Browse through your Steam library, browse the backs of your PlayStation collection, or look at the shelf of all your Xbox games and count for yourself: how many games are set in the world you live in?
I’m not talking about Call of Duty, which puts dates and names on contemporary places, but can be positioned anywhere. I’m not talking about a racing or sports game that intricately models exactly one aspect of the entire human experience at the expense of infinitely countless others.
I’m talking about a video game that allows you to do many things that you already do or at least can do on a daily basis. After finishing adding these games up, you probably won’t find many. You may not find any at the address All.
Let me explain where I’m going. I played Yakuza Kiwami 2 one day, part of a long series that is considered inherently Japanese, when I realized that one of the things that resonated with me the most was not very Japanese at all.
Yakuza it is urban by nature. You spend most of your time interacting with Yakuza the game isn’t spent smashing motorcycles in a man’s face, it’s spent on bringing the same things that anyone who lives and/or works in a modern urban environment does every day. You’re just… walking around. You stop by the grocery store to buy a drink. Trying out the new fast food on the corner (everyone new Yakuza a game set 1-2 years after the last one always has a new place to try). Catching a cab because it’s raining and you don’t feel like walking four blocks. Bumping into people you know on the street (or NO bump into them, see previous cabin comment).
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They are global, human experiences because they are built around one of the few things billions of people around the world do they all have one thing in common: consumer capitalism. Yakuza is set in Japan, but most of the action – perhaps aside from the ritual and ancient battles within the clan’s hallowed home – could have taken place anywhere and it would have been pretty much the same game. Wherever people live, eat and shop nearby, from Manila to Melbourne, from Brussels to Bangkok, it would work just as well.
A large part Yakuza its charm is its intimacy place, the availability of so many things in such a relatively small space, the way you start to recognize some buildings, you get your bearings in the side streets. The fact is that almost everywhere you visit there is store– bar, takeaway, restaurant, clothing store – it’s a bit depressing on the one hand! So much of our love for Kamurocho is based on this commerce and that I rejected the other genres above for doing only one thing when Yakuza is when you strip it down to the studs, spending most of your time doing just one thing (buying things).
On the other hand, this is a great simplification, because it is not our it’s our fault that the world is like this, we just live in it. And buying refreshing soda from the vending machine go to the arcade buying a new bandana or sitting down and enjoying a nice meal may be “commercial” in the broadest sense, but they are also very different kinds of nice things, catering to very different needs and desires.
What matters is what defines them Yakuza activities outside of other “real world” games such as go crazy Or Gran Turismo Or Life is strange is that they are everyday things. We do them all the time, just like the guy on the screen. Which sounds boring as hell, but is actually one of the biggest reasons people love Yakuzaand its main playable characters, so damn much.
Kazuma Kiryu is, of course, a unique man who can throw signs at crowds of armed men, jump over barricades like Superman and even cheat death. But he’s also the most famous hero in video games because when he’s not doing these things we are in control With when he sits down to slurp bowl of ramen, buy a pack of pipes or get strangely frustrated with the UFO catching machine.
I do it! We Do it! And having the player in control of Kiryu’s most mundane activities – playing in a world that is a recreation of our own world, not a fantasy, alternate timeline or fictional take –Is the bestBecause They are doing a great job portraying the character. Making him fallible, human, a guy who has to kill time, run errands, and eat normal food like us.
This discovery made me think about two things. First, about how if you could move the file Yakuza formulas to another city, I’d love to see a London release/record, complete with Greggs, beers, nice suits and the city’s iconic cabs. The characters and cutscenes write themselves:
Secondly, it was weird that I had to fantasize about another game that does this because almost no Other video game series allow us to do everyday things in a digital version of our own world. There are open world games (Yakuza definitely not an open world game) with some shops and amusements, sure, but they are not as integral to the experience or as densely packed. They are also often caricatures of cities (see: GTA V)with little resemblance to Yakuza loyal recreating modern urban environments, to magazine racks on store shelves. And games like Animal crossing AND Stardew Valley may encourage players to engage in mundane matters, but they are set in idyllic locations and digging turnips is not something that people living in modern cities do on a daily basis.
Person, Maybe? Although it gives the illusion of freedom and choice, in fact, it is crippled by a limited set of locations and a strict schedule that keeps the player going. So no. sleeping dogs? It has some denser areas designed to play as a pedestrian, but still nothing to scale Yakuza daily dilemmas. Sims? This is either the best or the worst possible example and would require a whole other article to unpack, so in the interest of keeping this short I’ll say no here as well (although I will consider arguments to the counter!)
I think all I want to say here is that video games don’t always have to be about escape. At least not Always it must be about escaping. Sometimes the dullest daily activities can make the most difference in a game, because if you want us to really identify with the playable character, one of the best ways to do that is not to do some superhuman shit every five minutes, but to just…let’s take them for a nice snack and a walk down the street.