Categories
Games

Japan’s Arcades

I can’t read it because it’s hidden behind a paywall, but looks like the Financial Times has a long piece on Japan’s arcades, and how they’re still quite popular. Would love to read it, to see how it compares with what we covered in our Arcade Mania book a decade ago.

Update: You can read the article by simply copy/pasting the title (“Game on: why Japan’s arcades are still winning”) in google, and then following the link. It’s a nice feature, and I was quite pleased to see Arcade Mania mentioned (Brian was interviewed for the article).

Categories
Games Web

Fuudo on Toco Toco TV

The latest episode of Toco Toco TV covers pro gamer Fuudo, and for me it’s an especially nostalgic episode as most of it is set in Ikebukuro — where I lived for around 13 years — and shows off the arcades I spent a lot of time in while working on the Arcade Mania book.

Categories
Books

Japandemonium Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopedias of Toriyama Sekien

Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt are a power couple when it comes to the localization game, and on top of all those books that Matt wrote in his Attack series (that initially shared the same trade dress and publisher as Arcade Mania), the two have now collaborated on a new book, Japandemonium Illustrated, that takes the form of a proper translation of the yokai encyclopedias of Toriyama Sekien. It looks like a fantastic book, and is available through Amazon.

Categories
Games Meta Tokyo Walking Web

Gawkerless

The news of the sale of Gawker Media and the closure of Gawker.com was a sad one for me. I consider myself very thankful and lucky that early in my writing career I had the opportunity to write for three Gawker sites (Kotaku, Gizmodo, and Gridskipper). These things happened after I had the chance to spend some time with Nick Denton (as well as Joel Johnson) on one of his visits to Tokyo — having lunch and then drinks in various spots around the city. What he was doing with his new media company was incredibly exciting for me — a budding writer — and I felt privileged to be asked to contribute to what he was building.

Considering my love of games, writing for Kotaku was certainly a highlight — and it’s how I met and later became friends with Brian Ashcraft, with whom I was lucky enough to contribute on a book we did together, called Arcade Mania, about Japan’s game centers. The site I contributed to the most though was Gridskipper, a now-defunct urban travel site that saw me contribute Tokyo-related posts (which made sense, as it was similar to the type of content I was covering on my personal blog).

A lot of crazy things have happened to Gawker.com and Gawker Media over the years, and I just want to thank Nick for keeping us entertained all these years, and for the support I got at that point in my life. Can’t wait to see what he’s planning next.

Categories
Meta

Where to Find Me

Every month or so, Warren Ellis puts out a post on his site in which he explains where you can find him on the web and elsewhere — sort of a monthly updated FAQ on what he’s up to — and I figure I should do one as well, since I’m sure that someone who has just arrived to my site for the first time might have trouble understanding what exactly I’m up to these days.

First off, this week saw the launch of my latest project, The Magaziner, a new site that will cover the growing push of magazine into the digital world — something I’ve been covering here for a couple of months now, but realized it made more sense to create a proper space for it. It is also accompanied by a Twitter account, which I’m now using for my magazine-related tweets, and has a Facebook fan page too.

Last month I also launched a new weekly music podcast I call Codex. It’s usually me playing a selection of 10 tracks, but I’ll have the occasional themed shows (like the next one), guest episodes (soon), and I’m also going to start adding what I call the Codex Coda, short guest mixes. You can download all previous episodes here and subscribe to an RSS feed — it’s in the iTunes Store too.

Radio OK FRED is the long-running music podcast series I do with Editions OK FRED‘s Yoshi Tsujimura and Audrey Fondecave, and although it’s been on yet another extended break (apologies for that), it still pops up every once in a while, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to make 1 or 2 new episodes this month.

Then there’s PauseTalk, my monthly creative talk event that takes place at Cafe Pause here in Ikebukuro. We’re on a bit of a break this month and the next (due to the holiday slowdown), and so the next edition will take place February 7. If you’ve never been there, it’s a very casual salon-like atmosphere, where a bunch of “creatives” basically get together and discuss topics that affect us, share projects, ask for advice, etc.

