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Kotaku

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I love “trapped in a video game” stories—be that in books, anime, or even games. As a gamer, such stories directly relate to my greatest passion. But more than that, “trapped in a video game” is setup brimming with the potential for epic plots and thematic explorations.

Much can be done with the “trapped in a video game” setting. It can be used for straight-up adventure or horror. It can bring to life an exploration of the human psyche or be a thought experiment for the construction of a society as a whole.

In other words, it’s the way this setting is used that makes all the difference; “trapped in a video game” is the starting point, not the be-all and end-all of the story.

 

That’s one of the reasons I get frustrated when things like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon are called rip-offs of the first popular “trapped in a video game” franchise, .hack//SIGN. It’s like saying Star Wars is a rip-off of Star Trek just because Star Trek came first and has a similar setting: a galactic civilization in space.

Yet despite the shared general setting, we all know these two series couldn’t be more different. One is science fiction and concerned with exploration, the future of mankind, and social commentary on our modern day world. The other is science fantasy and gives its all to the creation of an engrossing adventure about heroes and villains battling among the stars.

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In the same way, .hack//SIGN, Sword Art Online, and Log Horizon are fundamentally different stories despite having the same starting point—a “trapped in a video game” setup. .hack//SIGN is a mystery about a single person trapped in a video game and how he (and those players around him) deal with the psychological and game world problems that relate to his situation.

Sword Art Online is an action adventure where thousands of people are trapped in a video game with the ever impending threat of real world death looming over them. It spends its time on action, romance, and an episodic exploration of how various people have adapted differently to the new world. Log Horizon, on the other hand, is not as interested in the individual’s reactions as it is in the overall implications of building a new society from the ground up in a game world made real.

For decades, fantasy works have built amazing tales on the backbone of the Lord of the Rings-style setting—and that’s not a bad thing. Video game worlds in any form of storytelling are the perfect setting for future fantasy and sci-fi works—and the plot device of being trapped in one is just one of countless possible subgenres that can tell any number of enjoyable stories.

So remember: Just because a setting has been used before doesn’t mean that other works with the same setup are simply inferior, cheap copies. There are many epic stories out there that start at the same place. And the more creative imagining that can springboard from that “same place”—whatever it may be—the better for us as readers, viewers, and players.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

To contact the author of this post, write to BiggestinJapan@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @BiggestinJapan.

Kotaku

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Story within a story .hack isn't only getting a CG animated film. It's also has an erotic game knock-off called, coughs, .[censored].

Released years ago, the game promises to blend cyberspace, enormous eyes and one heck of a title. And this is volume four? I feel like I've missed something, namely volumes one, two, and three.

Erotic game parodies are a dime a dozen, but it's only a special few that are not only able to bluntly parody a title, but also do it in the same number of letters. Crass, sure, but brilliantly so!

 

「.hack」によく似たエロゲ、『.[censored]』登場!! [オレ的ゲーム情報]

Kotaku

 

Or maybe it's a game within a movie? Or maybe it's just a movie—enough! Okay, .hack, the video game within a video game video game, is getting a movie version.

.hack debuted as a video game with 2002's .hack//Infection, and are part of a multimedia franchise that encompasses television anime, manga, and even music. The .hack games are developed by CyberConnect2, which is currently working on Asura's Wrath for Capcom.

The movie is CG and 3D and, as you can see from the trailer, it's more story within a story from .hack. It hits Japanese theaters January 2012.

 

.hack//TheMovie [Official Site]

Kotaku

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The latest issue of Famitsu has confirmation on the next video game episode long-running, but niche appealing .hack series from CyberConnect. .hack//LINK is making the jump from manga to the PSP in 2009.

In what we're guessing is an attempt to glom on to the success of Capcom's Monster Hunter Portable series, CyberConnect and (we're presuming) publisher Namco Bandai will move the series from the PlayStation 2 to the still-popular handheld.

Characters from the original .hack series and .hack//G.U. will return in .hack//LINK, which is still without a firm date.

 

While the .hack series has made a point of simulating a multiplayer experience offline, we wouldn't be surprised if Namco Bandai looks to the Monster Hunter formula for inspiration on how the new episode will play.

Famitsu 20090116 [Wii @ Everyday]

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