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Re: The state of Kojima

by Alex Connolly » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:08 pm

Calin is my Agent John Doggett, simply because he used the phrase 'Dollars to donuts'.

*highest of fives*
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Re: The state of Kojima

by Calin Kim » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:47 pm

Alex Connolly wrote:Calin is my Agent John Doggett, simply because he used the phrase 'Dollars to donuts'.

*highest of fives*


You mean people are going to make jokes about how I'm a T-1000 all through my run on the X-Files?
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Re: The state of Kojima

by RedSwirl » Fri Mar 27, 2015 12:05 am

A little more on Japanese indies: The issue with Kickstarter as I understand it is it isn't really available to developers outside North America. There is indiegogo but it isn't as well-known and thus probably doesn't get as many pledges.

There have been a couple instances where Japanese old pros have linked up with western companies to get on Kickstarter with varying results. There's that mobile card game from the creator of Final Fantasy Tactics, not sure how that's going along. Another Japan/US team tried but failed to Kickstarter an old-style JRPG about an immortal spirit that lives through the dawning days of the United States. And so-on.

The most notable Japanese indiegogo project I know of however is Yatagarasu. It's pretty much the same story as a lot of these pro-level Kickstarters: Some ex-King of Fighters devs built a public alpha for their own game around 2011-2012, then successfully crowdfunded a full expansion/sequel a little while after that. A backer beta has been going on since last year and people are hailing it as the 3rd Strike sequel we never got.

Again, check Comiket the next time it comes around.
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Re: The state of Kojima

by Calin Kim » Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:13 pm

RedSwirl wrote:A little more on Japanese indies: The issue with Kickstarter as I understand it is it isn't really available to developers outside North America. There is indiegogo but it isn't as well-known and thus probably doesn't get as many pledges.

There have been a couple instances where Japanese old pros have linked up with western companies to get on Kickstarter with varying results. There's that mobile card game from the creator of Final Fantasy Tactics, not sure how that's going along. Another Japan/US team tried but failed to Kickstarter an old-style JRPG about an immortal spirit that lives through the dawning days of the United States. And so-on.

The most notable Japanese indiegogo project I know of however is Yatagarasu. It's pretty much the same story as a lot of these pro-level Kickstarters: Some ex-King of Fighters devs built a public alpha for their own game around 2011-2012, then successfully crowdfunded a full expansion/sequel a little while after that. A backer beta has been going on since last year and people are hailing it as the 3rd Strike sequel we never got.

Again, check Comiket the next time it comes around.


To add to this, I get periodic e-mails from Square-Enix about financing indie projects: https://www.indiegogo.com/partners/SquareEnixCollective

I don't think it's really taken off, but they're making a multiplayer action RPG thing that looks sorta like Secret of Mana sorta like Gauntlet and is really neat looking.

Ah ha! I remembered the name: http://www.moonhuntersgame.com/
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Re: The state of Kojima

by RedSwirl » Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:20 am

This is the article I was referencing: http://neojaponisme.com/2011/11/28/the- ... -part-one/

As regular consumers exit the market and leading-edge consumers are forced back underground, “marginal segments” with highly concentrated buying power — particularly, the otaku, yankii, and gyaru — have taken a leadership position in setting tastes and trends. Over the course of this five-part series, we explain this process and also demonstrate the degree to which Japanese pop culture now caters to specific niche audiences rather than reflecting a “mainstream” set of values. Japan may have become the world’s first consumer market without a mass core — and this has significant implications for the future of its cultural exports.


Otaku and yankii had strong outcast communities, but they essentially had to live on the fringes of pop culture. Yankii and otaku spent their formative years as true social outcasts — blamed as juvenile delinquents and sociopaths.

In times of a substantial and profitable mainstream consumer market, large companies were justified in ignoring the yankii and otaku segments as potential customers.


Japan’s culture industry — dominated by educated upper-middle class counter-consumers — worked hard to appeal to Japan’s large middle class. Tokyo’s powerful consumer base and Tokyo as industry center of cultural production made the wider culture gravitate towards the specific tastes of Tokyo upper middle-class youth. This, however, has drastically changed in the last decade with the fall of middle class consumerism.


The yankii and otaku have never traditionally been blessed with high incomes nor high future earning potential, and in pure homo economicus terms, should be cutting back even more than middle-class consumers. We must understand, however, that for the otaku, yankii, and gyaru, shopping is not merely a form of leisure nor has it even been an attempt to buy into a larger society-wide consumerist message. These groups use consumerism as a therapeutic solution to their psychological and social problems.

The otaku spend their time as avaricious collectors of goods and trading information with other otaku. In shunning away from mainstream standards of sociability, sexuality, and career success, the act of maniacal consumption becomes their raison d’être. They cannot relate with other people if not commenting upon these cultural goods. Culture — most of which must be purchased and enjoyed as object (even when it is just physical media holding content) — is the great satisfier of their deepest desires.


