Where is the indie game of Japan? Conventions and creativities formed by technology, distribution, culture Shin Imai email@example.com
Who am I ? ● Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, The University of Tokyo ● Major：popular music studies, aesthetics, philosophy of music, theory of contents industry ● Job：part-time lecturer, writer about music and videogame ● About indie game ○ AGM Blog（Playism） ○ interview with developers and columns
Background： Indie Game Rising ● Western Indie Scene ○ Internet [Antholopy2012] ○ mod tools or engines [星野2007, 新2008] ○ GDC, especially IGF ● Japanese Indie Scene ○ Internet [Ito2007] ○ RPG Makers[Ito2007], engines and library [三宅2011] ○ dojuinshi conventions ○ free soft review sites, doujin culture ● Both expanded by technology, dituribution (but cultures are a bit different).
6 traits of doujin/indie games [七邊2009] 1. Value（enjoy than business） 2. Autonomy（liberty to develope） 3. Flexibility（agile development） 4. Development speed（short term） 5. Distance between dev. and users（close） 6. Sales and income（low） ⇒ “Possibilities of sustainbale small-scale game development” ● In the same way, Western indie games have these traits.
Many original high-quality doujin games [七邊2011] 1. Diversity of creators：jobs, academic background, gender 2. “Original” titles rather than fan fictions：the result of restriction by contents holders 3. Improvement of games：feedback from users and developers ⇒ “Many original high-quality doujin games are developed in Japan” ● In the same way, Western indie games have these traits(except 2, as explained below）.
Japanese Indie games have less presence ● BitSummit（2013/3/9）：an event for Japanese indie developers. ● James Mielke says “Japanese indie games deserve more attatinon along with Westerns.”［ファミ通.com］, “There is plenty of talented indie develpoers in Japan.” ［Game*Spark］ ● However previous studies have shown that there is the scene of JIG and many original high-quality doujin games are developed in Japan.
Why does JIG have less presence ? ● This question can divide into two parts. 1. Really many original high-quality JIG? ⇒ (A) Halfway YES! 2. Despite that, Why does JIG have less presence ? ⇒ (B) Fragmentation of JIG ⇒ (C) Aesthetics problem about Creativity ● The following explains (B), after that (A) and (C).
(B) Fragmentation of distirbutions ● doujin conventions or doujin shop ⇒ Doujin Games ● downloads online ⇒ Free Games ● Feature phone network ⇒ mobile game before smart phones ● As a result fragmentation of the indie game culture, the core of JIG is unclear.
(B) plural cultures ● Doujin Games ○ PC, physical ○ ￥ 1000~ ￥2000 ○ fighting games, visual novels, shoot’em up ● Free Games ○ PC, downloads online ○ Free (rarely shareware) ○ Mainly J-RPG ● Mobile games ○ Feature phone(shifted to smart phone) ○ Subscribe or pay downloads on wireless carrier ○ puzzle, card, casual, J-RPG
(A) Originality on video game Originality of various elements 1. Game design 2. Visual, Character design, UI 3. Story, Theme, Motif 4. Audio, Sound, Music 5. etc... ● Hichibe's “original” is 3：not fan fiction, but various stories and themes which aren't featured by consumer titles. ⇒ Surely YES! JIG is “original” in this sense. ● But this isn't necessarily high-quality.
(C) Creativity on video game Discriminate between originality and creativity. ● Originality：newness on each elements ● Creativity：the result of combination with each elements, holistic assessment Design:not original D V Visual Story:original S Audio etc A etc game X=creative game Y=not creative
(C) Not original but crative games ● If each elements have less originality, a video game can be creative. ● Also if oriented toward exsiting game genre rather breaking new genre, it can be creative. ● In this sense, JIG doesn't necessarily have originality, but have high creativity.
Cave Story ［開発室Pixel2004］ ● Indie game classic! ● It doesn't have high originality on game design, visual, story, music, etc. , however surely high creativity.
Don’t Look back ［T. Cavanagh2009］ ● Outside JIG ● Game design, visual, story, music are all banal, but the game is creative in whole.
Hellsinker.[犬丼帝国2007] ● Mashup with many game desings of exisiting shoot’em up. ● Legendary doujin STG, create followers still now.
Helen's Mysterious Castle ［さつ2011］ ● Much material is ready made(RPG maker's runtime package). ● As result of sophisticated minimalist game design, great creativity.
(C) Creativity of Japanese indie games ● Each elements aren't necessarily original. ● Rather than the characteristic of JIG is strongly oriented existing game genres. ○ J-RPG, visual novels, shoot’em up, fighting games ○ Famous titles like TohoProject or Higurashi When They Cry are oriented existing game genres too. ● Creativity can achieves by combination with each elements.（cf. sampling on music）
(C) Creativity and game play ● By comparison with JIG, Western indie games seem to be original. ○ Braid, Minecraft, Fez, etc... ○ Oriented toward making new genres. ● Unlike originality, creativity of video games must be actually play to be understood. ○ How can you explain Cave Story is great video game without actually play? ● JIG's “genre oriented” is one of reasons why JIG have less presence.
Con. In spite of creativity, the reason why less presence Aesthetics premise：creativity of video games must be actually play to be understood. 1. JIG are released to niche markets including the PC platform.(reason：easy development) 2. The PC platform is niche.(reason：popularity of game consoles in Japan) 3. Overwhelmingly shortage of palyers. 4. Media and critique cannot be grown. 5. As the result, in spite of creativity JIG get less attention.
Supplement ● Comparison examination between Japanese and Werstern indie game ○ Except 2(The PC platform is niche), conditions and environment are same. ○ If 2 change, JIG will gather more attention. ● Quantitative and qualitative research. ● Aesthetics discussion. ● Important of player and media, critique.
Reference ● 七邊信重（2011）「なぜ多様で良質なオリジナルの同人ゲームが日本で開発され るのか?」デジタルゲーム学研究 5(1), 65-78. ● 七邊信重（2009）「持続的な小規模ゲーム開発の可能性」デジタルゲーム学研 究 3(2), 171-183. ● 三宅陽一郎（2011）「日本における同人・インディーズゲームの技術的変遷」デジ タルゲーム学研究 5(1), 57-64. ● Ito Kenji,（2007）“Possibilities of Non-Commercial Games” in Suzanne de Castell and Jennifer Jenson, eds., Worlds in Play, 129-142. ● 新清士（2008）「MOD およびオープンコミュニティについて調査」デジタル コン テンツ制作の先端技術応用に関する調査研究報告書, 265-295. ● 星野留美子(2007)「デジタルゲーム・メタクリエイション」季刊政策・経営研究, 1 (1), 31-41. ● 井上明人(2008)「ゲーム作りの文化のために」日本デジタルゲーム学会 2008/9/26 ● Anna Anthropy(2012)Rise of The Videogame Zinesters, Seven Stories Press.