Global Media Assignment: America and Japan

Video Games got their start in America. However over the last forty some odd years games have spread to multiple countries and with the advent of the internet those gaming communities across the globe have grown closer, or apart depending on how the players are treating each other.

Over the next couple months I will be talking about games and globalization, or specifically focusing the relation ship between games and the various countries that play and make them. To be clear I am doing this for an assignment for my Global media and Global voices classes this semester. We are at minimum required to post in relation to the class bi-weekly. So In between globalization posts I will be making other posts in regards to movies, games so on and so forth.

To start things off I really wanted to talk about a few things involving japan. Today we’ll talk about controls. At this point you’ll probably be saying “pff controls? That’s the amazing topic you’re starting off with?” , yes, yes I am. I am binging this up because of the recent release of the Super Smash Bros. 3DS Demo. Because, well, the controls are terrible. The Controls are very, erm Japanese. I don’t mean to be offensive, but the Japanese are tied to the letters and symbols used on controller buttons. Allow me to elaborate.

When the Original PlayStation was released the four face buttons were labeled with four specific symbols. The top button is triangle, the right: circle, bottom: X, left: square. For the longest time I thought they were literally just arbitrary symbols placed on the controller for the sake of something design. However, it has been revealed that these symbols actually meant something. In Japan the symbols X and O each mean No and Yes respectively. They intended the square to symbolize a hand, and triangle means point of view. Sounds great however that memo did not really translate over to the American market. In fact I recall being a young lad playing the Playstation and being absolutely thrown off when navigating menus and game play in a Japanese developed game and I press the X button to accept something and I instead deny something. Granted I eventually learned, but there was a definite disconnect between American Audiences and Japanese development. As our western development spread and gained influence over the industry certain American practices of button mapping spread to other devs and today when playing any game, the controls or follow pretty standard layouts that are similar across the spectrum. An example if any of how the consolidation of global cultures have influenced the change in development culture.

So there I hope you found that somewhat interesting, if you have any opinions or would like correct me, or add to the conversation, I highly encourage you to comment. Tune in for the next assignment based blog and we’ll take a look at E-Sports how they were bigger over seas and have now moved into mainstream America.



One thought on “Global Media Assignment: America and Japan

  1. This is an interesting take on globalization. It’s very rare to see the symptoms of globalization manifest in our everyday lives and especially in a very near and dear hobby. I remember growing up on Crash Bandicoot, and those games used the standard American Playstation controls. I have very limited experience with Japanese developed games, but I will agree that the experiences I did have were baffling and went against all of my muscle memory I had built up over years of gaming. While many often argue that globalization is bad, since it may take away from culture, this is one of the instances where I think a person would be hard pressed to find a bad quality to this that isn’t a trivial issue or personal preference.
    The bit about the symbols on the Playstation controller did ring a bell. While the overall idea that the Japanese are fond of their symbols does ring true.But as far as the controller goes, I think you missed placed the meaning of symbols. Instead of having the square being used as a hand, it was instead meant for context menus, hence the square shape to reflect the generic menu shape. The rest are spot on. Good on you old chap.

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