East vs West: The Great Gaming War
Over the many, many, many (well not that many!) years of gaming it has become a massive phenomenon that swept the entire world over. There are gamers spread throughout every single continent. In spite of this massive dispersion of players the developers reign over two main areas, East Asia and North America. Sure we’ve seen some efforts come in from Europe, but unless its Japanese or American it is very likely that it hasn’t been heard of. Feel free to attack that statement as you will, but you know it’s true. Well I have to say one last thing regarding nations, and that is Canada counts too!
Let’s go back to the very beginning and think about how the whole industry started. It began with a simple, but revolutionary design of the ultimate game, Pong. It’s development and progression moved alongside in parallel to the development of the modern day computer. It seems that computation naturally invoked a need to game. The natural tendencies for humanity to play can’t be helped, so onwards with the history lesson. It was a 2-player game, a very simple design (not unlike Macs today), and the very, very important score count. A videogame just isn’t the same without points and the raw provocation of competition. So it had everything you need to be entertained for hours defeating challenger after challenger with the unique and complex artificial physics of triangulation using your lighting fast reflexes. The thumb would continue to be the main tool for gaming ever since.
So where was Pong born? In the USA, more specifically California where all computing seems to spawn from. It’s probably because they just have to worry about overheating instead of freezing to death. Soon after the Atari came out and home consoles were born; but what happened to PC gaming at this time? Well this was the 70’s so it actually isn’t fair to distinguish consoles from PCs because they were both computers at the time. Only their functions were different. Computers were used for storing and inputting information, and by that we mean useful work information, so that more work could be produced. Consoles were used for producing interesting and interactive video on a television screen. So they both performed computations - just different information.
Just a little interesting insert here. Those green screen Macs Apples were the first digital typewriters essentially, but programmers still managed to cram games into those black floppy discs. God bless. But it was only soon after when Windows was born did the PC really take off and away from the arcade and console level.
Good ol' Windows 3.1 was a friend to all. It was really a very welcome alternative/addition to the DOS command console. Suddenly the PC was usable for everyone who could move a mouse rather than type in code and commands to manipulate data. Sure the Mac II was there to compete, but it seemed to fall into the shadows of the PC. Good ol' Bill Gates even gave us the gift of Minesweeper and Solitaire included with Windows! We can tell what the real purpose of Windows was. Ever since then games have never stopped being developed for Windows despite the problems it sometimes carries. This is all American and all Western. So what happened to the Japanese?
Windows 3.1 was around the ‘92 stage, and Nintendo came out with their groundbreaking console in about ‘85. So you see the history of gaming is literally the history of our generation. The crazily adaptive minds of the Japanese managed to take what Atari was set out to do and improved it like mad. Just like with the automobile it was just better, more reliable, and a lot more fun. That was the entry of the Japanese into the gaming industry. Within a few years, after Windows the meek and mild games of the adventure series was blown away by guns. First introduced into the US market, the introduction of the first person shooter had arrived and taken the world by storm.
Anyway, where were the Japanese in all of this? They were kicking PC gaming in the rear with their consoles. I remember barely touching the computer except to get some headshots or to play some solitaire when waiting for webpages to load. So, let’s skip this era for the sake of PCs everywhere and move to today.
Where are the Japanese now? Still mainly in the realm of consoles, but they have taken a liking to the MMORPG genre and many other countries have joined in. Korea, Taiwan, and China all joined in and helped to produce many great RPG games that are also free to play! The main force comes from South Korea producing companies like Softnyx and the now massive Nexon with games like Gunbound, MapleStory, and KartRider. There are also tons of other MMORPGs like Ragnarok, and the countless others that look like Ragnarok. Squaresoft also tried to join in with its online version of Final Fantasy. It’s obvious though that none of these compare to the power of the World of Warcraft, which is American. What else is American? All the first person shooters, the real time strategies, the simulations, and everything by Blizzard. Hmm, maybe I didn’t think this through properly. I mean the Japanese have tons of great games for consoles and even introduced the incredibly popular RPG genre. So where are their PC games?
Here sums up the war. Awesomely violent and/or dark technologically supreme and super complex games vs. free-to-play cute and fun games, many in 2-D. I think it’s fair to determine a winner at this point. There is just a hope that PC gaming will expand to the East, which means developers too, not just crazy Korean Starcraft players. It just seems like the focus isn’t there, but if the ever growing community on MapleStory means anything is that they can make a mark and will continue to expand from there. It proves that not everyone likes violent and bloody games, and some bright colors once in a while can’t hurt. Or maybe the Asian market is just stealing all our female players. Well at the very least I think if Japan releases their line of uhh…girly based games it would attract more male players on the West side. Those Westerners just love their action too much it seems that the only way to their hearts is through their hormones.
My personal hope is that the PC gaming realm and the console world will reach a happy medium so that there would only be one platform to develop for. Then there wouldn’t be a 4-way competition between East/West and PC/console, just good ol’ global competition. That will spark happy gaming to all!