The Japanese population is shrinking. That doesn't have much to do with video games, now does it? Or does it?
BBC newsperson has a post up titled "Is Japan a dying nation?" Here's the rub and the game connection in his piece:
I'm no social psychologist, so I wouldn't dare to come up with an explanation for why Japanese couples aren't having enough babies. But one theory is that Japanese women are increasingly reluctant to marry, because they think Japanese men have shown themselves unable to adapt to the needs of a new, more flexible society - and have retreated into a fantasy world of comics, video games and animated pornography where they feel less threatened.
Lustig's original piece is much longer obviously and can be read in full right here. I suggest that you do read the entire piece before commenting!
His post is making the internet rounds in Japan, and the Japanese internet, namely hugely popular bulletin board 2ch, has a smattering of opinions about it. Here are some of them, translated by DannyChoo.com:
-Make reality more interesting than games please. -Yeah I can live on games alone. -If everybody became obsessed with games then we would live in a peaceful society. -Reality does not want to deal with me you idiot. -The world in the monitor is reality. The world we live in is just imaginary. -To be honest, I don't want a (real) woman. -Love Plus is reality. -There are too many Japanese people anyway so decreasing the population would be just right. -But the 2D world is ideal. -Oh and its OK to be obsessed with movies and books then? -My (2D) girlfriend is Aika-san. She lets me meet her whenever I want and greets me with a smile if I forget a date - and she does not cost money. Thats all I need. -His words are racist. -I'm 30 and earn 3.5 million yen (35K USD) - how am I supposed to get married? -Why is somebody from a declining country (England) telling me this? -The decline of the population has nothing to do with games or manga. -My partner is Hatsune Miku. I would do anything for her and we are thinking of having kids. -I tried to face reality and it became Love Plus. -We must fight reality! -They should make a game for the DS called "lets face society" -A country of Neets (England) being worried about Japan? -Not sure about England but the hurdle to getting married over the past 20 years in Japan is gone up too high - socially and financially. -Unless there are more job positions then I cant face reality. -Girls in games wont cheat on us. -The solution is to make reality in games. -I'm too busy with work to think about getting married. -But Sanya is too cute. -Solution is simple - make it so that anime and manga characters can get pregnant.
There are something like over 2,500 comments in this same thread on this issue. I don't see that the declining population as something that can simply be pinned on men who like reading manga and playing video games — or pinned on women who want to focus on their career. There are larger societal issues at hand.
For example, if both parents do work and have small children, they need daycare. Well, daycare is harder to come by than in North America — there is public daycare called "hoikuen", but parents must apply in advance and there is no guarantee that they'll be able to put their kids in. Something like this seems like a bigger deterrent to having children than, say, playing Konami DS games, no?
Another issue is that Japan was traditionally an agriculture society with large, extended families. Five children was not some outrageous number! But as the country industrialized in the late 19th century and early 20th century and as it rebuilt during the Post War Era, the extended family structure broke down. Childcare was easier when living under the same roof as opposed to stuffed in tiny urban apartments.
Wonder why these issues weren't touched upon...