Japanese Side Of The PlayStation Button Confusion

Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo (The Japanese that Japanese People Don't Know) is a collection of real-life stories centering on a young Japanese woman as she teaches Japanese to a group of foreigners in Tokyo.

Presented in manga form, the stories are usually about the simple questions her students ask her and the culture shock she experiences in trying to answer them. What comes out of these stories is an interesting look at why the Japanese language is the way it is and how it affects the cultural mindset of the Japanese.

In one strip, a US student is crushed to see so many wrong answers on his last test, only for the teacher to explain that a circle means that the answers are correct. What follows is an explanation of how Os and Xs are viewed in countries around the world, eventually leading to the PlayStation controller and its shape-labelled buttons.

Because in the Japanese mindset X means "no, bad, wrong or cancel" it is the perfect label for the PlayStation's "back button" in the home market. But outside of Japan, there is no implicit negative association with "X". So when Sony swapped the default functions for the X and O buttons for the PlayStation's international release, they probably thought there would be no problems caused by the change.

However, when Western games come to Japan, the game buttons are often still mapped to the international format. Thus, when Japanese people try to play Western games, they can't get used to the idea of X meaning "yes" and O meaning "no". To put it another way, it'd be like going to another country where on the traffic lights red means "go" and green means "stop". For the Japanese, the Western controller layout is more than a change of button mapping; it's something culturally counter-intuitive.

日本人の知らない日本語 [メディアファクトリー]


Comments

    now i know why they got the buttons for pass/shoot swapped in pro evo soccer/fifa

    The X / O bindings are OS based. If you put a USA game in a Japanese console, they switch around. Some developers leave a few glitches/mislabels in, but usually it works smoothly.

      When i used to play Japanese psp games on my psp the buttons always stayed with o meaning yes :\

      A lot of the games I've got on my PS3 have the button mappings hard-coded rather than asking the system. Makes saving your game mind-bending. Select 'save' option in the game with X, then it drops you into the PS3 save game dialog where you select a slot with O and then hit X to exit the PS3 dialog and then hit O to get back out of the game's menu. It makes my brain hurt.

    I brought a PS Vita back from Japan an supposedly the X O is flipped on this Japanese handheld and I keep trying to use O X with everything but I can't ever try it, everything is touch screen..

    I'm kinda shocked this guy beat Brian to posting this, wonder how Ashcraft feels that there's another guy taking over his territory.

      I'm sure Brian doesn't mind. Everyone's fully clothed.

    Remember psOne Metal Gear had it set up as O was Enter and X was back. Every time I got back and play it I hit start to got to the menu and X to begin.. But no it take you back to the menu!!! Grrrr. Not so hard one you get into. It’s like a mac / pc thing, Ctrl + C no I mean Apple + C.

    most of the games i played on my ps1 were x for yes and triangle for no D:

    The worst part about reading this article is that I tried to read it from right to left. -_-

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