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.


Ones real life identity tends to be irrelevant in the culture of gaming, RPG’s (Role playing video games) such as Final Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons and WOW allow an individual to portray themselves however they please through their character in the fictional world. Reflect your real life morals or go against them and be someone entirely different – the choice is yours. There are two specific ‘groups’ within this RPG culture, they include WRPG (western) and JRPG (eastern). The western culture RPG’s tend to be more system/rules based with darker realistic graphics, however Eastern RPG’s are generally action/story based with brighter anime-like graphics and intricate plots.



Regardless of their cultural differences, role playing video games are peripheral to the art of cosplay in the fact that the characters/identities portrayed in these games are who cosplaying individuals look toward to influence their costume choice.  A lot of the time, an individual will develop a bond with their online persona and therefore, it becomes easier for them to reflect this persona in their cosplaying over a character they are not familiar with.

An extension of this RPG experience is LARP (live action role play) where a group of individuals dress up and pursue goals within a fictional setting represented by the real world while interacting with each other in character. I see this as like ‘next level’ cosplaying, as they are not only dressing up as the characters, but also choosing to engage themselves in the recreation of the characters identity through role play.

A lot of the time, YouTube is the digital media platform which both RPG and LARPers use to express their voices through recording their live action or video game experiences and uploading them for the public to see, as seen below. In addition to this podcasts are used, one group in particular who use this in addition to their YouTube channel is Rooster Teeth.




Through viewing and comparing both these forms of role play, it is immediately clear how much dedication and passion an individual puts into their characters. To me, the LARP genre actually helps to break down the stigma created by RPGer’s as the second video reveals the multitude of people who actually get involved. The Rooster Teeth video (to be honest I didn’t watch all of it) does reveal the ‘WRPG’ mentioned by the comparison video through its darker and more realistic graphics. As a non-gamer the detail and customisation actually surprised me but in saying that, the specifications confused the hell out of me! People who actually play this game and understand it, I applaud you because I had no idea! This video also shows how RPG’s allow the option for both male and female characters regardless of your real life gender (Ray has chosen a female panda even though the others chose a male) which is the same when dressing up for cosplay in the fact that you can be whoever you choose to be.

Back to the LARP video – I was amazed at the amount of planning and scripting etc that goes into them because before watching this, I honestly thought that they were improvised. The fact that people do this kind of thing on a weekly basis is actually impressive, a further reason why the dedication and passion are so necessary to these gamers life. The strategic and tactical ‘quest’ elements resonate through both the RPG and LARP  worlds, and I feel as though it would be one of the main motivations to playing the games. Completing quests, moving up levels and gaining more skills would be super satisfying and ultimately enhance the bond you have with the character.

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) 

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.



-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)




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/