Growing up as a Japanese American, the differences of opinion regarding various subjects and current events across different generations intrigued me. These differences in opinion would lead to thoughtful insight and lessons learned from my grandparent’s nisei generation, as well as intense arguments with my parents, the sansei generation. Whether it is lessons to be learned or passionate debates, I think that we all can gain something from a new perspective.
This series looks to offer perspective through the lens of three different generations of Japanese Americans concerning one topic. This month's topic is "gaming" and I wanted to dive into the perspectives of intergenerational "video gamers". The only issue is that most of the traditional Sansei and Nisei generation may not have as much experience with video games. Therefore, I looked to dive deeper into subgenerational culture specifically Yonsei culture. This issue we are exploring the perspectives of 80's, 90's, and 2010's babies. I think each decade had its own unique gaming subculture and each deserves their own perspective. So repping the OG lan-party, NES, and internet cafe 80's babies is Jonathan Takahashi. He just happens to be my brother and is the one that I would always fight over controllers with when we were younger. Repping the generation I am dubbing the "gameboy kids" AKA 90's babies, we have Taylor Weik. Fun fact: Taylor also is a game designer and is coming out with a game in the near future called "J-Town: A Visual Novel" go check it out! Lastly, we have a newer gamer coming in repping the Minecraft, Roblox, and Fortnite generation of 2010's kids, Jonah Hyun. I never actually have gamed with him, but his brother said that he carries the squad whenever they play Fortnite together. Let's see what these (not so) noobs have to say!
- What is your name? Age (decade is fine. IE 20s, 30s, 40s)?
80’s gamer: Jonathan Takahashi, Age 34
90’s gamer: Taylor Weik, I’ll be entering my 30s this year.
10’s gamer: Jonah Hyun, Age 10
- What is your favorite way to play video games?
80’s gamer: I love playing computer games.
90’s gamer: I’ve always been a console girl! I currently play my games on PS5 and Nintendo Switch. But I’m due for a new laptop, and I’ve been thinking about making the switch from MacBook to a gaming laptop so I can play indie games on Steam.
10’s gamer: I play console (XBox) games.
- What genre of video games do you like?
80’s gamer: These days, I really only play MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arena).
90’s gamer: Kind of a funny combination, but I love cozy games and horror games the most. I’m an OG Animal Crossing fan and I still try to check on my island once a week to pull weeds and visit my residents, but I also love the Resident Evil franchise. In general, though, I’m drawn to games as a storytelling medium, so I’ll play anything that has been praised for its story and character development.
10’s gamer: I enjoy sandbox/open world games.
- What is your favorite video game that you are currently playing? What is your favorite video game of all time?
80’s gamer: Dota2 currently. Favorite videogame of all time would possibly be Zombie Mode from CAll of Duty:Black Ops 3
90’s gamer: I’m currently playing my way through The Last of Us Part 1–Naughty Dog’s remake of the original for PS5–which, coincidentally, happens to be tied for my favorite video game of all time.
I think Naughty Dog was light-years ahead of other folks in the industry because they saw video games as these opportunities to share carefully crafted narratives in a powerful way that books and movies couldn’t. And they invested so much in the story, themes, and characters to give players an immersive experience that would stay with us long after we finished playing. I think they set the bar high there. It’s been a delight playing this remake because it’s the story I know and love, but with beautiful, updated graphics that allow me to appreciate it on another level.
10’s gamer: Current favorite game: Fortnite
All time favorite game: Fortnite also
- How old were you when you first played your first video game and what are your earliest memories of video games?
80’s gamer: I was probably around 8. Earliest video game memories stemmed from the Classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) that I received from the easter bunny when I was about that age. Some of the games I remember playing include Super Mario Bros 2 and duck hunt.
90’s gamer: I think I was 9 years old when I got my pink Game Boy Advance and booted up Pokémon Ruby for the first time–my brother had Sapphire. My family was going through a turbulent time then, which is maybe why my mom bought us Game Boys. During that emotionally unstable period of my life, I felt comforted knowing that I could always turn to my Game Boy when I needed to play. And it was portable, so I could bring it with me wherever I went…kind of like a security blanket.
10’s gamer: I was age 6 when I first played games. The first game I played was minecraft on the iPad.
- Would you rather play games alone or with friends? Why?
80’s gamer: I usually play with friends and seldomly play alone with the exception of GB Pokémon blue and red. Even though I was always wanting to battle and trade different Pokémon in the game against friends.
I’m drawn to collective game playing for the same reasons I enjoy playing team sports (minus all the workouts and practices). The camaraderie building I find is at the ethos of most culture building at its foundation. Collectively completing a level or mission can be really satisfying to accomplish.
90’s gamer: While I have a blast playing games with friends from time to time, I prefer to play them alone–probably because I see them as a solitary activity like reading a book. I love to fully bury myself in the worlds the developers built, dwell on certain scenes or themes, and then talk about it with other friends who’ve played the game afterward.
10’s gamer: I would rather play with friends because you can socialize online.
- Do you play games online? Which games are your favorite online games?
