Asymmetric Flows of Analog Gaming between Japan and Germany

Presentation at the Yamaoka Youth Culture Symposium 2019 about the barriers and flows of analog gaming between Japan and Germany. March 19, 2019 (Tue), 14:00-17:00, Kyoto University Rakuyu Kaikan

Since the 1990s, we can observe a constant influx of Japanese popular media into the German market, first reshaping TV programming through anime, later revolutionizing the publishing sector via manga and bringing practices like cosplay with them (the masquerading as characters from media franchises). Analog gaming in the form of “Autorenspiele,” board/card games from a professional designer (an “author,” thus “authored games,” unlike chess or trump cards, where the designers are no longer known), such as The Settlers of Catan (Teuber 1995; in Japanese called doitsu gēmu, Eurogames in English) and recently also larps (live-action role-plays) took the opposite route since the 2000s and established a small but growing market in which also Japanese game designers thrive (Kamm 2011; Kamm 2019). Despite an increasing number of analog games designed in Japan, however, their presence in Germany and Europe is limited. As of this writing, only one Japanese game designer has found recognition through the German Spielepreis (game award) 2014, Kanai Seiji with Love Letter (original Japanese 2012, English 2012, German 2013), despite many trying.

The purpose of this project was to investigate this asymmetry of flows by focusing on key actors, such as game designers and translators who enable the transfer of gaming knowledge and practices, as well as on major barriers, such as legal frameworks and customs regulations that inhibit these flows. With the economic success of digital gaming, most of the research related to games and play focus on video, computer and online games – a situation referred to by a number of scholars as a “digital fallacy” (Stenros and Waern 2011), where non-digital forms of playing fall by the wayside. This project thus sought to fill a gap of scholarly knowledge concerning analog gaming, especially regarding the possibilities and barriers of ideas, concepts and practices flowing between Japan and Germany. In a globalized world where internet technologies are imagined as connecting distant locales, such flows should be unhindered. However, previous investigations showed that in the realm of analog gaming this is not the case (Kamm 2017). The project investigated mechanisms of power inhibiting flows but also forms of overcoming such barriers, with a focus on cases taken form analog gaming as well as surrounding fan cultures. What factors promote or inhibit the flow between Japan and Germany?

Location: Yoshidanihonmatsucho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 606-8316
Kyoto University Rakuyu Kaikan, 2nd floor

Entrance: from 13:30 (no registration, free entry)

Languages: English, Japanese (simultaneous interpreting)