jrpg

The Final Boss

I’ve loved this subject. It’s done everything to me that I think could happen, even when I didn’t want it to, it changed my perceptions and preferences. Personal exposition aside, I’ve been able to use this subject to build a set of obscure definitions that only make sense in my head for how I, metrically, determine if a text is a JRPG. And in the pursuit of these definitions, I’ve been forced to go back and look at what I knew about media produced outside of Asia. Not only as a contrast, but to find the things that exist outside any sort of geographical or racial barrier.

Never before have I felt the need to be so critical when looking at texts. Sure I basically got an excuse to sit and play games for hours on end, but after every session I’d have to sit down for a good half an hour and actually think about what I’d been playing and what it could teach me that I wanted to know. I remember sitting in a train carriage playing a visual novel for the fifth time to see the types of exposition it used in different arcs, when I realised what is actually meant that I was skipping as quickly as I could through the screens of initial exposition. I wan interacting with the characteristics drawn from the JRPG influences on the writers. It was a simply wonderful experience to truly examine what was really going on while I played.

So thanks Chris, had the time of my life. Might see you next year.

And you know, the Final Boss in a JRPG is never the strongest enemy. It’s never even close.

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Case Study: Intertextuality between Dragon Age: Origins and Final Fantasy XII

Intertextuality isn’t a term used much outside of literary essays, but it is a word that describes the phenomenon of taking influences from a particular text and making a new text that pays homages to the original texts. Loosely it refers to the origins of certain ideas or concepts that worked their way into other content.

Using this as a base, I will be showing how a Western RPG, Dragon Age: Origins (DA:O) is intertextually bound to the earlier Final Fantasy XII (FFXII). DA:O is a game I picked up this semester to give myself a grounding in the modern WRPG. I was looking for a game that was immediately accessible, and was blown away by how easy to was to pick up and play. Many weeks later I finally found that the gameplay had been heavily built on FFXII, similarities that I had picked up much earlier. While FFXII was rated well by critics, the player communities took issue with the passiveness of the game, they cited the new, self programmed AI system as taking away a core element of gameplay. Which was true, but definitely played in to the aims of a great JRPG. By taking away some of the gameplay involved in grinding, the developers had taken a core pain and turned it in to a passive experience that was easily forgotten and able to be set aside as you did other things.

And yet, this system that was criticised by audiences found it’s way, exactly, into a WRPG. I personally, loved it. I have always been drawn more to the focuses of JRPGs and for a western RPG to exhibit these values meant that I fell in love with DA:O. I previously looked at what I feel stops Visual Novels from being JRPGs and cited gameplay. And here we have a WRPG exhibiting the gameplay not of it’s genre. Of course, the next logical question is, “Do you think DA:O is a JRPG made outside Japan?”

Let me take you quickly through the areas I’ve already defined as setting apart typical WRPGs and JRPGs, namely style, gameplay and structure. The grey area is thick but together they create an ambiance that befits either a WRPG or JRPG.

The stylings of DA:O befit both genres. The focus on relationships and speech interactions is something seen more commonly in WRPG staples as the way to progress story in which you choose your character which is the element not available in JRPGs for the most part. However the art style and creatures have a realism that shies away from the extravagance of the JRPG. The characters themselves and their personalities fit many of the tropes of RPG history both JRPG and WRPG origins.

The structure is where things get interesting. There is a multifaceted storyline that is typical of a WRPG, but it’s pacing isn’t. In fact, the pacing is ripped entirely from FFXII and befits the epic nature inherent with JRPG. On the flip-side, the party system is much more common in JRPGs, but the recruitment and dialogue that results is almost unheard of in the JRPG scene.

I already know what the conclusion would be when I started writing. DA:O is most definitely a WRPG. It values the same values throughtout all parts of the game, however, it is tied intrinsically to JRPGs, and benefits from throwing away the worst part of both and hand picking positive qualities from both worlds to create a bridge between them, I felt that as I was playing this game I was playing a multicultural RPG.

