Fansubbing BookStory
May 20, 2021 12:45 AM   Subscribe

 
I find these translation communities really wonderful places for learning Japanese, and informal ones pop up all the time in language book clubs and fan sites to not just play the game (or access other work) in English, but to access it in its published format and refer back to the spreadsheet when in trouble. Usually there are communications between participants to ask questions about grammar or unknown cultural references. It's fun! Glad to hear about this!
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:20 AM on May 20 [3 favorites]


I have very hazy memories of my great grandpappy mentioning these establishments to me as a young child - - can anyone here help explain what exactly one of these "bookstores" did?
posted by fairmettle at 1:52 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Wow, KairoSoft really has been pretty consistent over the years, haven't they
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:55 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


What I find interesting about these fan translation projects is the apparent dominance of Japanese games as the source material. Surely there must be worthy games in other languages that never got officially translated to English? No doubt some examples exist for, say, French or Chinese games being translated, but every instance I can ever remember running across in gaming media has been Japanese to English.

The simple explanation is probably just higher exposure to Japanese games due to Japanophilia being more prevalent in the US in particular than Francophilia or Sinophilia, but if there's a more comprehensive analysis of this somewhere, I'd love to read it.
posted by jklaiho at 2:37 AM on May 20 [5 favorites]


Wow. I wrote a supermarket simulator for an educational software company in VB5 at around the same time. Think it used WinG, the sort-of predecessor to DirectX. I can remember spending days poring over massive API references trying to get it to work. Very similar graphical style too. I wish I still had a copy (we never released it).
posted by pipeski at 4:13 AM on May 20 [2 favorites]


I've been on metafilter for two decades. A lot of weird things have happened in those years. But, if I was to show this fpp to my former self, I think little me would shrug and assume humanity was doing ok.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:53 AM on May 20 [9 favorites]


This would have been made 6 years after I, as an 17 year old exchange student, first encountered the main branch of Kinokuniya in Tokyo. My mind was completely blown. Will be keeping an eye on this.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:04 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


The simple explanation is probably just higher exposure to Japanese games due to Japanophilia being more prevalent in the US in particular than Francophilia or Sinophilia, but if there's a more comprehensive analysis of this somewhere, I'd love to read it.

My analysis would also be that the three countries with the biggest video game industries are China, the U.S., and Japan, in that order; half as much after Japan is the U.K. China is making that money mostly in the mobile game market. Japan makes a lot of source material which is of interest to fan translators: console and PC games, especially older ones (the ones unlikely to be officially translated). A great deal of the progenitors of video games as technology and art form were Japanese.

Why attribute the cultural influence of Japanese games studios to white bullshit when it could just be their actual contributions, ya know?
posted by wellifyouinsist at 9:33 AM on May 20 [11 favorites]


A 24-year old freeware Japanese bookstore simulator is exactly the game I want to play right now.
posted by Jeanne at 9:52 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


The simple explanation is probably just higher exposure to Japanese games due to Japanophilia being more prevalent in the US in particular than Francophilia or Sinophilia, but if there's a more comprehensive analysis of this somewhere, I'd love to read it.

Matt Alt's recent book Pure Invention: How Japan's Pop Culture Conquered the World might be useful WRT this. It addresses the arrival of Japanese gaming consoles in the US, the context of that, their development and their long-term influence.

Having lived through that era, I had lots of glancing - and then direct + regular - contact w/Japanese games, and zero w/those coming out of the European microcomputer scene. It was just a matter of availability in the pre-internet era. Many of the tropes / aesthetics of Japanese gaming of that era push my nostalgia buttons.

And, yeah, of course - a lot of the games and related technology were just good, in a universal way.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:55 AM on May 20 [1 favorite]


A great deal of the progenitors of video games as technology and art form were Japanese. Why attribute the cultural influence of Japanese games studios to white bullshit when it could just be their actual contributions, ya know?

I didn't mean to suggest that Japanophilia just emerged from thin air as "white bullshit"; it's a result of exposure to high quality Japanese cultural and media products. In retrospect, my phrasing was bad and gave the wrong impression. Writing in a hurry during a short work break in a non-native language will do that to you.

So: good Japanese games contributed their share to the rise of modern Japanophilia in the West. Japanophilia, in turn—I theorize—feeds back into the continued (and rising) awareness of old, good Japanese-only games, creating a sort of wellspring of potential fan translation projects—including obscure-to-westerners stuff like BookStory here.

I guess the salient point, if any, was that it seems like it's not the quality of the games alone that keeps on bringing about more Japanese fan translation projects; otherwise, we'd surely be seeing old, good, previously untranslated games from other countries getting translated to English in non-trivial, though smaller, numbers as well. After all, it's a globalized world, with practically limitless access to retro games for anyone who cares to go looking for them. So the thing I found interesting was not that the majority of fan translations are Japanese, but the mechanics of how they're an overwhelming majority, practically to the exclusion of everything else, at least in the public consciousness, or in the amount of media attention.
posted by jklaiho at 1:03 PM on May 20


I understand the point you're getting at, but I think the fact there are more untranslated Japanese games than every other non-English language combined has a greater effect on public consciousness than any amount of "Japanophilia." On top of that, there ARE quite a lot of amazing non-Japanese non-English old games out there but the Japan/English market has dominated games for decades. As a result, any games of merit very rarely managed to stay limited to their original territory. Tetris comes to mind immediately.

So I guess if your question is "What about the shitty obscure non-Japanese games?" I feel like it answers itself.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:03 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


First impressions: I took way too long trying to get the game to play. Finally got it working, lost a lot of money, sold 1272 books, and got to the point where I was just barely making a profit. (Tip: You have to order the books and get some bookshelves before you can sell any books. I think you need a clerk but try not to spend too much money to hire one.)

It's hard to play the game strategically with what's been translated so far. I don't say this to dismiss the translators, who are doing a lot of hard work for free! It's just - I can't see the book titles, I can't see the book genres, I can't see the business analysis newspaper that might perhaps have helpful tips about what people want to read...

I tried to get the Japanese game working as well, and didn't manage it; compatibility between Japanese and English software has gotten light years better in the last 20 years, and it's easy to forget how impossible it used to be. But I think it won't be very fun until more has been translated. Perhaps I'll try to help out on some translations.
posted by Jeanne at 4:21 PM on May 20 [1 favorite]


Finally got it working, lost a lot of money, sold 1272 books, and got to the point where I was just barely making a profit.

So you were doing pretty damn well for a bookstore?
posted by brundlefly at 5:36 AM on May 21 [1 favorite]


...Then went bankrupt twice because I couldn't manage to sell enough to keep up with overhead costs, looked online for strategy guides, and discovered that apparently the best way to make money in BookStory is to set your bookshop on fire for the insurance money.

So, yeah, pretty typical for a bookstore.
posted by Jeanne at 6:29 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]


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