The Flyjin and the Fallout

The Flyjin and the Fallout

One gamer finds solace in Fallout 3 in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

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David A. Graham:
The Flyjin and the Fallout

One gamer finds solace in Fallout 3 in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Read Full Article

Thanks for sharing all of that. It was a good read.

It's really telling, to me, that as much grief as some people give video games (and those that play them), it's clear that those people consume other media in the same way, for the same reasons. Sometimes, yes, entertainment is about avoidance. Sometimes, it's about just shutting up the conscious mind long enough for the subconscious to work through something. And sometimes, it is the method of working through something.

On a smaller scale, for me, it's important downtime. I'm a teacher as well (middle school), and it's easy for the job to make you feel powerless. Each day, you shovel sand out of the hole, and each night the rest of the world shoves it back in, and you feel like no problem ever gets truly solved. Coming home, it's nice to pull up a quick game, which presents problems I can solve, and it gives my day just the tiniest touch of closure -- not because I solved something real or meaningful, but because I got to experience the feeling of resolution.

Heh, i know what you mean, interesting read, thanks for sharing it with us.

I'm down in Kansai, and pretty much all my coworkers were shocked I wasn't busting it out of the country like it seemed like a lot of foreigners were.

I had the terrible luck of having to renew my visa around the time this was happening, and let me tell you, never had Immigration been so packed. It was full of people getting re-entry visas so they could get out but be able to come back once things settled down. And that was pretty much the only place hopping; there's nothing as odd as passing pachinko parlors nearly as silent as the grave because they've turned off all the garish lights to conserve power and no one is going out to play anyway because it's almost disrespectful (no, I don't play pachinko, but there's a parlor near the exit to go to Den-den Town, where I get import games - if I'm playing a Western game, I am not playing it in Japanese).

I can understand why people left, especially those further north, but at the same time, I see it from the other side - I stayed. I stayed because I had a job (not an English teacher) and because it seemed wrong, deeply wrong, to just turn tail and run when so many people I cared about (I lived in Kanto for five years before I moved down south; first thing I did when I saw the news 3.11 was to frantically e-mail everyone I knew up there) didn't have that opportunity. Japan is my home (10 years now), and I couldn't imagine leaving. Heck, I felt guilty because I couldn't volunteer to go up to Tohoku to do interpretation (there was a serious need, but I didn't have the vacation time or the money saved up), and that still gnaws at me - that feeling that I could have done more than just stay and donate what I could.

Feelings about the earthquake, about Fukushima (fuck TEPCO), and about Japan really hit me in the aftermath of the quake, and I realized one thing, every strongly - Japan is my home. I couldn't see myself leaving, because it's home. And where home is is an important thing to realize, no matter where you have to be to do so.

Lack of language skills is why I have little intention of visiting other countries. If I can't communicate with the people in their own language I'd feel like too much of a burden. I just HATE feeling useless and in this situation and my first instinct would have been to help in any way I could.

I hope I'm not the only one who read this and thought "where was Kathleen during all of this?"

?

yeah_so_no:
I'm down in Kansai, and pretty much all my coworkers were shocked I wasn't busting it out of the country like it seemed like a lot of foreigners were.

I had the terrible luck of having to renew my visa around the time this was happening, and let me tell you, never had Immigration been so packed. It was full of people getting re-entry visas so they could get out but be able to come back once things settled down. And that was pretty much the only place hopping; there's nothing as odd as passing pachinko parlors nearly as silent as the grave because they've turned off all the garish lights to conserve power and no one is going out to play anyway because it's almost disrespectful (no, I don't play pachinko, but there's a parlor near the exit to go to Den-den Town, where I get import games - if I'm playing a Western game, I am not playing it in Japanese).

I can understand why people left, especially those further north, but at the same time, I see it from the other side - I stayed. I stayed because I had a job (not an English teacher) and because it seemed wrong, deeply wrong, to just turn tail and run when so many people I cared about (I lived in Kanto for five years before I moved down south; first thing I did when I saw the news 3.11 was to frantically e-mail everyone I knew up there) didn't have that opportunity. Japan is my home (10 years now), and I couldn't imagine leaving. Heck, I felt guilty because I couldn't volunteer to go up to Tohoku to do interpretation (there was a serious need, but I didn't have the vacation time or the money saved up), and that still gnaws at me - that feeling that I could have done more than just stay and donate what I could.