The end result is that the otaku and yankii have an almost inelastic demand for their favorite goods. They must consume, no matter the economic or personal financial situation. They may move to cheaper goods, but they will always be buying something. Otherwise they lose their identity. While normal consumers curb consumption in the light of falling wages, the marginal otaku and yankii keep buying. And that means the markets built around these subcultures are relatively stable in size.

So as the total market shrinks, the marginal groups — in their stability — are no longer minor segments but now form a respectable plurality in the market. In other words, if otaku or yankii all throw their support through a specific cultural item, that item will end up being the most supported within the wider market.


Mike Williams on NeoGAF: Basically mainstream consumers pulled back in hard times, but otaku and other subcultures are literally defined buy the entertainment they consume and purchase, so they don't pull back. (Like gamers, btw) They represent steady business, so content creators aim at them. The problem is these niches aren't mass market, so Japan can't export most of this culture.


Mass market anime like Naruto and Gundam are relatively easy to export as they were built for “normal” youth. That cannot be said about moe titles that are meant to satisfy older men obsessed with two-dimensional elementary school girls. Similarly, no gyaru clothing brand has more retail stores overseas than the avant-garde Comme des Garçons, despite gyaru clothing’s huge business in Japan and CDG’s highly-limited audience. At least from what we have seen from the big subcultural moments in the last decade, the culture of Japan’s marginal pluralities is almost unexportable.


In most countries with growing economies, educated upper-middle class consumers still spearhead the consumer market. They have the most disposable income and the most interest in cultural exchange. And those consumers, whether it’s Taiwan or the U.K., are the ones most likely to be willing to follow and purchase foreign cultural items.

Currently, however, the most conspicuous Japanese culture of otaku and yankii represents value sets with little connection to affluent consumers elsewhere. Most men around the world are not wracked by such deep status insecurity that they want to live in a world where chesty two-dimensional 12 year-old girls grovel at their feet and call them big brother. The average university student in Paris is likely to read Murakami Haruki and may listen to a Japanese DJ but not wear silky long cocktail dresses or fake eyelashes from a brand created by a 23 year-old former divorcee hostess with two kids. Overseas consumers remain affluent, educated, and open to Japanese culture, but Japan’s pop culture complex — by increasingly catering to marginal groups (or ignoring global tastes, which is another problem altogether) — is less likely to create products relevant for them.
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Re: The state of Kojima

by Alex Connolly » Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:58 am

All true, and remains so. But one must be wary - as with anything else anwhere - not to lump the entire country into the hyper-microcosm of Tokyo or Osaka. Anything looks large under a microscope.

Not sure why Yankii subculture is being touted as something special or market-driving, though. Every country has their raw, jagged underclass.
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Re: The state of Kojima

by RedSwirl » Sun Apr 12, 2015 7:27 am

Alex Connolly wrote:All true, and remains so. But one must be wary - as with anything else anwhere - not to lump the entire country into the hyper-microcosm of Tokyo or Osaka. Anything looks large under a microscope.

Not sure why Yankii subculture is being touted as something special or market-driving, though. Every country has their raw, jagged underclass.


I guess because Japan's underclass doesn't get much international media attention at all, or at least almost none of that media depiction was ever exported. You have the Yakuza series and the thuggish delinquent motif in a lot of anime/games, but that's like a whisper of what is probably a larger culture.
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Re: The state of Kojima

by Beige » Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:43 pm

Reading this post about learning to let go from Jeremy Parish brought this thread to mind again. Where have all the cowboys gone.

Maybe there is a larger discussion to be had here about gaming's history and heritage. While waxing the other day about how From Software's games are essentially "The New Castlevania" I realized that there is soon to be a substantial portion of the audience who has no context to analyze where that comment came from. They know Dark Souls, but what is this Castlevania you speak of?

Me: You know... Atmospheric. Gothic. Crazy, gonzo art. Traditionally rooted in high difficulty and appealing to those who appreciate persevering through great ordeals. Games with a slow deliberate pace where you walk around whipping blood skeletons and universal monsters before walking up, up, up those big steps to the final boss, silhouetted by the full moon.

Them: Yes, that's Bloodborne, exactly.
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Re: The state of Kojima

by Beige » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:04 pm

Fascinating article Red. There's a lot of synergy between what is being discussed here and things I've been discussing offline. It's an interesting question. What rushes in to fill the void after social and economic collapse.

What I want to know then is *if* we assume that the center has collapsed, and that there are no cultural properties being produced, then *what exactly are Japanese people into*? Culturally, I mean.

I think it was Doug Coupland who said in one of his books that the US stopped creating icons sometime around the mid 80s. Mickey Mouse and Marilyn Monroe on a watch? Cool in the 60s, still on watches in 2015. Name a band (besides Nirvana) who has Madonna cachet in post 1995-America. There are no titans, no single source of focus for the whole to gravitate towards. The Avengers was a movie in 2013, but it was comic books 30 years ago or more.

