Ryu (Breath of Fire), Sora) while the other games only have one main character interacting with several other NPCs.
The other matter is that you get to influence the story in Western games unlike Eastern ones where you just follow a set path for your party (FF XIII anyone?). In most games that are created here in the states, we are given free roam to the world and the choices are ours to make unlike most Japanese/Asian games where you aren’t even allowed to make a choice, aside from what weapon or item to buy. Decisions can influence your love interests, enemies, side-quests, and even the endings of the game itself. One JRPG though that did break that mold was the classic Chrono Trigger, which is one of my favorite games of all time.
There’s also lots of tongue-in-cheek humor and oftentimes even sexual innuendos in Asian games, while games like Grand Theft Auto tried to push that to another level. Americans like to push all the boundaries in gaming while the Japanese tend to follow a pattern that works and they are reluctant to change regardless of what their fans or critics say about it. I believe this has to do with the Kaizen way of life that many Eastern people live by, which makes it difficult for them to go a different route than they have because of all the data and approvals that are needed to switch the smallest element of a game. Just look at Nintendo! (Yes, I went there.)
The last difference I want to point out is the spiritual aspect between both sides. In the USA, we tend to stay far away from religion or anything that has to do with God. If it’s mentioned, an uproar may occur, though I personally think people won’t make that big of a deal about it. Eastern games are not afraid to have a god or religious figure and often will have characters fighting a god or “messiah-complex” figure. This can cause confusion to Western gamers who aren’t used to seeing religious topics in their games, yet some even poke fun or show disdain to churches or faith in general.
What kind of gamer are you? Which side do you tend to lean towards? What differences do you see that I didn’t cover? I know there’s so much that can be talked about here, so let me know in the comments below. God bless ya.