UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mediation within a moral economy : fan and industry tensions in the localization of Japanese video game series Ryū Ga Gotoku/Yakuza Isa, Iman


To cater to a larger audience across virtual national borders, video games undergo the laborious process of localization. While localization is necessary to overcome geopolitics, it presupposes that the developers must mediate perceived differences for games to be circulated beyond their country of origin. However, industry localization practices framed as “rational business decisions” might not necessarily accurately forecast what consumers look for in a game. Utilizing the framework of moral economy propounded by Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green, this thesis aims to analyze the mediation of conflicts and mutual obligations between industry practices and fan expectations in the localization of the Ryū ga Gotoku/Yakuza series. The primary sources of the paper are the Yakuza video games, business reports, interviews conducted by multiple video game sites with the producers of the games, and social media platforms airing the views and opinions of both the industry and fans. The first chapter analyzes Sega’s production and dissemination strategies for localization, taking Yakuza: Like a Dragon (2020) as a case study. I argue that industry mediation is carefully orchestrated to earn consumer understanding and cultivate loyalty. The next chapter examines the paradoxical nature of fan self-mediation, specifically through game modifications, and how fans capitalize on the grey area of the moral economy. The thesis concludes that mediation is an inevitable outcome of localization. By examining mediation as an engagement process, one can gain insight into industry and fans’ cultural assumptions and the incentives influencing their attempts at reconciliation. I end with a contemplation on the importance of cultural representations in transnational media and texts and the roles and moral responsibilities of industry and fans regarding the perpetuation of stereotypical cultural narratives.

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