Examining a wide range of Japanese videogames, including arcade fighting games, PC-based strategy games and console JRPGs, this book assesses their cultural significance and shows how gameplay and context can be analyzed together to understand videogames as a dynamic mode of artistic expression.

Well-known titles such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Street Fighter and Katamari Damacy are evaluated in detail, showing how ideology and critique are conveyed through game narrative and character design as well as user interface, cabinet art, and peripherals. This book also considers how ‘Japan’ has been packaged for domestic and overseas consumers, and how Japanese designers have used the medium to express ideas about home and nation, nuclear energy, war and historical memory, social breakdown and bioethics. Placing each title in its historical context, Hutchinson ultimately shows that videogames are a relatively recent but significant site where cultural identity is played out in modern Japan.

Comparing Japanese videogames with their American counterparts, as well as other media forms, such as film, manga and anime, Japanese Culture Through Videogames will be useful to students and scholars of Japanese culture and society, as well as Game Studies, Media Studies and Japanese Studies more generally.

chapter |18 pages


part I|1 pages

Japanese culture as playable object

chapter 1|26 pages

Katamari Damacy: nostalgia and kitschi

chapter 2|23 pages

Packaging the Past in Ōkami

chapter 3|31 pages

Japan and its Others in fighting games

part II|1 pages

Ideology and critique in Japanese games

chapter 4|26 pages

Absentee parents in the JRPG

chapter 5|24 pages

Nuclear discourse in Final Fantasy

chapter 6|26 pages

Bioethics meets nuclear crisis

part III|1 pages

History, memory, and re-imagining war

chapter 8|26 pages

Hiroshima and violence in Metal Gear Solid

chapter 9|19 pages

The colonial legacy

chapter |5 pages