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Virtual Earthquakes and Real-World Survival in Japan's Disaster Report Video Game

  • Ben Whaley (a1)

Abstract

This article analyzes the first video game in the Zettai Zetsumei Toshi (2002, Disaster Report) series for Sony's PlayStation 2 console against the backdrop of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. In the game, players must use limited resources to escape from an earthquake-stricken city while rescuing other survivors. The article argues that the game makes visible the marginal victims and narratives of survival often erased under the collective rhetoric of national trauma. This is explored in relation to disaster photography and artistic representations of 3.11. The article suggests that the game's narrative rejects governmental rhetoric about nuclear energy and that the gameplay mechanisms utilize “limited engagement” or a form of operationalized weakness in order to communicate victimhood to players. The article concludes with an examination of how the in-game disaster photography inscribes players’ actions, making it more difficult to subsume these images into a generalized account of natural disaster trauma.

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References

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The Journal of Asian Studies
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  • EISSN: 1752-0401
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