Musings:The un-Abrahamism of Japanese video games
👑 We must confess that Japanese media, especially JRPG's and anime, have been a guilty pleasure of ours since childhood. We can confess this without feeling must shame, and we find the fact we can openly confess such a thing without an ounce of shame a bit disconcerting. While we suspect that most people understand that Japanese video games are steeped in the fundamentals of a non-Western culture, we also suspect that few would outright label Japanese video games and entertainment as un-Christian or un-Abrahamic. Abrahamic religions forbid gambling and perversions, such as cross-dressing and homosexuality, yet Japanese games are steeped in both gambling (e.g. pachinko, gacha) and perversions (e.g. lolicons, effeminate "traps").
As weeaboos ourselves, we didn't create this website with the intention of one day disparaging Japanese culture as a force of corruption, but after witnessing r/grandorder respond negatively to U.S. Senator Josh Hawley's proposal to protect the vulnerable from loot boxes (and possibly gacha games) and reporting on an incident where someone was threatening another person with violence over the possibility that lolicons would be censored, we've decided to break the taboo. We suspect that gambling and perversions are widespread in Japanese because they are not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. Websites written by Westerners and mainly targeted at Western audiences, such as OSNews, have responded more positively to Josh Hawley's proposal. Westerner Jim Sterling has been an outspoken critic of unregulated loot boxes for years and reacted much more to Hawley's proposal with greater positivity and less cynicism than r/grandorder. After reading Josh Hawley's Wikipedia entry (we'll link to the relevant portion of Hawley's Infogalactic article instead), we find Mr. Hawley to be an outstanding Christian and support his efforts.
David Plotz of the U.S.–Japan Foundation Media Fellows Program writes:
In Japan, gambling has no moral component. Ichiro Tanioka, president of Osaka University of Commerce and Japan’s leading gambling scholar, notes that neither Shintoism nor Buddhism proscribes gambling, and Christians are such a small minority in Japan that their religious objections to gambling are essentially unheard. In Japanese tradition, gambling is considered, with prostitution and drinking, one of the three vices. (This does not seem to have had the slightest impact on gambling or drinking or prostitution, all of which remain popular pastimes.) Gambling is never treated as a moral issue in Japan, only as a practical one. (A common pattern: Many issues that Americans consider moral Japanese consider practical). Even Koji Furukawa, the pachinko addict, doesn’t think gambling should be restricted. Gambling is considered troublesome insofar as it bankrupts people or causes crime, but it is never thought bad in itself. That is why Japanese government authorities are always ready to impose controls on gambling—to regulate games so that you can’t win or lose too much—but are never willing to ban them. Prohibition is a moral answer. Regulation is a pragmatic one.— David Plotz, "Pachinko Nation", japansociety.org
Due to the allure of gambling and un-Abrahamic ideas in general, we believe that the "marketplace of ideas" will make this issue worse, not better; thus, we believe that regulation and higher moral standards are justified.
Although we knowledge that a non-Abrahamic nations will naturally produce un-Abrahamic video games, we believe that Abrahamic nations shouldn't accept un-Abrahamic imports without criticism and caution. Thankfully, Japanese companies such as Nintendo tend to localize their games instead of releasing a 1:1 translation. Instead of using the appeal of Japanese video games as leverage to force other nations into accommodating Japanese culture, they adapt the games to local cultures, releasing localizations that are particular to certain nations or civilizations. Unlike other weeaboos, we don't begrudge localization efforts that take Abrahamic religious concerns into consideration. Nevertheless, social justice warriors have been known to hijack the localization process in order to pursue their egalitarian agenda, so even localized video games shouldn't be accepted without scrutiny.
To our everlasting shame, we will likely continue playing Fate/Grand Order. As a nationalist and monarchist, its premise – restore history with the aid of (gathered) historical and mythological characters – appeals to me too much, and we find it rather well-written for a gacha game. Despite our shameful hypocrisy, we believe that this issue is a subject worth blogging around, and as we've haven't seen many others do it, we feel a duty to fill the gap. And who knows? Perhaps the threat of losing its U.S. market on account of new regulations will cause DelightWorks and other gacha game producers to adapt non-gambling mechanics or make them fairer.
One day, we hope that Christians, Jews, and Muslims will, each group unto themselves, create suitable alternatives to un-Abrahamic video games – alternatives that learn from JRPG's and embrace the good in them while discarding what is vile and un-Abrahamic.