I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of games having their own international “flavour”. Is it possible that even in the gaming industry, the mark of cultural identity is imbued into the game design, the game distribution and the game experience itself?
The content and design in the U.S Playstation store is different to its UK counterpart. Firstly, the U.S network has a broader range of back catalogues of PSone games than its European version. It also boasts video service (though the European market will be receiving a video service in November).
Yet, the Playstation Network is able to negate the regionally different content by avoiding region lock (though I believe PSone games are still locked). Which brings me to ask the question, why have different regional design/content if we can simply open a “foreign” account and download it?
UK layout US Layout
Playstation Home has a completely different content and design in all three major regions (Europe, North America, Asia)
Are there legal issues that inhibit releasing material on a globally universal scale?
Is there a reason why some games are released in certain parts of the world and not others?
I read an article once, which explained how publishers designed games for different regions.
Apparently Japanese gamers don’t opt for the dual analogue stick layout, instead they prefer the d-pad and right analogue stick and rarely do they play games in First Person; they enjoy the third person perspective. Which brings me to understand why certain reviewers disdain certain camera angles in a game whilst others don’t even blink an eye at it despite reviewing the same product.
I guess what we see and how we perceive the game is constructed and influenced by the design of the game. It is our little idiosyncrasies that can make the difference between enjoying a game or being frustrated by it. And our habits are socially and therefore culturally developed.
Take the resident evil franchise. I never understood the tank control. My pee size brain can’t handle the turn before moving forward setup. I feel restricted, though I guess that was intended to help heighten the horror.
I can see its effectiveness and suitability in gaming areas constructed of tight corridors and alleyways (adds to the tightness and no where to run/hide experience) but feels out of place in the supposedly wide open backgrounds of Resident Evil 5.
I’d wear a wetsuit when I go diving in the ocean, but I wouldn’t wear one in an indoor pool.
I also struggle to play racing games via the cockpit view. I find it too claustrophobic. I love seeing the car and having the camera angled above and beyond the vehicle so I can see more of the road and its surrounding environment.
I enjoyed the arcadey driving-on-ice feel of GTA4, yet my overall experience with driving in GTA4 was hampered with its camera setting. I became frustrated with the low angle despite selecting the view that was panned out as far as possible (but not the chopper chase angle).
I often had to push the left stick up to raise the angle only to see it revert back to its default setting which was too low for me, my brain kept saying “I can’t see beyond the next hit-and-run victim.”
But controls and camera angles aren’t the only aspects to undergo culture shock.
Japanese Role Playing Games are good examples of how different the fulfilment in gaming can be. Grinding and revisiting past arenas seem to be a staple ingredient in JPRG’s. By reading certain reviews on games which revisit previous stages, the west seemingly despise the back-tracking which the Japanese gamers don’t mind.
Then there is the different success of games. Monster Hunter is huge in Japan, but hardly anyone I know plays it in the UK.
It seems clear to me that cultural differences in the way we live and the social education we receive has a huge impact over the games we choose and how we wish to play them.