While contemplating the difference between “role-play”, “roleplay” and “role play” I came across an interesting bit of trivia. In Japan, RPG means a digital role-playing game, while pencil and paper RPG’s are known as TRPG’s or “table-talk role-playing games”.
Role-playing in Japan is an interesting phenomenon. They had their own boom, have their own games and enjoyed some of the games we know well in the west, such as GURP’s and Dungeons and Dragons. There are even companies like Aurora Models who make miniatures and dungeon sets for TRPG’s.
But what’s the state of TRPG’s now?
Well, it seems like the disaster that hit Japan a year ago had quite an effect on spending, especially in terms of recreation. Apart from many foreigners leaving, many Japanese cut down on travelling and recreational spending. I spoke to my local hobby store owner who said that Magic The Gathering had seen a sharp decline in sales.
Have a look on the store locator from the Wizards of the Coast site and you’ll find plenty of stores stocking their goods in Japan, but talk to the average teenager about RPG’s and they might not know what you’re talking about, even with those who understand English well.
Is this all because of the disaster or just the general slump of the RPG industry?
The Foreign Effect
There might not be as many foreigners in Japan now as there were a year ago, but amongst us the passion for gaming burns strong. My own list of role players in my area numbers some 15 people, and that’s only after being here for 8 months (you should know that I’m socially retarded quite often, so I’m sure there are people I’m missing, just because I don’t get out much.)
Japan is a country of determined people. The spirit of Bushido and “Never Give Up” may be stronger than any Japanese person would ever admit, especially in the face of the situation today. While the rest of Japan may not have been so directly affected as those hit by the Tsunami or the displacement from the reactor, their minds certainly are not far from what happened a year ago today.
What can you do?
Japan doesn’t want to be treated like a plague victim. It’s safe enough, even if there at tremors now and again, but it’s a beautiful country that deserves a visit. As role-players we are continually inspired by Japan, from L5R to the samurai and ninja classes in D&D or Pathfinder. Reach out on the web. Buy manga, play the games and come and be inspired by this amazing country.
It inspires me daily.