Yoshitaka Murayama is a little known but widely admired video game director that is behind one of the most culturally-impactful video game series in history. The Suikoden series videogame is based on a sixteenth century Chinese novel by Shi Naian. Murayama, through his relatively short-lived career in the mainstream video game industry, has proved that video games, especially role-playing games (RPGs) are not devoid of meaning. On the contrary, they have a philosophical significance mainly because video games are an extension of culture. This is why they are often the battleground between competing ideologies and culture traditions. Murayama, a lifelong advocate of independent gaming industry, where the cultural impact of games is infinitely more powerful than their corporate impact, has related to every player of the Suikoden series a philosophical experience.
Rather than making games as an out-of-body experience or a catharsis, Murayama makes them a real-life experience. The gameplay must make the player feel every death or murder as though it was real. He believes that in doing so he can relate to the gamer the moral importance and preciousness of life. The gameplay can accomplish this real-life experience by slowing down when a character is injured or blurring the view when they are sad. Historical context and closeness are also important in Murayama’s philosophy. The plots of video games should not be unrelated to the player’s culture. They should depict explicitly or implicitly the history of humanity through art and war within the game. The player can begin to feel the intensity of the character’s emotions because they are so human and simple. This fosters a character-player relationship that is much more intimate and meaningful than in individualistic games. You feel their pain when their village is pillaged; you feel the mother’s terror when her child is kidnapped. This builds compassion in the player for their multitude of equal characters.
The most important component of Murayama’s philosophy is guilt. He attempts to place guilt in the player when they fail their character or kill unnecessarily. When a player neglects a character or doesn't develop them equally, the game forces the player to use that character in un-winnable scenarios so when the character inevitably dies, the player is annoyed. Soon though this feeling gives way and the player feels that they are personally guilty for the unnecessary death of a character they are emotionally close to. Once the player has felt guilt they are unlikely to make that same mistake in the game. Even more impressive is that this precise use of guilt acts as a catalyst for entangling the player in the characters' stories and lives. It becomes harder to kill them or watch them die. Every game therefore asks the question of what is worth sacrifice? Since the player feels so powerfully towards these characters, what is worth sacrificing them? Certainly not material gains in the game, but the player must answer that individually. Murayama presents an alternative independent history-based approach to video games. His philosophy and games have a cult-like following because of the relationships formed with stoic characters that advocate peace over unnecessary death.