One of the big differences that I've noticed between Japan and the United States is the acceptance of the video game culture. In both countries it's a multi-billion dollar industry, bigger than the film industry. I'm a huge video game fan even though I don't play like I used to since I've been married. One of the things I really like about video games is the value proposition (I'm nothing if not an economist). Let's assume that you rent a DVD. That will set you back about $5. Not a big deal, in effect you're paying $2.50 an hour to be entertained. At the same time you buy a game for $50. To get the same value out of it, a game needs to be at least 20 hours long (or be replayable enough to get 20 hours out of it). If it's not, I don't buy it. I try to base it on the single-player campaign (or if it's a party game, the general fun factor) because I don't get together too often with others to play and I'm too much of a cheapskate to pay for something like Xbox Live when I don't play enough to justify a monthly subscription (same idea with an MMORPG). Some games, take for example my personal favorites the Final Fantasy series, are upwards of 50 hours of gametime. That equates to a buck an hour for entertainment on one play through. That right there is value. That's why the "it's so expensive" excuse doesn't fly. At the same time, while watching TV can rot your brain, you're interacting and in this day and age of the Wii you are also getting some exercise. I don't see why it's considered as low brow as it is, even with the stunning assortment of women who defy the laws of physics. There are incredible stories to be told that take a lot of man-hours, some determination, some luck, and maybe a cheat or two. You actually have to work for them as opposed to just sitting there and letting it unfold. In case I didn't get it across, I really like video games. Apparently so do a lot of other men of the married persuasion as BBSpot came up with a decision-making matrix for those who don't know what to do.
One of the integral parts of video games is the music. Sure, there's some insanely repetitive stuff out there (because you have to make it meld together when you're just knocking about in a particular area), but I think that especially the RPG style games do a great job with their music. It's a huge amount of work and when it's released (usually just in Japan), it's often on a 3 CD set. As such, I am not only a film music buff (especially if the composer's name is Hans Zimmer, which again makes me a lowest-common-denominator type of music aficionado to a lot of music snobs out there), but a video game music buff. The stuff from the days of the NES is ghetto, but music today is often performed by a full orchestra or at the very least, a guy with a synthesizer. In olden times (lo a decade ago) most video game music was the realm of Japanese composers, but now you even have people like Harry Gregson-Williams (The Rock, Chronicles of Narnia) composing a score for the last several Metal Gear Solid games. You also have groups of people joined by the internet reimagining some of these songs into their own compositions. It's all fascinating stuff and I just can't get enough. While it might label me a nerd, label me one who has somewhat discriminating tastes. Oh, and check a bit of it out (here's one of my favorites with a video clip attached so you don't have to download it). You might be surprised that you really like it. I've included a clip from a concert of Final Fantasy music that was released in Japan on DVD (yes, they're that into it over there). Enjoy!