Broad Case Study – Visual Novels

Visual novels are an emerging media format. They sparked into prominence as the go to way to write eroge manga as the immersive elements of a game format gelled with with the eroticist effects the pieces were aiming for. As this trend flowed on, the range of topics covered grew, and while it is definitely very easy to find eroge Visual Novels, they are now a much broader medium of storytelling.

As with any immersive gaming experience, there are elements of RPG-ness to them, so I will be exploring if we can call a visual novel a JRPG.

Aswith any RPG game, there is the concept of perspective and in my experience with Visual Novels they are usually froma  first person perspective of one of the characters that interacts with the world and people around them. If we accept the loose definition on a video game as being an electronic interactive experience, coupled with this role play element, we can identify that it is possible for some, if not all visual novels to be RPGs. The issue I have with this academic response is that I view my time with visual novels as akin to reading a book as that is how most of the dialogue is presented, and I wouldn’t consider a book to be a game.

Personal issues aside, I thinkt hat one of the most interesting aspects of this case study is that if we take the premise that visual novels are RPGs, they become very strong candidates for JRPGs not made in Japan. As a result oft he source material and intertexual links to Japanese manga, the resultings tories use similar settings, and as a format with nothing but storytelling lends itself to the JRPG archetype. This results in similarities between the aim and stylings, however the gameplay is where I draw issue.

Gameplay in a visual novel, fromm y experience fits intot he choose your own adventure archetype. This is a common gameplay element for Western RPGs that focus on immersion through choice. The Japanese approach is, as referenced in my previous post, about the story of a predetermined character.

This minor scrutiny in the argument for visual novels as JRPG comes down to definition. Academically, if visual novels have gameplay, they should be able to be JRPGs, especially in the case of manga adaptions, however as this is autoethnographic, I will tell you that my view is that I don’t think visual novels are there yet, and if they get there, it would require some more gameplay for me to call one, even a Japanese one, a JRPG.

Interview with an Newbie

I’ve been wanting to know how the perceived differences between JRPGs and Western RPGs effect the player experience, it’s actually the main area of my study in this subject. However I am in an awkward position where I already have a large amount of interaction with these games. I have been playing some new games in the genre, but I feel that I already have a grasp on what I expect from both.

Cue a non-gamer. I managed to find a subject who has almost never played games. She has played Fruit Ninja and that’s about it. It was the perfect clean slate. So we sat down and talked while she went about playing some RPGs.

To say that she ragequit the first game would be completely accurate. She is an artist by trade, as well as a feminist, and took issue with almost every aspect of character design with the game. From the scantily cladness of the girls to the wishy washy characterisation in light of what could be an engaging story, it just wasn’t what she wanted. She also felt this was amplified by the fact that for the first section of the game, she was just given narrative and exposition with very little interaction. She just got bored.

This is contrasted to the Western RPG she played, which she was enjoying. The lack of pre-set story dependent on the main character being established let her create the character she wanted to play as which she said was one of the best things about it. The action started quickly with little skirmishes, and the simpler battle screens was easier on her for being a new player.

Speaking from my own reflection on the comments made, I feel that the main consideration of the differences come from a paradigm shift in aims for a game. A JRPG, as we’ve known all along is about the exposition of a story where you ride the wave of the story. Meanwhile a western RPG will focus on creating a richer experience, much more focus on exploratory storytelling and interaction. Neither is better by a concrete definition, it’s just different. I am loathe to make such a clear distinction but in the lead up to my final posts I think finally building a definition of the typical qualities is important for my later analysis.

Let’s Talk Character Creation

Imagine you’ve just opened up your shiny new Western RPG. Maybe there’s a bit of story, however it isn’t long before you reach some sort of character creation or choice. Of course this isn’t always the case. Assassin’s Creed and many more exist after all. This is rarer with JRPG. There are also exceptions here (Fire Emblem: Awakening comes to mind), however you can expect to find that there is already a full slew of character’s waiting to be played with already there for you. JRPGs are the only real place where the celebrity isn’t you.

