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It argues that specific local developments of a video game industry and market took place in Japan, which has never been addressed in Western histories of games, mainly interested in Japanese video games through a global perspective. This historical investigation shows first that the Japanese video game industry developed from a specific socioeconomic context, which resulted from Japan's economic growth after the World War II and international trade relations that were established primarily with the United States. Similar to the work of Marc Steinberg on the anime’s media mix (Steinberg, 2012), we must examine the economic and material conditions of the video game industry in Japanese territory to better understand the evolution of video games globally, locally and everything in between.

General knowledge about Japanese video games, coming usually both from historical books and video game studies in the West, as well as through the discourse of the specialized press and media, and online fan communities, is only one facet of the world of video games in Japan[1]. rightly asserted, the development of “digital play” was conducted jointly through a complex process in the three circuits of technology, culture, and marketing (Kline et al., 2003), we must acknowledge that the Japanese video game industry has its own process through these circuits, including of course its global and transnational aspect, but which constitutes only a part of the overall picture. foundational developments in the computer industry and at university research institutes -- all subsidized by the military-space complex” (Kline et al., 2003, p. 86), the emergence of a video game industry in Japan has developed in a different context. […] Japan's video-game industry emerged out of corporate sponsorships in arcades, toys and consumer electronics industries and drew skills from the comic book and animated-film sectors… After an historical overview of each of these sectors, I will conclude with some major consequences of the contribution of the Japanese video game industry on the global level. If, as stated by Kline et al., “[t]he invention of the video game could not have taken place without … The Japanese video game industry is one of those industries in Japan that was imported from the United States during the twentieth century, but that was able to somehow “improve” the model. The formation of the Japanese video game industry is strongly tied to the specific socioeconomic situation of Japan after World War II. xiii) that cannot be reduced uniquely to a model of globalization. The Japanese video game industry is at the intersection of local innovations in marketing strategies -- in part in a context commonly called themedia mix, which is itself linked to a broader context of a consumption culture that has risen up from contemporary, and some would say postmodern (Azuma, 2007, 2009), Japan -- national industrial transformations -- whereas the Japanese video game industry is at the crossing of electronics, computer, amusement and content industries in Japan -- and technological and artistic developments -- from the hardware to the software -- in which some aspects were, subsequently or synchronously, established globally and under an increasingly transnational mode, all forming a particular media ecology or system, that I name “geemu”[2]. Martin Picard is a postdoctoral scholar and recipient of a Japan Foundation Research Fellowship on Japanese video game culture at Wako University in Tokyo. His teaching and research interests cover Japanese popular culture, video game culture and history, film and digital media.


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