Sociability

My Social Village

What is the word for when you are sixteen years old and your friend goes missing from school for a week unexplained and you don’t want to call his home phone because said friend’s Mum terrifies you, plus you are slightly afraid he is dead and don’t want to make things awkward? I tried looking in the dictionary for that extremely common scenario and I found nothing – stupid piece of trash. The closest I can come up with is Monster Hunter 3.

Monster Hunter is a fantasy/RPG series developed by Capcom that is hugely popular in Japan. Until about 2 hours ago that was about all I knew of it other than its ability to make me assume my closest friend dead. Taking inspiration from the idea of the week’s lecture on monster culture, I decided to delve further into this slightly less than high definition world to see what all the fuss is about. I have chosen to watch a Let’s Play series by acclaimed YouTuber GamingBliss; I don’t like him.

My immediate perception of this game was: “Cool, a worse version of Dark Souls”, followed by “hey, that dinosaur is pretty cute” followed by “I wish he didn’t kill that dinosaur”. What I can gather from this video is Monster Hunter is a game largely focused on self-driven goals. The protagonist, some sort of emotionless village protector, seeks errands from the village people who always have slightly too much to say. These errands usually (perhaps always?) involve slaughtering a monster in a nearby area and gathering its remains, I guess as proof of the kill. Monster Hunter’s strong focus on enemy design, as well as the enormous scope and scale of the game are what I would immediately attribute its success to. Surely there must be more reasons, right?

“Due to the nature of the game’s multi-player system, particularly with the PSP and 3DS, when playing with others, you will almost invariably be playing with someone you know—more often than not, a friend.” – Toshi Nakamura, Kotaku

Nakamura attributes the culture of Japan and its imperial origins creating a “need to fit into a community” to the huge success of Monster Hunter (Nakamura, 2013). What I find interesting in this hypothesis is that it is not a direct feature of the game which draws the appeal of an audience, rather the sociability of it in which its features cater towards. As I know very little about sociability in gaming in an eastern context, I think it would be interesting to explore this further in contrast to western gaming audiences and our need for community (if any). I am still unsure if I will continue this in relation to Monster Hunter.

Nakamura, T, 2013, ‘Why Monster Hunter is So Popular in Japan (and Struggles Everywhere Else)’, Kotaku, http://kotaku.com/5980436/why-monster-hunter-is-so-popular-in-japan-and-struggles-everywhere-else