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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Japanese Players vs. Western Players: Better?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Or, why Westerners have such an interesting view of what the Japanese are like.

So, I'm an extreme mono-lingual individualist Westerner, and here I am going to drop some knowledge about the relationship of Western gamers vs. Japanese gamers in multiplayer environments. You're right to think I don't know what I'm talking about, and if KoopaTV ever filled its Japanese Marketing Manager position that has been open for over two years now, I'd ask the person in that role about this question. This paragraph has been your disclaimer.

At least I can speak for myself.

There is a lot of animosity between the Japanese and Westerners in multiplayer gaming. Westerners consider the Japanese to be SO MUCH better at games. The Super Smash Bros. Melee documentary (The Smash Brothers) was literally set up to portray the King of Smash Ken Hoang as dominating the whole United States (and Western hemisphere by extension), and then he went to Japan to really prove himself. Japan is portrayed as the final frontier/final boss, like it's another planet or the moon. People see Japan as some sort of utopia of super-skilled gaming robots.

Ken at around 21:54 in The Smash Brothers: Episode 4:

“When they play Smash, they play Smash. They play all day, all night, all day, all night. The weakest Japanese player was definitely like, as strong as our strongest player in America.”

There's no reason why Americans can't do the same thing.

They play the same game we do. The Japanese don't have these non-obtainable un-equal buffs to their characters that Americans can't access while playing against the Japanese. I attribute it to cultural differences in discipline.

That documentary video portrays the Japanese as highly respectful towards everyone, including Ken the American. But if you play Splatoon against the Japanese, they can be just as vicious, bragging, and cruel as American Inklings can be. If not more.

The relevant reason why I prefer to play Splatoon during Splatfests instead of any other time is that it's region-locked to exclude the Japanese. The average American playing Turf War is a lot less-skilled than the average Japanese player, so it's a lot more relieving and easier. It doesn't have to be that way, but that's just how it is. But if I look inside myself, I know it's not about the skill differences.

I don't particularly play to win in the most optimal way. I main the Splattershot Jr. in Splatoon, and I main myself, King Dad, and Jigglypuff in Super Smash Bros. For Wii U. All of those choices are quite underpowered compared to their competition. It's clear that I'm not playing primarily for winning competitions. What I really play these games for in online multiplayer is... the social aspect, actually.

I get more frustrated at people for not using their name tags for communication in Super Smash Bros. For Wii U's online multiplayer With Anyone than if they are playing really annoyingly or they're destroying me. As long as we can have some sort of conversation or friendship, then I don't care. It doesn't even have to be expressed through written communication, but how you play. Games like Super Smash Bros. and Splatoon (the former moreso than the latter) allow for intricate and elaborate expression of your personality through your character's actions. There is a lot of social value for that.

What does that have to do with the Japanese? They don't bother doing that with Americans. I don't know if they play a certain way when it's a room of just Japanese people, but they never bother to do anything than mercilessly eliminate the Westerner in an optimal, robotic way. Playing against Japanese people is the equivalent of playing against a computer player. The language barrier doesn't help.

A Japanese player would NEVER, EVER do something like this:

Miiverse Splatoon Splatfest team pride Pirates excellent teammates
“Shoutout to: cpt. ħook, Ludwig, Vann, ☆★Evan★☆, Sweetberry, Luiggi and Platina for being excellent teammates!”
(For more information on the Team Pirates Splatfest, click here.)

Splatoon Splatfest Inkopolis Square Miiverse Pokémon Blue compliment
“I give you Ludwig a 10/10 perfect note for the Pokémon splatfest!! Amazing partner!”
(For more information on the Pokémon Splatfest, click here.)

All those people who gave me shout-outs actually sent me Wii U friend requests. I was actually going to send them friend requests too, but they did it first! We had a communicative bond of developing FRIENDSHIP going on as we kept playing Splatoon games. A Japanese player would never send a Westerner one of those friend requests, or develop any sort of bond with a Westerner. I mean, there's an obvious reason for that, but it's also an obvious reason why Westerners have this negative perception of Japanese players.

We're “the other” to them, and they are “the other” to us. Because we can't relate to them on the basis of communication, we don't bother to think about how they're people just like us, and our fellow Westerners. We see them as the collective “Japanese players”. (And to be fair, they are asking for that kind of label as a collectivist society.) Since we strip the individual Japanese player of their humanity, we don't see any value to befriending any individual Japanese player. I'm not saying that to make Westerners sound like horrible close-minded people or anything — while I don't know for sure, the Japanese probably think of us in the same way. Everything in this article is mutual.

So playing against the Japanese is not fun for people who play games for community. I'm sure Westerners who play games for competition — like the Super Smash Bros. player Ken — relish playing the Japanese. Those that fear or dislike playing the Japanese should consider why they're playing to begin with. There isn't a wrong answer to that, but knowing your own motivations goes a long way in determining why you react the way you do to things.

This article exists because of a request from a KoopaTV reader! Ludwig isn't even good at videogames. While he takes a couple hours each day to write an article about videogames, hardcore Japanese players actually spend time playing videogames. And they get better at those games, while Ludwig has gotten no better at Super Smash Bros. or Splatoon during the time spent writing this article. Ludwig's NNID is PrinceOfKoopas — you can send him a Wii U friend request, but his friend list is at 98/100 people. A lot of those were from Splatfests or Super Smash Bros. For Wii U and Ludwig doesn't actually talk to a lot of those players after being their friend. Which is their fault for not being available afterwards.


  1. I sometimes browse Splatoon Reddit and there are posts made about users asking others to help translate Japanese Friend Requests and the friend requests actually say nice things and ask to be befriended.

    1. I've never received a friend request from a Japanese person. (I don't think the generic Japanese Splatoon players respect me.) If I did, and it was in Japanese and not English, I'd never accept it.

      Do I want a Japanese friend? Yeah, that's the best way we'd get the Japanese Marketing Manager thing.

      But they gotta be English-writing. And be proficient at it.

  2. I just met you 'cause Tuesday told me about you. So I then was like "Why not talk to him?" And that's how I'm here. ^_^

    1. How did I meet Tuesday...? It was from Miiverse and not from a game.

  3. I wonder if there's a Japanese Ludwig counterpart somewhere talking about how those unfriendly American players would never help out or send friend requests the way Japanese players do... XDD

    1. I didn't ever expect you'd ever write a cheeky comment like that. >.>

      ...I like it. Full credit.

      I want to meet my Japanese self. FIND THEM.


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