The Story of the Issei and Nisei

Hello everyone,

Today, I would like to discuss a particular aspect of the research that I have been doing about Japanese – American people during WWII. As the rising tension between America and Japan peaked as the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, the aftermath left America in great peril. The propaganda pushed anti – Japanese ideas and caused the climate of America to point towards Japanese fear and questioning. This feeling towards the Japanese led to the creation of internment camps. These camps housed people of Japanese ancestry that were living in the United States. The included people in this relocation effort were all people of Japanese ancestry that were healthy enough to be relocated. Of the peoples housed in these camps the population is historically divided into two fundamental groups. The Issei are first generation, Japanese immigrants, and the Nisei. The Nisei are the second generation Japanese – Americans. This group was typically born in America and began schooling in America also; there is a group of Nisei that was born in America but had schooling back in Japan. When the word spread that people of Japanese ancestry would be relocated to internment camps, many Issei did not believe this order would include their children due to them being born in America and being full citizens. Nisei, however were placed in camps for there possible connection to the homeland of Japan.

The two groups, the Issei and Nisei are described as having different mindsets about going to the internment camps and being under the restrictions that the United States government placed these individuals under.  The Issei were generally unbothered and non-confrontational about the matter. They believed this non-confrontational approach was the best method to take against the matter. One account from an Issei inside an internment camp spoke to some of the reason why he has accepted his role inside the camp. He makes the point that outside the camp, the Japanese people faced a great deal of prejudice and discrimination against them due to the anti – Japanese climate in post-Pearl Harbor America. This observation by the Issei brings up an interesting thought inside the minds of people of his generation; many Issei came to America with very little and had worked their way into developing a steady income in America. Through this hard work these individuals faced a lot injustice that made the conditions of the internment camps not as bad comparably. The Nisei were not as receptive to the relocation such as the older generation. This group had seen more freedom on the outside of the internment camps and did not feel like they belonged in the camps due to their lack of direct connection to Japan. In the book, Infamy: A Story Untold, the author writes of the large number of Nisei youngmen that were taunted with the idea of a all – Nisei combat regiment. Joining this combat team was meant to show their loyalty to the United States and not to Japan. This issue played a large role in dividing the Issei and Nisei; many Nisei were faced with the conflicting ideas of serving in the combat team to show their loyalty to America, or not serving as many of their parents wished and proving “disloyal” to America.  Propaganda heavily reinforced the idea that Nisei serving in the Army was their “golden opportunity” to secure their futures as Americans. This left many Nisei with the choice of going against their parents will to be safe and joining the combat team due to all the propaganda pointing to it being the right thing to do to show American loyalty.

The two groups, Issei and Nisei, both had different thoughts about being in the internment camps and on the inside of camps this caused friction and really divided the group as a whole. Inside the camps the two groups functioned as two separate entities and each had self-sufficient governments with elected officials. The Issei and Nisei were not largely different people; however, their different upbringing and place in America was enough to divide these groups on a greater level.

Group Desolation: Getting Settled

Today is the day where our group gets our bearings around who the characters are, how the actual storyline and gameplay will operate, and what the map looks like and how to interact with it.


The protagonist’s family, which will include himself, two siblings (of both genders), his mother, and absent father will carry the name Himura 緋村, which translates to “Red Town”. We are planning on allowing the name to affect certain symbolic events in the game; primarily, Desolation has been drafting some sort of dream sequence. The protagonist’s name will not be mentioned in the game; rather, he will be referred to as “Nisei”, which is the term given to second generation Japanese children born to “Isei”, those who were born in Japan. The two siblings, Satoshi and Naomi, are younger than our protagonist. While the mother, Akane, will play a role in attempting to keep the family together, the fact that the father (who is arrested in the beginning of the game and will only be referred to as “father”) is gone will make her tired, overworked, and pitiful. Along with the family, we have other Japanese inmate characters who will play a role. Currently, these side characters’ roles are undefined, but the idea is that Nisei can either interact with them, work in cohorts with them, or fight with them. Our main guard, Jed Weinstock, will act as the main antagonist in the game as he has a lot of control over the inmates. Nisei has a job (as did many of the inmates) as a paperboy, and he will report to a manager named Rich Fujimoto, who will act as a secondary antagonist.