I, and many others, believe that it is a conscious choice. I know that I play JRPGs for the plot, which just doesn’t work if the players gets to create. The everyman isn’t core to the values of the JRPG genre. They produce iconic characters, for marketing, for better story, it just works for the genre. The examples I gave above, both of them, show exactly this process. Assassin’s Creed needs it’s iconic main character, it values the story like a JRPG. So does Fire Emblem, however the main character isn’t the one you make, so it doesn’t even matter.

Of course, there’s an inherent flaw with this entire argument. How many exceptions can break the rule before it falls apart? However that isn’t my real focus here. I think something can be learnt of the focus of the genres. I’m not sure it’s entirely possible to define JRPG without using some stereotypes. They form the basis of all conception. What is more important is being aware of how we are using it to define the genre. For and in depth interactive story, you need a celebrity, a focal point to build around. Story is a core element of JRPGs. Therefore you need to have a celebrity for your game, from Cloud Strife to Nepgear. However, over the course of writing this piece I’ve decided to leave behind the line of inquiry over whatever marketing arguments you might have over design. All we need is a celebrity at the middle. Everything else is social commentary for a different field of researchers. 

Why, it’s the brain of course.

What is the peripheral of JRPGs? Why it’s me, it’s you, it’s the player. We are the responses and the medium is our own brains.

 

Seriously think about it, everything we are doing here is about looking at our own experiences with Asian media. We have processors in our heads and they are sorting through it all for us. That is what tells us the art style is ‘Japanese’ and that the intro song of Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk 2 is J-pop. Why, because my brain tells me it is.

Ignore what might be wrong about my thinking, the fact remains that this is all happening in my head. I might be aware that I have the stereotypes and preconceptions, however that doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. I am self-aware and that is the core of what I’m studying. I’ll be starting my interviewing for my digital artifact next week. It’s this process that I want to draw out. What is Japanese about a JRPG. Is it the art style? I can show you Western games with the same style. Is it the music? J-pop is sampled elsewhere as well. Is it the themes? I don’t know, maybe.

Generally people are streaming their thoughts on forums, but I prefer the grapevine as a starting spot. Many of my friends have played JRPGs and the common opinion is that all of the above are valid assumptions about the JRPG subgenre.

 

Are we all correct though? Any blog post on here will say yes and no simultaneously. The facts however are a good place to start. Firstly, most JRPGs, (whatever your definition) sell much worse in the USA and Australia than in Japan. So there must be something more appealing for them, right? Well I can’t tell you accurately, but I will try over the future weeks. The bottom line is that I feel that I am aware that the J in JRPG is less about Japan and more about our perception of Japanese media. Can you tell the difference between the Japanese and Korean medias perfectly. What is something is a Korean RPG, it may be distinct to the trained eye, but would it in Australia? Have you ever heard of a KRPG, because I haven’t, however a quick google search found that there are RPGs made in Korea that would be labeled JRPGs.

 

The weird thing is, I don’t think it’s wrong to call it a JRPG anyway.

Group Project: JRPG, Manga, Anime

Group members

Alex Belle

James Ayre

Pakkapon Potranandana

So our idea is to look at manga, anime, jrpg and compare it to Western comics and rpg. We think that JRPG tend to have a anime or manga look to them and with a focus on main story and character development, it make us think of JRPG as a game version of anime or manga. As manga shows value of Japanese in focus on a story and character development than action in RPG games or Western comics. Manga is usually paced a lot slower than Western comic, with less emphasis on action. Western comics will usually dedicate full-page spreads to action while manga tend to dedicate full-page spreads to emotional reactions. We found that these different are very similar to the different between JRPG and RPG. So we thinking of looking at these different, also looking at fandom and different between manga and anime of the same series (Naruto manga vs Naruto anime) 

CommentAsian

Welcome to a podcast where we scrutinise the consumption habits of people consuming Asian media. Be it twits tweeting about If You Are The One or complete noobs playing Pokemon hacks, we will be there to make fun of them.

