Japanese Video Games and the Mediation of Trauma

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November 27th, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST

Cost: Free
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This is a virtual event. Register using the form below to receive a link to the talk.

How do Japanese video games grapple with social anxieties and traumatic events? And how might games prompt players’ own emotional engagement and self-reflection around these issues?

This talk introduces four contemporary Japanese video games in terms of how they simulate some of Japan’s biggest social and personal issues: natural disasters (Disaster Report), a declining birthrate and aging population (Catherine), nuclear proliferation (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain), and youth social withdrawal (The World Ends with You). Come along with us and investigate what some of the positive benefits are of working through a site of trauma from within a video game. See how might games teach us about Japanese culture and society through interactive frameworks different from literature and film.

**Please note that due to the age ratings of the video games to be discussed, parental supervision is advised for young viewers.

The Speaker

Ben Whaley is Associate Professor of Japanese in the School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Calgary. His research examines ethno-racial identity and trauma in Japanese popular culture. He is the author of Toward a Gameic World: New Rules of Engagement from Japanese Video Games (University of Michigan Press, 2023). His essays on manga and video games have also appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies, positions asia critique, and the Journal of Japanese Studies (forthcoming).

Images: World Ends Without You (2007, Square Enix/Jupiter); Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015, Konami); Disaster Report (2002, Irem)

JFT Library Items on Video Games

Complementing Dr. Ben Whaley’s lecture, JFT Library presents a curated selection of physical and electronic books on Japanese video games. Immerse yourself even deeper into the world of Japanese video games and their transformative power by checking out those items before or after the online lecture! You can borrow our physical items by visiting JFT library in person during our hours and/or borrow ebooks by accessing JF Canada Digital Library, which is available 24/7.

Check JFT Library Item List (PDF) to help you decide which item to explore!

Apply for a new JFT library card or renew your expired card here.


November 27th, 2023 @ 7:00 pm
November 27th, 2023 @ 8:00 pm
Event Category:


The Japan Foundation, Toronto
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