The web has come a good distance because the early days of Netscape Navigator, dial-up and web boards. It’s now a spot the place info is offered in a matter of seconds, movies and tv exhibits could be streamed on-line, and folks across the globe are capable of join and kind relationships in methods by no means achieved previously. In a decade outlined by social media, on-line gaming and digital content material creation, there’s no query the web has profoundly modified the way in which we expertise life for higher or worse. That is the very playground the mild novel If The RPG World Had Social Media explores.
Written by Yusuke Nitta with illustrations by Yukinatsu Amekaze and character designs by LOL, If the RPG World Had Social Media takes place in a world very like an internet RPG. It follows a 16-year-old hikikomori identified solely as “the Hero,” who reluctantly accepts a mission from a king to avoid wasting his daughter, the Princess, from the broadly feared Demon Lord. Alongside the way in which, he meets the Demon Lord herself through textual content message and strikes up an surprising friendship along with her regardless of his mission. Alongside the way in which, he makes 4 surprising allies as he continues on his journey.
Proper off the bat, If the RPG World Had Social Media is a narrative about web tradition, nevertheless it’s additionally way more than that. Whereas the story references frequent occurrences that occur in on-line communities, it additionally makes use of humor to discover the advantages and downsides of internet-based interplay. This theme is principally explored with the protagonist, the Hero.
After we first meet the Hero within the story, he has the entire signs of a hikikomori, a reclusive one who has withdrawn from society. Initially coined in 1998 by Japanese psychologist, Tamaki Saito, hikikomori signs embody locking themselves of their bedrooms (often inside their dad and mom’ properties) for six months or extra. Hikikomori additionally are inclined to keep away from all in-person contact (together with with family and friends members) and spend extreme quantities of time on the web. Along with doing all these items, the Hero additionally suffers from excessive social nervousness, poor communication expertise and extreme bodily impairments introduced on by 16 years of isolation and inactivity.
Whereas the Hero’s signs are depicted as removed from fascinating by Nitta, Amekaze and LOL, it isn’t the hikikomori life-style they criticize. As an alternative, they criticize know-how engineers like Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, who revolutionized the web as we all know it with out fascinated about the way it might impression future communication between individuals. They particularly criticize social media entrepreneurs like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Fb’s Mark Zuckerberg who created their platforms with no thought to how they may encourage addictive conduct, sedentary life and particularly a tradition of isolation, concepts explored with the character of Markie Goldberg.
In the identical means Nitta, Amekaze and LOL discover the unfavourable impression of web tradition, in addition they current a flip-side argument: it may well additionally assist hikikomori join with individuals they wouldn’t in any other case meet. This might not solely result in the event of a help system however might additionally successfully encourage reintegration into society. This concept is particularly essential to the Hero’s character growth.
Regardless of the Hero beginning out not wanting to go away the consolation of his personal bed room, preferring to entertain his web dependancy, this modifications the second he meets the Demon Lord through textual content message. The second he learns of her personal emotions of isolation, he begins to take curiosity in her in methods he hadn’t skilled earlier than. When he particularly meets the Demon Lord’s 4 Demon Generals — Mako, Nicoletta, Pino and Oniko — in particular person, they develop into essential to bettering his social expertise by exposing him to completely different character varieties. Whereas the Hero persistently faces challenges for even essentially the most staple items all through his journey, he begins to regularly overcome lots of them.
Art work in If The RPG World Had Social Media is sparse, being largely comprised of display screen captures of conversations between characters. Sometimes, there might be footage of the primary characters as they’re regularly launched within the textual content messages, however for essentially the most half, their appearances are restricted to their avatars. Whereas that is unconventional even by mild novel requirements, the method nonetheless helps immerse readers into the thoughts of the Hero and expertise his world the identical means he does: through textual content, fairly than in particular person.
On the entire, If The RPG World Had Social Media gives an entertaining perception into web tradition and its impression on hikikomori. Along with criticizing a few of web tradition’s extra dangerous penalties, it equally argues in favor of it as a method of serving to hikikomori overcome a few of their anxieties and social impairments.
If The RPG World Had Social Media is now accessible from Yen Press.