Friday, November 28, 2008
Ok, I gotta talk about Mr. Potato, and by extension about retro-gaming. Yeah, I'm a teenager of the 80s and I had an MSX. Quite popular in Japan but it didn't sell that good in Europe. It was a pain in the ass to find decent games in Cordoba (Spain) back then.
Someone said that in our whole adult life we try to find the things we missed while we were teenagers. In my case one of those (many) things was to play all the cool MSX games that I could read about in magazines but I couldn't get access to.
In case you don't know it, Akihabara is Tokyo's technological district. There are lots and lots of shops dedicated to sell all kind of devices at extremely reasonable prices. By far the thing that attracted me the most was all the retrogaming stuff I could find. Old consoles such as the Megadrive, Super Famicon (known in the West as Super NES)... all in mint condition. And of course, MSX games. Lots of them. And much of them were at Mr. Potato. It's 3 stories of retro-consoles, games and all type of stuff from the 80s. Some british guys were saying loud while entering: 'This is our Mecca!'.
Unfortunately I lost my old MSX, and those were all games in japanese, so I had to control myself and not buy them all. Anyway, it's nice to know those old devices are not dead yet. Someday I'll get an MSX and re-build my old collection of games. Someday...
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I recently attended to the Congreso de desarrolladores de videojuegos at Valencia. My lecture was the first of the congress, and it was entitled 'La fase de concepto de un videojuego, o como diseñar un paracaídas mientras caes' (The videogame concept phase, or how to design a parchute while you free fall'. It was a good lecture and I got excellent feedback about it. Some of the other lecturers told me that they were told mine was so good that they got stressed and spent hours practising theirs!
I also stayed in the congress for the rest of it, and even though I originally thought it would be more a developer convention (in fact it was mostly a student gathering) some lectures were interesting and I was surprised to be considered by many people and interlopers as a reference for the spanish design. I guess it's the 'powerpoint effect': If you see someone at the top of a platform you automatically consider him as someone relevant. Even me!
Anyway, here you can find my lecture (sorry, in spanish).
Saturday, November 22, 2008
While I was in Japan I had the feeling that their culture is far more game-based than ours. At least more than the spanish, that's for sure. Here in Spain gamers have been traditionally been considered as semi-autistic. If you played some hours per day, you surely had problems.
Things in Japan seem to be different. They play games on a regular basis. Pachinko arcades are everywhere. Videogame arcades are also common, and they seem to be still acceptably populated by youngsters, something we've lost here in the West. There were some unique arcade machines that I had never seen such as a virtual horse racing bet simulator, games based on cards or tokens and fishing games.
I was told that many people went to play regularly just as soon as they left their workplaces. I'm not gonna recommend that for our society, but it gives you a good hint about why they like all those really hardcore games that force you to play over and over until you defeat that insanely difficulty final boss, and endless RPGs that keep them busy for weeks. Someone told me that Japanese people NEED to feel busy with something, and videogames are there.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I’ve recently been in Japan for a couple of weeks. It was a leisure trip but there was also some business on it since I attended to the Tokio Game Show. That was the last of the major videogame conventions that I had never been in. I attended to the E3 on the 2006 (the last real one before they turned it into a private show for publishers), the Leipzig Games Convention on the 2007 and the GDC on the 2008.
My feelings about the Tokio event were... well, basically the same to those I had from the old E3 and Leipzig’s GC. Again it’s an open show for all videogame lovers, lots of stands where you can play demos of your favourite games if you’re pacient enough to make loooong queues, plus lots of noises and few sits.
From an atendee point of view the main differences where the possibility of having access to many japanese games you’ll rarely see in western markets, lot of merchandise available in specific fan shops, and lots and lots of cosplayers, who added a lot of spice to the show.
From a professional point of view, yet again there were no major announcements made during the show. Big companies tend to prefer to make them in separated and corporative-focused shows they organize along the year. And the presence of japanese companies is so complete that I even doubt that event can be of any use for non-japan-based companies.
Here you can find some pictures I took while I was there. I’ll keep talking about my trip to Japan in future posts.