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11 Ways That Japan Changed The Landscape Of Gaming Forever

Honestly, we all owe Japan SO much gratitude.

1. Because they were the undisputed pioneers of early game design.


Yes, our favourite characters like Mario and Kirby were all based on the Japanese caricature chibi, meaning small. Not to mention, Japanese game designers introduced anime in the 1980s, which revolutionised not only game culture, but animation in general. Like, this was HUGE.

2. Because they gifted us with the PlayStation — which turned the gaming industry on its head in the best possible way.

Getty Images / BuzzFeed

PlayStation evokes nostalgia in the best of us — I mean, who doesn't have a memory from their childhood of playing Gran Turismo with the next-door neighbour?

But PlayStation actually introduced realism to game design, allowing gamers to truly feel ~inside their games~.

The legendary Masayasu Ito (Sony Interactive Entertainment) and Katsuhiko Hayashi (Famicom Communication) recently sat down to speak about the effect that the humble PlayStation had on gaming and, even if you're not a hardcore gamer, you should 100% check it out.

3. Because they gave birth to most of our favourite games.

Mark Sibson / Getty Images

Japanese game designers were behind many million-seller games like Kirby’s Dream Land, the Smash Bros. series, Gran Turismo and Speed Racers. Enough said.

4. Because they pretty much drove the transformation of gaming over four distinct eras from the 1980s to 2010s.


From the first-generation ‘Famicom’, which featured a low-spec, 8-bit system, to the more advanced 32-bit system, allowing video games to handle 3D data, Japanese technology has been at the forefront of game evolution.

Fancy a stroll down memory lane? Have a play around on ANA’s interactive site and experience the evolution for yourself.

5. Because they helped kick-start the arcade game movement and changed the way we played games.


How many hours have been spent playing arcade games all around the world? Probably way more than you reaalllly want to know...

And, of course, Japan had a huge influence over the arcade game movement — with the introduction of the first electro-mechanical coin operated game: The Periscope.

Sit back and let the gurus, Masaru Kohayakawa and Mitsuhara Fukazawa, explain the science (and utter GENIUS) behind arcade game design.

6. Because they were responsible for the iconic majesty of Pac-Man and Space Invaders!

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Yep, our all-time favourite arcade games, Pac-Man and Space Invaders, were both developed by Japanese companies – Namco and Taito.

There's a reason why Space Invaders stood the test of time and Creator Tomohiro Nishikado breaks it all down in this interview.

7. Because being a professional gamer in Japan is totally a thing now and some epic coin can be made doing it.


That’s right, big dollars can be made from the comfort of your couch as a professional gamer. Granted, it’s not exactly an overnight money-maker, but Daigo "The Beast" Umehara, Japan’s first professional gamer, has made over $190,000 over the course of his gaming career!

If you're looking to switch up careers, hear what Umerhara has to say about the future of e-sports here. You know you want to...

8. Because Japan is now the land of "game trips" — and, honestly, can you think of a better holiday?!


When we think about Japanese tourism, it’s usually Tokyo, Kyoto and snow sports that spring to mind. But a recent visitor survey actually revealed that the “game arcade in Akihabara” is one of the main reasons visitors return to Japan.

And this isn’t all that can be experienced in Japan’s booming game attraction scene. Choose from game-themed shops, theme parks, VR attractions, bars and restaurants. Start planning your trip RN!

9. Because mass-participation in e-sports may lead to it making the Olympics. (Yep, the actual, real-life Olympics!).


Gamers, the chance has finally come to make it as an elite athlete without ever having to leave the couch. The Japanese e-sports user population currently sits at around 3.9 million, leading Japan to be classified as an e-sports-developed country. Word has it that e-sports could be a candidate for the Olympic Games. So, Tokyo 2020, we are ready for you.

10. Because they are home to the world’s most respected gaming gods.

Masahiro Sakurai / Via ANA, Kazunori Yamauchi / Via ANA

Including Masahiro Sakurai (Kirby’s Dream Land and Super Smash Bros.), Kazunori Yamauchi (Gran Turismo), Masayuki Uemura (Famicom and Super Famicom), Masayasu Ito (PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR) and Masahiro Sakurai (Super Smash Bros. series) to name but a few…

And ANA managed to get all these gaming visionaries together, so that we could all bask in their game knowledge and glory in some seriously epic interviews.

11. And finally, because the Japanese love gaming so much, they've created a game-style website dedicated solely to Japanese game trips and education!


Now we can learn about the origin and attraction of Japanese game culture through ANA's awesome new website, Game Chronicle.

All hail Japan!

Want to experience the glory of Japanese gaming culture IRL? Book your flights with ANA and discover the inspiration of Japan for yourself.