Kojima: Japanese Games a "Hard Sell" Due to Cultural Sensibilities

Kojima: Japanese Games a "Hard Sell" Due to Cultural Sensibilities

The newly independent Hideo Kojima talks about thinking global and going big.

In his first interview since departing Konami, designer and director Hideo Kojima has outlined his future plans to the New Yorker. That future seems to break down to three things: Think globally, think big, and get away from corporate minutiae. Kojima explained that Japanese designers have struggled as graphical power has allowed games to become more realistic.

Damn, it'll be a few years before we see his next game.

"Games matured beyond simple interactive toys and into a rich medium that could deliver drama and other deeper elements," he said. "At that point, Japanese games became a hard sell: their sensibilities and cultural identity were distinct and unrelatable. The only way to create high-end games is to target the global market."

This comes only a few days after Monolith Soft founder Tatsuya Takahashi said something similar to Time. It seems Japanese creators are going through some sort of shift; there are those who are willing to target smaller Japanese audiences directly or those who want to create games that work in Japan and larger markets at the same time. Trying to aim West only, as many Japanese developers did for a while, doesn't work either because you lose what's unique about your culture and vision.

Kojima credited his early exposure and long love of Western entertainment as the reason he's avoided the problem. He also admitted that his relishes the thought of being independent, as he believes corporate management holds back Japanese games.

"In order to target the global market, the management behind the project needs to have a keen sense for what will work, and be willing to take risks," he explained. "If you're only focussed on the profits immediately in front of you, the times will leave you behind. It becomes impossible to catch up again."

"When working in big companies, especially Japanese companies, every little thing has to be approved beforehand, and you need paperwork to do anything," he said. "Now that I'm independent, I can do what I want with much more speed. I don't need to invest time in unnecessary presentations. I shoulder the risk."

And if you thought an independent Kojima meant a Kojima that was thinking small, don't worry. The original Big Boss is still taking no prisoners.

"My role in this world is to keep on making big games for as long as I can," said Kojima. "That is the mission I've been given in life."

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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