SNOW Magazine is the natural extension that was launched at the start of the year for all of the Tokyo/Japan-related art/design/culture coverage I used to do on this blog for many, many years. Although most of the content is provided by me, it does include the occasional guest columns and feature. SNOW also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

That means that this place, JeanSnow.net, is again a hub for all of my activities, so don’t come looking for Japan-related news, really. I’m on Twitter as well — where some say I actually tweet too much — and of course Facebook.

On the book side of things, while I’ll remind you that my previous contributions — Arcade Mania and Tokyolife — make for great holiday gifts, next up will be the release early next year of the fifth editions of The Rough Guides to Tokyo and Japan.

And although it doesn’t get updated as much as I’d like, my little gaming corner — simply called GAME — still features a host of games that I like a lot. I’ll try and get back to adding a few each month.

The PLAY series, where I would spin virtual discs at Cafe Pause every once in a while, is also on hiatus, and I think it has pretty much been taken over by Codex. I actually want to occasionally record some live Codex shows from the cafe.

You can also still catch my monthly design column for The Japan Times, “On Design,” which is published on the last Thursday of every month. It focuses on product design, and each one usually has me recommending five new items. I also contributed two items to the Japan Timesholiday gift guide piece, which was published today.

And even though I don’t really contribute anything in the written sense, I would say that I’m a “spiritual” contributor to Néojaponisme, David Marx‘s web journal that covers social and cultural aspects of Japan, which explains my editor-at-large title. Although the site has slowed down a bit this year in terms of new content, expect a bunch of great year-end reflections to appear later this month.

I’m also a proud member of Luis Mendo’s Goodfellas Network, and more specifically part of the GOOD Inc. Japan team. If you’re looking for a terrific group of people to work on a magazine-related project (print or digital), then please get in touch.

Last, but CERTAINLY not least, I continue my work as Executive Director of PechaKucha, where my role is mostly behind-the-scenes, but I also provide a public face through the PechaKucha Daily blog, and on Twitter. Local PKN organizers from around the world are the people I mostly deal with, but do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions regarding all things PechaKucha, whether it’s about holding a one-off PK event, starting a regular PKN series in your city, or anything else you may have on your mind. Since the organization is run as a non-profit, sponsorship enquiries and collaborations are also VERY welcome!

So there you have it, and if all of this wasn’t enough, do feel free to email me with any question you may have.

Categories
Books Games Meta Stores TB.Grafico

Kodansha’s Pop Culture Family of Books

I was happy to see that top shelf pictured at the Junkudo book store in Ikebukuro, bringing together that great little collection of Japanese pop culture books from Kodansha International. I remember that when Arcade Mania came out, because we were the first, it was actually challenging for bookstores to place the book, as it wasn’t obvious where it should go. But with the addition of all those other books that ended up using the same format — Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda’s Yokai Attack and Ninja Attack, Brian’s Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential, and Patrick W. Galbraith’s The Otaku Encyclopedia — it now makes sense to display them together. I think the next step is the creation of a box set — how great a Christmas gift would that be!

Categories
Games

TGS 2010, From 8 to 4

Most people think of me — and with reason — as someone who is tied to the art and design world, and so often don’t really understand why I tweet so much about gaming-related topics, or why I hang out with so many people who work in the gaming industry. It’s no secret that gaming is in fact one of my absolute obsessions, one that has been a part of my life since the very early days of the medium (from the Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Vic-20 of the 70-80s to the very latest consoles, with a lot of coins spent in arcade cabinets throughout). More recently (in 2008), I covered the industry for close to a year as a contributing editor on Wired‘s Game|Life blog, and I also co-authored a book with Kotaku‘s Brian Ashcraft on the world of Japanese game centers called, appropriately enough, Arcade Mania. There’s also my little “Game” site, which admittedly I don’t update as much as I’d like to, but is still a good place to check out games that I’ve really enjoyed.

