GameLoop & GCX

Today was an enjoyable day, taking in Montreal’s annual GameLoop “unconference” — “unconference” in the sense that as a group we crowdsource the sessions for the day, with each session then acting as a salon-type discussion.

After leaving Japan and moving to Montreal, it’s taken a while for me to decide to start attending this sort of event again. It was a big part of my life in Tokyo — from running the PechaKucha Night series there, my PauseTalk series, and then other types of talk events and workshops I organized throughout the years (and then there are all the events that I attended as part of the audience).

But after the move, my new goal was to concentrate on my new career path (working in the games industry) — you could also add to that the lack of knowledge I had about the creative scene here in Montreal. Then, a couple of months ago I finally decided to check out one of the events organized by the Mount-Royal Gaming Society, Art-UP (also prompted by the fact that my friend Renaud Bédard was one of the presenters), and it not only scratched the itch I had to experience this sort of event, it also made me want more, both in terms of attending and in terms of organizing.

It prompted me to reach out to the person (Nicolas Marier) who was organizing the long-in-hiatus PechaKucha Night series in Montreal, and not only did we hit it off on our first meeting, but it looks like things are brewing in a positive way to reactivate the series.

I then attended the Canadian Gaming Expo, with a day of talks that I found to be hugely inspiring (mostly revolving around indie game studios) — and it was nice to see a few of those presenters as participants in today’s GameLoop event.

It’s good to be bathing myself again in this sort of knowledge sharing — something I try to participate in and push at work as well — and I’m hoping that I’ll get to have a hand in organizing and supporting more events here too.

Faces

My friend Louis-Étienne Vallée — who interestingly, I’d see at my PauseTalk events whenever he was in town for visits, and then again in Montreal where he was based before I moved there, and now he finds himself having moved to Tokyo — is an illustrator whose latest project sees him obsessing with faces. He wants to draw more of them — especially within a community — so get in touch with him if you have suggestions. Via Canvas.

Score Studios and The Last Guardian

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I remember a couple of years ago, at one of my last PauseTalk events, that I was asking my buddy James Kay — who runs the Tokyo-based Score Studios — what he was up to at the time, and that he hinted that the studio was working on something that I’d consider to be a pretty big deal, but that he couldn’t say more. Well, with the long-awaited release of The Last Guardian this past week, now we know. Score Studios created the engine and tools that were used for the game, which is indeed a pretty awesome bit of news for Score. I’m so happy and proud for what they’ve accomplished, and can’t wait to experience the game.

Canvas Updates Creatives Listings

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As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big fan of the Tokyo creatives community site Canvas, developed by my friend Mark McFarlane — and I daresay that PauseTalk played a small role in inspiring its creation (at least Mark was nice enough to say that). I like regularly going to the “Activity” page to see what projects people are sharing, and now they’ve just done a big redesign of the “Creatives” listing page, making it easier to get a quick taste of what each person does.

PauseDraw

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Even though I’m no longer in Tokyo running my PauseTalk events, it warms my heart to see that its offshoot, PauseDraw, is still going strong. Unlike PauseTalk where talking’s the thing, the sister series is all about getting a group of people together to draw, draw, and then draw some more. Originally started by Luis Mendo (with a first edition in Amsterdam), he was then joined by Adrian Hogan once the series moved to Tokyo (along with Luis), and they’ve been going non-stop ever since. You can stay updated on upcoming PauseDraw events through its Facebook page and Twitter account — the next one takes place Sunday, September 11, 2016 (each edition usually takes place on the first Sunday of the month).

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.

Cutting Edge

The joys of losing posts.

Last night I wrote a long post about my recent frustrations with the digital edition of Edge magazine, as of the latest issue. I was even positioning it as a sort of return of The Magaziner (the site I used to run about magazine culture). But I somehow lost the post before I was able to post it, and I don’t feel like writing it again.

Oh well.

I think it may have been a sign that if I am to bring back The Magaziner, I should do it properly, with its own site, structure, etc. I’d been feeling the itch of late to bring it back, but had let the domain expire earlier this year, and when I checked recently, found that it was grabbed by someone who just wants to sell for a grand.

How grand.

Who needs domains anyway, in this day and age. It’s vanity more than anything else. And besides, I still have JeanSnow.net.

Knock on wood.

*JeanSnow.net is no longer available*

(That’s what I imagine happening any second now.)

So that’s that, The Magaziner will remain in hibernation for the time being, until I have a really good idea on what to do with it. And hey, PauseTalk isn’t dead.

Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead!
[A large man appears with a (seemingly) dead man over his shoulder]
Large Man: Here’s one.
Dead Collector: Nine pence.
“Dead” Man: I’m not dead.
Dead Collector: What?
Large Man: Nothing. [hands the collector his money] There’s your nine pence.
“Dead” Man: I’m not dead!
Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.
Large Man: Yes he is.
“Dead” Man: I’m not.
Dead Collector: He isn’t.
Large Man: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
“Dead” Man: I’m getting better.
Large Man: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.

Hopefully I don’t need to explain where that comes from.

So yes, no big post about the incredibly horrible new digital edition of Edge (it’s basically a PDF now with a few links, and doesn’t remember your spot if you exit the app and come back), no return of The Magaziner (although if you like magazines, take note that the current issue of all Conde Nast titles on iPad are free right now, until November 30, and that includes Wired and The New Yorker), and I’ve probably rambled on enough.

Since we had our first big snow in Montreal yesterday, I’ll leave you with this image by one of my favorite illustrators, Yuko Shimizu (and you can go read this interview with her).