What am I all about?

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Hello! I thought to start things off I should introduce myself. I’m Eliana Perez, a Video Game Programming major and Japanese Minor at Champlain College. For the 2019 Fall Semester, I have chosen to study at Kanda University of International Studies with the IES Abroad Program.

A lot of people have asked me, “Why Japan?” Well, the short version of the answer is I grew up watching anime and I love the culture, so why not experience Japanese culture in its birthplace. The long answer has to do with the current state of the video game industry.

The American video game market has become stale with copy-cat products. Many Triple A games feature a white male main character about 30 years old. In these games, you usually play as the hero and save a world from destruction. While these games can be a lot of fun, and they often have really compelling stories, they aren’t for everyone.

Of course there are exceptions: Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends, etc. But even so, a lot of these games target a white male demographic of varying age. The American video game industry has found a comfortable target audience, which has to expand at some point.

In my mission to make games more accessible for all genders and ethnicities, I have to learn what type of stories draw other people in. To do so, I need to dig in deep with cultures across the globe and see what makes them tick. The more I learn, the more accessible games I can make.

So that still doesn’t answer the question: “Why Japan?”

I believe the Japanese video game market is more closed off to foreign games than most countries. In the United States, we see games from Canada, France, and Japan become instant classics. Gamers in Japan, however, seem to prefer Japanese games and arcade games more so than the typical American PC game. It’s not to say these games aren’t played, but it’s definitely less common than in the United States.

I hope my time in Japan can give me clues into how to make games not only more accessible to a Japanese audience, but also still relevant to an American one as well.


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