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Opinion

Japan Rocked by Massive Earthquake

Pacific rim on high alert.

Japan has been rocked by a massive earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. It struck 280 miles northeast of the capital, resulting in an ensuant tsunami, reported as up to ten meters high and moving at 160kph, slamming into the east coast a short time later, destroying coastal towns. Japan’s ministry has confirmed a number of fatalities, with the death-toll expected to rise.

The magnitude of this event cannot be understated. This was the fifth largest earthquake on record (since 1900), with ten of the subsequent aftershocks measuring stronger than the recent earthquake that caused havoc in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tokyo’s iconic Tokyo Tower is reported to be “bent at the top.”

And it’s not just Japan. A tsunami watch has been issued around the Pacific rim, with the likes of Hawaii and Australia on high-alert, braced for impact.

This is not gaming news, and we’re not going to exploit this tragic event by pretending it is. We here at the TheSixthAxis, however, would like to extend our hopes and thoughts to those effected by this calamity.

Japan didn’t invent gaming, but it’s a country synonymous with the culture. As some of you may know, I have a strong affinity with the country, and I’ve spent the last couple of hours frantically trying to reach friends in Tokyo, Kyoto and other regions. So far, everyone is safe.

I distinctly remember the quizzical looks from friends and family when, about ten years ago, I announced I was going to learn Japanese. “You’re going to learn a whole language – noted as one of the world’s most difficult to grasp – just so you can play some weird, silly games in Japanese?” one person asked. “No,” I replied, “I’m going to learn Japanese so I can speak to Japanese people.” There are 140 million of them. Japanese is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world.

I have spent time in Japan, making friends with some of the nicest people you could ever meet. Much is made about Japanese people and their mannerisms; how they show respect and care about one another, sometimes perceived by non-Japanese as silly or downright weird. The fact is: in my opinion, there is no friendlier collective of people in the world than the Japanese. There is no city like Tokyo. It physically hurt when I had to leave.

If you are a gamer and love gaming, I urge you to someday visit Japan. There’s nothing like walking down Akihabara, watching people strut about confidently in cos-play, as players of all ages talk fervently about games, play games, and live games with a zeal you won’t find anywhere else.

Gaming still has that niggling stigma of negativity in the West, and despite having ambassadors like Dara Ó Briain who champion the industry, and a British leader who has only yesterday announced (at the opening of a Special Effect centre) that the gaming industry is taking its responsibility very seriously, we – as a group – are still viewed by some as people who engage in subversive claptrap. We’re still seen as adults who “should know better.”

In Japan, gaming is not only universally accepted as a legitimate form of entertainment, it’s celebrated on multiple levels.

Which makes watching the news of what is now happening in Japan all the harder to bear. Not just because I have friends there who I know are, right now, afraid and unsure of what is going to happen next, watching as their apartments are tossed around like rag-dolls, but because I love games and I know, as a nation, the Japanese embrace our sub-culture. Hence, a strange bond of comradeliness and empathy is formed.

It’s going to be hard reporting on gaming news today. At least, I know my thoughts are going to be elsewhere. In an arcade in Koiwa, a suburb of Tokyo on the Chiba line, perhaps, with friends as we gamed, and drank, and enjoyed ourselves. Let those days return soon.

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55 Comments
  1. toutski
    Legend
    Since: Oct 2008

    What a thoughtful heartfelt article.

    My thoughts are with everyone affected by this.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 10:50.
  2. StevenHibs
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    Yeah, good to read this kind of article on TheSixAxis.
    Thoughts are with the families and friends affected.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 10:54.
  3. Seaninio
    Member
    Since: Forever

    Google have set up a person finder tool for anyone affected: http://japan.person-finder.appspot.com/

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 10:56.
  4. bully1990
    Member
    Since: Mar 2009

    A very nice sentiment and a stark contrast to the crass way this has been reported on other gaming websites.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 10:56.
    • rht992
      Member
      Since: Apr 2009

      i’m surprized other gaming sites are even covering it

      Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 11:01.
      • nofi
        One for all.
        Since: Forever

        Well, some have, but terribly…

        Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 11:04.
    • jayjay119
      Member
      Since: Apr 2010

      and that`s what separates TSA as a serious news and discussion site, not just in gameing but in general.

      Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 12:04.
      • Ben
        Friendly
        Since: Mar 2009

        Other games sites could learn a lot from articles like this, TSA really is rather special.

        Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 14:11.
  5. rht992
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    I never thought i’d have seen an article like this on tsa. I’m glad someones taken their time to write about this even though its got nothing to do with the website. It really is horrible whats happening at the moment. Our thoughts go out to anyone effected

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 10:57.
  6. Paranoimia
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    Can’t believe what I’ve been seeing on the news. Cars racing away from tsunami waves coming inland, and I’m sure in one clip a car actually got caught while moving.

    It’s like watching a movie, but you know it’s real… so rather than going “wow”, I’m just sat here cringing. It’s unbelievable.

    I’m surprised and relieved that the initial death toll is relatively low, although I’m sure – sadly – that it will rise.

    Massive respect to the Japanese people, though. There seems to be no real panic, and relatively little damage from the quake itself. Despite everything, I can’t help but be impressed by that.

    And now, reports of a 4.5 quake hitting Hawaii.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 10:58.
  7. Kamokazi-UK
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    I could barely look away, the devastation I saw on the live feed I saw was unbelievable.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 11:04.
  8. Kamokazi-UK
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    I could barely look away, the devastation I saw on the live feed I saw was unbelievable.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 11:04.
  9. hazelam
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    i saw a bit on the news about a tsunami caused by the earthquake, they showed the water just rushing over the landscape, it didn’t look like it was going fast but it just seemed relentless, the footage ended just as it was about to reach a group of houses.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 11:07.
  10. scavenga
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    It’s truly awful what’s happened, and still is happening. My heart goes out to anyone affected by this disaster.

    Comment posted on 11/03/2011 at 11:13.

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