I have a 2 year old girl and 3 month old boy. Cliche coming up. I am amazed how quickly they learn and how much fun they have every single day. The whole use of a day for my daughter Emilia is just have fun with it. She wakes, she laughs, she sleeps, she laughs, she builds a tower, pushes it over and laughs. This makes me laugh. A lot.
Sadly, writing business tools does not make me laugh. So another part of my reason for doing this project is also to create something that affords me more time with my children and allows me to explore their fun and development with them. They also remind me why magic isn’t redundant simply because it’s not real. That’s how I feel about video games.
I was reminded of this fact tonight as I attended a panel discussion on Video Games at the Japanese Embassy in London. Keita Takahashi, the creator of Katamari Damacy, kindly invited me along after I’d brazenly started emailing him about this absurd project of mine and along with some quite crazy questions. The panel included Mark Stephenson from MediaMolecule (LittleBigPlanet) and Martin Hollis (Goldeneye) who were terrifically open about their experiences.
The evening was chaired by the brilliantly witty Iain Simons who, by complete coincidence, I had corresponded with a few years ago when I was building a CRM & project management web application (yawn). What followed was an unexpected contradiction that jarred me from the beautifully traditional surroundings of the embassy. As Keita began his presentation it became clear that he was slightly irreverent and quite a comic. It makes sense if you’ve ever found yourself laughing at the King and Prince’s dialogues.
He gave the funniest, most engaging Powerpoint presentation I’ve ever seen and over the years I’ve seen a lot. It all stemmed from his obvious desire for you to enjoy what he is doing, whether that be designing a game, architecting a children’s playground in Nottingham [ref] or sculpture (he studied Fine Art and Sculpture at University). He also has a huge talent for compressing noise down to a signal that’s so clear and infused with the absurd it’s hilarious.
For example, when Iain asked the panel if they could have any job description on their business card, trying to tease out their more grand visions, Keita’s response, after suitably smart answers by the other panel members, was “Just my name would be fine.” The room erupted with laughter.
I’ll end by repeating the previous point which Keita reminded me of, that the point of games, maybe the goal of the people that make them is that they want you to have fun and they want you to enjoy the exploration of that experience. Some smarter people than me might offer that this is the same sort of environment that children use to learn and develop new skills and ideas. I’m sure they’ll be along at some point to carry that on, I’m off to catch my train back to Cardiff.
p.s. I’ve just remembered I rather rashly spoke to Iain about launching an early alpha of my game at the Nottingham GameCity festival in October. More on the likelihood of that in the morning.