80’s gamer: Yes, I play online games. Some of my favorite online games include (some of which I don’t really play anymore) Dota, Dota2, StarCraft, StarCraft 2, call of duty, counter strike, fifa, goldeneye
90’s gamer: I don’t, mostly for the reasons I described in the last question. There is an online element to Elden Ring, though, that I loved when I played it. Players can leave behind messages that you stumble across later, and you can call others in for help when you’re facing a challenging boss. There’s a sense of community there that I found myself enjoying.
10’s gamer: I do play games online. I like to play Fall guys.
Source: Epic Games
- What is your favorite part about gaming? [Either in the game itself, or the broader gaming community/culture]
80’s gamer: This question is very contextually specific to the game. The community and culture around gaming is the foundation with which all platforms and games benefit but it's the individual games themselves which really push the boundaries of how the culture/community is to grow so I would say a little bit of both.
90’s gamer: Even though I prefer playing games alone, I engage a lot with friends and strangers online about games–I have to say that besides the narrative element I talked about, my favorite part about gaming is connecting with others. There’s a lot of misogyny, racism, and general toxicity in the gaming community, to be sure, but there are also these pockets of connection that sometimes make me pause and think, “this is what being human is all about!” Which is so cheesy, but I love it.
10’s gamer: I love gaming with friends.
- Do you ever stream yourself playing video games? Do you watch any video game streamers or esport events?
80’s gamer: I do sometimes watch video game streamers but it's definitely something I don't have the time to indulge in often. I can completely understand why people become so fascinated with streamers and esports events. Seems like a natural extension of things similar to espn, fox sports, BEIN, etc. I will sometimes follow along to the big T.I. Dota 2 event every year.
90’s gamer: I haven’t streamed myself yet, but I must talk about it a lot because my boyfriend bought me a nice webcam, mic, and background lights for Christmas last year. I have a few streamers I enjoy watching when I’m taking my lunch break at work–Gab Smolders is probably my favorite because she’s calm, a total horror game junkie, and takes her time to explore and find hidden items, which is also my playing style.
10’s gamer: No
- If you could immerse yourself and live in a video game, which game would it be? Which character would you want to be?
80’s gamer: Haha this question sounds like something out of Belle or Ready Player One… For me there really isn’t a game I would feel so compelled by to immerse myself into. There is too much for me outside of video games which I would rather enjoy.
90’s gamer: Red Dead Redemption 2. I mean, there’s a very high chance that I’m gonna die an early death, whether from tuberculosis or being shot, but I’ve always had this childlike fascination with the Wild West that I’ve yet to shake. I spent so much of that game just riding my horse through the wilderness and taking screenshots of sunsets, and it’s not a bad way to live a life. If I had to choose a character, though, I’d be Sadie Adler. The game introduces her through a tragedy, but she’s a resilient woman who hardens herself against the world and takes what she wants in a society that looks down on women and sees them as submissive.
10’s gamer: I would want to be a player in Minecraft and feel how life would work in a blocky world.
- How have video games positively affected your life?
80’s gamer: Video games have always held a positive social impact on me both with friends and meeting new folks. I’ve definitely felt I enjoy video games most in moderation and not playing for hours on end.
90’s gamer: I’ve made many friends through playing video games, and I’m actually creating a visual novel with one of them right now. Video games have also gotten me through some tough times and the deaths of loved ones–there’s understandably a lot of death in games, so they’ve helped me process my real-life experiences. And, of course, the rich, multilayered worlds I get to live in as a gamer have inspired me as a writer.
10’s gamer: Video games have helped me become better at socializing and speaking.
- How have video games negatively affected your life?
80’s gamer: I often think about all the things I could be doing instead of playing video games but ultimately recognize that playing games for me is a social outlet of sorts which also doesn't cost me a dime to play (except maybe the electricity and time wasted).
90’s gamer: Truthfully: they haven’t.
10’s gamer: Video games have caused me to be less active and lazy.
- Do you believe that violent games create violent people?
80’s gamer: Nope. If that were the case then most countries filled with gamers would be filled with violent people but somehow most of the violent people just end up in the US…
90’s gamer: No.
10’s gamer: Yes, mainly as people get older.
- What role do you think gaming will play in your life 10 years in the future?
80’s gamer: It will probably have little effect on my life personally although I do feel games will increasingly become more novel and incorporated into everyday tasks like exercise, dietary habits, etc. I will more than likely have to learn about new games from my 2 year old now and all the nuances of cutting edge gaming technologies marketed to younger and younger kids.
90’s gamer: If I’m a parent by the time I’m 40, I’m sure I’ll be using video games to connect with my kids and introduce them to different kinds of stories. I have fond memories of the day my dad brought the PlayStation2 home for my brother and me–we spent all night playing Crash Bandicoot together.
10’s gamer: In 10 years might help me be more confident and social and help me find the type of job I want.
- Hi, I am someone who hates video games. What would you tell me to convince me that I am wrong and that video games are awesome?
80’s gamer: Nothing. Video games aren't for everyone and no one should be forced to play them if they aren’t into it. I will say though there are a huge variety of games now made for almost everyone under the sun. I mean they even have a game for OCD folks like myself where you get the chance to powerwash different environments…so I would recommend starting with things you're into and I’m sure someone has designed a video game for it or similar at some point.
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