The popularity of games varies around the world. This is due to many factors including culture, worldview, geography and climate, and even religion. The elements all have influence over the way people think, the things they typically enjoy, and yes, even the games they prefer to play.
Let’s look at a few countries to highlight some of the differences.
In countries that have long existences, there is often a certain symbol that is immediately connotated by its people as having a special relationship to their nation. In Malaysia, the Wau is one such symbol.
The Wau is a special kite with a bird-shaped design that was developed in ancient times to celebrate the harvest season. Its popularity later evolved to include sporting competitions and ceremonial flying at various functions. Kites were compared in terms of flying abilities and tricks, but also in terms of craftsmanship and design. There are also many legends of spiritual significance involving the Wau. The Wau today is a meaningful symbol of Malaysian history and culture, having survived thousands of years of change and progression.
What does the important Wau symbol have to do with modern gaming? This long-endearing kite reveals some deeper insight to the Malay cultural attitude towards gaming. Malaysians are likely to prefer games where art and graphics are highly valued and where sportsmanship permeates. The intricate designs on prized Waus show a dedication to design and preservation of history. Malaysians bear a proud culture of artistic excellence in architecture and other art forms as well and are more likely to lean towards games with detailed references to such. One blogger admits that any Malaysian would appreciate the references to Kuala Lumpur portrayed in the game Burnout Dominator.
Some contemporary Danish game producers portray their titles as powerful examples of “diversity, experimentation, and fierce determination.” These three characteristics actually tell a lot about the Danish mindset towards gaming.
Take, for example, the Danish company Lego — yes, that extremely well-known and popular brand was born in Denmark and marches on today in bold determination of continuing existence. The Danish people are historically known for the determination and strong will, so it’s no wonder this brand has been a huge success since 1932. Of course, the Lego brand now sells more than building blocks, with extensions in film, games, art, and more. In terms of the gaming industry, the Lego games are widely successful around the world, but Denmark has a soft spot for this brand especially.
Experimentation is another important consideration with Danish gamers. They tend to value innovations and aren’t afraid of new styles of game experiences. Bang and Olufsen, another Danish company, even provides a lot of the audio equipment used to produce and experience such games.
Brazil is a country where socialization is highly valued, so it’s no wonder that social and casual games are the most popular contenders here. Social games are widely successful in Brazil, especially those played online and via PC.
Titles such as Words with Friends, Farmville, and The Sims each have a favored spot in Brazilian gaming history. These games provide a gaming construct around a social experience that involves chatting, borrowing and sharing, and an emphasis on community and family. These social aspects are what tie these games to the cultural and historical mindsets of this Southern American giant in the gaming industry.
To be fair, there will always be exceptions to the typical popularity of a game per country. Especially given the global nature of our present economy and tourism, it is likely that over time some of these differences will become less apparent and more microscopic. However, for now, it’s interesting to compare the gaming interests of various countries, especially if you are a producer or designer looking to share a title in that location.
What has been your experience of game popularity differences by country? Share with us!
[Photo Credit: Dan Markeye]