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Subject: Board game culture in Japan rss

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Steven Davies
United Kingdom
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Hello everyone, I am curious about board gaming in Japan and would like to ask a few questions if I may?

Firstly, Is there much of a board gaming culture in Japan? Does the hobby have a sizeable following?

It's fairly well documented that in the video game industry, Japan very much has a style of games, a preference if you will. Western games don't tend to do as well there overall (with some exceptions of course). Does this extend to board games as well? Is there a distinct Japanese style of board game that doesn't get much notice here in the West? Doese Japan in general tend towards particular gaming preferences?

Does Japan have a significant boardgame expo/convention like Gencon, UKGE or Essen?

And finally, is there a general feeling from Japanese board gamers towards games and designers that use your history as the theme of a game-Feudal times, Samurai, Ninja etc?

I'd just like to say thank you in advance for anyone taking the time to read this post and (hopefully) providing some answers.
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Chris Stanton
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Tokyo Game Market is a big thing. You'll be able to find several blog post from attendees on here.

Areas you'll notice a difference between Japanese & Western attitudes include treatment of WWII & also the manga/anime staples - see games such as Barbarossa for an example of both
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Julien K
Japan
Kyoto
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Board game is not much of a big thing in Japan. I tend to say that the most played games here, beside the old and traditional Go, Shogi, Mah-Jong and some local card game, are Monopoly, Life, Uno and Othello.

The modern board game market is still very small. However it is growing quite fast. The number of board game shops and board game cafes is to (in my area, we've seen no less than 5 or 6 such new shops in less than a year).

In terms of Japanese games, the market is full of amateur like games. In the manga world, it was (is still) a big thing for people to write their own amateur manga, original or based on some existing one, print 100 or more copies and sell it at the comic festival. This way of thinking has been translated to the board game world. Many amateur designers think of a simple game, print a hundred or more copies, and go sell them at the Tokyo board game market (or at some other place).

Although, even if one says amateur, some of those are really well thought and produced. It's not like they are printing in their garage. It's also why such games are quite expensive for what they are and very hard to find once the game market is over.
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Simon Lundström
Sweden
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My take, though most have been said:

Firstly, Is there much of a board gaming culture in Japan?

No board gaming is not a big thing in Japan. It's not at all like in Germany, and not like the rest of Europe (that I've seen), and not even like Sweden, where people play board games at least for christmas. Board games are not a family thing, but a niche nerd thing among university students.

The market is, however, growing, with about 7% annually.

Does the hobby have a sizeable following?

Yes, indeed it does. Even if it's a niche nerd thing, there are 120 million people in Japan, thus the hobby has a sizable following. For Game Market, there are close to 10,000 attendees.

Does this [specific style of games] extend to board games as well?

Yes, but from necessity. Most Japanese games start out as an indie thing, and indie makers can mostly make card games. So if there is a typical Japanese style of board games, it could be the by-necessity minimalistic approach.

Does Japan have a significant boardgame expo/convention like Gencon, UKGE or Essen?

Yes. Game Market, that's twice in Tokyo (May and December, mostly) and once in Osaka (March usually). It's not a convention though, it's a market place, where you buy games.

And finally, is there a general feeling from Japanese board gamers towards games and designers that use your history as the theme of a game-Feudal times, Samurai, Ninja etc?

From western designers, they rarely sell well. Not because they don't care about their own history, only that they're rarely interested in the same viewpoints as the western designers are.

They tend to treat their own history games in quite silly ways, turning everything into cute girls. Old war lords and old gods, even stuff like warships and Operating Systems, in Japan everything turns into cute girls. Even Adolf Hitler.
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Adam Skinner
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Vince Q
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Wow. Not to derail this thread, but... where is that even from??
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Corey Mayo
United States
Schertz
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Toc13 wrote:
Tokyo Game Market is a big thing. You'll be able to find several blog post from attendees on here.

Areas you'll notice a difference between Japanese & Western attitudes include treatment of WWII & also the manga/anime staples - see games such as Barbarossa for an example of both


Wow. I had no idea. I like how one reviewer described the game as "Dominion in a politically incorrect scantily clad nazi chicks military uniform."

