Cultural Aspects on Game Design and Marketing

Cultural Aspects on Game Design and Marketing


Designing a game entails a multifaceted procedure. Games usually offer ways of thinking and emotions during hundreds of modest interactions, and even in instances of drama and enjoyment. Any of those events can build an amazing feeling with a brand or destroy the brands within seconds. Coming up with those feelings as well as emotions is the main task of a great game designer. Even though many game designers and publishers dream of a worldwide video game market, making a title that is acceptable in all of the key markets is still a tantalizingly complicated prospect, mainly because of the differences in cultures. With regard to the normally conventional perception of games as a cultural product, the reason for lackluster gamers’ views may be linked to the cultural assumptions that are rooted in the innovative game design itself. This paper will examine the cultural aspects that impact on the design and marketing of video games with a major focus on the globalization of video games, localization of video games, as well as cultural differences and video games.

Globalization of Video Games

Like Hollywood producers, video game designers and producers are upgrading the ventures on international launches of new products with the objective of penetrating more markets more rapidly. Nonetheless, the success of this involves a remarkable investment in product localization. For example, video game maker EA has launched a game localization center in Singapore, which was aimed at serving the Asian market (Aphra, 2006).

One might want to believe that the success of a particular game in a country automatically implies the success of the same game in other countries, yet this is not the case because culture has an effect on how well or poorly games are received in a particular country. This has influenced the apparently diverse and different ways that affect the gaming markent, varying from modes of payment to graphic designs. For example, it is apparent that most Asian game titles are made up of characters that are regarded as heroes that tend to be genderless and more or less feminine, while on the other hand, games that are produced in western countries are typically built more heavily and tend to have a masculine leading role (Aphra, 2006).

Most of the gamers are of the same opinion that traits as simple as this are important determiners that can make a game to be well or poorly received in an overseas market. The field where enhanced management is most needed is payment, especially in mobile games. In America, for instance, the gamers are more familiar with and more comfortable to a subscriber mode of payment, through which they make one complete payment for the entire month or even year, hence getting full access in the period in-between. However, in other places such as Asia and even Europe, individuals are more used to the pre-paid mode of payment, in which they pay money for a specified amount of minutes upfront and watch their money being deducted as they play the game (Minako, 2009).

This makes it important for game companies to invest in diverse modes of payment that attract different clients regardless of their gaming habits, especially with regard to the payment method. In addition, companies should also appeal to not just accommodate the cultural differences but also factor in geographical location, age, and gender, among other things. This is therefore the reason why the interests of a company in the international markets must involve the participation of individuals who are familiar with the local culture and preferences of the gaming industry.

Localization of Video Games

In the present day, video games have become fully-fledged into a worldwide business with games regularly being localized into increasing diversities of languages so that they can fit consumer preferences (Carmen & Minako, 2006). For many game developers and publishers, localization is a tacit trait of game distribution and this is evident in the United States base where publishers on a regular basis localize their games into numerous languages such as French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese, as well as progressively more into Chinese, Korean, Russian, Scandinavian languages among other languages in the world (Minako, 2009). By and by, localizations can be done at a reasonable cost especially the game code is localization-friendly and if the language assets are well organized.

Carmen & Minako (2006) state that localization can be much easier when it comes to a game that is designed for general or teen audience but may become challenging when it involves a mature age because some countries have concerns when it comes to violence. For instance, Australia and Germany are very strict when it comes to violence and may prohibit access or sale of any game that has violent content, according to their ratings boards (Kate, 2011). In some circumstances, the game publisher and designers are given an opportunity to revise the content of their game so that it can fit within their specification.

There are also challenges that arise with languages that do not use the Western alphabet, such as, Japanese and Hebrew. Localization of games has a great effect in the market and needs to consider some important elements like politics and cultural differences (Carmen & Minako, 2006). Any game designer can rapidly rise when it comes to international sales of games due to localization. The increased sales are more common in countries like France, Germany, and Spain. From the data of sales of games, it is apparent that poor localization of games can make customers purchase non-native games as an alternative means.

Cultural Differences and Video Games

Cultural differences also influence what is included and what is excluded in a game upon its release in a different country or territory. One interesting difference is the perspective around the content of the games and how well the game is received in new and existing markets depends on what is incorporated in it and this determine the success of the game. Gamers have realized that although distribution is as good as it might appear to be, it is the content of the game that actually appeals or repels the gamers all over the world (Minako, 2009).

When one reflects on the Asian nations, it is common to find that they have starkly different tastes from the western countries because they prefer titles that involves characters that are diverse in many perspectives including their physical forms. Content is everything in the gaming world, even though it might borrow heavy influence from diverse cultures (Minako, 2009). There are specific aspects of games that gamers of a distinct culture may prefer or dislike.

It is more apparent that players from different cultures possess diverse preferences when it comes to different aspect of games and a good example is in the history of the United States and the Japanese gaming industries which are distinctly intertwined. Although they might appear to be unique or similar, the Japanese or the United States developments have many cross-national cultural preferences (Minako, 2009). On the other hand, when sales data of different games are seen across the globe, it is clear that not every game is successful in all the parts of the world. Based on the trend of the games, Kate (2011) argues that while the popularity of role-playing is more common in the Japanese market, the case is different in the United States market.

Moreover, this explains the reason why Asian game titles are made up of characters in the form of heroes that are more genderless and almost feminine, while the games developed in the western countries are characterized with animations that are more heavily built and have a masculine leading role as earlier stated. Still on the mode of playing, it is popular to find Americansgoing for the multiplayer forms of games whereas the Japanese prefer single players (Minako, 2009). To this effect, there have been some genres of games that have been successful in the Japanese market but failed miserably in the American market, for example the horse racing and pachinko.


It is necessary to stress that whatever the design of the games, designers and producers continue to improve on their business as far as the international launch of innovative gaming products is concerned and they do this with the aim of accessing more markets swiftly. Nonetheless, it is apparent that people from different cultures usually have different tastes when it comes to diverse characteristics of games. These disparities are still being applied when it comes to the multicultural audience, who need to be considered during the globalization of the gaming industry. Furthermore, this has resulted in the localization of the gaming industry and even though culturalization may give the impression of an easy way that acts as an obstacle to the creative forces behind game development, in reality it is a path to making sure that the enjoyment of that creative vision can be diversified to many cultures across the globe.


Aphra, K. (2006). The Business and Culture of Digital Games: Gamework/Gameplay. London:

SAGE publication.

Carmen, M., & Minako, O. (2006). Game Localisation: Unleashing Imagination with

‘Restricted’ Translation . The Journal of Specialised Translation , 10-20.

Kate, E. (2011). Culturalization: The Geopolitical and Cultural Dimension of Game Content.


Minako, O. (2009). Towards a cross-cultural game design: an explorative study in understanding

the player experienceof a localised Japanese video game. The Journal of Specialised

Translation (6), 211-233.

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