Konichi-wa, bitcharoo! TheFeed is in Tokyo this week to cover the Tokyo Game Show, and boy, are our arms tired. Here, now is what happened at the opening of the show with the keynote speech, given by Yoichi Wada, Chairman of the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association, and President of SQUARE ENIX.
10:30AM - Enya and Sarah Brightman music playing through the room means it's time to get calm, baby! The Tokyo Game Show 2008 is here and we are ready to roll! The English translator in my head tells me to take my seat, and we're on our way.
10:33 AM - And the lights dim. Opening video for TGS, playing on the "rising sun" theme.
10:34 AM - Yoichi Wada takes the stage, and talks about what people can look forward to from Japanese manufacturers in the future. He says they're confronted with certain issues in the world of gaming that they haven't dealt with. He talks about how his ideas are going to be abstract and how hard it will be for the translator to get them across. Fantastic!
10:37 AM - His first point about Japanese gaming is that maybe the titles they create here aren't translatable to the Western world, but he says that the Japanese have been watching Western movies and listening to Western music for a long time, and it's a myth that they don't understand Western culture. Then, he says that Japanese gaming is making more money than anyone else. And then talks about how gaming can catch up with other industry in Japan and the world.
10:40 AM - Why has the Japanese gaming industry lost its place as the leader of the world? He says it's funny for him to be asking that question, but it's true. From the 80's until very recently, they held the edge. Japan created all of the consoles there were until Microsoft and perhaps Phillips came along. Talks more history about the success of the Japanese gaming industry, pointing out community between console creators, software creators, and PC makers. Over time, however, they've lost their image as the hub of gaming creation.
10:43 AM - Talks about how Japanese gaming companies have not exploited synergy as well as we do in the States, including how American companies thrive on movie tie-ins and such, while there are only a few Japanese companies who have such an alliance. He says that Japanese are proud, and that pride might have prevented them from joining with other world leaders to make them stronger.
10:46 AM - Wada talks about community, and how the mod culture creates a sort of "middleware" movement, with stuff like Half-Life. He talks about how Japan doesn't really participate in the mod forums, and how it's losing them goodwill in the gaming culture. He talks about GDC and GCDC and how Japanese don't make very good use of these conferences to help insinuate themselves in the community.
10:48 AM - Wada talks about American schools, and how there are curriculum for game designers, but that there's no such thing here in Japan. He advocates a strong hub and a strong community to help keep the pace and disseminate information country-wide.
10:50 AM - The translator change in my head tells us that all of this led to a loss of goodwill, and that Japan needs to get some of that goodwill back. What do we need to consider when it comes to networking? The foundation of knowledge needs to be broader, and the teams that make the games need to collaborate better with other parties to make the business more viable. Using the network as a physical infrastructure.
10:55 AM - He talks about the role of creativity in the process, and how you need to be creative not only in the design of the game, but also in the way you make it, the people you collaborate with, and the world view that the game creates. All of these are points of expression, and can be made valuable.
10:57 AM - Though I'm not sure what it means, the phrase, "we need to take into account our predecessors while sitting on the shoulders of a giant" is awesome.
11:00 AM - He says it's not the promotion of gaming, but the restriction of usage that keeps things from moving forward. A new model needs to be applied. There needs to be deregulation in the Japanese gaming industry. Talks to the standardization of interfaces, which gaming companies are bad at. He says that people in the same company are often using totally different systems, and that content creators need to know that if you DO standardize interface, it doesn't remove creativity...it encourages it.
11:03 AM - Japan isn't fertile anymore. Wada says there's a crisis. "We have to be determined, and it means changing your lifestyle. Those people who can do need to do whatever they can do."
11:05 AM - There needs to be an exchange between the Japanese government and the gaming industry. Tax breaks and such for game creators, sharing human resources from the gaming companies. These things will help to invigorate the industry here. They need to raise their expectations for the whole industry in general.
11:08 AM - "I'm not painting any rosy picture for the future. Time is running out." And....Wada OUT.