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March 06, 2010

I want to drive my car on my television

While Tim Rogers is finally fed up with Japan I suspect I could stick it out for a bit. For one thing, I have no problem with sarcastic office participation. I much prefer the Japanese understanding of the practice as pure, empty ritual; for its zen, if you will. The cheerleaders at my old hospital job expected me to pretend to be happy and somehow to mean it (hat tip to Quotulatiousness).

A friendly word of advice to the author: If you are a vegetarian, non-smoker you need to move back to San Fransisco for anyone to respect your particular complaints. The Japanese do not owe you a living, let alone your brand of righteous, masturbatory puritanism.

The game design thoughts are fascinating, however.

Maybe you know the story about how Gran Turismo got started because Kazunori Yamauchi, on his first day in the Sony Computer Entertainment offices, wrote out a sample game design idea consisting only of the words "I want to drive my car on my television." What you may not know is that this is more or less the way many Japanese companies have been doing everything creative for maybe fifty years. Occasionally, I'll be out eating dinner with friends, and young people at a nearby table will be talking about opening a business. This is really common: it seems like they have no idea what the company is going to be. Okay, this happens in the West, too — BioWare got started from the idea of making medical software. Well, sometimes, Japanese companies don't even start with that much vision. They're just companies. Who knows what the products have to be? There's a lot of at-wall shit-flinging. Sony, back then, were requiring all employees in the Computer Entertainment division to fill out a Game Design Idea Submission form every single day. What's most intriguing is that — every time I've ever talked to a Japanese businessperson about a product that was actually monstrously successful, it seems that the one thing the boss respected most about their proposal was how it was worded so simply. For example, Kazunori Yamauchi hadn't even filled out the form completely for Gran Turismo's proposal. (If this idea morbidly amuses you, try Kobo Abe's novel Kangaroo Notebook, in which a company man simply writes "Kangaroo Notebook" on a proposal form, exciting his boss's interest and turning his life into a stressful hell. (Among other things.)

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 6, 2010 01:57 PM