Oh, what would good ol' Eddie Said say? From Sexy Videogameland comes a rather interesting discussion by Rick Luebbers of Midway's Surreal Software on differences in Japanese and Western game design and gaming preferences. Some (most) of the generalisations are sweeping at best, and many of his examples aren't exclusively Western problems, they're industry problems - I don't care where the game is coming from. Square hasn't exactly been wowing me with fresh, inventive, and wickedly original narratives. To sum it up - most of this comes down to personal opinion and taste in games. Leigh Alexander brings it back to reality:
Is it safe to say, though, that Japanese games are more fantastic while Western games are more realistic? What would a realistic Japanese game look like? Moreover, is Western fantasy doomed forever to Tolkien derivatives? If you prefer one to the other, what does that indicate about your personal taste?
My game shelf is mostly full of Japanese titles; I'm not sure it says anything deep, other than the fact I generally prefer what's coming out of Japan to what's coming out of America. I'm sure if I played more of certain types of games, that ratio of Japanese-to-Western would be reversed. But I don't delude myself into thinking that I'm drawn to Japanese games because the vast majority are creative and innovative little gems - they're not.
Stranger In A Strange Land (Part 2): West vs. East [Surreal Game Design via Sexy Videogameland]