Image for article titled Why are video games so afraid of the everyday?

screenshot: Sega | kotaku

Browse your Steam library, flip through the spines of your PlayStation collection, or glance at the shelf of all your Xbox games and do the math for yourself: how many games are playing in the world you live in?

I’m not talking about call of Duty, which sets dates and names in contemporary places, but could be set anywhere. I’m not talking about a racing or sports game that intricately models exactly one aspect of the entire human experience at the expense of countless others.

I’m talking about a video game with which you can do many things that you already do, or at least can do on a daily basis. After adding these games above, you probably won’t find many. You may not find any below all.

Let me explain what I’m getting at with this. I played Yakuza Kiwami 2 The other day, part of a long-running series believed to be inherently Japanese, I realized that one of the things that spoke to me the most wasn’t very Japanese at all.

yakuza is urban by nature. You spend most of your time interacting with a yakuza The game isn’t spent slapping bikes in the face at a man, it’s spent doing roughly the same things that everyone living and/or working in a modern urban environment does every day. you just walk around Go to a supermarket to buy a drink. Trying out the new fast food place on the corner (each new yakuza Game playing 1-2 years after the last one always has a new place to try). Catch a cab because it’s raining and you don’t feel like walking four blocks. Meeting people on the street you know (or not come across them, see previous taxi comment).

These are global human experiences because they are built around one of the few things that billions of people around the world have have in common: consumer capitalism. yakuza is set in Japan, but most of its action – aside perhaps from ritualistic and ancient battles on the grounds of a sacred clan HQ – could take place anywhere, and it would be pretty much the same game. Anywhere people live, eat and shop in close proximity, from Manila to Melbourne, from Brussels to Bangkok, it would work just as well.

A large part yakuzas Allure is the intimacy of his Location, the availability of so much stuff in such a relatively small area, the way you start to recognize certain buildings, knowing your way around back alleys. The fact that almost everywhere you visit is a save on computer– a bar, a diner, a restaurant, a clothing store – is kind of depressing on the one hand! So much of our love for Kamurocho is built on this Commerce, and that I dismissed other genres above because they only do one thing, when yakuza is when you strip it down to the studs you spend most of your time doing just one thing (buying stuff).

On the other hand, that’s an oversimplification, because it’s not our The world is to blame, we just live in it. And buy a soft drink from a vending machine go to the arcade buy a new headscarf or sitting down to enjoy a good meal, all of which may be “commerce” in the broadest sense of the world, but they are also very different types of beautiful things that satisfy very different wants and needs.

Important, what sets this yakuza Activities apart from other “real world” games such as Driving me crazy or Gran Turismo or life is strange is the fact that they are everyday things. We they do it all the time, just like the guy on screen. Which sounds boring as hell, but I think it’s one of the main reasons people love yakuzaand its main playable characters, so damn much.

Image for article titled Why are video games so afraid of the everyday?

Kazuma Kiryu is, of course, an exceptional man, capable of hurling shields at crowds of gunmen and jumping over barricades like Superman even cheat death. But he’s also the most well-known protagonist in video games because when he’s not doing the stuff We are in control from him as he sits down to slurp buy a bowl of ramen smokes or gets a packet oddly frustrated with a UFO catcher machine.

I’ll do it! We Do that! And when the player controls Kiryu’s most mundane activities – playing in a world that’s a replica of our own, not a fantasy or alternate timeline or fictional setting –is the preferablyBecause They are does a wonderful job fleshing out the character. That makes him fallible, human, a guy who needs to kill time and run errands and eat regular food, just like us.

This revelation got me thinking about two things. First, like if you could move that yakuza Formula to another city, I’d love to see a London edition, complete with Greggs, pints, nice suits and the city’s iconic cabs. The characters and cutscenes would write themselves:

Yes, I know this is set a very long time ago, I just really like that scene and I think it’s basically Tom Hardy driven Yakuza cutscene

Secondly, it was strange that I had to fantasize about another game while doing this, since almost nNo other video game series lets us do everyday things in a digital version of our own world. There are open world games (yakuza is definitely not an open world game) with some shops and pastimes, sure, but they’re not as essential to the experience or as densely packed. They are also often caricatures of cities (see: GTA V)with little resemblance to yakuzas faithful recreations of a modern urban environment, to the magazine racks on convenience store shelves. And games like animal crossing And Stardew Valley may encourage players to engage with the mundane, but they play in idyllic locations and Digging up turnips isn’t something people in modern cities do every day.

persona, Perhaps? Although it gives the illusion of freedom and choice, In reality, it’s hampered by a limited number of locations and a strict schedule that keeps the player on their toes. So no. sleeping dogs? It has some denser areas designed to be played as a pedestrian, but still nothing on the scale yakuzas daily distractions. The Sims? It’s either the best or worst possible example, and it would take another whole article to unpack, so I’ll say no here to keep it short also (although I will entertain arguments against the counter!)

I guess all I want to say here is that video games don’t always have to be about escapism. Or at least not always it must be about escapism. Sometimes the most boring, mundane actions can be the most meaningful in a game, because if you want us to actually relate to a playable character, one of the best ways to do that is not to pull some superhuman shit every five minutes, but only …Let’s take them out for a nice little snack and a walk down the street.

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