Japanese Role-playing Games: Genre, Representation, and Liminality in the JRPG examines the origins, boundaries, and transnational effects of the genre, addressing significant formal elements as well as narrative themes, character construction, and player involvement. Contributors from Japan, Europe, North America, and Australia employ a variety of theoretical approaches to analyze popular game series and individual titles, introducing an English-speaking audience to Japanese video game scholarship while also extending postcolonial and philosophical readings to the Japanese game text. In a three-pronged approach, the collection uses these analyses to look at genre, representation, and liminality, engaging with a multitude of concepts including stereotypes, intersectionality, and the political and social effects of JRPGs on players and industry conventions. Broadly, this collection considers JRPGs as networked systems, including evolved iterations of MMORPGs and card collecting “social games” for mobile devices. Scholars of media studies, game studies, Asian studies, and Japanese culture will find this book particularly useful.
Rachael Hutchinson is professor of Japanese studies at the University of Delaware.
Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon is postdoctoral researcher at Université du Québec à Montréal.
A Note on Names and Sources
List of Figures and Tables
Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon and Rachael Hutchinson
Part One: Genre
Chapter 1: Evolution of a Genre: Dragon Quest and the JRPG
Chapter 2: Japan’s Hard(ware) Power: Consoles, Culture, and the Mass Appeal of Japanese Role-Playing Games
Nökkvi Jarl Bjarnason
Chapter 3: Tutorial Characters and Rhetorical Strategies: Comparing Mother and Final Fantasy
Chapter 4: Challenging Linearity: Microstructures and Meaning-making in Trails of Cold Steel III
Chapter 5: “Is JRPG Old Fashioned?”: Genre, Circulation, and Identity Crisis in Black Rock Shooter: The Game
Part Two: Representation
Chapter 6: Harmonized Dissonance: Parodies of Japan’s America in Earthbound
Chapter 7: From Cleric to Daemon: Narrative and Ludic Agencies of Female Characters in the Tales of Series
Chapter 8: Beyond Status Effects: Disability and Japanese Role-Playing Games
Chapter 9: Empathy for the Blind: Negotiating Disability in Final Fantasy XV
Chapter 10: Everyday Aesthetics and Social Reform in Persona 5
Part Three: Liminality
Chapter 11: Creating Community in Persona 3: Japanese Role-playing Games as Networked Practice
Chapter 12: Networked Asymmetry: Uncanny Traces in the Dark Souls Series
Chapter 13: Pseudo-allegory in Final Fantasy XIV
Chapter 14: Traces of Change in JRPG History: Mythological Thinking in Fate / Grand Order and Pokémon GO
About the Contributors
Bringing together some of the most insightful voices in Japanese game studies, Jérémie Pelletier-Gagnon and Rachael Hutchinson provide a roadmap to a crucial genre of games: the Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG). From Pokémon and Final Fantasy to lesser-known games like EarthBound, this book shows that the JRPG is a crucial lens onto global game studies and the continuing impacts of Japanese game studies on it. This volume offers an insightful set of case studies and suggests some unique vantages onto the JRPG: from platform analysis, to Japan's media ecologies, to tutorial characters, to disability. This will become a go-to resource for anyone interested in the JRPG, Japanese games, and game studies in general.
This book is an essential addition to the role-playing game studies literature. Its focus on Japanese computer role-playing games (JRPGs) is wonderfully and deliciously broad, deep, and diverse in its authors, perspectives, and games. There is plenty here to sate the intellectual curiosity of readers interested in the staples of the JRPG canon who are also unafraid to head into the wilderness of Japanese games that have mostly escaped the critical eye.