Feelings about the earthquake, about Fukushima (fuck TEPCO), and about Japan really hit me in the aftermath of the quake, and I realized one thing, every strongly - Japan is my home. I couldn't see myself leaving, because it's home. And where home is is an important thing to realize, no matter where you have to be to do so.

I agree with most of what you say here but as for the author of the article, and not to be a douche about it, but I am glad that you and all the rest of the flyjin left. Sorry but you don't leave your home because of freak occurences, people in midwest america have more to fear from the tornadoes they get then we do here in japan and earthquakes. You already experienced the 10th largest earthquake in recorded history (and the biggest for the country) with relatively minor inconviences, and your then just gonna leave?..? why? What more could happen? I say it as proof that Japan can take a hit (barring horribily old, not up to code facilities, not many buildings are still around from the 70's yet the power plant is??)

For the two months after the quake I did get the "Your still here?" questions and looks (I'm American). But to me the thought of leaving never crosse my mind. I was on the Metro at the time (subway in Tokyo) it hit and just thought ooh a big earthquake, but crap I'm gonna be late for class. The whole apocalypse talk by Western media annoyed me, and scared my parents costantly, that I had to tell them I refused to talk on the subject anymore or I would hang up. At 30 it would be like living in LA and parents telling you to move back to NY?? No, this my home, why would I leave? And that was the response I have always given. Radiation to me was never "black magic" that would contaminate everything I touched and kill me, unless I lived within 50 miles why the hell would I worry about that

i still suffer from post traumatic stress disorder when I was in the army. But to hide in games did a lot for me. To escape is a great thing it can heal but the problem is when it takes over your life. I almost got to the point when I did not want to spend time with my family.

(also thank god for Fanal Fantasy 7, 8, 9, 10, 10-2 and 12 I 100% all of them in 2 months)

that was a good read thank you

I remember it was only 2 weeks after the tsumami and nuclear disaster that I booked tickets to get INTO Japan. I even hung around for a couple of months to work too. Everyone I worked with thought I was weird, but I am.

I left a country in "crisis" and "desperate times" and returned to one where there were mass riots and mob rule in the streets. I thought it was pretty ironic actually.

Plus, I would rather deal with radiation, aftershocks, lies and power shortages over scum hoodies/chavs any day.

Wait wait wait
There AREN'T any giant demonic babies in Japan?
That country is seriously misrepresented in the media.

DeeWiz:
I agree with most of what you say here but as for the author of the article, and not to be a douche about it, but I am glad that you and all the rest of the flyjin left. Sorry but you don't leave your home because of freak occurences, people in midwest america have more to fear from the tornadoes they get then we do here in japan and earthquakes. You already experienced the 10th largest earthquake in recorded history (and the biggest for the country) with relatively minor inconviences, and your then just gonna leave?..? why? What more could happen? I say it as proof that Japan can take a hit (barring horribily old, not up to code facilities, not many buildings are still around from the 70's yet the power plant is??)

For the two months after the quake I did get the "Your still here?" questions and looks (I'm American). But to me the thought of leaving never crosse my mind. I was on the Metro at the time (subway in Tokyo) it hit and just thought ooh a big earthquake, but crap I'm gonna be late for class. The whole apocalypse talk by Western media annoyed me, and scared my parents costantly, that I had to tell them I refused to talk on the subject anymore or I would hang up. At 30 it would be like living in LA and parents telling you to move back to NY?? No, this my home, why would I leave? And that was the response I have always given. Radiation to me was never "black magic" that would contaminate everything I touched and kill me, unless I lived within 50 miles why the hell would I worry about that

I have a lot of the same feelings about the flyjin (and IRONY! The anti-spam captcha code showing up right now is 'high horse,' so I'm gonna take that as a sign, ahaha) - y'all left. Y'all ran away. And a lot of us that stayed feel, whether rational or not, a kind of anger and resentment at the foreigners who just up and left while we stuck it out with everyone else.

My family was constantly bugging me to come back right after the quake - I was fretting over the paperwork for my visa and new contract, and here's my whole family telling me to just pack up and go because they couldn't grok where anything was on a map and the US media screaming "OMG OMG IRRADIATED WASTELAND WARGLGARGL!" put the fear of everything into them.

Yeah, great, you played games to help you forget. Meanwhile, last time I went electronics shopping, I saw geiger counters on display, and the mushrooms I bought tonight for dinner had a bar code on it you could take a picture of to get radiation count info, and in the last year, I've learned a lot about micro-, mili-, sieverts, and becquerels. So.

