Close Encounter of the 3D Kind: Examining Constructions of the Foreign ‘Other’ in Japanese Videogames

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Abstract

As a relatively young medium, videogames have become an important part of global popular culture that cannot be underestimated. Due to rapid technological advances, the contents of today’s videogames are becoming increasingly complex. While games are publicly often denounced for causing aggression, violence, or even mental illness, game studies oppose such stereotypical views and seek possibilities to conduct research on digital games in a systematic and thorough manner. This paper draws on approaches from game studies to examine videogames from the perspective of Japanese studies. Assuming that videogames, like other mass media, take part in and shape socially relevant discourses, it will be analysed how the relation between ‘self’ and ‘other’ is constructed in Fire Emblem: Sōen no kiseki and Akatsuki no megami, Tales of Symphonia, and Zeruda no densetsu: Mujura no kamen. For this purpose, the games’ content and character design will be taken into account. Special emphasis will be placed on the question how the relationship between ‘self’ and ‘other’ becomes manifest in the relation between the player and the characters that is constructed during gameplay.

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