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att. Japanese Culture - Japanese Pop Culture - Games now and in the future
att. Culture - Japanese Pop Culture - Games now and in the future
You are here: att.JAPAN > General Information > Games now and in the future
att.JAPAN Issue 30, September 2006

Japanese Pop Culture - Games now and in the future

 The Second Coming - games in the 21st century move up a notch
In recent years, gamers (those who use portable game devices such as "Nintendo DS" or some mobile phones) can be seen more and more frequently on the train.

In Japan, games first became popular with everyone from children to adults in the 1980s. With the development of hardware and software, and the availability of personal computers including Famicom (NES) and Super Famicom (SNES), games developed rapidly as did the content, the graphics and the sound effects.

Any and all games sold at the time were considered 'fresh' and interesting. The "Super Mario Bros." series and the "Dragon Quest" series are but two household names from that era.

However, in the 1990s, with a slowing and sluggish Japanese economy, the market slumped. It is said that there were several reasons behind the slump which center on mobile phones becoming more popular, the Japanese youth in their teens and 20s being more interested in mobile phones and spending more time and money in that field as opposed to on games, newer games not being considered 'fresh' any longer and thus failing to attract game fans and creators having to spend more time and effort to produce just one game resulting in constant pressure to improve and build upon the graphics.

The above troubled times notwithstanding, eventually the great success of games playable on mobile phones and with Nintendo DS, has served to revitalize the market.

 Nintendo DS
In days gone by, almost all the blockbuster games were played over a long period and by people sat at home in front of the TV - alone or with friends. Nowadays though, the options vary and many games can be played in a shorter period than before making gaming an easier thing to enjoy for brief breaks in the regular everyday schedule.

Nintendo DS, a handheld game console produced by Nintendo has sold more than nine million (DSs) units across Japan. In addition to the traditional way of playing handheld game devices using buttons and levers, players using the NDS can use the interactive touch sensitive screen to let your fingers do the playing. Some games even permit voice interaction by utilizing a built-in microphone - concepts both amusing and attractive to both gamers and creators alike.

"Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!" is a kind of quiz game to 'train' the brain while "Eigo Duke (English Training)" is another type of popular education based software. "Nintendogs" is software that lets players bring up and train virtual puppies, by using the touchscreen and microphone functions. Such software takes advantage of the latest technology to become a huge hit in its own right by expanding the possibilities for handheld game devices, but does seem to indicate that gaming devices will, in the future, be used to educate as well as to entertain. Such possibilities are starting to attract the attention of a wider base of industries than if the devices were limited to just entertainment options.

 Internet
Another substantial reason behind the improvement of game diversification is the unequalled potential behind the Internet. Gamers can easily interact with players the world over by simply connecting to the Internet from their personal computers, home video game machines or mobile phones. Such interaction was at first limited to traditional board game such as shogi (Japanese chess), the game of go, chess and hearts but recently, more and more online role-playing games are doing their bit by creating a virtual world over the world wide web to enable one and all to participate in almost any game they choose.

 Next Generation Machines
As they head towards the next generation, Microsoft released a home video game machine named "Xbox360" in November of 2005, with sales of around 14 million machines anticipated by the end of 2007. The next generation home video game machines of "PlayStation 3" by Sony and "Wii" by Nintendo will be released in autumn of this year and in addition to their having improved hardware performance, the potential and capabilities to network will be enhanced and given another boost.

Tokyo Game Show 2005 Tokyo Game Show
The Tokyo Game Show is the largest game show in Japan and this year's show will be held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture from September 22nd (Fri) to 24th (Sun). Both domestic and overseas makers related to the industry will participate in the show. This year's theme is "New Excitement, New Sensations, a New Generation," and 134 companies will participate - the largest number to date. For gamers, the next-generation machines turned out by the three leading companies - Nintendo's "Wii," Sony "PS3" and Microsoft "Xbox360" will compete side by side each at the show.

*Exhibitors and products may be changed as of August 16th.

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