In February, I talked about my personal experience of how video games changed my life. Just like Anime, video games also play a big role in my life. Since Neptunia the Animation will be airing in a few weeks, I wonder what are the things that make video games appealing? I will share my reasons why I think so. (Image Source)
The Gateway Drug to Anime
As mentioned in the editorial I mentioned earlier, we always see some characters playing some video games such as Sena from Boku ha Tomodachi. However, video games and visual novels these days have Anime adaptations to promote their game. Because of this, I feel that video games is the gateway drug to Anime and vice versa as both plays a big part in Japan’s pop culture.
Back in the 90s, I started playing Pokémon Blue on the Gameboy Color when it became popular in America. While I bought most of the Pokémon games such as Pokémon Snap, Stadium 1 & 2 and Super Smash Bros, I started to watch the Pokémon anime when it started airing and I enjoyed it. Of course, this is where I start becoming interested in Anime.
While we experience escapism in all forms of media, video games and visual novels are unique because you can interact with them. Sure, there are games that emulate activities from real life such as sports and life simulation games, However, I think the escapism element is stronger in Japanese RPGs, visual novels, etc. as you take control of a main character in a different setting and do something that is not possible in reality. For instance, when we play Pokémon, you feel as if you are training and battling with a Pokémon. Or maybe you want to be a hero that goes on an adventure to save the world. The possibilities are endless.
On the other hand, visual novels are a bit more immersive as you take the role of the main character, meet other people and make your own choices to change the story’s direction. In some visual novels such as dating simulators, you can gain stats that will determine what person you go out with in the end. Games such as Love Plus makes it feel like you are dating an actual girl in real life with events happening in real time.
Battle Systems and Strategy
When you play a role-playing game, the gameplay is not always the same even though the concepts are the same. For instance, Final Fantasy games mostly have a turn based battle system compared to Tales of Hearts, which has an action battling system. This is probably the unique part of role-playing games since the battle systems are unique.
However, my pet peeves with some role-playing games are that you need to level grind in order to beat an incredibly hard boss. The earlier Final Fantasy games are notorious for this. On the other hand, in some games, you simply need the right strategy or equipment to beat a boss or monster. For instance, in the Atelier games, all you need is strong equipment and the right items to beat a tough boss.
Talking about strategy, this aspect is usually the most interesting as you can come up with new ways to defeat monsters without resorting to level grinding. In some games, they discourage level grinding so much that they reduce the amount of experience you receive when defeating weaker monsters. Therefore, you need to take advantage of the monsters’ weaknesses and use attacks that are super effective against them. In addition, using moves that power up specific stats, healing abilities, items, and in some instances, knowing the enemy’s attack pattern is also important. But still, this is usually the part of the game I spend most time with, especially in Pokémon, which has Effort Values, move sets, natures, etc.
Story and Characters
Unless you are playing games like Mario Kart, the story and characters plays a big role just like in Anime. Because of the interactive nature of this genre, you can relate to characters and grow an attachment to them a lot more than in Anime, especially the main character since you play as him/her most of the time. This is why we feel bad when something bad happens to a character or gets killed off for good.
For the most part, games and visual novels are just as capable of displaying a mix of drama along with happy and interesting moments. However, there are some limitations. Depending how realistic the game is, there is less portrayal of emotion of characters in video games compared to Anime, which tends to display more emotion. This is probably not the case with visual novels because most of them are in 2D.
Lastly, the reason I play video games is to practice my Japanese skills. The truth is that Japan has a lot of interesting games that never see localization. Maybe you want to learn the language, but want a more interactive medium. With region free gaming becoming a reality, you can simply study the grammar, get a Japanese dictionary app, import the game and play them as practice while having fun. Since most games such as visual novels and Japanese roleplaying games have a good amount of text, you can learn new vocabulary and practice what you have learned. I feel that video games is a better medium for practice compared to print media or Anime as you can simply play the game over again and still have a unique experience.
As for me, I became interested in playing Idolmaster 2 since it released on the Playstation 3. Since I wanted to play it, I decided to learn the language and found out that it wasn’t difficult besides the Chinese characters. When I got the Playstation Vita after playing Black 2 in Japanese, video games motivated me to deepen my knowledge of the Japanese language.
For me, video games are just as special as to watching Anime as they provide a degree of escapism. While these two mediums have its strengths and weaknesses, perhaps the reason video games are so appealing is because the experience is not the same each time we play it. Perhaps the reason why Anime fans play video games/visual novels as well is because Japanese video games borrow some aspects of Anime we enjoy.
With that, here are some questions to discuss about: In what ways video games appeal to you? Is it the story? Or is it the game play or the story?