Where is the indie game ofJapan?Conventions and creativities formed bytechnology, distribution, cultureShin Imaiaka.firstname.lastname@example.org
Who am I ?● Graduate School of Humanities andSociology, The University of Tokyo● Major：popular music studies, aesthetics,philosophy of music, theory of contentsindustry● Job：part-time lecturer, writer about musicand videogame● About indie game○ AGM Blog（Playism）○ interview with developers and columns
Background：Indie Game Rising● Western Indie Scene○ Internet [Antholopy2012]○ mod tools or engines [星野2007, 新2008]○ GDC, especially IGF● Japanese Indie Scene○ Internet [Ito2007]○ RPG Makers[Ito2007],engines and library [三宅2011]○ dojuinshi conventions○ free soft review sites, doujin culture● Both expanded by technology, dituribution(but cultures are a bit different).
6 traits of doujin/indie games[七邊2009]1. Value（enjoy than business）2. Autonomy（liberty to develope）3. Flexibility（agile development）4. Development speed（short term）5. Distance between dev. and users（close）6. Sales and income（low）⇒ “Possibilities of sustainbale small-scalegame development”● In the same way, Western indie games havethese traits.
Many original high-qualitydoujin games [七邊2011]1. Diversity of creators：jobs, academicbackground, gender2. “Original” titles rather than fan fictions：theresult of restriction by contents holders3. Improvement of games：feedback from usersand developers⇒ “Many original high-quality doujin gamesare developed in Japan”● In the same way, Western indie games havethese traits(except 2, as explained below）.
Japanese Indie games haveless presence● BitSummit（2013/3/9）：an event forJapanese indie developers.● James Mielke says “Japanese indie gamesdeserve more attatinon along withWesterns.”［ファミ通.com］, “There is plenty oftalented indie develpoers in Japan.”［Game*Spark］● However previous studies have shown thatthere is the scene of JIG and many originalhigh-quality doujin games are developed inJapan.
Why does JIG have lesspresence ?● This question can divide into two parts.1. Really many original high-quality JIG?⇒ (A) Halfway YES!2. Despite that, Why does JIG have lesspresence ?⇒ (B) Fragmentation of JIG⇒ (C) Aesthetics problem about Creativity● The following explains (B), after that (A) and(C).
(B) Fragmentation ofdistirbutions● doujin conventions or doujin shop⇒ Doujin Games● downloads online⇒ Free Games● Feature phone network⇒ mobile game before smart phones● As a result fragmentation of the indie gameculture, the core of JIG is unclear.
(A) Originality on video gameOriginality of various elements1. Game design2. Visual, Character design, UI3. Story, Theme, Motif4. Audio, Sound, Music5. etc...● Hichibes “original” is 3：not fan fiction, but variousstories and themes which arent featured by consumertitles.⇒ Surely YES! JIG is “original” in this sense.● But this isnt necessarily high-quality.
(C) Creativity on video gameDiscriminate between originality and creativity.● Originality：newness on each elements● Creativity：the result of combination witheach elements, holistic assessmentetc ADVSetcgame X=creativeDesign:not originalStory:originalAudioVisualgame Y=not creative
(C) Not originalbut crative games● If each elements have less originality, a videogame can be creative.● Also if oriented toward exsiting game genrerather breaking new genre, it can be creative.● In this sense, JIG doesnt necessarily haveoriginality, but have high creativity.
Cave Story［開発室Pixel2004］● Indie game classic!● It doesnt have high originality on gamedesign, visual, story, music, etc. ,however surely high creativity.
Don’t Look back［T. Cavanagh2009］● Outside JIG● Game design, visual, story, music are allbanal, but the game is creative in whole.
Hellsinker.[犬丼帝国2007]● Mashup with many game desings of exisitingshoot’em up.● Legendary doujin STG, create followers stillnow.
Helens Mysterious Castle［さつ2011］● Much material is ready made(RPG makersruntime package).● As result of sophisticated minimalist gamedesign, great creativity.
(C) Creativity of Japaneseindie games● Each elements arent necessarily original.● Rather than the characteristic of JIG isstrongly oriented existing game genres.○ J-RPG, visual novels, shoot’em up,fighting games○ Famous titles like TohoProject orHigurashi When They Cry are orientedexisting game genres too.● Creativity can achieves by combination witheach elements.（cf. sampling on music）
(C) Creativity and game play● By comparison with JIG, Western indiegames seem to be original.○ Braid, Minecraft, Fez, etc...○ Oriented toward making new genres.● Unlike originality, creativity of video gamesmust be actually play to be understood.○ How can you explain Cave Story is greatvideo game without actually play?● JIGs “genre oriented” is one of reasons whyJIG have less presence.
Con. In spite of creativity, thereason why less presenceAesthetics premise：creativity of video gamesmust be actually play to be understood.1. JIG are released to niche markets includingthe PC platform.(reason：easy development)2. The PC platform is niche.(reason：popularityof game consoles in Japan)3. Overwhelmingly shortage of palyers.4. Media and critique cannot be grown.5. As the result, in spite of creativity JIG getless attention.
Supplement● Comparison examination between Japaneseand Werstern indie game○ Except 2(The PC platform is niche),conditions and environment are same.○ If 2 change, JIG will gather moreattention.● Quantitative and qualitative research.● Aesthetics discussion.● Important of player and media, critique.
Reference● 七邊信重（2011）「なぜ多様で良質なオリジナルの同人ゲームが日本で開発されるのか?」デジタルゲーム学研究 5(1), 65-78.● 七邊信重（2009）「持続的な小規模ゲーム開発の可能性」デジタルゲーム学研究 3(2), 171-183.● 三宅陽一郎（2011）「日本における同人・インディーズゲームの技術的変遷」デジタルゲーム学研究 5(1), 57-64.● Ito Kenji,（2007）“Possibilities of Non-Commercial Games” in Suzanne deCastell and Jennifer Jenson, eds., Worlds in Play, 129-142.● 新清士（2008）「MOD およびオープンコミュニティについて調査」デジタル コンテンツ制作の先端技術応用に関する調査研究報告書, 265-295.● 星野留美子(2007)「デジタルゲーム・メタクリエイション」季刊政策・経営研究, 1(1), 31-41.● 井上明人(2008)「ゲーム作りの文化のために」日本デジタルゲーム学会2008/9/26● Anna Anthropy(2012)Rise of The Videogame Zinesters, Seven StoriesPress.