Keita Takahashi on Wattam and a Superfluousness of Video Games

At PAX West, a atmosphere is a cacophony of diversion noises and people excitedly yammering about what demos they stood hours in line to play for 15 minutes. It feels sealed off from a outward world, mostly; an shun from a consistent play of politics, though endangered all a same deliberation a horrific Jacksonville sharpened during a Madden contest tiny days earlier. For diversion engineer Keita Takahashi, it adds to a detachment in, well, operative currently in a games industry.

“You know, what’s function right now [in] a United States especially, my formidable about creation a video diversion is a ‘video game’ is unnecessary, we think, for a life,” he tells me. “Right now I’m vital in San Francisco, and a [Funomena] studio is downtown. So each morning we travel from a hire to a studio office. There are many homeless people. we know, it’s not usually about a United States. But,” he takes a low sigh, “What I’m doing is creation a video diversion given we like creation a video game, or we like creation something. But a video diversion is not for everyone. The disproportion in financial. [sic] So TV, console, couch, and window. Comfortable temperature. That’s kind of unequivocally oppulance thing. That creates me consider about yeah, ‘What should we do?’ we can’t make a video diversion for just, for fun. Because creation a video diversion is fun, though yeah, I’m still jealous what I’m doing. we need to consider about some-more than only creation fun video games.”



Takahashi’s latest diversion is Wattam, a diversion he explains is “about honour for all life.” But a review about it is accented as many by delight as it is somberness. Light-hearted observations and answers derail onto grave paths. we know a tendency. When we arise adult and crop a news, we feel shame when we have to spin my courtesy towards video games; towards something that feels pardonable after reading about mass shootings or a President of a United States discounting a high genocide fee from a healthy disaster.

As a diversion creator famous for some of a many sharp-witted games ever made, Takahashi feels a tired of so many negativity substantially some-more than many of us. Not even some of a many dear games of 2017 have been adequate to lift him adult during times. He recently picked adult a Nintendo Switch to play Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of a Wild. Contrary to many around a industry, he was unhappy in them. “It’s not fun for me,” he says of Zelda. He records that a “gap between story and a system” got in a approach of his enjoyment. “Yeah that worried me, afterwards we stopped playing. Then Mario, we was so vehement about a new Mario but,” he creates a downward suit with his palm and laughs, “after we finished Mario, we only incited off a Switch, we have never incited [it] behind on. But we played The Last Guardian, finally. That was good. we know some complained though we unequivocally honour [Fumito] Ueda-san.”

But there’s still positivity out there that keeps him going, and he’s as common as we can suppose for a man creation a diversion about sentient poops and toilets.

“After we quit Namco, we altered to Vancouver. There everything’s opposite from Tokyo and Japan. So many people—like a Chinese, Indian, Korean, European—speak their possess language, though they pronounce English in Vancouver. They work together. That’s kind of considerable for me,” says Takahashi. “I’m meditative that we knew we still have some issues, like many issues on a universe [sic]. So we know, we can’t solve a issues by creation a video game. But we try. Somehow we got a suspicion of a diversion about removing over differences by something fun, that is explosion.”

And a lot’s altered in a life of Takahashi given his final destined game, 2009’s Noby Noby Boy. He has children now, he’s altered opposite a universe (and now opposite North America, from Vancouver to San Francisco). His kids even desirous Wattam, that came about after they played with blocks and his two-year-old son suspicion it would be fun to hit over a towers Takahashi built—leading to Wattam’s core automechanic of causing “explosions.” (They’re good explosions though; explosions of joy.)



Even when unhappy by a universe or by games he’s vehement for, his artistic ideas have persisted in a face of a dour society. Having kids in a years that followed Noby Noby Boy didn’t change his beliefs for creation games during all, he tells me, given his ideas have flattering many been a same given he was formulating things after art college. And with Wattam, he wants to bond a world. Like how players rallied around Noby Noby Boy, collectively earning adequate points to assistance a impression Girl “unite” a whole solar complement and finally clear a finale a whopping 2489 days after a initial release. That connectedness opposite borders, continents, oceans, cultures, and languages has always been moving for Takahashi.

That impulse is a core of Wattam—not only creation friends, though operative together and carrying fun with friends. Sometimes, a debate froth will seem in opposite languages. Despite that, you’re operative together with cutely rendered paltry things, forging connectors in holding hands with them, creation towers by station on them, and accomplishing a stupid goals you’re tasked with. It’s also, surprisingly, flattering story-driven—sort of like a light framing around Katamari Damacy.

It’s a quirky concept, though it’s not separate to Takahashi’s past work. In Katamari, we hurl adult objects of a universe as a squalid prince, that afterwards get incited into stars by a large inebriated hulk improved famous as a King of Cosmos. In Noby Noby Boy, we widen a Catdog-like critter as many as we want, accumulating points to assist Girl, who is perplexing to widen to a Moon and beyond. In one of his obtuse famous games Alphabet, we can play it solo or with 26 other players—as many as a English alphabet. Wattam’s explosion-making, foolish sensibility is right during home alongside Takahashi’s other projects.

“I indeed we like [Wattam’s] suspicion many better, many some-more than Katamari, given it’s super challenging. My initial designs was we attempted to make a diversion that we can keep personification forever,” he says. He pauses before laughing. “Somehow.”

It’s a opposite viewpoint on a “forever” diversion than we’re saying in a likes of Destiny 2, Anthem, Rainbow Six Siege, and so on. Takahashi, rather than stuffing games with microtransactions and rob like triple-A publishers, is some-more endangered with a undying experience.

He doesn’t work by a manners of standard diversion pattern either. When we ask Takahashi what he’d conclude a video diversion as, he hesitates. He doesn’t have a definition, given there is none. Beyond his games, we can see a traces of a same prophesy that smitten people who played Katamari Damacy behind on PlayStation 2 opposite many of his work—you can see it in his one-off, never publicly-released plan Tenya Wanya Teens, in his AR examination Woorld, or even in a blog where he doodled on real-life cinema everyday. While he isn’t as active on a blog anymore—he cites Wattam growth as a reason—it reflects Takahashi’s consistent witty mind.



“Everything is same concept,” he says. “So we try to pull something on a design given we need some-more imagination, we should use some-more imagination. Even on a typical life, that creates we happy. […] we know that sketch something on a design is not a solution, though that’s kind of a initial step.”

Wattam is due for recover after this year by Annapurna Interactive on PlayStation 4 and PC. While Takahashi might come off as a pessimist, he also carries a lot of hope. A wish that in a future, diversion developers will take on “more modern” perspectives and make games focused on activities over “gathering items” and fighting. That destiny won’t be immediate, of course. And in a interim, Takahashi’s done assent with a fact that he nor games can change a world, though during slightest he can assistance move people a tiny bit closer together.

Disclosure: USgamer is partial of Gamer Network, that is owned by ReedPOP, a organizers of a PAX events including PAX West.

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