...Yeah, still more irritated than I thought I was about flyjin. I think that's gonna be a sore spot for a lot of us for a while.

While I can't speak to "flyjin", I can speak to the therapeutic affects of gaming. After an event of that magnitude (pun not intended), the stressed induced on the individual are colossal. Everyone handles stress differently, and as it turns out, losing oneself in an imaginary world where you can handle everything that happens there turns out to be wonderfully cathartic and stress relieving. We each cope in our own ways, of course, but it's not too outlandish to use a medium like gaming to help yourself deal with what you've faced.

Thats the thing, there wasn't really stress if you looked at it rationally, at least for Tokyo (large portion of flygin) and further. Radition is not black magic but science, and for the people not living in the area it was a non-issue, at least once the got the plant under "control." Earthquakes themselves can't kill you just make it impossible to stand for a while, the real danger comes from knocking things down, and since all the building in Tokyo stayed up with little to no damage, from the LARGEST earthquake since they recorded, and Tokyo bay naturally protects from the very damaging tsunami, why the hell do people have stress. I definately have more stress over my Visa than I do over an earthquake. Seriously if that is gonna stress you out you might as well stay indoors during thunderstorms because you are many times more likely to get hit by lightning. Was it a tragedy yes, but for the people in the Fukashima area, just like the first thing the Western news reported on was how it would affect them in their country, people just make everything about themselves, "oh woe is me" STFU you bastard, people lost everything in the tsunami and cannot even return, where the fuck do you come off making it about you! Oh god, the stress? when you live in Tokyo, give me a break, in fact please leave and never come back, oh wait you did.

yeah_so_no:
I have a lot of the same feelings about the flyjin (and IRONY! The anti-spam captcha code showing up right now is 'high horse,' so I'm gonna take that as a sign, ahaha) - y'all left. Y'all ran away.

Hmm... while I understand your point, what about people like me? What about people who had made the choice to return to our home countries months before the Earthquake hit? Who were committed to leaving our jobs, who had invested ourselves in getting started back in our home countries, who already told the landlords we'd have our apartments cleared out by 3.10? Are we flyjin? Did we run away?

DeeWiz:
Thats the thing, there wasn't really stress if you looked at it rationally, at least for Tokyo (large portion of flygin) and further. Radition is not black magic but science,

I agree. But at the same time, I remember in the days after the quake it was nigh-impossible to get clear information. I remember one day in particular when I was waiting to teach one of my final classes, and the staff room was bland with a dull droning of someone on the TV explaining how you can turn a plastic shopping bag and cardboard box into a functioning toilet. And at the same time, all the websites I could access with my keitai were a constant stream of frightening news about how the radiation in Tokyo is spiking (no mention of microsieverts back then, just "10 times the normal background level") and ever escalating gossip on gaijin forums about how such and such army base has gone into lockdown mode and how people of such country are being advised to evacuate. Then I had to go into a classroom full of rowdy children and pretend I wasn't scared. Then I would come home to emails from my family begging me to come home early. I filled out my contract, but I'm not sure I can fault someone who flipped out and left. I agree that it was a foolish thing to do (and I can say that from the comfortably high horse of someone who left for reasons other than the quake), but people do foolish things sometimes. I've got very little tolerance for gaijin spreading fear (or worse, gloating over the disaster with petulant cries of "TEPCO LIED!" every time more bad news comes out of Fukushima) but I can't fault someone who made a judgement call and followed through with it just because it was the wrong call.

I've learned three things from this quake. The first, that preparedness makes a huge difference after a disaster. The second, that there are some amazing Japanese people out there, that I love the country, and that I want to go back. The third, that people want to find some kind of meaning in this disaster, and they are more than willing to spin it in their minds until it affirms what they want to be true. Foreigners who want Japan to be an orderly, safe place were outraged by the US press's hysterical coverage. Foreigners who are angry about Japan not giving them everything they wanted gloat about every misstep Tokyo and TEPCO make. And maybe foreigners who want a reason to feel their a cut above other foreigners condemn the flyjin. I know in my mind I have twisted the tsunami into a narrative that is more about my thoughts at the time than what actually happened. I think it's only natural. We want big, crazy, chaotic things like this to have meaning. But we should also recognize the impulse, because doing so can help keep us from hurting people there is no need to hurt. There are already a lot of people hurting from the earthquake. Adding to that number benefits no one.

