Social gaming, brought to you by Japanese organized crime.

Jake Edelstein is an American journalist who has spent his career covering crime in Japan. He’s recently been published in an interview on Edge, where he speaks about the ties between organized crime and gaming in Japan. When asked about yakuza influence on the booming social gaming industry, he responded with a surprising reveal:

I’m not going to say the name of the companies but there are several gaming companies – social gaming companies – that were funded by organised crime because organised crime is Japan’s biggest private equity. One of the firms actually makes a yakuza role-playing game in which you can buy, like, a Mercedes Benz and weapons. You would think no-one would be that stupid but actually it’s like the Purloined Letter trick. The perfect front. Because you would think no gaming company funded by the yakuza would actually create a yakuza roleplaying game where you can have minor league enforcer avatars and host clubs. It actually works very well; I’ve played it a couple times and it’s kinda fun. But pretty soon I found myself craving that virtual Mercedes. [laughs]