Video games, power and diplomacy
- Gaming is a growing source of soft power, influence—and perhaps espionage
Of all the shrines in Kyoto, the most sacred for some is in the south. As snow falls, a guard stands watch, making sure no pilgrims get too close. The site is surrounded by a wall, but over it a grey building is visible, marked with eight characters that spell out its name: Nintendo. Japan’s gaming industry has a following bordering on the religious. In Tokyo foreigners flock to Akihabara, the “electric town" of game arcades, or roar around by go-kart in homage to “Mario Kart". Osaka has a Super Nintendo World theme park. When Japan shows off to the world, it reaches for games as often as for samurai or sushi. Collecting the Olympic torch in Rio in 2016, its then prime minister, Abe Shinzo, emerged in the stadium from a green drainpipe, dressed as Mario.