I wonder about this a lot in respect to the rise of board games, video games and whatnot. Our cultural cohort, as it were.

Every generation needs something that they can fix on in order to feel superior to the previous generation -- else they go insane from ennui and nihilism. We are culturally living with the reality of the Boomers hoarding all the available money which isn't being directly funneled to amoral, undying Zaibatsu corps like Apple and Google. Thanks to this zero increase in the standard of living (or expectations thereof) combined with what I call the Grad School Snooze Alarm we have created a strange underclass of hipster people who have little money and little in the way of job prospects but who can tell you a hell of a lot about indie music, artisanal bacon, Metal Gear Chronology. Overly educated, underfunded. We are all John Cusack at the record store. Strangely, these people all have cellphones. It's interesting to see what stays and what goes when the belt tightens.

Point of this is that I also feel we in the west are also left without a cultural center to fall back onto. Japan's problem is our problem with a japanese language filter on the outside, so it's writ large.

It's also gaming's problem. What's big right now? LoL? Minecraft? Call of Duty? Yes yes and yes, I guess... but not like, Big Big. I live my life without any of those at the moment and get along just fine. Most of you are living without Bloodborne, which appears big if you read the broadsheets but which I suspect is the largest niche going currently in the press.

Without Todd in the Shadows, I would have no reference for what music is popular at the moment. I don't consume there. I play board games (which is niche) but which has its own strange brand of Otaku problems. Roleplaying games are that x10.

Are we postconsumerist then? Or post-mass consumerist? Game-wise I've basically given up on caring about what counts as "big" or "current" falling back simply on what interests me on a weekly basis. Happily I have had nothing but success for years in playing just cool little artistically adroit auteur-ish experiences on Steam and other platforms. They speak my language, but every time I try to interest people either inside or outside these halls in something like La-Mulana I am typically met by question marks.

Who IS consuming? I'm not sure. In my group at least we are not defining culture with consumption anymore, though obviously it is still going on, hello iWatch. It's hard to say what we HAVE replaced things with -- except perhaps (in my case at least) a tighter focus on friends and upgrading personal social links. Playing the same board game over again, what a concept. Next we'll be singing the same songs over and over again, clustered around a piano like it was Dublin in 1870. Fuck.

It's weird to read stories about brands and trends and people driving Teslas. This is what lack of cultural opportunity looks like for an entire generation I guess. When given the choice of what corn-syrup beverage we choose to tribally affiliate with, we either rabidly double down on one particular brand (Pabst Blue Ribbon? Apple) or we stare there perplexed. What indeed did the peasants do after the knights went riding by? Toiled in the fields doing backbreaking labor for a while and then, Hobbit-like, smoked a pipe under a tree, musing on that strange thing called Life. Perhaps a Byronian zeitgeist for abstract poetry appreciation or something will soon emerge.
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Re: The state of Kojima

by RedSwirl » Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:11 am

For a while I have believed that the west economically, the United States in particular, is Japan in slow motion. Western economists know this and from what I hear it has been one of the main nightmares that keeps them up at night. That whole falling birth rate and the conditions behind it? It's happening in the US (and definitely Europe) too, but in slow motion. And now we're talking about the possibility of a lost generator, just like Japan's. Perhaps Japan is simply the furthest along in a process that all post-industrial capitalist societies undergo, and we're all headed into uncharted territory.

I'm still mulling over that cultural stagnation thing though. If true it would definitely fit with the supposed economic stagnation we've had since the 70's. Almost every big American movie and TV show is based on something from no more recent than the 80's. But I don't know... I saw Furious 7 yesterday and think it's a sign of the enduring strength of a modern franchise movie wave we're currently in, and that's an original franchise. On the other hand, I remember reading an article right after Michael Jackson died theorizing that the nature of fame would never be the same again. You might be able to say the same about sports. Sports in America still have stars, but today I don't care about basketball in quite the same way I did during the Jordan years. I imagine some feel the same way about Hockey and Gretzky.

And yes, when it comes to games I've recently focused on my own niche pursuits than whatever is "big." There are still really big games out there, but the industry has diversified and balkanized a lot since the "Pax PlayStation" ended. The resulting chaos of today is a big reason why Japan's games and games in general individually have less broad appeal. But even if you look at that era, did the most popular games of the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 have anywhere near the same mass audience awareness as Pac-Man and Mario? Does Call of Duty? Does Angry Birds? Does Minecraft? Maybe. I already noted earlier that Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Pokemon are the only JRPGs that get any real mass market acceptance outside Japan. Pokemon was probably Nintendo's last enduring mass market brand, but for the most part in video games the real titans top out around the 1980's -- the peak of Japan's economy.

Again, we're nowhere near the same level as Japan's niche-dominated consumer market right now, but you can see signs of us headed there in slow motion.
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