Oh, and to relate this back to games: I too recently played through Fallout 3. But that's more to do with the fact that for years I've had a copy I got as a present but I didn't have a computer with the specs to handle it. Only recently could I upgrade.

I don't really see much overlap between Fallout and the real disaster to be honest. Even the wreckage in the scenery seems different. And the big thing about Fallout 3 is that no one in the game is actually in the disaster. The disaster is over. All that's left is to live.

OTOH, that Mass Effect 3 trailer where everyone is watching their world fall apart around them- that I can't deal with. It reminds me of the afternoon on 3.11 when we were in the staff room watching live footage from a news 'copter of the tsunami plowing through Tohoku, with nothing but devastation as far as the eye can see. And watching as cars and vans try to outrun the tsunami, but can't see it from the angle we can and so they make wrong turns and get swallowed under water. And listening to the other teachers in the staff room frantically shouting at those cars to turn the other way. It's a feeling of helplessness, of watching people die and knowing there's nothing that can be done about it. And when I see that couple fearfully making out in the ME3 trailer, it makes me feel exactly the same way. And I'm not saying that games shouldn't depict scenes like that or that they need to be sensitive or anything like that, but just seeing that trainer reminds me of that day enough to put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day. It makes me angry that people can find it to be "fun". I'm sure ME3 is a great game, but it's going to be a while before I want anything to do with it.

My sister was an English teacher in Osaka, well away from the disaster area, when it hit my parents were scheduled to go and visit her a fortnight later. The Australian Government actually tried to stop them going, but my sister thankfully convinced them that it was safe and they went and had a fantastic holiday, but only in the "safe" parts of Japan.

As regards games as therapy, there have been a bunch of times when I've done similar things, sometimes good and sometimes not. WoW is a good example of a game I can play to ignore the problems I have in RL, and that isn't ALWAYS a good thing, there have been times that I've played WoW instead of dealing with my issues RL, so I've quit wow, I still play other games, and funnily enough, the night my Grandfather passed away, I locked myself in my study and played Fallout for 15 hours straight.

Games are a lot like drugs, if used properly, they can relieve pain, stress and even provide enjoyment (if that's your thing) but misused, they can wreak havoc on the lives of the people addicted to them. It's like everything else, all about moderation.

My condolences to you and to a hopeful full recovery. Despite what many people say, video games (not counting the tryhards that populate the CoD servers) are made for, primarily, the relaxation and recreation of people. If this is your way of coping, then all power to you.

But, to note some of your previous regrets, if you feel very remorseful for what happened and what you did in the wake of Japan's most current, horrible tragedy, it's not too late to go back and do... something... to make up for it. If you've gotten to the point where you can face everything that went wrong in that fateful day and return to do some good in the real world, then try and do that.

If you've spent so much time as a paragon in the Capital Wasteland, and feel ready to take the next step, then it's not too late to extend that morality to the real world. ^_^

David A. Graham:
The Flyjin and the Fallout

One gamer finds solace in Fallout 3 in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Read Full Article

Well... that sounds familiar...

I was working in Northern Kanto at that time. I'd only been there for two weeks when the tsunami happened. I was teaching a class of four year olds when it did happen. To my credit, I just kept the class going during the earthquake. The kids didn't realise what was going on, and I'm sure they'll always wonder why earthquakes remind them of the colour orange for the rest of their lives.

I finished the day normally... kind of. Say this about the Japanese; they stick to routine, and will come to class even in a crisis. Couldn't get to my apartment in Kanagawa (over an hour of travel at the best of times), so I spent the night at the school.

I managed to get back to my apartment the next day, and let people know that I was in fact, still alive. Found out one of my closest friends was particularly worried, and, well, that's another story. It was at this point, that my school stopped communicating with me. I waited around for a week with frequent power cuts, not sure if my school was still running or not. In the end, with my family's constant demands (and my brother having a panic attack over the phone), I left.

I had the guilt of course. A few days after I left the country, the school finally got in contact with me. A month later I went back. Biggest mistake I ever made. The school was hugely unprofessional, and I was insanely bored in Japan. Everything was very convenient, and nice. The people polite, and the students studious. God it was dull. And there was the other long story with my friend to consider. So, after a few months, I left again.

I don't mean to say that I don't like Japan. It's a great place to grow up in. It's very safe (apart from the obvious exceptions), and the food is pretty good. But it's like living in a bubble. I've gotten used to a more exciting style of life in South East Asia, where just crossing the road is an adventure in itself.

