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De-Cultural Imitation Games

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

This roundtable begins part 3 of the collection, “Localizing Empire,” by expanding on the issues of the body from the previous section, to consider space and regional histories. The roundtable features a conversation among designers who work and/or focus on “non-American” contexts: Joe Yuzhou Xu in Shanghai; Paraluman (Luna) Javier in Manila; Christian Kealoha Miller in Hilo, Hawai‘i; and Lien B. Tran, who develops games aimed at audiences in the Global South. These game makers explore how games, as an entertainment media that emerged during the Cold War, were made possible by manufacturing routes that include extractive mining in Africa, processing factories in Malaysia and southern China, and innovations in Japan. The speakers also consider how their own games have sought to combat imperial structures through historical reckoning and decolonization. For these game makers, games can be reread to reveal how empire, capitalism, and racialization operate in seemingly apolitical games.

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Colonial Moments in Japanese Video Games: A Multidirectional Perspective

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Games from Japan carry a double colonial legacy—that of the oppressor in the Asia-Pacific, and that of the oppressed under Western imperialism in Asia and the Allied Occupation. This double coloniality is explored through the SoulCalibur (1995–), Final Fantasy (1987–), and Metal Gear (1987–) series to see how colonial complexities function across different genres. Colonial legacies coalesce in the visual and narrative representations of player-characters and non-player-characters alike, illuminating their diegetic motivation and extradiegetic reasoning for their character design, pointing to specific ideologies of identity, belonging, and ownership of place. Through close reading, certain themes, motifs, and imagery in the games come into focus as key points of negotiation with the past. Colonial power dynamics emerge not only between Japan and Asia or Japan and the West but also between Japan and its own Indigenous populations.

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The Video Game Version of the Indian Subcontinent: The Exotic and the Colonized

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

The Indian subcontinent has long been a zone of exploration and exoticism for the European and North American countries, and arguably it continues to remain so even in very new media such as video games. Strangely, although it is one of the most populous and diverse parts of Asia, it is generally not counted in Euro-American descriptions of “Asianness.” When it comes to representing the region, the portrayals border on extreme exoticization or sweeping generalizations. Chapter 8 analyzes the construction of South Asia and the Indian subcontinent within video games. In doing so, it invokes comparisons with the portrayals of the region in earlier narrative media, perspectives from postcolonial theory, postcolonial digital humanities, and game studies in the larger context of the Global South and, particularly, Asian identities.

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