What would've your life been like without Shenmue?


Aug 1, 2018
Yokohama, Japan
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We've talked about how much Shenmue means to us, but I feel that we should make a tangent of that discussion and that is, if Shenmue never came out, or if we never got into Shenmue in general, what do you think our own personal lives would've been like?

For starters, I don't think I would have ever visited Yokosuka, let alone know the name (though I live in Yokohama now). I have been there numerous times and have always enjoyed my time there. I was always interested in Japan and was studying Japanese and I don't think that would've changed, but Shenmue just sparked it to the next level and really helped me with my studies (I bought the Japanese version on December 31, 1999). Speaking of which, I can't deny how I would've celebrated the year 2000 would've changed. I remember the first thing I did between December 31, 1999 and January 1, 2000 was play my Japanese copy of Shenmue.

Next, I probably would've never heard of the Guilin region in China or Fenghuang (which Niaowu is based on). When I look at pictures and videos of them, they truly amaze me.
It definitely was the first step in me wanting to visit Japan and, Kowloon... until I found out that Kowloon was demolished, so that ended quite fast lol.

It also deepened my appreciation for AA/Adventure titles in general and that has become my favourite genre, basically (which used to be Fighters>Platformers>Racing. The other two are still in the same spots :)).

It also is the reason why I picked up the Yakuza series and yeah, I think I've invested a ton of time, money and effort into that series as well ;). That series was the clincher that made me decide to travel to Japan (and 3 was the clincher to go to Okinawa).

So without 'mue, I'd probably still be stuck on older consoles, predominantly fighters and never would've gone to Japan :eek:
Certainly more miserable. I think I was the right age getting into Shenmue (I was 15), so grew up with the 8-bit era into the Dreamcast. I certainly would still be into gaming as I am today, but would I be the same person? I do have to think about it. I was into games that made me feel emotions I never knew possible such as NiGHTS, Panzer Dragoon etc, but Shenmue was one of the first games where I felt there was a true beauty.

I didn't twig at the time, but there's a melancholy throughout that I never knew was possible. Nozomi was one of my first crushes too haha. I would still be into Japanese culture, but perhaps not to the same level as I am now.

It's a good question. I could elaborate further (i'm writing in a stream of consciousness at the moment), but all I can really say is that my life would be poorer without it. I wouldn't be talking with such good people on here if nowt else!
It’s an interesting question, it’s hard to say even though Shenmue had big influence on me I don’t think it altered my life trajectory fundamentally. I had already lived in China as a foreign kid so had that really rich first hand experience of the country and culture which I think also inspired Suzuki. I think even before release of the game I was very interested in Japanese culture and media and Shenmue just reinforced that intrigue.

I suppose at one point I wanted to create video games and you could argue a big inspiration was playing first two games but I never followed through with that and my career took a different path.
Well the obvious one is we wouldn’t have this place. That would be quite sad for us all here. None of us would know of each other. We’d be just random people with no real connection to bring us together in the first place. There would have been nothing to fight for in the past 20 years. It would be life without the one thing that brought us all here in the first place. Maybe we would have connected in some form, but yeah, no Shenmue? No dojo.

I still would have been visiting Japan as the weeb in me was already there long before Shenmue, but I guess there would have been no desire to visit Yokosuka.

Honestly it’s hard to say….because without it, how would we honestly know what it is we wanted from it or loved about it? To live in a world without it would be to live in a world where you wouldn’t even know what you wanted from it because it never existed to give you the idea in the first place.

That’s a hard question to answer. I liken this question to the movie Yesterday by Danny Boyle. If we lived in a world without Shenmue, we wouldn‘t even notice something was missing because how can we notice what never existed?…but if we lived in a world where Shenmue didn’t exist but WE still knew about it then it would be a very sad world indeed. Unless you knew how to code. Then you could maybe make it as your own :)
I would say it spurred my love for all things Japan really. When I was young it was literally a Japan simulator and I didn't progress far in the story. It's got a strong legacy.
Wouldn't have liked Japan so much and my love for Sega would have been left in the Mega Drive era
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I was around 18 when I first played the game.

It's hard to put into words just how impressionable I was, and just how immersed in the game I was.

I was inspired, by playing the game, perhaps entirely unconsciously, to go into industry, take up karate, and explore city streets being social with others.

I resonated with Ryo's father being lost, as I grew up in a fatherless household.

I was truly lost in the escapism of the first game, and found it to be a wonderful experience. No doubt immersing myself in that world played a large role in my developing early twenties.