Edge magazine had an interesting interview with Takeshi Yamanaka, the director for the BlazBlue franchise from Arc System Works. In the interview, Yamanaka-san basically said that developers shouldn’t be segregating gamers into “Eastern” and “Western” pots, but instead should just view them all as gamers. I suppose this comes up when various gamers, media outlets and other critics wonder why Japanese developers don’t do more to appeal to Western gamers. What light does the interview shed? Read on.
In the interview, Yamanaka-san spoke quite blatantly when asked if he ever considered altering the direction of the BlazBlue titles to appeal more to Western tastes.
“Absolutely not. If you want to make a game that appeals to the west, you might as well have westerners doing it. Personally, I don’t view users according to their nationality, but rather as gamers. I make games for people who like them. If there are people who like fighting games with Japanese-animation-style motions and a fantasy setting, I’m making the game for them.
I don’t understand why some of us in the industry want to draw a line between the Japanese and overseas industries. I see only gamers, with various tastes.”
I, for one, completely agree with him, and I’ve always viewed gaming like this. Western gamers wonder why Japanese developers aren’t “innovating” with the industry overall, but in reality that innovation is not required because they are just making games to the taste of Eastern gamers. Western gamers need to get it through their heads that they aren’t the only gamers or the best gamers on the planet, they are just part of the overall picture. It isn’t innovation that is needed, it is a better appreciation from gamers the world over of the various styles that everyone else enjoys. That is what is needed.
This doesn’t seem to be a view shared only by Yamanaka-san within the Japanese portion of the industry, as well, as both Namco Bandai and Capcom have recently refocused their efforts on domestic releases and focusing on the Japanese gamer, instead of attempting to appeal to Western tastes. Could this just be the Japanese game industry sticking it to the West, saying, in effect, “We’ve had enough! We’re not even going to try to appeal to Western gamers anymore!”? Only time will tell. All I can say right now is that, if these developers do stick primarily to Japan for their game releases, that will be a huge blow to gamers of every type worldwide.