Gameplay Plot and Goals

The game will begin with the Himura family arriving at camp and realizing that they no longer have a father in their lives anymore. After the family gets instruction on where to build their development, Nisei will attempt to gather materials for their dwelling along with other necessities (finding food, locating the bathrooms, etc). Once this is finished, Nisei will talk to job official Rich Fujimoto and will receive his job assignment of paperboy, which is the most heralded job for someone of his age and gender.

At this point in time, Nisei realizes the weight of the situation – he must have a job and serve as a replacement ‘man of the house’ for the rest of his family. The player then can build towards two main decisions: either stay in the camp and gather resources to fend for the family or fend for himself and work towards escaping. The player can only build towards one of those options, not both.

Whatever the player does choose, main gameplay will remain the same. Nisei will speak to (shady) people on his paper route and will learn how to get extra money on his paper route, one of which will be betting in card games.


Thanks to Trey tinkering around with RPG Maker, we’ve been able to properly develop a blueprint map for our game. Attached is a video of Trey showing the map that he made, so I’ll let him take it away from here.

Group Desolation Update

Today as a group we decided who was going to do what on the portfolio, so that we had a plan moving forward and that this task won’t slip up on us. Also, we decided on more details that are a part of the game; for example, the name of the protagonist and his family. We worked through more of our story line and what the game will look like moving forward through the camp that the game will take place in. Also, we decided how vital some characters will be in terms of how active they are in the storyline.


As for the process of choosing the names for the characters Madison brought a list of some popular names for first and last names of Japanese people. This is an important part of the game design because it decided that we have a name for the protagonist of the character, rather than just calling him main character we decided on a name based on voting and choosing as a group what sounded best and what had a significant meaning and more symbolism than just names that sounded cool and had no meaning behind them.


As for the portfolio aspect of the discussion today we decided that some of the papers that make up the portfolio will be divided up and work on from all members of the group; whereas, the others will be worked on by an individual member of the group for the most part. Now we all know that we will assist each other and make sure that the papers are well written and that they are covering all of the required materials and include information that is needed in each paper. The reasoning behind doing the portfolio this way was to make it as fair and even as possible for each member of the group and still ensure that all the required aspects of the portfolio are covered.


The aspect of the storyline for the game had talks of each member thinking on what we wanted to get out of the game and what we want the storyline to be and how that will look for our game. We decided on having an aspect of trying to escape from the internment camp while also having our protagonist want to make sure that his mother and siblings are taken care of and making sure that you get to do what is best for you. This allows for a little more drama and allows for more interesting gameplay and we feel as though it would be a more fun game to play this way.

Sometimes Always Monsters and the Escapists Series: Effects on Our Plans

As mentioned in our earlier update Group Desolation has decided to focus our game on survival and the consequences of the character’s choices. To fit with this some of us have looked into similar games for inspiration, two of which are Sometimes Always Monsters and the Escapists. Both of these games were made in a similar style, with pixelated graphics and relatively simple mechanics. From Sometimes Always Monsters we are mainly looking at how the game maintained its intense mood, and we are mainly looking at the Escapists for game play ideas.

For those of you have not played, or heard of, Sometimes Always Monsters it is a rpg in which the player character is a struggling author who has become estranged from the love of their life. Despite its cartoonish graphics and lack of voice acting it remains tense throughout because of the choices it forces the player to make. One of the starting scenarios tasks the jobless player to scrape together enough money to pay rent which they could do by working odd jobs, but potentially missing an important call due to the hours they are assigned, or by robbing their elderly neighbor. Both tasks are easy to accomplish, but having such divergent options encourages the player to immerse themselves in the game’s world and makes them more fearful of what the potential consequences are. This is an effective way to naturally increase immersion and if an early game choice was to be set up to punish the player no matter which task they chose, then the player would pay more attention and think through future decisions in much more depth to avoid failing again.

