• The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers - Kickstart this

    Video games are nearly 40 years old, depending on where you start the count. For such a young industry, it has seen an incredible amount of diversity and creativity. There are a lot of books on various gaming subjects. Though as pointed out by John Szczepaniak in his Kickstarter campaign, there are not a lot of English-language books covering Japan. Only a handful, and usually focusing on Nintendo.

    There have been a lot of video game related Kickstarters, but John's has to be one of the most ambitious. He intends to fly to Japan, hire interpreters, and interview as many developers as possible. Then transcribe the English and produce a book using this material. He breaks down the costs on the page, explaining how it will be spent. He has also already accrued an impressive list of keen interviewees, despite only launching the project recently. These include a mixture of known developers, and those who are less known, but have been involved in some important games and ventures.

    Quote Originally Posted by John's Kickstarter page
    Before even launching this Kickstarter several Japanese developers expressed an interest in being interviewed.

    Such as Resident Evil scenario writer and Einhander planner Kenichi Iwao. While Ryuichi Nishizawa, of Wonderboy / Monster World has introduced me to Strider and Cannon Dancer developer Yotsui Koichi, plus Michitaka Tsuruta, the man behind Bombjack and Solomon's Key. I contacted Naosuke Arai, who from its beginning had been at Tecnosoft, the company behind Thunder Force. He was happy to be interviewed and put me in touch with others, telling me that he prayed for the success of my book project. I was put in touch with Aziz Hino****a, responsible for co-translating FFX - he'd started out doing spritework at Athena, the company behind 2D shooter Biometal on the SNES, and the shooter-maker series Dezaemon. He shared fascinating trivia about the company, such as why they produced so many Mahjong games alongside their 2D shooters. I also contacted Shibao Hidenori‏, who started as a manga writer, moved into journalism during the golden Famicom era, and worked on a wide range of fascinating games. Not only can he provide a perspective on both the history of games journalism and development in Japan, but he's promised to introduce me to his friends from over the years - all of whom you will recognise. I was very moved by an email from Yutaka Isokawa (Catrap), where he invited me to his home, happy to discuss his work, and promising to introduce me to colleagues from over the years. Likewise I was contacted by Mikito Ichikawa (Mindware), who expressed a strong interest in the project.

    For anyone who regularly reads Retro Gamer, Hardcore Gaming 101, or various other magazines, you'll recognise his work, and his passionate obsession for Japanese games and - significantly - their history and the people behind them.

    He explains that this year is the 30th anniversary of Nintendo's Famicom and MSX home computer. How appropriate, because it was roughly 9 years ago, after the Famicom's 20th anniversary, that John wrote one of his first articles, for what was then known as NTSC-uk, now known as Bordersdown. This project, as an example of bridging those borders, is exactly the sort of thing that warms our cockles.

    Please check out his Kickstarter page. There has been huge interest thus far and it would be amazing to see the project completed.

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