News Article

Western Journalist Looking To Chart The Untold History Of Japanese Game Devs

Posted by Damien McFerran

Unprecedented project looking to Kickstarter for funding

Although many will argue that Japan's status in the games development world has lessened over the past few hardware generations, there once was a time when all the world's best software seemed to flow from that modestly-proportioned selection of islands. Back in the days of the 8 and 16-bit consoles, companies such as Nintendo, Sega, Konami, Capcom, Irem, Namco and Taito pumped out a seemingly endless procession of amazingly playable classics, many of which continue to entertain even to this day.

Sadly for western gaming fans, getting to know the history behind these classic games is difficult, if not impossible. Although English-language magazines and sites feature an abundance of "making of" features about western games, the linguistic barrier that exists between western journalists and Japanese developers means that relatively few articles have been published about some of gaming's most beloved titles.

Journalist John Szczepaniak is aiming to change all of that. He's looking to create a book called The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers and is hoping to fund the project via Kickstarter.

Szczepaniak isn't messing about either; he's planning on flying over to Japan, hiring the best interpretor money can buy and interviewing a whole host of Japanese developers, thereby creating a unique history of the country's incredible contribution to the world of interactive entertainment. He's even getting our favourite artist Wil Overton to create the cover for the final book.

While this might sound like a flight of fancy, Szczepaniak's track record speaks for itself — he has previously written for a wide range of magazines and sites, including GamesTM, Retro Gamer and Hardcore Gaming 101. To fully fund the project he's seeking £50,000 (around $75,000) and has so far raised just over £2,906, with 33 days remaining.

We're massive fans of retro gaming and Japanese titles here at Nintendo Life, and would love to see this venture reach its goal. Will you be contributing to ensure its success? Post a comment to tell us what you think.


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User Comments (13)



RR529 said:

This sounds like a grand idea! If I had the extra money, I'd glady support.

While I've enjoyed more than a few western titles in my day, Japanese developed titles seem to dominate my favorite lists.



DarkCoolEdge said:

Great idea. Games TM and Retro Gamer are among the very best.

I might fund it. It would be my first (so many lost oportunities, I know).

He worked in Magazine 64 too! Great memories from that one



TheChosen said:

Ugh. I recommend not to. I've been around with this guy and he's a pompous donkeyhole. Thinks too much of his writings and interviews and he's more interested in fighting and exposing backstage and corporate politics and poop like that rather than the actual games. He disappeared from the forum where I usually go after wanting one forum regular dead during a argument about Steam (No joke).



A1234 said:

kickstarter? no thanks.
@TheChosen - I also know a "journalist" just like that. she is a competitive gaming writer. the most ironic part is the high score company she would often write about complaining she now works for.



ueI said:

I've never cared for interviews, so no.

"Japan's status in the games development world has lessened over the past few hardware generations, there once was a time when all the world's best software seemed to flow from that modestly-proportioned selection of islands." Why DID this happen? I can't recall more than 2 western games for the XBox and PS2, but virtually every top rated game nowadays is American.



KeeperBvK said:

Way to ruin someone's credibility, TheChosen.
I also know John from the very same forum, and he is a totally cool guy.



Schprocket said:

So how many Nintendo LIfers have looked at this?
There must be some more people on this site with an interest and the funds besides myself and @gingerbeardman?

Anyway, a bit of an update.

Eight days to go at the time of posting this, and a total of just over £42,000/US$65,000 - that's just from less than 900 pledges!

@TheChosen @Yanchamaru - someone obviously cares more for the stories than the personality of the author because the single £5,000 tier pledge has been taken.

@Damo - just to add that for entry-level copies of the book, a pledge of £12/US$18.50 gets the an e-book, whilst £25/US$62 gets you the print edition shipped. Not a bad price for an almost "niche" subject, particularly when the print edition pledge includes international shipping

Even if you couldn't afford £12, a £5/US$7.70 pledge gets you an honorary mention in the book's credits.

Higher pledge tiers include e-book and print copies, print copies with 'extras'. and there also a "making of" DVD planned.

If you've been thinking about pledging for some time, now's the time to commit before the time runs out.



Schprocket said:

@gingerbeardman I was only a 'tyre-kicker' when I visited the project originally but the more I read, the more intrigued I became.

I ended up going for the £80 Premium DVD Edition because (a) I wouldn't have had any questions to ask and (b) I thought the DVD would be interesting to watch, and (c) it's no more than I may have spent (RRP) on a triple-A PS3 game in Aussie dollars 12 months or more ago.

The free international shipping for the print edition was the first hook and I kind of progressed with my pledge amount from there...

Edit: Another update - the total is now £2 shy of £44500, and £5502 to the target. Number of backers - 926.

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