Luida’s Bar (ルイーダの酒場) is the social gathering place in the Dragon Quest game – the game developer has also created a real Luida’s Bar in Roppongi. But the more popular Luida’s Bar for Dragon Quest gamers is outside the ultimate electronics store – Yodobashi Camera in Akibahara, it stocks 850,000 unique items and has a 100,000 customers everyday. There’s a constant stream of people coming in and out of the store.
Outside Yodobashi Camera is an area where a large number of people, almost all men, standing or sitting silently with their Nintendo DS – the first time I saw this last year, I found it creepy. They’re all playing the Dragon Quest game that features “sure-chigai” (すれちがい通信) or “passerby communication” – which is perfect for a dense metropolitan city. “sure-chigai” allows a DS to search for other DS systems while walking around or riding the train/bus to exhange virtual hellos, treasures, and maps required to progress forward in the game. It also fits the Japanese culture where people don’t introduce themselves to strangers – but allows “silent” social interaction. The game is popular with adults that grew up with the series – Dragon Quest first came out in 1986, but “sure-chigai” only came out with the latest iteration. My wife’s into it but has to get creative – not much “sure-chigai” going on in San Diego.