Throughout this time, I’ve made a lot of good friends on both sides of the industry (on the development/publishing side, as well as on the press side), and these friendships have continued despite my “moving on” (i.e. again, working more in the arts/design side of things, and my involvement with PechaKucha). One of my favorite regular outings are almost weekly lunches I have with CheapyD (the founder of mega gaming deals site Cheap Ass Gamer) and the crew from game localization company 8-4 (John Ricciardi, Mark MacDonald, Hiroko Minamoto et al.), which often includes some of their visiting friends (a lot of EGM/1UP alums). I should also mention that 8-4 are getting ready to launch a new podcast called 8-4 PLAY (it should be up later tonight) for the 1UP network, and I will probably be popping up as a guest occasionally.

But this brings me to what I really wanted to talk about in this post, and that’s this year’s edition of the Tokyo Game Show. As many of you know, I missed last year’s edition because of my spine injury, and so was quite looking forward to it this year, not just for the games, but also to see all of the people who come to Tokyo for the show. This was also the first time in quite a few years that I didn’t have to work during the show (I did get an offer to cover it, but I just had time to go on one day), which made for a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience, with lots of great parties (CheapyD and Weekend Confirmed‘s Garnett Lee’s birthday bash on Saturday, 8-4’s big pre-TGS party on Tuesday, and then last night with Microsoft’s press party, followed by the always amazing industry drink-up at Ootaru in Nakameguro, pictured above and below).

As for the show, I’ll start by saying that it does feel like there were more interesting game announcements than last year (which was pretty lackluster in terms of news), but walking around the show floor you couldn’t help but feel that there were less booths and less people (even if I was there on a business day, which is closed off to the public). I was getting the same reaction from a lot of people, and so this is definitely not just coming from me.

I didn’t play that many games — I’m usually happy just walking around and seeing what’s on offer — but did at least get to try a few. As I’m a rather big fan of racing games, I was quite happy to try out both MotorStorm 3 (or MotorStorm: Apocalypse, as it’s known in the West) and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and had an absolute blast playing both. One of the games I’ve been looking forward to the most this fall is Fable 3 (I have terrific memories of playing Fable 2), and playing the demo just confirmed what I already expected (i.e. it’s going to be right up my alley).

But the game that really surprised me was El Shaddai — and yes, this game is indeed named after one of the Judaic names used for the “God Almighty.” The visuals are a joy throughout — very stylish and unique, in the same way that games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus pushed the boundaries of what an action/adventure game can look like — but especially stand out during the 2D side-scrolling sections, with stunning backgrounds that use color and shadow to great effect. This game has suddenly become one of my most anticipated titles for the coming year.

Categories
Books

Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential

I just posted something about the new book Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential on SNOW Magazine, but wanted to mention it here too. It’s Brian Ashcraft’s follow-up to Arcade Mania, to which I contributed, and I can assure you that fans of AM will absolutely love Confidential too. It’s done in the same style and was edited by Andrew Lee, who had a hand in all of the recent “pop culture” guides from Kodansha International, including AM, The Otaku Encyclopedia, and Matt Alt‘s Yokai Attack and Ninja Attack.

The book is now out everywhere — here are links to Amazon US and Amazon Japan. Oh, and the contributor of the book, Shoko Ueda? That’s Brian’s wife who, you know, was an actual schoolgirl, so you know it’s legit.

Categories
Games Meta

Guesting on the Grasshopper Podcast

I’m still not quite sure why, but for some reason I’ve been invited to guest on next week’s episode of Tokyo-based game developer Grasshopper Manufacture‘s podcast. So expect me to talk to about, yes, games, although I’m sure some design-related talk will happen as well — Grasshopper’s games are quite known for their stylish uniqueness in terms of graphic look. Another link I have with the studio is that I interviewed its founder, Suda 51, for Arcade Mania (for the retro chapter). I believe it will be up next Friday, and I’ll post a link to it when it does.

Categories
Books Games

Pix’n Love Rush

Rush is a cool new iPhone game based on the terrific Arkedo series of games (especially the third one, Pixel!) that came out on Microsoft’s Indie Games service for the Xbox 360. Why do I bring it up here? Well, the company behind it, Pix’n Love, is also the publisher of the French edition of Arcade Mania, which is pretty damn neat.