In the case of the Escapists we are primarily looking to adapt a similar game play. The main goal of the Escapists is to escape whatever prison you are placed in, which has clear parallels to our game, and in the process of escaping you must follow a strict daily schedule. The daily routine is a good way force players towards a certain play style, with various punishments discouraging certain actions and rewarding the actions the developers want the player to commit to. This retains the illusion that the player is in full control of their situation while guiding them towards the important choices of the game. However, implementing it in RPG Maker could prove rather difficult as the mechanics are a bit complicated with AI daily routines and a responsive reputation system.

Throughout this week we will hopefully find more games, or other media, to draw inspiration from and more fully explore how we could effectively implement the mechanics we come up with.

Group Desolation Progress Update

On Friday, through the weekend, and bleeding into Monday we have read to better understand the conditions within internment camps in the United States during WWII and begun to work through the RPG Maker tutorials. As of Monday afternoon we have also officially begun working on the map for the game and are continuing to look into RPG Maker’s capabilities. Specifically, we are going through the tutorials and wiki and the like to see what kind of survival/resource management elements we could include in our game. Our current vision for the game is for it to be a somewhat survival focused RPG which will follow the life of a 19 year old Japanese-American who is tasked with not only obeying the restrictions of the internment camp, but also must help care for his mother and younger siblings.

The main themes we wish to explore through this are what it was like to be a citizen of a country one moment and have your life torn asunder the next, along with the conflicts within an oppressed group this change could cause. That has been our primary motivation for making the protagonist a second generation immigrant, as it seems natural that they would be more conflicted about what the United States had done. To keep the focus on these themes the game play will be largely survival and choice focused rather than combat focused, as the goal is to make the player worry more about the consequences of their actions rather than the rewards. Overall progress is going well.

Group Desolation: Day 2 Post

Hello everyone,

I would like to give an update on the progress that Group Desolation has made on our video game. At this point, we have decided that we are going to use the RPG maker software to create our game. We feel as though this platform goes beyond the text story setup of twine, but does not reach the complexity of gamemaker. We have decided to base our game in a Japanese interment camp during WWII at come location on the west coast, After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1943, fear of Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants grew to the point that the United States ordered the construction of 10 interment camps throughout the united states. The camps housed both naturalized Japanese-American citizens and Japanese immigrants. In our game we will have the layout of the map based on the construction of one of these actual internment camps. Camps were located in barren, isolated places in the United States. The location of these camps inspired our group name, Desolation. This word points at not only the physical setting of the camps but also the feeling that was left in many of the people housed in these camps.

One of our thoughts on the actual game, and how we will go about the storyline is to create the backstory that the main character has some reason that he wants to return home. The objective of the game will be to escape from the camp and return home. To reach the objective, the player must complete various tasks around the camp; complete each task will gain the player a favor or a certain object needed to secure his escape. Through these different tasks the player is asked to complete we hope to capture a somewhat accurate depiction of what life in one of these internment camps would be like.  To get a better understanding of what life was like in one of these camps, we checked out a few books that contain personal diaries of people that were detained in these camps. We also have a book that tells the little known details of the internment camps written from an officer in charge of the camps’s perspective. Through reading through those sources along with other books that give more information about the conditions of the camps in general, we feel as though we will have a good bit of information to solidify the actual story that will go into the game.

As a group we will meet again on Sunday to make preliminary decisions on what each person would like to see in the game. Each person is tasked with going through their books and making notes on the conditions and life of an internment camp. With that being done, we will better be able to determine what subject matter will be beneficial to the game. Another task that we have as a group is for everyone to download RPG maker and play around with the software to see what is possible to be accomplished using the software. We have a solid foundation laid out for producing a good game to this point and ready to start diving into the more specific details of the game to see how much we can actually accomplish with the game.

Group Desolation: Start Game

Greetings from Group Desolation. Trey, JD, and Andrew have teamed up with me to create an RPG-style game in which we have a young Japanese American who has been taken away to a (currently unnamed) internment camp. He is in love with an American-born girl, and the game consists of two main ideas: finding ways to contact the love interest, and gathering materials that can help the protagonist and his family escape the camp. The game is going to focus more on suspense, dialogue, and political dynamics within the camp and in surrounding areas rather than action.
Of course, this idea has just been born, so there might be some major revisions on the way, but this is our current end goal.