Japanese Devs Focus More On Game Mechanics Over Story; Western Devs Do The Opposite

When developing games, a studio must find the right balance among the aspects of a game: story, aesthetics, sound design, and game mechanics to make the perfect game – it’s difficult, even for successful studios like CD Projekt RED and Rockstar North.

The cultural differences are also shown in video-games, not just in other forms of entertainment.

According to Nintendo’s Game Designer, Jordan Amaro, a foreigner in the walls of a Japanese game studio giant, the focus in game development by the Western studios is on character development, story, and setting. While Japanese studios rather concentrates on gameplay mechanics and how it plays, and that this aspect in a game is far more important than the characters and story – Amaro told Rolling Stone in an interview.

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There are several Japanese approaches. Every company has its own culture. It seems to me, when I look at the way game design was done at Kojima Productions, the way it’s done at Capcom and Nintendo, the way I feel it’s being done at Platinum Games or From Software, I feel there’s a lot more importance and focus given to game mechanics over world, setting, story, message, all that stuff.

I’m stereotyping, but in the West, scope, visuals, and features are the main attraction. For example, when we used to have Kojima Productions L.A.—we had an office in Los Angeles—we would get proposals for new games, pitches. It always started with: ‘This is the world you’re in. This is the experience I’m going to give you.’ And gameplay was relegated to page 5 or 6 or 10. It was always about who you’re playing, who is the character, what’s going on, but not the ‘how,’ how am I playing this?

In Japan, a pitch is a page, maybe two. The first page you write what the game is about and how you play it. And the second page, maybe you need an illustration. We don’t care about who, or what the story is, what the game world is, all of this doesn’t really matter.[/alert]

Western studios have already made remarkable creations like CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3, Guerrilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn, and as well as Naughty Dog’s Uncharted franchise. The approach to games nowadays have shifted to a more story-driven and cinematic experience.

As we have seen the trend or, shall we call it, shift from gameplay to the core narrative of its ingredient, players, most especially players from the West, have began to prefer a game with a compelling plot.

A great example of that is Uncharted. The overall gameplay mechanics are repetitive: you shoot, run, climb, swing from one platform to the other, solve puzzles, then repeat – and it’s also a linear experience. This is not to say that Uncharted is a bad game, the story or plot and its impressive visuals overshadow the lack interesting gameplay mechanics.

In the end, it still boils down to the consumer’s preference.

Source: Rolling Stone