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The classic Capcom game 1942 puts the player in the pilot seat of an American fighter aircraft in WW2, shooting down wave after wave of Japanese aircraft.

Capcom is a Japanese company.

How did Capcom come to make the decision to produce a game where the player takes on the role of the someone killing thousands of their countrymen, set in one of the most contentious and regrettable periods of Japanese history?

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    Sticking to an example from my own country in the hope of offending nobody even if it’s not the best example, I don’t see how 1942 is any stranger than e.g. Gandhi being a British movie. Nationalism may be riding high right now but it’s not a universal given.
    – Tommy
    Jul 30 at 20:38
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    Indeed. "I am a citizen of country X" does not imply "I am proud of everything country X ever did"? Jul 30 at 21:12
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    "How did ... make the decision" seems unanswerable in fact. Jul 30 at 21:33
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    Seems easily answerable if the origin of the game is discussed in any book about Capcom games, another-dave.
    – knol
    Jul 31 at 4:17
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    Even so, I think this is asking about the ‘content’ rather than the mechanics of the game, and as such better asked at Arqade. Jul 31 at 10:08
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From Wikipedia:

this was due to being the first Capcom game designed with Western markets in mind

In a way, no different from many, many, many other products sold around the world in "hostile" areas or made by one group (nation, religion, ethnic, etc.) for sale to another, making whatever they think will sell. I could give many examples.

But I will add that there is a fundamental difference between civilian and military casualties of war. While there are exceptions, of course, I have read numerous reports of great professional respect and even courtesy between the military of warring nations. This doesn't show up in the heat of battle (generally, or you would lose the battle) and certainly doesn't show in the rhetoric of politicians and generals. But it does show up often in things such as a ship from one country sinking the ship of another yet rescuing as many survivors as they can and treating them well. Fighter pilots are trying to shoot each other down in the air, but when war is over (or a truce) they may swap stories about the very same battles and the great maneuvers that one made to evade another. So an arcade game showing the military power of the USA defeating the military power of Japan is very different than showing carpet bombing of enemy cities.

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  • The cited book in that Wiki article doesn't really explain it and sounds like speculation. I mean if the goal was to appeal to Western markets there were a million choices that didn't involve killing thousands of Japanese airmen. Or they could have done their usual thing of making the Western version different to the Japanese version by altering the sprites.
    – user
    Jul 30 at 20:44
  • Like why not make it America vs. Germany if they really wanted to do WW2? Or some fictional airforce? People don't play those games for the plot.
    – user
    Jul 30 at 20:45
  • @user you're aware that The US lost more than 20,000 planes against Germany? Whole bombing raids were eliminated with hundreds of downed planes and killed airman in a dingle day. So any Game with an option to play German Luftwaffe would fall to the same issue, wouldn't it?
    – Raffzahn
    Jul 30 at 21:44
  • @Raffzahn - I think his point was that "US v. Germany" would be better than "US v. Japan" for a Japanese vendor. Jul 30 at 23:44
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    @another-dave why? It's still the same US - just because the scenario is about Germany, the US still killed many Japanese Airmen during the very same war, so the nationalist argument would still stand against that - more so considering that Japan and Germany were allies during that war - or is killing friends more acceptable? (Don't ask me, that mindset is hard to understand to me anyway, no matter what nation. I do like such games, but can't stand nationalism or praise of war in any way)
    – Raffzahn
    Jul 31 at 1:35
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How did Capcom come to make the decision to produce a game where the player takes on the role of the someone killing thousands of their countrymen [...]

Well, many games did allow to play former 'enemies', either as alternative, or only major content, like

All the way to

All of them are made by US companies while thousands of US soldiers did die in these battles, didn't they? The fact that the US prevailed doesn't undo their death. But, does this matter in context of a game?

No.

Games are meant to allow the player to experiment with a certain scenario/environment and prove against that setup.

Making games under a nationalist POV is be a rather bad idea, taking opportunity from players and making games not as good as they could be - unless the makers goal isn't providing a great game but rather about indoctrination and propaganda, isn't it?

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