333/365 – Meditation Games #333 – Shouganai

Developer: Liam Edwards

Launcher Quote: “Shouganai (??????) is usually translated from Japanese to mean “it can’t be helped”.

It’s a popular phrase in Japan usually used to dismiss the negative or uncontrollable aspects of life. I have always taken it to kind of mean “Oh well”.
Since moving to Japan 4 years ago, I have come across this phrase often and have even used it at difficult times in my life.
Whilst usually used under negative or disappointing circumstances I have come to find it inspiring and positive.

Japan is a country that has endured and persevered through incredible hardships, whether that be from war, economic struggles or rather frequently and more recently, natural disasters.

Having come from the UK, natural disasters were not something I had ever experienced, they always seemed otherworldly – almost fantasy.
Well, after 4 years in Japan I have now experienced earthquakes, floods and typhoons and man, do they seem otherworldly.

But, Japanese people always continue on. They continue like nothing happened… “shouganai”.
Here, natural disasters happen frequently… it can’t be helped.
Even when I get scared, not just from natural disasters – but life itself, their “shouganai” spirit inspires me.

Things happen, but please “shouganai” and continue.”

Enduring through difficulty is one of the traits about the human experience that is seen to be admirable or at the very least, sympathetic as far as being able to keep going is concerned. Nobody ever makes it through life without a few trials and tribulations, and when they happen in spades, when things happen to pour as hard as they rain, when life just keeps trying to kick you in the butt, the ability to get back up, take the hits, and keep going is something that people tend to view as a positive, which the developer here couches in the context of the Japanese mentality of continuing on as if nothing had happened, even in the face of something like a natural disaster.

There are, I think good things and bad things to this approach. In one sense, it’s a good thing because of the mental endurance and ability to keep going despite the lumps that you take. Being able to go on despite difficulties is something that is a testament to someone’s mental fortitude. But it’s also a good idea to know your limits, know when it actually is too much for you, know that it is ok to say that you’re not ok. A previous Meditation Games entry had a theme of friend support structures, and I think this is perhaps the better way to go when you have a lot that is weighing on you or which causes you mental or physical difficulty. Knowing when to ask for help and not to just say “it can’t be helped” is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength, and more importantly, a sign that you understand your own well-being and know when to lean on others. It’s especially important in a world where the bad things can mount very quickly, as they do if you don’t successfully execute the mini typing and quick time events that this game offers you.

That being said, this is part of why this project is so compelling – the ability to be able to elicit different thoughts and opinions about the message that is being sent, even if perhaps that might not have been the intent of the developer, is a powerful thing, especially when you can read others’ impressions of the same game and get something completely different.

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