And being an English teacher was so unfulfilling. People in Vietnam, where I work now, who learn English, are more desperate. They want to learn English with a passion that the Japanese just can't match. They need to. Their futures often depend on it. Some of the kids here are desperate to leave the country. In Japan, at my school, the majority of students were there to learn for holidays. A lot of them were just old ladies there for something to do in the evening. They didn't need my help, as much as they do here.

It's funny. When I was younger, I always wanted to live in Japan. I was in to anime, Japanese games and culture. I even speak Japanese quite well. But now... I guess I've grown up. Japan was my young boy dream. Now I'm living in Vietnam. It was the best decision I ever made.

Do I feel guilty about abandoning Japan? At the time I did. That's why I went back. But they don't need me there. I can't do as much good. I don't feel guilty any more.

It seems pretty logical to leave and then return when everything is okay. I don't see why you should feel guilty.

Katatori-kun:

yeah_so_no:
I have a lot of the same feelings about the flyjin (and IRONY! The anti-spam captcha code showing up right now is 'high horse,' so I'm gonna take that as a sign, ahaha) - y'all left. Y'all ran away.

Hmm... while I understand your point, what about people like me? What about people who had made the choice to return to our home countries months before the Earthquake hit? Who were committed to leaving our jobs, who had invested ourselves in getting started back in our home countries, who already told the landlords we'd have our apartments cleared out by 3.10? Are we flyjin? Did we run away?

Uh...no. If you had already made plans to leave before this happens, you're not a flyjin - you were just going home. Surely you can see the difference? Timing doesn't matter nearly so much as intent, you know. :/

yeah_so_no:

Katatori-kun:

yeah_so_no:
I have a lot of the same feelings about the flyjin (and IRONY! The anti-spam captcha code showing up right now is 'high horse,' so I'm gonna take that as a sign, ahaha) - y'all left. Y'all ran away.

Hmm... while I understand your point, what about people like me? What about people who had made the choice to return to our home countries months before the Earthquake hit? Who were committed to leaving our jobs, who had invested ourselves in getting started back in our home countries, who already told the landlords we'd have our apartments cleared out by 3.10? Are we flyjin? Did we run away?

Uh...no. If you had already made plans to leave before this happens, you're not a flyjin - you were just going home. Surely you can see the difference? Timing doesn't matter nearly so much as intent, you know. :/

(NOTE: FIRST POST WAS EATEN BY ANGRY NET-BEARS)

The problem is when I apply for future jobs in Japan, my potential employers will only see the timing and not the intent. And if this vilification of flyjin is allowed to continue, it means that they could very easily bin me as a coward just by looking at the date my last job finished. Which means to even have near the same chances of getting a job as any other candidate, I have to waste valuable resume/cover letter/essay space explaining a piece of information that is utterly mundane in any other context. Either way I'm handicapped.

And for what? What does the hate for flyjin get us? The only thing it does is create a class of foreigner that we can feel comfortable feeling superior to. And if you've been in Japan more than a couple years, you really need to be at a point where you can be comfortable in your own skin without having to rank yourself up against all the other foreigners.

The 3/11 disaster was bad enough and hard enough to get past as it is. We should not be dwelling on choices people made in the past.

Katatori-kun:
The third, that people want to find some kind of meaning in this disaster, and they are more than willing to spin it in their minds until it affirms what they want to be true. Foreigners who want Japan to be an orderly, safe place were outraged by the US press's hysterical coverage. Foreigners who are angry about Japan not giving them everything they wanted gloat about every misstep Tokyo and TEPCO make. And maybe foreigners who want a reason to feel their a cut above other foreigners condemn the flyjin. I know in my mind I have twisted the tsunami into a narrative that is more about my thoughts at the time than what actually happened. I think it's only natural. We want big, crazy, chaotic things like this to have meaning. But we should also recognize the impulse, because doing so can help keep us from hurting people there is no need to hurt. There are already a lot of people hurting from the earthquake. Adding to that number benefits no one.

This quote is the most brilliant response to the infighting I've seen.

Well said, good chap.

this is the reason you dont listen to the god damn US news such as fox they just blow everything out of proportion to get ratings and cause a panic. Reminds me of my family in Arkansas saying how they would never live in California because of all the earth quakes(maybe one a year will even be noticeable let alone cause damage but tv loves to hype it all to hell) while towns around them are getting partly flooded and or swaths cut out of them by tornadoes several times a year.

 

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