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SMAC! Web Magazine

LOST (and FOUND) in TRANSLATION #017 – “OUSAMA GAME”

Do you enjoy “ice-breaker” games? How about games that are designed to pull you out of your comfort zone? Okay, even if you’re a “stay-in-your-comfort-zone” kind of guy or girl, you might be interested to learn about a Japanese game that inspired a manga series!

Today’s word: 王様ゲーム (ou-sama game)

“Ou-sama” means “the king”, thus “The King Game”. Very popular at drinking parties, this game is like the Japanese equivalent of “Truth, Dare or Command” … only without the truth or dare options.

LFT_017 Ousama game

Wanna learn how to play?
Here are the rules:

  • You play with a group of 5-10 people (It works best with a mixture of male and female players)
  • Each player draws a lot. One has the word “king” written on it, and the others have numbers.
  • Everyone chants “Ou-sama wa dare da?” (Who is the king?) and the player who drew the “king” makes themselves known.
  • The King can then issue orders (usually of the embarrassing variety) by calling out numbers. For example: “Number 3, kiss number 4!”
  • Repeat.

In Japan, a chap named Nobuaki Kanazawa wrote a cellphone novel with the title Ou-sama Game (A cellphone novel is… well, a novel written on a cellphone. It’s difficult for me to imagine writing a novel on a cellphone, but apparently its possible!) and it was so popular, that in 2011 it received a manga adaption. (With illustrations by Hitori Renda)

Ou-sama Game the manga is a good example of Japan’s unique “Death Game” genre, where high students have to kill each other based on some kind of game, contest or system (think Battle Royale) In this case, all the students in a certain high school class receive a mail from someone known only as “the king”, which contains an order. If the parties involved don’t obey the order, they’re mysteriously killed. Initially, the orders are relatively innocent, but as the story progresses, they escalate, becoming more and more disturbing and violent. The interesting part is how each of the students react, and what lines they will or won’t cross to stay alive.

Of course, an ou-sama game doesn’t have to be scary. It’s great for fan service as well. If you’ve ever played the popular PS2 game Persona 4, you may have seen an in-game example! (The characters visit a night club and play an ou-sama gama) When your character draws the King, you have the option to make someone:
1. Sit on your lap
2. Sleep on your lap
3. Hug you
4. Give you a piggy back.

Naturally, as a J-RPG protagonist, you are immune to anything embarrassing, and will look cool no matter what you choose!

Now, personally, I’m terrified of like this (even if they don’t result in death!) but I can’t deny that they contain an important lesson in story-telling: put your characters in desperate situations, and see how they react! You can never see someone’s true nature under ordinary circumstances… but under pressure, their true morals, values and priorities will become clear!

 

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Penmaru