Japan remains alive through video games

WRITTEN BY

Open enrollment for Ricardo Cruz Nihongo Premium's Japanese course! Click make your registration!

Despite economic stagnation, Japan's cultural legacy lives on through video games!

The art world often serves as the best mirror for a society, be it local, national or even global. The popularization and later elitization of artistic expressions throughout, for example, the history of England during the Modern Age and the Greek plays, which use mythological and real characters interacting to deal with the origins of city-states in the Ancient Age, they are great reflections of the moment when these peoples were in a certain historical period.

This is registered even in the ways in which the arts are expressed. In Brazil, one of the best examples comes from the Northeast, with cordel literature, where small poetry books printed on pocket-sized brochures are sold in northeastern squares. Thanks to the low cost, such texts are sold at very reasonable prices, thus popularizing the local culture beyond the borders of the city or the state - as shown by the success of the work Auto da Compadecida, by Ariano Suassuna, who has a clear inspiration in the culture of cordel.

In Japan you can also see something similar, mainly with the country's mass consumption culture. From manga, inspired by ancient Japanese arts, to videogames developed in the territory, the arts created there are often a portrait of what the country is experiencing at the time the product is launched to the general public.

Fighting games may seem like an unusual example, but this is not the case. At its emergence, during the 1970s in the United States, martial arts films that came from China, Japan and the USA themselves were beginning to become popular. To take advantage of the wave of this success, the video game industry embarked on fashion and started to develop games that are a reference until today. And Japan, known for perfecting foreign creations in hardware or software, did the same from the Street Fighter series, which ended up becoming one of the biggest video game hits in history.

It was with the release of Street Fighter II, in 1991, that the “game became”, with the fighting games reaching their peak of popularity. To this day, success bears fruit, since different platforms started offering products related to the theme, some of them being iPhone phones and contemporary consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch.

Japão permanece vivo por meio dos videogames
Nintendo Switch - by Nintendo

In addition, the iGaming industry has also picked up on the franchise's popularity, with some industry portals offering a Street Fighter II-inspired slot. Case visit this site here, you can access some of the mentioned portals. And the most interesting thing is that the game, which was once inspired by action and fighting films, ended up becoming a cinematic piece itself, with the film Street Fighter - The last battle having been released in the 1990s and starring names like Raúl Julia and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

The success of Street Fighter II ends up reflecting Japan's status within the geopolitical context, with the country being seen as the future great power in the world to continually rival the United States. However, problems of political and economic conduct ended up taking the country out of this path. Gradually it was losing ground in the continental context to China and South Korea, which are today considered the great forces on the ascendant on the world stage in terms of economy and culture. 

Since the 1990s, Japan has been experiencing a certain stagnation. However, despite this, the country maintained its position of “hegemonic culture”, since manga, anime and video games are still phenomena that surpass the countless enclaves of lovers of Japanese culture around the world. Franchise games like Pokémon, Final Fantasy and Street Fighter itself are always the best selling games in the game market when new versions are released.

Therefore, Japan's cultural legacy remains present even though the country's geopolitical situation is weakened. As with so many other "potential world powers" and countries that have become powers over time, political and economic power may even be lost over time, but art remains.