Dangen Entertainment

One of the fantastic things to come out of this year’s BitSummit was the reveal of Dangen Entertainment, a new indie publisher/facilitator that includes a bunch of people I really like (Ben Judd, John Davis, Nayan Ramachandran). Their site is quite nice and gives you a good look at the titles they’re launching with, and there’s a great IGN profile that explains quite nicely what they’re hoping to achieve. Very happy to see something like this happen, and to see the continuing effects of BitSummit in pushing the indie gaming scene in Japan to new levels.

A 5th of BitSummit

And another BitSummit has come and gone in Kyoto. As with last year, I’m quite sad I couldn’t be there, and seeing so many of my friends (through social media) have a blast — during and after hours — was a pain. But I am happy to see that it looks like it’s been the biggest edition so far, and I am looking forward to catching up on what happened on the main stage through the Twitch archives (I think everything was streamed). Big ups to the gang for putting on what is one of the most exciting developments in indie gaming in Japan in recent years, and I’m sure we’re going to see them coming in strong again for the next edition. The photo above (tweeted by Jeremy Parish) is of the opening speech by James Mielke, the event’s founder and creative director.

A 5th of BitSummit

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Some very good news indeed, as we learn through Famitsu that a 5th edition of Japan’s premiere indie game event, the Kyoto-based BitSummit, is officially happening. Not only that, but instead of a sweaty July date, they’ve decided to move up the event a bit to May (it will be held on the 20th and 21st). So happy to see my buddies James Mielke (on one of the iPad screens) and Ben Judd in this photo, as I know they’re going to rock another awesome event. If you’d like to take part as an exhibitor, you’ll find the details on the official site.

The Touhou Project

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I really like shooters/shmups, yet I wasn’t really aware of the Touhou Project, a fascinating indie series of bullet hell shooters, and in fact so much more. I now know all of this thanks to this great article on Waypoint — and here’s a primer video too. I really need to play a bunch of these, which I’ll need to do on my PC at work because I don’t have a PC at home — thankfully, that’s what lunch time is for.

Picotachi Vol. 35

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The indie gaming scene in Tokyo is on the rise — the Branching Paths documentary illustrates this quite nicely — and one of the components of that growing scene is the Picotachi series. Organized by game dev Joseph White at his Pico Pico Cafe — a lovely space in Kichijoji — it’s a bilingual show-and-tell series where local and visiting devs can share what they’re working on. The next edition, Vol. 35, is set for this Saturday (August 20), starting at 20:00.

Japan Indie Games Go, Go, Go

This is a post to celebrate the release of the Branching Paths documentary, which I just love so damn much.

Go buy it here.

So what’s this Branching Paths thing all about then? It’s a just-released documentary directed by Anne Ferrero that takes a look at the growing indie gaming scene in Japan. Unlike in the west, where indies have enjoyed quite a bit of success over the past 7-8 years, Japan is still in the early stages of an indie revolution, and Branching Paths does a fantastic job of illustrating what this nascent movement is looking like. Even better, it’s beautifully shot, and so also does a terrific job of acting as a visual tour of Japan from the perspective of games and the people who power that space.

But for me, it goes deeper. Seeing this now, after being back in Canada for close to a year and a half, it reminded me of a world I left behind. The film is packed to the gills with interviews of people I love and call friends, and so not only did it serve as a nostalgic reminder of all those people that I don’t get to hang out with anymore, but also of the spaces and events that I cared about when I was there (Picotachi, Tokyo Indies, BitSummit, Tokyo Game Show).

It even reminded me of PauseTalk, as the first time I heard about this project was from Anne, the director, who made a few visits to my events.

I love that the very early stages of an indie scene that I saw while I was in Tokyo has continued to grow, and is at a point now where I think there’s no turning back – we’re in for a lot of new and fun gaming experiences from Japan, directly from the minds of of a whole bunch of interesting creators. 

That’s something to be super happy and excited about.

Branching Paths

I’ve been anxiously waiting for the release of this (you can buy it here), and finally got to watch it last night. It’s a documentary that tells the story of the growing Japanese indie gaming scene, something that’s been slow to develop, and isn’t anywhere near what we’ve seen in the west over the past 6-7 years. Not only is it beautifully shot, but it does a great job of revealing this movement as it’s happening. On a personal note, I loved seeing so many friends featured throughout (too many to name), and I also felt immense nostalgia at all of the spots and events (Picotachi, Tokyo Indies, BitSummit, Tokyo Game Show) that were part of my world when I lived in Japan. I’ve been following this project for quite a while – the director made a few appearances at my PauseTalk events – and I’m just so happy that not only has it finally come out, but that it’s as good and interesting as it is. If you have any interest in games and Japan, this is an absolute must-watch film.