Japan didn’t invent the first computer game. That accolade goes to “Space War!”, a game created in 1962 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
But ever since then, Japan has embraced gaming culture with an almost unrivaled passion. From the Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog games that became cultural giants, to the Sega Mega Drive and Game Boy consoles which were symbols of their time, gaming was led by Tokyo for decades.
“Without the contributions of Japan, we wouldn’t have a video game industry,” Blake J. Harris, a video game expert and author of “Console Wars,” says. “Or, at least, not one that resembles what we have today in any way.
“From hardware to software, controllers to culture, no country has had a bigger influence on console gaming.”
After decades of dominance, however, Japan’s cultural clout waned during the early 2000s.
“As the appeal of video games grew larger and larger, it’s not surprising that the culture — and development — would no longer be dominated by a specific region,” explains Harris.
A renaissance, however, could be upon us with Japanese giants Sony and Nintendo both making comebacks.
Released in 2013, Sony’s PlayStation 4 became the best-selling home console of this generation in just 18 months, and so far it’s the only one that can be paired with a virtual reality headset — the Sony PSVR, which has sold over one million units.