Kazunori Yamauchi, President of Polyphony Digital and the creator of Gran Turismo 5 spoke at DICE for the first time this week, and he took us on a strange journey through his philosophy, introduced us to a Greek word, and told us that we need to continue a legacy. I'm not sure anything was lost in translation as Kaz speaks through an interpreter, but suffice it to say the opening slide in his presentation, "On Gran Turismo And I" set the stage for his panel.
Instead of talking about the nitty gritty of game design, Kaz spoke about his philosophy, and the passions that drive him. There are three of them:
- To show people the leading edge of technology
- To share with people something beautiful, something cool
- People to enjoy playing the games
You can't complain about that, right? I wasn't the biggest fan of Gran Turismo 5, but even I can admit that the game has some beautiful moments in it, and it uses some impressive technology. I may have enjoyed myself in the B-Spec mode. So, check, Kaz. Your passions are working.
His next few slides dealt with a word that was new to me, mimesis, which he defined as "What happens when you meet something new. You become infected with this desire to experience and share something new. With GT, I really want to invoke this mimesis on the players." According to Kaz, Art undergoes a chain reaction of mimesis, through which it changes and develops.
Then we went through memory lane for a bit, where Kaz told us "I discovered video games when I was 10 years old, and since then I've experienced great mimesis from video games. Without that experience, I'm not sure what I would be doing today. It's because of people like Mark Cerny and Richard Garriott that I'm able to develop video games today." It's very touching that Kaz paid homage to these legends, and I'm trying to picture Kaz playing Ultima right now.
But if you want the real secret to Kaz's philosophy, he spoke about Gran Turismo as a movement, and he asked why would you want to challenge and design something where you're likely to fail. Why not rationally challenge something possible instead of challenging the impossible in an irrational way? For guts and glory, he told us. For Indiana Jones it was fortune and glory, but guts definitely sound more honorable.
He spoke of two archetypes: the Realist who achieves possibilities, and the Romantic who challenges impossibility. "I'm a hopeless romantic," he told us, "A fixation on an insane level of realism can only from from romanticism. As long as I'm involved in the game industry, there's a certain type of game that I feel must be created: The Way People Live and Die. How they live and how they should come to terms with death. This is already explored in movies, music, and literature."
Does that mean the next iteration of Gran Turismo will feature the entire lifespan of a driver? I'm not exactly sure, but then he showed us a Venn diagram, noting that Gran Turismo resides at the intersection of the video game industry, and the automotive industry. His final message to us was: "It has been 125 years since first automobile was invented. 1886, Karl Benz is said to have created the first automobile. And then 10 years later, Henry Ford started making cars. It is our job to continue creating this history. Let us all continue making history together."
I'm not sure that means Kaz wants us to all go into the auto industry. Instead, I'm assuming he was inspiring us to continue being creative and to make history with your work. Right? Otherwise, I'm really going to have to rethink my career path.