Our names, for documentation purposes only, are Brandon, Ellara and Melissa. We wanted to look at Asian media, that was pertinent to us, but in the context of the grander scheme of things. Looking at the habits of others consuming media allows us to step back and apply our research while also having the opportunity to appease our malevolent sides by poking fun at others.

J-RPG games or J-RPG style games

One of the first games I ever play is probably Pokémon. At that time I have no idea who develop this game or what type of game it is. Whether it is JRPG, RPG or FPS. I just know that it is a game I enjoy. The first Pokémon game I play is Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition. This game was release in 1998 and I believe I got a English version of this game when I was 6 or 7 years old. However, when I’m grown up and heard of the term JRPG for the first time, I assume that J is Japan and JRPG game must be a RPG games that make in Japan with character in game have a characteristic of Japanese. But yesterday, I was watching this video and this video change my perspective of JRPG. While watching this video, Its make me think of many games that I have played and think of what type of game it is and why is it a JRPG or RPG games.

 

Reflective

-Before watching video on JRPG I assume that JRPG have to be a game that Is from Japan or developed by Japanese.

– After watching this video, I understand that JRPG game does not have to be from Japan. It can be from everywhere but it have to have some social factor or culture that related to Japan. However, JRPG games have a distinctive feature that is different from other RPG games. One is that JRPG games are usually a turn-based system with more focus on character development and main story of the game. Which make some of the game that have this feature but make elsewhere without Japanese social and culture feature a JRPG style games but not JRPG games. For example, a game such as Child of Light is a JRPG style game but not a JRPG game. As a video game journalist and senior editor at IGN, Colin Moriarty said that ‘It is not a JRPG by literal definition but it is a JRPG style of a game’.

– Another point that I have been thinking is that JRPG tend to have a anime or manga look to them and with a focus on main story and character development, it make me think of JRPG as a game version of anime or manga. As manga shows value of Japanese in focus on a story and character development than action in RPG games or Western comics. Manga is paced a lot slower than Western comic, with less emphasis on action. Western comics will usually dedicate full-page spreads to action while manga tend to dedicate full-page spreads to emotional reactions. These different are very similar to the different between JRPG and RPG. (more on Western comic vs manga here)

 

Reference

 

Chaoskiller2000, 2011, JRPG VS WRPG: The Difference and Why They Are Both Great!, accessed 8/8/2014, http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/chaoskiller2000/blog/jrpg-vs-wrpg-the-difference-and-why-they-are-both-/77299/

Week One

I’m Trent and I’m in my last year of an Information Technology degree. This is my 2nd DIGC class so Im getting a little more familiar with the content and style.  I don’t really know what to expect with this subject but from what I’ve seen I think it is going to be a pretty cool subject to study.

I have played a few JRPGs through the likes of Zelda and of course Pokemon (the usual it seems). In terms of more westernised JRPGs I have played Neverwinter Nights, Dark Souls and Balder’s Gate. I find that a lot of my gaming preferences come from the Japanese styled game play. I prefer intense story and RPG style – whilst not hugely showing their Japanese roots anymore, the fundamentals are still present.

When it comes to anime I have watched a few shows and whilst I would by no means call myself knowledgeable on the subject, I really enjoy the horror/gory and suspense side of anime, shows like Elfenlied, Ghost in the Shell,  Highschool of the Dead , Death Note and Sword Art Online etc. I really admire the level of detail in the development of the story that the creators show. I find that whilst I am more of a part time viewer of anime and Japanese media culture, it still appeals to me in a variety of ways. I look forward to learning more about the history and culture as the subject progresses.