There are people who can define the concept of author on a media, even with one or two works. Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy creator, Keita Takahashi is surely among them. We had the chance to interview him, about gaming, creativity, and some other things, discovering the point of view of a person both clever and conscious.
Keita Takahashi is not a game designer, or should I say, he is, but not in a strictly videogame related way. He is a clever and multifaceted artist and person, open to the world in its most comprehensive meaning. There isn’t a way to define such an atipic author in the gaming panorama, one who is capable to understand everything that revolves around the concept of gaming with an incredible insight and depth.
Once again I’d like to thank mr. Takahashi for the kindness and patience he had to answer a long list of questions. Thanks a lot!
Luca “ViewtifulMee” Mogini
Q:What do you think about Nintendo 3ds and the motion sensing technologies Sony and Microsoft presented at E3 this year, and how do you think these new technologies will change the way people play?
A:The E3 announcements were somewhat mysterious for me. Motion sensing technologies had been widely available since the Wii launched so why now was my initial reaction on the case. As for the 3D technology, I’m not sure how or if the extra visible dimension will bring extra enjoyment to the current gaming market. Game play styles are likely to alter with these technologies but it’s difficult to judge if it will have a good or bad impact at this point of time.
Q:How do you think the videogame situation could evolve in the next two console generations? And how would you like it to evolve?
A:It’s difficult to imagine but if we’re talking two console generations in the future, I won’t be too surprised if any one of the current hardware holders (likes of Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo) opts to leave the videogames market by the time. The same can be said for the numerous developers currently around as well. The only thing I am sure of or can hope for at the moment is for the world to be a financially stable and a peaceful place so one will have the time to consider playing videogames to start with.
Q:What are you working on right now? What plans do you have?
A:I’m currently focusing my effort on finalising the design works for a playground project in Nottingham, UK. Hopefully the playground will be complete sometime during next year or the year after.
Q:With Noby Noby Boy you somehow anticipated the idea of “social play” that is beginning to become the standard: you put the players in the condition to have together a single common objective. What were the principles behind this idea?
A:The trend at the time of development was seeing new online aspects being established seeing multi player gaming now a standard for FPS titles and the use of avatars becoming a standard with Playstation Home becoming popular to name some examples. In trying to take the experience a further step forward, we came to a conclusion that working together in achieving a common goal was to suit the internet era thus we came up with an idea of stretching the Girl to connect the solar system at the time.
Q:One of the best things about your games is how much care is put in the visual presentation. So how important is the package and everything that revolves around the game?
A:Personally speaking, the prime importance of a videogame is it to be a good fun. Yes, the game content itself has to be fun to start with but I’m sure everyone can agree that anything surrounding it, such as the manuals and package designs on this occasion should be fun as well right? I remember reading the manuals and packages in detail when I was a kid so it all comes from there.
Q:I’ve seen the “Hello mr. House!” video: what age do you think is suited to begin playing videogames, and what value can videogames have in a baby’s growth and education? Most importantly what principles should be considered when making a game suited for infants?
A:From my views, babyhood simply comes down to the interactions and communications with their parents as well as the real world. Thus, I see no needs in trying to make a videogame adaptable in this area. The suitable starting age of videogames is difficult to work out but once the dividing line of both real and virtual worlds can be understood properly, that person should be ready to enter the video gaming world in my view. On a personal level, I’ve always wanted to and have been creating videogames which are suited for all genders and age range so it’s a difficult question to conclude to say the least.
Q:In another interview you stated that you’re not necessarily interested in making videogames, and that your interest would be to design toys and playgrounds, do you have any new plans or projects? It is possible nowadays to create something really original and new?
A:My objective has always been to create something fun and videogames was one of the medium in that sense. Nothing concrete is in place when it comes to future plans at this point but I would definitely like to work in an area where day to day matters and requirements are involved. This doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in videogames since my ultimate achievement will be to carry on creating something until I die. Thus, looking into different areas of interest simply expands my views which can only be achieved whilst still being relatively young. Creating something unique and original has always been and will remain a challenge for anyone but also is something which is possible. Just imagine the number of things in this world which are simply going by us without being noticed.
Q:Recently the market has been literally invaded by “urban toys”, what is your opinion about the mix between design and toys?
A:It will all come down to the concepts and the ideas behind a toy but seeing such trend is always interesting. I personally like this product for example http://www.oooms.nl/wooden-usb-stick/.
Q:What are right now your interests and influences? And what have been the main influences in your works?
A:All the news I see on TV, radio and the internet ranging from politics to environmental issues has an influence on me in one way or another. Thinking of all the things which can be done for all the dreadful incidents being told does influence my thoughts. Also a quick walk is always handy, it’s important to do some exercise.
Q:This is maybe the stupid and ritualistic question: what’s the creative process behind an idea? How do you get your ideas and what kind of work do you do to develop them?
A:If we are talking about videogames, trying to come up with something which is only possible on a videogame is always an important starting line. From there, things will start to unfold although it might take more time than first anticipated on occasions. Opinions from others are always important but a strong desire in not trying to be too influenced is also very easy to forget. You don’t get shot for failing so failing never hurts in that sense. Noby Noby Boy for example was full of continuous failures during the development phase. If one idea fails, simply clear your minds and move on to the next. Thinking is limitless and easy to do when compared to other tasks and jobs.