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Kojima: Japanese Developers Falling Behind On "Technology, Gameplay, And World View"

Matt Gardner
Hideo Kojima, Japan, Japanese games, Keiji Inafune, Kojima Productions, Phil Fish

Kojima: Japanese Developers Falling Behind On "Technology, Gameplay, And World View"

Hideo Kojima has chipped in with his two cents on the nature of Japanese development in the wake of Phil Fish and Keiji Inafune's critical comments regarding the state of Eastern industry at this year's GDC.

In Kojima's eyes, Japan has fallen behind in three key areas: "technology, gameplay and world view." The first is, he suggests , rather easily remedied, but the perspective shifts required to fix the other two could take more time.

"I think the problem really is more about where people are looking and who they're targeting," said Kojima, talking to Eurogamer.

"A lot of creators are just focused on Japan and the Japanese market and aren't really aware of what people around the world want.

"Regarding technology, I think in Japan there are less people going abroad, and maybe less people going to, say, M.I.T. and being at the cutting edge of things. From a technology standpoint, I think Japan is lagging behind a bit."

But he went on to suggest that even if Japan's developers were up to speed across the board, the application is suffering because of narrow vision and an unwillingness to look beyond national borders.

"The bigger problem is how do you use that technology to create something?" he continued. "When it comes to gameplay, unfortunately a lot of Japanese creators don't really like creating a free experience. Those types of games aren't being made in Japan.

"Regarding world view, game creators now are creating games based on the culture they know, targeted at Japan and Japanese cultures. So they set it in places like Shibuya or Shinjuku or somewhere else in Tokyo. And it's not something that appeals to people outside of Japan.

"Because Japan doesn't look outside of it's borders then technologies don't come, creating this vicious cycle."

Kojima said that consideration of global success needed to be something that Japanese developers were pushing for, noting that Western studios approach things with a global consideration from the start.

"The Japanese games industry has fallen to a point where Japanese movies were at as well - these small indie movies set within Japan with a Japanese story done on a low budget. Because the scale is so small we can't get the budget to make it succeed on a global level.

"In contrast to that, most Western studios approach things from more of a Hollywood standpoint where they're looking at making their games a very global success and looking at how they can sell them in various markets.

"From the very beginning they have those goals and are able to get the proper budget and commit the proper technology to it."

But Kojima said he did not want this to become about cultural divides, and that more needs to be done to break down barriers.

"I think that it's still not over. Japan does have the ability to recover from this and get back up to a competitive level, technologically and in other ways.

"I don't want to break this down to a thing where it's Japanese games versus non Japanese games. The key is it has to be a global game, it has to be something made for everybody. I want to get rid of all those barriers."

He concluded by using Kojima Productions as an example of an organisation led from a Japanese perspective, but also incorporating global considerations, by comparing his studio to the Starship Enterprise.

"You can tell from my generation that I've been influenced by Star Trek, so when I think of my studio I think it as the Starship Enterprise. The Enterprise had people from all races - even Vulcans! I want my studio to be like that.

"This is my Enterprise. It just happens that the captain is Japanese and the ship was manufactured by Konami, but it's a multi-cultural staff."

Add a comment 1 comment
hurrakan  Mar. 19, 2012 at 15:56

Kojima earns extra kudos for the Star Trek analogy!

I didn't even think Japanese people knew about Star Trek.


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