Ben WhaleyOct 2, 2023
Toward a Gameic World
New Rules of Engagement from Japanese Video Games
University of Michigan Press 2023
Ben Whaley’s Toward a Gameic World: New Rules of Engagement from Japanese Video Games (U Michigan Press 2023) examines the pathbreaking engagement strategies of four Japanese video games produced between 2002 and 2015. Each of these “persuasive games” deploys a distinct strategy of engagement to push players to engage with real-world social issues and traumas: Disaster Report (2002) takes on natural disasters, Catherine (2011) addresses Japan’s declining birthrate and aging population, Metal Gear Solid V (2015, after the March 2011 Fukushima triple disaster) takes on nuclear proliferation, and The World Ends with You (2007) faces the issue of social withdrawal. These games differ in genre, platform, and mechanics, but as Whaley shows, they share an interest in using the immersive, multimedia, boundary-crossing experience of gaming to create an emotive, “persuasive” experience that prods gamers to engage with these “IRL” issues in new ways.
Nathan Hopson is an associate professor of Japanese language and history in the University of Bergen's Department of Foreign Languages.