Hmmm.

What I find interesting is that this treatment of historical events is similar to the therapist's "erasure technique." The technique has you mentally re-watch painful memories/mistakes in your past, only you add clown suits, costumes, funny voices, big ears, etc., to break the impact of the memory.

VERY interesting, indeed.
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Niall Smyth
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cmmayo wrote:
Toc13 wrote:
Tokyo Game Market is a big thing. You'll be able to find several blog post from attendees on here.

Areas you'll notice a difference between Japanese & Western attitudes include treatment of WWII & also the manga/anime staples - see games such as Barbarossa for an example of both


Wow. I had no idea. I like how one reviewer described the game as "Dominion in a politically incorrect scantily clad nazi chicks military uniform."

Hmmm.

What I find interesting is that this treatment of historical events is similar to the therapist's "erasure technique." The technique has you mentally re-watch painful memories/mistakes in your past, only you add clown suits, costumes, funny voices, big ears, etc., to break the impact of the memory.

VERY interesting, indeed.


I don't think there's any point trying to analyse a whole nation based on one boardgame. Japan does have universities, history professors etc.
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Kurt Lambert
Germany
New York
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Here are some links (sorry, the Tokyo map is in Japanese, ONLY).

https://www.meetup.com/JIGG-Tokyo/?_cookie-check=Mc61BeDKZBd...

https://www.facebook.com/dearspiele/info?tab=page_info
https://www.facebook.com/dearspiele/
http://www.dear-spiele.com/index.html its in Nakano (center left of map, one express stop from Shinjuku). Lots of college kids there

"Game Map Tokyo":
http://www.tgiw.info/etc/link-t.html
click on the green dots for details

SHOSEN (center right part of the map) is a big book store with a serious board game department (games from GMT et al.).

At Jelly Cafe (several branches ) they speak English
http://jellyjellycafe.com/en

http://www.dear-spiele.com/

http://bgshibuya.blog.fc2.com/
here you can make online reservations for game sessions




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Confusing Manifestation
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If you go into one of the big department stores like Yodobashi Camera, then there will often be a section within the toys and hobbies area for hobby boardgames. Not a big section, but maybe a couple of hundred big box games and a selection of smaller box games. I don't know if it's bigger or smaller than what you might get in the US, but given that the average department store in Australia has approximately 0 ft of shelf space devoted to our kind of games, it's a non-ignorable amount for me.

Certainly within the space of nerd/otaku culture, board gaming has a minor foothold - one of the manga for Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita ("Humanity Has Declined") from around 2012 had a page with images of Alhambra and Dominion, the manga series Houkago Saikoro Kurabu ("After-school Dice Club") from 2013 is all about a club that plays board games, and in the first episode of the anime Imouto Sae Areba Ii ("A Little Sister's All You Need") the main character has a shelf full of identifiable games.

So I'd say that board gaming is probably not that far from what it's like in the West - a niche, but a growing one, especially within already established nerd groups.
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Niall Smyth
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conmanau wrote:
If you go into one of the big department stores like Yodobashi Camera, then there will often be a section within the toys and hobbies area for hobby boardgames. Not a big section, but maybe a couple of hundred big box games and a selection of smaller box games. I don't know if it's bigger or smaller than what you might get in the US, but given that the average department store in Australia has approximately 0 ft of shelf space devoted to our kind of games, it's a non-ignorable amount for me.

Certainly within the space of nerd/otaku culture, board gaming has a minor foothold - one of the manga for Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita ("Humanity Has Declined") from around 2012 had a page with images of Alhambra and Dominion, the manga series Houkago Saikoro Kurabu ("After-school Dice Club") from 2013 is all about a club that plays board games, and in the first episode of the anime Imouto Sae Areba Ii ("A Little Sister's All You Need") the main character has a shelf full of identifiable games.

So I'd say that board gaming is probably not that far from what it's like in the West - a niche, but a growing one, especially within already established nerd groups.


Yeah, I'd agree with that. I'm from the UK, and gaming here seems similar. It's not Germany, but it's not unknown. Arclight do translations of the big name games - lots of FFG and AEG - and someone must be buying them.
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